Monday, March 20, 2006

i use freeware, too!

as part of the contest, i posted a list of five of my favourite free mac os x apps (formerly on my other blog, but now the previous entry on this one). but as i said in that post, i am a bit of a junkie when it comes to freeware. here are five more freebies you might want to try:
  • clamxav. even with the recent hacker 'attacks' on os x, the platform remains relatively virus free, but clamxav keeps you ready just in case.
  • itunes-lame. itunes is awesome, but the mp3 encoder that apple included with it is not (perhaps on purpose, as they'd like you to use the default [but less common] aac format). itunes-lame is a script which allows you to use the well-regarded lame encoder to add mp3s to your itunes library.
  • magic number machine. can someone explain to me why a $1000 computer comes with a default calculator that is basically worthless? i know it's an apple tradition, but still… thankfully, this freebie calculator does most everything you'd need, and the interface is clean and simple. it's earned a place on my dock.
  • onyx. one of the nice features of os x is that maintenance scripts run automatically. unfortunately, they tend to run in the middle of the night, and if your computer is shut off, it won't happen. onyx allows you to run the scripts, and if you're so inclined, to customize aspects of the os and some applications.
  • coverflow. this one's just for fun, but very cool — it's like flipping through your old vinyl lps.
my bonus freebie for the 2nd five is imote, which allows you to control itunes from the menubar. simple, but effective.

still no games, even in my second five free apps. so if you've got a recommendation, please let me know.

there you have it. as you can see, auditioning freeware could be a full-time occupation! if you don't believe me, check out's list of recommendations here.


Sally said...

But you can easily just change the preferences in iTunes if you want .mp3 format. Under Preferences-Advanced.

gr8god said...

true. but the mp3 encoder that is built into itunes is not very good; that's why i use itunes-lame. the lame encoder is widely regarded as one of the best mp3 encoders, and the script imports into itunes seamlessly (if a bit slowly for my taste.

Sally said...

Oh, why is it not very good? I'm not techno-savvy enough to make fine distinctions. ;-p

gr8god said...

well, i'm not expert, but this is a pretty common assessment, primarily because of the quality of the mp3s produced. here's a note from the wikipedia article on itunes:

"There has been some criticism of the quality of Apple's MP3 encoder, with regards to variable bit rate encoding. In a January 2004 double-blind public listening test of six MP3 encoders encoding at 128 kbit/s, conducted by Roberto Amorim, the iTunes MP3 VBR encoder came last."

apparently, it is possible to compensate by encoding at a higher bit rate, but that makes the mp3 files bigger.

Sally said...

D'oh. So what should I use? My Window's Media Player can also rip CDs into mp3. Is that better than iTunes, or worse?

(As you can see, my understanding of technology is still pretty basic. ;-p)

gr8god said...

i take it you're a windows user? if so, i'll admit upfront that i don't know much about the software on that side. but i might try one of the recommended packages from this page .