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Software to check out

I haven’t written too much about the software I use here in quite a while, so I’ll take this opportunity to mention some of it.

Aside from working in Terminal and Emacs, I spend the most time every day keeping my to-do lists and project plans up to date in OmniOutliner. I take notes during and after meetings, write down ideas as I think of them, paste in my research results, and generally just make sure what I need to do is staring me in the face all the time. Religious use of OmniOutliner has made a huge difference to my productivity over the past year.

The public beta of OmniOutliner 3 Professional was released yesterday; I’ve been testing it for a few months now. Overall, it’s heading in the right direction, with Omni’s typical attention to detail. My favorite new feature, by far, is the batch find; it’s terrific for searching through my archived status outlines. I’ve tried other outliners like TAO which have a lot more features, but they just feel so clunky that I couldn’t imagine using them all day, every day.

While it’s pretty well suited for to-do lists now, OmniOutliner Pro still has a way to go before it can approach MORE’s feature set for document preparation. OmniOutliner’s keyboard navigation is still a little clumsy, and I miss the removal of Command-UDLR to rearrange headlines (the defaults are now Control-Command-arrows, and somehow I can’t reassign the “Move Left” command to command-L). While the style support is much improved, with some great visual indicators of what’s going on, MORE’s rules still seem a bit more elegant. The ability to embed links and graphics (PDF!) in a collapsable fashion is much appreciated, though, since I finally had to give up embedding graphics in MORE because of some Classic display glitches and the difficulty of getting MORE-compatible high-resolution images out of OS X applications.

I’ve been reading about textSOAP for many years, but it took some prodding before I started using it recently. The software is easy to use and well-documented, and its author is extremely responsive and downright nice. I had wanted to add some features to ICeCoffEE to clean up text copied from Terminal, mainly stripping leading and trailing spaces. I was able to find a way to perform the appropriate cleanups with the then-current version of textSOAP, but a few days after I requested it, a new version was released which has the appropriate cleaners built in. Being able to put your custom cleaners into contextual menus (ICeCoffEE or not) makes them very convenient to use.

Today Ranchero’s MarsEdit weblog editor was released. I’ve been using alpha and beta versions of MarsEdit to edit this weblog for several months, and find it very easy to use; the image uploading stuff doesn’t work because of some PyDS failings, but otherwise it’s great. Once again, there are some competitors with lots more features, but I find polished software a lot more compelling than that of the “everything but the kitchen sink” variety.

A screen shot of me using as many of the tools above as I could get to work at once is here.

Finally, I got my flights and schedule for Australia nailed down this morning. I’ll be in Brisbane from December 27th to January 3rd, in Sydney on the 4th, visiting my mother’s family until the 9th, and in Melbourne until the 13th. Still need to figure out how I’m going to get to Indianapolis (or where to park such that I won’t be paying for three weeks) for my flight out on the 25th…

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