Monday, February 26, 2007

Blogging and thoughts on software...

I’ve been considering buying software for writing this blog. I’m in two minds now... specifically Mars Edit versus MacJournal.

MarsEdit has a beautiful and simple clean interface and it’s cheaper... does the job, in fact does it well and pleasurably.

MacJournal is serious. It’s really well made and has lots of heavy functionality built in. Including a Full Screen mode which I’m using now. It’s a fine thing, a mature and well developed piece of software. And it costs more...

MacJournal is a piece of software that’s hung around me for quite some time. Back when the now quiet (but then raucous...) As the Apple Turns was in my everyday browsing, I came across it. The site author, Jack, loved it. I downloaded it but given that I wasn’t blogging, found only a small use for it. But I’ve tried it quite regularly over the years, liking the capabilities but not really having a use. So now that I’m blogging I should have a use... right?

Or is there a reason we never dated... Perhaps the simple approach of MarsEdit will ultimately be the better choice. I’ve been enjoying less heavily laden software lately, preferring a melange of programs each of which focus on doing one thing well.

I encountered this most recently when I was asked to give an introduction to the Mac experience by a local body who had acquired a number of Macs. I enquired a little deeper and it transpired that they had set up a network, including a server which had common files on it, and were just running Office. I visited one of them and all of her questions were about Entourage.

Once the initial wave of depression that washed over me, I sat back and thought a little. This was a familiar setup for all of them, they had essentially re-created their old Wintel network, just this time they were using a bunch of Macs. She seemed pleased that everything seemed ‘easy to work out’ and she was probably glad of the virus issue being put aside, they had been plagued by them.

She said they had decided to use Entourage because “ Apple’s Mail wasn’t very good.” As she did this she pointed at the dizzying array of buttons in Entourage and her mouse ran over long and nested menus.... It looked deep, it looked like you could do lots of things you’d rarely choose to do and would struggle to find the things you wanted to do.

And really that’s all she was looking for from me: How Do I Find The Things In Entourage I Want To Do.

She thought that was reasonable, I guess she was used to the struggle.

I have to say, I was a reluctant Apple Mail user, even though I love it now, I love the ubiquitous nature of it and the other core apps, Address Book and iCal. That trio of products won me gradually over and away from initially Palm Desktop and then Entourage.

One of their principal benefits is their level of integration in the system and the ease with which other developers can call upon them. Not only that, there’s a lot of plugins I use every day which have expanded it’s functionality and kept it current.

I can’t imagine using Entourage and hiding there safe inside the Microsoft box.

I think the idea of having a pot pourri of smaller simpler programs which work together might require a more innocent mindset, a sense of openness, a willingness to take that risk. That it’ll be okay, a sense that it will all work as opposed to a fear that it’ll probably all go wrong...

Update: I eventually did chose MacJournal. Two main reasons other than it works really well.... There’s a very cool Full-Screen mode which means I can do what I need to do, focus on writing better. And the small matter of a decent Education discount which as a lecturer I can avail of...

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  1. Tommy, how'd you get the education discount? I can't get anyone at Mariner Sales to return my calls or emails :-(

  2. Paul

    I sent an email and Logan Ryan of mariner software offered a 25% discount. I had a college staff web page and college email address, so I guess I was easily checked out.

    I'll email you directly.

  3. Just checked and I submitted a request via this form.

  4. Thanks again Tommy, the code you emailed me worked, and was the same one Logan came up with a day later - apparently half the Mariner office was out with the flu last week. But I'm up and running now!

  5. Great. Let me know how MacJournal is for you.


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