I recently wanted to do some quick vector image work, which I haven't really needed to do in quite a while. I am by no means a graphics person and certainly not a power-user. I just need to do some of the basics occasionally, preferably without getting totally overwhelmed. I limped along for a while when I first got a Mac using my beloved linux apps, Gimp and Inkscape, which I used for years previously, but I really can't stand using X11 on a Mac; really, it makes me a bit batty. A while ago I ended up buying Pixelmator to replace Gimp and I've been pretty happy with it. It satisfies most of my minimal graphics needs, but I never got around to finding a decent vector editor, and sometimes you just need vector. Today I ended up doing a quick search on The Google and asked for recommendations through Twitter. My criteria are pretty simple: under $100, native Mac app, and simple enough for me to get a basic project done without reading a whole damned manual. I ended up downloading four apps to try out:
I managed to get my hands on a pre-release version of a new Drupal book that just came out this week. The book is Front End Drupal and it is written by Emma Jane Hogbin and Konstantin Kaefer. The book says on the cover, Designing, Theming, Scripting, and I'm excited to see another book that really gets into Drupal 6 theming. When we, at Lullabot, wrote Using Drupal and we had to draw the line at a basic intro to theming, I was looking for a book to carry that forward. Since I am lucky enough to have myself a copy and found some time to sit down and read it, I thought I'd share my thoughts for those that may be trying to decide whether to order it (short answer is "yes").
Last week I had a work trip up to Penn State University for a few days. It is so close (only three hours by car) that it made more sense for me to drive up than fly. I twiddled with the radio for a while before I finally gave up and popped in a CD. I ended up sticking in one that I haven't listened to for a while, which Colleen and I picked up after seeing the band live last year. We'd never heard of the opener for the band we went to see, Po' Girls. Hoots and Hellmouth not only warmed up the crowd but got everyone up on their feet and stomping along. They are an amazing live band. They dropped a board on the floor and stomped, clapped, danced, played and sang 'til the crowd couldn't help itself. The music is indie rock where you can feel the country/bluegrass/gospel roots right under your feet. The shows are tent revivals for rockers.
I make a fair number of video tutorials. A few people told me about a new application for Macs called Screenflow ($100) by Vara Software and there seems to be quite a bit of buzz around it. I love playing with new toys so I immediately downloaded it. One thing to keep in mind during this post is that I am not a video "master." I can't even keep codecs straight.
A year and a half ago I was playing around with blogging clients on Windows. That happened to be shortly before I bought my MacBook Pro and so I never really kept playing with them. I wasn't blogging much and it dropped even more for much of the last year so I hadn't even installed a blogging client on the MBP. I'm finally getting back to more consistent posts and composing in the browser is really starting to bug me again.
UPDATE: I have written a more current, relevant post comparing Ecto and MarsEdit, March 30, 2008.
Always in the pursuit of more toys, um, I mean tools, I have been trying out two desktop blogging applications. What's that mean, you ask? This is software that you install on your computer that will let you write and publish posts to your online blog. That means that I am currently writing this post from my laptop and I don't have an internet connection. When I'm done and I get back to an internet connection all I have to do is publish it. The reason I am looking at this type of tool is because I am a train commuter and I do a lot of work on the train. Normally I am coding away but I'd like to have a convenient way to write posts for my websites as I think of them. Sure, I can write something up in a word processor but then I have to copy and paste all of it when I log in to my site and if I am using pictures I have to upload the pictures and add them in too. What a pain. I am also checking this out for potentially recommending it to clients who have similar needs (or just don't like composing on a web page).
I have finally gotten around to seriously testing out some different IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for my PHP coding. I currently use jEdit as an all-around editor and I love it. It has PHP parsing (but no fancy autocomplete stuff), FTP, project management, snippets and some really good XML plugins but the big hangup I have with it is that, for some reason I can not discern, it is totally jacked up on my Dell laptop when no AC power is plugged in.
So, recently I have been stuck on Fluke. They may be most well known to the general population (if at all) for the "sex/rave scene" music in The Matrix Reloaded, a track called Zion. Unless you listen to stuff like Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and Underworld you probably haven't heard of them.
I am not into music to the same degree I used to be years ago but I do have a nice big 30GB mp3 player that has a full range of music on it that I use for the commute back and forth to the big city. Now, I occasionally I go to random mode or even genre but most of the time I scroll through, find an artist I want to listen to and pretty keep playing it until I get sick of it. That normally means I listen to one artist or album for at least 3 or 4 days and often a week or more. Over and over again, an hour each way, each day.