Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Biting the Apple: A Byte of Apps

Some Application Software That Might Be of Interest

The Apple comes with some pretty neat software already included and there are demo versions of a number of useful pieces of software that you might purchase as well. There are other Gems that you might want to bite into. I figured I'd mention some here.

First I was reminded by this when looking for an upgrade to a plug-in for one of the "Apps" or applications I am going to mention here. I saw a list of such programs on a page of his. He wrote a plug-in for a program called Adium that will tell you the time it is for other people who you are communicating with. So perhaps I shall start there... First off I just want to mention "Words by Patrick" which is a blog by "Patrick". He has a list of "Apps for First Time Max Users" which is what inspired me to create this article. I'll talk about "Adium" in a little bit.

Adium X

Internet Chat - Messenger Program - Handles Many/Most different sorts of messengers

Free for Use - By Donation

When I first started chatting on the Internet I was using ICQ, then another friend was using Yahoo! Instant Messenger, then another MSN Instant Messenger, then another on Netscape Instant Messenger, another on AOL Instant Messenger... It got a bit cluttered keeping track and so on Windows 98 someone introduced me to a program called "Trillian" which was capable of combining all of those into a single program. It worked great and behaved really nice without popping up annoying things and using a fairly unified system for controlling stuff. Like I could say I was away to do dishes in Trillian and all the messengers would get the message and so all my assorted friends would know I was up to my elbows...

Of course Trillian wasn't available for the Apple so when I got my MacBook I had to look for something else and after one other experience... I found "Adium X"! That's a neat little program that handles the many messengers and more all with a cute little ducky icon. You don't have to keep the cute ducky, but I did.

I have really been finding Adium to be useful and I sometimes forget about my days useing Trillian. It is especially useful in situations where I have more than one account on a service. Mostly it keeps my desktop easier to manage. If there is one thing I would change about Adium it would be to incorporate the audio and video capabilities of the various chat programs. There is no direct way to do that -- though there are some indirect ways. Eventually I hope Adium will include those capabilities.

I guess with all those chat programs --even ones like MySpace IM and FaceBook -- things can get messy, so Adium helps you keep all your ducks in a row!


Computer-Computer -- Computer-Telephone -- Telephone-Computer Chat

Computer-Computer use Free -- Computer-Telephone & Telephone-Computer by usage fee or with paid membership.

While on the topic of messengers and chatting online, there is one system that I think is worthy of mentioning that works great on the Apple. Skype is a communication program that works excellently for talking to friends with our without video connections. I find that audio works well with even dial-up connections. With a dial-up connection on one end and a broadband connection on the other audio is great but video, while it works sometimes will disconnect. Of course you can normally quickly reconnect. It is still good for keeping in touch if you are a long distance away from a loved one. If you have broadband connections on both ends then video chatting is very good and dependent on things like how good your camera is. The built in iSight camea and microphone in the MacBook is excellent. I haven't tried calling someone's telephone yet, but I think that if the quality is the same as with the computer to computer connection, it would be worth paying for to use. You do have to pay on a regular basis to keep a phone number through Skype and I believe that you must select a City for that phone number to determine local calls coming into it.

Skype Plug-in for Adium

Skype API protocol plug-in for Adium

There is a plug-in that allows you to access Skype using Adium. Unlike the other chat and messenger programs that you use with Adium you do have to have Skype installed and running. The plug-in basically allows you to control everything from the Adium interface. This is one of the indirect ways that you can use audio and video with Adium. You can do your text chatting with Adium and if you wish, right click on the user's name and select Call to call them. This will open a call window from Skype for the call which you make using a Skype window for audio and video. Skype does have to be running to use the Skype plug-in with Adium -- but it sure is handy for an Adium user.

They just finished an upgrade for Adium today and the Skype Plug-in is in the process of being upgraded to match it so doesn't work at the moment. But I was assured by the developer it is comming.

I think that I will leave this list of Apple Applications here for now and continue in future columns.

~ Darrell


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