Acoustic Mac

Freeware I Wouldn't Want To Be Without

Beverly Woods - 2002.01.22 - Tip Jar

First off, if you haven't read the Great Mac Browser Shootout, you might want to. Kudos to Chris Lawson for a very informative article.

As soon as I read it, I downloaded iCab, which I hadn't tried since an earlier beta version some time ago. The latest version impressed me so much it's now my default browser. I'm especially fond of the ad filtering feature. I had been using Webwasher, which I like - but how convenient to have the filter actually built into the browser.

As Lawson notes, when iCab crashes, it rarely takes the system with it. The one exception that I found to this was that when I'd been using it for a few days, it got difficult to quit the program; on quit it would chatter away endlessly, and I couldn't do anything except restart my Mac. I wrote to iCab support and was told that changing preferences so that the browser is not trying to clear the cache on quitting would fix this, and it did.

Once in a while I've had trouble accessing a site or some function within a site using iCab, so I still have IE or Netscape ready for those occasions, but lately I've used iCab probably 98% of my time online. The humble cartoon taxi seems less presumptuous to me than the polished space-age graphics of the other browsers. If you're not 100% satisfied with your current browser, iCab is definitely worth a try.

For those of you who are still with me in pre-OS X territory, this week I'd like to mention three other freeware programs I've grown quite attached to.

X-launch

The first is X-launch. I was never that fond of Apple's launcher, and when I found X-launch, I became an instant convert. It behaves like a launcher, but the strip is smaller and the appearance can be customized. You can divide the items to be launched into different folders, and the entire launch strip can be collapsed with a windowshade into a 1-inch bar. Also useful is its "hot corner" setting: You can designate a corner of your monitor in which a mouseover will bring the X-launch display to the front. Very handy.

If you want to see the little face in the iCab browser window (often frowning and red, as it flusters over difficult HTML) turn green and smile, head on over to Skidperfect, where you can download Process Manager. This is a control strip module from which you can control your programs. Yes, I know there is the Application Switcher below the Finder, but I like Process Manager better. It displays icons of all currently open programs, so you can see without a mouse click what you have running; it's similar to the dock in OS X, but without the bulk, since it's in the control strip. A click on an icon brings up a menu of choices: Switch to, Switch and hide others, Quit (with a reading of how much RAM the program is using), Quit in background, Get info, Find on disk, Sharing, Filter out this process. Simple and useful; I miss it when I'm using computers that don't have it.

Last but not least, my new favorite, POP Monitor. Tired of downloading all kinds of spam, only to delete it? POP Monitor enables you to check your mailbox, view the senders and the subject lines of messages, read a set number of lines of text of a message if you choose, and if you don't want to keep it - poof! You can delete it with POP Monitor and never suffer the indignity or inconvenience of downloading email you don't want.

It is, of course, also possible to do this by reading your mail online, at a site that gives you access to your POP email (such as Mail2web), and I've done this in the past when I've been sent something that I wouldn't want to or couldn't download, but signing into these sites can be a cumbersome process.

POP Monitor is fast. It only takes me a few seconds to preview the contents of my most-often-spammed mailboxes. If I'm not in the mood to forward my spam to the relevant authorities - poof! All gone! I love it.

That's it for now. It's always great to hear from readers, so if you have comments on Acoustic Mac please don't hesitate to write me. As long as your subject line doesn't promise me I'll make $10,000 in a month or offer to fix my credit rating, I'll probably write back. LEM

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Acoustic Mac articles ©2001-2005 by Beverly Woods. � Low End Mac is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. Opinions expressed are those of their authors and may not reflect the opinion of Cobweb Publishing. Advice is presented in good faith, but what works for one may not work for all.
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