MiniNote Pro for quick note taking

I already have a couple of note taking apps, Notebooks, Outline, but MiniNote Pro is a great scratchpad for those quick and dirty notes I don’t need to keep for very long, like the link to a site or a shell command I need to edit.

It sits in the menubar and pops up with a click or with a keyboard command. From there I can add as many notes as I like or search through what I’ve written. If I want my notes available on another machine, there is a sync function.

The options are simple, but that’s the beauty of it. MiniNote gives me a convenient place to store items until I decide what needs to be done with them. In most cases, they stick around for a few minutes and then I don’t need the anymore. But it’s extremely handy.

MiniNote Pro on the App Store

mininotepro

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An handy little windows organizer called Magnet

As I get my feet wet with the Mac, or rather, start to building a library of hand utilities, I came across a good one for organizing the app windows. When using DisplayFusion, there are hotkeys for snapping the window to a certain position. This is handy to putting two applications side by side or stacked on top of each other.

The task will now be handled by a little app called Magnet that I found on sale for $0.99 in the App Store. It’s normally $9.99, which would still make it pretty handy for the price, but less than a dollar is amazing.

I grabbed a copy, have it running and can already see the benefit. It comes preconfigured with hot keys to move a window to the left, right or center, as well as maximize, or set it 2/3 of the window.

Pretty handy.

Magnet window manager

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An interesting dashboard app called Freeter

I found this app last night on the BitsDuJour site and was immediately intrigued. It’s an application to create a dashboard of “widgets” that link to web pages, files, folders and offers widgets for text notes and to-do lists. After a few minutes of poking around, it works quite well to organize disparate file types.

For example, for the projects I work on, there is a test web site, the Jira page with requirements, another Jira page for open tickets, a file for my test plan, the login credentials and several other pieces of information. Some are files on my machine, others are bookmarks.

With Freeter, I created a panel of widgets to link to all this information in one central location. I made links to the files, embedded a web browser to show the list of tickets, another for the test sites, created text boxes to take notes and set up a space for a to-do list.

Freeter supports multiple projects and each project can have multiple dashboards. This lets me create a project for the client, then each dashboard is for a specific release. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter where the notes are or what apps you took them in, Freeter can open them.

I have links to TXT files, Outline files and XLS files. All of these open in their native app. Freeter is literally the corkboard where you pin the items. It can also create a folder listing for source files or other docs.

I’ve already built several dashboards and each one has only taken a few minutes. So far, Freeter has turned out to be very handy. Plus, I can sync what I make on my work machine to my home machine so my view is exactly the same.

It showed up on sale from Bitsdujour for $10, marked down from $30, and it works on both Mac and Windows and is well worth taking a look.

freeter

Freeter on Sale

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Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Software

With my change in OS comes a change in desktop software, at least to a certain extent. There are plenty of apps with native Mac counterparts and in some cases, they’re better than the original. A standard set of software would be – an Office suite, video editor, screen capture tool, chat client, password manager, note taker and web editor. I now have a native Mac app for each one.

For example, Microsoft Office was easily replaced with LibreOffice.

Outlook was replaced by the built in Apple Mail.

And OneNote was replaced with Outline.

While Write replaced Word, I will be using Scrivener that I got a few years ago.

Here is a short list of how it’s worked out so far.

Word -> Scrivener

Microsoft Office -> LibreOffice

OneNote -> Outline

Outlook -> Apple Mail

Irfanview -> Pixelmator.

MediaMonkey -> iTunes

Notepad++ -> TextWrangler

O&O DiskImage -> Time Machine

This is the short list of the apps with native Mac equivalents.

Atom

SnagIt

Camtasia

Scrivener

Scapple

Notebooks

Wordweb

Dropbox, Google Drive

Trillian

Paprika

Virtualbox

WordPress

Roboform

Slack

Github

And of course, Firefox and Chrome.

I also brought in some welcome additions. I have the desktop version of Appigo ToDo to sync with the iPad and TypeIt4Me, a fantastic text expander that’s extremely beneficial for writing, creating templates and filling in forms for some of the testing I do.

One loose end is a replacement for Corel Paintshop Pro. I know there is Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and even Affinity Photo, but I’d like a native Mac version. Maybe one day.

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Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Hardware

Buying a Mac is actually a tricky affair. Because of the expense, my first thought was to build a Hackintosh. I love the idea of it, but it requires some specific hardware, some specific procedures and a bit more dedication to the cause than I’m willing to give. And, if I needed new hardware, I would rather get a real Mac and know full well it works.

But where to start? Any machine would need to have at least 8 cores and 32GB of ram. That’s what I have now and anything less would be a step back. I also need to add quite a bit of hard drive space. That eliminates the Mac Mini.

The iMac, especially the new one with 18 cores, meets the power criteria, but lacks the hard drive capacities and the price tag for that model is in the stratosphere.

The MacBooks are nice, but it doesn’t have the cores or ram, and I’m not keen on having a laptop as my main machine.

It’s down to the Mac Pro, but, with a catch.

The current Mac Pro is impressive, but, you need to think ahead on the hardware you want. However, the previous generation of Mac Pro still has a few tricks. The innards of that big aluminum case contain hardware that is powerful and expandable.

They aren’t produced anymore, but they can easily be found on eBay. Once I started looking, I found the Mac Pro of 2010 and 2012 are far more powerful than I ever imagined. When completely loaded, they support multiple processors with multiple cores per processor and can be fitted with huge amounts of ram and high end video cards.

After comparing prices and specs, I decided to go all-in and bought the biggest machine I could find, which crushes what I have now. It sports 2x 6-core processors at 3.54 Ghz, 128GB of ram, a 1TB SSD main drive, a 1TB data drive, and a staggering Nvidia Titan X video card with 12GB of ram. As a gaming rig, it would set your hair on fire.

But, this will be an application workhorse, so with 128GB of ram, I will create virtual machines bigger than my physical machines. I could also make a massive ram drive so as to stuff dozens of programs into pure memory.

The Titan X won’t be used to it’s full capacity, but it supports multiple monitors and my video won’t lag for years to come. And I’ve already added two 3TB hard drives for more data storage.

It could be overkill, but it has some brutal power. Apps take mere seconds to install and switching between them is near instantaneous. Plus, apps will never starve for ram. When the day comes to retire it out, it will make one hell of a media or web server if nothing else.

I consider it an acceptable upgrade. It goes beyond any Hackintosh or Windows based machine I could have built on my own or ordered for anything close to the price. It will be some years before a machine comes along that has big enough specs to make me upgrade. From here it would need to be 18 cores and 256GB of ram.

mac-system-properties

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