Favored Freeware Roundup

You may have noticed that my first Favored Freeware post, which features freeware from the alphabetically organized column on the right, started with FireFox. That’s because I had all ready begun this tradition on another blog. Now, I bring you those freeware spotlights you may have missed. Continue reading to learn about Adium X (multiple IM app), Audacity (powerful audio editor), BootCD (Mac OS X boot CD creator), Camino (cocoa browser with a gecko engine), Celestia (astounding space simulator), Conversation (powerful and simple IRC app), and SubEthaEdit (powerful and free text editor).

Adium is a multiple protocol instant messaging client. This is a culmination of a year long rewrite of Adium, which now utilizes libgaim (the core of gaim) to connect to multiple protocols, and is also based on a new plugin architecture. Partial address book integration, cool looking tabs, multiple protocols for instant messaging, and a compact contact list are some of the many features of the new Adium.

Pros: Supports all known chat protocols, highly customizable, web-kit integrated, developers are dedicated and quick to respond to bugs, dedicated user community.

Cons: None significant at this point.

Audacity is a free audio editor. You can record sounds, play sounds, import and export WAV, AIFF, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 files, and more. Use it to edit your sounds using Cut, Copy and Paste (with unlimited Undo), mix tracks together, or apply effects to your recordings. It also has a built-in amplitude envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram mode and a frequency analysis window for audio analysis applications. Built-in effects include Echo, Change Tempo, and Noise Removal, and it also supports VST and LADSPA plug-in effects.

Pros: Highly valuable application (free), supports a variety of formats, learning curve is low, Ogg Vorbis and MP3 support. Audacity is a cross-platform application for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Cons: Sometimes unstable, but free is free (remember to save often).

BootCD is a Cocoa app that creates a disk image that can be used to burn a Mac OS X boot CD with a working Finder and Dock on it. This utility is unfinished and still has some flaws, but works. The current version works much better than previous versions, and includes the ability to run Drive10 and other utilities, although Norton does not yet work from the CD.

Pros: Finally, a working boot CD with all of your favorite utility apps. This is a life-saver for anyone who has to run around and fix computers on a regular basis.

Cons: Slow to boot and even slower to create (hey, it’s free).

Camino is an OSX-only browser from the Mozilla Foundation. Camino is based off of the browser core of Mozilla and built with Cocoa. It’s fast and surprisingly stable for the most part (some Nightly Builds severally destabilize Camino). Camino’s key features are tabs, pop-up blocking, a Cocoa user interface, and a Google search field. Camino was my default browser until Safari came along. I would have continued to use it, except for the fact that Safari is faster on my 56k. In fact, Camino was the default browser for most of the mac community. With Camino at v0.8.1, development is back on the right track and Nightly Builds are showing more improvements every day. Just an interesting note, Camino contributed to a few of the features we see in Safari (specifically, tabs).

Pros: Everything you’d ever want, plus the Gecko rendering engine.

Cons: Development is a little behind when compared to FireFox, but the developer doesn’t get paid (unlike his FireFox counterparts).

Note: Featured in Current Mozilla Foundation Projects.

Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn’t confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A ‘point-and-goto’ interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit.

Pros: Excellent graphics and speed, free-form navigation is a unique and welcome addition. Celestia is a cross-platform application for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Unix.

Cons: Little-to-no documentation, Mac version is behind by one release.

Conversation makes chatting on the IRC network as easy as using iChat and other IM clients. Conversation allows you to chat in channels and with your friends in a simple, elegant and Mac-like interface without the use of any text command. Yet it has a comprehensive set of features, some unique to Conversation.

Pros: Simple, intuitive, and easy to use. I generally don’t like to use IRC, but when I do, this app pulls it off nicely.

Cons: Slightly unstable, but you don’t lose anything in a crash with this app.

A powerful text editor with Rendezvous-enabled project collaboration, SubEthaEdit has become a favorite of mine since the recent release of BBEdit 8.0. I used to be a huge BBEdit fan, but I’m tired of forking over my money every time there’s an update, especially when the competition is free (and won an Apple Design Award).

Pros: All the standard features of a text editor like BBEdit, Rendezvous-enabled project collaboration, intuitive interface, free for non-commercial use, $35 for a commercial license with price breaks starting at 3 licenses.

Cons: None to speak of. Would be nice if it was free for commercial use, but $35 is a very nice price considering the competition.

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