I used to buy a lot of shareware.
Mostly because there weren’t free software alternatives on the Mac platform for the common utilities.
For example, I bought ZipIt, which puts a nice, Mac-like UI on top of standard Zip archive functionality. Remember when you had to do that to get out a Mac port?
But the high water mark was when I paid for Netscape Communicator. Yup, I bought the crappiest Netscape browser ever, which the vast majority of users treated as freeware anyway, less than a year before they made it freeware in name as well as fact. I guess I thought I could support them in the Good Fight against Microsoft. Yeah, that worked.
When OS X came out, it seemed like all the free command-line Linux/Unix utilities that were now available would destroy the market for Mac shareware. Apple would squeeze out the rest with free, polished GUI applications in its bid to remain competitive with Microsoft.
But perhaps the tide has turned. I’ve gotten out my wallet again, for more than just one app here or there. The difference these days is that I don’t need these apps – there are always freeware or built-in alternatives. But they improve my life, and that’s worth something.
Snapz Pro X 2
Goofy name, good product. I’d used it before as part of the OS bundle that comes with new Macs, only to lose it when I upgraded to the next version of OS X. I used the movie capture feature at one point; it was a good way to see what was going on in the first few moments of window initialization in one of my projects.
So I had to decide, this time around, whether to splurge for movie capture or not. It was an extra $40, not a trivial amount.
I finally decided against it. Ambrosia played it right, I think, to make the purchase of the lower-end product plus upgrade not more expensive than buying the high-end version all in one go: I can spend the lesser amount that’s in my comfort zone without feeling I’ll be ripped off if I upgrade later.
I’ve been taking a lot of screen captures lately, since the side project I’m working on requires that I compare pixel measurements to be sure I’ve gotten it right. Apple’s built-in screen capture feature only does PDF files, which don’t scale crisply when you enlarge them. You can convert them to other file formats in Preview, but that’s an extra step, an extra step I finally got tired of. And little touches like being able to set the file owner (in my case, I like GraphicConverter), show or hide the cursor, and turn off the (on repetition) quite annoying camera click sound, were also a nice incentive.
Not strictly a programmer’s utility, but every programmer uses email, eh?
On my copy of Mail, junk mail filtering died mysteriously. Nothing was being marked as junk. I tried the freeware JunkMatcher, but eventually got tired of how it hung Mail when processing large amounts of spam. Sometimes you just gotta pay to get the quality.
Is $25 worth not having to reinstall my OS, and/or tinker and tinker and tinker to get Mail’s filtering working again, and get better filtering to boot? You bet. Less time sorting through mail means more time programming.
Also not strictly for programmers, but blogs are definitely the best way to keep up to date with a wide variety of very smart techies and programmers, most of whom post more frequently than I do. That reminds me, I should update my blogroll, I’ve found a few new good ones.
Heh, am I blazing trails by recommending these two already very popular Mac products? Probably not. But an extra vote of confidence can’t hurt.
One problem I’ve had with NetNewsWire Lite, which I’ve been using for a while now, is that it seems to crash when trying to load some feeds at some times. Not always reproducible, and it happens too fast for me to see which feed it is.
It’s an interesting situation. Do I try to hit up Brent Simmons before I even pay for the software? After all, it’s a show-stopper. Do I move to a different app? PulpFiction seems to have problems with my feed list, too.
I finally decided to pay first, and ask questions later, and here’s the lesson: Brent’s presence on the Web conveys competence, stability, and reasonableness. This is a person I will most likely be able to work with to resolve this, if it continues. Nice guys finish last? Well, this nice guy just got $40.
Does it hurt that NetNewsWire 2.0 has been promised as a free upgrade? Not at all.
Note that the extra features in the non-Lite version didn’t entice me at all. I’m paying to support a good product. If he gets bought by AOL, though, I’m gonna be pissed.