Brian W
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Bcwinters reviewed on 08 Apr 2010
Just quickly and ably converted a bunch of FLAC files to MP3 using "industry standard" LAME settings and dropped them into a playlist in iTunes. Took no more than a few seconds while I went on about my business. No muss, no fuss.
[Version 20100401]


Bcwinters reviewed on 11 Jan 2010
I have found almost unusable at work due to its handling of attachments, so I thought I'd give Thunderbird a try.

While I like it conceptually and am happy with the majority of its features, it's pretty sluggish compared to Mail. This is despite the fact that my Mail database of personal correspondence includes more than a decade's worth of POP mail, while Thunderbird only has messages from the last two months.

The vaunted search capabilities often leave me hanging--the "summaries" are too short and trying to open them almost always leaves me with a blank window rather than the message I need. The threaded message view is also frequently missing messages.

When composing mail the cursor starts out in the body of the message and then jumps to the To: field, so the first few letters of an address end up in the wrong place. The stylesheets also change on me while typing a message and cursoring around, so half my email ends up in a different font.

Thunderbird is not yet a viable competitor for demanding users but it's getting close. I'm very glad development is continuing and look forward to updates that take care of these and other issues. I consider it the equivalent of the 1.x branches of Firefox--it took until v2 for Firefox to get really good and v3 for it to get great. Hopefully the Thunderbird team is learning from Firefox and will progress speedily.
[Version 3.0]


Bcwinters reviewed on 05 Oct 2009
Can't believe how quickly Fluid has radically altered the way I use my Mac. No more juggling tabs and windows in Safari to keep an eye on Gmail or the bug tracker at I have separate apps for each one. How about a mini-browser for Hulu that floats above my other windows...or a preview browser for website development that never gets its tabs mixed in with my personal browsing? You get the gist--Fluid makes it possible, not to mention dead simple. I don't think I could work without it anymore.
[Version 0.9.6]


bcwinters reviewed on 08 Jun 2009
I needed to do some work on a Windows-only database, and decided to give VirtualBox a try before shelling out for Fusion. And boy am I glad I did.

This program has a surprisingly terrific level of polish and excellent (if somewhat techy) documentation.

While the UI isn't truly native it's very intuitive and quite nicely finished, and anyway you only touch the UI for a little while when setting up a new guest OS.

I had XP and my development tools installed in less time than it would have taken on a real PC (thanks to disk images instead of CDs!), and only needed to tweak one setting in the prefs to get access to my office's PPTP VPN--I think it was switching the "Attached To" setting to "Bridged" instead of "NAT," IIRC.

From there on out, it was smooth, speedy sailing. I love you, VirtualBox.
[Version 2.2.4]


bcwinters reviewed on 30 May 2009
Saved my external firewire drive that had been incorrectly ejected (and had a damaged partition table as a result). DiskWarrior couldn't do it; Drive Genius couldn't do it; TechTool couldn't do it...yet tiny open source freeware TestDisk (along with companion command line utility pdisk) salvaged the partitions in a matter of maybe four minutes.

The documentation (like that of so many open source projects) is a bit arcane, and those of you who are not comfortable in the Terminal might be a little nervous about this app. But I found a walkthrough that made it dead simple.

This is a brilliant little utility that's going right into my recovery arsenal.
[Version 6.10]

bcwinters commented on 17 May 2009
Still hoping to see an update to the Tiger version so as to incorporate the last three months of development. I've had to uninstall the plugin due to incompatibilities (which have been fixed in the Leopard version) and would really like to have it back again.
[Version 1.4.1]

bcwinters commented on 29 Mar 2009
Love this. I keep vacillating between Firefox and Safari and this is tipping the scales back in Safari's favor. However, I do wish it worked with Tiger! There was a fork of the project that did (which is what I'm actually using), but it is a few versions behind and doesn't work as well as the Leopard-only version does. Hopefully the volunteers working on ClickToFlash will merge the forks sooner rather than later.
[Version 1.4fc3]

bcwinters commented on 25 Feb 2009
The README that accompanies v3.0 says that source code is available on the app's SourceForge page, but the notes file on the web page says the code hasn't been released because it's too messy.

I'm grateful that the developer of this handy little app has started working on it again and I hope he finds time to do some "housecleaning" on the code--I would love to see if input from some other programmers could get 3.0 running on Tiger, for instance, and it would be great if the bug with accented characters in show names/descriptions could be fixed so those shows could be transferred.
[Version 3.0]


bcwinters reviewed on 20 Jan 2009
Plays Windows Media files with no stuttering, delays or frame drops on my PowerBook, unlike recent versions of VLC or Flip4Mac! FLV playback is also much cleaner than in VLC, and with less CPU spiking.

For the moment, VLC will probably remain my "Swiss army knife" of video players but Movist is turning out to be a great supplemental player.

Some issues I have with Movist so far: the player controls are a bit large/intrusive when you want to have a floating video window while working on other things; there are no cropping settings (not that those work right in recent versions of VLC anyway); there's no way to disable on-screen display. It's also crashed once or twice on me when changing a lot of settings quickly while a video is playing (easy enough to avoid--in normal playback it's been crash free). Those are minor issues and I hope this program continues to be developed.
[Version 0.51]

bcwinters commented on 07 Oct 2008
As someone who has VLC running almost constantly when I'm using my Mac, I've really been disappointed with the updates of the past year or so. The last version that I find really usable is 0.8.6c, but I keep trying newer versions in search of a handful of feature improvements (most notably because 0.8.6c can't fast forward or rewind FLV files).

0.9.4 is the first version in a year I'd even consider keeping--it handles FLV files properly, and it seems to have cleaned up many of the bugs of the more recent versions: it deals with full screen properly (the last few versions always crashed) and it handles my "second monitor" connection to my TV when I want it to.

Video resizing is screwed up in this version (if you crop a video that's encoded with the wrong aspect information, you can't resize the window to eliminate the "bars") although at least the cropping is respected in full-screen mode;

There's a new, second controller stuck onto the bottom of the playback window, which can be disabled but only if you ALSO disable the resize control and the titlebar for some reason;

The new "basic" preferences window introduces mutually-exclusive settings that don't match with those in the "all" preferences window (why is there an "add controls to video window" pref in Basic, and a "window decorations" control in All? They don't seem to do the same thing);

Drag and drop onto the Controller no longer works; only the dock icon will accept drag and drop;

The Info window no longer displays file information like the dimension of the video in pixels, etc;

Sigh. Back to the drawing board, yet again. I'm really glad VLC is constantly under the eye of its developers and obviously the updates must be improving things for some users, but I wish some basic improvements would be made to get this back to being the lean-and-mean playback machine it used to be. I'm going back to 0.8.6c again.
[Version 0.9.4]

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