Monthly Archives: July 2011
Writing has been major part of my life. Some people prefer to write by hand, I prefer typing. As such, I’ve used a lot of writing apps over the years from Microsoft Word, Open Office, Pages, and more. When using a writing app, you want a certain balance of functionality and usability. Sometimes you need a power office tool, like Microsoft Word, while other times you just want a lighter tool. But that lighter tool sometimes just doesn’t have the features you need, and may just not be all that inspiring to write in. Bean is an app that meets us in the middle.
Bean is a beautifully simple app to work in. Its name is a joke off of several facts, including the fact that a lot of writers seem to like coffee, and the app is coded in Apple’s Cocoa framework (props just for creativity).
Its beautiful and sleek design make me actually want to write just looking at it. I actually started re-working on a old novel I had begun to write from several years ago. One nice feature that it has that few other writing apps do is a fullscreen writing mode. It’s been in there for awhile and is not exclusive to people who have upgraded to Lion
It works primarily in Rich Text format and Text format (.rtf and .txt respectively) but has the capability to work with Word files, OpenOffice documents, and more. I’m working with someone who wants his files in either RTF of .txt formats, so having Bean is nice to fill in the holes that TextEdit has, while keeping me free from worry about working with .txt file’s formatting in a bulky app in a full office suite. Bean is not a replacement for your office suite, however, with Bean’s website even saying so on the front page.
Bean is very light, quick to start up, but I did notice a few bugs. For example, when opening up a document, it always seemed to be in “Fit to Width” mode, even though I kept telling it not too. I also found occasional bugs when switching to “Alternate Colors” mode. To be fair, though, I’m using Bean in Lion, and though Bean works fine in Lion, it does not officially support it yet. All in all, Bean is a great app for any writer (or want-to-be writer) to have on their Mac. It’s available for free at http://www.bean-osx.com/Bean.html. It works on 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 officially, and also Lion unofficially.
Lion has a lot of great features that I love using, like 3-finger Space swiping. But some of the tweaks Apple made to Lion just don’t suit my tastes. Here is a video on how to get some Snow Leopard features (like scrolling, dock lights, etc.) back in Lion.
Lion is not a dramatic step forward in the OSX sphere, but it is a nice step nonetheless. There are a ton of new features in the new version of OSX ranging from a new version of Mail, more security features, Airdrop, and more. But Apple says there are over 250 changes in Lion, some which are not so hyped. And some of these little things are great, and I wanted to share them with you.
- Resizing windows: In Mac, resizing windows has traditionally meant dragging the bottom right-hand corner to change the overall size of the window. Finally Mac apps can be resized from any part of the window. People on Windows and Linux have been able to do this for ages, and it’s a feature I’ve kind of missed in Mac. I’m glad it has been implemented in Lion.
- Spotlight: One of the reason I haven’t been a fan of 3rd-party application launchers is because they seemed redundant to me. Sure I’ve tried a few and some of them had some neat features, others were fast, but they all felt pointless compared to the fact that I had Spotlight and my Dock. That being said, Spotlight has always felt slow and clunky to me. Sometimes it seemed to take forever for it to load the options when searching for apps or documents, and those were just the ones that I wasn’t actually looking for! Now, Spotlight feels more powerful, lighter, and all around a smoother experience.
- 3-finger Space Swiping: While originally I saw little point in having Spaces, I came to enjoy using Spaces on Snow Leopard for when I had a lot of apps open. It helped keep my media apps out of the way of my communications apps, which were kept out of the way of my writing tools, and so on. The one grievance I had was having to always switch Spaces either by a keyboard shortcut, or having to unnecessarily look at all my Spaces. After a couple of days using the swiping gesture to go through Spaces, I’ve found it so useful and it just feels less intrusive to my workflow. It fact, it feels almost natural.
- “Arrange By/Clean Up By”: I tend to keep things organized in 1 of 2 ways: alphabetically or by date. Occasionally though, things get out of order, especially when moving and copying large amounts of items around. And because I like things neat and tidy, I used tried to keep things organized first by folders and then by everything else, not to mention aligned in their grids. But with the new Arrange By feature, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. They’re already organized how I like (plus it’s just kind a fun to use a 2-fingert scroll to flick through all those folders, kind of like some people do when they see “Cover Flow” for the first time). And for places where I need the traditional grid-like folder view, I can clean and organize them how I want with the Clean Up By command, which basically aligns them in the grid and arranges them how I want to at the same time.
- Information on the Lock screen: We’ve grown so used to seeing some basic information on cell-phones & tablets that I’m not sure why we have not talked about it on desktops. Normally when you have to enter your computers password, the only information you generally get are the user account names and if they are logged on. But with Lion, you now see the time, your Mac’s battery life (on Macbooks), and your wireless connection strength. While it might not be as handy as having other notifications on the screen (like new mail, tweets, etc.) I think it’s simple and non intrusive implementation that Apple has going for them.
OS X Lion Can Be Clean Installed At Boot-Up, No Snow Leopard Required | Cult of Mac. This report from Cult of Mac on how Snow Leopard will not be required to clean install Lion.