Applications for “Switchers”

Unfortunately thesis work has kept me from blogging any further experiences with my new toy. 🙁 Hopefully this post will address this failing!

  • X11: This makes getting work done very, very easy. I simply fire up the X11 application, open an xterm, ssh to my lab machine and I have all my favourite LaTeX editting programs available to me as if they were native apps running locally. Awesome.
  • Virtual Desktops: Switching to a 12″ display after my Dell’s 15″ takes a bit of getting used to, but fortunately virtue (GPL) allows me to use UNIX-style virtual desktops. Invaluable.
  • Mail Notification: I spent some time looking for a good way to be notified of new mail. Making the dock icon bounce gets irritating really quickly, but then I found Mail.appetizer. This very cool extension for pops up a transparent window with a short summary of the new mail.
  • Calendar in menu bar: Gnome has the nice feature of being able to pop up a calendar when you click on the clock applet in the menu bar. MenuCalendarClock gives similar functionality for OS X.
  • Instant Messaging: Fire (GPL) has proved to be very good at handling my (admittedly fairly basic) IM needs.
  • Playing video: Some extensive Googling has suggested that VLC is the easiest way of playing a wide variety of video formats. There’s no web plugin though so you still need RealPlayer to watch and/or listen to the BBC.
  • .sig changing: I’m not actually using this yet, but here’s one method of implementing automatic changing of email signatures in

I think that just about covers everything I have had time to play with so far. I’ve still yet to install the fink UNIX tools which use the Debian package management tools I am already familiar with. I guess this will have to wait until after the thesis is done!

Finally, I found this page of useful tips for UNIX users on OS X.