Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?



  • So I recently picked up a Macbook Air to replace my old Dell laptop, and while I'm finding it pretty easy to do stuff the Unix way due to my familiarity with both BSD and Linux, I was wondering if any Mac heads on here would be gracious enough to recommend some applications, guides/tutorials, or any other resources for a Mac newbie like me? (I'm running High Sierra, btw) :)



  • @purgatori Vivaldi is quite good as a browser, I'd recommend it ^^

    Quicksilver: Has a learning curve, but is an essential tool to get around quickly (forget Spotlight). Custom shortcuts for everything you can imagine and apple script implementation. Works with Vivaldi bookmarks, if you export the bookmarks file to html and link it with Quicksilver.
    Cog: Free music player, quite old but works, and better than the itunes trash (disable itunes so it doesn't autostart when you press the play button). For a paid solution I recommend Decibel.
    Carbon Copy Cloner: Essential backup tool, but the terminal dd commands do a good enough job instead.
    iTerm2: Better terminal.
    TextWrangler: Free version of BBEdit, for your text editor needs.
    Transmission: BitTorrent.
    XLD: Lossless audio decoder.
    UnRarX: Rar extraction utility.



  • @luetage said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    @purgatori Vivaldi is quite good as a browser, I'd recommend it ^^

    Quicksilver: Has a learning curve, but is an essential tool to get around quickly (forget Spotlight). Custom shortcuts for everything you can imagine and apple script implementation. Works with Vivaldi bookmarks, if you export the bookmarks file to html and link it with Quicksilver.
    Cog: Free music player, quite old but works, and better than the itunes trash (disable itunes so it doesn't autostart when you press the play button). For a paid solution I recommend Decibel.
    Carbon Copy Cloner: Essential backup tool, but the terminal dd commands do a good enough job instead.
    iTerm2: Better terminal.
    TextWrangler: Free version of BBEdit, for your text editor needs.
    Transmission: BitTorrent.
    XLD: Lossless audio decoder.
    UnRarX: Rar extraction utility.

    Many thanks, luetage! I appreciate it. :) A better terminal, in particular, would be much appreciated, as the default one is pretty lacking, I've found. And yeah, Vivaldi was the first thing I installed (of course) :D



  • Late foreword - some of these apps are payware, some can be tested before continued use. For many jobs there are free apps available - some didn't fit my profile, some I just didn't like, and some I use. You'll find your way around the Mac world (I started late in '16) and I find it more intuitive that Windows, even though I'd been a windows user for many years. But I like having a "proper" console beneath the hood... ;)

    iTerm2 is more or less the terminal app for Mac. Furthermore, it still is developed and you can contribute (or request features... :) )

    For general "getting around" as a replacement (and much more) for spotlight I use Alfred, which can be as discreet as a spotlight search bar and as powerful as a mighty scripting tool. Also a learning curve for advanced usage - otherwise just replace the key combo with the one of spotlight...

    Airmail as mail replacement. Has an according app on iOS devices.
    SublimeText. Text editor, lean, powerful, with extensions almost almighty ;) With the proper extension, you can even use it to edit web forms (forum posting text fields.... ;) ) -> GhostText
    MacPass password manager, compatible to KeePass / KeePassX
    BetterTouchTool helps with additional systemwide mouse (and keyboard) gestures
    Just a hint - for PDF viewing and editing use the Mac preview app, it's quite powerful
    Bartender keeps your status bar (top right) cleaned up
    Little Snitch powerful (additional) firewall (for keeping outgoing traffic in check) with a price tag
    Viscosity (payware) or Tunnelblick (free) for OpenVPN connections (IPsec is integrated in macOS)



  • @morg42 said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    SublimeText. Text editor, lean, powerful, with extensions almost almighty ;) With the proper extension, you can even use it to edit web forms (forum posting text fields.... ;) ) -> GhostText

    I'm pretty stuck in my Emacs ways, and use it for the majority of my text editing, note taking, and task management needs, but I'm also a big fan of SublimeText, because it's so powerful and it just works---whereas I'm always breaking Emacs with my lame attempts at hacking it to do what I want.

    Thanks so much for your suggestions, morg42. I'll be checking out those OVPN clients real soon, as I was disappointed to discover that my VPN provider (Proton) still has not released a client for Mac yet, and the one they suggested using... well, I wasn't real impressed.

    Cheers!



  • @purgatori I'm using ProtonVPN with Viscosity, as I found Tunnelblick to be a bit of a hassle sometimes. Had to pay, but it just worked :)

    If you shed some light on your work areas, maybe we can give additional, more directed hints ;)



  • @morg42 said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    @purgatori I'm using ProtonVPN with Viscosity, as I found Tunnelblick to be a bit of a hassle sometimes. Had to pay, but it just worked :)

    If you shed some light on your work areas, maybe we can give additional, more directed hints ;)

    That's good to know, I'll give the free trial a go :)

    Hm, work areas... Well, at the moment I'm doing a masters in speech-language pathology so I'm doing a lot of reading, note-taking, and writing (mostly in LaTeX) on my machines. Actually, to that end, would you recommend any e-book library managers over and above Calibre? Calibre is what I use at the moment, but I haven't installed it on the Mac yet as I'm hoping there's a less-clunky alternative out there.



  • Hm.. for keeping eBook libraries, I don't know there is anything more powerful and flexible than Calibre - though I must admit it's UI and control style is a bit... special. But it works quite well. Apples "Books" app is nothing in comparison...

    For LaTeX you can use the MacTex packages, which integrate nicely with Sublime Text.

    For reading eBooks again the preview app might prove potent enough...?



  • @morg42 said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    Hm.. for keeping eBook libraries, I don't know there is anything more powerful and flexible than Calibre - though I must admit it's UI and control style is a bit... special. But it works quite well. Apples "Books" app is nothing in comparison...

    For LaTeX you can use the MacTex packages, which integrate nicely with Sublime Text.

    For reading eBooks again the preview app might prove potent enough...?

    Ah, I'd feared that might be the case. :( MacTex looks cool, I'll queue up the download :) And I'm pretty impressed with Preview so far, although I haven't tested it with all the formats in my library.



  • So I ended up ditching Emacs because I'm fed up with show-stopping bugs in Spacemacs, and I'm too time-poor/lazy to do all the configuration on vanilla Emacs myself (been there, done that, it gets crazy). I've switched back to using Evernote for most of what I was using Emacs for, since the Mac Evernote client is decent, instead of poor and absent on Windows and Linux respectively. Unfortunately, though, I have encountered a bug in the the Sublime Text plugin I use to create and edit notes for Evernote that is not present in Windows/Linux, which I hope to resolve as writing without Markdown support and having to manually create heading levels and so forth is beyond cumbersome.

    I also ditched Calibre in favour of iBooks. Yes, I know that Calibre is infinitely more powerful than iBooks, but I really can't get past the wretched UI, or the fact that it behaves so badly (e.g., books not being added or deleted properly) with cloud storage solutions like SpiderOak or Dropbox. iBooks is barebones, but at least it is built from the ground up to work with iCloud.

    One program I was very worried about running on Mac was Vivaldi, since, from what I have gathered, Mac tends to be where the highest incidence of bugs occur at this point in development. I'm very pleased to say, though, that I've yet to encounter a single one.



  • @purgatori I just checked out sublime text again, the 80 dollar pricetag is hefty. I really like Textwrangler, but I also use Atom – it's built on web technologies too (just like Vivaldi) and is open source. Worth a look.

    And yeah, if you are using a relatively new mac you won't experience the graphical/video issues many have. But it isn't bug free – just keep using it and you will see. One of the bugs I really dislike and which has been there from the start is Vivaldi being unable to switch the view to the desktop it's currently on, when it's being called from another desktop. I don't know why that's so hard to fix :/



  • @purgatori Evernote is a great piece of software, if you can take your data being anywhere without your control. Not to be too negative - I use it extensively, too :) - especially in combination with eMail and calendars.

    I don't criticize switching to iBooks in the least - if iBooks works for you (and seemingly works better) - that's just fine. I've been running better with Calibre, and though I don't heed their advice of not putting the library on a network drive, it works well for me. Having the (big, >1k) library on a network drive enables COPS as a webinterface to access and download the eBooks via mobile devices - neat :)

    Vivaldi has 2 major issues on Mac, as far as I'm concerned and as far as I experienced - h.264 video playback and some issues with native macOS UI. Other than that, I'm very pleased :) (oh, it does use a bit more battery than Safari, I guess. But I'm willing to pay that price)



  • @luetage Yeah, the price tag for ST is a bit steep. On the other hand - I've paid more for software I use much less and much less intensively, so it might be fair. You can use it without registering, after all.

    @purgatori If you just start using Sublime Text, maybe you can use a few extension recommendations... after you installed package control, most packages can just be installed directly from ST (Cmd-Shift-P, "install package"):

    Compare side-by-side, for visual comparison
    DashDoc, to integrate Dash online manual/docs
    Filter lines, regexp-based
    GhostText, use ST as text input editor for Vivaldi
    Git, interface to act from inside ST
    HTML-CSS-JS prettify, does as it says
    LaTeXTools, with MacTex
    Markdown Preview, not inside ST, but in browser
    VimModelines (maybe not for you as emacs user ;) )



  • I feel like I'm still kinda new to ST, although I did use it pretty extensively last year for both writing LaTeX documents and for the aforementioned Evernote stuff. I also really like Atom, but it was the Evernote and Emacs Pro Essentials plugins that really put ST over the line for me, and I did end up purchasing a license as a result. This year, though, marked my return to Linux so I delved back into Emacs, and it's still the most powerful editor in my opinion, but outside of LaTeX I'm really not a programmer and so using Emacs as my daily driver leaves me reliant on other people to provide fixes for when things inevitably go wrong, and I don't like that.

    Thanks very much for those plugin suggestions, Morg42. A few of them I was already familiar with, but quite a few I was not. Even the Vim one sounds useful, actually, because I actually use a hybrid Vim/Emacs approach in Emacs itself, and am almost equally comfortable with both.

    These days, I mostly use Authorea when it comes to writing papers for uni, but sometimes I also need to take notes in Org/Markdown or some other relatively frictionless syntax and then export to PDF to share with other people; is there anything in ST that would accommodate that? Bear seems quite good for this, but I'm somewhat reluctant to maintain a subscription for both it and Evernote.

    Evernote is a great piece of software, if you can take your data being anywhere without your control. Not to be too negative - I use it extensively, too :) - especially in combination with eMail and calendars.

    Do you mean Apple/Mac calendars and eMail? I couldn't see an obvious way to integrate them myself, but is there some third-party solution that you avail yourself of to this end?

    And yeah, if you are using a relatively new mac you won't experience the graphical/video issues many have. But it isn't bug free – just keep using it and you will see.

    Great. Looks like I have something to look forward to, then. -_- Would either of you suggest a browser that works really well with macOS as a backup for when Vivaldi is misbehaving? I've played around with Safari some, but the lack of ad-blocking or extensions for password managers (Keychain doesn't seem like a good solution to me) really kills it for me.



  • @purgatori said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    Even the Vim one sounds useful, actually, because I actually use a hybrid Vim/Emacs approach in Emacs itself, and am almost equally comfortable with both.

    Being an almost-life-long vim user I might be a bit biased :) - but this plugin uses Vim modelines e.g. for tab width setup and more, so I think it's quite useful, as most other programs just ignore the modelines.

    These days, I mostly use Authorea when it comes to writing papers for uni

    Hm, I didn't know about this. Not sure what to do there - if you just edit text online, maybe GhostText lets you use ST as your editor online...?

    Do you mean Apple/Mac calendars and eMail?

    Yeah and no - I switched to AirMail and Fantastical, but basically there's no difference in integration. You can send mails or calendar entried to Evernote, I think I even created links to Evernote notes which I put in calendar entries/reminders, and Evernote can send mails and create calendar entries for appointments and the like. Most often I have one or more notes associated with a calendar entry. The mail feature needs a paid Evernote subscription; on Mac, you have the "share"/"services" menus where I find Evernote entries.

    Would either of you suggest a browser that works really well with macOS as a backup for when Vivaldi is misbehaving?

    Safari :) I use Open in Safari as an extension in Vivaldi to quickly transfer pages to Safari if I encounter issues in Vivaldi. And whatever you found (or didn't), uBlock, Ghostery, jsBlock and TamperMonkey are available for Safari as extensions.

    The keychain is quite the password manager. It has a subtle history of security leaks which ought to be closed as far as they have been found, but that's with all software. If you don't like it (you don't get around it completely, as your system keys are stored there as well as certificates), take another look at MacPass (see earlier posting). AutoType works almost as well as it did on Windows, just plugins aren't supported yet, sadly.

    btw - this reply was handcrafted in ST :)



  • @morg42 said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    btw - this reply was handcrafted in ST :)

    Might be, but you're reading all of this with an extension written solely on TextWrangler shakes fist violently. If you're up for a duel at dawn, I let you choose the weapons.



  • @luetage Nah, no duels. I get the feeling my weapon of choice might be a bit unfair - regexp ;-p

    Suum cuique, as Roger Moore's first 007 movie also might have been called :D



  • @morg42 said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    Safari :) I use Open in Safari as an extension in Vivaldi to quickly transfer pages to Safari if I encounter issues in Vivaldi. And whatever you found (or didn't), uBlock, Ghostery, jsBlock and TamperMonkey are available for Safari as extensions.

    Well, now I feel dumb. :P When I searched the Safari extensions site from Vivaldi, none of the extensions I was looking for showed up, but following your posts I searched for them from Safari instead and they all did. Oh, and thanks for the tip about 'Open in Safari'---that's really awesome!

    The keychain is quite the password manager. It has a subtle history of security leaks which ought to be closed as far as they have been found, but that's with all software. If you don't like it (you don't get around it completely, as your system keys are stored there as well as certificates), take another look at MacPass (see earlier posting). AutoType works almost as well as it did on Windows, just plugins aren't supported yet, sadly.

    I should have been more specific about this. What I had in mind was not the keychain as a whole, but specifically the use of keychain inside Safari. Keychain seems much like the keyrings I am familiar with from the Linux world, and in fact seems to be a bit more user-friendly than they are. I'm also not all that concerned about security, as Apple are generally pretty good in this area. My main issue with using keychain in Safari as a replacement for LastPass, Bitwarden, 1Password, etc. is that it lacks a lot of features I consider to be crucial, such as the ability to add and edit notes to specific credential entries. Moreover, I haven't migrated to Mac exclusively yet, and so keychain doesn't help me when I'm using other browsers on other devices, even if I allow it to sync over iCloud.

    MacPass seems like it would fit the bill much better, but tbh I've never been a big fan of KeePass; I prefer the folks who actually provide the password manager to do all the work necessary to make my passwords automagically sync wherever I need them, even if that means giving up a certain amount of control.



  • @purgatori said in Just Joined the Ma[cult] - Any Pointers?:

    My main issue with using keychain in Safari as a replacement for LastPass, Bitwarden, 1Password, etc. is that it lacks a lot of features I consider to be crucial, such as the ability to add and edit notes to specific credential entries.

    Yeah, Keychain is not a classic password manager, that's right.

    MacPass seems like it would fit the bill much better, but tbh I've never been a big fan of KeePass; I prefer the folks who actually provide the password manager to do all the work necessary to make my passwords automagically sync wherever I need them, even if that means giving up a certain amount of control.

    Well, aside from being free and tested, there are two main drawbacks with other software. I think I tried LastPass as well as 1Password, some time ago -

    • for one, all passwords were stored in text files named after the respective service, which gives away quite a lot about the visited websites
    • though I am aware that the security lies (ideally) within the encryption and thence the key, I like to be able to have better access to my data. Especially if this might be as crucial as my passwords

    Lastly, I don't see why I should pay for this service (the 1password apps are priced mighty steep) when I can get it for free... :)

    But if this works for you - all the better :)


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