The desert isle question

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Those of us known for our devotion (and unhealthy attachment) to the Macintosh are often asked the Desert Island question. You know what I mean:

“If you were stranded on a desert island with your PowerBook (or, soon, MacBook Pro), which applications would you have with you?”

Seems to me that, given enough battery power, a satellite modem and a PDF copy of the Donner Party Diet might be the best place to start, but offering that answer invariably leads to the “no, seriously” follow-up. And for that follow-up you’re bound to lie because, honestly, do you want the world to know that were you truly marooned you’d likely use your laptop to bash in the huskier variety of coconut?

I’d like to propose that we banish this question for good and all and, instead, try something more practical, as in:

“You’ve just wiped your PowerBook’s drive because you’re sick and tired of the way applications abruptly quit, your hard drive is full to the brim with stuff you’ve packratted away over the past two years, and everything seems to be moving so slooooowly. After installing the Mac OS, which applications will you install in order for your laptop to be ready for prime time?”

I just so happen to find myself in that very position this morning. As friends and family will attest, calling my office a pigsty is an insult to pigs and I apply those same office organizational talents to my computers. It was time to start over. Here are the applications and utilities I’ve installed to return my PowerBook to productivity.

1. iLife ‘06: A Mac isn’t a Mac without a copy of iLife.

2. Microsoft Office 2004: Sneer if you like (and isn’t it about time we stopped?), but Office is the standard for, well, offices , and mine is no exception. Word is what my editors demand and until Apple’s Mail offers a more robust set of rules, I’m sticking with Entourage.

3. iWork ‘06: In nearly every regard, iWork is no match for Microsoft Office. The major exception is Keynote. PowerPoint looks absolutely primitive in comparison. When I yack, I use Keynote to back me up.

4. BBEdit: Now that I’m doing lots of Web work, BBEdit is an essential tool for creating and formatting my stuff.

5. DragThing: I can’t recall the last time I used Apple’s Dock. There are oodles of great dock alternatives for the Mac, this is the one I prefer.

6. SnapzPro: There is no better tool for still and motion screen captures.

7. Firefox: Safari is a perfectly fine browser (made finer with the addition of Saft ) but I prefer Firefox with a few select extensions—specifically Greasemonkey and Flashblock.

8. Transmit: When I need to move files to and from my book publisher’s FTP site, I do it with Panic’s Transmit. These guys know how to create a Mac-like interface.

9. And more. With these applications on hand, I’ve got enough poop to be productive. Of course my PowerBook would be more powerful with more—Adobe CS 2, NetNewsWire, Panic’s Unison newsreader, Toast 7, Audio Hijack Pro, Drive Genius, Disk Warrior, TechTool Pro, iKey, iView Media Pro, Ableton Live, Soundtrack, Onyx, Amadeus II, Senuti, VLC, and You Control to name a few favorites that inhabit my main Mac.

And you?

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