By Collin Allen

PodWorks and Cocoalicious

September 21, 2005

I may have mentioned them in comments before, but I felt that following their recent upgrades, I should point out these two Mac gems: PodWorks and Cocoalicious. Both applications come from Sci-Fi Hi-Fi, Buzz Anderson’s one-man software company.

PodWorks is a utility for recovering (or just copying) songs from your iPod. It does so by reading the iPod’s semi-hidden music database and allowing you to choose songs to import back to your computer. I can imagine if Apple had their say, this feature would be in iTunes, however the music industry likely pressured them to disable the ability to copy songs from iPods to prevent the average user from stealing tons of music en masse. An issue arises, though, when you happen to irreversibly delete songs from your computer, your hard drive croaks, or some other catastrophe befalls your Mac – your songs then only exist on your iPod, and there’s no Apple-provided solution for restoring your ripped or purchased music. Both represent a valuable investment, be it time, money, or both. PodWorks will quickly scan attached iPods and present you with an iTunes-style list, from which you can copy any song, group, or playlist back to your computer, even straight to iTunes if you so choose. There are a number of utilities in the Mac world that do such a thing, but none do it with the speed and ease that PodWorks offers. For this reason, PodWorks is my favorite iPod tool out there.

The second utility from Sci-Fi Hi-Fi that I use and love is Cocoalicious. A Cocoa interface for the popular social bookmarking site, Cocoalicious provides a fantastic way to add, edit, and search through saved items. Among it’s notable features, the one I enjoy the most is full-text searching. Cocoalicios can search through bookmark titles, web addresses, tags, and actual content from the bookmarked site. If tagging makes finding items simple, then Cocoalicious makes it idiot-proof.

Small, quick, and to-the-point programs like those above are what the Mac is really about.

.Mac Upgrade

September 20, 2005

Apple recently upgraded their .Mac service to include 1 GB of storage for email and iDisk, possibly trying to compete with Gmail’s now 2.5 GB of free storage. They also posted a new version of their Backup application, which backs up any files or settings you choose to your iDisk or other media. The new version also offers incremental backups, which only store the changes since the previous one, as opposed to copying volumes of data all over again and eating up more space than necessary.

Apple must do some analysis as to when the majority of .Mac accounts are up for renewal and time thier marketing push right before that, as my subscription expires in early October. I was, reluctantly, one of the free iTools to paid .Mac switchers, and I’m guessing many others were, too. I think they’re right on with the new additions, though – it looks like I’ll be renewing .Mac again this year.

Control Stuff With Your Mac

September 20, 2005

Here’s a great little article on how to control devices using your Mac and a USB interface board. For similar projects, I may also reccommend Delcom Engineering USB I/O chips, which are dirt cheap and not too hard to communicate with using the included OS X drivers. Good for a Mac Mini robot project, perhaps?

Xbox 360 Security

September 14, 2005

Ars has a short but sweet article on how the upcoming Xbox 360 is designed to be secure. I’m sure they thought that about the original Xbox, too, which they describe as being “hacked silly.” With as much processing power and I/O options as the 360 offers, I’m sure it will be hacked in short order despite any security they build in. Even if the hardware isn’t hackable, there will always be buffer overflows to exploit, like they did with the Agent Under Fire hack. Also, the SmartXX modchip team already has several Xbox 360 developer kits and have disassembled them. With any luck, we’ll have a 360 modchip at launch! Xbox Media Center 360 here we come.


September 9, 2005

It’s been a while since I’ve written about an application here, so I’ll start things up again with Pacifist. In a nutshell, Pacifist lets you explore and extract the contents of .pkg files, which are installed with in the Utilities folder. It has proved valuable a number of times while investigating where a package has installed its files. Sometimes you may only want a specific file or component out of a .pkg, and Pacifict can pull this off with ease, as well.