I love new programs. I go online and search for small independent Mac software companies all the time. I guarantee you that for every big name Mac app there is a better on provided by an indie or startup software company. Some examples:
Big Name - Indie App
iPhoto - Little Snapper
Garageband - Audacity (in this case I prefer Garageband)
Dreamweaver - Rapidweaver (Rapidweaver made by the same people as little snapper)
Yojimbo - Together or Notae or many many others
Today, since its Nerd Thursday (yes, I actually am sticking to the structure I talked about a few days ago), I am going to give you the facts on two Mac apps that I thought were awesome at one point or another.
I’m going have Xslimmer face off against Monoligual. Actually, it won’t be a faceoff. I’m just going to tell you why Xslimmer kicks Monolingual’s ass.
Both Monolingual and Xslimmer are made to do the same thing; save hard drive space. And they do it the same way; by erasing language and CPU architecture support that you don’t need from select programs on your hard drive. Monolingual strips all programs of these files while Xslimmer is a little more cultured and reserved in this area.
I review software the same way I review women. I take looks into account first. I know that an ugly app can have some serious power under the hood but the average end user won’t fully benefit from all that power if the user interface sucks. Developers write programs for users most of the time, not other developers. So if you’re going to write a program its user interface better be pretty. It has to be simple, beautiful, and easy to navigate. Xslimmer is all three of these things. Monolingual is simple and easy.
Its important for any program to spell out exactly how to use and what to use the program for - especially maintenance programs. Monolingual was obviously written for other developers because it hides the really important information within the read me file. Average users don’t read. They look at the pictures on buttons. They’re like ancient man, communicating through pictographs. Xslimmer has a great FAQ online if you need it but the directions and explanations within the program itself are more than sufficient. As an added bonus they let you know what functions can potentially screw up your system.
Monolingual sucks. I’ll let you in on a personal story. I’ve been using Monolingual for a few months now. I even recommended it to my sister who used it to free up over 2GB of space on Christmas day. I loved the program. Whenever I accumulated some new programs I ran it and it ended up saving me space. Great, right? No. Monolingual has a dirty little secret. It doesn’t tell you that deleting language and CPU architecture support from certain files can damage your system even if the files it deletes are “unneeded”. Before Tuesday I had only been deleting the language files. But late Tuesday night I decided to go ahead and delete the architecture files I didn’t need. Right after that 95% of my programs ceased operations. They wouldn’t open at all. And OSX (being as awesome as it is) put a little circle with a slash over all the programs it messed up. It looked like there were a bunch of No Smoking signs over all my applications’ icons. I ended up having to Reinstall Leopard using the “Archive and Install” option just to get the default OS X programs working. Then I had to go through all the updated from the time Leopard came out until now. Then I had to uninstall all the programs that didn’t come standard with my Mac or OS X and re-download and install them. Major hassle. I’m in the process of doing that right now.
Fortunately I had a copy of Xslimmer on my drive that didn’t get damaged. I don’t know why I never used it. Its an old copy now (1.5.3 I think). I wish I could have an upgrade… But I digress. Xslimmer is smart. It tells you what not to do, why not to do it, and then tells you how and why you’re system could be screwed up if you don’t follow its advice. Xslimmer is safer than Monolingual. By default it won’t allow you to do any harm to your system. Its like it took the Hyppocratic oath (you know, the one doctors take than says they will first do no harm). It has a list of programs that it know will be messed up if you screw with them and updates that list every day if you want it to.
It doesn’t save you quite as much space as Monolingual but it also doesn’t leave you with an Applications and Utilities folder full of useless programs either. And it comes very close in terms of space saved. In fact if you never used a program with its function then I guarantee at least 2GB of space will be saved.
Sure, Xslimmer isn’t free like Monolingual is but would you rather have to go through what I had to go through or pay a few bucks and keep your system working? I’m guessing you like your system.
The final word on Monolingual: Its not a bad app. I had a bad experience. Be careful with it. If you aren’t a computer whiz then don’t mess with it. And I mean a real whiz, as in a developer of some kind, not some rinky-dink HTML programmer who thinks he’s a programmer now. Monolingual can do some serious damage if you don’t know how it works or how to work it. If you are one of those people who could use it (like I thought I was for so long) then have fun with it! It really does save a ton of space. But Xslimmer does the same thing. If you’re a whiz you can still have total control with Xslimmer, you just need to adjust the default settings to remove all the protections they added so people like me don’t turn their iMacs into expensive picture frames.
Next Nerd Thursday…
I’ll be writing about how I made the switch from MS Office for Mac 2004 to Apple’s iWork. (Guess which I like better)
I’ll have a review of the new fresh-out-of-beta task management program ‘Things’ v1.0