Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

This post is now ridiculously out of date, but it’s kept around for archival purposes. Enjoy!

Hello again everybody! As promised, here’s the followup to my list of Open Source software you need to download for OS X.

I love Open Source Software, I really do. It’s good stuff, and most of the time, you’ll find what you need without paying for code. However, there are some software titles for the Mac that, frankly, are worth every penny. Also, it’s worth noting that although some of these are by large groups or corporations, lots of them are independent developers, so for those, Piracy just isn’t cool. Rest assured that anything that makes this list is, in my mind, worth every penny.

Note, I’m not getting a kickback on any of these links or programs. I just want to share some of the software I use that makes my life better.

The Grand Prize: LaunchBar ($19.95 for Home Users)

This is the first thing I install when I wipe my drive. Because of this, I can have a 2 icon dock, and just call up the obscure applications I don’t use often with a few keystrokes. In addition, it learns, based on your past habits, what you’re looking for with a given keystroke, and brings that up first. Add in the excellent iTunes search capabilities, and this software is worth every penny. Update: I’ve now moved over to Alfred

The Other Grand Prize: Mellel ($49.00, $35 for Students and Educators)

This is the single best Multilingual word processor in existence for OS X. Support for right to left as well as left to right writing, different languages, all sorts of obscure typesetting, and character style settings you’ll never know you need, Mellel’s got it all. Linguists, you’d better be buying this, there’s nothing better for writing grammars and making complex tables/glossed examples. Now with an XML format, for more document portability. This is what Office for Mac wishes it was. Great stuff. Update: I’ve now moved to LaTeX for word processing.

The Third Grand Prize: Escape Velocity: Nova ($30.00) (No Universal Binary, Windows version available)

My vote for one of the greatest computer games ever. Great gameplay, great stories, and a really addictive experience. Prepare to sacrifice hours to this game, but know that it’s worth it. Also, if you do get it, look for a “Return to Earth” mission for the single most creative storyline ever. Great language use, too, discussed here.

The Runner Up: TextMate (€39)

Great for programming, great for TeX, great for just plain plaintext. If you’re CompSci, a programmer, or just somebody who messes around with scripts and files, the context highlighting and advanced features will make this worth your while. Also, it just works, and elegantly, at that. Worth every penny of the (admittedly large) price. Update: I’ve now moved over to the free and open source Textmate 2).

Other Recommendations (in no particular order):

Apple’s Keynote Software ($79, with blech Pages)

Imagine if Powerpoint were Mac-friendly, well supported, and just plain beautiful. Powerpoint can do everything Keynote can, but Keynote does it with style. Combine with Mellel and NeoOffice to eliminate your need for Office altogether. Keynote’s worth paying the Apple Tax. (Of note, I wouldn’t recommend “Pages”, Apple’s attempt at a typesetting program, if it weren’t included in the bundle with Keynote. It’s just a bit clunky, and not quite good enough at anything to be worth it alone).

The Missing Sync for PalmOS ($39.95)

Got a Treo/Lifedrive/Tungsten/Other Palm device? Got a Mac? Good. Now, throw out the CD that came with your device, and download Missing Sync. It integrates with Address Book, iCal, iTunes and more. Also, it lets you easily perform a Bluetooth sync with supported devices (press a button, and your phone and computer will sync from your belt). It’s really an incredible program, and handles everything Palm’s software does, except, you know, well.

Transmit 3 for OS X ($29.95)

This is, hands down, the best FTP/SFTP client for OSX. Compatible, easy, slick, and full featured, Transmit makes FTP a pleasure. This was one of the programs I really missed on Linux. If you do lots of FTP, this is what you’ve been searching for.

VoodooPad ($29.95)

Want to make your own Wiki for your everyday life? This is a great way to do it. Organize files, documents, and even pictures in Wiki form, with easy exportability and lots of great features. They’ve updated it since I got my license, so I’m sure it’s only gotten better.

Command and Conquer Generals Deluxe Pack ( $54.00)

It’s a guilty pleasure, and a great Mac port.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ( $44.00) (No Universal Binary)

A great game with great graphics and an engaging storyline. A must for any Star Wars fans.


Take a look at these programs, and see if they look right for you. As always, your mileage may vary, and although I hope you love them as much as I do, everybody’s got a different style. Many of these products have demos, so try before you buy. Take this with the appropriate grain of e-salt, and enjoy!

Have a question, comment, or concern about this post? Contact me!