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Ten for X

Volume Number: 18 (2002)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: Reviews

Ten for X

by Michael R. Harvey

A cottage industry of freeware and shareware software developers has sprung up around OS X, much like there was a decade ago with System 7. These utilities cover the gamut from the useful to the frivolous, and some could be considered both. Aladdin Systems has taken some of the best shareware utilities for OS X, and bundled them together in a package named "Ten for X".

Installation of Ten for X is rather absurd. You have to enter not only the supplied serial number, but also an administrator password in order to install the package. However, from the first installation, for the most part, you only get the installers for the various utilities. After that, you have to run those additional installers for each of the included programs. This is excessively redundant and, in the case of the admin password, completely unnecessary.

Once you have finished jumping through Aladdin's hoops to get the software installed, you are now faced with a directory with the goods. Most of the utilities will require another installer to be run, as mentioned above. Some, however, are just applications, and are ready to go.

At the top of the list is "Alarm Clock S.E." from Humongous Elephants and Tigers. This is a scheduling application. With it you can schedule times for AppleScripts to be launched, music to be played, or simple reminders. It has a good in-depth ability to set the alarm, based on specific or recurring time. There is also a basic calendar included, although it is not nearly as robust as many others available.

Next comes "FruitMenu" from Unsanity, one of three Unsanity products included in Ten for X. This is an Apple Menu enhancement that gives you back some of the functionality of the old OS 9 Apple Menu, but with a lot of really great customization features. Set up is accomplished through a preference pane in System Preferences. There are many ways to customize the look and actions of not only the Apple Menu, but also contextual menus. You can also set applications for which Fruit Menu will be inactive. A nice way to avoid software conflicts with other programs.

Next is "WindowShade X". This useful little preference pane allows you to move a window out of the way by double clicking on the title bar, like you used to in OS 9. As used to happen in the old OS, the window collapses upward into the title bar leaving only it visible. No longer will you have to hunt down in the dock to find the right window to bring out. As with FruitMenu, you can customize how it works, as well as exclude certain applications from its functionality.

Aladdin Systems includes one of their own utilities in the bundle. "iClean" will clear out history, cache, and cookie files from your computer, ostensibly to help protect your privacy. iClean will access, and remove the above mentioned files from Netscape browsers, I.E., and iCab. The cookie cleaner function, however, does more than just mass delete. It is designed to help manage cookie files. With it, you can selectively delete cookies you no longer need, keeping the ones you do safe. iClean will also fix orphaned aliases, trying to reattach them to their originals.

Objective Development's contribution is "LaunchBar". This is a unique, and potentially very useful time saving utility. It functions by allowing you to very quickly search for applications, and launch them for you. When you hit command-space bar, a small bar pops up just underneath the menu bar. You start typing the name of the application you want to launch, and LaunchBar will list programs that match. Highlight the one you need, or keep typing until LaunchBar does, hit return, and your program starts up. The program is highly configurable, allowing you to exclude certain files, or file type, and add abbreviations to certain programs, among other things. It can take some getting used to, and some users may never figure it out, but it if you can become accustomed to how LaunchBar works, it can be a great time saver.

"Idea Spiral", by Midnite Liteman, is an interesting way to keep track of notes, and bits of text. It has the potential to help you keep track of all the random clips of information you need but can't categorize, and often can't find. Losing that one line of code for the tenth time could be prevented using this application.

The other utilities included in the bundle are "LimeWire Pro", a peer to peer file sharing program that accesses the Gnutella network. It runs in Java, and gets more stable and faster with every dot release. It just works. "PrintMagic X" is a utility that allows you to quickly print highlighted text with various date and time stamps, as well as act as a desktop printer icon. "Pseudo", by Brian Hill, allows you to launch programs as administrator, even if you are not logged in as root. Also included is "piPop", from piDog. This program provides an alternate way to access the contents of your drive. When piPop is running, drag your mouse to the far right or left of your screen. After a moment, a hierarchical menu will pop up allowing you to navigate folders, that you have previously set up in preferences, to find whatever it is you are looking for.

The third Unsanity utility is "Xounds". This is the "bonus", or eleventh, application included in the bundle (naming the bundle 11 for X probably wouldn't have sounded as cool). It is an enhancement that brings appearance sounds back from the OS 9 grave. If you can't live without your Mac burping and chirping at you every 0.7 seconds, then this add-on is for you.

Nearly all of these utilities have been updated since the release of Ten for X. For most of the programs, simply download the latest version from the developers website, and use the serial numbers included in the package to activate the newer version. For the few that came preregistered (LimeWire Pro, Pseudo, and Alarm Clock S.E.), you will need to contact the developer directly to obtain updated versions of the program.

Likewise for support. If you run into any issues with the individual applications, don't just call Aladdin. Aladdin Systems will provide support for the primary installer, and iClean. However, for all other programs, call the specific developer for technical support.

Besides the core software that gives this package its name, there are dozens of try-outs, and demo software packages included on the CD from Bare Bones, Adobe, and others. Also included are PDF files of Mac OS X tips and tricks excerpts from PeachPit Press, and MacWorld magazine.

While not every single application on the CD may be useful to everyone, Aladdin provides a good cross section of utilities to help enhance your OS X experience. If even half of the included applications could be useful to you, then the $49.99 cost of the bundle is well worth it.

Post Script - In November, Aladdin released an update for Ten for X. It includes updates to all the above mentioned utilities. The update also adds a new application to the bundle (twelve for X?). "ExecutiveSync" is a file synchronization utility. It has the ability to not only synchronize the contents of two folders, but do so in a way that prevents the user from accidentally overwriting changes. It has fairly comprehensive archiving and history functions. However, it lacks the ability to schedule running what are termed 'projects' within the application. All operations must be run manually.

Michael R. Harvey


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