Neat Mac Software

I don’t often get new software for my Mac, as I find that the software that comes with Mac OS X, or that I’ve bought or downloaded previously does what I want. And with as many hobbies as I have – many of the non-computer hobbies – I’m not generally looking for software to do something new for me. Despite this, I’ve downloaded two new pieces of software in the past week:

  1. ClickToFlash is a very cool Safari plug-in which masks out all the Flash being used on the web from your browsing experience, letting you choose to view a Flash instance on demand, by clicking on the Flash box. Since a lot of annoying animated ads are done in Flash, it also works as a partial ad blocker. It took me just minutes to be really happy I’d downloaded this.
  2. Tweetie is a Twitter client. (There’s also an iPhone version, but I’m happy with Echofon there.) It seems slightly better than Twitteriffic, although I’m hard-pressed to say how; I tried Tweetie because I have friends who love it. I mostly wish that Twitter had a better Web interface so that I didn’t need a separate app for it at all; the service is so simple, you’d think they could make one. Still, since Twitter is of minimal value to me (Facebook is much more useful and fun), it’s not a big deal one way or the other.

What other Mac software out there ought I to be using?

The Scanner Blues

A few months ago I took the plunge and upgraded our desktop computer at home to Leopard. After all, I’d been running it both at work and on both of our laptops, and it seemed fine. Okay, I’d had to update some freeware and shareware, but that’s to be expected. I should probably update them more than once every 3 years anyway. 🙂

Well, it went smoothly, except for one problem: I can’t get my scanner to work under Leopard. Which is a bummer, since I use the scanner to scan book and comic covers for this journal, album art for my iTunes library, and also to scan items I put up for sale on eBay.

I have a Canon CanoScan LiDE 80, which was reasonably inexpensive and (more importantly) small and flat, but with a decent-sized platen for scanning. It’s worked well for several years, on both Panther and Tiger. But on Leopard it doesn’t work at all.

My first problem is that I use the version of Adobe Photoshop Elements that came with the scanner, which means that it’s now quite old, and won’t even launch on Leopard. If this were the worst problem, it would be surmountable; I could try to figure out Image Capture, which comes with Mac OS X, or I could try to use GraphicConverter or buy a copy of VueScan. Or heck, I could just buy the newest version of Photoshop Elements.

The larger problem is that the LiDE 80 doesn’t seem to be supported on Leopard, and in fact Canon seems to do a poor job of updating their drivers – the most recent drivers for this scanner were posted on 10/4/2007, which was shortly before Leopard was released. So I infer that they haven’t really been updated to work with Leopard. And n matter what I try, I haven’t been able to get them to work, even using the TWAIN driver, as other applications don’t seem to recognize Canon’s TWAIN driver. (The drivers also appear to be available only for PowerPC machines, which is fine for my desktop machine, since it is such a machine, but I’d like to buy an Intel-based Mac sometime soon, and that will pretty much hose it.) Someone recommended I check out SANE to see if they have a driver for it, but they don’t; apparently the scanner uses a “backend” which SANE doesn’t yet support. Alas.

It appears that other people have had the same problem, but I haven’t found a concrete solution. This thread has a lot of discussion about the issue, and some people seem to have gotten it to work, but others have not. I’m one of the “have not” people. On the other hand, one person was able to get it to work with VueScan, which I haven’t tried. (Although since VueScan seems to have a free trial, perhaps I should.)

So anyway, my solution to all this was to realize yesterday: Hey, I bought a second internal hard drive for the desktop machine a while back! So I partitioned that drive and installed Tiger on one partition, brought it up to date, and then installed the Canon software along with Photoshop Elements. Sure enough, the scanner works great in that environment. So at least that gives me a solution for the short term.

The longer term will involve buying a new computer, and then probably a new scanner. It seems that Epson has been releasing new drivers for Leopard, so I might give them a try, perhaps the V200 Photo. I’m certainly more inclined to buy a scanner from someone who appears to be actively supporting the platform.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions on what to get, I’d appreciate it.

Of course, I’ve needed to buy a new stereo receiver for months, and haven’t gotten around to that, so who knows when I’ll get to doing all this? (Then again, I installed Tiger on a new partition on a whim last night, so it could happen at any time…)