I'm going to take a couple minutes on this lovely Friday to pimp a couple of Mac OS X shareware apps that I deem worthy of my money. Both come from the same developer, David Watanabe. The guy really gets Mac OS X application design. His apps are useful, elegant and downright pretty. And useful. Yes, I know I said that twice.
I'm going to talk about two apps. One more pretty, the other more useful.
First, the pretty. NewsFire is an RSS reader. Yes, there are, what seems like, a plethora of these out there. And most of them are free. So, what got me to switch away from my previous favorite, NetNewsWire and pay 16.99 Euros for a new reader? The look and feel of NewsFire. No, really. A lot of RSS readers out there make me feel like I'm reading my email or Usenet (if you don't know what that is, get the fuck off my blog) and neither of those tasks have ever really been pretty experiences. NewsFire, though, changes that. The display is elegant, and it just moves smoothly and easily. As feeds get new items they slide up to the top of the list (if you like) and when you quit it, it doesn't just disappear, it fades away like it's riding off into the sunset. It's just sexy.
It has it's useful features, of course. Smart feeds (i.e. smart playlists from iTunes or smart folders from the Finder) which is something I grew to love in NNW. It's also got a great feature that allows to you 'scan' a website for RSS feeds... very useful for when the site's designer doesn't make it obvious. One feature it's missing i the "Dinosaur" list from NNW. That let's you easily find feeds that haven't been updated a while in case you want to prune them.
You might think this is expensive for an RSS reader... but I have one running pretty much all day... and good software design is worth supporting.
Second, the useful. Inquisitor is a very nifty extension to the search feature in both Safari and Camino. It allows you to have instant results, and suggestions, pop up for your search terms as you type. By default, it searches Google or Yahoo, and you can opt to search several other sites like Technorati, Flickr or Amazon. That's the real power with this tool, in my opinion. That and the fact that you can configure other search engines with minimal effort. If you click on the screenshot to the right, you can see I've increased the number of instant results, left the suggestions at three, and added a custom search engine (Thottbot for WoW).
At 5 Euros (6.18 USD at the moment), it's also very affordable. Small price to pay for a nice utility and supporting innovative app design.
Ok, I'm actually going to talk about a third app of his too. David also wrote Acquisition. That's probably the most popular and successful of his holy trinity of apps and and so needs less pimpage than the others. It's a P2P (gnutella) app that integrates well with iTunes, and has some other really nifty features and a great UI. I haven't used it in a while, as I don't need gnutella P2P apps all that often... but I bring it up because I just found out that he added BitTorrent support as well... very intriguing. I'm going to have to dig back into it again.