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Mac OS X 3rd party applications that suck

Some non-Apple applications ought to be singled out, in my opinion, if they’ve become necessary evils. Not because one would pay money for them, or because they’re commercially produced, but because they’ve become an essential part of one’s computer habits. Yet at the same time frustration reigns during actual use. Anyone know of better alternatives to these software letdowns?

Previously: Mac OS X 3rd party applications I use, and recommend!

MouseWorksReturning to the Macintosh means returning to my favorite input device, a multibutton trackball, complete with 21st century scrollwheel. However, I’ve always found it disappointing that Kensington’s MouseWorks software, while a free download, has remained closed source, never available on Linux. Sadder still, this driver remains stuck somewhere in the 20th century (except for becoming a Universal binary, thankfully), with its kludgy UI and slowish performance. When I was meandering through their booth at MacWorld 2007, I overheard that they won’t make a wireless trackball (sadly, I couldn’t hear the rep’s reason as to why; it was quite noisy), so I believe Kensington really doesn’t seem to care about moving forward into this millennium. Perhaps I should return to USB Overdrive (shareware, US$20)? Or are there better multibutton, platform independent trackballs? (Cordlessness a definite plus.) I haven’t been satisfied by Logitech’s or Macally’s offerings in the past, but perhaps I should check ’em out again. (Just checked the Macally site, and they don’t offer trackballs.)

Missing SyncThe Treo 650 has been a delightful upgrade from my ole Palm V. On the other hand, the Missing Sync for Palm OS (commercial, US$39.95) has been as exasperating to setup as Palm’s Desktop software (commercial, free download). Even though its UI is much prettier than the Palm Desktop applications (with integration in Apple’s Address Book and iCal), the Missing Sync irks me with its lack of trial usage (afaict, they make you pay before downloading), severe license policy (locked to a two MAC addresses), frustrating installation and updates (I’ve lost data several times due to unclear documentation), and inconsistent syncing (sometimes the desktop or Treo won’t pick up changes in Contacts/Address Book or Calendar/iCal).

Photoshop CS2I don’t use Photoshop CS2 much these days, but it deserves this rant: Installation and upgrade is agonizing. Asking me for my admin password six times. If download is interrupted or paused, I’m (sometimes) asked to reinstall the whole damn thing because some fatal, no-error-code-given error occurred. Nice first-time experience, guys. Oh, still runs in emulation (Rosetta) mode, uh walks, erm limps. So. Very. Slow. On Intel. With the installation pain experienced, I freely admit hesitation at trying out the CS3 private beta. If you have an Intel Mac and have played with the CS3 beta, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.

Poor Adobe-Macromedia, you no longer handle Macintosh applications as well as you did in your earlier days. Flash development for non-Windows is always behind. Acrobat has become a sad caricature of what it once was. I rarely use Acrobat Reader, too, since Preview just works without fuss. The only time I needed Acrobat was to read an eBook for a class. With severe DRM limitations placed on that particular book, I couldn’t copy or print anything, in spite of paying for the bloody thing. Not the fault of Acrobat (the limitations are imposed by the publisher), but its klunky, slow UI with blinking adverts leaves no room for satisfaction.

MS-OfficeYou might wonder why I haven’t mentioned Microsoft Office. That’s because I don’t use it. 🙂 Not since the glory days of Word 5.1a and earlier versions. (I remember a US$35 student fee for Word 3. Good times.) While some might poopoo office suite alternatives, I can’t say that recent MS-Office applications fair much better.

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