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Reeder 2 for Mac

Finally, Reeder 2 for Mac is in beta and available for download off the website. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a while and couldn’t, like many others, wait to get some first-hand experience.

A lot of what makes Reeder Reeder is already visible in the beta. The overall color choices, the screen layout, the animations. Speaking of which, I’m not necessarily a big fan of animations, but for Reeder I have always made an exception.

However, a surprisingly lot of features is still missing, and the app is very open about missing pieces that will (hopefully) fall into place later. Going into more detail at this point may render the article overly critical, which is neither intended nor warranted because the shortcomings may very likely be fixed any time soon.

I like what I’ve seen and will keep an eye on the further development. In other words, I tend to take the current package as what it is: a demonstration unit that is far away from showing the full production polish, not ready for day-to-day use.

It takes courage to expose such a prominent, if not iconic app in this shape to the public and I applaud Silvio Rizzi for this move.

OneNote

Quite a while ago, I have vocalized my regret about the lack of OneNote on OS X. Today now finally marks the advent of Microsoft OneNote on the Mac.

After all this time, I’m no longer sure whether I was desperately missing the app as much as I did in 2011. Meanwhile, most of my textual notes are written in Markdown and for the rest, Evernote has made great progress, too.

I guess, I will still take OneNote for a spin, if only to see how it feels like as a native OS X app. As much as my former self would have happily embraced OneNote, for the current me, it most likely is too little, too late.

Goto Statement Considered Harmful

I can’t believe that no tech blog is running this line in the wake of Apple’s disastrous SSL bug that recently got fixed in iOS a couple of days sooner than on OSX.

It is hard to believe that none of the usual suspects have a background in computer science solid enough to not immediately get reminded of Dijkstra’s classical piece.

I fully understand that it is not actually the goto-statement itself that caused the issue, but still, the opportunity for the pun is too good to be missed.

Whatever the background of this incident, it got me switching from Safari to another stint with Opera as long as Safari was known to be vulnerable.

I was delighted to see that Opera has been updated in the meantime and now comes with the ability to sport a bookmarks bar, one of the most features I was missing the most in my short piece about the browser.

Personally, I don’t need a full-featured bookmarks manager. The bookmarks bar, however, is essential for using Javascript bookmarklets in the browser. That’s a thumbs up for that feature.

Another issue that I have been complaining about is that tendency of Opera to require the discrete GPU for rendering specific web sites and then maintain the usage of the discrete GPU even if the respective tab has been closed in the meantime.

Well, this issue can now at least be remedied by using Opera’s built-in task manager to kill the offending process and release that discrete GPU from being used.

As far as I understand, the task manager is also a new feature available since the release of Opera 19. I’d still prefer if Opera would refrain from requiring the discrete GPU in the first place but the task manager at least makes the issue, well, manageable.

In total, that makes two important improvements in one release and this is giving me some confidence in the browser.

Like Google Chrome, but Without the Google Chrome?

I don’t think it is much of an exaggeration to describe the Google ecosystem as polarizing, you either subscribe to it or find it creepy.

Google Chrome, undoubtedly part of the Google ecosystem, saw me leaving for Safari about a year ago. I used to like the app for various reasons but eventually the Google branding1 stand too much in my way and so I left.

At that time of me switching my preferred browser, the most prominent candidate to switch to was obvious: Safari2. And thankfully, Safari is arguably becoming better and better with every release3.

But this is not the time to praise the merits of Safari, this is the time to talk about another browser that has undergone major changes during the year 2013 and that, at least in my opinion, came out of this process better than ever: Opera.

Yes, that Opera. Opera is now, in contrast to previous versions, based on the Chromium project and thus shares a fair amount of code with Google Chrome.

Thankfully, the Google braaaaanding is entirely absent. So is a bundled Flash-player. Not that I miss it much, but at least this is another noticeable difference to Chrome.

The visual appearance of Opera reminds of the Chrome design, but there are lots of details that make the difference recognizable. The most prominent example may be the shape of browser tabs that is way less curvy than the tabs in Chrome.

Stuff that I like, and was still missing since the time I left Chrome, are the favicons and the pinned tabs4. Also, the toolbar icons are colored and easier distinguishable from each other than Safari’s gray soup.

Opera has also taken over the extension model from Chrome and this may be an explanation for the wealth of extensions available for the Browser that can hardly be explained by market share.

For me, browser extensions for certain services are indispensable. A browser that does not come with an extension to support 1Password, Instapaper, or Evernote in probably not worth a consideration. From that perspective, there is hardly anything to complain about Opera.

What is worth complaining about is the management of search engines. There is a limited amount of first-class citizen search engines5. These are called the “default” search engines and, bizarrely, only one of them can actually be made the default search engine.

Any other engine in the list can be used by prefixing the search query with a letter that corresponds to a given search engine. In other words, typing “y opera” passes the search query “opera” to Yahoo rather than Google.

To make a long story short, my beloved Duck Duck Go is not a first-class citizen. It is possible to add it to the list of search engines but you always have to use a prefix for passing queries to DuckDuckGo. This is sad.

What is even sadder is the total absence of a bookmarking mechanism that is worth mentioning. I’m not relying too much on bookmarks managed by a browser but the lack of a bookmark bar in the browser window means no bookmarklets and that is indeed a big deal.

Maybe this is because Opera just came out on the other side of a major architectural change that bookmarking has been considered a low priority issue that will be fixed later when all the more pressing stuff is already resolved.

All in all, Opera might be an interesting alternative were it not that the browser at some point requires the discrete GPU on my machine. Of course, this has something to do with opening a tab that contains an image that triggers the discrete GPU to kick in and burn my battery faster than I’d be willing to accept.

gfxCardStatus reports one “Opera Helper” as the culprit and the process won’t go away until the entire app is closed. I have never witacnessed anything similar while using Safari.

I may come back to check Opera from time to time but for now there is no open window for it to become the primary browser on my machine.

  1. Chrome will not let go an opportunity to ask the user to sign into a Google account. This can quickly become a nuisance if you don’t have one and don’t have any intention to sign up for it.

  2. No, don’t even think of Firefox.

  3. Arguably, there are still some aspects, mostly related to the visual design, that regularly make me cringe.

  4. Speaking of tabs, thankfully no one at Opera believes that tabs should take all the horizontal screen estate they can get.

  5. Google comes as the default search engine.

Is 3 Ready for Prime Time?

A big update is preparing to be rolled out for my favorite text editor: Sublime Text. The transition from Sublime Text 2 to Sublime Text 3 is somewhat painful as the internal API for the creation of so-called packages has undergone a massive change.

This change made the availably of packages for Sublime Text 3 somewhat limited at the start of the “private” beta phase1 and therefore switching early was not an option for the vast majority of users.

This situation has massively improved and the point of being able to switch from version 2 to version 3 is coming closer and closer2.

Me, I’m already past that point as it turns out that the packages that I rely on mostly are already available for Sublime Text 3. It’s great to be able to enjoy the new features.

How do you find out?

Go to this web site and paste the content of your Package Control user settings file into the text field. Then press the button labeled “Can I Switch?”. A nice idea and well executed. There is even a package available for Sublime Text 2 that streamlines the overall workflow of finding out.

  1. During this phase, download of the app was possible for everyone but you needed a valid license key for Sublime Text 2 to run the app.

  2. Of course, the answer heavily depends on the individual set-up and therefore your mileage may vary when it comes to this question.