Show us your Dock

Keith White
10 April, 2008
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What does the contents of your Dock say about you? Perhaps it’s just a collection of the tools you use a lot. Or maybe you don’t bother. A friend of mine still has the dock as it came with her Mac. She opens everything else from the Applications folder. Old habits die hard.

Just like the emergence of Playlistism — where you are judged as a person by the contents of your iPod playlist — could we have Dockism? In the interests of research, I have decided to share the contents of my Dock with you dear readers for you to judge my Macworth or otherwise. Perhaps what I haven’t Docked is as revealing as the colorful strip of icons that stretches almost the width of my 24-inch iMac. Maybe the way I have them organised says something . . .

First, systems. Mac and Windows (via Parallels). "Hey," I hear someone call out, "this guy’s still using Tiger!"

Überconservative type, waits until the next cat’s almost out of the bag before switching (to Leopard 10.5.11). Fair comment. But all the programs in my Dock work fine in 10.4.11 and I’m not yet convinced that Leopard can guarantee me that, despite it’s other obvious advantages. But I can feel the pressure — especially in the monthly podcast when Martin, Matthew and David subtly turn the knife.

I use Windows weekly to test that the stuff I’m sending to PC users opens and works. So when they e-mail back and say ‘attachment wouldn’t open. But you use one of those Mac things, don’t you?’ ‘Sure do, but the attachment opens fine in XP Pro — pause for effect — running on my Mac.’ Hehehehehe.

Dashboard – I’m constantly F12-ing in for Dictionary/Thesaurus, translating to/from other languages and to check Internet usage,. And international clocks when I’m setting up Skype interviews. Which explains the Skype icon, which we all use for our weekly AMW podcasts.

Disk Utility – used infrequently but I like to have a basic toolkit handy. Like the CanonScan Toolbox for creating quick PDFs from my Canon scanner, a bit like a digital photocopier.

Eye TV mostly for sport or recording something special from SBS while we watch ABC. Or vice versa.

Before You Know It is a free lite version of a French language tuition program as we prepare for an extended stay in France next year. Which we’re exploring via the next item, Google Earth.

Grab is regularly used to do just that from my Mac screen. Label Print is a quaintly old- fashioned disk printing utility which does the job whenever I need a disk to be well-dressed. Calculator mainly does currency conversions, iCal only for the AMW schedule and Address book only for email addresses. Mail is the most used item in the Dock but the only tweak is a number of different signatures for my different employment personas.

Safari has just been re-docked thanks to the speed and user improvements in version 3. Otherwise it’s Firefox which seems to operate the Joomla website I’m working on at the moment more smoothly.

I use Preview all the time for a quick peek at pix and pdfs — so QuickLook in Leopard is tugging at my sleeve. QuickTime (Pro) does the same for instant audio and video previews.

Then the stars of the Adobe C3 suite. I’m thrashing Acrobat at the moment with an extensive project scanning old school magazines into searchable pdfs. InDesign gets similar bursts of usage when a serious print job comes up every three months or so. I open Photoshop almost every day for picture enhancement and restoration. iWeb I’m only playing with prior to a freebie website I have coming up for the local community. iDVD gets a regular gig for quick publication of video interviews as well as for documentaries and digital yearbooks. Snapz Pro is still in the wings with some experimental work on quick video FX, like recording from iTunes’ Visualizer. iMovie HD still gets the quick and dirty video work while I wait for iMovie 08 to expand its editing capabilities. Final Cut Express does the more serious stuff.

Tube TV gets stuff from YouTube nice and easily – mostly indie music videos. I use iPhoto for making sense of folders of images for projects and family records. I also use the basic edit tools to clean up large batches because I can do most of it from one edit window. LiveType does nice motion titles for video projects and Still Life adds fine degrees of control to the Ken Burns effect on still images.

Cinema 4D, the free Maya PLE, and Poser are for a long term research project on 3D body scanning. WireTap Pro gets a monthly workout recording my part of the AMW podcast. It seems more stable than Audacity, although an Übercaster demo messed its prefs until I binned it.

iTunes is on all the time for music and podcasts and feeding my two hungry iPods with sound and vision. GarageBand sweetly re-arranges my extensive MIDI file collection from my muso days and does quick soundbeds for my video work. I raid Soundtrack’s more extensive library for that special sound and use Logic Express where full pro sound quality is needed. ReMidi is a cunning little GB add-on which does strums and arpeggios. You can get some interesting effects. Band-in-a Box has developed over ten versions from a bland robot into a relatively sophisticated music creation, practice and learning tool. I’ve written a number of school musicals with this as a sketchpad. I used Sound Studio as a basic but effective sound editor some years ago and was reminded of it through the AMW music forums. Unhappy with the instability and a few other annoyances of freeware Audacity I reconnected with SS last month for a project entailing hours of basic audio cleanup. Audacity’s Dockdays may be numbered.

Last, the MS-less office. As a long-time user of the Claris/Appleworks basic database (aka FileMaker Lite) the transition to FMP was easy. Pages is getting better at handling the words while Text Edit is good for a quick look, sometimes opening files that Pages gags on. Keynote is a delight for my infrequent presentations and Numbers brings up the rear, at present only as an Excel translator.

So that’s my Dock, mostly set up for my work as a multimedia jack-of-all-trades. What’s in yours?

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