$20.00 shareware fee
Being a founding member of the Macintosh Bleeding-Edge club, I’ve recently completed the transition to Intel-powered Macs.
Since my desktop and laptop are now Intelicized, the next transition is to update my software to Universal binaries. Why have more PowerPC software than absolutely necessary running under Rosetta? It’s slower, and uses more memory.
To be sure, some of my applications will be PowerPC for some time to come. Microsoft Office is stuck in PowerPC-land until the next major update, as is Photoshop. I have to admit, Office runs at least as fast on my Mac Pro under Rosetta than it did natively on the old 2.0 GHz Dual G5. Photoshop is noticeable slower, but I’m not a P’Shop power user.
If you’re curious to see what software is PowerPC, and what is Intel-friendly, start Activity Monitor, It’s part of a regular OS X install, and it lives in the Utilities folder.
Choose the CPU tab, and click on the Kind column. The display will sort by Kind, grouping PowerPC and Intel applications into separate groups.
(don’t worry, there’s a review of iClock coming up!)
When setting up my Mac Pro, I was highly distressed to find that two of my favorite utilities, Frank Vercrusse’s ASM, and Amar Sagoo’s Prefling, were PowerPC only. While ASM ran fine under Rosetta, Prefling would not even run on my Mac Pro.
ASM provides a menu bar application switcher a la OS 9, and also provides the ability to manage application windows like OS 9.
Prefling lets you open OS X preference panes directly from the dock without having to use the blue Apple icon to open the main Preferences window to choose the desired preference pane.
Gotta get out of Rosetta!
Searching Versiontracker.com for potential replacements turned up iClock, published by ScriptSoftware.
iClock is sold as a menu bar clock, but that’s selling it short. Way too short! Way way too short!
Universal binary application iClock has turned out to be a splendid replacement, not only for ASM and Prefling, but it also because includes many other great features. Some of these are more important to me than the menu bar clock feature.
iClock does all the following:
Application menu that allows switching to any running program.
Open system preferences and menu extras directly.
Show All, Hide Others, Hide All window control.
Recent Applications menu.
Gives you a birds eye view of different time zones.
Customize the Time and Date display in the menubar in hundreds of ways.
Change the colors separately of the Time and Date display in the menubar.
Choose the font to display the Time and Date in the menubar.
Gives you a time zone calculator that finds the best time to connect up the people in as many time zones as you want.
Gives an easily accessible, at a glance system menu view of times/dates in as many parts of the world as you want.
Add the people/companies you work with directly from the address book.
Gives the dial codes for countries around the world. 12 or 24 hour time.
Custom alarms that are so easily accessible you will use them.
Use the calendar to show birthdays from Apple’s Address Book and links to iCalendar.
The calendar can float on top or below other windows and its transparency can be set.
Run a Screen Saver on your desktop using iClock’s Screen Effects. Try Cosmos.
CopyPaste users can conveniently add the CopyPaste menus to iClock.
iClock can help you track your Stock Portfolio, Option-Click on iClock menu bar to set and view your stocks.
Calculator with history and auto hide.
To do list
This is one huge list of features for a single utility application, especially one that is touted as a menu bar clock.
How well did Scriptsoftware implement them?
Does iClock crumble under the weight of creeping featuritis?
All in all, iClock is quite well done. Once set up, each feature works as advertised. I did have some minor troubles getting the stock tracking feature to work, but a quick trip to the support forum on the Scriptsoftware website corrected my error in short order. Scriptsoftware includes a very helpful FAQ. Also garnering bonus points is the very thorough Apple Help file that is included. Given the multitude of features iClock has, a pre-emptive trip through the Help would answer many questions before they even arise.
iClock’s main drawback is getting it configured. Setting your personal preferences is a bit overwhelming. iClock does so much, and is so wonderfully configurable, that working through all its preferences can be a bit daunting. iClock is like BBEdit in this regard; it’s so fully-featured that setting your preferences can take more time than learning how to use the feature you’re configuring!
I could go on for pages discussing each feature. You’d be well-advised to try iClock for yourself. But here are a few points that are worth mentioning.
iClock allows you to send help requests via email. Since the right answer often depends on what computer and OS version you’re running, iClock will paste the appropriate information directly into the email. Here’s what my help request email automatically included:
I am using MacOS X 10.4.7 (Intel) with iClock 3.0.5.
My Local Time Zone: America/Phoenix [MST, GMT: -7.00] QuickTime Version: 7.1.3, Registered: Yes
Feedback / Bug Report: ===================================
Also, iClock allows menu bar access to a comprehensive list of Mac-related web sites, news sites, and general information links. Phone lookup information is linked to 411.com. The area code link is to the NANPA (North American Numbering Plan Administration) web site: so it will always be up to date.
ZIP code sites are the US and Canada official sites.
You can edit web URL for any site if it changes, or you prefer another site for a particular purpose.
The alarm/reminder feature is especially fine. You can set reminders to run one time, or at regular intervals. The neat feature is that the reminder can open a document, go to a web URL, launch an application, or even run an AppleScript! The ability to run AppleScripts as part of a alarm or reminder open up a world of possibilities for customizing workflow’s.
The menu bar access to Hide, Hide Other, Hide All and Show All works flawless. iClock does not provide ASM’s ability to emulate OS 9 application windowing, though. I wonder if Scriptsoftware could roll this into a future version…
One last great point is that the iClock application switching menu will list which applications (if any) are running under Rosetta. For example, my iClock menu shows Entourage (Rosetta). Here’s a constant reminder of which developers have not yet gone Universal binary!
Do I have any complaints? Sure. Lest this review sound like a total love-fest, I need to list a few things I did not like.
Why is the default color for the menu bar clock a garish blue? I had to wade through the various preference options to figure out how to make the clock display in black.
Try to clean up or centralize the multitude of preference windows.
Some features might be less-than-useful. I’m not quite sure why I would want transparency control of the To-Do window. I do know that making the window 99% transparent is useless, as it becomes virtually invisible. In fact, once I had made it completely transparent, I had a hard time seeing it to turn off transparency!
Having a Recent Applications menu is good, adding Recent Document would be even better.
iClock starts out as a menu bar clock, but after a while, that just becomes one attractive feature. It’s an application switcher, preference pane launcher, To-Do list, stock tracker, and powerful reminder tool. It’s worth every penny of the $20 shareware fee.