Nemo Memo
The Best Fifty Dollar Software You Never Bought

Fifty bucks? That’s not much chicken scratch these days. It will buy you two years of AppleCare for your iPod, or a pair of replacement iPod batteries. It will pay for the difference between the 8GB and 4GB new “wide body” iPod nano. It will get you into Moscone Center next January for a week of Macworld 2008 Expo fun and games, with enough change to pay for a cookie that was baked fresh at Halloween.

Or you can pay $50 for some world class software. I have written separately about the three applications being discussed below. This Nemo Memo will focus on their utility and value.

DiskStudio from Micromat was featured here, including an interview with Christian Pickman, product manager. Since then a new Universal Binary version 1.5.2 was introduced that extended the functionality of the application, and allows it to work with Intel Macs.

Apple’s free included Disk Utility does an acceptable job of creating and deleting hard drive partitions when a disk is initially being set up or initialized. DiskStudio allows users to create or delete specific partitions, without erasing the physical hard drive.

Both when testing hard drives for reviews and for my personal/professional volume management, I use Micromat’s DiskStudio at least once every week. Roughly once per month it helps me with partitions that are either invisible or unusable within the Mac OS and Disk Utility. On those occasions my clients or I would gladly pay fifty dollars per partition !! when the alternative is lost or corrupted data.

Most readers of can probably go their entire lives without giving two hoots about DiskStudio’s specific skill set. But techies, power users, and gear-heads who mess around with hard drive partitions will consider this gem to be a phenomenal bargain for its $50 price tag.

The software is not perfect. There are occasional unexpected times you need to scratch your head and figure out how to get it to behave to your specifications, especially in complex multi-partition situations. But when it works, it works, and you can save hours/days/lifetimes of stress and frustration when DiskStudio digs you out of a mammoth case of partitionitis.

You know who you are, if this is a utility whose time is right, because the cost certainly is reasonable.

* * * * *

Fission from Rogue Amoeba is priced at only $32, leaving you $18 change to spend at the aforementioned Macworld 2008 Expo. Fission is to audio tracks what Micromat’s DiskStudio is to hard drive partitions: it allows you to alter them to your specifications, with precision and panache.

Let’s say you record an hour of Bob Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” on XM/AOL Radio using Audio Hijack Pro, also from Rogue Amoeba. Only two of the songs Bob plays during the show are keepers, and the rest are disposable. The two worthwhile songs are not adjacent to one another.

Using Fission, you remove all unwanted audio, glue the two segments together, and have a seamless, lossless MP3 file of your custom edited mix. I do this every week, after selecting my favorite parts of Dylan’s programs. The possibilities are infinite.

The learning process is quick. Rogue Amoeba provides a thorough manual plus quick response email support. Version 1.5.1 of Fission has some nifty new features added since our review, posted here. If was reviewing it today, we’d award it a perfect score. Personally, I can’t live without it, and all audio aficionados will quickly agree with my appraisal.

Update: Paul from Rogue Amoeba reminds readers that “for $50 they can get Fission AND Audio Hijack Pro. It’s a pretty darned good deal.”

* * * * *

Glance from Glance Networks is a life-altering network-based screen sharing application. Read about it in our interview here with one of its founders, Taylor Kew, who died recently. He will be missed.

The cost of Glance is fifty dollars per month, or $500 per year. That sounds expensive, until you see Glance in action. Just ask any of the dozens of Nemo’s friends/clients/family members who rely on it. Most of them would fork over fifty bucks per session, when it helps them get through a critical situation.

Big news: with a single Glance subscription, up to a hundred viewers now can be hosted simultaneously. Wowzer. For a small-to-large training, sales, education, or schmoozing group of Glancers, it’s a heckuva lot easier than driving or flying for an in person meeting.

Let’s say I’m helping Artie learn how to post his photo essay as a blog. He fires up the Glance application on his MacBook, and within a minute I’m explaining how and where to point and click. This is a non-invasive procedure, and I have no access whatsoever to his crown jewels.

Like the two applications above, Glance is exceptional value, easy to use, straightforward of purpose, and provided by a very user-friendly company. I’m hooked. Again, you know if this sort of software will ring your chimes. The free trial makes it easy to try before you buy.

* * * * * thanks the talented engineers, developers, and other dedicated people from Glance, Rogue Amoeba, and Micromat, for your ongoing support of the Macintosh community.

Leave a Reply