Weather applications fill an interesting niche on any app platform. They function as informative eye candy on smartphone home screens, essential additions on desktop enhancement applications like Geek Tool and life savers for people who have pristine internet access but, evidently, no windows.

So when every second app let’s you use the real thunderstorm ravaging your petunias in your front yard to water your virtual farmville crops, what’s so good about a vanilla OSX menubar app like MenuWeather?

Only one way to find out.

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For many OS X users, iChat is a program only opened once. You’ll start a video chat with your other Mac-using friend, or try a screen sharing session as you both race for mouse control supremacy and try to update each other’s Facebook status. Soon, however, the novelty wears off, the Adium .dmg lands in your downloads stack and iChat sits collecting dust in the long forgotten regions of your dock.

That was my situation anyway, until I heard about Chax.

Chax is a free, BSD licensed app that promises to improve the iChat experience. In this way, it’s like a Glims for iChat, but where Glims boosts Safari with big features like full screen browsing, Chax focuses on more modest app improvements – but ones that should no doubt be indispensable for heavy iChat users.

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For years, the mind mapping software market has been perceptually dominated by FreeMind. I say perceptually, because it seems more people have been recommending it than actually using it. Despite its ubiquity on free software alternatives lists, FreeMind is an awkward fit in the OS X environment. It’s cross platform, which often means “looks sub par everywhere”. It’s Java based, so performance is unpredictable.

And, most importantly, it’s not MindManager.

MindManager was never born as a FreeMind alternative. It’s existed on Windows since 1994, and on OS X since 2006. This is mind mapping with a totally native interface, and a novel idea for system integration. Let’s see how it performs.

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