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Tessa Thornton

Freelance web developer and writer based in Toronto, Canada

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As fantastic as the Mac OS is, there are plenty of reasons you might want to run Windows from time to time: maybe you need to run some old school XP software for work, or you want to try out some PC games, or (like me) you have to test websites in Internet Explorer.

If you’re going the virtualization route, you can try out the free VirtualBox, but if you’re looking for something more powerful and user-friendly, the two main competitors are Parallels and VMware Fusion. I’ve tried both, and have been happily using VMware Fusion for the year and a half. VMware recently came out with a major update packed with new features, so let’s take a look at what it has to offer.

As a web designer, I spend a significant amount of time creating graphics and interfaces in Photoshop. Like other designers and artists, I love the power and limitless possibilities it offers, while at the same time, I grow increasingly frustrated with high prices, feature bloat, and the myriad little quirks that seem designed to drive us insane.

Photoshop’s lack of competition is partly due to the large scope and flexibility of the application – it is used by web, graphic, and interface designers, digital artists, photographers, and more. I doubt Photoshop’s reign as the king of multi-purpose graphics software will end any time soon, but developers have been chipping away at its supremacy in individual fields.

In the more artistic fields, Pixelmator has long been a popular Photoshop alternative, loved for its speed and simplicity. Despite these advantages, Pixelmator could never quite match Photoshop in terms of sheer power – until now. Pixelmator 2 was recently release with an impressive list of new features, find out if it can really compete after the jump!

My computer is a constant companion in the kitchen, it can be a bit risky, but I just love having limitless recipe options at my fingertips. Unfortunately, when I find some great recipes sometimes, they often end up jumbled among hundreds of bookmarks, where I’ll probably never see them again.

A number of Mac app developers have capitalized on the kitchen-computer connection, and developed various solutions for storing and organizing recipes on the Mac. Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders and what they have to offer!

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When I’m not writing Appstorm reviews or doing schoolwork, I’m a freelance web developer. A lot of what I know about web development I owe to the in-depth tutorials and screencasts over at Nettuts+, which is, in my opinion, one of the most reliable and richest resources for all levels of learning. You may or may not know that Nettuts+ is owned by Envato, who also happens to run AppStorm. We’re an ever growing family of sites aimed at providing you with all your digital needs, from education and app reviews to online marketplaces for designers and developers.

In addition to providing quality educational materials, Nettuts+ has recently entered into the world of Mac app development with a duo of helpful web development tools: Nettuts Builder and Structurer Pro.

Read on to find out how to use these great utilities to speed up your web development workflow!
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Think fast, how many web app accounts do you have? Now, how many software licenses? What about bank accounts or email addresses? I’d wager at least several dozen. That’s a lot of user names, passwords and numbers to remember. To help Mac users keep track of their myriad digital profiles, a number of apps have been developed to store and organize all your personal and private information.

I’ve been an avid 1Password user for almost a year now, and I’d be useless without it. However, at $40, it’s not the most affordable option available, and major competitor Wallet is still a bit steep at $20. MyWallet is a newer app offering the basic functionality of a password manager at the much more palatable price of $2.99. Read on to find out if you can still enjoy the benefits of password management without shelling out the cash.

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Macs these days span the extremes, from 11-inch MacBook Airs to 27-inch iMacs. It’s a prevalent first-world problem: there’s not enough space on your laptop, but everything’s too far away on the big screen. When you’re working on a large screen monitor (or two), especially when you work in design, you lose focus when you go searching through menu bar items way off in the arctic circle of your monitor.

MenuPop by Binary Bakery is an attempt to remedy this by making menu bar items available anywhere on your screen. Read on to find out if this little utility can save you from getting lost in a sea of pixels!

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When I first started writing for Appstorm, I immediately grabbed a copy of MarsEdit, since I had read such great things (on AppStorm) and finally had a reason to use it. I know HTML, but I hate looking at all those tags when I’m writing, so I did most of my work in Rich Text mode, then switched it to HTML, and copied into WordPress. It wasn’t a bad workflow, but it wasn’t ideal. When I reviewed ByWord, I got hooked on the minimal writing environment, and searched for a way to integrate it into my workflow.

From ByWord documentation, I learned about the infinitely useful Markdown syntax, which I’d previously dismissed as something too geeky-sounding to try. Markdown is two things: a standardized plain-text writing syntax, and a tool for converting plain text into HTML. With limited knowledge of HTML, writers can type out content in a natural markup-free environment, then easily convert their text into properly encoded HTML. Marked is a lightweight, inexpensive app that lets you preview the HTML output of your document as you’re writing. In this article, I’m going to go over some of the basics of Markdown, and demonstrate how Marked can contribute to an efficient blogging workflow.

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The popularity of online bill paying simplifies our lives in many ways (not to mention the tree savings), but without a solid piece of mail arriving at the door, it can be tough to remember the due dates for the many bills we pay each month. While you could set up repeating reminders in iCal, and keep track of what you’ve paid on spread sheets, the developers of Chronicle promise an easier way to keep track of bills for the memory-and-math-challenged.

Unlike many other finance apps, which try to do everything from creating budgets to tracking transactions, Chronicle is dedicated solely to helping you pay the bills. Find out if this simplified approach can prevent bill-related anxiety in today’s review!

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I’m the kind of person that likes things to be neat and organized, but I don’t like it enough to put a lot of effort into making it happen. I’m mostly content to be moderately irritated by things being out of order in exchange for not having to waste time organizing, alphabetizing, labeling or tagging. Since my recent hard drive failure, I’ve been dreading transferring music from my iPod back to my computer because I’d forgotten that all the hard work I did updating song metadata hadn’t been synced to my iPod.

I was naturally very intrigued by Little App Factory’s new app Tagalicious, which promises to clean up your iTunes library quickly and painlessly by auto-detecting track metadata and updating it in iTunes. Read on to find out if it succeeds!

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It’s been a long two years since the release of Snow Leopard, and with all the fanfare surrounding Apple’s mobile devices recently, many Mac users, myself included, are feeling a little left out. Lion’s much-anticipated release follows Apple’s promise to bring focus “back to the Mac” by integrating advancements from iPhone and iPad development into the Mac platform. In its attempt to bring the best of iOS to the next generation of OSX, Apple has some people worried that Lion will turn their Macs into giant iPads, or introduce iOS-like restrictions to the Mac. Now that this cat is finally out of its cage, let’s dive right in and see what Lion has to offer!

Unlike Snow Leopard, which featured mostly behind-the-scenes improvements and few obvious changes, Lion is a feature-packed major update that will noticeably change the way you use your Mac. Lion comes packed with over 250 new features, so let’s take a look at some of its biggest selling points (in no particular order).

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