Tools worth every ngwee

Monday, 8 February 2010

by Silumesii Maboshe

What tools do you choose to spend your money on? If there is one concept a freelancer would do well to understand it is value. The yucky feeling one gets when they are sold short is all too familiar. Looking back, are there any gems that you feel, to this day, were money well spent? Here are some of mine.

MasterKey

I have been a computer-guy most of my life but until just three years ago, I could not touch-type. The change came about when I feel short in a job interview because my WPM was less than the IQ of a goldfish. MasterKey came up in a Google search for “Mac typing software” and I downloaded it.

The trial version was so effective, I purchased the full version probably a week later. I’ve never looked down at the keyboard since.

Textmate

The Ruby on Rails community is big on Textmate. Somehow, I managed to catch the wave before the hype. Textmate really is the missing text editor on the Mac. Bertrand really should consider doing away with TextEdit and making Textmate part of Mac OS X.

CSSEdit

CSSEdit makes an already delightful process (styling markup) even more of a pleasure. It is beautiful software that does an elegant job of helping me work with CSS.

Keynote ‘08 (iWork ‘08)

With Textmate, CSSEdit and the command-line, I have all I need for doing client work … save the actual design tools. I confess—Photoshop intimidates me. I get lightheaded looking at all the palettes, and menus with exotic labels like “Bezier”. I actually do mockup work in Keynote and convert it to XHTML once I get a good sense of where I want to go with a design.

Keynote makes for a very flexible environment and browsers have far too much character, opinion and personality to make pixel-perfect Illustrator or Photoshop mockups worth it for me.

Yummy FTP

Needing an FTP client to work on a Drupal project, I came across Yummy FTP from a Lullabot screencast. It seemed functional and had a delicious name. It has saved me on quite a few projects where SSH access (my personal preference) was not available.

12” PowerBook G4 with AppleCare

This purchase takes the cake. The 12” PowerBook was the first computer I ever bought. I saved for an entire summer to buy one and nearly got it without the Apple warranty. Two and a half years later, the hard disk decided to meet its creator and I was left with the most beautifully designed paperweight imaginable (I thought).

A trip to the repair-shop could not bring my precious back to life but instead filled me with the some of the best news I’d heard since the announcement that Apple had designed the 12” PowerBook. Since the computer was still under warranty and could not be repaired, Apple would exchange it for the closest equivalent model they currently had. My three-year investment had just about doubled itself in value. And that is the story of how I got my 15” PowerBook G4 which I write you from today!

Value

You’ll notice that I don’t have the latest hardware or software. I don’t intentionally keep myself behind. I do think you extend a things value by taking care of it and using it well, perhaps even to the point of wearing it out.

That said, I’d gladly take a donation of a 15” MacBook Pro. Contact me at …