Updated Utilities Ease Use of OS X and Windows

With an ever increasing number of newspapers utilizing OS X and Windows XP, it’s important to keep an eye on updates to utilities which supplement the performance of these platforms. This month, we will examine four updated utilities: Fetch 4.0.3, Macklink Plus 14, Conversions Plus 6.05 and SpamSieve 2.1.4.

Fetch 4.0.3

It seems as if Fetch has been with us forever. Fetch is one of the original FTP client applications for the Macintosh. In a nutshell, Fetch provides an easy method for Mac users to download and upload files to a website. Fetch, a free download for most of its existence, has been purchased by its original author, Jim Matthews. The upside to this is that Fetch has been updated to work seemlessly in the OS X environment. The downside is that you no longer download the latest version of Fetch for free. It’s well worth the $25 registration fee, however.

The most important job of an FTP client is to upload and download files between a computer and a web server. Fetch has always performed admirably. As long as the user wasn’t in too big a hurry, transferring entire websites was possible. I mention speed because earlier versions of Fetch - and other FTP clients - often required the user to download or upload only a few files at a time. Version 4.03, which works with OS X as well as older Mac operating systems, now provides the user with the ability to upload and download entire websites by simply dragging a folder from or to an FTP server.

While webmasters may debate the superiority of Fetch versus Transit (or some other FTP client), most users who have grown up on Fetch will find everything they’ve been looking for in this latest version. Is Fetch 4.0.3 perfect? By no means. But it’s well worth the $25 price. For more information, or to download a free 15-day trial copy of Fetch, visit www.fetchsoftworks.com.

MacLink Plus Deluxe 14

You know you’ve been around a long time when you remember using the original version of an application now in its 14th incarnation. In a nutshell, MacLink Plus allows Mac users to convert most files from their original format to one of dozens of other formats. For example, you receive a PC WordPerfect file containing an announcement from a church. Your paper uses Microsoft Works, an application that doesn’t open WordPerfect files, for word processing. What to do? With MacLink Plus, you simply convert the PC WordPerfect file to a Mac Microsoft Works (or Word or whatever) file. It’s worked like a charm for years and the latest version works even better in Mac OS 9.1, 9.2 and OS X. An added advantage to MacLink Plus 14 is its ability to open unreadable e-mail attachments. MacLink Plus retails for $80 (US dollars). Users of previous versions can upgrade for $40 (US). For more information, or to download a free trial version of MacLink Plus 14, visit www.dataviz.com.

Conversion Plus 6.05

Once in a while, a Windows user needs the ability to work with disks or files created for the Mac. This is often the case at Windows-based newspapers who are receiving ads and files from agencies and other papers in Mac format. Conversions Plus gives users the option to convert files from different word processing, spreadsheet, graphic and database formats, so they can be opened in programs on the PC platform. I began using Conversions Plus in the early 90s, when compatibility between Macs and Windows-based computers was unheard of. The application has continued to improve over the years and is now up to version 6.05. Conversion Plus retails for $70 (US). Upgrades from previous versions are $40 (US). For more information, or to download a free trial version of Conversions Plus 6.05, visit www.dataviz.com.

SpamSieve 2.1.4

In the early days of OS X, I tested the original version of SpamSieve. SpamSieve is a utility designed to help weed out unwanted email messages from Outlook, Netscape, Entourage and other email clients. This first version worked less than perfectly with the new operating system, so I decided to wait for a future version to review the product in this column. Now is the time. SpamSieve, a shareware application by Michael Tsai, has grown up. Basically, the utility learns what your spam looks like, then goes about the business of blocking most of it from your inbox.

I tested SpamSieve with both Microsoft Entourage and Apple Mail. Before downloading email, I selected hundreds of spam messages in my “deleted” box and clicked on a SpamSieve script titled “add bad.” By the same token, I highlighted good messages and click on the “add good” script. After less than a minute spent “training” SpamSieve, I felt confident to give the utility a serious test.

After creating initial settings to tell SpamSieve how protective to be, I simply began to check my email and the utility began to work. I have several email accounts and normally receive 200 or so messages on an average morning. About ten of these will be authentic, with the other 190 or so being spam. I picked the right morning to test this product. I received over 1000 messages. A total of seven ended up in the inbox, with the other 1000 or so going into a new “Spam” box located with the other boxes in the sidebar. Amazingly, no spam messages made it into my inbox. I checked each of the messages in the Spam box and found two good messages there. I highlighted them and clicked on the “add good” script. This helps SpamSieve remember similar messages in the future.

After using SpamSieve for three days, I’ve found it accurate almost all of the time. This morning, 180 messages were placed in the Spam box. One of these was from a auto rental company reminding me that my car is reserved next week. All the other messages were legitimate spam. SpamSieve works with OS X 2.6 or later. It works with Apple Mail, Emailer, Entourage, Outlook Express, Eudora 5.2 or later, Mailsmith and PowerMail. Is it worth the $25 registration fee? You betcha. For more information, or to download a free demo of SpamSieve, visit www.c-command.com.
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