Free Software Alternatives for Mac Users

The year 2011 I can call out as a year of change. I switched jobs, left eBay started at Geeknet, moved back to San Francisco from San Jose, and I went all Mac! With that last change came the need to find new software for the Mac. And since SourceForge distributes open source software, I spent some time in the last 5 months to try out a large number of free software alternatives for the software I used to work with on my PC. Here are my top free Software alternatives I started using in the last 5 months

GIMP

Gimp LogoOn my home Mac I have the full Adobe Creative Suite 4 installed. I have the Windows version of Photoshop creative suite, so I'm running Parallels Desktop especially for all my windows software. On my work Macbook Pro, I only have the Apple OS, so I was in search of good image/photo editing software. Multiple people told me I should try out Gimp, which is a great alternative for Photoshop. If you miss the normal Photoshop layout and tools set up, I recommend you download GimpShopwith it, so you can customize your pallets and tools according to how you would work in Photoshop.

This project provides pre-build GIMP application bundles for Intel and PPC Macs.

Skitch

On my former work laptop I always used SnagIt for making screenshots. I simply loved the special features to give your screenshots a special treatment. Since SnagIt is a paid piece of software, I was looking for a free screenshot software solution. A months before Evernote bought the company, I started using Skitch. I just became a paid user of Evernote, which is one of my other pieces of software, but is not free. I can't wait until a deeper integration between Skitch and Evernote is being announced.

Integrity

For my SEO work, I used Xenu Link Sleuth to find broken links on websites. Unfortunately, Xenu is only for Windows, so I couldn't add it on my brand new Macbook Pro. After asking a couple of people, and searching The Google, I found Integrity, a great alternative for Mac users to find those broken links on any website, yours or a potential link partner.

Handbrake

Handbrake logoWant to rip a DVD for on your iPad? Download Handbrake to convert any DVD video into Mac format. This only works for DVD's without copyright protection. Handbrake is not able to remove the DRM protection for you! More info on the official handbrake.fr website

HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player logoEver had the problem that you could not play a certain media file on your computer? So frustrating if you really would like to watch that video, but cannot find the player online. Just download VLC. The VLC Media Player is the most popular video player at this moment, is free, and plays practically all media files out there.

VLC media player is a free and open source media player and multimedia framework written by the VideoLAN project. VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder, and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and file formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It is able to stream over networks and to transcode multimedia files and save them into various formats.

If you have a Canon video camera, like I do, you might have some trouble with the MTS format of your video's on your Mac. VLC will be able to play these video's for you, but in the highest quality you would expect. For that reason I would recommend to buy MTS converter software.

FreeMind

Freemind Mind Mapping Software logoNot necessarily new on my list of software, but still made it on my new computer. I use Freemind, the Free mind mapping software primarily to sketch out the hierarchy of a new site. As stated in the project description:

A mind mapper, and at the same time an easy-to-operate hierarchical editor with strong emphasis on folding. These two are not really two different things, just two different descriptions of a single application. Often used for knowledge and content mgmt.

Wireshark

Wireshark Network Protocol analyzer logoNext time you sit next to me on a conference, better watch out using the open wifi, as I have WireShark on my Mac. Formally known as Ethereal, I use WireShark now to check what packages go up- and downstream on the network I'm on.

Wireshark is a powerful network protocol analyzer developed by an international team of networking experts. It runs on UNIX, OS X and Windows. (Looking for Ethereal? You're in the right place. We switched names in May 2006 due to trademark issues.)

QuickSilver

Frustrated about the search functionality on a Mac? Enhance your search experience with Quicksilver app for Mac. Almost every week since I started to use Quicksilver I find new features and plugins you can add to the app. The learning curve for using Quicksilver is steep, and I have the feeling "I'm not there yet".

XAMPP

XAMPP LogoFor local installation of WordPress I used to download MySQL and Appache server software directly to my PC. Installing it was a piece of cake there. With the start on a new fresh Mac, I started to use XAMPP.

XAMPP is a very easy to install Apache Distribution for Linux, Solaris, Windows and Mac OS X. The package includes the Apache web server, MySQL, PHP, Perl, a FTP server and phpMyAdmin.

Stylizer

Having a good CSS editor on my Mac is essential to build beautiful websites, or change any great CSS. I just downloaded the free version of Stylizer last week, and so far so good. I might be turning into a paying customer here, as this will give me extra added features and auto updates!

Filezilla

Filezilla free ftp program logoOn my list of free software, I cannot leave off FileZilla, a free ftp program. Up- and download effortless all your files to your server using Filezilla.

FileZilla is a cross-platform graphical FTP, FTPS and SFTP client a lot of features, supporting Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and more. FileZilla Server is a reliable FTP server for Windows. Nuff said...

phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin logophpMyAdmin is the old-school way of backing up my database of WordPress blogs. There are plugins available which do it automatically for you, but there is nothing like it as downloading the tables of your MySQL database straigh through the phpMyAdmin panel. Let alone resetting your admin password if you might have lost it straight in the table :)

phpMyAdmin is a tool written in PHP intended to handle the administration of MySQL over the Web. Currently it can create and drop databases, create/drop/alter tables, delete/edit/add fields, execute any SQL statement, manage keys on fields.

 

Which Software am I missing? Can you recommend more free software I can test and expand the tools I have on my computer?

 

 

UTube, Google Killed YouTube Download Software in SERP’s

Try searching for UTube ripper! Google buried UTube, the video downloader deep it almost is like Google doesn't want me to find YouTube video download software program. RIP UTube.

With more than 9 years of e-commerce SEO behind my belt, I tend to think I have some experience in optimizing large e-commerce websites for search engine rankings. In the years at eBay I was busy counting the billions of visits, rather than millions. Mainly due to the size of the website, and maybe a little because of my influence on how the product was getting built.

Now, working for Geeknet, I’m learning new verticals and how to optimize SEO for sites that I’m responsible for. For SourceForge especially there is a lot of opportunity to gain more free traffic through SEO. But stay tuned around that in the coming weeks/months, we have a lot of plans in the hopper.

Although the raw material at SourceForge I get to work with is of high quality, there are other factors influencing my ability to be successful getting more traffic through SEO. In the case UTube outlined below it’s a huge factor: Google Search Suggest.

Google Search Suggest Getting in the Way

While doing traffic analysis for a project on SourceForge, I identified the root cause of traffic fluctuations on the exact match keyword traffic for this project was Google Search Suggest. I'm not the only one who is seeing a decline in traffic due to the Search Interception of misspellings. The Google Support Forums is full of website owners who have seen their traffic decline after the most common misspelling traffic was rerouted to Google suggested search results in "the right spelling". Let me explain the story that I found...

When searching for UTube, Google automatically suggest the search results for a different query: YouTube. And with Google Instant Search, the results are already displayed on the page, which show YouTube as the dominant website in the top websites ranking. Now I understand the confusion in the Google Suggest algorithm, as YouTube and UTube are such similar queries, and the majority of the users actually misspelled their search for YouTube. (Google even has been sued for driving up the bandwidth cost for the exact match domain UTube.com back in 2006 according to this article on Techipedia).

As you can see, the two links at the top of the results should explain what search results you actually are looking at, and how you can navigate to your original query. 

Google Search for UTube gives you YouTube

You could argue that the search suggest for UTube is aimed to prevent people in search for online video’s to accidentally take down the server again for UTube.com. However, you don’t have to be afraid anymore the Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corporation is going bankrupt on high bandwidth costs. Their original domain is now full with advertising, while the company moved their official website to a new domain: utubeonline.com

Search Instead for...UTube

But what if I did want to search for UTube and I do want to see those results for that UTube query, you would think I just would need to click on that link which says: Search Instead for utube. Wrong...! I tried to navigate through that top link to the right search results for my keyword, but even when the keyword was displayed correct in the link, it failed to serve me the right result set. Multiple times I got different results which did not include the right websites to satisfy my search. The dominant results I got were for the keyword utu with this URL:

http://www.google.com/search?q=utu&nfpr=1&ei=nZznTqv4JpTSiALus6iDBw&sqi=2&start=0

Why do I get results for UTU when I search for UTUBENormally, you could claim the changes Google is making here are aimed at providing a better user experience, at least, this is the normal PR talk Google puts forward. This way, people who are searching for online video's are not ending up on a website of a totally unrelated company because they didn't know the exact name for The YouTube! This case, the story might have some more to it! And as I'm an SEO, I might be conspiracy theorist:

Thin Foil Hats SEO

Thin Foil Hat SEO's

From the page on SourceForge you cannot really learn a lot about UTube. The project description is very limited, which is one of my tasks to start enhancing in the coming weeks.

About UTube: Utube Ripper is an application written in Gambas that works exclusively on Linux. It's useful to download and convert Youtube videos in a simple and efficient way.

In other words UTube ripper, the open source software project, makes it really easy for any consumer to download video's from YouTube. Have you ever wanted to download video from YouTube but don't know how to? Where would you go to find information on how to rip a movie from YouTube? Right, most people would type in the question into...Google. And who owns YouTube.... Right...Google!!!

There are plenty of people searching for solutions to download a video from YouTube, as Google Suggest is showing it must be a popular query:

Download YouTube video in Google Search Suggest

For every search I did with UTube in the query, this keyword was replaced for YouTube. Was Google doing this to hide the UTube ripper, so less people would be able to download video's from YouTube? I doubt it, I rather think that the replacement of UTube for YouTube is a hardcoded query based on the earlier mentioned lawsuit in 2006. The fact that I get search results for a different query when I click on the search instead for... link might be a bug in the system, who knows..?!?

I'm still stuck with a page for which it's super hard to grow the traffic, as the search traffic, even for branded queries, is intercepted and rerouted somewhere else. Even if I do manage to get the SourceForge page higher up in the rankings, how will I ever be able to stimulate people to search for UTube Ripper, the Open Source Software project which allows you to download video's on YouTube?

Google killed UTube ability to grow search traffic. R.I.P. UTube, Coldblooded Google Killed YouTube Ripper. R.I.P.