More gorgeous software

Ooh, pretty! Ever since a weird payment snafu with Objective Development’s web store, I’ve forsaken the glory that is LaunchBar for the similarly wonderful and even more beautiful masterpiece that is Quicksilver. If you’re like me and constantly running a couple of dozen applications at once, the quick keyboard access provided by these things is a blessed relief. That Quicksilver works with such panache is no mere window-dressing; the visual fluidity reinforces the flow of one’s work, and the style entices one to use appropriate tools appropriately. For me, at least.

Quicksilver is, however, one of those applications that seems in permanent beta, and there are occasional quirks. Searching the support forums for a solution to one I encountered recently, I came across reference to another piece of the ongoing puzzle that is the perfect desktop environment.

iTunes is all well and good, you see, but while the full version of its control window is capable, it’s also thoroughly massive. The minimised version, however, carries altogether too little information. Not to worry, it can be controlled remotely, and there are any number of Dock, menubar, Konfabulator and application widgets to do just that. I’ve played with most, and rather like Clutter, which actively attempts to emulate the unruly heap of record sleeves one’s real-world collection adopts over time. You know, where there’s no initially discernible organisation but nevertheless a serendipitous madness to the way the CD cases have slid and grouped. Well, maybe you don’t know, if your brain isn’t wired that way, but hey – if it is, Clutter’s worth a look.

For straightforward play/pause control and track information, however, I’ve struggled. The iTunes Companion was a favourite for a while, but I’ve drifted away from Konfabulator of late (too many weird bugs, too many sucked CPU cycles, just a bit too fiddly in practice).

Behold my latest obsession: Sofa. A neat player bar with autohiding mouse-over animations and transparency goodness, shortcuts to most of the stuff I really want, and a ridiculously cute animating album cover doobrie. All skinnable, with more preferences than you can shake a stick at but an attention to detail that makes it all worthwhile.

Highly recommended. Weird icon, though.

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