Macheist nanoBundle Review

by Josh Rubenoff Nov 06, 2009

Say what you will about MacHeist's ethics, but you can't deny the group provides huge exposure to independent Mac developers who elect to participate in the program. Through ARG-style online puzzles and slick videos and websites, they turn the relatively mundane act of purchasing software into an event that commands attention (both good and bad) throughout the Apple community. Now, for one week only, MacHeist is giving away five for-pay apps in what they're calling a "nanoBundle" — and a sixth app could be unlocked if it reaches 500,000 downloads. The best part? They're giving this bundle away for absolutely free. Go to MacHeist before next Thursday and click the "download" button — it's all yours.

One might ask how good these apps could possibly be if they're giving them away, and that's a perfectly valid line of inquiry. The truth is, the bundle's a mixed bag, and any flaws these programs might have are compounded by MacHeist's insane popularity: the game Horde of Orcs froze repeatedly when I tried to enter my registration code, and I assume that the developer's registration server is getting overwhelmed by nanoBundle downloaders right now. But let's set aside server issues and go through this bundle, app by app.

I actually already own ShoveBox from a previous MacHeist, and I can't recommend it enough. It's referred to a "personal information management" program, and you may be familiar with one of the many apps also in that category, like Evernote, Yojimbo and DEVONthink. Unlike all of those programs, Shovebox is very lightweight and well-suited for organizing small bits of information: phone numbers, reminders, quick notes, and anything else that's otherwise easy to misplace. I use it most for its Quick Jot feature: if someone IMs or calls me to set up an appointment, there's no need to reach for a notepad or pull up TextEdit. I just press a hotkey and a HUD pops up with a cursor, ready for whatever text I want to input. To save the note, I just press "Enter", and the HUD disappears as the note is stored within its organizer.

ShoveBox also has a rules feature. So if I'm reading a blog that mentions a movie which piques my interest, I can bring up Quick Jot and type something like "movie: Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers", and it will automatically file what I've typed into the folder "Movies To See" in ShoveBox's organizer — because I've created a rule that any entry I create beginning with the word "movie:" will be redirected to that folder. A list I could have created as a Sticky or on a piece of scrap paper on a bulletin board is now an automatic process I don't even have to think about navigating to.

Most of the other programs in the bundle don't have a similar sense of immediate utility. Even with ads, I prefer Tweetie to the registered version of Twitterific — it feels much less powerful in general, and while the translucent grey HUD-style design is nice, I would appreciate a larger input field in which to compose messages. I didn't have the opportunity to try out TinyGrab as it wouldn't stop crashing every time I launched it, but its website tells me that if it had actually launched successfully, TinyGrab is a screen-capture service which uploads your screenshots to the Web and copies them to your clipboard for pasting into an IM conversation or new document. Not too big a deal (and definitely not worth its regular $15 asking price compared to the free Skitch) but I do appreciate how it supports OS X's native hotkey for taking screenshots (Cmd + Shift + 4). Mariner Write is a horribly dated word processor, and certain elements of its design are strongly reminiscent of AppleWorks in OS 9: in fact, the only reason I could possibly recommend this program is its nostalgia factor.

Horde of Orcs is an indie, tower-defense game that involves stopping orcs from attacking your village (lying just on the other side of the playing field) with an array of various towers and spells. I don't personally play many games, but it's clear that this is a full-featured title with enough effort invested in it to justify its regular $25 asking price. In addition to the base mode of play, there's plenty of variations like "Capture The Flag" and a preset maze mode to keep the fun going when you're starting to get bored. Players might also enjoy the witty dialogue boxes — this developer has a sense of humor.

Last but certainly not least is a program I've been waiting a long time to own — WriteRoom, a full-screen word processor designed to minimize distractions. When you open WriteRoom, your screen goes black, with only a green cursor visible. Type with no auxiliary activity, no menubar, no dock, nothing you can see going on in the background — just you and your writing. Needless to say, it's a great productivity application.

Get the MacHeist nanoBundle for ShoveBox and WriteRoom alone — it's free. What do you have to lose? But make sure to tell all your non-Apple-crazy friends about the apps you loved. Again, that's what this promotion is designed for, exposure. So tell your friends about the apps you enjoy, so they can buy them and reward the developers for their hard work.


  • It looks great.

    winsoar had this to say on Nov 09, 2009 Posts: 1
  • Great apps, gigantic value, all available for a truly miniature price. -Tire Works

    Tire Works had this to say on Aug 08, 2011 Posts: 11
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