IStat Menus 5
New features and UI ensure monitoring app remains top dog
Although iStat Menus is a favourite of many of the MacFormat team, it’s fair to say it appeals to a certain kind of user. If you don’t care about what’s going on inside your Mac, steer clear; but if you’re the kind of person who likes to keep an eye on your Mac’s performance, iStat Menus is by far the best monitoring utility we’ve seen.
The main app is essentially a huge preferences pane, where you toggle various modules that can then be viewed in the menu bar as tiny graphs. Click a module and a huge amount of data is made available to you in a drop-down menu; some of these offer further fly-out menus when you hover over a graph.
Every element of your Mac is covered: CPU/GPU usage; memory; disks; network; sensors; and battery/ power. In each case, the information shown can be tweaked, as can the types of graph shown in the menu bar. If the clutter gets too much, all of the menus can be combined into one, at the expense of making it a touch slower to access specific data.
An iStat Menus update has never failed to impress, and version five is no exception. Tons of minor tweaks lurk within, notably the memory menu, which now supports compressed memory, and the world clock, which boasts a beautiful sun map with associated data when you hover the cursor over a location.
The app’s also had yet another interface overhaul, readying it for OS X Yosemite. This makes iStat Menus feel a little out of place running on Mavericks, but even there it’s an improvement, with both the settings window and the drop-down menus offering more clarity and polish than before. Craig Grannell
Robust, reliable and nice to look at, this app remains a must-buy if you need a Mac monitoring utility.
On one level, The Swapper is merely a puzzle game. It’s a side-scrolling platformer where your character is equipped with a tool that makes copies of you, which move identically to you. You can switch control between these copies at will. This lets you get up on high ledges by creating a clone up there, and transferring control to it. You could press two switches at once, or avoid plummeting to your death by creating a clone just above the ground and transferring to it before hitting the bottom. Mechanically, it’s fairly simple.
But it’s not meant to be played with such detachment. As soon as the tool that clones you is introduced, so is the idea that the last people who used it dreaded the sight of it. A new you, available on demand, identical to the old you. Presumably identical. You can transfer your consciousness between them. Is this new you now the real you? Do you even remember which of the four yous currently running on different levels of a structure was the first? When you ‘leap’ out of a falling clone into a safe one, leaving the husk (was it a husk? Does it definitely not have a consciousness, just because it happens to not be the consciousness you inhabit?) to fall into a crumpled heap on the floor, did you use the life of a person (yourself!) to further your exploration, or is that clone just a tool – yours to use as you will?
The Swapper doesn’t push these themes on you as heavily as I have, but the games that best marry their themes with their interactions don’t need to. This is brilliant fun just as a puzzle game, but I think I enjoy it much more for letting my brain run riot over its philosophical edge when I play.
Are the sacrificial clones in The Swapper philosophical zombies or thinking, feeling versions of oneself? Matt lets his brain run riot.