|Earliest: June 26, 2003||Latest: September 13, 2019||Total: 313|
Have you ever needed to make a simple line chart in Affinity Designer? Wish there was a simple way to create a vector base graph?
Thankfully there is an app for that and it's free!
GraphSketcher is a simple, elegant tool for quickly sketching graphs and plotting data -- but you don't even need data to get started. It's perfect for reports, presentations, and problem sets where you need to produce sharp-looking graphs on the fly.
It's really easy to create charts for whatever data point that you want. Anytime you want a quick line graph, GraphSketcher is perfect.
Integrates Smoothly with Affinity Designer
What's nice about GraphSketcher is that you can copy the Graph in GraphSketcher and then paste it in Affinity Designer. All the objects are put in their own layers and in their respective types. So you can still change the text and points on the chart!
This is really cool when you want to put together a quick chart and use the power of Affinity Designer to touch it up.
The application was created by Robin Stewart in 2007 and refined by the folks at Omni Group. In 2014, the application was retired from the product line and the code was put into open-source.
There's only been one update since the code was put into open-source. That was to fix a bug with comma separated values.
Download the Binary file from GitHub and place the file into the Application folder. Double click to open and start creating charts.
Check out all the Inspector settings and see the capabilities of the application.
Once your done, click on the 'Copy as Image' and then paste it into your Affinity Designer document. Now you can do additional modifications to make the chart look better. (Try putting the chart on a chalkboard for a unique look!)
After you paste in the chart, I would recommend grouping the objects together (Command-G). That will make it easier to manage all the objects. So after you, Command-C, do a Command-G.
Keyboard Maestro Browser Version
Keyboard Maestro has a great integration with some popular browsers. Some macros that I created comes in handy when filing Jira Issues.
Note: This is similar to a tip I reported a couple of years ago - "Getting the Browser Version" for TextExpander.
When reporting an issue, often I need to include the browser that I used so that Developers can see if the reported issue is related to a specific browser version. Since most of the modern browsers auto-update it can be a pain to track them.
Execute the following AppleScript:
tell application "Google Chrome"
set theVersion to "Chrome " & version
So whenever I need to identify the version of Chrome, I just type in Chrome.Version and instantly the version of Chrome is deplayed. This saves me a lot of time to open up the 'About Chrome' and write the version number. Having this macro makes it easy to add this information to any Jira Issue or Slack chat.
I also have macos setup for Firefox and Safari.
Bonus Browser Version Macro
There's a 'super' macro that will display all the browser versions that I have. Again, this just makes it easy to identify the browsers that I am testing with:
Dealing with the Grayed out song Listing in iTunes
Do you manually move music to your iPhone or iPod? Have you ever encountered an issue where a song didn't get copied and you end up with something like this:
This has happened to me a lot and after playing around with the iTunes and the phone, I figured out why it's been happening.
Here's the possibilities:
iCloud song already there
Apple doesn't want you to copy a song that you already have available in the iCloud. So the grayed out song means that the song already exists in the Cloud or you downloaded to the phone. You don't see it on iTunes because iTunes is only showing downloaded music.
You Copied a Set of Song/Playlist and a Song Existed
When you copy a playlist and a song exists in the cloud it will stop all the other songs that were to be copied over. You may see the grayed out song in the Playlist and not in the regular Song grid.
I usually encounter this when I copy a playlist to my iPhone and not all the songs got copied over.
The solution that I found to work: delete the grayed out song and try copying the other songs. For example, I would select the next four songs that didn't work or at least one at a time.
If the grayed out song is something that I downloaded from someplace else, I found that renaming it also worked.
Headless Chrome and Keyboard Maestro
In May, Google shipped headless functionality with Google Chrome 59. Google description of the feature:
A headless browser is a great tool for running automated tests and server environments where you don't need to see the rendered output or have a visible UI shell.
Thanks to Google Chrome Autoupdate, everyone should have this feature by now.
Here's a simple script to take a screenshot of any particular website:
Shell Script Code:
alias chrome="/Applications/Google Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google Chrome";
chrome --headless --disable-gpu --screenshot --window-size=1280,2696 http://www.cryan.com/blog;
Chrome saves every file as screenshot.png. There's currently no way to change the filename during command run. So I added the Keyboard Maestro built-in file rename immediately after the screen capture.
The "window-size=1280,1696" is the size of a standard letterhead
The iPhone 8 browser window size is 375x667
The iPhone X browser window size is 375x812
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ browser window size is 360x740
Good Use of Keyboard Maestro v8 Cron Feature
I added Keyboard Maestro's cron feature so that the screenshot process would run automatically. Here some example uses:
- Take a screenshot of your company website every morning. At the end of the year, you can see how the site has changed
- Take a screenshot of your company website in different browser sizes. (What are Mobile users seeing.)
- Take a screenshot of your website after posting a blog entry
- Take a screenshot of your CNN, Drudgereport or MSNBC. What were the top news of the day?
- Take a screenshot of Amazon and BestBuy homepage.
Setting this up as Cron feature allows you to set it and forget it. These will run as long as your computer is up and running.
Macintosh Cyber Deals Watch
Last year I had my list of software that I was going to watch for, so I thought I repeat the "Watch List" for this busy shopping season.
My budget is pretty tight this year. Chances are that I won't be making any big purchases on "Black Friday" or on "Cyber Monday." Here are the software and services that I'll be checking out this year:
- Belight Software - Art Text and Swift Publisher are pretty cool. Currently Belight Software has 30-70% off sale in the Mac App Store. The sale doesn't cover Art Text or Swift Publisher. I have seen Art Text in some recently announced bundle packages, but they are more than what Art Board sells.
- PhotoStyler - Great for presenting photos online, Social Media and Blogs. (Single User license is $29.99)
- Art Board - Didn't upgrade to 2.0, wonder if they will have a special deals. (Single License is $39.99)
- Movavi - I think 2018 will be the year of multimedia. I am always looking for a different solution to compliment iMovie.
- Creative Market - Love all the package deals. Certainly expect to see a good teaser for this year.
- DropBox - Great service. Currently at 60% at 6.2 GB
- StoryBlocks - Usually have a $99 year membership sale, this time of year they discount to nearly $45.
- Font Awesome 5 - Wonder if they will have one last sale before they go live.
- UDemy - there are a few courses that I want to watch but they are outrageously expense. I'll be checking frequently to see if they are discounted. They currently have a 55,000+ online courses at $10 for a limited time!
- Go Daddy - perhaps they will have discount domain name or hosting plans.
Not watching any hardware deals this year. At the moment, I have enough disk space and don't really need a new Flash storage devices or cables.
It will be interesting to see what Apple deals are announced. I suspect that they include iTunes gift card with some purchases of MacBooks and iPads.
Page Curl in Graphic Converter
I wasn't able to find any information about Graphic Converter Page Curl Effect, so I thought I write a blog post on how to use the functionality.
Core Image Filters
The 'Core Image Filters' actually filter that is provided in Apple Swift 3. They are available for any Developer to use. The Core Image Filter Reference has information for developers. This is not really useful for consumers since the functionality can change per app.
Core Image is an image processing and analysis technology that provides high-performance processing for still and video images. Use the many built-in image filters to process images, and build complex effects by chaining filters. For details, see Core Image Filter Reference.
Graphic Converter Implementation
You can find the Core Image as the first pullout menu item under the Filter menu. Graphic Converter includes all the effects in the Apple's Core Image library- which is very cool.
You can apply the effect to the whole image, or use the Selection Tool to pick an area on the image that you want to transform.
Simply start with one effect and the Core Image dialog box opens. Now you can easily move to a different one. It's kind of neat to see how each effect transforms your image.
Check out all the Tile effects that can be made out of your image. This is a creative way to come up with some background ideas. The Distortion Effects are pretty cool too.
Nothing gets applied until you click on the 'Apply' button.
Using the Page Curl Effect
In the Transition section is the Page Curl effect, which is a pretty cool tool. It does take a bit of understanding.
To make the Target Image and Backside Image to work you need to "Drag and Drop" an image to the icon below the text. (It took me a long time to figure out how this worked!)
Simply find an image and then drag it to the preview box under the text.
- Target Image is the image that you see on the other side of the Curl. (Think of Page 3 in a book)
- The Backside image is the backside of the main image. Usually, it would be the same existing image, but you can change it up to create a cool effect. (This would be page 2 in a book)
- To be effective, both the Target Image and Backside image should be the same dimension as the front image. If it's too small then you will see a checkerboard to indicate areas where it will be transparent.
- There is no way to alter or align the images. That is you can't adjust the position of the Target or Backside image. Your best bet is to do that in another GraphicConverter window. Save then 'Drag Drop' to refresh the results.
- Time is how much of a page curl that you want to apply
- Angle is which corner that you want to apply. First set the time, then move the angle to where you want to corner to appear. For the top right, it should be '-2.57' for the top left the value should be around '-0.69'
- I haven't played with the ShadowSize and Shadow Amount values much just kept the default values.
AirPort Express 802.11g
I currently have an Apple Airport Express (MB321LL/A) sitting in my desk drawer in my office. I was thinking that there must be something that I can use the device for. So I decided to investigate the capabilities of the original Airport Express.
Features of the AirPort Express 802.11g (1st Generation)
- 10/100 Ethernet WAN or LAN port
- Analog/digital audio output jack
- USB Printer Port
By default the AirPort Express Ethernet port acts as a WAN port. This simply means that you plug in a cable from a DSL Router and then you can broadcast a wireless signal. This would be good if you wanted a special wireless for visitors.
You can set the AirPort Express Ethernet port acts as a LAN port. You need to set up the ?Extend a Wireless Network.? Then simply connect any Ethernet device to the Airport Express. This would be useful if you have an old computer/Game Console that doesn?t have WiFi access. Simply connect a regular Ethernet Cable to the computer and the Airport Express.
Wireless Music Device
If your wireless can reach outside your house, you can play music using the Airport Express and some cheap outdoor speakers.
Plug in the Airport Express in the opposite wall of the office and make your computer sounds be in stereo mode.
The Operating Temperature is 32 F to 95 F (So there's no chance of putting this outside to play Christmas Music.)
USB Port Ideas
Most modern printers have built-in wireless capabilities. I am guessing it would be useful for an old printer. There's nothing really
If you have AirPort Express 802.11g (1st Generation) download Apple's Setup Guide to get you up and running.
PhotoScape X is a great photo utility to process images. Its really handy to have when you want to make a quick image change.
It also packs a lot of neat graphics enhancements that I haven't seen any place else. Things like 3D Objects, Kaleidoscope, Tiny Planet and Scissors.
Eight Major Categories
|Viewer||View images in any directory|
|Editor||Make changes to your image. This is where I spend 90% of my time in the application.|
|Batch||Make batch mode changes, useful if you want to add a signature to your images.|
|Collage||Easy way to make any type of collage with text overlay and enhance images. You have more flexibility than Turbo Collage.(There's 350+ Collage Templates)|
|Combine||Combine screenshots to show Production/Development side-by-side comparison.|
|Create GIF||create a GIF from several images.|
|create thumbnail galleries.|
|Tools||Screenshot, Color Picker and Rename. Nice to have but I rarely use any of these.|
|Store||Buy additional add ons. The Pro version is a good investment. Once you get the Pro package you can skip the entire store. I occasionally check to see if there's anything new.|
There are lots of cool tools to the Editor. I recommend loading up an image and spend a few minutes clicking around all the different Effects and Transformations. Along with the standard Resize, Crop, Miniature, Bloom, HDR, and Dehaze there are:
- 32 Adjustment Options
- 26 Effects Option
- 11 Transformations Options
Check out all the different Frames effects too. You don't have as much flexibility as Frame apps like LightFrame and ImageFrame, but it's certainly good enough for a quick touch up. I like the Film and Notebook frames, they add a neat touch up. There are 170+ Frame designs to select from in PhotoScape X.
Lots of tools to inspire your creativity.
Quick Combine Image Trick
I like to combine multiple screenshots into one image. This is super simple to do in PhotoScape X - simply select the images and then the margin and spacing all done in about 5-4 mouse clicks.
Here's a neat trick after you combine the image in PhotoScape X:
After you combine the images and have it laid out the way you want - Use the keyboard shortcut Command-C. That will place the new combined image in the clipboard. You can then past that image in the 'Editor' of PhotoScape or into any other application. (Too bad you can't paste it in Jira or Slack)
Check out the 28 videos on PhotoScape X website. You don't need to purchase the software to watch them. It's a great way to learn how to use the tool. In particular pay attention to how quickly things can get done.
Cool Tool for Your Dock
Affinity Photo is still a very powerful image tool, and I use it when I need more control. For basic edits, PhotoScape X seems to be my new go-to tool. I believe that in the long run the $29.99 for the Pro Version is worth the cost.
Currently 105 people have given it 5 Star rating in the App Store.
You can learn a lot about the applications by just spending some time and seeing all the capabilities, perhaps the app will inspire you to do something different with your images.
Keyboard Maestro Global Macro Palette
In my first job out of college, I was using a Window's Terminal Emulator solution that allowed me to have floating button palette. Can't recall the name, but similar to PowerTerm . The buttons were configurable to type out anything I wanted. This made it easy to type out frequent commands.
Well you can pretty much achieve the exact same experience today with Keyboard Maestro. You can create a group that is only active for the application that you are using - in my case its iTerm2.
Setup a New Group in Keyboard Maestro and call it 'iTerm' or whatever the name of the application that you want the button functionality to appear.
Make sure under 'Available in these Applications' that the application you want the pallet to appear in is selected.
Create a bunch of Type Macros of common tasks. Think of different queries that you run on the command line. Make sure to have a good Macro Name so you can identify the action.
Enable the action to be triggered by the Global Macro Pallet. What's nice is that you can have an icon in the palette which makes it easy to identify actions.
Having the floating pallet is great. It's nicely hidden away until I mouse over the floating icon. So the screen isn't cluttered and the pallet appears only when I need it.
My pallet is small - for now, but I suspect that I will add things as needed. Certainly a time saver.
The pallet is better for me than to have to remember the various text trigger actions. The action is just a point and click away!
Photo Size Optimizer
Effect Matrix's Photo Size Optimizer for Mac is a powerful image compression application.
I found about the application because it was one of the applications that I picked in this summer's BundleHunt.
Description from Effect Matrix's site:
Photo Size Optimizer for Mac, a powerful photo resizer, and optimizer, allows you to optimize all your photos by 80% ~ 20% compared to their originals while keeping their original resolution, quality and png, jpg, gif formats. With IMAGEmini, you can save huge space and share full-resolution photos with your friends much faster. It supports 70 types of image formats for re-sizing.
Sample Application Screenshot
Nine Things I Learned About Photo Size Optimizer
- There's no documentation or help files with the application, you basically have to play around with the application to understand how to use it. Fortunately, most of it is straight forward.
- You have no control over the compression. Basically you accept the savings that the application suggest.
- There's two functionalities, Resize & Squeezer and Lossless Photo Squeezer.
- Resize & Squeezer - will resize a bunch of images and resize them to a 10 different options. You can also add a custom option. Note: The resize option is for all the images that you dragged and drop, you can't set different demensions per image.
- Lossless Photo Squeezer - Use this when you only want to shrink the file size and not the dimensions.
- I found that Affinity Photo, GraphicConverter OmniGraffle offered better compression.
- OmniGraffle and Graphic Converter offer previews to see how stronger compression may not impact the image. I was able to get better compression using other applications.
- Some people may have problems installing the application because the application isn't registered. When I tried to open it I got a warning: "Photo Size Optimizer.app" can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.
- You can't compress animated GIF files with Photo Size Optimizer.
It's really hard to justify paying $29.99 for this application. You'll get better compress and more features in other applications. The application is useful when I want to quickly shrink a file and not have to play around with different settings - basically: "Set it and forget it."
In the long run, your better off buying and using GraphicConverter for $10 more.
Effect Matrix offers a 10 days Free Trial with Full Features if you download it from their website.
The full version is $29.99.