Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: November 17, 2017Total: 219

February 5, 2016

Old Macintosh TCP Applications

Zip Drive CD

I was going through an old CD this past weekend that I found in a CD spindle that I had on my desk. The CD was labeled on the top with "Zip Drive Archives" with the date range of "December 10, 1996 - August 11, 1998." It's one of my oldest CDs that I have in my collection - the data is 19 years, 1 month and 25 days old.

Zip Drive CD Collection

I archive some of my Zip collection to the CD because back in 1998 it was a novelty to back things up to Zip disks, but after a while, it became a pain to have to find things on various disks. When CD burning became more mainstream, I decided to combine some of my more popular disk to a CD so that I only had to go to one place to get my data.

Looking at the CD got me thinking. What data did I value enough to back up almost 20 years ago? Back then CDs were pretty expensive and it took a long time to back up the data. I can remember that it would take 45 minutes to burn a data CD. This doesn't include the time it takes to organize the data on the disk before burning it.

Getting the Data

My first challenge was reading the disk. So, It turns out that the backside of the disk wasn't exactly clean. I had to use a dry microfiber cloth to clean the disk. My lesson learned: Use proper disk storage to extend the life of optical media.

The data was more accessible on my older PowerMac G4 than my iMac. I am thinking that the older CD drives weren't as sensitive to some of the scratches that were on the disk. Yet another reason to have the older computers available.

I found a few surprises on the disk, but most of the things that I put on the Zip Drive really have very little value to me today. I found some applications, but they were all pre-MacOSX apps and couldn't use today. There were some old sound data files for some old audio apps, I can see if Audacity or Handbreak will be able to convert them.

Classic TCP Applications

One of the things I wanted to do on my website feature some Internet applications. So back in 1998, I created a 'Macintosh TCP' folder and put in all the popular Macintosh Internet Apps. Here're a couple of screen shots that I found of that folder. This is kind of a good time capsule of Macintosh Internet users in 1998.

Do you remember these classic Macintosh TCP Programs:

WabbitDA, Anarchie, Batch FTP, Blue_Skies, Chat 2.1, Comet 3.1.1, Config PPP, Control PPP, CU-SeeMe, Cyber Link, Cyberfinder, Daemon Killer, DropURL68k, Easy Transfer, Eco PPP, Eudora 1.4.3, Fetch 2.1.2, Finger, FTPd, Homer 0.94, httpdMac-v13b.68k, ImageMap2AS, Internet Black Book 2.0, Internet Config, Internet Logger v 1.0.1, InternetMemory, InterNews, MacHTTP, MacSOUP, MacTCP Monitor, MacTCP Switcher, MacWAIS, MacWeather 2.0.4

Here's a screenshot that I took of a page one of my "TCP Programs" folder:

Maintosh TCP

The "second page" had these classic files:

NCSA Mosaic 2.0, NCSA Telnet, NET/Mac, NetFind/Mac, NetPhone, Netscape 2.0b1, NetSnagger, NewsWatcher, Nuntius, PPP, PPPop, PPPremier Timer, PPPReport, RealAudio Player, School Connection, Script Daemon, ServerStat Lite, SMAP, SOCKS, TCP/IP Switcher, TFTPd, TheNews, Traceroute, TurboGopher, Uploader, Web ShortCuts, Webphone.cgi, WWW-Freund (FAT) and YA NewWatcher.

Macintosh TCP2

As you can imagine there were a lot of data on the CD, I'll post some other things that I found. It was fun going through the disk and taking a brief step back in time. Just think, Twenty years from now people will be amazed at the various applications that we use to access the internet.

One of the lessons learned during this project that I learn was to use old CD/DVD hardware to read data off the CDs. I copied the files from the disk and then moved them to a USB drive. The plan is to only backup important data, I don't think there is a need to back up old applications that I can't use anymore.

January 29, 2016

Screen Capture with Retina Display

Did you know that there is a difference when you do a screen capture on a MacBook Pro with Retina display than if you use an Apple Thunderbolt Display? Screen captures on the Retina displays are in Hi_Res and are significantly larger than the exact same capture size on a Thunderbolt display. I accidently discovered this when I notice that some of my screen captures were a lot bigger in size than what I normally capture.

So I did an experiment and decided to use the OS X El Capitan built in screen capture and capture the finder's "About" dialog box on the built-in display and the Thunderbolt display. I then checked out the Info on the two captures and found that the screen capture on the Retina display was significantly higher.

Retina Display Sideby Side

When you do a screen capture with a Retina display the image resolution is 144 pixels versus the 72 pixels when you capture using a non-retina display.

This capture can be a problem when you are sharing the image with others that don't have Retina display as the image will be considerably bigger on their monitors. In addition, the image size is much bigger. In my test, the Thunderbolt display capture was 49 KB, whereas the Retina display was 107 KB.

One solution that I found is to use MonoSnap to do your captures. After you capture an image, there is an option to "Shrink Retina Snaps." This will make the image the "normal" size to share.

Hope this helps someone else that encounters large screen capture issues on Retina displays.

January 22, 2016

Apple Dock

You can learn a lot about a Macintosh user by checkout what applications they have in the Dock. So here are the applications that I use all the time, my work MacBook Pro looks just about the same.

imacdock

A little more details about the icons in the doc. Simply click on the row to visit the website of that particular application.

FireFox - Usually my default browser. I have a bare minimum extensions installed so it loads quickly and takes less memory. Chrome - Works better for any Google apps; such as gmail and Google Drive. Safari - I don't use this all that much on the computer, I find that Chrome and Firefox development tools are a bit better than Safari. BBEdit - My favorite text editor. If I am doing any web work, chances are that BBEdit is being used. BBEdit is the only Application that I have installed on every Macintosh computer since my Centris 660av. Transmit - This is how I get files to and from my server. I have used many similar applications over the years and find the Transmit is the best of the best. EverNote - I use this to store my ideas and resources. If I want to know what printer cartridge, train schedule or anything that I would write down at my desk, I can store it in one place and have access to it anywhere Skitch - Great tool to do screen captures. I can add annotation and sketches. All the screen captures get stored in Evernote where I can easily search previous screen captures. iTunes - My music library. Photos - Since the summer of 2015, this is where I keep all my photo and videos. Due to disk space, I only store about two months worth of data. OmniGraffle - I was using this as an image layout tool. I have found a lot of the core functionality is available in Pixelmator. I should rethink having this in the dock. Pixelmator - This is my primary graphic editing tool. Whenever I have to edit/create/modify a graphic I am using Pixelmator. Adrium - I use to use this a lot for chat at work. The company has recently switch to Slack. I will be removing this from the dock. iTerm - A great Terminal replacement. I use this anytime that I need to SSH or run some unix commands. iMovie - All my YouTube movies are created using iMovie. I am looking to replace it, since I feel that I have moved on from the core fundaments that iMovie offers. Pages - I use this to write letters or documents. I have looked into Nisus Writer and other apps as a suitable replacement. TextExpander - My timesaver tool. I use this to save time whenever I type the same thing over and over again. I only have this in my Dock because I like to constantly make changes to snippets. Its just easier when its in the dock.

Dock Technical Tips

The dock works much better when you have spacers. That is blank space in the dock, so that you can group similar icons together and the dock doesn't look bloated. Here's and example of a spacer in my dock:

Dock Spacer

To get spacer in your Doc, simply open up Terminal or iTerm and type the following in:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock

In your Dock you will see an empty space, simply move that to where ever you want. Run the above command to add more dock spacer.

So what's in your Dock?

January 17, 2016

Outlook in Apple Mail

Apple Mail has a serious flaw with Outlook scheduling. In the example screenshot below I got an email notification of a schedule change. However, there's no way for me to tell what the date of the change is:

EmailFail2_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

For this post, I blurred out the names. How am I supposed to know what the new time of the meeting is? I tried clicking on the Calendar icon thinking that it would take me to the day in my Calendar. Nope, doesn't do anything.

At least Microsoft Outlook Mac App displays the information correctly:

Outlook2_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

January 15, 2016

Remove Drop Shadow from Screenshot

Skitch is a really cool screen capture program that I use as part of my QA toolbox. Screen capture helps put a visual in the bug/feature that I am reporting.

Command Shift 4

However, every now and then I'll need to use Apple's built in screen capture utility to capture a window. It's really easy to do just type in Command-Shift-4. Move the cursor over the window or menu that I want to capture and then click on the space bar.

A downsides of using this for a screenshot is Apple adds a drop shadow to the image. This can be a problem if you are combining images together. (Plus the image is slightly bigger.)

Fortunately there is a quick hack to remove the screenshot drop shadow.

Open up Terminal Application and Type in:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true

Hit return, and then type in:

killall SystemUIServer

 

SystemUIServer2.jpg

Now you can quit out of Terminal and all the window and menu bar screen shots will not have a drop shadow. If you want to re-enable the drop shadow, simply type in:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool false

 

Hit return, and then type in:

killall SystemUIServer

January 8, 2016

Skitch and Evernote

If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?

About Skitch

Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.

About Evernote

Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.

Your Screen Capture on Steroids

The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.

That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.

Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.

Skitch_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.

EverNoteAccount.jpg
I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.

Feature Requests

I would like to have the ability to record video as I can do with other applications, such as MonoSnap and Snap Z Pro X. Sometimes it's a lot easier to describe a bug when you see it in action.

Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.

December 27, 2015

AirDrop with iMac Mid 2011

iMac

If you have an iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) you will be sad to know that you have an older version of Bluetooth. You cant download software to upgrade. The only way to get to Bluetooth 4.0 is to upgrade your hardware - basically get a new iMac. (For those technical reader the LMP Version is 0x4 when it should be 0x6.)

So what are you missing out by not having the latest and greatest version of Bluetooth? You cant use AirDrop functionality between an iMac and an iPhone.

So if your wondering why when you go to the AirDrop section of the Finder on your iMac and you dont see the iPhone, but can see the Phone using other MacBooks, its because your iMac is too old. This is the same reason why you cant see your computer on your iPhone on the screen that says Tap to share with AirDrop.'

The reason Apple with with Bluetooth 4.0 is because it contains high speed technology, a bit about that from the BlueTooth specs:

Bluetooth high speed technology (the Version 3.0 + HS enhancement to the Bluetooth Core Specification) uses a data-substitution method that offers faster throughput via momentary use of a secondary radio that is already present in consumer devices. By enabling the use of new radios without full system integration, Bluetooth high speed technology reduces costs while expanding future build opportunities.

Bluetooth high speed technology is ideal for synchronizing music libraries between devices, downloading photos in bulk, or sending video files from one device to another. Consumers enjoy powerful, wireless connection using the Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and pairing features theyre already familiar with.- See more at:

December 25, 2015

Thumbscrew

thumbscrewicon.jpg

Thumbscrew is a cute practical image utility that should be part of any Macintosh user application library. The application allows users to quickly create thumbnail size images by simply dragging and dropping the images on a window.

The Thumbscrew 1.0 manual says it best...

Screw it! Making thumbnails for the Web used to be painstakingly slow if you wanted to apply borders, drop shadows, transformations, alpha channels, and so on. Or if it was fast, you ended up with a boring field of rigid columns and rows. Thumbscrew allows you to quickly and easily chew through a bunch of images, applying scaling, random rotation, border, and drop shadow to each - even resizing the original, and processing the batch as a whole afterwards.

The application preferences were pretty easy to understand. I really like how when you do a bunch of images and have a "Max. Angle" set, it will randomly select an angle size.

thumbscrewshot.jpg

The problem is that the application is longer maintained and appears to have gone to vaperware. The application was created by Zachery Bir in 2004. Contact him at his website or on Twitter.

You can still download the application at various internet sites, including MacUpdate. The application works perfectly fine in El Capitan (Mac OS 10.11.2) and it's free so it's worth trying out if you need to quickly create thumbnails from a set of images.

Picturesque

A good alternative to this application is Picturesque. It has a few more bells and whistles that Thumbscrew had, but doesn't have the Max Angle effect. I personally liked version 1 of Picturesque since that had the ability to create thumbnail images of PDF documents.

Picturesque has the ability to set Perspective, Reflection, Shadow, Corners, Stroke on each image. You can save your configuration so you can use them again and again. Picturesque cost $14.99 can be download from the App Store. You can download a demo version on Acqualica website.

December 18, 2015

Progression of an Apple User

There is an interesting progression on how people use their Macintosh computers.

When people first start using the computer they will load up the dock with every application they know. Users will load up the Dock with applications just so they can have access to it.

DocDoc.png

Then they move to the Dashboard and start using that accessing their applications. Recently the Dashboard becomes to look more like the iPhone/iPad application launching point. At this point users are managing the Dashboard and moving more common Apps to the first page and creating all sorts of groups.

Dashboard Screen Shot

At some point in the computer life cycle users realized that it's more productive to use Spotlight Search (Or Alfred, QuickSilver, Launchpad ) to access their applications.

Spotlight.jpg

To launch an application, using Spotlight Search you simply click on the Command-Space and then type in the first few letters of the application's name. You don't have to worry about moving the mouse to click on the Doc icon and there's no need to navigate countless icons in the Dashboard. This is highly useful when you want to access some of your favorite applications very quickly.

If your looking to find new applications, you should look outside of the Apple's App store. Apple has some code requirements that some developers can't change. In addition, some companies don't want to pay Apple any royalties to appear in the store, after all software margin is getting small.

Here are three places that I usually use to expand my software horizon:

  • MacLife and MacWord Reviews. They offer some good insights to Apps including their competitors.
  • Twitter - A few Twitter users have good information on product announcements: 9to4Mac and dealmac.
  • AppStorm Round Ups - Good source to find out about new applications. You find the strength each application has.

December 11, 2015

OmniGraffle

On October 16th, I blogged about how I setup a template in Pixelmator to use as a canvas. I have since discovered that OmniGraffle offers some cool touch up capabilities that I am looking for.

OmniGraffle Dialog

Don't get me wrong, I like the capabilities of Pixelmator, but OmniGraffle seems to have more powerful "basic" post production touch up functionality. Ya, that does sound a bit redundant. But here me out!

After I take a screen of action in a web browser, I usually need to touch up the image a bit. Something of the common tasks that I perform:

  • trim the screenshot
  • Combine images (a before and after screenshot)
  • Add pointers to highlight something significant
  • Add a caption to the image

In OmniGraffle this is very easy to do, you can drag and drop an image to a template, do some manipulation and export the image as an object. For example, I can resize the image, touch it up, add some arrows and drop shadow or glow.

What's really cool is that when I am done I can export the image and only the object gets exported. So I don't have to worry about cropping the canvas. I can have a nice large canvas open to do my work and then just export the final copy. Very cool and a very handy Macintosh tool.

OmniGraffle Export

This allows me to touch up images and size then correctly for emails or to attach to Jira issues. It so easy to combine pictures and highlight certain sections.

I am still using an old version of OmniGraffle Pro (5.4.4) and haven't decided if it's worth paying $49.99 to upgrade to OmniGraffle 6. I just found out that I registered for Omnigraffle Professional 5 on December 12, 2007. I have been using this version for 8 years. I guess I should see what's the Developers have been up to in the past 8 years.

I also have been looking at some other Graphic Design applications such as Autodesk Graphic and Artboard. They may offer more functions and make some screen shots look even better. The other advantage of the other apps is that they have the ability to open EPS files (vector graphics) and that's something I need for files I get from Creative Market.

I know that what I am doing isn't the purpose of OmniGraffle, but for me it seems to be the perfect tool.