Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: April 21, 2017Total: 185

April 21, 2017

Resize Image via LaunchBar

Whenever I email a picture that I have on my desktop I like to resize it. There's no reason to email a 4,032 x 3,024 picture.

Previously Task

In the past, I would open up the photo in a photo utility, such as Picturesque, downsize the image and save it.

Way too time consuming.

LaunchBar the Better way

LaunchBar has several resize options, 33%, 50%, 66%, 75%.

Resize Image

Simple steps to resize images in Launcher

  • Drag the image you want to resize to the LaunchBar Dock icon.
  • Type in ?Resize?
  • Pick the one that works best for you.

Example, a typical iPhone picture is 4032 x 3024 (1.8 MB). Reduced to 33% will yield it to 1344 x 1008 (229 KB) which is reasonable enough to send in an email.

This is just a quick way to resize an image without having to open up an app.

April 14, 2017

Luminar

Meet the world's first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. Luminar is the supercharged photo software that makes complex editing easy & enjoyable. And it is as responsive and beautiful as your Mac.

Luminar Fundamentals

Luminar is a great application when you want to touch up photos. If you need to touch up and enhance photos, Luminar is certainly the app that will make it easy.

Presets

The nice thing about Luminar is that there are a lot of built-in Presets to make it easier to get the photo to look exactly the way that you want it to. Macphun says, "Luminar presets are your secret weapon to instantly fantastic photos. You can get a new look in a single click, or use presets as a starting point for your own creative explorations."

Luminar comes with Presets in six different categories: Basic, Outdoor, Street, Portrait, Travel and Dramatic. In each of the categories, you have a bunch of custom settings to enhance your photos. For example, the Basic set has 13 filters. Luminar website has a few more that your can download or purchase.

Presets Preview functionality is a nice feature that Luminar brings to the table. Before using any of the Presets, you get a "sneak" thumbnail peak of what the effect will have on the image that your working with.

Other Tools

Along with the Presets are various tools to help touch up the images. The Denoise Tool is a really cool way to clean up a photo that may have some noise. When you use this tool, you get a nice before/after slider so you can see what a difference the tool makes.

The Eraser tool seems to do a great job of removing some unwanted object in a couple of pictures that I tested. It works very similar to functionality found in Pixelmator and Affinity Photo.

Luminar has a Batch capability mode, which isn't available during the trial period. This would be perfect when you have a bunch of iPhone photos taken in the same situation, and putting together a collage. This is actually a pretty cool time-saving feature to have.

Luminar

Luminar vs Affinity Photo

There is some missing functionality that's hard for me to justify buying Luminar. There is no Text or Shape tool and there are not a lot of options on brush sizes for masking.

In addition, I found it hard to apply specific effects that I may want. For example in my test, I wanted to apply a blur effect to a certain part of the image and I couldn't figure a way to do that.

Try it Out Yourself

I think Luminar would be great for someone that doesn't want to play around with post-production filter settings. If you just want to quickly touch up a photo to enhance it more, than Luminar might be the application you need.

You can download a trial from MacPhun's website, and if you like it, it's only $69 which includes a 1 month membership to KelbyOne. It's the best photography education platform. (Monthly membership to KelbyOne is $19.99)

April 7, 2017

Firefox Developer Edition

FireFox Developer Edition

If you do any website development, you should consider installing Firefox Developer Edition. It's a very powerful browser that is "Built for those who build the Web."

Key Advantages FireFox Developer Edition

You may be used to other Developer tools in other browsers. However, FireFox Developer Edition is the only browser to help Developers and QA debug code better than anyone.

  • Visual Editing Tools - You can visually edit any page animation objects.
  • DevTools Challenger - Learn more about how the Visual Animation and CSS Editing works together with a fun game.
  • Extra Performance Tools - Check out Frame Rate, memory consumption and JS profile in the performance tools.
  • Page Inspector - Modify HTML & CSS structure live
  • JavaScript Debugger - Step through JavaScript code and easily debug issues.
  • Awesome Style Editor - Fix CSS issues on the fly.

AppleScript and FireFox

AppleScript was briefly removed from Firefox. You'll be happy to know that it's back! (Ok, It's been back for a while, I just noticed it now.)

Here's an example code to search Google using the contents of your clipboard:

Fire Fox Apple Script

set theData to (the clipboard as text)
set the clipboard to theData

tell application "FirefoxDeveloperEdition"
	activate
	open location "https://www.google.com?q=" & theData
end tell

Mousekey Assignment

I have this setup as one of my mouse buttons. You can assign AppleScripts to mouse buttons via USB Overdrive. I can now quickly search google with the #5 mouse button.

U S B Overdrive Firefox

BASH and Firefox

If you don't like AppleScript, you can always use BASH and perform the some actions. (I wasn't able to figure out the search query)

#! /bin/bash
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com

Some sample command line actions

Opens a new website in Private Mode:

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com

Opens a URL in a separate tab:

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -new-tab http://www.cryan.com

Opens Firefox in safe mode, useful if you having problems with firefox. (Also useful to test a site with no plugins enabled)

/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -safe-mode

This isn't limited to the Developer version of Firefox. If you are using the standard Firefox version, replace FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app with Firefox.app.

You can learn all about the various command line options on Mozilla's developers website.

March 31, 2017

Image2icon

Early this year I blog about how easy it is to setup a MacOs Folder icon maker using Affinity Designer.

I decided to check out Image2icon a bit more and find it to be a good piece of software and certainly worth investing.

Why Use Custom Icons?

Custom icons make it visual quicker to find things. You can quickly sort folders and attach an icon for a quick visual of what's in the folder.

What makes Image2icon better?

I didn't do much research into icon making software, I found the app in the App store and thought it would be worth investigating.

It does take a bit to understand how to use the app. Once you get used to some keyboard commands, you can see that it works really well.

In no time at all you'll be replacing boring icons with nice color ones.

Image2icon Capabilities

You can create twenty different icon types. There are popular types from folders to disk drives.

I mostly use the folder icons, but the disk drives come in handy when I want to customize USB flash drives.

In Image2icon, you can pick from 3 different folder types:

Fenway Folder Icons

Once you have the design set, simply drag a folder on the Image2icon window and BAM the icon is applied to the folder.

This makes it really easy to apply an icon to any set of folders.

Export to 9 different Icons: Folder, ICNS, iOS, Android, Favicon, Iconset, Windows ICO, PNG, JPG

Image2icon Weaknesses

The tool to manipulate images is a bit weird. I have a hard time getting the image settings correct using the slider to fix the shrinkage or alignment.

There has to be a better way to adjust an image to make it look good.

This isn't a show stopper but if your trying out the app, you should get familiar with how that works.

Red Sox Opening Day Folder Icon Collection

Fenway Park opening day is next week. To celebrate the season, I put together six icons. Use these to highlight photos or trip notes on your next Boston trip.

Boston Icon Collction
Download the Boston icon Collection

  • Fenway Park
  • Red Sox Logo
  • Swan Boats
  • Citgo Sign
  • Entering Boston
  • Back Bay Buildings

March 24, 2017

Biff App

Biff Logo

I became interested in the Biff app when I saw it included in a couple of Macintosh Mega App deals. I wanted to find out more about the application.

Here's a description of what Biff is from their website:

Biff is a Vector Graphics application. It makes creating graphics for your Website, Poster, or anything else really easy. Biff helps you create Amazing Logos, App Icons (Biff comes with the Templates you need.) with simplicity, without sacrificing powerful features like full path editing and boolean operations.

The developers of Biff are huge Back to the Future fans and the App name is in reference to a character in the movie. There are several references to the movie throughout the App.

Initial Impression

This is a good app to learn some of the fundamentals of Vector Graphics.

It lacks a lot of features that you can find in other vector base applications. While it talks about creating "Amazing Logos," other Applications give you a lot more power.

The application is expensive and sell for $59.99 on the App Store. However it is currently on sale for $39.99 on their website.

Some missing features

True EPS import - You can open up EPS files in biff, but you loose the vector aspects. Basically, you get a rendered EPS file. So if you purchase something online from DepositPhoto you can't modify vector components.

Limited Tools - When you click on the circle or rectangle shape it automatically creates one for you. You don't get to define the size of the shape on creations. The rectangle tool appears on the bottom right corner, and it took me a while to figure out that when I clicked on the rectangle icon a shape was appearing in my image. In addition, there is no pen tool, which is essential for any vector application. There is a free shape tool, which seems to only draw a line.

Training - There is some tutorials on the start up screen: Decorations, Intersecting Shapes, and Text with Image Fill. Other vector base apps have more detail information about the various tools.

WYSIWYG Font - There's no WYSIWYG font option, Biff just uses the system font picker when you need to change the font of a text.

Application Features

biffstartupscreen

There is a Library pallet with 18 Objects that you can use as a starting point. You can also build the library with your own Biff Objects. This is useful if you plan on reusing certain buttons or shapes.

There is a Style pallet with 14 styles to spice up any selected object. It's a good way to see the power of the application and makes it easy to see the object in different designs.

Lots of Shapes! Everything from standard circle and polygon to trees, people, and even an iPhone. A total of 53 shapes.

Skew Dialog box - In the transformation tool is the skew dialog box which gives you the ability to preview the skew shape that you wish to perform. This is better than most of the skew functionality that is in other apps, where you have to play around with the tool to figure it out how it works.

The Boolean Operations box in the Objects area is a neat way to learn the way multiple shapes transform when you use the different operations.

Cool Feature

The Repeat/Title Tool is better than what's in Affinity Designer. You can set the repeat amount and offset and see your object get transformed.

Repeat Title

Bug: When I clicked on the Repeat/Tile the print dialog appears. Very strange!

Final Thoughts

Hard to recommend Biff when there are a lot of other good options out there. I would certainly suggest looking into Affinity Designer, ArtBoard, and Autodesk Paint as good alternative applications. In the long run, you'll learn some core fundamentals of vector programming.

I highly encourage you to download the Biff app from their site and use the 30-day trial.

Cross Application Note: When I copied an object from Biff and pasted it into Affinity Designer the object shows up as image and not as a shape or curve.

March 17, 2017

Irish Icons from Xicons.com

A few years ago, the folks at Xicons.com created some really cool icons. They ran frequent contests for people to submit their icons and people would vote for their favorite.

The site isn't the same anymore, it's now part of InterfaceLift and it appears that the main focus of their business is with Desktop Wallpapers. They still have an active icon area, but it doesn't seem to be as vibrant as it once was.

Back in 2002/2003, I grab a bunch of their icons. Seems appropriate to share some of the Irish theme ones.

IrishCollection.jpg
Click on image to download the IrishIcons zip file.

Irish Icons

In this collection by Dustin J. Craig contain these icons inspired by Lucky Charms:

Clovers, Diamonds, Hearts, Horse Shoes, Lucky Charms, Lucky You., Moons, Neon Clover, Pot of Gold, Rainbows, Red Balloons, Stars

Lucky Charms

These icons by ceruleanjen contain all the marshmallow shapes in the Lucky Charms cereal:

Clover, Heart, Moon, Shamrock, Spade, Star

As noted in the Read Me file: A few icons to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and make your Mac feel a bit Irish.

OS X Flag Icons

This icon collection contains 194 national flags and 7 Organizations, including Ireland.

AFRICAN NATIONS:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo (Zaire), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethipoia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

AMERICAN NATIONS:
Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela

ASIAN NATIONS:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

EUROPEAN NATIONS:
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belorussia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City

OCEANIAN NATIONS:
Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

ORGANISATIONS:
European Union, IOC, NATO, Red Crescent, Red Crescent & Red Cross, Red Cross, United Nations

March 10, 2017

TurboCollage 6

Turbo Collage6

Every day I send out a collage of photos to family and friends featuring my daughter. I have been doing this for six years now. When I put together the collage, it needs to be quick and simple.

What is TurboCollage

TurboCollage makes photo collages, mosaics, photo piles, grids, greeting cards, mood boards, polaroid collages, contact sheets, and more! Their website says that they have more than 55,000 active customers.

TurboCollage doesn't have any photo touch-up capabilities. You will need to touch up photos before using TurboCollage. This is fine for me because I have several applications that do an excellent job with fixing up photos.

Collage Style

There are seven built in Collage styles:

  • Regular Pile - Pictures on top of pictures
  • Advanced Pile - Pictures can be set to custom shapes (Hearts, Circle, Triangle etc?)
  • Picture Grid - Grid of pictures (Like the Brady Bunch Intro)
  • Mosaic - pictures are arranged in grid by different sizes
  • Center Frame - Mosaic layout with a large center picture
  • Zig Mosaic - Non-rectangular Mosaic layout
  • Photohive - photos arranged in beehive pattern.

Turbo Collage6

Templates

TurboCollage comes with templates broken into eight different categories. The templates are just a simple starting point to learn the capabilities of TurboCollage.

Basic Patterns, Picture Piles, Picture Grids, Mosaics, Center Picture, Zig Mosaics, Photohives, Instagram, Facebook Cover, Twitter Header Photo, Greeting Cards, Postcard.

What makes Turbo Collage Different

  • Very easy to create a collage with a custom layout size
  • The Picture border style adds a nice effect to final design
  • Easy to adjust the layout of the images.
  • You can create any layout size you need for print or web

TurboCollage vs Posterino

Both Applications do a great job making collages. I feel that for smaller collage, TurboCollage is the way to go. It?s very easy to put together a collage when you have only a few pictures to deal with.

Posterino is a great solution when you have a large set of images and want more control. You can read my review on Posterino from August last year.

TurboCollage vs PictMonkey

For years PictMonkey was my go to application for creating collages. Recently I encountered issues with my collage looking slightly out of focus. My workaround was decent but it was time to look at other solutions.

I really like how I could auto adjust pictures in PictMonkey, simplify right click and boom I can edit the picture and see the final results in the collage.

What I like about TurboCollage

I like how quickly I can generate a really good looking collage. I don't have to mess around with different settings or styles. I just add my photos, set the layout, make some visual adjustments and then export the image. It's fast, easy and I get a really nice clean picture.

TurboCollage 6 was last updated on September 28, 2015. It's available in the Apple App store or on their website.

March 3, 2017

EUASOO Mouse Mice Z-7900 on MacOS

Last week I purchased a new gaming mouse EUASOO Mouse Mice Z-7900 4000 DPI Metal Base MMO/FPS High Precision Optical Gaming Mouse from Amazon. I have been looking for some replacement for my Logitech Mx 518 mouse. The mouse is several years old and I wanted to see if there was another mouse that might be more comfortable to use.

There's two reasons's why I wanted to investigate a new mouse:

  • Logitech Mx 518 is old, it first shipped on August 2, 2005.
  • The Logitech Gaming Software is very limited and doesn't have the ability to assign commands to the keys.

Why Use a Gaming Mouse on Daily bases?

A gaming mouse has a couple of advantages over the standard "Magic Mouse" that ships with every Apple product:

  • Game Mouse are better Ergonomically fit - If your doing a lot of work on the computer, you want something that feels comfortable to hold all day.
  • Extra Buttons and functionality - Gaming Mouse have extra buttons to do more work. In the 1990's having a two button mouse was good. Developers today have a need to simplify their workflow and a two button mouse just doesn't cut it. Yes, the "Magic Mouse" has various swipe settings, but who wants to remember if it the functionality is 3 swipes or 4?

Computer Mouse3

Initial Impression

The mouse does have a nice soft feel whereas the Logitech MX 514 mouse doesn't have a soft top.

The light on the top of the mouse is pretty cool.

There are no drivers or MacOS software that comes with Z-7900. The standard mouse functions will work out of the box, but you'll need to purchase a third party driver to use the extra mouse functions, speed and acceleration.

The mouse is seen as a "USB Gaming Mouse," Vendor ID: 0x04d9 (Holtek Semiconductor, Inc.)

Here are some options and my experiences with getting the extra buttons to work on the Mac out of the box:

USB Overdrive

  • Only Supports the extra Button 4 and Button 5 (Buttons in front of the thumb and behind the thumb)
  • Ability to assign AppleScript to key clicks. (Which meets my needs)

Keyboard Maestro

  • Only Supports the extra Button 4 and Button 5
  • Awesome ability to assign functions to the extra buttons.

Better Touch Tool

  • No control over the extra buttons.
  • Can only control the main click and double click.

SteerMouse

  • Can control 4,5,6,7 Buttons. (Those are the buttons around where the thumb is.)
  • Doesn't have access to the buttons at the top of the mouse.
  • No support for assigning command keys

ControllerMate

  • Can control 4,5 Buttons.
  • Very complicated to use and learn, it may have more power than Keyboard Maestro. I may re-visit in the future.

Driver Hack

I have read that there is a way to hack the driver to get all the buttons to work. This will involve me reinstalling Parallels to get it working. I haven't installed the application since my computer crashed last month.

I'll be sure to post my experience soon.

February 24, 2017

Private File

Private File Splash

In 1996, Aladdin Systems came out with a cool piece of security software called "Private File." This software allowed users to encrypt any file and send it securely.

From their documentation:

Why is the product called Private File?

That's just our way of letting you know that when you make your files private (by way of a simple drag and drop action), they will be protected with strong encryption as well as bring compressed -- using the award-winning Stuffit compression technology. The private files you create can be sent anywhere in the world, thanks to our cross-platform versions for Mac and Windows and because we also have a legally exportable (outside the US) version!

Private File used industry standard algorithm called MD5. The International version would use 40-bit encryption while the domestic version used 128-bit encryption.

Private File was available for Macintosh System 7.0.1 and Windows 95 and NT 4.0.

Private File Folder

Easy to Encrypt and Decrypt

Private File works by Drag-Drop. You take any file or folder, drop it on the "PF Encrypt" icon, type in a secure password, and it will compress and encrypt very quickly.

Encrypted StuffIt archives created with the Private File utility will have .pf extensions.

To Decrypt, simply drag the file with the .pf extension to the "PF Decrypt" application, enter the password and it will decrypt the file.

Private File was discontinued sometime in 1999. Smith Micro Software acquired Aladdin Systems in 2005. (Note Aladdin Systems had to change the company name in 2004 as part of a trademark settlement from Aladdin Knowledge Systems.)

Today's Solution

If you're looking for the same functionality in Macintosh OS X world, Stuffit 16 is a good solution. You have the same drag-drop flexibility as Private File with today's compression technology. Stuffit 16 offers 512-bit encryption.

We come a long way in software. When Private File came out it cost $49.95. Today a digital copy of Stuffit 16 only cost $9.99

February 17, 2017

Art Director's Toolkit

Art Director Logo4

The Art Director's Toolkit 4 came bundled with my Powerbook G4 computer. The application is a toolbox of useful mini-apps for graphic designers.

The current product description:

Art Directors Toolkit (ADT) is the "Designer's On-screen Toolset" for Artists and Designers working with digital media. Always a one-click-away companion dedicated to speeding up the design process, ADT works almost by stealth whether using Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, QuarkXpress, Dreamweaver or any tool to create digital media and websites. No more cluttering your desk or desktop with stickies, swatch books, calculators and google searches. ADT provides all of the obscure calculations and information designers need on a daily basis.

I haven't used the application that much when I got my Powerbook. I thought it was worth looking into and seeing if there were many changes in version 5.5.

The only change that I can see between the two versions is that version 5 included a new Launcher. The Launcher allows you to store your commonly used applications, folders, and files. It's a useful tool to organize and open documents.

Useful Art Director's Toolkit Functionality

There are a couple of useful things that I found in Art Director, after no opening the application for a couple of years. My Powerbook G4 is not collecting dust in the basement, it's on my home desk. I just don't open every single application on my computer.

Symbol Tool

The Symbol Tool allows you to see every single character of a selected font. This is useful when you have special fonts that have some extras. For example, the Ravenscroft Font includes some Disney Logos.

Using Art Director's Toolkit, I can see that if I type Option and, I can get the Haunted Mansion logo.

Art Symbol Tool

Blend Tool

The Blend Tool gives you the ability to mix different colors to see what the results would look like. It's a neat way to play around with colors and to see how they interact with each other.

Art Blend Tool

Other tools in the toolkit include, Ruler, Number, RGB, Swatch, Symbol, Text, Scale, Layout, Palette and Launcher.

Getting Art Director's Toolkit

You can download Art Director's Toolkit from code-line.com website. There is a 15-day trial, after that it cost $24.95.

If you're a graphic designer and like to play around with colors and sizes, I would suggest checking out the software. At least download the trial and see if the tools can make your life easier.