Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

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

November 17, 2017

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.

Apple description:

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.

Page Curl Effect

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.

Other Tips:

  • 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.

November 10, 2017

AirPort Express 802.11g

Airport Express

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

Ethernet WAN

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

Resources

If you have AirPort Express 802.11g (1st Generation) download Apple's Setup Guide to get you up and running.

November 3, 2017

PhotoScape X

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.

I have Affinity Photo and Pixelmator and both are excellent programs. I find that PhotoScape X comes in handy when I need a quick fix, for example if I just want crop or add an effect to an image.

Photo Scape Screen Shot

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.
Print 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.

Editor Tools

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.

Photo Scape Menus
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)

Video Tutorials

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.

October 27, 2017

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.

Keyboard Maestro Palet

Basic Configuration

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.

iterm Adwords Report2
Sample Entry

Super Productive

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!

October 20, 2017

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

Omni Photo Size Optimizer

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.

Overall Feeling

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.

Try Yourself

Effect Matrix offers a 10 days Free Trial with Full Features if you download it from their website.

The full version is $29.99.

October 13, 2017

BBEdit 12

Yesterday Bare Bones Software updated BBEdit to Version 12. The feedback from long term customers has been amazing.

B B Edit Fans

Yes, BBEdit has a very strong customer base.

Some Cool Features in Version 12

There are a lot of changes in Version 12, you would expect that with a major release, here are five some of the highlights that I like:

  • Paste Using Filter - You can now apply a filter to any text you paste in. For example you can create a filter to add hyperlinks to certain company phrases.
  • Columns Edit - Now its easy to remove or rearrange data in CSV files.
  • FTP/SFTP Browser - Lots of code cleanup with the FTP/SFTP browser window.
  • Canonize - Allows you to perform batch search replace using a reference file. This is great when you need to run the same file clean up command as part of your daily task.
  • Color Scheme now carries over to the sidebar

ColorScheme_thumb.jpg
The Editor window difference between version 11 and version 12 of BBEdit.
Click on image for a larger version.

Complete details are listed on theirBBEdit 12.0 Release Notes.

Are You Using Completion Correctly?

One of the Preference changes Bare Bones made was to move the Completion into its own category. I actually had it turned off because I wasn't really using it that much. Big Mistake!

BBEdit text completion makes typing HTML commands so much easier. You don't need to use the HTML Markup Tools palette. Simply type in the first few letter and then select the text completion that works for you.

For example, Typing in the words 'an' will bring up the anchor drop down. Hit Return then type the URL then Tab then the text you wish to link. It's a lot faster than bring up the anchor dialog box.

It might take a few tried to get used to it, but once you have gotten used to it, it will speed up your HTML work.

Create a BootStrap Panel Text Completion

If you do any work with Twitter's Bootstrap your probably creating a lot of panels. Here's a simple step to add a panel to BBEdit Text Completion so that it will be super easy to create panels.

To get you started, copy the following text to a BBEdit file:

<DIV class="panel panel-default"><div class="panel-heading"><h3 class="panel-title"></div>
<div class="panel-body">

</div></div>

Highlight the text, right click and select "Save Selection as Clipping..."

cryan

Call it whatever you want, the name is important because that's going to be your Text Completion trigger. Mine is simply: panel.

Create a new set and call it Bootstrap. This will help you organize common Clippings

BBEdit Panel

Test it out! Type in the word 'panel' in any BBEdit document and you should see the drop down.

How awesome is that! Now you can create text completions for all your panel types. Don't forget to add one for Wells and responsive Tables too!

Getting BBEdit

You can download a trial version of BBEdit from their website. You'll have 30 days to try out all the features.

October 6, 2017

FFMpeg

If your looking for a powerful multimedia framework check out FFmpeg. It's a powerful command line utility that has a strong user base and easy to learn.

ffmepg doesn?t have a fancy user interface, which may turn away some users. I believe It worth learning FFmpeg because you'll learn more about creating multimedia files.

Three Examples

Show MetaData

Find out some MetaData on your multimedia file. Here's what information that Quicktime and Finder shows:

Finder Metadata

This is what FFmpeg displays when you run the command:

ffmpeg -i

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from '/Volumes/MONOCARPOUS/Computers/2003/3.17.03/done/mitt.mov':
  Metadata:
    creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
    encoder         : Encoded with Cleaner 5
    encoder-eng     : Encoded with Cleaner 5
  Duration: 00:00:30.06, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 491 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(eng): Video: svq1 (SVQ1 / 0x31515653), yuv410p, 320x240, 442 kb/s, 15 fps, 15 tbr, 600 tbn, 600 tbc (default)
    Metadata:
      creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
      handler_name    : Apple Alias Data Handler
      encoder         : Sorenson Video
    Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: qdm2 (QDM2 / 0x324D4451), 44100 Hz, mono, s16, 48 kb/s (default)
    Metadata:
      creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
      handler_name    : Apple Alias Data Handler

Convert old .MOV to the latest .MP4 standards

This is a basic functionality of FFmpeg. The core command is:

ffmpeg -i filename.mov filename.mp4

A more advance example would be:

for FILE in *.swf; do ffmpeg -i "$FILE" "${FILE[@]/%swf/mp4}"; done;

That will convert all Flash SWF files in a directory to the industry standard h264 format. This is very useful to view Flash video if you don't have a Flash player.

As you learn more about the FFmpeg, you'll understand which compression will work for your multimedia and distribution method.

Create a Looping File

Let's say you have a howling wolf audio clip and you wanted to have a longer version. Here's an example of how you would go about doing that using FFmpeg.

ffmpeg -stream_loop 4 -i howl.mp3 -c copy howl4.mp3

Real Video Files

I thought I might be interesting to see if FFmpeg would convert some old Real Media files to MP4. I tested converting a couple of Real Video and Real Audio files, some that you can see on this site, and they converted from Real Video 10 to H264 successfully.

Stream #0:1 -> #0:0 (rv10 (native) -> h264 (libx264))
Stream #0:0 -> #0:1 (ac3 (native) -> aac (native))

The video quality was bad. However, it was probably because when I encoded it I went for the smallest file size as possible.

September 29, 2017

Keyboard Maestro Date Formatting

Last week Keyboard Maestro was upgraded to version 8. It?s packed with a lot of features, and I thought it would be time to do a change up and switch from TextExpander 5.1.4 to Keyboard Maestro.

Note: I didn't upgrade to TextExpander 6 because I didn't like to have to pay for a yearly subscription for a Macintosh utility program.

I have been moving a lot of my TextExpander Snippets to Keyboard Maestro's Macros. It?s been a slow transition as it?s a bit hard to get used to Keyboard Maestro?s interface. It?s complicated for a reason - they're so much more you can do using Keyboard Maestro.

Date/Time Variable Reference Chart

Here?s a handy chart to convert Day/Time data from Text Expander to Keyboard Maestro. This is useful when converting your snippets to Keyboard Maestro and want to keep the same date format.

DateTimeChart_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

Date Time Display

This is a sample Macro that I have set up to display the current date time.

USA Date Format

I have three macros to easily display the current date in the following formats:

  • Standard US Date
  • European Date Format
  • ODBC Date Format (Database Format)

Try Out Keyboard Maestro

Try out Keyboard Maestro 8 as its more user-friendly. Watch the YouTube videos to get an idea on how best to use it. The forum is a great place to get ideas and tips from other users.

September 22, 2017

Seamless Images in Affinity Designer

Someone added a comment to a previous blog post asking how I was able to make a background image in Affinity Designer. It's pretty easy to do.

Here are the steps on creating a seamless asset in Affinity Designer. To do this, I'll utilize some functionality in OmniGraffle.

A seamless background image is a pattern that looks the same no matter how big the background is. Think of it as wallpaper pattern.

Steps to create the pattern

  • Open up OmniGraffle
  • Drag and drop the Seamless Background image
  • Omni Image

    In the Image Setting, in the Object Panel, select the 'Tile Image to fit Shape' icon.
  • Now reshape the shape to a large size, such as 1000 px. It's important to keep the image ratio, this is done by holding the shift key and drag the corners.
  • Once done, simply copy the object.
  • Open up Affinity Designer
  • Create a new document.
  • Paste in the file.
  • Open up the Style Panel
  • Right Click on the Image and select the 'Create Style'

Now you have a style that has the background image.

September 15, 2017

FontDoc Copy/Paste

Earlier this year I wrote about how FontDoc was a useful application to see what font looks best for a given text. You type in any text and in a few seconds, you see your text using all the fonts on your computer. Simply scroll through to see all your options

This is certainly better than judging a typeface by the name - after all many fonts look different when you mix upper and lowercase characters.

FontDoc Cool Feature

There is a cool benefit that I didn't mention - copy and paste. You can copy the text and paste it into any document and it will paste in the text using the font style you selected. How cool is that!

Font Doc Example

This makes it really easy to look at header text in different font styles and then paste in the one that you like the most. This will work in any application - Affinity Designer, Photoshop, OmniGraffle, Microsoft Word and more. Any document that supports rich text (RTF) will support this.

This is way better than judging what looks better based on the WYSIWYG menu.

Drag and Drop Works!

Fontdoc Drag Drop

You can simply select the text and drag and drop it into your application. In the above screenshot, I dragged and drop the text to Microsoft Word.

One Exception to the rule

The only caveat is that the font has to be installed. So if you're using FontDoc to check Fonts that are not on your computer, the pasted text will be pasted in Helvetica font style.

The fix is easy, simply install the font and try again. Note: You may need to quit and reopen the application in order for the application to recognize the font.