Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: October 19, 2018Total: 266

March 23, 2018

Apple System Services

When was the last time you looked at the System Services you have installed?

Some applications provide helper services so that you can interact with applications. You can access the services from any application menu.

Chrome Services

Some of the service's functionality will only show up when you have something selected - text, image, file or folder.

There are four main categories for Services:

  • Pictures
  • Messaging
  • Development
  • File and Folders
  • Searching
  • Text
  • Internet
  • General

Services is a good way to be more productive with applications you use every day.

Check Out the Installed Services

It's worth checking out what services are available on your computer.

You can check out all the computer services available by looking in the System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Services

Keyboard Services

If there are some Services that look interesting, you can always assign a keyboard shortcut to make it easy to access the shortcut. Items that don't have a checkmark are not enabled. If there are applications that you don't use, you can always disable the Services by unchecking the services. (In my case, I don't use the Bear App, so I'll disable that.)

Service Example - Text to Speech

Did you know that you can easily convert a webpage text to spoken text to play on your iPhone? Yes, there's a built-in service called, "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."

There are four good speeches to select from Samantha, Victoria, Alex, Fred. These voices offers you the best realistic speech quality. (Whisper is also a good quality sound.)

For some reason, Chrome doesn't have the reading mode enabled by default, see How To Turn On Secret Reading Mode In Chrome Desktop Browser to get it working.

Sample Task:

  1. Open up a webpage ( Example: Tea Doors )
  2. Click on the Reader Icon in the Chrome or Firefox location bar (From now on I am assuming that your using Chrome)
  3. Select all the Text
  4. Select the Chrome menu and Services
  5. Then Select "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."
  6. From the System Voice, pick Samantha, Victoria, Alex or Fred.
  7. Give it a good name, "Tea Doors" is a good choice.
  8. Keep the "Music" as the option, as that will make sure the clip appears in iTunes.
  9. Click Continue
  10. iTunes will open.
  11. Play your Clip!
  12. If you like it, add it to your iPhone.

How Cool is That

Now you can make your own "Books on Tapes" and listen to articles on your commute.

It's also a good way to proofread your blog or important emails.

March 16, 2018

BBEdit Stye Text

There is a popular online utility called GeSHi - Generic Syntax Highlighter which makes it easy to display Code in the same Syntax format in popular editors. You use this when you want to display code on a website.

Ge S Hi Java

If you have BBEdit, you don't need it because there's a built in tool called "Copy as Styled" which will copy the selected text using the BBedit color scheme that you have selected.

BBEdit Styled Text

Sample Output from BBEdit



    public void setHints(int hints) {
    super.setHints(hints & (~ImageConsumer.COMPLETESCANLINES));
    }

Copy as Styled Text

The other "Copy as" functionality is the "Copy as Styled Text" which copies the selected text as rich text. This is handy when you may want to paste the syntax code in a Microsoft Word document or Evernote note.

Cool trick with OmniGraffle

If you have OmniGraffle you can create a cool info-box using your code:

  • Copy your Code in BBEdit as "Copy as Styled Text"
  • Paste the content in your Clipboard into OmniGraffle
  • Change the Fill to be whatever the background is (If Needed)
  • Change the look and feel, and then export the image.

A few simple steps in OmniGraffle and you could make this:

Freehand Stroke Omni Graffle

It appears that this is easily done in OmniGraffle. I tried in Apple Page, Microsoft Word, and Affinity Designer and they all require some additional touch ups. For example, you may want to create a box object first and then paste the content from BBEdit.

March 9, 2018

Macintosh Spring Cleaning

There's an old saying in the de-clutter world, "If you haven't used it in Six Month, throw it away." The same rule should apply to Macintosh Applications. If you haven't use the application in the past six months, you should consider removing it from your computer.

Use Spotlight to Find Applications that Your Really Not Using

Did you know that Apple's Spotlight can tell you when you haven't used an application for a while? Simple use the following search criteria to display icons that your not using anymore:

Unused Applications
Just some of the Apps on my computer that I should remove.

Unused Fonts Cleanup

Did you know that having a lot of fonts install on your computer can actually slow down your computer?

Why not just removed unused and one-time use fonts and only have the fonts that you'll actually use. Not only will it help speed up your computer, even ever-so-slightly, you'll have a much better font list to navigate with.

One way to clean up the folder is to removed duplicated fonts. In Apple's Font Book there's a built-in tool that will look for duplicates.

  • Open up Font Book
  • Type in Command-L
  • Go through with Duplicate Font Wizard.

Note: If you type in Command-L and nothing happens, it means you don't have any duplicate fonts. (Lucky You!)

Font Duplicated

Also in FontBook, you can disable Fonts that you don't need to have. This is a good way to manually manage fonts because you can't disable System Fonts - so there's no way to disable the default system font. You don't risk your computer acting weird.

For this to work you'll need to walk through all your installed fonts and make a judgment call on which ones are important. Don't worry, you can always enable the fonts for later. Unfortunately, you can't create a Smart Group of disabled fonts.

Itunes Cleanup

In iTunes, you can see what songs you're listening to the most. Each time you listen to an entire song, iTunes increments the play count. It's a good way to know what songs you really like, and what songs your not interested in listening to.

If you're not listening to it, why keep it on your computer?

One way to help sort out the non-played music, is to create a smart playlist of zero count plays. Here's an example of one I created:

i Tunes Play Count

To Remove the Song, simply right click on the track and then select, "Remove from this Computer"

Got any Tips?

Please share any other tips on cleaning out unused files on your computer in the comments.

March 2, 2018

iMac 2011

If you have an iMac 2011, this is your final chance to get any repairs done to the computer. Apple has announced that they will be allowing repairs of the 2011 iMac computer through August of this year.

After August 2018, the iMac computer will be considered a vintage system. Apple is doing this extension since they sold a lot of the iMac 2011 computer, as it was available on the market for a long time. Typically they stop supporting a system 5-years after the last sold date.

What this means to iMac 2011 Users

If your encountering an issue with the iMac this is a good time to get it fixed. Some examples:

  • Dead pixel on the screen
  • Crack screen
  • Display hinge issues
  • Stuck disk in the DVD drive
  • Computer just doesn't seem to work well

This is the time to bring it in to get it fixed.

After August your chances of getting it fixed could be very limited and be more costly.

Why Bother Repairs?

The iMac 2011 is still a good computer. If you plan on still using it when you get a new computer, you should get the fix done now.

In addition, if you plan to give the computer to your son/daughter it would be good doing in fine working order.

Five Reason to Upgrade

As good as the iMac 2011 was there are five strong reasons to upgrade to the latest iMac:

  1. The computer has technology inside the box is eight years old. To put it in perspective, Apple iPhone 1.0 was also introduced in the same year. Would you still use the original iPhone today?
  2. The computer has older USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 ports. Most devices are USB 3.0 powered. All external Hard Drives and Thumb drives are optimized to work in USB 3.0
  3. Newer iMac has better Bluetooth technology support. You can't connect your iPhone to the computer using the existing Bluetooth technology on the iMac 2011.
  4. The iMacs today are much faster. They run faster using a faster logic board and now use solid-state memory for storage.
  5. Thunderbolt 3 - At 40 Gb/s, it's the fastest port available on a computer today.

February 23, 2018

Creating Sequential Directories

There?s an easy way to create a number sequence directories. This is useful when your creating directories for days of a month. I did this for a while organizing blog postings.

To create ten directories starting with the number 21:

mkdir {21..31}

If you need to create a directory with a leading zero:

mkdir $(printf "%02i " $(seq 1 20))

To do a directory in this format: MM-DD Simple use this:

mkdir $(date ?%b-%d?)

Hope this gives people ideas on different ways to create directories.

February 16, 2018

Pixel Fonts

Designers use pixel fonts when they need a good font that looks good when the text is really small. Usually this for text on photos or for navigation buttons.

There are two-pixel font families that are in just about every Macintosh font library - Mini7 and Tenacity. These aren't there by default, you'll have to download them.

Pixel fonts work best in bitmap programs such as Photoshop, Pixelmator. Turn off any anti-alias.

Mini7 Tenacity

Mini 7

Mini 7 looks great at 7 points, making it one of the smallest font types available. Mini 7 is only available as an uppercase font style. You can't get any fancy character types too. Sorry names with accents but it won't work with Mini 7.

Despite the limitations, Mini7 is one of the most popular pixel base fonts on the Internet.

Mini 7 is available in Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Tight, Extras and Bold

Tenacity

Tenacity is a more developed font and looks good at 10 or 20 points.

Tenacity also comes with additional styles such as Caps, Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Extras and Bold.

Which is the Better Font?

A few years ago, I did a quick page (before blogs was a thing) on the best caption font. Here's a reprint of my findings.

Using Fonts in Photo Captions

The following are examples of several Macintosh font types being used as captions.

Recomended Fonts

  • Alegreya Sans SC
  • Geneva
  • Tenacity
  • Mini 7
  • Helvetica
  • VT100
  • Verdana

I believe that Verdana 10 Point and Tenacity Condensed 10 Point are the best choices for using as caption fonts.

Download a larger high quality compairson: Full Caption Stack (675k)

Font Row1

Font Row2

Font Row3

Which font do you think is the best Pixel based font?

February 9, 2018

Panoramic Photo Challenge

Taking Panorama photos is a good way to get a landscape view of any environment.

iPhone Camera Panoramic

Apple includes a Pano mode in the camera app, but it takes some skill to hold the camera right. Also, the lighting doesn't mix well.

In my tests, the pictures that I take in Panoramic mode tends to have weird lighting and be very flat. That is, you can't raise the camera up if you want to include a full view of a tree or Building.

Software Stitching

Stitching a bunch of photos post-production is a good way to create a more effective panoramic photo. You can then crop the photo to your needs.

Disney Panorama
Using the stiching method, I was able to create this cool focus effect. Notice how the picture is focus in a couple areas. You can?t do this in Apple?s Pano.

I have been using Affinity Photo for my stitching, and it has been working well. I recently heard about DoubleTtake and thought it would be interesting to see which app gives you more control.

The Challenge

I took seven pictures of the Back Bay T Station in Boston, Massachusetts. I then ran it through DoubleTake, and Affinity Photo's Panoramic functionality. The only modification that was made was to crop out the excess picture.

Here is the result of the Challenge:

PanoramicViewsm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

DoubleTake

DoubleTake does a fairly good job of setting up the Panoramic shot. You do have to move pictures around to fix the alignment. There are lots of adjustment capabilities within the software. You can move handles to fix to make the photo transitions smooth.

DoubleTake focuses more on getting the largest possible view. In my test, the final crop image was 6718 x 2549.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo does a great job of putting the picture together. Basically, I accepted the Panoramic shot, and then crop to opaque. There was no adjustment needed.

Affinity Photo seems to focus more on getting the best picture. In my test, the image was 6187 x 2051.

Granted I have used Affinity Photo for a while, but it was so much easier to use.

February 2, 2018

Smart Converter

Shedworx's Smart Converter 2 tool is a great way to convert a media file from one format to another. It's a great quick media converter that just works well.

There are two Smart Converter versions, here's the key difference between the free version and the paid version:

In the Smart Converter Pro 2 version:

  • Search Meta-Data files
  • Automatically adds meta-data for searching
  • Subtitle support
  • Supports Multiple audio tracks
  • Define a different output location (You can avoid iTunes!)
  • Disable the ability to add media files to iTunes
  • Surround Sound support
  • Folder Monitoring (Have Smart Converter run everytime a file is placed in a folder.)

Product Description

Smart Converter Pro provides a faster, higher quality conversion than every other converter:

  • It's so smart - only converts stuff that needs converting, and leaves the rest alone--this means it's very fast and maintains the highest possible quality of video and audio.
  • Simple to use - drag, drop and click convert - Smart Converter Pro looks after the rest.
  • Movie and TV Show info - automatically add key info and artwork for your movies and TV shows.
  • Folder monitoring - automatically convert movies as they are added to nominated folders.
  • Subtitles - include subtitles, add external subtitles and even load subtitles from the web!
  • Supports 100's of media formats and converts to all your favourite devices and file types, including AppleTV, iPad, iPhone, Smart TV, PS3 and more.
  • iTunes Savvy - auto import your converted movies and music to iTunes.

Smart Converter21

Quick and Easy

I like Smart Converter because It can easily convert classic media files - such as Real Media files to MP4. It's a quick way to once again access old media files. (Without Smart Converter I would have to wait for Quicktime to convert old Sorxxx codec videos)

I also use Smart Converter to extract audio from MOV files. Useful when I just want the soundtrack and not have to watch the movie.

Haven't upgrade to the Pro version because I don't have the need for all the features of going pro. If you have a lot of files that need converting, then going pro is the way to go.

My Tips and Tricks

Some video screen capture files done in Snagit will not convert well. Apparently, there's a lot of masking between shots This means that you'll see some strange views in your final output.. (Not Smart Converter problem as Quicktime will have this same issue.) I have found ElMedia Player as a good converter in these cases.

Keep in mind that the final conversation is only as good as the source. Smart Converter can't make a video compress with Sorenson Codec look better in MP4.

Some mp4 files will not convert to audio-only. Haven't figured out why this is the case. ) I use Fission to extract the audio.

If you're not able to find your audio clip in iTunes it's because iTunes thinks it's a movie file.

Supports Converting 177 Media Types!

Here are all the file formats extensions supported by either version of Smart Converter:

avi, mp4, mkv, mts, m2ts, m4v, mp3, m4a, mov, flv, mpa, wmv, wma, wav, 3gp, 3g2, 3gp, 4xm, IFF, ISS, MTV, RoQ, aac, ac3, adts, aea, aiff, alaw, amr, anm, apc, ape, asf, asf_stream, ass, au, avi, avm2, avs, bethsoftvid, bfi, bink, c93, caf, cavsvideo, cdg, crc, daud, dirac, dnxhd, dsicin, dts, dv, dvd, dxa, ea, ea_cdata, eac3, f32be, f32le, f64be, f64le, ffm, film_cpk, filmstrip, flac, flic, flv, framecrc, gif, gsm, gxf, h261, h263, h264, idcin, image2, image2pipe, ingenient, ipmovie, ipod, iv8, lmlm4, m4v, mkv, matroska, mjpeg, mlp, mm, mmf, mov, mov, mp4, m4a, 3gp, 3g2, mj2, mp2, mp3, mp4, mpc, mpc8, mpeg, mpeg1video, mpeg2video, mpegts, mpegtsraw, mpegvideo, mpjpeg, msnwctcp, mulaw, mvi, mxf, mxf_d10, nc, nsv, null, nut, nuv, ogg, oma, psp, psxstr, pva, qcp, r3d, rawvideo, rcv, rl2, rm, rpl, rtp, rtsp, s16be, s16le, s24be, s24le, s32be, s32le, s8, sdp, shn, siff, smk, sol, sox, spdif, svcd, swf, thp, tiertexseq, tmv, truehd, tta, txd, u16be, u16le, u24be, u24le, u32be, u32le, u8, vc1, vc1test, vcd, vmd, voc, vqf, w64, wav, wc3movie, webm, wsaud, wsvqa, wv, xa, yop,

Getting Smart Converter

You can get the free version on the Apple Store or from ShedWorx Website.

January 26, 2018

ParticleShop

ParticleShop is a unique brush effect tool, it makes the brush come alive and adds all sorts of special effects. Basically, the brush comes alive as you apply it to the image. Based on the color/size and brush you get all sorts of unique special effects.

This is not your standard brush tool. It's a way to paint effect to your photos, such as fire, smoke and bubbles.

I originally purchased ParticleShop as part of the "Create Your 12 App MEGA Mac Bundle" from Bundle Hunt. I saw the description and thought it would be worth trying out. (It was priced at $49.99) I got the 12-App bundle for $19.99.

Description from the 'About ParticleShop' menu

Leave the physics to us; no static stamps here! Experience the strokes of grab-and-go living brushes that spring, flow, gravitate and glow based on your unique expression. Artistically enhance photos, designs, and illustrations with the realistic awe-inspiring results.

Craft your visual masterpiece with brushes that are built to perform with a pressure-sensitive tablet, touchscreen or mouse. Free yourself to create, ranter than configure by exploring an array of artistic brushes that require minimal setup and a clean and simple user interface in which to create.

Are you ready to get started? You can access ParticleShop resources online to find exciting new brushes, get help, and learn more about the product.

Demo of ParticleShop

Particle Shop Demo

Not a great artist, but I added a couple of effects to an image.

Cool Tool

ParticleShop is a cool tool, it comes with 11 brushes in the Core Pack. However, once you start playing around with it you quickly feel that 11 brushes aren't enough and you could do so much more with more brushes. In order to get new ones you have to purchase them on Painter's online store.

The prices for extra packs range from $29 to $79 - you can get the entire collection for $95. I think it's pretty expensive for my budget, but I guess if you're into brush touch up then it would be a reasonable amount of the creative brush effects that you get.

Particle Shop Brushes

At the End of the Day

I don't think I'll be using ParticleShop too much, it's a cool tool for people that spend a lot of time touching up photos and graphics files. Looks like having a pressure sensitive Wacom tablet would be practical to get the most out of the tool.

ParticleShop is a Photoshop Plug-in and does not work with Affinity Photo. Since I don't use Photoshop Elements 13 that much, I don't think that I'll be using ParticleShop.

January 19, 2018

Quadro Sync

Quadro Sync is a cool way to control your computer from your Smart Phone. You have the ability to assign specific functions so that when you open up the application your smartphone screen changes to display buttons of tasks to perform.

You can customize the button assignments and button designs. Giving you full control over how Quadro Sync works.

Quadro is an excellent application to help with common tasks that you encounter every day. If you been thinking about getting an external controller pad, consider trying Quadro first.

This is a two-bit application; there's the desktop app that is always listening! and interacting with iOS! and there's an iOS app that has to be running. After a few minutes of inactivity, the iOS app will go to sleep -saving your screen and device power.

If you're just going to charge your phone at your desk, why not put it to great use?

i Phone Promo

Description from Quadro Website

Here's a description from Quadro.me website:

Power up your workstation
Control your applications with a simplified yet enhanced personal interface. Automate any recurring iteration and optimize your workflow. Reduce the gap between ideation and execution. And have fun doing it.

Personal computing, truly
Personalize any function and representation of your actions. Use color, icons and images to convey meaning and smoothen your path to action.

Automate your workflow
Direct activation is cool again, but that's not enough. Sequence any action easily to create your cross-application macros and let Quadro do the dirty work for you.

BBEdit Screen Example

I spent a lot of time in BBEdit for PHP development and text cleanup. I spent some time thinking about what tools would make sense to make a Quadro action:

B B Edit Sync

  • Zap Gremlins - Clean up the selected text.
  • Paragraph - Create HTML Paragraph from selection
  • Backup to Evernote - Quick way to backup my document to Evernote.
  • Process Lines Containing - Quick Filter
  • Find - Open up the Find/Replace dialog box
  • Remove Line Breaks - Clean up the selected text.
  • Add Hyperlink - Open the Hyperlink dialog to add a link to the selected text.

Obviously all of these commands can be performed by keyboard shortcuts. Making them as action buttons in Quadro makes it quicker to apply these actions.

For example, I am opting to backup my documents to Evernote more often because the big green button is there to remind me.

Which Devices can You Install Quadro Sync?

If you have any old devices that are just sitting in storage, you may want to dust it off and make it your new Quadro pad.

The Quadro iOS App will work on any devices that can run iOS 8.0 or newer, according to Apple these are the devices that will run on iOS 8:

  • The iPhone 4S
  • The iPhone 5
  • The iPhone 5C
  • The iPhone 5S
  • The iPod Touch fifth generation
  • The iPad 2
  • The iPad with Retina Display
  • The iPad Air
  • The iPad Mini
  • The iPad Mini with Retina Display
  • Getting the Application

    To get started, visit the Quadro website and download the application.