Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: August 18, 2017Total: 205

September 30, 2016

OmniGraffle 7

Onmi Graffle Logos

If your need to create diagrams, process charts, website or graphic design then OmniGraphic is certainly something to look at. This is is a good time to look at OmniGraphic since they are about to release version 7.

Linda.com has several hours of training on OmniGraphic 5 and 6. It's a good way to learn some of the features of the application. It's certainly worth looking out if you have a Lynda.com subscription, and if you don't have a subscription, you should certainly sign up for their free 10-day trial.

Why I used OmniGraphic

I purchased OmniGraphic in 2005 to help with some onsite training. The application provided the right tools to create attractive looking process flow charts.

OmniGraphic Pro was necessary for me to open up all the Visio documents that customers would send me.

New Features in OmniGraphic 7

Version 7 is a complete redesign with lots of new features and functionality. OmniGraffle website list the main features being: Infinite Canvas, SVG Support, Artboards, Stroke to Shape, Text to Shape, Point Editor, Keyboard Shortcuts.

Right out of the box the Infinite Canvas is very nice, now I don't have to worry about the size of the document. I just open up the Application and get to work. The adjustment of the Inspector pallet to the window is much easier to read and deal with.

Omni Inspectors

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Support is nice, EPS support would have been better. I have found that there are way more EPS files than SVG files. For example on CreateMarket they have 8,424 SVG files, and 136,662 EPS files. Perhaps over time there will be more SVG files.

I don't understand the functionality of an Artboard. I have seen it in other applications, but really don't understand it enough to appreciate the feature.

The Point Editor is nice, now I can easily add the right number of magnetic points that I want to put on a shape.

There's lots of cool stencils that come with OmniGraffle 7. I really like the three-dimensional stencils.

Omni Stencils3

Upgrade Path to 7

There's a lot of cool things that the Omni Group put into the latest version that - for me - it's worth considering an upgrade cost. What is it going to cost to upgrade from OmniGraphic Pro 5.5 to OmniGraphic 7?

OmniGraffle has a cool tool on their website to check the license key upgrade path. I did a quick query and found that upgrading from OmniGraffle Professional 5 to Omnigraffle 6 will be $49.99 and the Pro version will be $99. The Professional version has AppleScript, Shared Layers, Tables, Shape Combinations, Visio Support and a few other tools. Since I like using Tables, I would have to upgrade to OmniGraffle Pro 6.

I haven't decided if I'll upgrade yet. The features and functionality look very promising.

September 23, 2016

Scanning Multiple Images using Image Capture

Image Capture2

Apple describes Image Capture simply as "Use Image Capture to transfer and scan images or take a picture. Many cameras and scanners are compatible with Image Capture."

I think of the Image Capture application as a powerful scanning utility that makes it easy to scan multiple images.

Tips to quickly scan multiple Photos

If your not fortunate enough to have a scanner that has an automatic feeder. You?ll be happy to know that Apple's Image Capture has an ?Auto Selection' feature that can help you scan files quickly.

Steps to make Auto Selection Work

  • Place Photos on the scanner, stay away from the scanner glass edge and be careful of any over lapping.
  • Make sure that Auto Selection is enabled
  • Click the Preview Button
  • After the Preview is done, check the scan zones. Make any corrections.
  • Scan.
Image Capture Scanning

The scanner will make as many passes as there are zones. So if you selected 5 areas, the scanner will go back and forth five times.

You could do this in Pixelmator, but what's nice about the stand alone application is that it saves it as a file. In Pixelmator, each scan is an unsaved document. Which could be an issue if you have a lot of things to scan.

Auto Selection Tips:

  • Make sure that you are capturing the correct part of the images. When I was doing this, I discovered that sometimes the image gets cut off due to the clouds in the sky.
  • You don?t have to worry if the image is perfectly straight. The bounding box will adjust around the photo and the image will appear in the file as if you did perfectly align it. How cool is that?
  • Always check the scans to make sure it scanned correctly.
  • I like to scan at 300dpi, and then downsize to 72 for Internet sharing. It's also easier to touch up images at higher resolutions.

Using 'Auto Selection' is good, but it doesn't really do any image touch ups or color correction. If you're doing a lot of scanning, you may want to consider a third party application.

Alternative Scanning Applications

The good thing about your options is that both of these have been around for at least 19+ years.

VueScan

VueScan by Hamrick is $49.50 for the Standard Edition. The Professional Edition is $99.95 and it includes support for Film/Slide scanning, OCR Text Files and advance features. VueScan has been helping people scan better for the past 19 years. They have a strong loyal customer base.

I played around with this briefly and couldn't figure a way to get the auto selection to work. There is way more functionality than what Apple includes in Image Capture. If my job required to do lots of scanning, I certainly would spend time learning and using this.

The one cool feature is the auto scanning. It will continuously scan with a slight pause after each scan so that you can change the photo on the scanner. You can define the duration between scans. This would be extremely useful if you have a lot of similar size photos to scan.

SilverFast

SilverFast by LaserSoft Imaging starts at $49 for the SilverFast SE 8, which is there entry level version. The profession version is $299 which features among other things; better color correction and removes natural image noise. SilverFast has been available for 20 years on the Macintosh and Windows.

I attempted to use SilverFast but found out that my scanner is not compatible with their software. I guess this means that the Epson xxx doesn't have certain functionality that the software needs to produce quality scans.

Check out their website to see if your scanner is compatible.

Both programs offer trials. You should try them out to make sure your scanner works with their software.

Image Capture and Evernote

Did you see my previous blog post on how Easy it was to scan images to your Evernote account. Worth checking out if you have a Premium or Plus Evernote account.

September 16, 2016

Vintage Prints Tip in Apple Photos

Apple shipped Photos application in 2015 as a replacement for iPhotos and Aperture. Photos was launched with mix reviews from the Apple community. Some people liked the speed improvement and enhanced editing functionality. Others think that Apple's decision to retire a pro image application (Aperture) for a free consumer solution was the wrong direction.

One of the nice features of Photos is how easy it is to create slideshows from an unlimited selection of pictures. Anybody can make professional looking slideshows very quickly.

Photos comes with seven different slideshow themes: Ken Burns, Origami, Reflections, Sliding Panels, Vintage Prints, Classic, and Magazine.

Slide Show Options2

I wished that Apple would make some of the Desktop Screen Savers as part of the slideshow themes. In particular, I would like the ability to create Mobile and Photo Wall slide show movies.

Screensaver Themes

Super Easy to Create a Custom Slide Show

You simply select the photos that you want to include in the slideshow and select "create slideshow" from the file menu. Once the slideshow group is creating the theme, background music , text overlays and duration of the show.

Once you generate the award-winning show, you can export the video to YouTube or to a file for further enhancement in iMovie. In iMovie you have better control on where the music plays and speed up and slow down the show as needed.

Tips and tricks with the Vintage Print Theme in Photos

I really like the Vintage Prints Theme in Photos. I like how the background is random photos in the slideshow. One of the problems with the Vintage theme is that you don't have much control over the individual slides. There might be times where the application will combine two pictures on a single slide and the two pictures don't compliment each other.

Example situation:

Vintage Slides2
Apple Photos has combined the two photos in the first slide, but they are not related.

There is no way around this, I can't force the application to not combine the two objects. I can, however, replace the object with the text field. This will move the unrelated photo to its own slide.

Steps to Add the Text Slide:

  • Click on one of the Photos that you don't want to be in the slide.
  • Click on the '+' icon in the bottom right and click on 'Add Text'
  • You should see the text box appear in the double slide.
  • By default the text in the slide says, 'Default Text'
  • You have two options:
  • You can enter in some text, describe the location or information about the other picture in the slide.
  • You can removed the entire 'Default Text' and enter in a space to have an empty box. You can't have an empty box, so if you just delete the text, the words 'Default Text' will still appear.

September 9, 2016

TextSoap

Text Soap Logo

Stop manually fixing text documents and emails. TextSoap, from Unmarked Software, is a fast way to automate away all that tediousness.

TextSoap automatically remove unwanted characters, fix messed up carriage returns, and pretty much anything else you can think. There are 100 different built-in actions at your disposal. TextSoap has a very neat library where actions are sorted out so they are easy to find.

Save time & effort. Be more productive.

Clean Text Early and Often

There is a cleaner called Scrub, and they describe it : ?This cleaner addresses 90% of text cleaning needs. Like a multivitamin, it gives you more than one cleaner in a single shot, stopping spaces, forwarding characters, MIME encoded characters (%Hex, =Hex), and paragraphs. SCRUB calls the cleaners in a proper order to ensure the best results." Basically, it?s TextSoap version of ?Buy Now.? It?s a one-stop shop to get your text clean up quickly.

TextSoap Been Around

TextSoap isn't new to the market, TextSoap 1.0 was officially released 18 years ago on April 14, 1998. They have been constantly updating the software to make text clean up better. They been around for a while, so they know a thing or two about cleaning up text.

Example: Creating Text to Hyperlink for Jira

Jira Hyperlink

There is one feature that I am trying to get to work in TextSoap and that's the ability to add Hyperlink to text in Rich Text. I haven't been able to get it to work - yet. Once I do I'll update the steps on this blog.

Final Thoughts on TextSoap

If you're looking for a tool that will help clean up your code quickly, then TextSoap is it. With 100 built-in actions you can get started right away.

One reviewer on MacUpdate said:

Customer Quote

I would have to agree.

After playing around with TextSoap for a while, it was hard to find it a productive tool. As an avid BBEdit user, I just couldn't find a justification to spend $44.99. In addition, TextSoap doesn?t seem to handle multiple files modification or dealing with large files. I tested with a large log file and TextSoap crashed when I ran the Scrub command.

The one thing that I did like about TextSoap is that you can manipulate Rich Text files, something that you can't do in BBEdit without BBEdit stripping out the Rich Text format.

Check it for yourself, you can try TextSoap for 30 days. After that you?ll have to pay $44.99 for an individual license or $64.99 for the Family Pac..

September 2, 2016

Preview Bootstrap in BBEdit

BBEdit C D

I have used BBEdit off and on for the past 10+ years. Every single Macintosh that I have own has had a copy of BBEdit on it. I don't remember exactly when I purchased my first version of BBEDit, but I did find a "BBEdit 3.0 Prefs." file on a ZipDisk from 1994.

I still have my BBEdit 6.0 and BBEdit 4.02 CDs, probably got them at MacWorld Boston.

What is BBEdit?

Here's a description of what BBEdit is from the BBEdit 4.0.2 documentation (May 8, 1996):

BBEdit is a high-performance text editor for the Macintosh. Unlike a word processor, whose main purpose it to make it easy to write prose that will eventually find its way to a printed page, a text editor is primarily concerned with manipulating large amounts of text.

BBEdit offers pattern searching and replacing, multi-file searching, sophisticated text transformations, and other features not usually found in word processors.

BBEdit has commands that make it easier to edit specific kinds of text such as source files for programming languages and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) files for the World Wide Web.

Top Uses of BBEdit

Here's the list of task that I do in BBEdit:

  1. Zap Gremlins - BBEdit Zep Gremlin feature is pure awesome. It removed all Non-ASCII characters, Control characters and replaces with code. Essential when you have to deal with removing smart quotes.
  2. Process Lines Containing - This is a quick and easy way to clean up a large file. I can quickly parse out certain phrases into a separate file.
  3. Sort Lines - I use this when I have a list of items that needs sorting, such as customer name or accounts.
  4. HTML Markup - BBEdit is my go to editor for all my HTML work.
  5. Editing Text Files - Anytime that I have a non-word or rich text file, I'll open it in BBEdit. I have the ability to use any of the text tools if needed.

Preview your Bootstrap pages right in BBEdit

Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web. Developers like it because it makes it simple to create websites that look great across various platforms. BBEdit?s Preview commands allow you to view your pages in one or more web browsers. With some simple configurations, you can get BBEdit to display HTML using BootStrap CSS.

Via Preview Template

  • Using BBEdit reate a Bootstrap template document with external CSS and Javascript references
  • This document may can contain anything you like but should define the basic structure and appearance of your desired page.
  • Within the document, place a single placeholder: #DOCUMENT_CONTENT#. When you preview a document, the text content will go where #DOCUMENT_CONTENT# appears.
  • Quit BBEdit
  • Go to "~/Library/Application Support/ BBEdit/" and create a new folder called "Preview Templates"
  • Place your Bootstrap template to the folder.
  • Launch BBEdit

Via Preview CSS

  • Quit BBEdit
  • Go to "~/Library/Application Support/ BBEdit/" and create a new folder called "Preview CSS"
  • Copy over your Bootstrap CSS file to the new folder, or simply get the CSS from the bootstrapcdn.com.
  • Launch BBEdit

Now when you want to preview some HTML text, including BootStrap specific CSS, you simply select 'Preview in BBEdit'. Then select the template, or the CSS file.

Getting BBEdit

Download the latest version of BBEdit from their website. There is a 30-Day trial. BBEdit is $49.99 for an Individual license.

August 28, 2016

Stitch Effect in Pixelmator

Stitch Effect

Here's how you create dash lines in an image using Pixelmator. Using Layers and the Style, you can easily create a cool stitch effect.

Unfortunately Pixelmator doesn't have the ability to create dash strokes using the Marquee Tool, so you have to use this trick. I think once you learn how to do it, it will be useful way to use Pixelmator.

Thankfully, Pixelmator is a powerful image tool and doing some simple effects can produce the desired results. It's simply a matter of getting things to work the way you want it to.

Simple steps to add a Stitch effect to any image.

  • Open an image that you want to add the Stitch effect and select the layer.
  • Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, select the area where you want the Stitch to appear.
  • Hold down the Shift-Command-N to create a new Empty Layer
  • Hold down the Option-Command-F to open the Fill Dialog. Select any color you want, just set the Opacity to 0%. This way nothing shows!
  • Command-7 To open the Styles Pallet
  • In the Stroke section of the Styles Pallet, Select Color
  • Change the color to White
  • Make the Width to be 2 Px
  • Change the Stroke style to be Dash

That's It! Play around with styles setting until you get the desired effect that you want! Have fun designing!

Styles Pallet
This is what your Styles Setting should be.

August 26, 2016

Calendar in Swift Publisher

Swift Logo

Swift Publisher ($19.99) is a pretty cool application for anyone looking for fundamental desktop publishing tools. While Apple Pages, does have some desktop publishing functionality, Swift Publisher takes it to a whole new level. In the Apple Store Swift Publisher has 38 five-star rating, giving a total of 4.5 stars.

Making Custom Calendars

One of the features that I like about Swift Publisher is how easy it is to integrate Calendars into Designs. Swift Publisher has a Calendar functionality that let you add a month whenever you want, or you can simply use one of the six templates.

The Calendar button is very cool since you don't have to build some complex tables. Simple add the calendar and then right click on it and make the adjustments you need. Saves a ton of time.

Calendar Feature

Adding Events to Calendars

One of the downsides to using the calendar tool functionality is that you can't modify the dates. You can't highlight holidays or mark special days with a color text or change the background. Well not using Swift Publisher dialog box. However, you can add objects to the calendar, after all, this is a desktop publishing tool.

Calendar Touch Up

How I updated the Calendar

The 5-Point star is one of the included smart shapes in the library. I simply selected a red color fill, 1 point stroke and changed the Opacity to 61%. I then resize the star to fit over the date.

The 8th to 11th highlight was using the rectangle tool and change the fill to Linear Gradient Fill and set the Opacity to 62%. I then align the rectangle to fit in the range that I wanted to highlight.

The 22nd was also using the rectangle tool, changed the color to green and the Opacity to 49%. I then align the rectangle to the day I wanted. I then right clicked on Order and the 'Send to Back.' That allowed the text to appear in front of the image.

Note: When you add objects to the calendar, you should group them together if you need to move the calendar around. Otherwise, you'll loose the formatting.

Overall

It would be nice if there was a better way to manipulate the calendar. For example, it would be great if each day was its own object. Since I don't add calendars every day, a few minutes of alignments isn't going to bother me. Having the ability easily add a Calendar month is awesome.

August 19, 2016

Capto

Capto Logos

If your job requires doing any type of screen capture using popular tools such as Skitch, MonoSnap, Snagit or Snapz Pro X - you should certainly check out the newest player to the party - Capto ($29.99) by Global Delight.

Capto was officially launched on April 26, 2016. This application is a step up from their previous screen capture tool - Voila. Voila was a basic screen capture tool that had some cool tools and effects.

Instead of adding new features and functionality to Voila, Global Delight rebuilt their screen capture tool solution and came up with Capto. They wanted a powerful screen capture application that had awesome video capabilities.

Editing Tools

Capto has 15 editing tools to touch up any screen capture: Pencil Tool, Paint Tool, Text Tool, Shape Tool, Arrow Tool, Callout Tool, Highlight Tool, Line Tool, Blur Tool, Eraser Tool, Marquee Tool, Crop Tool, Spotlight Tool, Numbering Tool.

The end results is that Capto helps present your screenshots better. Instead of a basic arrow to point at something, you can have four different ways to point to the feature. The Callout Tool comes in handy when you want to point something out.

Capto Features

Missing Annotation Tools from Voila

Several annotation features didn't make the transition from Voila to Capto:

  • Stamp tool - Ability to add 'Confidential, OK, Fail, Quality' and 14 others stamp text
  • Effects - Edges, Skew, Filter, Adjust, and Crop

I don't know if any of the above will appear into Capto in future releases. The stamp and edges features seemed pretty cool in Voila.

Video Editing Tools

I don't use many videos in my bug reports, but that might change because of Capto. The video editing clearly gives you more control and makes reporting bugs fun. (Is that really possible?)

Capto makes it easy to add text, simple arrow, callout, blur, and Marker. You can define where it appears in the video and how long it appears. It's very easy to move the objects around and position them exactly where you want. The video timeline shows you where the objects are. You can easily overlap various object within the video.

Capto allows you to import other videos so that you can combine videos captures into one complete video.

Capto Video Editing

Comparison to Other Apps

I had a chance to compare the features of Capto with other screen capture tools that I have looked at in the past:

Snagit ($49.95) by Techsmith - A strong competitor to Capto, and many ways better application. Capto is $20 cheaper with much more powerful video capabilities.

The big advantage that Capto has is video Editing. Snagit only allows you to trim videos and not add any annotation to video. In addition, Capto has a built-in web browser, allowing you to do full page screen captures.

Skitch (Free!) by Evernote - Skitch doesn't support video capture. Skitch have very simple annotations and there's not a whole lot of control or options with the text tool. Skitch does have a cool, 'Previous Snapshot Area' functionality which is nice when you are looking to capture a change of something in the same area.

MonoSnap (Free!) by Monosnap - Basic Annotation Tools. You can capture video and trim, but not add any annotation. Monosnap supports exporting video to .mp4 and .gif. Capto supports .m4v and .mov format and will compress video for mobile devices.

Snapz Pro X ($69) by Ambrosias Software - One of the oldest screen capture tools. No screenshot library, no image or video annotation tools. Much more expensive than Snagit and Capto.

Missing Tools in Capto

With all the tools that's included with Capto, you would think it would be complete. However, there are some other tools that I would like to see, in addition to the missing Voila tools:

  • Magnifying Tool - Included in the Preview App.
  • Measure Tool - Ability to show spacing issues.
  • Different Arrow heads - Would be nice to see something than a basic arrow head.

Summary

I find Capto very practical to use. You can download it and try it yourself download a trial version. If you need a add annotations to videos then Capto is the way to go.

If you don't do much video capture, you may want to see what Snagit offers for just a bit more money. I was impress with their annotation toolset.

August 12, 2016

Rogue Amoeba's Fission

Rogue Amoeba Fission

If your doing any basic audio editing on a Macintosh and looking for a powerful tool that won't break the budget - check out Rogue Amoeba's Fission.

I have been using Fission to modify my audio files since 2006 and find it incredibly easy-to-use to clean up my audio files.

The three things I use Fission for:

  • Trim Audio Files recorded in Audio Hijack
  • Normalize the audio - Make the audio quality the same throughout the clip
  • Convert audio clips from one format to another

Why pay $29 for an Audio Program?

Sure there's some free audio programs out there such as Audacity which is free. Why pay for application?

What makes Fission great is that you can use it to read/write to all sorts of audio formats such as MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV. Audacity doesn't support AAC and Apple Lossless formats. ACC is designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates.

The smart split feature in Fission created breaks in the audio clip based on silence. This is a great tool when you are digitalizing cassette tapes and makes it easy to split a very large audio file.

Stereo Audio Support

When I first started using I was a bit concern because I only see one track. In other applications, such as Audacity and Sound Edit Pro, there would be separate tracks for left and right audio.

However, Rogue Amoeba's Fission does fully support stereo sound. You don't see it the left/right tracks. When you save the file and play the audio clip you will still have the same stereo sound. You will not loose any stereo sound quality or functionality.

Create Custom Ringtones

Fission has the ability to convert any audio clip to your very own ringtone. How cool is that! Now you can make your favorite clip as a ringtone. Why should you pay Apple $1.29 for a thirty-second ringtone when you can make your own!

Apple requires that all ringtones must be 40 seconds or less.

In Fission, simply select the 40 seconds of audio that you want to use then click on File > Save as iPhone Ringtone. Fission will work it's magic and put the clip right into iTunes ready to merge the next time you sync your iPhone to the computer.

Cool Phone Tunes

To see your Ringtone in iTunes, make sure that the 'Tones' menu is selected.

Download and Try it Out

You can download Fission on Rogue Amoeba's website and try it out for 30 days. Find out for yourself all the cool ways that you can make your audio clips better.

August 5, 2016

Posterino

Posterino Image

Do you have a bunch of digital pictures that you would like display at your desk? Why not create a cool photo college? You can easily do this with Posterino by Zykloid Software.

There are 46 templates to choose from - including a blank canvas where you can layout your own images anyway you want. There's lots of effect options including circular, grid, grid lines, random and title. You can identify how many images that you want to display and the page layout (Landscape or Portrait)

Simply select the template, and then let your creativity go to work. Posterino syncs to your iPhoto and Photo databases, or you can drag and drop images from the desktop. There's even a feature where it will fill in the image placeholders randomly. Simply adjust the images so that it looks perfect.

Got Pictures?

One of Posterino's templates is called 365. It's your chance to create a 20 x 30 poster of 365 of your best pictures of the year. That's a lot of pictures in one poster. (They put the current year on the bottom right, but you can change that.

This is pretty easy to do, simply go through your pictures in Photos, and rate them. Then you can create a Smart Folder containing the highest rated photos. Select the Album in Posterino and have it randomly place the images in the grid. (Its a lot easier than manually doing it.)

Remember how I said you can adjust the year, well you can change it to name a recent vacation. For example, you can display 365 of the best Disney pictures on a 20 x 30 poster!

Create and Share

You can export the final results to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, iPhoto and email. You can also make the final product as a desktop image. I like to create 5x7 photos at CVS and have the pictures display on my desk.

A few years ago I created a Random Over Board layout and created a "car door" magnet at Vistaprint. Instead of placing it on the car door, I just put the magnet on my file cabinet.

Mosaic Crop

New in Posterino 3.2 - Mosaic Crop! It give you to display one big image as if they were smaller images. Check out this layout of a recent trip to Boston. This took about 20 minutes to create, with most of the time trying to figure out 16 of the best pictures taken on the trip:

Boston TripA trip to Boston, Massachusetts displayed Posterino style.

The Mosaic Crop feature appears to work better when you have a single object to focus on. To create a Mosaic-Crop, simply select all the images, and drag an image to one of the selected images.

Worth Buying?

I have been using Posterino off and on since August 10, 2011. It has come in handy during Christmas as I have created some cool posters for gifts. I have upgraded to the latest version and it's so much easier to use than when I got it.

Single-User License is $19.99, while a household license is only $29.99. Download a trial from Zykloid Software and see what creative colleges you create!