Last week Belight Software released a new MacOS app call Letters. This is a cool free application that allows anyone to be creative.
Letters is an application that transforms any letter or text into a professional looking graphic. You can choose from many styles and change the font/color and the 3D rotation. This application is great if you write blogs or want to add some creative text to your Slack Channel
Description from the Developer
Letters offers a multitude of text design templates easily customizable to your liking. Each text style is the result of long hours of professional design work on creating texture materials and photo objects, and carefully selecting proprietary fonts. Simply enter your text and voila! You get amazing graphics as a flattened image or a set of files with a background, a text object and various effects separated into several images.
Four Things I learned About Letters
- There are 50 Free Designs, and you can buy more designs that are categories in18 other sets where you buy individual designs or all designs in the set.
- The most expensive set is the Old School Set - which has 16 designs.
- The default size is 1100px by 512px - which is similar specs for the best size to post on Twitter (1024 x 576). There are presets for A4, US Letter, Facebook Cover, Facebook Image Post, Twitter Header, YouTube Channel Art, YouTube Thumbnail
- You can open up multiple designs and copy the text designs so that you can have different styles
You can get Letters from the Apple Store.
Aladdin StuffIt is an application that compresses files. Stuffit became popular in the mid-1990s because of the need to store large data on floppy disks and CDs.
Stuffit has changed hands over the years, and is now owned by Smith Micro.
I purchased the application in the 1990s, but never felt the need to update it. Once I was storing data onto CDs and DVDs I didn't encounter any max storage issues.
Here's the description of Stuffit from the Educorp Catalog from 1990:
Technology Got the Better of the Application
Over the past few years the application had lost its effectiveness. Thanks to cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive:
- It's easier to store large documents - no longer do users have to worry about the limited space of disks, CDs or DVDs.
- Sharing files are super easy, simply upload a file to DropBox right click and get a shareable link to send in an email or in Slack.
- Cloud services allow users to encrypt files and offer monitoring services, something that Stuffit didn't provide.
- Storage has gotten cheaper. You can get a good quality 6TB USB drive for about $120. Apple Cloud goes for about $2.99 a month for 200 GB (which is about 3 DVDs)
You can still buy Stuffit from SmithMicro for $19.95. The cool feature is the new StuffIt Destinations Toolbar, where you can drag and drop your files to various destinations.
Stuffit still is an important app because of encryption and storage space. For example, you can encrypt project folders that you don't want to end up in file search results from Spotlight or on shared space in Google Drive or Dropbox. Since Spotlight won't index the files,
Long Waiting Time
One of my all-time favorite screenshots:
That comes to 84,308,617 days or 2,309.82 Centuries. The Mar19_2517.jpg file should definitely be worth the wait.
Classic Macintosh: Sherlock
Apple introduces Sherlock with Macintosh OS 8.0 on July 26, 1997. There were several versions of Sherlock and the software was discontinued in Mac OX 10.4 in favor of Spotlight.
Sherlock was never ported as a Universal Binary. So when Apple killed off Rosetta, it meant the end of Sherlock.
What made Sherlock neat was the ability to select the source of your search query so you know where your searching. It was a simple single source to find anything you want in one dialog box.
Sherlock Screen Shots
This is a great snapshot of internet search engine history. Notice that Google isn't listed? Know why? They were not a big player in 1999/2000.
Running Sherlock Today
When I tried to search for some of the internet sites, Sherlock crashed. I wasn't able to get any successful internet search.
I wasn't surprised by this, as I am sure most of the sites had removed the legacy code years ago.
BBEdit Anchor tag Changes
I have been using BBEdit for many years. The earliest copy that I could find was BBEdit 4.3. Recently, I was looking through my applications on my Macintosh Powerbook G3 and found an old copy of BBEdit 6.0. I thought it would be interesting to see how the Anchor tag has changed over the years.
BBEdit 6.01 for OS X
BBEdit 12.1.5 (Latest Release)
Things to Note
- The dialog box is much cleaner in BBEdit 12.1.5
- In BBEdit 6.01 the scheme include http,https,ftp,mailto,news,telnet,finger,gopher,wais and whois
- in BBEdit 10+, doesn't save recent URLs
- In BBEdit 6.01, The strange symbol next to href field is to enter the document selection in the text field
- in BBEdit 10+, you can change the anchor items to whatever you want.
If this, than That
A classic shareware game on Macintosh OS 9, was "If this, than That" by Mike Anderson. The game was created on July 11, 1993, and distributed via shareware.
Object of the game
If this, than that, is a logic game where you try to break the code the computer randomly generates. You have six tries to break the code. After your sixth try, the computer will display the code on the top part of the game.
Playing the Game, again
It was fun playing the game on my Macintosh PowerBook G3 and figuring out the puzzle. The game is pretty hard to use at first since you need to figure out the correct pattern. You were never told which pattern was correct and where it's correct. To be successful at this game takes a lot of logic skills.
This would make a great iOS game. I checked and couldn't find one that worked the same way. If you know of one, let me know in the comments below.
Apple at the Smithsonian
There are more than 200 Apple Computer items in the American History section of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Not all items are displayed at once. Along with all the other computer exhibited there are two iconic items are always displayed - the original Apple and the Macintosh.
Homebrew Club Display
Right behind the original Apple Computer is a blackboard that showcases several computers that were sold at the HomeBrew Club. This club is where people would go to learn about the latest computers and buy build-your-own computers.
One of the interesting things is the price of the Apple Computer - $666. At first, I thought this was a joke someone at the Smithsonian was playing. Turns out that it was the original price of the Apple Computer at the Homebrew club. The actual price was $666.66
Wozniak reportedly chose the price for two reasons: it was a markup of a third on the parts' cost and because he "liked repeating digits"
In 2018, that $666.66 computer would be worth $2,994.49. Today, a top of the line iMac computer - Retina 5K Display 3.8GHz Processor 2TB Storage cost $2,299.0
Today anyone having one of the original wood Apple Computers has a $195,433 computer - there were 200 models sold between July 1976 and September 1977.
Finding the Apple Computer at the Smithsonian
The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall, Constitution Avenue, N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets, Washington, D.C.
The Apple Computers are in the Transportation and Technology section on the 1st Floor, which is one floor down if you enter via the National Mall. The computers are in the "Lightning a Revolution" room.
Magnet for MacOS
Magnet is a cool utility that allows you to neatly organized all your application windows on your screen. This works great between multiple applications such as having Mail and Chrome open at the same time.
The application is a huge hit with MacOS users as it has a five-star rating with 12,517 reviews. Probably the highest rated app in the App Store.
Six Things I have Learned about Magnet
The application is a bit tricky to work with multiple displays. There were times when I tried to align right and the window appears on the right screen.
You can exclude the functionality from working in any application via settings
The Keyboard shortcuts are tricky to remember, but they can be changed to whatever you want.
The screen activation point for 'Maximize' is a bit too sensitive as I have accidentally triggered it. It would be nice if there was a way to disable that trigger point.
I found the left/right alignment works great with testing websites in Chrome and Firefox.
The icons in the drop-down menu in the menu bar helps me figure out what command I am looking for.
Magnet cost $.99 and well worth the price. If you do any type of multitasking between applications, I think you'll find Magnet useful and worth the investment.
Smart Converter Pro
Earlier this year I blogged about how Smart Converter is a great application for converting media files. I finally decided to upgrade to the Professional version. So this post is all about the differences between the two versions and if it's really worth going for the upgrade.
With the Pro version you can:
- Batch a bunch of files so they can be converted. Have it run when your not using the computer - "Set it and forget it"
- Customize the six conversation type buttons to your environment. For example, you can have a Apple TV 4k, and an Apple TV 4.
- Convert to various music format types including OGG Audio
- Set the conversion destination to where you want it go. (No more fumbling through the iTunes directory)
- Trash the original file after the conversion.
- Maintain the original file creation time - useful when converting old MOV files and don't want to loose the creation dates
Remember the output quality is only going to be as good as the original. Many clips that I was converting were encoded using RealMedia for low bandwidth connections. Remember dial-up?
Here's the results of one of the videos that I got converted - A video of Marshall "Do" Applewhite from Heaven's Gate from 1997 original format was rv10 (RV10 / 0x30315652), yuv420p, 160x112, 33 kb/s, 15 fps, 15 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc:
It's not great, but it works and it was quick. Smart Converter Pro did a great job!
Worth The Upgrade?
I believe it worth the upgrade if you have a lot of media files that you are looking to convert. The free version gives you a taste of what you can do and is a bit limited of the capabilities.
I like how I can customize the button row for things that are important to my typical conversion types.
Path Finder 8
On May 20, 2018, Cocoatech officially announced Path Finder 8. It's the first major update in 2 year!
What Makes Path Finder 8 Worth Looking at?
In Path Finder 8, it's all about the Modules. Path Finder was written so that you can customize the Browser window how you want. You can now place various modules in positions that work best for you.
Modules functionality includes: ASL, Attributes, Cover Flow, Drop Stack, Git, Hex, Image Browser, Info, Open With, Permissions, Preview, Processes, Recent Documents, Recent Folders, Selection Path, Sidebar, Size Subversion, Tags and Rating, Terminal and Trash.
Simply drag and drop the modules where you would like to see it. It's great when you're doing certain tasks, such as disk cleaning where the Info Module may come in handy or when your working on a software project and Git and Subversion would be handy.
According to the Path Finder Blog, Modules is just one step of many exciting changes coming to Path Finder. Expect to see more features and enhancements.
What I Like About Path Finder
Menu Bar Functionality
Path Finder has an icon in the menu bar, which gives you quick access to various computer points - such as Active Applications, Open a new Terminal Window and a Quick way to launch any application via the Command - F8.
If you don't like using the Command-Space functionality, using Path Finder menu bar is yet another way to open up applications. The launch application functionality gives you a Browse and Search Application window to make open up your favorite App. This is useful when you may know about the app by its icon but not necessarily by the name.
Ability to Add/View additional Columns to the Grid
You can add an 'Info' column to the browser grid which will give you some information about each object, for images you get the image dimensions. Which is extremely helpful when you're browsing around looking for a particular image. Videos objects will show the length.
Once you find the right image, You can right click, and select the 'Image Size' and now you have the image dimensions in your clipboard.
Personalize it to work for You
There's a lot more configuration in the Path Finder Browser than what's in the Finder. Path Finder gives you the ability to customize the Mac experience to your needs.
Basically if you want more power and configuration with the Mac OS Finder, Path Finder is certainly the way to go.
Remember Path Finder has been around since Mac OSX first came out. So they know a thing or two about what people need in a good file management application.
CofeShow Video Slideshow Maker
Video Slideshow Maker CofeShow is the quickest way to create professionally looking slideshows. Simply select the theme, add the photos, add music, and then build the slideshow. The final video can be uploaded to YouTube or added as a clip to iMovie or Filmora.
18 Designs Available
Current available designs: Mint, Bokeh, Summer Holiday, VintageSparks, Chalkboard, Watercolor, Roller, Blurry, Pan and Zoom, Baby, Corporate, Vanilla, Blue Denim, Black, Brown Wood, Birthday Party and Magic Tree.
You can preview the designs on cofeshow's website.
Five Things I Learned Using CofeShow
- You can add Text before each photo. (Useful to describe a scene or event)
- You don't have the ability to customize the length of the slideshow.
- Each photo is shown for 3.5 or 4 seconds depending on the theme selected
- You can add music to the slideshow, however the show will not play to the length of the clip.
- You have an option between 1280x720 (HD) or 1920x1080 (Full HD)
- Each theme has to be downloaded the first time you use it.
- After the video is created, you need to manually upload it to your favorite video network (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc..)
This is a quick video that I put together using Video Slideshow Maker CofeShow. I haven't purchased the license - yet. But I plan too in the near future.
Apple Photos Slideshow
There is a slideshow functionality in Apple Photo. However, there are only seven designs to pick from. The seven slideShow designs in Photos are Ken Burns, Origami, Reflections, Sliding Panels, Vintage Prints, Classic and Magazine.
Vintage Prints is the only design that I really like in Apple Photos. I haven't been able to find anyone else have a similar style.
There are a few Finder 'Go' keyboard shortcuts that everyone should be familiar with. These are the most common places that you will go when using the computer.
The one that I always get confused about is the Download folder. Why didn't Apple keep the same keyboard convention? Afterall Shift-Command-L doesn't do anything.
Mac OS X Shortcuts
If you know of any other cool keyboard shortcut graphics, let me know in the comments below.
Gif Brewery is the easiest way to create GIF images from any type of videos, especially those taken with the iPhone. You can open up a video file, import one via URL (including YouTube), Stitch images and video, Record Screen actions or record video from the computer camera.
The nice thing about Gif Brewery is that you get a lot of flexibility to create animated GIFs. If I needed more flexibility I can use Wondershare Filmora and then import it to Gif Brewery.
It took a while to understand how to work the timeline settings - but once you play around with it for a bit it is fairly straightforward.
Gif Brewery is free and definitely worth downloading and adding to your collection.
Things I have Learned from using GIF Brewery
- By default, when you add a video the frame rate is set to 20, which makes the video go quickly.
- You set the length of the GIF by dragging the start and end point. The bigger the points the larger the video. (Try to keep the Gif less than 10 seconds)
- Clicking on the 'Create' button is how you can preview the image before saving the image.
- None of the settings are applied instantly in the main video area.
- You can preview the loop by typing the Shortcut Option-Command-L, you can add a "Preview Loop" shortcut to the toolbar, simply Control-Click the toolbar, and select 'Customize Toolbar' and then drag and drop the 'Preview Loop' to the toolbar.
- You can extract the clip as PNG files, by Typing Command-P. (This is useful if you want a preview image.)
Four Key Things about Creating Awesome Gifs
- Keep the GIfs content simple
- Keep the file size as small as possible - in Slack, any GIF that is ove 5 MB won't be displayed
- Faster Frame rates are one way to have a longer GIF with a smaller file size.
- Check the gfycat collection to see if it was already done or someone created a better gif.
Sample GIFs created in Gif Brewery
Gas Prices in the Bay Area in 1999.
Train Arriving in Framingham
Puzzle Effect in Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements has lots of cool features, one of which is the ability to add various photo effect using a guided wizard. In the Photo Play category you can add Out of Bounds, Picture Stack, Pop Art, Puzzle Effect, Recompose, and Reflection.
If you open up Photoshop Elements and then select Photo Play and then Puzzle Effect. You can have a cool puzzle effect on your image:
Manipulating the Image
You have a choice of puzzle effect: small, medium or large. (The best image appears to be the 16:9 format type.) Photoshop Elements allows a user to change the photo effect choice if you don't think the right type is selected.
After you select the effect type, you can then select the puzzle piece and then extract it from the image. You can then move the piece around wherever you want.
What's neat about Photoshop Elements is that you have a choice of what puzzle size is best for your design;
Quickly Turn off Notifications
On the Macintosh, at the top right-hand side of the screen is where notifications are sent. You'll get notified if you have the new email or if someone slacked you a message. You'll also get notifications about upcoming meetings.
Every once and a while, it's nice to turn off the notifications. Especially if you're in a meeting and you're showing your computer to someone. You don't want to be distracted because someone sent you Spam about some financial stock tip .
Disable All Notifications
Did you know that you can disable the notifications?
When you click on the notification icon, the top right icon in the toolbar, you'll see a history of notifications. If you scroll down you can see a lot of notifications.
If you scroll up, you'll see two options - above the "Today" category. Don't stop at 'Today' keep scrolling up. You should see this:
Now you can quickly disable the notifications and not get any alerts.
What is Night Shift?
Night Shift will adjust the monitor colors for better viewing at night. This is ideal when you have the computer on and there are no other lights on in the room.
Posterino postmark Effect
Posterino is a Macintosh application that makes very cool looking collages. Check out my previous blog post on creative things to do with the application. Basically it the fastest way to make trendy photo collages on a Macintosh.
Hidden Feature in Posterino
One cool feature of Posterino is the ability to add Frames, Filters, and Decorations to any image. One of the image decorations is the Postmark Effect tool - it adds a cancel postage stamp on your image. It's unique because Posterino gives you the ability to edit the text in the stamp, something I haven't seen in other applications or cloud service.
What's neat is that you can apply the effect to a single image, then export to be used elsewhere.
Tips and Tricks on using the Stamp Effect
- Start off with a large blank image at 72 DPI.
- After the file is created, and you see the "Drop your Image here", type in Command-L to make the layout Manual.
- Drag and drop an image and resize the image in the canvas area.
- While the image is selected, select the Effect tab and click on the Postmark in the Decorations section.
- Click on the Adjust Tab and make the PostMark changes (Postmark position, color and text)
- Then mouse click on the regular canvas (anyplace in the center screen, just not on the image or postmark)
- The Adjust tab should change, and you should see Grid category.
- Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Adjust tab and deselect Draw Background and Draw on Export
- Type in Command-E to export your Image to Disk
- Select PNG format
Now your image will be on top of a transparent layer to be used in any application!
Whoa! That's a Lot of Work
It's a lot of steps to get a simple effect, but sometimes having a postmark effect makes the image stand out a bit more.
If you know of another way to add a stamp/postmark effect and is configurable, let me know in the comments below!