Graphic Converter Collage Tool
Graphic Converter is a popular graphic program. It's been around for a year, and has a very strong user base. The application keeps getting a better and great application for anyone doing graphics - even if you have PhotoShop, Affinity Photo or PhotoScape.
Inside Graphic Converter are some cool graphics utilities - one of them is the ability to create photo collages. It's a neat feature that some regular users may not know exist.
Since I use PhotoScape Collage tool every day, I thought I look into Graphic Converter to see if it's something that I should use instead.
Five Things to Know
- You can find the Collage feature under the File > New > Collage...
- Three different layout types: Freestyle, Mosaic, and Grid. Use the Shuffle layout to see more layout options.
- Custom Canvas Size doesn't save previous use - there's no way to save settings. Which is a problem for me since I send out a Collage photo every day using a particular size.
- There are three different ways to add borders; In the Layout: Space and Margin and in the Effect, there's Frame Width. So if you reduce the Space and Margin and don't see a change, it's probably the frame width.
- There are 111 Frame Image effects. These are the exact same that's available in the Effect > Frame > Edge and Frame. You apply the effect to all the images in the Collage. It's not possible to select an effect per image in the Collage. To do this you would have to apply it to the image before setting up the collage.
While it was very cool to use Graphic Converter Collage tool, I didn't like how I would have to manually insert the page size every time.
I liked the graphic effects - that's pretty neat. It was neat to play around with the application to see all the capabilities.
So, for me, I'll stick with PhotoScape Collage tool for my "Photo of the Day" Collage work. Maybe if I am doing a special collage for print or for social media, I'll use Graphic Converter.
BCS 13 Font Collection
FontDoc was updated last October to work with the latest MacOS.
The application is now a 64-bit application that also supports Dark Mode. There are some additional fixes with how fonts were printing out.
Boston Computer Society PD CD
In the 1990s the Boston Computer Society would produce yearly CDs of Public Domain software. This CD would be packed with all the best shareware and freeware applications.
For many people it was the only way to check out the latest and greatest apps for the Macintosh.
The CD was broken down into many categories - Developer, Graphics, Games, Business and Fonts.
Could Fonts that were on that CD still be able to be used today? Could Fonts that were made for System 8 be useable in MacOS 10.15?
There best way to find out is to open up FontDoc and point it to the Font folder on the BCS Font Disk. (In this case, I used BCS v13 disk)
After a few minutes of waiting, FontDoc was able to successfully preview 313 fonts! Wow!
I am impressed that many fonts were available to me. Many of these are Shareware Fonts, but I don't think the developers still live in the same location - or have the same Compuserve address.
Example of one of the Read-Me file:
This font, Townsend, is based on Tuscan Egyptian, a wood type font collected by Rob Roy Kelly in his book "Wood Type Alphabets" (Dover Pictorial Archive Series,1977). The font dates from the Hamilton Co. in the 1880s. No attempt has been made to remedy small defects in the letters, to preserve the feel of wood type. Punctuation symbols have been improvised since they were missing from the font as collected.
This font is shareware. If used, it must be registered by the payment of $5 to the address below. Registering the font brings a disk containing ten Tuscan wood type fonts, also registered.
This program is copyright © 1992 by Sidney Bowhill, 555 Annursnac Hill Road, Concord MA 01742. It may not be modified or translated into another format without the permission of the copyright owner. It may be freely distributed or published, provided this notice is attached.
Try it YourSelf
If you have an old Font CDs around, use FontDoc to quickly see what fonts are still usable in the latest MacOS.
Growl is a notification system for Mac that allow users to customize how to handle notifications.
The application was created in 2004 as a utility to be the central command to handle all system notifications. It allowed application developers to just send notifications and not have to worry about how to display the information to the user. For users, the notification could be delivered via speech, email, or ignored.
Users have the ability to have all sorts of styles to show the notifications.
Over the years it gained a lot of acceptance and a very impressive list of supported applications.
In November 2011, Growl became a paid application to help support the full-time developers.
Apple Changed the Game
When Apple released OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) in 2012 it included a new Notification Center which allowed users to configure how to handle notifications. Essentially doing most of the functionality being done with Growl.
So is Growl still a valid application?
Is Growl a Dead Application?
However, there are plenty of signs that Growl is a dead application:
The last update in the Apple Store (2.1.3) was on October 29, 2013 - 6 years ago. This was to fix issues with Growl support with OS X Mavericks.
In the App Store, there are a lot of negative review about Growl - it currently has 2.6 Rating (Out of 5).
All support is being handled in the Google Discussion List. Most of the comments are about installing issues and how to uninstall.
No major browser supports Growl. In September 2012, someone put in a request to remove Growl from Firefox. It was removed shortly after. Opera removed support for Growl in version 17 on October 10, 2013. FireFox and Opera are still listed as supported applications on the Growl site.
There many "old" applications listed in the supported apps section. It is actually a nice list of old apps.
The open source code repository on Google Code hasn't recieved any new commits since October 12, 2013.
The last Blog post on growl.info was on December 13, 2013.
The last Twitter Post from @GrowlMac was on May 1, 2015.
I think Apple should check out the Growl Application to see if it works in macOS Catalina. I don't want to waste $3.99 just to find out.
If Growl is still an active application, they should at least have more activity on their website. Let people know what's going on.
LiveQuartz Photo Edit
The application LiveQuartx Photo Edit ($7.99) is a "simple and powerful editor for the Mac." It is designed for people that need a simple image application that don't want to learn how to use a graphic application.
Features of LiveQuartz Lite
Some of the tools that are available in LiveQuartz
- Layer Moving Tool - Move objects around.
- Brush - Paint/Color tool
- Duplication Tool - Like a stamp tool in Photoshop. Select a reference point, then click where you want to duplicate it.
- Drawing Tools - Draw line, stroke rectangle, fill rectangle, stroke oval and a fill oval.
- Gradient Tools - linear and radial gradient
- Rich Text Tool - Add text to an image
- Eraser Tool - Erases part of the image using the brush size.
- Background Eraser - Removes the background color of an image.
LiveQuartz has a lot of very cool filters, you could spend hours playing around with all the different ways to alter an image. This list is a small set of the 124 filters that are available
Some Filters that are available in LiveQuartz:
- Geometry Adjustment - Flip Horizontally, Vertically, Perpective Correction
- Distortion Effect - Bump, Hole, Glass Pinch, Twirl, Vortex Distortions
- Blur - Bokeh, Box, Median, Motion Morphology, Disc Blur
- Sharpen - Sharpen and Unsharpen
- Color Adjustment - Color Controls, Hue Adjust, Vibrance, White Point Adjust
- Color Effect - Color Curves, Color Map, Thermal, X-Ray, Photo Effect Fade
- Stylize - Edges, Gloom, Mix, Shadow, Crystallize, Bloom
- Halftone Effect - Circular Screen, CMYK Halftone, Line Screen
- Title Effect - Affine Title, Op Title, Triangle Title, Kaleidoscope, Paralletogram Title
The Background eraser is pretty neat. Simply select the tool, then click on what you want to be removed, you can "drag" the mouse to increase the number of colors that get removed.
It's a quick way to remove the background of an image - such as a sky or solid color backgrounds.
Limitation of LiveQuartz Lite
The lite version of LiveQuartz allows you to export one image per day (export, share, cut, copy, drag and drop, print) If you love the application and plan to use it frequently, you should consider purchasing an Unlimited license for $7.99.
If you think you'll just use the application for a week, you can subscribe just for 7-days for $.99
LiveQuartz is pretty cool tool, but I think using PhotoScape X is better application. It cost more - $39.99 for the pro version - but you have more capabilities such as applying filters in batch mode, creating collages, stickers, frames, light effect and so much more.
PhotoScape X does have a bit of a learning curve. I think it worth spending a few hours to learn how to use the application to get more out of a graphics program.
If you're just going to do some basic photo editing every once in a while, then LiveQuartz is a good tool to have.
MicroWave Express vs Fission
I decided to take the MicroWave Express version for a spin. I decided to try the freeware version which has some limitations - exporting is limited to 10 seconds. Otherwise, the features are the same as the paid version.
Screenshot of the MicroWave Express
The paid version of MicroWave cost $19.99 and is available on the Apple Store.
Screenshot of Fission version 2.5.0.
Rogue Amoeba Fission cost $29 from the Rogue Amoeba store. You can download a test version of Fission from Rogue Amoeba site.
Here are my notes on playing around with the application for a few hours:
One cool feature that you can create new audio files in MicroWave. You can't create content using Fission, you have to use Audio Hijack to import sound. While it's bad that you have to use another app, it does give you a lot more flexibility on digitalizing the audio file.
You can't just add another track, like you can with Garageband and Audacity. The only want I could get an additional track is to export the mono file as a stereo to add the second track. Note: Fission only displays a single waveform while editing, but it does edit stereo files as stereo.
You can select different Wavelength colors. This is a neat way to customize the look and feel to something that you may be familiar with. You can select from Classic, Midnight, Graphite, Fruity, Building Bricks and Orcish Green. I personally liked the wave colors in Midnight and Orcish Green.
MacroWave allows you to edit the Metadata when saving the document. It's a good way to remind you to add it before saving. You can add it anytime using the "Edit Metadata" option. The only value that you can't add/change is the Artwork. In Fission, you can add additional notes, lyrics and Podcast URL information.
MicoWave supports Flac Lossless (.flac), Apple Lossless (.m4a), PCM Wave (.wav), AIFF (.aiff), Core Audio Format (.caf). Fission supports all those with the addition of MP3. Both applications have the ability to select the audio quality (Maximum Bit Rate, Channels, Sample Rate)
I found it easier to split the audio in Fission than in MicroWave. Fission allows you to easily split the audio clip into multiple files - including the ability to "Smart Split" which splits the audio based on silence. MicroWave does offer a silent detector that allows you to drop a marker. Fission seems to work better in my testing.
MicroWave Express has a lot of cool sound effects, such as Delay, Distortion, Graphical Equalizer, High Shelf Filter, Matrix Reverb, Pitch and many more. Fission doesn't offer any effects.
MicroWave is a pretty cool application, but I don't think it replaces Fission and Audio Hijack. I couldn't see the value of buying another sound application that does a lot of the same things.
Setting up a Better Display on your Retina Computer
One of the things that I noticed on my new iMac (Retina 5k, 27-inch, 2019) is that my screen resolution seems to be the same as my old Mac. I have a bigger monitor, but I am not seeing the difference in actual space.
Turns out that the issue is with the Display Resolution. I was using the "Default for display" which makes the display appear the same as before. I didn't know there's another option that can be set.
I saw a YouTube video which suggested to change the Resolution to Scaled and then select the "More Space" option. This set the contents of the display to be smaller - basically getting more use of the 5k Graphics card.
There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the Scaled section which says, "Using a scaled resolution may affect performance." I was wondering what type of performance degradation I would see.
In some instances you may see a slight delay after typing something before an action appears on the screen. This is a very small amount, we're talking milliseconds - but slightly noticeable.
It's good to know that changing the screen resolution doesn't impact the overall performance of the computer. So making the resolution change would be good to set up if your doing Movie or Sound Editing. Probably not good if you spend time writing a novel or email.
Works for Me
I like it because I can now edit personal websites and see them on the screen side-by-side.
Last Fall, I purchased TextSoap 8.5 because it was on sale for a great price on BundleHunt - $5. It regularly sells for $44.99 - I thought it was too good of a deal to pass up!
This is an application that I have briefly looked at in the past but never convinced that it would be something that I would use on a regular base.
TextSoap is a text processing tool that automates the tediousness of removing extraneous characters, wrapping broken paragraphs, fixing quotation marks, finding and replacing common text, and so forth. It comes with more than 100 built-in “cleaners” and also lets you create your own custom solutions.
What about BBEdit Text Factory?
Some of the features and functionality can be duplicated using BBEdit Text Factory. BBEdit Text factory capability is a bit superior because you can run Unix commands as part of the action. This allows you to integrate powerful UNIX tools to your text.
BBEdit Text Factory Screenshot
TextSoap's Custom Cleaner Screenshot
Key advantages of TextSoap
After Playing around with TextSoap for a while, I came up with several key features:
- TextSoap "Scrub" Cleaner does a great job of cleaning up the text. It's the one-stop tool to get the text looking in decent looking condition.
- The TextSoap menu option allows you to access TextSoap tools any time you have text selected - in any application, even Chrome text fields. Making it easy to fix up text where ever you are. Simply select the text, select the menu item, and the text gets replaced with the cleaned-up version. You can't do that using BBEdit!
- TextSoap Editor makes it easy to find the tools you need. The search capability gives you instant access to many valuable built-in tools.
Macintosh Year in Review
This year there were a lot of great Macintosh Posts, I had a lot of fun learning new Macintosh applications.
Only a few posts I feel that stood out from the 52 posts made this year.
Nine Blog Post that are worth reading again
BBEdit Shortcuts - Some of my popular BBEdit Shortcuts
- iterm2 Status Bar - The iterm2 Status Bar can give you a good snapshot about your environment.
- LaunchBar Instant Send - Learn how to get more out of LaunchBar Instant Send.
- Managing the Mac Dock - Get more out of your System Dock
- New 27-inch iMac - I got a new iMac this year. Read up on what I learned from the buying process.
- Archey - Spice up your terminal login with this cool terminal tool!
- Triggers with Hot Corners - A cool trick with Screen Corners
- Dynamic Desktops - Create Desktop background images that changes all day long.
- Mosaic - Learn how to better organize your Application windows
I plan on doing smaller simple posts, and not try to "cram" a software review in a single post. After reviewing a lot of posts, I feel that smaller post would have more value.
Expect to see more posts around media and tools for the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.
Every year PhotoScape X does a big update at the end of December. The 2019 update occurred on the 16th.
The nice thing about this update is that it's free! PhotosScape X is a great "must-have tool" for anyone on a Macintosh.
There are a lot of neat features in this release, here's are my favorite items:
- Users can now record actions, which makes it easy to apply duplicate actions on similar photos.
- You can now add your filters as Favorites, which makes it easy to reach common filters
- There's a new "Replace Image" filter in the Transformation section. Looks like all it does is replace the currently selected image. I am not sure the value this has.
- Lots of great Stickers - Faces, Flags and Floral. These come in handy every once in a while.
- 233 Geometric Figures which can add a unique touch to any design - These are in the last items in the figure menu. Try applying Drop Shadow and Outline for more of an effect.
- There are three new brush shapes, these are located in the Tools -> Paint. There's a new Shape option next to the Subtract brush. You can use an angle brush, square brush and a rectangle brush.
Check out the release note for all the changes in the big 4.0 update.
Aerate is a Macintosh image compression program. It's design so that you simply drag and drop an image and instantly you get a quailty image.
There are 2 compression engines:
Opti - Faster Compression. (Not a whole lot of information on this.)
Zopfli - Higher compression into gzip and zlib formats but takes a bit longer than Opti. You get better results, but it will take more time to get there.
You can convert PNGs into JPGs, which can come in handy when wanting to convert a bunch of PNG and JPG images.
ShortPixel is Better
I tested Aerate against some other image compression programs and here are my notes:
Aerate wasn't able to compress all my images. Some of the images actually went up in size, but Aerate let me know that "no space saved this time." However, using the exact same image on ShortPixel, I was able to save 57%.
Screenshot to show ShortPixel was able to compress a particular image where Aerate said that it couldn't.
Aerate is free, the Pro version cost $14.99. Aerate Pro gives you access to "Fast" and "Extreme" compression modes. In addition, you get to use the Multi-core CPU to compress a lot of images. In addition, you can Bulk-compress multiple images.
I got Aerate as part of a BundleHunt promotion. I paid about $5 for the Pro application.
Honestly, I don't think it's worth the cost. ShortPixel worked so much better, I would recommend using their image compression.
Keyboard Maestro with Slack
Recently the Engineering team at Slack made changes to when Markdown actions get applied.
However, when users paste in content they have to type in Shift Command F for the markdown text to be applied.
This is inconvenient to remember to type the command every time I paste in text. Especially a lot of the content that I put in Slack is from Keyboard Maestro.
People all over Twitter were complaining about the changes.
Keyboard Maestro to the Rescue!
Then I thought, this is a perfect use of Keyboard Maestro. All I had to do was add a new action to any existing Macro, and
Here's an example of Macro with the new Keyboard Action:
One More Thing
One thing that I can do, is create a new Macro that would always apply the Shift Command F whenever I paste in clipboard content.
This way I won't ever have to remember to type in the command.
I haven't done this - yet. I don't feel that I need to do it every time. Who knows, maybe in the future - it's nice to have that option.
Black Friday Watch
This is my annual Black Friday watch posting. Every year I post on things that I am looking for on Black Friday. In addition, I let you know what resources I am using to find the best deals.
Here’s the deals that I’ll be looking for on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Top Five Items
- USB Storage - I need something to help store files. I am trying to keep my main computer free of storage files.
- HDMI color cables - My TV HDMI cables are a mess. It would make life easier to have different color HDMI cables.
- Udemy Classes - Looking for Python and Swift classes. Right now pretty much every class is discounted to $9.99
- Cloud Storage - Maybe DropBox or Google will have some special deals.
- Desk organizers - something to help get my home office desk into a productive state.
I don’t need any software this year. However, I’ll be checking the Apple iOS Store for some good deals.
I have heard about imazing software for a few years - and didn't think much of it.
For those that don't know, iMazing allows you to manage your iOS devices without the need for iTunes. It's a great single-source application that lets you manage your Music, Ringtones, Books, Photos, Messages and more.
I recently purchased it in the October BundleHunt deal. It was a good deal for $6.
This use to be called DiskAid, but was changed to iMazing in 2014 to better reflect the value of the application.
Five Things I like about iMazing
I like that I am able to move over Music and Movies onto the iPhone from my MacBook Pro and iMac.
Now that Apple split Music and Movies to different Apps, it is no longer fun to manage my device. iMazing makes it easy to manage the device in one application.
I can sort the Photos/Video listing by size. Now I can remove the larger files that are taking up too much space on my phone. A really good way to manage the iPhone.
I can now better manage files in the Books section. I can finally get rid of outdated books and add important PDF manuals. That I can read when I have no internet - such as BBEdit and the Affinity Photo Manual.
Backing up messages is cool! But backing up Voicemail is awesome. Now I can completely clear out all those old voice messages. I can also save the transcript to a CSV file - something that isn't possible in any Apple application.
Get iMazing if you want more control with your iOS device. It really gives you a lot more control on backing up your device.
You can download iMazing 2 for Mac and PC on iMazing website.
A single license cost $44.99 - however, you can usually find the software bundle with other apps for a much cheaper price.
Last month when I was setting up my new iMac, I was thinking if it was time to move on from using Panic Transmit. So I spent time looking for alternative FTP client software.
One of the applications that I encountered was Viper FTP. This was interesting because I hadn't seen it before and thought it would be worth checking out.
Eight Key differences between Transmit and Viper FTP
I played around with Viper FTP for a couple of days, and here are my observations:
There is a free version of Viper FTP which has limited capabilities. This is a perfect solution if you only have one FTP connection and need basic functionality.
There is a setting in Viper FTP that preserves the system date of downloaded files. This is neat. When I want to back up a production file, I want to keep the date of the last modification. In Transmit, this was possible with Transmit Disk mode was enabled - that feature has been discontinued in Transmit 5.6.0.
In Viper the connection favorites are kept on the left side of the window. This makes it easy to jump around on the server. In Transmit, it's in a small bookmark-type bar on the top of the listing.
In Transmit, you can assign custom icons to servers, making it really easy to see the AWS servers from the DropBox servers. You can't do that in Viper.
In Viper, you can put servers in the Toolbar. Which makes it really quick to access critical servers.
Transmit has the ability to connect to a lot more different server types. You are limited using Viper. Viper FTP Lite doesn't have access to Google Drive or DropBox.
Viper FTP Lite, the free version, only allows you to save 3 servers at once.
Panic Transmit costs $24.99 via subscription price or a one-time price for $45 per user for all your Macs. Viper FTP costs $18.99 for one user on one computer. To install it on multiple computers it cost $79.99.
Panic "Create New Connection" Dialog. This shows all available options.
Viper FTP "Quick Connection" dialog. Pretty cool that you can upload videos to YouTube!
At the End of the Day
While Viper FTP looks cool and has a few bells and whistles that isn't available in Transmit, I'll be sticking with Transmit. I think Transmit is a cool
New 27-inch iMac
Last month I upgraded my iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) to the 2019 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.
I spent a lot of time investigating the perfect computer, spent time researching different configurations and machines. Is the Mac Mini a better computer to get? How about a MacBook Pro?
After much research and talking with friends, I selected this configuration:
3.7GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory
512GB SSD storage
Magic Mouse 2
Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad - US English
Five Things I learned about the iMac
- I ordered the computer with an SSD drive and they had to customize it. It was scheduled to be delivered on October 14th, it actually arrived on October 4th.
- I gave up space for performance. As this computer has 1/2 the disk space than my old computer - this means that I have to manage my space on my hard drive better.
- Instead of having Apple install additional memory, I installed it myself. Doing it myself saved me about $450. It was incredibly easy to do, and it took about 3-minutes to install the memory cards.
- It's so nice to have a 27-inch screen vs the 21.5-inch screen. The extra screen space really makes a difference on multitasking various applications.
- Someone suggested that I upgrade to the wireless full-size keyboard - instead of the mini-keyboard. I do like the full-size board and found that it was a great idea. I like that it's wireless and that to charge it up, I just plug in a lightning cable.
I am actively updating my 27-inch iMac 2019 page on the ins and outs of using this computer. (Think of it as a mini-blog)
My goal is to update the site on my experiences using the new computer.
I have been a Macintosh user for a long time, and I have a lot of old gadgets and software - such as FireWire, and SCSI disks.
This this the first computer that I owned that doesn't have a built in CD/DVD drive. I already have an external USB DVD drive. (It supports both Firewire and USB2)