Macintosh Blog Posts
January 17, 2020

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.

Micro Wave Express
Screenshot of the MicroWave Express

The paid version of MicroWave cost $19.99 and is available on the Apple Store.

Rogue Amoeba Fission
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.

Some Observations

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

January 10, 2020

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.

Retina Display Options

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.

iMac Works For Me

January 3, 2020

TextSoap Editor

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.

Product Description

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

B B Edit Text Factory

TextSoap's Custom Cleaner Screenshot

Text Soap

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.
December 27, 2019

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.

2019 Year Review

Nine Blog Post that are worth reading again

2020 Goals

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.

December 20, 2019

PhotoScapeX 4.0

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.

Photo Scape X4

New Features

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.

December 13, 2019

Aerate

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.

Aertate is made by BZG, who makes some pretty cool applications, such as Unite and Coherence Pro.

Aerate

Preferences Settings

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%.

Short Pixel Aerate
Screenshot to show ShortPixel was able to compress a particular image where Aerate said that it couldn't.

Good App?

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.

December 6, 2019

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:

Keyboard Maestro Slack

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.

November 29, 2019

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.

November 22, 2019

iMazing

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.

i Mazing

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.

My Recommendation

Get iMazing if you want more control with your iOS device. It really gives you a lot more control on backing up your device.

Getting iMazing

You can download iMazing 2 for Mac and PC non iMazing website.

A single license cost $44.99 - however, you can usually find the software bundle with other apps for a much cheaper price.

November 15, 2019

Viper FTP

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.

Sample Screenshots

Transmit New Connection
Panic "Create New Connection" Dialog. This shows all available options.

Viper New Connection
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

November 8, 2019

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
Accessory Kit

i Mac2019 Desktop

Five Things I learned about the iMac

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Reference Page

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)

November 1, 2019

Luminar 2018

Luminar 2018 is a cool application that makes it super easy to stylize and image to the way you want it to look.

Sample Screenshot:

Luminar2018

Things I Learned About Luminar 2018

There's a Sky Enhancer which allows you to get a better sky via artificial intelligence.

Out of the box, there are 60 one-click presets to quickly touch up the photos. You can always purchase more on seklum.com website - there are some free presets while others cost between $10 - $20.

When you select a preset, you can change all the options - to one that works best for your image.

Luminar 2018 gives you a bit more power than what's in Photolemur 3. For example, with Luminar I can alter a photo to look.

Batch Processing is pretty cool. This is where you can apply Presets, Format and resize all that the same time. For example, you can apply the Sky Enhancer to a set of common images. For example, you can make a bunch of Black and White thumbnail version of images as previews.

Batch processing is great for those RAW images that you have. You can use the technology in Luminar to render the images and then back up to various cloud services such as Google Photos.

The Luminar 2018 document is 155 pages long. There is a lot of information about all the various configurations. The nice thing is that the PDF document is searchable. If reading manuals isn't your thing there's a large collection of video tutorials available.

Replacement for Photolemur 3?

Luminar 2018 doesn't replace the need for Photolemur 3 - it just another image enhancing tool in the toolbox. Photolemur is great when I want a quick touch up, but when I want to be fancy or have more control, I'll use Luminar 2018.

Photolemur and Luminar 2018 are both created by Skylum.

Getting Luminar 2018

The best way to get Luminar 2018 is via the BundleHunt collection. You can get it for about $4 - about a $60 savings. This is a good price for the value that you get using the software.

October 25, 2019

Holiday Search in Spotlight

I am not sure if this is unique to MacOS 10.15, but I noticed something cool about the Spotlight search. You can put in holidays and it will find files that were created on that day.

Here's an example of Halloween:

Halloween2019 Spotlight

Here's an example of Christmas:

Christmas2018 Spotlight

Easter 2018:

Easter2019 Spotlight

How Cool is that?

None of the files found have the "Halloween, Christmas or Easter" text in them. So Spotlight had to have matched the event with the date.

I tried other dates such as my Birthday - to see if Spotlight would interpret contact data as part of the Spotlight search. That didn't work.

What do you think? What other "Easter Eggs" are being used by Sportlight?

October 18, 2019

Recent Applications in the Catalina Dock

One of the features that Apple changed in macOS Catalina is the Recent Applications in the Dock. You can no longer see a grid of Recent Applications. In Catalina, you can only a select number of recent applications appear in the dock.

It's really easy to bring back the "old" look.

Bring Recent Apps Folder Back

How to Enable the Recent Application Back in the Dock

Here are the simple steps:

  1. In the Finder type Command - F (This brings up the Spotlight Search.)
  2. Next to the 'Kind' drop down menu, select 'Application'
  3. Click on the '+' to the right of that row
  4. Select 'Last Open Date' and then 1 day
  5. Click the Save Button, which is located just above the '+' that you click before.
  6. You can name it anything, but "Recent Apps" would be good.
  7. Make sure the check box next to the "Add to Sidebar" is checked and click Save.
  8. Now you should see the "Recent Apps" in the Sidebar.
  9. Drag and Drop the "Recent Apps" icon to the Dock - just to the left of the Trash Can.
  10. Right Click on the icon in the dock and select "Grid" under "View Content As"

Bonus: Try Tags with Applications

The nice thing about this tip is that now you know you can put any Smart folder in the dock.

So for example, one thing you can do is tag certain applications that you use - for example, applications use to modify Images. Then create a Smart Folder that searches for that Tag. Then place the Smart Folder in the Dock for easy access.

October 11, 2019

Mosaic

Light Pillar's Mosaic is a window's management utility. It makes it easy to organize various windows that you may have open. For example, you can easily layout Chrome Window and Evernote, so they layout evenly on the screen.

Mosaic Layout

Five Things I have Learned Using Mosaic

  • When you move a window, you can see a Drag and Drop Zone where you can position the window on the screen. (There's a setting where you can change the Drag and Drop Zone so that it only appears when you have the option key down.)
  • You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to different layouts - avoiding the need to use the Drag and drop.
  • One of the first things I did was remove the default Gutter. I never really need to see my desktop when I position the windows.
  • Groups are a good way to only show layouts that matter in the Drag and Drop Zone.
  • When I was changing the layout on a 5K display I was getting Resizing Window warnings. In the General Setting, there's a checkbox to disable the warning.