Macintosh Blog Posts
October 30, 2020

Art Text 4 Designs

Art Text 4 is a pretty powerful tool. It gives you lots of ways to create some creative text and graphic files. However, if you need a boost on the design side, they have a design gallery where you can download some very cool design.

Art Text 4 Halloween

Some of the designs you have to pay for, but the Holloween designs are free! There are 8 themed Helloween templates with multiple objects to help you create some cool social media or blog posts.

These are great to make cool looking designs - people think that you spent hours putting it together.

There is a "Winter Session" where you can get 10 Christmas designs. This collection isn't free as it cost $6.99 - still a bargain for the cool-looking designs.

Sample Designs

2020 Halloween

Spiderween
I used the Art Text 4 template and changed the center graphic.

October 23, 2020

Runaway Kernel Task process

If you have been experiencing some weird issue with Snagit - like poor system performance. Maybe the kernel_task is more than 100%. There might be a logical problem.

Runaway Kernel Tasks

On my computer, I had multiple versions of Snagit installed. This is because every time that I did a major upgrade the computer kept the old version.

When the computer boots up it still uses the Snagit 2019 version and libraries. When I would do capture it would mix up which version to use and get stuck in an endless loop.

The quick solution was to remove all but the current version of Snagit. In my case, it's Snagit 2020. My computer performance had improved since removing the applications. (I also restarted the computer after deleting the apps)

I notice this was a problem when using Microsoft Teams and Zoom. I am not sure why using video apps would cause an issue. I think it's just the amount of CPU that is being used.

Try This Fix!

So if you are having problems related to kernel_task, you may want to check to see if you have multiple versions of Snagit. (I assume this might be true for other system base apps.)

Note: My problem was with Snagit, your situation might be a different application.

Your best bet is to restart the computer to properly test to see if removing the old applications fixed the issue.

October 16, 2020

Thunderbolt Display Cable

One of the disadvantages of Apple's Thunderbolt display is that the cable is not all stable. This is the main cable from the back of the computer that is used to connect to a MacBook or iMac.

I have seen many Apple Thunderbolt displays encounter a tear in them because of the angle that you have to put it in a MacBook. Over time,

Unlike the power cable, there is no way to take this cable out. The end of the cable is mounted to the mainboard. So if something happens to the connector cable, you can't replace it.

Thunder Bolt Display
You can see the cable starting to have a tear. It's only a matter of time before it breaks.

Broken but Not Dead

However the display isn't technically dead. You can still use it as an external display. Simply connect another Thunderbolt 2 cable to the port on the back of the display and then connect it to your computer.

The Apple Thunderbolt Display uses the old Thunderbolt 2 connector, not the new Thunderbolt 3 connector - also known as USB-C.

You can find a Thunderbolt 2 display cable on Amazon for about $40. That's kind of expensive for a cable but it is far cheaper than getting a brand new monitor.

October 9, 2020

Apple SuperDrive

One of the downsides of the new iMacs is that they don't have a DVD drive. This makes it challenging when you want to access old files or create DVD movies for events.

New External Drive

I thought DVD drives were all the same, so when it came time for me to get one I went cheap and purchased a $30 drive. What’s nice is the drive had both USB 2 and USB-C ports. I was excited because I could connect this to the USB-C port and not take up any other standard USB port.

Going cheap was a big mistake.

When I started burning DVDs I got a lot of failures. Only about 1 out of 4 disks were good. This happened using the USB3 port and the ISB-C port.

I also had this problem using different computers. So the issue was with the drive. The thing is that it works fine some of the time.

Apple SuperDrive

I got a SuperDrive for my birthday and what a difference it makes.

I have burned 20 DVDs and they were all successful. I didn’t encounter and toasted disks.

I have also access old DVDs without a problem. The drive seems much quieter than other external drives I have had in the past.

The morale of the story is to not be cheap when it comes to storage devices. Stick with brands you know.

Couple of complaints

The cable is too short. Basically, the device sits underneath the iMac monitor. Sure I can get a USB extension but that may impact the quality of data going to the drive. Come On Apple, make longer cords.

There is only one cable type - USB 3. It would be nice to have different cable options.

October 2, 2020

Quick Camera

Have you ever wanted to take a quick picture using your iMac Camera?

You could use Apple PhotoBooth, but it can get tricky switching Cameras.

I like Quick Camera. It’s a simple little app that allows you to easily save pictures.

I like it because I can check out the shot before getting on a Zoom or Microsoft Meeting calls.

If you have multiple cameras connected to your computer, You can easily switch the camera using the keyboard shortcuts. (This is also a good way to validate that the camera is properly connected to the computer. )

Quick Camera

Cool Trick

You can take a picture, when no one is in the picture, and use it as a background in a Zoom call.

This way if someone is actually in the background no one will know. In addition, you can turn off background lighting for those late-night zoom calls.

Getting Quick Camera

Quick Camera is available in the App Store and it’s currently free.

September 25, 2020

Download Church Bulletin

Churches in Massachusetts have limited attendance because of COVID-19. I decided to create a new Keyboard Maestro Macro to download the latest church bulletin - that way I know what's going on at mu local parish.

My parish uses e-churchbulletins.com, which generates a PDF file every week. When a new bulletin gets created it overites the file on the server.

So I created the following Macro:

Bash Church

What this does:

Every day at 4 am, it runs a Bash script, using curl and downloads the latest bulletin and saves it to my local computer using the current day. (This way it doesn't wright over any previous downloads. )

Copy of the BASH script:

#! /bin/bash
cd ~/Dropbox/Coronavirus/church
curl --output `date +%Y-%m-%d`.pdf https://www.e-churchbulletins.com/bulletins/

I have this running every day because I never know when the latest bulletin will be released.

The nice thing is that I just set it and forget it. Now I have a copy of all the church bulletins whenever I need to refer back to them.

September 18, 2020

iCloud Drive

This week I have been busy cleaning up the storage on my MacBook computer. The "easy" way I have found to backup files is to use iCloud. I create backup folders in my iCloud Drive and move files into that directory. On my iMac, I then move the files to an external drive.

The reason that I am doing this method, instead of just connecting the external drive to the computer, is that I want to make sure that I backup files that are worth keeping. I don't want to just throw everything on an external drive without knowing what it is.

icloud Drive

Things I Learned About iCloud

When you move files to the iCloud drive on your computer it doesn't delete them from the computer. It basically moved it to the cloud services but you don't save space.

In order to "save space" you need to move the files of the iCloud service. This concept is the same as DropBox and other cloud services.

Make sure to check the "Optimize Mac Storage" checkbox in the iCloud settings. This will force iCloud to only download files that it needs.

You can add/remove space as needed. For example, you can upgrade to the 2TB plan for a couple of months for storage backups and then downgrade the service.

This is a great service if you are trying to clean up a couple of external drives. In addition, you can backup all your photos and videos taken on a vacation to the iCloud drive and not worry about losing them.

iCloud Icons

Often you may see strange icons next to the iCloud folder name. Here's what the icons mean:

Cloud Uploading to Cloud
Cloud with Arrow Backed up to Cloud. Not stored locally. Tap on the folder
Circle with Progress Copying locally
September 11, 2020

multcloud.com

Everyone has multiple cloud accounts. Whether is't Amazon, Google or Drive, things are stored everywhere. The problem comes when you want to manage them.

Multcloud.com makes it super easy to view all your files in one simple interface. No worry about switching browsers or windows. You can move from server to server with a simple click.

The nice thing about Multcloud.com is that you can move files between cloud services. This is awesome when you're running low on space on a particular server.

You can even sync data between cloud services, ensuring that your data is always available.

The Free Plan gives you 30GB Data Traffic/Month. The next step up is $9.90 a month which gives you 150GB Data Traffic/Month.

Five Ways to get the most out of MultiCloud.com

  1. Snapshot Of Your Cloud Accounts - At a glance you can see how much space is available in your cloud accounts. 

  2. Move Evernote Files - You can backup your Evernote files to a different cloud service. I was able to move images from Evernote to Google Photos.

  3. Automate Database Backups - Perform full MySQL database backups to a cloud to Amazon, Google, Drop Box. You can even schedule the transfers so you don't have to think about doing it every week.

  4. Clean up an old Cloud Account - I setup my Mega account back in 2015 and didn’t do anything with it. I basically had a lot of videos and photos. I used Multcloud.com to move these to Google Photos to free up space on Mega.

  5. Know What You Have and Where - Multcloud.com is a great way to audit your cloud services. You can easily find files and move things around. This helps get the most out of each cloud service.

September 4, 2020

LaunchBar Image Actions

This week LaunchBar did it's yearly update (Version 6/13). The update include many changes to various features of the application. You can read all about the latest changes in the LaunchBar Release Note.

One of the changes that I wanted to check out is this Action Change:

Updated and improved image conversion actions (rotate, flip, resize, compress, etc.). They are now better chainable with subsequent actions " the resulting images can be immediately sent to another action.

Launchbar Index

These actions are best using "Instant Send." To use Instant Send, simply select an image and then click on the shift key twice. Now you have the power of LaunchBar in your hands.

Image Conversion Actions

Let's say that you need to flip an image:

  • Select an Image.
  • Click on the Shift Key twice.
  • Type in Flip
  • Select Flip Image Horizontal or Flip Image Vertical
  • Click Return
  • Now You can perform another action, such as Resize or Recompress an Image.

To perform a compression, type in "Recompress." To Resize the image, type in "Resize." You can perform various actions to the same image.

The last task can be to airdrop the file to someone. Simply type in "air" and then

Just keep in mind when you perform these actions, the original image will be modified. If you want to do a comparison of the image, make a copy of the image.

August 28, 2020

New iPhones Coming Soon

Apple will be making some product announcements in late September. In the past, the announcements are related to new iPhone's products and accessories.

These are perfectly timed for the Christmas Season and the "Back to School" shopping.

This year the announcements are a bit late perhaps because of quality control issues.

Best Time To Buy Apple Products

If you are thinking of getting a new iPhone your better off waiting for a couple of weeks - maybe a month. Even if you don't get the latest and greatest, some of the older models may have deep discounts.

To find out when to buy a Macintosh computer, I highly recommend the Mac Rumor's Buyers Guide. They are the best resource on when the best time to get a new Apple device.

This year the rumor is that the new iPhones will be using the 5G standard. There's very limited support worldwide for 5G, so it will be interesting to see how sales go.

In Boston, Verizon has 5G Ultra Wideband coverage in some parts of the Fenway area, including Fenway Park, Foxborough, Boston Marathon Finish Line, and the Boston Garden. It appears that the 5g network is best for the sports venue. Outside of these areas, you're getting the usual 4G LTE.

August 21, 2020

Macintosh HFS Disk Format

When macOS Catalina was introduced, Apple quietly made a change to how it supports old file system formats.

Apple dropped support for formatting or writing HFS disks and images, which remain supported as read-only volumes. Starting with macOS 10.15, **HFS disks can no longer be read**.

This means that if you have CDs or DVDs using this format you will start seeing this error:

Could not mount “X". (com.apple.DiskManagement.disenter error 49153.)

Disk Management Error 49153 Desktop
Disk Management Error 49153 Mobile

Now what?

There is no way around reading these disk media files in macOS Catalina and beyond. You will need to "rollback" to the previous MacOS or use an older iMac.

Remember this doesn't happen to all media. Only media files that used HFS disk format.

Note: This also applies to USB Thumb drives. If you have some old drives that suddenly stopped working, it could be this reason.

Tech Notes

There is a difference between HFS formats:

  • HFS - Mac OS Standard, Introduced with System 2.1 in September, 1985.
  • HFS+ - Mac OS Extended, Introduced as part of Mac OS 8.1 in January, 1998.

Apple stopped supporting HFS since macOS Sierra - which was released 3 years ago. Apple Still supports HFS+ format. Apple currently favors the Apple File System (APFS)

Netscape CD

Netscape Disk Utility

Using Disk Utility, I highlighted the file system being used my Netscape 6 CD. As you can see it was formatted for Max OS Standard. So now, if I want to get files off this CD, I have to use an old Mac. (Netscape had some cool space images on these CDs.)

August 14, 2020

Path Finder 9 Productivity

Here are four Ways that Path Finder makes you more productive using your Macintosh Computer. Path Finder 9 is a powerful Finder replacement with lots of tools and utilities that make using the computer a lot of fun. (See my blog overview on Path Finder)

Menu Bar Application Access

Path Finder Menu

Quickly access many applications and documents right from the menu bar. No need to remember shortcuts or navigate the LaunchPad. Just click on the icon in the menu bar from any application and quickly go wherever you want.

There's a "Launch Application" feature where you can quickly go to your application with a quick search. The nice thing about this is that it contains more applications than what's available in the LaunchPad. Basically another way to get to your apps.

Size Browser

Path F Inder Size Browser

The Size Browser is a cool way to view your hard drive by file size. Simply click on each folder and start narrowing your way through your computer.

This isn't as pretty as DaisyDisk, but its just as practical. Path Finder's Size Browser fast and helps me navigate to the biggest files on my drive.

A cool feature of Size Browser is that is digs into Apple's Photo Library collections, so you can discover large files in there. Useful when you backup the Photo Library, and now you want to look into it.

Font Reports

Path Finder Font Report

This is a great way to get a snapshot of all the fonts that you have currently installed on your computer. You can print this out and have it handy for when you are looking for that perfect font for your headline.

Path Finder creates a new Rich Text Document, so you have the flexibility to increase the font size.

This is very useful when you manage multiple computers. The report can tell you a lot about what fonts are available.

Ratings Are Back!

Path Finder Rating

Remember when you could rate images in iPhoto? That was taken away with the new Photos app.

With Path FInder, you can now use ratings again! You don't need the alternative solution.

The nice thing is that you now can define ratings for any object. So you can rate photos, Word Documents, Folders and even Applications.

So, Why do this? Well you can use Smart Folders and only show the 5-Star applications you use every day.

The nice thing is that this carries over to the Finder, so you can use Spotlight and Search for 5-Star photos, folders, movies…etc.

August 7, 2020

Inkscape Spray Tool

Have you wondered how to get this done?

BBEdit Icons Spray
Lots of BBEdit Icons!

Here's a neat way to empathize wearing a mask:

Face Mask Spray
"Wonder if we should wear a mask?"

On the Macintosh, the only application that I found to get this effect is Inkscape. You can't do this in Photoshop Elements or Affinity Photo. The nice thing is that Inkscape is free, so you don't have to worry about paying for an application just to use this tool.

Inkscape Spray

The spray tool in Inkscape basically sprays whatever the selected object is. Simply select an object, click on the spray tool and then start spreading the image the way you would like. Each spray creates a new image on the current selected layer.

You can get tricky by creating different sizes on different layers. In addition, there's a lot of configurations that may make your image unique.

Spray Options

There are several options that impact what happens when you click the mouse button:

Width - How big of a spray area do you want. That is, how big of a spray nozzle do you want.

Amount - How often should a image be placed as you move the mouse.

Rotation - Set if you want the image to rotate as you spray.

Scale - Each image sprayed will randomly change in size. Don’t want this? Then use 0.

Scatter - Do you want the scatter the images around?

Focus - Where should the image appear relative to where you are spraying? A large number means that the image will not appear directly where you click.

Cool Effect

This is a really cool effect to use for blog post or category headers. You can combine the images, change color and so much more.

So if your out of a clue for a blog post graphic, why not try the Spray Option in Inkscape.

July 31, 2020

Reset Preview Icons

Every so often I find that my preview thumbnails through my Mac finder disappear. They don’t disappear entirely, they just stop displaying the preview of the file and show only the generic jpeg icon. It’s a fairly cumbersome problem, especially when the icon previews help determine which files I may want to use.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this and it’s basically nondestructive.

  • Open to the Preferences folder of your home directory
  • (your home > library > preferences)
  • Delete com.apple.finder.plist
  • Right click on Finder icon in the dock and select Relaunch.

Note: This may not fix all icons. I find that it works best with EPS files and AI files.

July 24, 2020

Apple Notes

This week I have decided to go "all in" with using various note-taking tools. I have made the decision of moving away from the Evernote subscription service. One of the reasons that I have decided to move on was that that I haven't been using Evernote much and couldn't justify paying for the services.

On of my note-taking apps is Apple Notes. It's great because it's available on my iMac and iPhone. I don't use my Samsung Galaxy Tab E as much because of working from home due to COVID-19.

I have been playing around with Apple Notes and I like it. It does take some time to get used to using the applications. (I had to promote it to my iPhone Homepage so that I would use it more frequently.)

Three Things I have Learned

Here are some things that I have discovered.

Limited AppleScript Support

Works With Apple Script - No surprise, but it works with AppleScript. At this time it's not possible to create a new Note using AppleScript. I checked the dictionary and it doesn't support it. (Weird that EverNote has better AppleScript support) Right now you can basically show an Apple Note file.

This is my AppleScript that I was trying to run:

tell application "BBEdit"
	set docname to name of text window 1
	set doctext to contents of window 1
end tell

tell application "Notes"
	create note name docname with body doctext
end tell

No Text Services

There's No Text Services Actions - In the Keyboard preference panel, there's a service section. This is where you can enable services such as "Search in Google" or "Send Message." There's no ability to send selected text to Apple Notes.

Checklist

You can create a checklist and when things are done, the item gets moved to the bottom of the list. When starting a note, to get to the checklist format simply type in Shift-Command-L.

You can also add list levels by typing a Tab next to an item to make it a sub list. So if you're putting together a Saturday morning shopping list, you can have the top-level be the stores to visit and the sub-items be the things to pick up in the store.