Macintosh Blog Posts
This week I was going through a box in the attic and came across an old copy of MacWeek magazine. This was from 1996 - 25 years ago. I thought I take some time to thumb through and take a walk down memory lane.
Issue date - November 25, 1996
Volume 10 - Number 45
Nine Things I Remembered
Power Computing PowerCenter 150 vs Apple PowerMac 8500/150 battle - While the were essentially the same price, the Power Computing model included more RAM, 15' monitor and Microsoft Office. All this for $2,995.
Lotus Domino - Huge color 2-page cartoon spread on a web service that pretty much has nothing to do with Macintosh.
Apple QTML - Apple QuickTime Media Layer. Apple called it a platform-independent universal container for multimedia information. This later became a foundation for the Carbon API that made it possible for legacy apps to run on Mac OS X.
USRobotics Pilot - There was a single page Ad for this personal assistant device. This automatically links to your Apple Computer. It's 4.5' tall and costs $299. The 'only' lacking feature is the ability to make calls.
Storage Costs - Zip 100mb drives were selling for $149. Cartridges were selling for $14 ( Today you can get a 16GB USB flash drive for $9 - which has the capacity to hold 160 Zip disks. No separate hardware needed. )
SCSI Hard Drives - These we're the most reliable form of disk storage. Other World Computing
CD Stomper - I have a couple of these label applicators. The applicator makes it easy to center CD dick labels. In 1996, they were selling for $79.95. I don't recall paying that much. Wow!
Netscape Constellation - This recently announced web technology will allow users to collect and organize Internet and network information. Users will be able to modify their desktops to receive real-time site updates. (It was officially branded as Netscape Netcaster, and some people may remember as it being used as Webtops.)
DVD Products - Many vendors displayed their Digital Video Disks products at Comdex/Fall '96 in Las Vegas. The new DVD players would be an extra $400 to $500 for computers equipped with DVD drives. Shipping would start in the Fall of 1997
MacBook Keyboard Replacement
Apple has identified a keyboard issue with some Apple laptops. In 2019, they announced a program to repair the keyboards of various MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro for Free.
You can find all the details, and the supported models, on their Keyboard Service page:
I recently visited the Apple Store to get my MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016) fixed. There is an issue with some of the keys and the spacebar didn't always work when clicked on it.
Five Things I Learned
Like any Apple repair inquire you need to schedule an appointment.
You can't check in to your appointment at the Genius Bar until 5-minutes before the actual appointment. You are welcome to visit the store earlier and browse the computers, but you can't check-in until 5-minutes before the appointment time. They will send you to a table to wait for a technician.
The technician first verified that there is an issue with some of the keys. She then ran some tests on the computer - which involved restarting the computer. She informed me that there is also an issue with the battery.
Here's the kicker... In order to fix the computer keyboard they need to send it out to a repair facility. This means that it could take up to five days before I would get the computer back. Since the issue I am having is a work computer, I declined to part with the laptop for five days. (Without the computer, I wouldn't be able to work.) Who has the time to give up their laptops for 5-days?
One More thing... On the bottom of the Keyboard Service Program for MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. is this statement:
The program covers eligible MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.
This means that the MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016) isn't eligible for the free keyboard replacement program - even though it is listed on the website as an eligible model. that Apple would likely charge me for the service.
The technician didn't say anything about a charge. But I wonder if they would have said something once it arrived at the repair shop.
Apple should update the page with the current list of supported models.
Quick Alternative Solution
I use an external Bluetooth keyboard. It works perfectly well. I didn't have to buy one, I had a spare one from an old iMac.
Magnifier Annotate Tool
A useful tool in a screen capture program is a magnifier. This allows people to enlarge a certain part of an image. Usually, this is done to highlight some graphic or text.
Red Sox Store touched up with Snagit
Three Reasons Why Snag-it is Great
Multiple Shapes - You have a choice between circle, rectangle, and round rectangle shapes. Sometimes, a circle isn't the best way to zoom into a section, particularly if you highlight a word/phrase in a sentence.
Offset Magnify Style - New in 2021!, you can now drag the magnified area so that you can see the original highlighted elements. This is a great way to point out something without covering the area.
Combined Effects - Once you apply the magnifier tool, you can add additional effects without impacting the magnified area. For example, you can add a highlight to the area so that it stands out more.
Red Sox Store touched up with PhotoScape
Three Reasons Why PhotoScape is Great
Circle Designs - Photoscape only has circle magnifiers. However, there are 20 different types, in some of the types, you can change the colors, and in others, you can only fix the styles. The designs are nice and they can help draw attention to the magnified area. There is one design where there's no border and it just fades out - this produces a neat effect.
Change the Angle and Scale - You can rotate the inner part of the magnified area - not exactly sure why but it does create a cool effect. You can also scale the inside of the magnified area without changing the size of the magnified circle.
Change the Magnified Location - You can change the focus of the magnified area. It's a bit different than in Snag-it. You simply move the inner blue dot to the area you want to magnify. Snag-it automatically puts in a line between the focus point and the magnify section. In Photoscape, you have to put in your own arrow. I guess the nice thing about Photoscape is that you have a choice if you want an arrow. There may be cases where you may not want to include the line.
Which is the Better One?
Both PhotoScape and Snag-it have some cool ways to implement the magnification tool. I think PhotoScape gives the user a bit more control over the style and effect of the magnification.
While it's nice that Snag-it includes a reference line when moving the focus of the magnification. I think there are times when I may not want to have that reference included. I like that PhotoScape gives the option of manually adding it in.
I also like that you have a lot more choices when it comes to magnification design.
Last month, I blogged about Luminar AI and how excited I was in using the newly purchased application. This is a quick recap of using the Luminar Ai software for the past month.
Touching up a boring parking lot photo.
Seven Things I Learned
The suggested templates aren't always the best selection. The suggested templates are determined by AI to be the ones best fit to enhance the photo. I have found that they aren't always the best choices. I found that manually applying an edit using the Enhance Accent to be the best choice in most situations.
I tested Luminar AI against Photolemur and found that for quick edits Photolemur was the way to go. However, if I want to make the photo stand out, Luminar AI is the best option. Photolemur works best to quickly fix color balance in a photo. However, you can't touch up the photo or enhance it as you can with Luminar AI.
The Sky effect is very cool. It's super easy to replace the sky and by doing so can drastically change the mood of the image. I did encounter some issues with the sky not being replaced near trees.
I was able to add my own Augmented Sky object. I was looking for Star War's Death Star to be in a Halloween photo. It was easy to add and apply all the options. The nice thing is that the Augment Sky object stayed in the library so I can use it again at a later date.
I learned a lot by watching the Luminar AI - Tutorial for Beginners in 10 MINUTES! on YouTube. Bai teaches you all the tips and tricks to get you started using Luminar Ai. The only bad thing is that this is for an older version, and some functionality has changed.
There is an in-product promo for the Luminar Neo that is to be released this winter. I just feel it's way too much in-product promotion.
I tested Luminar AI's Erase tool vs Affinity Photo's Inpainting brush tool to see which one was the best. I found that Affinity Photo's Inpainting brush tool did a better job in removing objects. Not only were the objects removed, but Affinity Photo's Inpainting brush tool did a better job in the replacement. I found that you couldn't tell objects were removed because of how the replacement looked.
Overall I really like Luminar AI. Its a cool application that helps make ordinary photos to be extraordinary.
Keyboard Maestro 10
Keyboard Maestro 10 was released this week and it's packed with a lot of cool new features. You can find the complete list on Keyboard Maestro website.
The nice thing is that the developer is giving a discount for Keyboard Maestro 9 users. You can save $7 if you upgrade in the next 30-days. I would highly recommend getting the upgrade.
Three Features I am Excited About
Display in Menu Bar
Display in Menu bar allows you to make a Keyboard Maestro Group into it's own menu bar item. Now you can clean up the Keyboard Maestro menu by moving things out.
You can configure in what applications the menu bar appears. This way you don't have menu bar clutter in applications that won't use various macros.
You can only set Menu bar to real groups not smart groups.
Cool Trick here is to add your computer IP address to the menu bar.
Setting up the Group Menu bar:
- Select a group on the left pane
- In the far right pane, change Do not display in menu bar to Display in Menu bar
There's options to control what actually gets displayed - but that's for a later blog post.
Favorite Actions are a quick way to reuse common actions. Not only is the main part of the action in play, such as paste text, but also the various texts of that action. This is useful when you want to reuse certain actions over and over again.
One action that I have used multiple times is the Set System Clipboard to Past Clipboard. I used this when I want to reset the clipboard content after running a macro.
1. Select the Favorite in the Action category. 2. Available Actions. 3. How to add a Favorite.
To setup a favorite:
- Open up a Macro.
- Right click on an Action and click Add to Favorite (In the middle of the right click menu.)
To find all favorite actions:
- Command Control A to open the Insert Action search box
- Search for Favorite
Paste by Name Action
This allows me to paste clipboard history content that matches certain criteria. This would be equivalent to me opening up the Clipboard History Switcher tool and searching for something then pasting it in.
This would be useful when I want to paste the most recent Jira url in the clipboard.
Check out some cool tips and tricks with Keyboard Maestro on my Keyboard Maestro Blog Posts.
ArtBoard and Ortelius now Free!
In June, MapDiva announced that they are discontinuing supporting the ArtBoard and Ortelius. This is the announcement that they put on their website:
Unfortunately a series of overwhelming external forces and lack of resources has forced this decision, among which was the withdrawal of support for our chosen licensing scheme by Devmate. One effect of this is that existing licenses will become deactivated over time. All subscriptions will end when the current period expires, and no further charges will be made -- customers do not need to cancel their subscriptions manually.
As a courtesy, a fully unlocked, free, and unlimited version of Ortelius (and Artboard) can be downloaded below to allow you to continue to finish projects. There is no longer any support available, however. Note that this is a fully notarized app -- something we were unable to release previously due ironically to problems with the licensing framework. With that removed, the notarization could proceed successfully. This version also supports Big Sur and M1 Macs natively.
Yup, your read that right, you can now download Artboard and Ortelius for free! This is a big deal since Artboard was selling for $39.99 and Ortelius $399.
This is a great way to get your hands on some pretty powerful vector drawing applications.
Purchased in 2016
I purchased ArtBoard in 2016, and for a while wrote a few blog posts. I was really getting into the application for some occasional use. Some of the blog post images in the summer of 2016 were done using ArtBoard. I did consider purchasing an upgrade but didn't think it was worth it as I thought Affinity Designer was more useful for my needs.
Works in macOS Monterey
As for the free versions of ArtBoard and Ortelius, I have verified that they both work on macOS Monterey (12.0.1). Ok so I haven't tried all the functionality but it seems stable.
Five Reasons to Download
Hands-on Exercises - If you haven't use a vector pen before, it can get a bit difficult to use. Both ArtBoard and Ortelius have Hand-On Exercises to learn how to apply curves. They are easy to follow and certainly
Create Your Own Street Map! - Using Ortelius you can create your own personal street map! This is something that will take time to create. There are some Hands-on Exercises that can guide you, but I think it will take some trial and error to create an awesome map.
Templates - In ArtBoard there are Social Media templates to help you plan your social media graphics. While these may seem a bit dated - they are from 2016 - you can update the default template to your image specs. There are business card templates for Moo.com too.
Library Manager - There are 1,961 library items in ArtBoard and 1,809 in Ortelius. These graphics might help add some variation to your images.
Text Effects - In ArtBoard you can easily create text paths with various curves and styles. I find it a lot easier to create text on the circle path in ArtBoard than in Affinity Designer.
Help & Support
MapDiva has removed all support for ArtBoard and Ortelius, there's no help in the application anymore. Hey, it's free - remember! You can download the old PDF manuals as a guide to learn ArtBoard and Ortelius:
- ArtBoard 1.9 User Guide - This is the only versions that I have.
- Ortelius 1.5 User Guide - I don't know if there's a newer version.
Download ArtBoard and Ortelius
You can download ArtBoard and Ortelius from MapDiva's website. I don't know how long they are going to make these downloads available.
Removing Color in Affinity Photo
This is a question that I get asked frequently in regards to Affinity Photo:
How do you select a color in an image so that I can change it or make it transparent?
The key thing to do is to rasterize the image. When you do this, you get to delete anything you selected and you can create new layers based on your selection. Rasterizing flattens an image to create pixel layers. You have to do this even to some images. (I know it seems weird.)
To rasterize, simply right-click on the layer in the layers pallet and select Rasterize.
Now when you use the Select Sample Color..., simply click the delete key. Alternatively, you can Copy/Paste the selection. When you do that, a new layer gets created with your selection. Now you can apply various filters to change the color.
If hitting the delete key doesn't erase the selection, it means that you didn't rasterize the layer or you're not editing on the right layer.
What's the best way to select all like colors in an image?
I would recommend using the Select Sample Color... in the select menu and adjusting the tolerance that best fits your needs. Remember, you can always add/remove pixels using the selection tool brush.
The Select Sample Color is a powerful tool and useful when you want to get all those colors in-between spaces.
Once the color is selected, move it to its own layer and have fun making the color adjustments.
Affinity Photo is a pretty powerful photo tool, as there's more than one way to do things.
This week I purchased Luminar Ai. I finally decided to upgrade from Luminar 3 to Luminar Ai - so that I could take ordinary photos and make them look extraordinary.
Luminar AI makes it quick to do image touch ups, which can easily be done in Affinity Photo, but I am more likely to apply when I am in a hurry.
Brief Description of Luminar Ai
The first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence. With Luminar AI, creating striking photos becomes surprisingly easy and fun. Unlike traditional photo editing, which is boring and time-consuming, Luminar Al is all about the result, not the process.
Luminar Al is designed for visual communicators, everyday people, and professional photographers alike. It's made for those who rely on images to communicate important messages, create new opportunities, and grow their reputation: bloggers, entrepreneurs, educators, marketers, small and medium-sized businesses, and many others.
Luminar Al automates common manual tasks and reduces complexity so you can tell your story with rich and expressive images like never before.
Five things I am excited about
Templates - Luminar Ai comes with 22 templates right out of the box. These are a great starting point to see how quickly a photo can be made better. Sometimes this is all that's needed to touch up a photo. You can alway buy other templates in various categories.
Sky Changer - Change the Sky. Add more clouds, more sunshine whatever you want! Changing the sky can really change the mood of a photo. Luminar AI makes the process simple
Augmented Sky - Luminar AI has the ability to add objects in the sky such as Moon, Balloons, and fireworks. This is a cool way to spice up a boring sky. You can even add your own custom objects, such as the Deathstar, and use all the settings as you can do with any included object.
Lens Distortion Fix - I can set up a template to quickly fix the GoPro lens fish eye. This will make it easy for me to make GoPro photos look awesome. To make things easy, I can create my own GoPro Template to fix lens distortions in one click.
Portrait Mode Touchup - I can easily touch up people in pictures. I can whiten teeth, fix skin marks, color eyes, and much more.
Next week all blog post images will be touched up using Luminar AI. As I learn more about the application, I'll be sure to share some tips and tricks.
In the meantime, you can download a trial version of Luminar AI.
BBEdit Clipping allows users to add their own pre-defined bits of text into any document. There's no size limit and you can add special substitutions.
It's easy to create a snippet, in BBEdit simply select a text and right-click and then choose Save Selection As Clipping. It really is that easy.
You can activate a clipping by typing a shortcut or by assigning a key combination. The key combination is more powerful as you can apply the clipping to the selected text.
This clipping snippet will apply a specific paragraph class to the selected text.
Popular Clipping Substitution Placeholders
These are the five placeholders that are most useful to know. You can find all the placeholders in the official BBEdit Manual.
Marks the place where BBEdit will place the insertion point after inserting the item; if multiple #INSERTION# placeholders are used, the second and subsequent occurrences are replaced with a placeholder <##>, which can be used with Go to Next/Previous Placeholder in the Go menu. Useful when you apply a snippet via typing and you want the cursor to appear within the snippet.
If there was a selection when the clipping was expanded, it will be put at this position; otherwise, the insertion point will remain here. It is useful when you want to use a clipping as a keyboard shortcut or activate it when typing.
Contents of the current clipboard. Useful when you want to use the clipboard as part of the clipboard substitution. For example, if you want to use a GitHub branch name.
The selected Text. Useful when you want to wrap the selected text around tags.
Given the full path to a shell command or script, BBEdit will run that command or script and insert the result. This is a pretty powerful way to apply external commands with your BBEdit clippings.
Shell Script Example:
This will tell me the current uptime on my computer. I save the clipping as uptime and anytime that I want the computer uptime, I just type uptime. (Not something I would do often but a cool example.)
The past few months I have been doing a lot of database work. I was looking for a good application that I could use that wasn't limited on the type of database. I was recommend DBeaver - the free Universal Database tool.
Five Reasons Why I Like DBeaver
- Database Support - The application pretty much supports any database you need: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Sybase, MS Access, Teradata, Firebird, Apache Hive, Phoenix, Presto and more. (A total of 89 different database connections are available out of the box!)
- SQL Generation - You can easily moved text between tables. Simply select a bunch of rows, right-click and select Generate SQL. You'll get a copy of the SQL statements as insert statements. Useful when you want to delete a row and reinsert it again to test triggers.
- In Grid Editing - Easily change data in the grid - just like excel. DBeaver makes it so much easier to manipulate the data. Once you make all the changes, simply commit it.
- SQL Views - Very easy to create/modify views. In one of my projects, I didn't use many database views. When using DBeaver, it was easy to create and modify SQL views.
- SQL Scripts - Create and Save SQL Scripts for various projects. Makes it very easy to reuse past queries. You can even search through SQL Scripts for code - making it a great resource to reuse SQL commands.