|June 9, 2017|
One of the important lessons that I learned in 2017 is the value of always backing up data. Its critical to have an active backup strategy because a computer crash can happen at any moment.
Recovering a failed Hard Drive could cost $799!
I have a 128 GB thumb drive where I keep a lot of my active files. I use this to move files between my Powerbook G4, iMac and my work MacBook Pro.
I found that SanDisk Cruize Glaze works the best for transportation and reliability. I have several of them and for a while it was hard to figure out which is which.
My quick solution was to use a Nite Ize Gear Tie Clippable Twist Tie Bright Orange. It easily clicks in the back of the Sandisk drive. Now I know what disk is what.
If you have a lot of designs made in Affinity Designer and Omnigraffle you'll want to make sure to save the fonts you used!
All of my photos are backed up to Google Photos. I have it sync set so that it uses the "High Quality (Free Unlimited)" option. Most of my photos are simply for sharing online. I really don't think that I will ever need print quality versions.
For the 1% of the photos that are phenomenal awesome, I back those up to my Flickr accout. They are backed up in the original quality, so that some day I can print those outs.
Make sure to implement some backup strategy and stick to it. A few dollars today can save a lot of trouble in the future.
|June 7, 2017|
EverNote is a great tool to organize everyday notes. You can put notes in Notebooks and tag them so you can easily find them later.
Did you know that EverNote Supports Emoji icons? It's a cool way to highlight notes or notebooks. Check out this example of the Done and Food Notebooks.
As you can see it's pretty easy to identify the use of those particular notebooks.
Emoji are a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.
You can use emoji within your documents. But did you know that you can use them in headers and in Notebook names?
This can make it easier for certain notes or notebooks to stand out. As in the above example, my 'Done' notebook is where I store completed Blog notes.
Androd Emoji and Apple Emoji are different, this is important to know if your using EverNote on different devices types.
Also keep in mind that Apple and Android don't have the same Emoji library. When Android encounter an Emoji that is not in their library, you'll get a box to indicate an incomplete emoji, If you keep a single OS platform, then this isn't a problem.
Using Emoji is a good way to make ordinary notes stand out. This is a great idea for those reference notes that you may need to use all the time.
Just remember to not throw an Emoji on synced Notebooks. (i.e. Notebooks that are being used by IFTTT, such as Twitter and IOS Photos.) If you add an Emoji, you're essentially changing the name and that may cause the sync to fail.
|June 2, 2017|
One of the cool features of LaunchBar is the ability to access previous clipboard objects. With a simple keyboard shortcut I can access previously copied contents.
This is very useful when I am copying and pasting text different text. For example, I may copy a Jira Issue number and will reference it in Slack, Email and in another ticket later.
Some of the options that you have with Clipboard History in LaunchBar.
The ClipMerge functionaltiy is pretty cool feature. ClipMerge allows you to combine subsequent Copy operations into one single clipboard object.
This is useful when you want to build a list of things; such as Jira Issues, or use it to create a list of websites people should visit.
There are a lot of other software options when it comes to Clipboard History, such as Clipboard Center, but LaunchBar is packed with a lot of other powerful features. You do get a lot of bang for your buck - or in this case $29.
Checkout my previous post about Launchbar. It's a very powerful tool, that keeps your fingers productive on the keyboard.
|May 26, 2017|
This week Belight Software announced an update to Swift Publisher. This is the first major update since September 2015.
Last year I wrote about the cool use of the Calendar feature in Swift Publisher 4. It’s still there, apparently, nothing changed with that functionality in this update.
I like the page spread functionality. I need to remember to enable it when I create my documents.
Deposit Photo is a good image library. Over 60 million high-quality royalty-free stock images and high-definition footage at the best prices to fill all your creative needs. Pretty sure you'll find the perfect image.
The new 2D and 3D text designs are very cool. However, I didn't see any way to change the colors of the text. I can see why it's worth getting Art Text 3. They should do a package deal for Art Text 3 and Swift Publisher
You can add rendered EPS files and documents can be exported as EPS.
With all the changes, the price is only $19.99. Certainly worth the investment of making great printed documents.
If your looking for a strong replacement for Apple Pages and don't need a heavy hitter like Indesign, Swift Publisher 5 is the way to go. I was a big fan of InDesign CS2, and think that this is a suitable replacement.
This would be perfect for anyone that needs to put together flyers for PTO Events and Fundraisers.
Visit Belightsoft.com and download a trial version.
|May 19, 2017|
Fluid is a cool application that turns any website into its own Mac Application.
You can make Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and other websites into an App that can be put in the Dock. Now you can quickly get to the sites instead of having to open up a browser and then clicking on a bookmark.
This is also handy if you play Farmville or other web-based games. Now your just a click away from playing your game.
Fluid user interface is pretty simple, just enter the URL and the application name. You then pick where to put the new App and if you have an icon you would like to use. If you don't have one, it will use the same icon that you see when you create bookmarks.
Each "application" uses Safari Webkit. So if your website is optimized for Firefox or Opera it may appear slightly different.
Here's an example user agent log entry. The initial requests show that it's from Fluid:
Fluid/206 CFNetwork/811.4.18 Darwin/16.5.0 (x86_64)
Any Clicks/Navigations shows that it's using Apple Web Kit:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_12_0) AppleWebKit/602.2.14 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/10.0.1 Safari/602.2.14
If you like Fluid functionality consider paying $4.99 to get some additional features.
This is a pretty cool utility. I could think of some websites that I would want to use this application - especially for testing. For example, I have an App that opens an internal server to check a critical path that customers may take.
At first it feels weird to look at some websites without the browser location bar. It's a pretty cool tool to use for some websites.
You can get the Fluid App from their website. You can use the basic features for free.
|May 12, 2017|
Daisy Disk gives you a visual breakdown of your disk space in form of an interactive map, reveal the biggest space wasters, and help you remove them with a simple drag and drop.
Discover what's hiding inside the "Other" storage category and clear it up.
Check out the difference between Apple's Storage chart and what Daisy Disk shows:
I found Daisy Disk to be very used to figure out which folders are taking up the most amount of space. Especially useful when looking at external Thumb drives.
You can mouse over various parts of the pie chart to see the largest files in that area.
Daisy Disk also makes it easy to remove files. simply drag and drop files and folder and click the Delete button. Just make sure that you have a backup before clicking on the Delete button!
If your looking to take control of your computer storage, I highly recommend getting DaisyDisk.
Daisy Disk is available in the App Store for $9.99 as one of the Essential Apps. There's only 2 Essential Apps in the Utilites category, the other Essential Utility App is Parcel - Delivery Tracking.
You can download a trial versions on the Daisy Disk Website. There are some limited features, and a registration reminder and delay whenever you start the application.
|May 5, 2017|
uBar is a system utility that puts more power in the default System Dock. Boost your productivity with the most advanced and versatile app and window manager for the Mac.
Yes you do have choices when it comes to the System Doc.
Some users have switched from Apple's Dock to uBar because they want more control of their taskbar. Some users find the Dock to be boring and want the ability to customize the dock.
While there are some visual similarities with Windows Start Menu, uBar offers a lot more functionality and power features. However, if you are migrating from a Microsoft system, you may find uBar to help navigate around the computer.
I actually had an old license copy of uBar from the MacHeist Bundle in 2015. I haven't used it much over the years and decided to check it out again.
It was fun playing around with the toolbar. It does change the look and feel of the computer. Before you would see a bunch of icons on the bottom of the screen, now you see a nice bar at the bottom. It does feel like a new computer system.
I don't think I'll keep using it on regular bases. Over the past year, I have learned to work with the dock hidden. While you can certainly keep the uBar hidden, I just don't think it's something worth upgrading to.
I have also gotten use to opening and navigating applications via LaunchBar.
Don't take my word for it, download the application and play with it yourself. Spend some time playing with the settings and setting favorites.
|April 28, 2017|
If you do any kind of application programming on Mac OS or iOS you need XCode. It's Apple powerful tool for developers.
Xcode includes the Xcode IDS, Swift and Object-C compliers, Instruments analysis tool, simulators, the latest SDKs, and lots of very powerful features that will help get you to build awesome award winning apps.
Swift is a powerful, modern, and fun programming language. From Apple:
Swift is the result of the latest research on programming languages, combined with decades of experience building Apple platforms. Named parameters brought forward from Objective-C are expressed in a clean syntax that makes APIs in Swift even easier to read and maintain. Inferred types make code cleaner and less prone to mistakes, while modules eliminate headers and provide namespaces. Memory is managed automatically, and you don't even need to type semi-colons. These forward-thinking concepts result in a language that is easy and fun to use.
If your looking for a great place to learn XCode programming, I highly recommend iOS 10 & Swift 3: From Beginner to Paid Professional over on udemy . In the class you'll learn all the fundamentals of making a cool application and submitting to Apple's app store. There are 264 lectures totaling 71+ hours of learning.
The class is normally $200 - Yikes! However, it's currently on sale for $10! That's an awesome deal. Cheaper than any Swift Book you'll find on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! You can run the training at your own pace!
Spend a few hours a night over a couple of weeks and you can easily get a return on your $10 investment - plus you'll have the opportunity to learn how to make cool apps.
This particular course has a "full lifetime access." This means you can start whenever you want. In addition, you can reference the material at a later date.
There are other classes on udemy, but this one constantly get's a really high rating from students who take the class.
Note: Let me know what you think of the class, or if there's one better. This isn't a paid affiliate link or reference. Just letting you know of a cool option to learn Xcode.
You can download Xcode from the App Store. Warning: It's a pretty big download - 4.51 GB. So make sure you have enough space and working on a fast internet. Some users have complained about getting the file.
|April 21, 2017|
Whenever I email a picture that I have on my desktop I like to resize it. There's no reason to email a 4,032 x 3,024 picture.
In the past, I would open up the photo in a photo utility, such as Picturesque, downsize the image and save it.
Way too time consuming.
LaunchBar has several resize options, 33%, 50%, 66%, 75%.
Simple steps to resize images in Launcher
Example, a typical iPhone picture is 4032 x 3024 (1.8 MB). Reduced to 33% will yield it to 1344 x 1008 (229 KB) which is reasonable enough to send in an email.
This is just a quick way to resize an image without having to open up an app.
|April 14, 2017|
Meet the world's first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. Luminar is the supercharged photo software that makes complex editing easy & enjoyable. And it is as responsive and beautiful as your Mac.
Luminar is a great application when you want to touch up photos. If you need to touch up and enhance photos, Luminar is certainly the app that will make it easy.
The nice thing about Luminar is that there are a lot of built-in Presets to make it easier to get the photo to look exactly the way that you want it to. Macphun says, "Luminar presets are your secret weapon to instantly fantastic photos. You can get a new look in a single click, or use presets as a starting point for your own creative explorations."
Luminar comes with Presets in six different categories: Basic, Outdoor, Street, Portrait, Travel and Dramatic. In each of the categories, you have a bunch of custom settings to enhance your photos. For example, the Basic set has 13 filters. Luminar website has a few more that your can download or purchase.
Presets Preview functionality is a nice feature that Luminar brings to the table. Before using any of the Presets, you get a "sneak" thumbnail peak of what the effect will have on the image that your working with.
Along with the Presets are various tools to help touch up the images. The Denoise Tool is a really cool way to clean up a photo that may have some noise. When you use this tool, you get a nice before/after slider so you can see what a difference the tool makes.
The Eraser tool seems to do a great job of removing some unwanted object in a couple of pictures that I tested. It works very similar to functionality found in Pixelmator and Affinity Photo.
Luminar has a Batch capability mode, which isn't available during the trial period. This would be perfect when you have a bunch of iPhone photos taken in the same situation, and putting together a collage. This is actually a pretty cool time-saving feature to have.
There is some missing functionality that's hard for me to justify buying Luminar. There is no Text or Shape tool and there are not a lot of options on brush sizes for masking.
In addition, I found it hard to apply specific effects that I may want. For example in my test, I wanted to apply a blur effect to a certain part of the image and I couldn't figure a way to do that.
I think Luminar would be great for someone that doesn't want to play around with post-production filter settings. If you just want to quickly touch up a photo to enhance it more, than Luminar might be the application you need.
You can download a trial from MacPhun's website, and if you like it, it's only $69 which includes a 1 month membership to KelbyOne. It's the best photography education platform. (Monthly membership to KelbyOne is $19.99)
|April 7, 2017|
If you do any website development, you should consider installing Firefox Developer Edition. It's a very powerful browser that is "Built for those who build the Web."
You may be used to other Developer tools in other browsers. However, FireFox Developer Edition is the only browser to help Developers and QA debug code better than anyone.
AppleScript was briefly removed from Firefox. You'll be happy to know that it's back! (Ok, It's been back for a while, I just noticed it now.)
Here's an example code to search Google using the contents of your clipboard:
I have this setup as one of my mouse buttons. You can assign AppleScripts to mouse buttons via USB Overdrive. I can now quickly search google with the #5 mouse button.
If you don't like AppleScript, you can always use BASH and perform the some actions. (I wasn't able to figure out the search query)
Opens a new website in Private Mode:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com
Opens a URL in a separate tab:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -new-tab http://www.cryan.com
Opens Firefox in safe mode, useful if you having problems with firefox. (Also useful to test a site with no plugins enabled)
This isn't limited to the Developer version of Firefox. If you are using the standard Firefox version, replace FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app with Firefox.app.
You can learn all about the various command line options on Mozilla's developers website.
|March 31, 2017|
Early this year I blog about how easy it is to setup a MacOs Folder icon maker using Affinity Designer.
I decided to check out Image2icon a bit more and find it to be a good piece of software and certainly worth investing.
Custom icons make it visual quicker to find things. You can quickly sort folders and attach an icon for a quick visual of what's in the folder.
I didn't do much research into icon making software, I found the app in the App store and thought it would be worth investigating.
It does take a bit to understand how to use the app. Once you get used to some keyboard commands, you can see that it works really well.
In no time at all you'll be replacing boring icons with nice color ones.
You can create twenty different icon types. There are popular types from folders to disk drives.
I mostly use the folder icons, but the disk drives come in handy when I want to customize USB flash drives.
In Image2icon, you can pick from 3 different folder types:
Once you have the design set, simply drag a folder on the Image2icon window and BAM the icon is applied to the folder.
This makes it really easy to apply an icon to any set of folders.
Export to 9 different Icons: Folder, ICNS, iOS, Android, Favicon, Iconset, Windows ICO, PNG, JPG
The tool to manipulate images is a bit weird. I have a hard time getting the image settings correct using the slider to fix the shrinkage or alignment.
There has to be a better way to adjust an image to make it look good.
This isn't a show stopper but if your trying out the app, you should get familiar with how that works.
Fenway Park opening day is next week. To celebrate the season, I put together six icons. Use these to highlight photos or trip notes on your next Boston trip.
|March 24, 2017|
I became interested in the Biff app when I saw it included in a couple of Macintosh Mega App deals. I wanted to find out more about the application.
Here's a description of what Biff is from their website:
Biff is a Vector Graphics application. It makes creating graphics for your Website, Poster, or anything else really easy. Biff helps you create Amazing Logos, App Icons (Biff comes with the Templates you need.) with simplicity, without sacrificing powerful features like full path editing and boolean operations.
The developers of Biff are huge Back to the Future fans and the App name is in reference to a character in the movie. There are several references to the movie throughout the App.
This is a good app to learn some of the fundamentals of Vector Graphics.
It lacks a lot of features that you can find in other vector base applications. While it talks about creating "Amazing Logos," other Applications give you a lot more power.
True EPS import - You can open up EPS files in biff, but you loose the vector aspects. Basically, you get a rendered EPS file. So if you purchase something online from DepositPhoto you can't modify vector components.
Limited Tools - When you click on the circle or rectangle shape it automatically creates one for you. You don't get to define the size of the shape on creations. The rectangle tool appears on the bottom right corner, and it took me a while to figure out that when I clicked on the rectangle icon a shape was appearing in my image. In addition, there is no pen tool, which is essential for any vector application. There is a free shape tool, which seems to only draw a line.
Training - There is some tutorials on the start up screen: Decorations, Intersecting Shapes, and Text with Image Fill. Other vector base apps have more detail information about the various tools.
WYSIWYG Font - There's no WYSIWYG font option, Biff just uses the system font picker when you need to change the font of a text.
There is a Library pallet with 18 Objects that you can use as a starting point. You can also build the library with your own Biff Objects. This is useful if you plan on reusing certain buttons or shapes.
There is a Style pallet with 14 styles to spice up any selected object. It's a good way to see the power of the application and makes it easy to see the object in different designs.
Lots of Shapes! Everything from standard circle and polygon to trees, people, and even an iPhone. A total of 53 shapes.
Skew Dialog box - In the transformation tool is the skew dialog box which gives you the ability to preview the skew shape that you wish to perform. This is better than most of the skew functionality that is in other apps, where you have to play around with the tool to figure it out how it works.
The Boolean Operations box in the Objects area is a neat way to learn the way multiple shapes transform when you use the different operations.
The Repeat/Title Tool is better than what's in Affinity Designer. You can set the repeat amount and offset and see your object get transformed.
Bug: When I clicked on the Repeat/Tile the print dialog appears. Very strange!
Hard to recommend Biff when there are a lot of other good options out there. I would certainly suggest looking into Affinity Designer, ArtBoard, and Autodesk Paint as good alternative applications. In the long run, you'll learn some core fundamentals of vector programming.
I highly encourage you to download the Biff app from their site and use the 30-day trial.
Cross Application Note: When I copied an object from Biff and pasted it into Affinity Designer the object shows up as image and not as a shape or curve.
|March 17, 2017|
A few years ago, the folks at Xicons.com created some really cool icons. They ran frequent contests for people to submit their icons and people would vote for their favorite.
The site isn't the same anymore, it's now part of InterfaceLift and it appears that the main focus of their business is with Desktop Wallpapers. They still have an active icon area, but it doesn't seem to be as vibrant as it once was.
Back in 2002/2003, I grab a bunch of their icons. Seems appropriate to share some of the Irish theme ones.
In this collection by Dustin J. Craig contain these icons inspired by Lucky Charms:
Clovers, Diamonds, Hearts, Horse Shoes, Lucky Charms, Lucky You., Moons, Neon Clover, Pot of Gold, Rainbows, Red Balloons, Stars
These icons by ceruleanjen contain all the marshmallow shapes in the Lucky Charms cereal:
Clover, Heart, Moon, Shamrock, Spade, Star
As noted in the Read Me file: A few icons to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and make your Mac feel a bit Irish.
This icon collection contains 194 national flags and 7 Organizations, including Ireland.
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Congo (Zaire), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethipoia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belorussia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City
Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
European Union, IOC, NATO, Red Crescent, Red Crescent & Red Cross, Red Cross, United Nations
|March 10, 2017|
Every day I send out a collage of photos to family and friends featuring my daughter. I have been doing this for six years now. When I put together the collage, it needs to be quick and simple.
TurboCollage makes photo collages, mosaics, photo piles, grids, greeting cards, mood boards, polaroid collages, contact sheets, and more! Their website says that they have more than 55,000 active customers.
TurboCollage doesn't have any photo touch-up capabilities. You will need to touch up photos before using TurboCollage. This is fine for me because I have several applications that do an excellent job with fixing up photos.
There are seven built in Collage styles:
TurboCollage comes with templates broken into eight different categories. The templates are just a simple starting point to learn the capabilities of TurboCollage.
Basic Patterns, Picture Piles, Picture Grids, Mosaics, Center Picture, Zig Mosaics, Photohives, Instagram, Facebook Cover, Twitter Header Photo, Greeting Cards, Postcard.
Both Applications do a great job making collages. I feel that for smaller collage, TurboCollage is the way to go. It’s very easy to put together a collage when you have only a few pictures to deal with.
For years PictMonkey was my go to application for creating collages. Recently I encountered issues with my collage looking slightly out of focus. My workaround was decent but it was time to look at other solutions.
I really like how I could auto adjust pictures in PictMonkey, simplify right click and boom I can edit the picture and see the final results in the collage.
I like how quickly I can generate a really good looking collage. I don't have to mess around with different settings or styles. I just add my photos, set the layout, make some visual adjustments and then export the image. It's fast, easy and I get a really nice clean picture.
TurboCollage 6 was last updated on September 28, 2015. It's available in the Apple App store or on their website.