Macintosh Blog Posts
|May 20, 2016|
Easy way to Lock your Mac
In Windows, it's really easy to lock up your computer, simply type in CTR-ALT-DEL and then lock up the computer.
In Mac OS X, you can actually lock up the computer even quicker! With no keys to remember! Simply by using Hot Corners. Just change one of the corners to "Put Display to Sleep" and update your Security & Privacy configurations so it happens immediately.
Make the Computer Lock Immediately
- Under the Apple Menu, select "System Preferences..."
- Then Click on Security & Privacy
- Change the 'Require password after sleep or screen saver begins" to Immediately
Now to configure one of the screen corners, so that when you move the mouse to the corner the screen will lock.
- In the System Preferences search box, type in 'Hot Corner'
- Select "Desktop & Screen Saver"
- Then select "Hot Corners..." on the bottom right
- Pick a corner where you want to put the display to sleep and pull down the menu and select that option.
- Click 'Ok' when your done.
Now when you move the mouse over to that corner the screen saver will begin and you will need to unlock the computer to use it.
If you want to stick with the keyboard shortcut, simply remember to type in Control + Shift + Power. This will lock your screen but not sleep your computer, so background process will still run.
If you need to sleep your entire computer, simply type in Command + Option + Power. If you have a MacBook, you can simply close the computer's lid. Your computer will go to sleep immediately stopping all background processes.
|May 6, 2016|
EverNote's Skitch Tips and Tricks
EverNote Skitch is a great Macintosh program to add annotation to images. It makes great screenshots and the backup sync to EverNote makes it an essential tool for anyone doing software QA.
Here are some tips and tricks that I have learned using Skitch:
Creating Blank Images
You can easily create a blank image in Skitch. This is useful if you want to create an image from a quote. In the top of the Skitch window, pull down the menu and select ‘Blank.’ A new Blank image will be created. The image size will be about 80% of the current window size. You can always crop the image when you are done.
Unfortunately the blank image does function as a canvas tool, where you can combine mulitple screenshots. Pixelmator, Artboard, and OmniGraffle are some of the applications where that is possible.
Blank canvas is great when you need to create a quick image to get the message across.
Changing the Image Type
You can easily convert the image from PNG to JPG and vice versa using the image type selector on the bottom left of the dialog window.
Skitch PNG and Skitch JPG are re-editable files. While in other applications, such as email and chat, they are are regular images. However when the file back in Skitch, and you can make edit to the annotations.
There is a significant file size difference when saving a file in Skitch PNG, as it pretty much doubles the file size than using the standard PNG type. Just something to keep in mind when attaching the file to Jira or emailing.
For most situations, the JPG file format is the best choice. I can't think of a reason why anyone would want to save a file in a legacy BMP format.
Different Menus Options
The Menu Bar and the Dock have different options when you select them. The top Menu Bar is missing Window Snapshot, Menu Snapshot, and Camera Snapshot. The Dock menu is missing the Timed Crosshair Snapshot. I am not exactly sure of the logic of why certain capture tools were excluded from each area.
All the capture tools have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. I would recommend spending time getting familiar with a few of them. Knowing the "Previous Snapshot" capture shortcut is handy when your doing a before and after.
Some of the keyboard combinations are a bit weird, it will take time to get use to it.
Change Text Annotation Size
The text tool is a great way to communicate a message in an image. Did you know there is a simple way to change the size of the Text Annotation in Skitch?
When you have the text selected, simply click on the blue circle and drag to adjust the text size of the text:
Clicking on the lowercase 'a' above the text field will toggle the text outline. This is useful when you insert text in box as in the following example:
Removing the text outline makes the text in the box a bit easier to read.
I certainly recommend using Skitch. You can download it from the Apple Store for free.
|May 6, 2016|
Apple's App Store Search
Did you know that you can search the Apple App Store by extensions?
Want to know what applications support EPS format? Simply type in 'extension:eps' in the search bar in the upper right window:
The search query returns a list of all the supported applications!
I don't know of other Apple Store hacks, but I thought the extension: one was pretty neat!
|April 29, 2016|
Yandex is one of the largest internet companies in Europe, operating Russia's most popular search engine and its most visited website. According to LiveInternet, for the three months ended December 31, 2015, we generated 57.3% of all search traffic in Russia. We also operate in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Turkey.
Yandex.Disk is a free service that lets you store your photos, videos and documents online and access them from around the world on any device. Disk lets you keep your important files secure and effortlessly share them with your friends and colleagues.
Yandex.Disk is a good secondary backup option to DropBox. If you're dealing with a lot of very important files, it's a good idea to have another provider. Just in case something goes wrong with backing up your primary files.
You get 10 GB to start and can upgrade to three different package options:
Yandex Pricing is very similar to Dropbox and other cloud services. What makes Yandex unique is that it's a European based company and there's a cool screenshot tool.
The Yandex OS X application has a menu command that lets you take screenshots. Immediately after you take the screenshots an Edit dialog appears where you can add Arrow, Text, Shapes, Marker, Blur and Crop functionality. All screenshots are saved to the Yandex Disk.
The screenshot does lack some of the functionality in Skitch and Monosnap. For example, the text tool doesn't have a color border around the text. The color border helps make the text stand out in graphic files.
Yandex.Disk seems like a good option if you're looking for another backup strategy. The screenshot tools seem like a good bonus. You could always use Skitch to take screenshots at work, and then use Yandex for screenshots for personal use. Or you can use Yandex for screenshots archives of the website or projects.
I think it's worth giving Yandex.Disk a shot. You get 10 GB to start to see if it's something that you might use.
|April 22, 2016|
Serif vs Sans Serif
Today's blog posting is to help people select the best font type for the purpose. Do you know the difference between Serif and Sans Serif? I'll show you a cool trick to make it easier to pick the right font when you need it.
First let's go over the difference between the two major font types.
Serif fonts are widely used for body text because they are considered easier to read. Some common font families include Cochin, Palatino, Times and Times New Roman.
A Serif font has a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol.
Sans Serif Fonts
Sans-serif fonts are often used for headlines rather than for body text. Some well-known font families include Arial, Futura, Geneva, Lucida Grande, Monaco, Helvetica, and Verdana.
A Sans-serif font is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes.
Visual Reference (Cheat Sheet)
Here's a clear visual difference between a Times New Roman and Geneva Fonts in 24 points:
On the Macintosh computer all the fonts are stored in a central location and control by the Font Book app.
Did you know that you can create a Smart Collection of font classification? This would make life a lot easier when your looking for that perfect headline font.
- Simple steps to create a Sans Serif Font
- Type in Command - . and search for: Font Book
- Under the File menu, select 'New Smart Collection' or 'Headline'
- Under Collection Name, put in 'Sans-serif'
- Change the 'Family Name' to 'Design Style' and select 'San-Serif'
- Click 'Ok'
You should see the new Collection under the 'Smart Collection' group. When you select it you will only see the San-Serif font families. (You could make a Smart Collect for Serif)
Now when your looking for a Headline font, you know which fonts are the best. By using 'Headline' as the Collection name, you don't have to remember which design style works best for headlines or body.
The good thing about using the Smart Collection is that I don't have to manage the folder. Fonts are automatically selected, even new ones that get added to the Font Book.
You can do some pretty cool things with fonts:
This is a Skyline Font.
|April 15, 2016|
Mission ControlMission Control
Apple created Mission Control in OS X to give users a bird's-eye view of all your open windows, desktop spaces, full-screen apps, and Split View spaces, making it easy to switch between them. Mission Control was first introduced in 2003 as a new feature in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.
The ultimate goal of using Mission Control is to declutter your main desktop from other Application that your not using now. You could set up a desktop for Mail, and another desktop for Graphics. If you need to do something else, you just switch to a different desktop space. Apple makes this easy with the Magic Mouse and swiping up using three or four fingers, pressing the Mission Control key, or pressing Control-Up Arrow.
Why Would Anyone Use Mission Control?
Mission Control is great when you work in different server environments. You could setup Desktops for Production, Staging, and Development. Which unique desktop backgrounds so that you know which environment that your using. This isn't something that you would do every day, but on deployment days or when you're up late doing testing it can be handy. Also, I find that using multiple Desktop functionality works best when your dealing with a bunch of applications over a few hours.
It will take some time to get used to using multiple desktops, especially if you already have a couple of monitors set up. Try using it for a while, see if it helps you stay more focus at hand.
Some tips and tricks on using Mission Control
Here are some of the things that I have learned using Mission Control:
- To open the Mission Control System Preferences, type Option-F3.
- If you're not using the Dashboard, your should turn it off in the Mission Control Preferences. Dashboard widgets take up memory space, there's no reason to waste any memory.
- If you have a Logitech MX MX518 USB Optical Mouse, you can assign some task to the buttons. For example, you could open Mission Control with the button closest to the thumb. This will make launching Mission Control faster than swiping up using three or four fingers on the Magic Mouse.
- To move any window to a different desktop, simply click on the top window, hold and drag to the top of the screen. (I found that I had to 'bounce' to the top of the screen to enable the Mission Control.) Then move the window to any other screen.
- To create a new Desktop in Misson Control, simply click on the '+' on the top left. Apple did put in a 16 Desktop limit, but I don't think you would need more than 5.
- To remove a Desktop, in Mission Control, hold down the Option key, then click next to space in the Spaces Bar. Any windows in that space will get promoted to another open space. (So you're effectively closing out space, not the application.)
So if you're using Chrome, Firefox, Pixelmator, Evernote, iTerm, pgAdmin and other applications right now, you should think about how Mission Control could help make you more productive.
|April 8, 2016|
Gold Digger Game
Once upon a time Gold Digger was my addictive Macintosh application. I remember coming home from work and spending a couple of hours playing the game, trying to beat my high score. I didn't play it all the time, but it was a lot of fun when I had time to kill.
Oh this was back in the late 1990s. Is it possible to play the game again?
I recently found one of the binary files and decided to see if I remembered how to play the game on my Powerbook G3. I knew that it wouldn't work on my iMac since it needed OS 9 for it to work. Here is the spec from the documentation:
The game runs on any Macintosh or Power Macintosh running System 6.0.3 or later, and with at least 2.5MB RAM available for color or 1.5MB RAM available for black & white. For best performance, a 68030 CPU or newer is recommended. For the best-looking graphics at least 256 colors and a screen 600 X 380 or larger is recommended.
To get this working, I had to adjust my laptop display to use 256 colors instead of the Millions that it was set to. That takes me back to the early days of Macintosh software where I had to adjust the display just to get it working.
Once I did that everything pretty much worked from there. I was surprised that all my high scores were still there.
I did encounter an issue playing the game, looks like that I needed to use an extended keyboard because I wasn't able to move my character. None of the keys would work. When I checked the configurations it looks like that it's looking for Keypad inputs.
The only way I was able to get this game in my G3 was from a CD that I burned a few years ago. I tried FTPing the file and it wasn't working,the files weren't being copied as Binary files. I tried to stuff it and that didn't work also.
|April 1, 2016|
Apple's Panic Screen
This past week, I turned on my PowerMac G3 and encountered the ultimate "Uh Oh" - I saw Apple's panic screen:
I restarted the computer a couple of times and kept getting the same panic screen. This is telling me that something is wrong with the hardware. (I'll need to reset the pram and that should get the computer up and running.
However, this got me thinking: I haven't used this computer in a long time, did I really back everything up? What about all those photos, audios? What is on this old computer? I am sure that I backed up the files, but where are they in my vast DVD collection? It's time to consider my backup strategy on some of my legacy computers and hard drives that I have around.
One thing that I will do, is to get a sheet of paper and an envelope and tape both of them to the computer. I'll write down what files are currently on the computer and in details. No more general labels like: "Photos from 2003." Instead, I'll write something like Fenway Park photos and photos from June 1st - August 4th, 2003. This will help me in the future to find critical photos that I might be looking for.
In the envelope, I have a 64 GB Sandisk Ultra Fit Flash Drive and all the critical files that are on the computer. No more spreading files over multiple DVDs. The flash drive goes for about $16 on Amazon and it has a lot of great reviews! 64GB may not seem like a lot but that's going to save me from search through 15 DVDs. Again, I am only concern about the top critical files that are worth saving on the Flash Drive.
Now I am cooking with gas!
By doing this, I'll have all the files in one place and it will be much easier to find the files I may need in the future. I think the best envelope to use is in this case is the Tyvek envelope. For additional protection, I could put the flash drive in a sandwich bag, that would help keep out any humidity from being in the basement.
|March 25, 2016|
Encoding old Video Files
Do you have some old Videos that are using old Codec, say SorensonVideo3, that makes it hard to watch the videos. When you click on a video you have to go through a "conversion" process before you can watch your video. The video gets transcribe to the H.264 format so that you can watch it.
You have a couple of options to fix this problem:
Short Term: Enabling Legacy Codecs in QuickTime Player
You can enable SorensonVideo3 by using a Terminal command
- Open a Terminal window Applications > Utilities > Terminal
qtdefaults write LegacyVideoCodecs SorensonVideo3 enabled
- Press enter and you will get a message stating "SorensonVideo3 has been enabled"
- Note: You must type this for each codec you want enabled, perhaps this would be a good time to add SorensonVideo.
qtdefaults write LegacyVideoCodecs SorensonVideo enabled
- Press enter and you will get a message stating "SorensonVideo has been enabled"
- You can get a list of current legacy codecs by typing:
qtdefaults read InstalledLegacyVideoCodecsand press Enter
Long Term: Converting the Videos to the H.264 codec standard
Nobody knows how long Apple will keep including the SorensonVideo3 or SorensonVideo format as part of the Quicktime installation? Why not convert your old videos to the H.264 standard, which appears to be staying around for a while. Fortunately, it's very easy to convert multiple videos, and the best part - it's free!
There is an Apple Service called "Encode Selected Files" that will convert the video in a background job.
Here's are the steps:
- Identify what files that you need to convert.
- Select the files and then right-click and select the Services menu
- Select the 'Encode Selected Video Files'
- Under the Setting category use the 1080p option (Use the other options if you only want the videos to work on older iPods.)
- Click Continue
- The converting is now being doing in the background, and new files will be created in the same directory as the original files.
- That's it! Select as many files as you want and sit back and enjoy!
In the Finder menu bar, you'll see a spinning wheel showing you that the background process is running. Your computer might be slow during this time.
Note: This will only convert eligible video files. .WAV files will not work and will actually fail the batch job forcing you to restart the Encoding process. If you are having problems with this, check your video files and try a smaller sub-set. Any bad video file will stop the 'Encode Selected Video Files' from running.
After all these years, I can't believe that I never saw this Service. I supposed that this means I should pay more attention to the features in the Services menu.
|March 18, 2016|
Moving Files from OS 9 to OS X
I have an old Macintosh PowerBook G3, and I was trying to figure out how to move some old files to my 2011 iMac. Unfortunately, a USB flash drive isn't an option because the PowerBook G3 doesn't have a USB port.
I can’t use a USB stick since the Powerbook G3 was before the USB technology. To get it working I enabled FTP on my iMac, and then used Anarchie (version 3.1!) on my Powerbook G3. I simply logged into the iMac via FTP.
This worked perfectly fine! I don't really need to work on applications as the newer computers can't run them anymore. If I did need to move things, I could always use Stuffit.
How to get this working
Start the FTP Server in OS X
This will start a generic FTP and FTPS server on the Mac, but not an SFTP server.
Launch the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities) and enter the following command to start the FTP server:
sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
Confirm the FTP server works by typing:
If you see the familiar FTP login: $ ftp localhost Trying ::1… Connected to localhost. 220 ::1 FTP server (tnftpd 20100324+GSSAPI) ready. Name (localhost:Vladislav):
That is how you know the server is running. If you don’t see that, then the server either hasn’t finished starting yet or you didn’t enter the command properly.
You can find your IP address of your iMac by typing the following in the command line:
ifconfig en0|grep 'inet '|cut -d ' ' -f 2
Tip: Check out my TextExpander snippet on getting your IP address.
Getting the files over
Connect your PowerBook to the same network as your iMac and load up your FTP program. I just plugged my Powerbook to the network using an Ethernet Cable. ( I didn't want to have to run into any wireless configuration issues.)
I opened up Netscape, to make sure that I was successfully connected to the Internet, and checked out cnn.com's website. (It's neat to see what websites look like using an old browser. Plus it shows up in their server logs that someone visited their site using Netscape.)
I then open up Anarchie and then created a new FTP connection to my iMac using the IP address that I found earlier.
In the username/password field I entered the username and password of a user on the iMac.
Once connected, I then moved to the Users folder, then my name, then Desktop. Then start copying files to that location. I select my desktop so I can see the files are being copied. I can do a double check to make sure they are alright. After everything is finished, I just copy all the files to a folder and file it away.
Once your done, make sure to run the following command on the iMac to stop the FTP service. You don't want to accidentally have a port open which hackers could use to exploit your computer. Simply run this command:
sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
That's it! That's how easy it is to move files from an old computer to a new one. It's a good idea to backup some of your data on a secondary source because you never know, one day that computer may not boot up.
Did you know that Western Digital Password drives have FTP access? You can also set up FTP access to a Western Digital 'My Passport.' This will give you the option to upload the files to a remote drive and you don't have to configure your main computer.
|March 11, 2016|
MacHack was an event that challenge developers to come up with some cool application in a 48 hour period. The events were held in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1986 through 2003.
In 1996, a song, titled "Macintoshman" was created to play during a video montage of the previous year. The video was distributed via various Macintosh CD collections.
Here's a brief transcript of the song:
First time I saw it, I said come here quick. No DOS commands, I just point and click It got some icons and doddle and things Then I said the faithful words…How do I program this thing? Now I am a Macintosh man... Now I am a Macintosh man
This is a 30 second clip of the song:
|March 4, 2016|
In the early 1990's there were three ways to get shareware software; Bulletin Board Services, Computer Societies such as Boston Computer Society and catalog companies such as Educorp. Catalog companies were a popular choice because people didn't have to use dial up to download software.
One of the most popular companies was EDUCORP. Every year they would mail a catalog of the currently available disk packages. I still have the 9th Edition, which is 347 pages longs and distributed in early 1990. This is the "About Us" information that they have in their catalog:
Who we are and What we do
We are EDUCORP, a division of Gazelle Technologies, Inc. Our goal is to provide high-quality public domain and Shareware software at almost-free prices. We also sell CD-ROM drives, our entire library of software on our highly-rated EDUCORP CD-ROM, as well as many other CD_ROM titles. We have very low prices on blank SONY disks, computer accessories, and commercial software. This catalog describes and illustrates over 550 disks packed with over 9,500 programs at very low prices. Our prices start at $6.99 and go down the more you buy, as low as $2.49.
Here's a sample of one of their packages from the 9th Edition: 2110 - Utilities, Volume 6 - which featured AutoBlack, CLIM, CursorWrap, DTStartup, FaceLift, Forked Tongue, Gone Fishing, Hyper, Immortality, Initializer, JClock, Layout, MacProtect, MacSnoop Demo, MacWait, Nest, Preview, ReMountHD20, ResPreloader, ReverseScreen, RAMTest, SkipStartup, StartMac, SysAlerts, TEXT Ranger, UDS/M, Verify.
This is a screenshot of part of page 41 in the catalog, click on the image to see the full page view, I highlighted some of the application names because I was interested in that software:
One of the downsides of ordering from EDUCORP was that you didn't always know what you were getting and had to rely on the brief description to convince you that it was a disk worth ordering. They did a good job with combining common shareware packages.
I can't find any information on when EDUCORP closed it doors, but I am sure it was the results of how easy it was to get shareware from AOL and other online providers. Today it's a lot easier to get Macintosh shareware software via the MacUpdate, Tucows.com, macshareware.com, Pure Mac and many more.
|February 26, 2016|
How to Scan to Evernote on a Mac
If you do a search around the internet for instructions on scanning documents directly to Evernote on a Macintosh, you'll find that many are out of date. You may think it's no longer possible. Well it still is...and it's very easy to set up.
Here's my simple instructions on how to capture scan images and put them directly into Evernote using Image Capture version 6.7 (OS X El Capitan)
- Open Image Capture
- Click on the "Show Details" button on the bottom right window
- On the pull down menu next to the "Scan To: text, Select "Other..."
- Select the 'Applications' Folder and then find 'Evernote'
- Click 'Open'
- You'll see the EverNote now appears in the pull down menu
Scan file items will appear as individual notes in Evernote. Immediately after the scan, you will have an opportunity to make some notes. This is a good time to comment on why you scan the item.
Evernote recommends to use Color as the "Kind:" and to scan at 72 dpi resolution. (See the example screenshot)
If you have Evernote Premium, the text in the scan items will be searchable. This includes photos. This means if you have a photo with an inspirational quote, you can search for it.
Note: This is backward compatible, which means that if you upgrade to Premium today, anything that you already have in Evernote account will be searchable. Make sure to give Evernote some time to scan and index all your document and photos after you upgrade.
|February 19, 2016|
There is a weird display when viewing screen captures in older versions of OS X. For some odd reason, some of the images have alignment issues. Here are a couple of examples with the fix. (More on that later)
The image on the right is what it looks like when I open the original file, the image on the left is the fixed up version.
All is Not Lost
The good news is that data isn't lost and you can easily see the screen shot as it was taken, with a little bit of work.
The solution to viewing this file correctly is to open up the file in Mac OX 10.3 "Panther" or earlier. Yes you will need your old computer, you saved it right?
Once you have the file open in Preview, save the file as a JPG or PNG file format. Once the file is in a standard format it can be correctly viewed in non-legacy system.
Any filename that starts with "Pictures" followed by a number and dated earlier than 2000 will most likely encounter this problem.
If you're a long-time Macintosh user, with lots of old Picture files, you can do a file search for images that are using the PICT format in the Finder.
Why is this happening?
It turns out that Apple's original screen capture tool was using Apple QuickDraw.
Wikipedia says, "With the change to OS X and discontinuation of QuickDraw, PICT was dropped in favor of Portable Document Format (PDF) as the native metafile format, though PICT support is retained by many applications as it was so widely supported on Classic Mac OS."
In other words, it is because the screen capture was done with an old version of QuickDraw. Apple no longer supported QuickDraw after 10.3. This was an indirect result of Apple eliminating support for the "Classic environment" with 10.4 Tiger.
Did you know that QuickDraw was part of the core graphic concept of the original Macintosh Plus.
|February 12, 2016|
GIF Annimation Resize
Last week I was trying to figure out a way to reduce the size of some animated GIFs that were generated from Google Photos. I wanted to put together a collection of them on my website.
I thought I would share how easily this can be done in Apple's Preview application. Don't use Preview that much? I did hear someone say that Apple Preview is a very powerful app and they were going to write a book about it. I believe they didn't for some other productivity book.
This is useful if you have a GIF that is 850x638 and wants to make it 425x319. This won't do any advanced compression, it will simply resize the image while maintaining the quality.
- Make a duplicate of the image if you want to keep the original size.
- Double click on the GIF to open the image in Preview,.
- You should see a drawer with the thumbnails on the left.
- Select all the images by doing a Command-A
- Under the Tools menu, select 'Adjust Size...'
- Make a change to the size, make sure that Scale proportionally is selected.
- Save the image. (Technical you don't have to do, since Apple will save it when you quit the application)
Check out the Animation page of a few animated GIFs that I put together of the MBTA commuter rail. Some of them at the Framingham Station and a couple on the train itself.