|January 13, 2017|
ImageSnap is a Public Domain command-line tool that lets you capture still images from an iSight or other video source. You can use scripting tools to automate when to take pictures.
Someone wrote a BASH scripts to take a picture of someone that has stolen their laptop computer. Pretty cool way to use the tool.
This is an example BASH script I wrote to send a picture of me when I log into the computer every morning:
By default the picture will use the laptop camera, so if I hook up an external display with a camera it won't use that. I added the 2 seconds warm up because without the warm up the picture appears to be dark.
I have an action in Keyboard Maestro to enable the script to run within a minute after I log into the computer.
31 17 * * * user /path/to/file.sh
I can see if I am in the same mood in the morning as in the evening.
Here's a quick guide to what each item on cron line means:
|January 6, 2017|
This week my iMac internal hard drive crashed.
I believe that this happens because my computer was doing some read/write activity and the power went out. As a result, I couldn't boot up my internal hard drive.
When I first attempted to boot the computer the startup process appeared to be normal but then would just shut down right when the startup progress bar was about 2/3 completed.
Lucky for me that I got a couple of flash drives for Christmas. I took one of them and installed the latest Mac OS on it.
The key thing to remember about creating a bootable drive its that it has to be formatted correctly:
I was able to boot up the computer using the flash drive by using the keyboard shortcut 'C' when the computer booted up.
I wasn't getting this to work with my Bluetooth keyboard and had to connect a USB keyboard to get it to work.
After the computer booted up, I saw the following message on my screen:
"You can still open or copy files on the disk, but you can't save changes to files on the disk. Back up the disk and reformat it as soon as you can."
Lucky for me that the drive is accessible and that I have an opportunity to recover my files.
If your manually backing up a computer, you should back up the following Directories:
Apple has a Disk First Aid which tries to fix hardware issues. I ran the program several times to see if it would fix it. However, it keeps failing
This isn't my first computer crash, but it's been a long time since I have had to deal with one.
A quick chart that I put together showing how fast the four most common ways to transfer data off of an iMac.
|December 30, 2016|
If you migrating from Pixelmator to Affinity Photo, you might be confused by a common tool: The Repair tool.
Pixelmator describes the Repair tool as:
Use the Repair Tool to correct imperfections, causing them to disappear into the surrounding image. The Repair Tool also matches the texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sampled pixels to the pixels being repaired. As a result, the repaired pixels blend seamlessly into the rest of the image.
The tool that produces the same effect in Affinity Photo is the InPainting Brush Tool. Some users may get confused because the Affinity Photo used the same bandaid icon for the Healing Brush Tool.
Affinity Photo describes the Inpainting Brush Tool:
The Inpainting Brush Tool restores damaged, lost, deteriorated or unwanted areas of an image.
To access the InPainting Brush Tool in Affinity you can select it from the toolbar or simply by typing the keyboard shortcut:
When using the tool, it's best to use a smaller brush size, and to zoom into the area. If you use a large brush, you might encounter some unwanted objects replacing the area that you are trying to clean up.
I tested both the Repair Tool in Pixelmator and the InPainting Brush Tool in Affinity Photo and they both produce the same output. I think the InPainting did a better job keeping the wood colors to match in my example.
In this example, I am removing the white words from the sign.
Using the InPainting Brush Tool in Affinity Photo
Using the Repair Tool in Pixelmator
|December 23, 2016|
Early this year, I reviewed several screen captue tool; Capo and TechSmith Snagit.
Recently I became aware of Snappy Screen Capture Tool by Nextwave SRL. The tool takes snapshots that always stays on top, has some annotation tools. The screenshots can be shared using various built-in tools - including the option to share a link with a password and set a destruct timer.
You can install the application from the Mac App store for free.
Once installed, simply type Shift+Command+2 to take screenshots. The initial capture works the same way that the built-in screen capture does, select the area that you want to capture. You can also press the SPACE BAR to capture the current window.
After you Capture the image, the image stays on your screen. If you right click on the captured screen you have several options to modify the screen capture: Brush, Text, Cursor, Eraser, Quick Draw.
The Snaps library is a great place to find all the previous snaps. You'll find images are sorted by:
In addition, you can search the entire library by the capture title.
Snappy is a good general replacement tool for the built-in screen capture in Mac OS X. You have a lot more powers to what to do with a screen capture immediately after you take it. You don't need to open up any third party application to make modifications to your image.
There are some functions that are missing that are available in other screen capture tools:
If you're looking for a simple replacement tool for Apple's Screen Capture than Snappy would be it. However, if screen capture is an essential tool to doing your job, then I would highly recommend using TechSmith Snagit.
|December 16, 2016|
Here's a list of all the default Keyboard Shortcuts that are in the LaunchBar application:
Typing these shortcuts will update the particular Index category.
I am working on a cool keyboard graphic. Will be up soon!
|December 9, 2016|
One of the nice things about the Macintosh applications is that developers will assign keyboard shortcuts to common applications. After performing certain actions, you begin to learn that using the short cuts is a quick way to get things done.
After a while you begin to learn some of the fundamental shortcuts that are in most applications:
|⌘||w||Close Application Window|
Apple has a macOS Human Interface Guideline that has specific recommended keyboard shortcuts that developers should use.
Learning application specific shortcuts can be tricky. One way is to pull down every menu and see what shortcuts are available. Some applications do list the menu and command shortcuts in their help section.
A really cool way is to use Cheat Sheet by Media Atelier. Here's how they describe how CheatSheet works:
Once installed, go into any application and hold the ⌘ key for a couple of seconds and a Window will pop up to show all the Menu shortcuts that are available:
CheatCheat view of BBEdit Shortcuts.
Once you let go of the ⌘ key the window goes away.
Note that this only shows Menu based tips. Some applications will have hotkeys, for example, Pixelmator has hotkeys to select various tools in the toolbar. For those you'll have to access the application specific help pages.
Did you know that you could print out the tips?
On the bottom of the CheatSheet window is a Cog icon, click on it and you'll see a Print option. You can print out a copy, or create a PDF cheatsheet.
There are tons of cool keyboard shortcut guides, these are very useful to print out and keep by your computer. Spending a few minutes learning the various keys can save you lots of time when your working on a project.
Here are some very cool Shortcut Guides that I have found.
|December 2, 2016|
One of the things that you can't easily do in Affinity Designer is to add an image as a background pattern. Especially if you have a small seamless image (96 x 96) and you want to make a repeating pattern.
Lucky for me, I have OmniGraffle Professional 5.4.4. It turns out that complements very well with Affinity Designer. Using OmniGraffle I am able to create a Shape Tool and add a background image and title it. I can even scale the background repeating image so that it looks the way that I want.
First I created a shape, for that I used 568px x 266px Rectangle. I then open up the Inspector and select the Image Style. I then drag/drop an image into the placeholder. Then I select the title icon to the left of the image upload. Then I play around with the scale and opacity slider to make it look good.
Once I am satisfied that the pattern looks the way I want, I then select the shape and Copy it.
OmniGraffle has some great shape configurations.
I then switch over to Affinity Designer and Paste the shape. The Shape appears on its own layer as a vector curve object. Now I can do lots of cool things with that object.
The first thing I decided to do was create a bunch of background styles, so that I would have a library to choose from whenever I needed it. I thought it would be cool to have a category of seamless background images.
Using a small selection of background images that I had from Open Door, I was able to generate 13 background styles. Now I have a nice selection of styles to use whenever I want.
I don't know that this is the best way to create background images, but it suits my needs and it was very easy to implement.
If you have Affinity Designer, you can add these to your collection. Note: these images are low quality and may not look good in print.
To install this:
|November 25, 2016|
Back in the 1990s there was a System Extension called "The Grouch." The extension would run an annimated Oscar the Grouch and sound byte whenever the system trash would be empty.
This became a cool novelty that kids would put stuff in the trash just to see the animation and sound. This is from the version 2.0 Read Me file:
The Extension version of "The Grouch" plays an animation every time "Empty Trash" is selected from the Finder's "Special" menu. This version must be placed into your System Folder (or Extensions folder under System 7) and you must "Restart" your system for it to work.
The Application version was created after several parents informed me that their children liked "The Grouch" so much they threw out all of the files on their hard disks. This version is child-proof as far as I can tell since it is completely self- contained. It does not modify the Finder and draws the animation in a window instead of on the desktop. It does not require the Extension to be present.
Sadly the developer, Eric Shapiro never ported over to Mac OS X.
Here's a copy of the sound that people would hear when the animation was run. This is a combination of the two sound bites:
|November 18, 2016|
HyperCard was an application program for Apple Macintosh and was an influence for the first web browser. It allowed developers to create stacks of information and link the stacks together. Developers would program stacks using HyperTalk, an object-oriented scripting language.
From the Introduction Stack on HyperCard Help screen:
HyperCard is a Macintosh Software environment that allows you to create your own way of doing things on your computer.
If you're new to HyperCard, you should go through the HyperCard Tour Stack to find out how HyperCard works. You can also use the book "Getting Started with HyperCard" for some beginning practice.
If you're interested in HyperTalk, the language you use to write scripts, choose HyperTalk Reference from the Help Menu.
Hypercard was distributed free with any new Macintosh purchase.
HyperTalk was popular among Macintosh users as consumers could easily create their own stacks for their computer needs. Some examples of HyperCard
Bit of Apple humor in the "HyperCard And You" Technical Note that some developers might have missed:
The 15 Billion Horsemen of the Apocalypse
With the introduction of HyperCard 2.0, many of the old bugs were quashed, and absolutely no new bugs were created. In fact, the software was so bug-free that it immediately attained Nirvana and Apple has had problems getting it to do anything since. Just kidding.
In the early 1990s, the Boston Computer Society distributed HyperCard stacks of Boston Freedom Trail and a Welcome to Boston on its CD. The CD were released at MacWorld Boston and available for sale at Trade booths and later via mail order.
HyperCard application was included on version 11 CD but was removed on version 12 and 13. Not sure exactly why it was removed in later CD versions.
The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites â€" each one an authentic treasure. The Boston Computer Society created a set of HyperCard Stacks so that people would learn about the 16 historical sites. This was a very popular HyperCard stack collection.
The application has trail maps and pictures of the various sites around the City of Boston.
At the 1992 MacWorld Expo, The Boston Computer Society put together a HyperCard Stack of getting around the City of Boston. The stack featured 16 different categories of places to visit and important phone numbers.
|November 11, 2016|
Aldus SuperPaint was a graphics program capable of both bitmap painting and vector drawing for the early versions of the Macintosh OS.
SuperPaint was a fun tool that allowed people to explore computer graphics. There were a lot of cool tools that allowed you to be creative.
Aldus SuperPaint was discontinued sometime after 1993. The last version that I have was 3.5. I was able to use the application just fine on my PowerBook G3 using Mac OS 9.1
Here are some of the tools that were available in the tool palettes:
The Draw & Paint Plug-ins palette is available in both layers. The tools found on this palette are those plug-in modules in the SuperPaint Pouch that work in both the Paint and Draw layers. SuperPaint came with these Draw & Paint plugin tools: 3-D Box, allGON, Crop Mark, Cycloid, Flowers, Grid, QuickShadow, and Spiral.
Other Tools that were available in the tool box:
Screen Shot of the Aldus SuperPaint Setup
The Custom Brushes dialog box allowed you to create you own brush!
Some of the things that you could create with the Paint and Draw Tools.
Surprised that some of these tools are not in the latest graphic programs such as Pixelmator, Affinity Design or AutoDesk Graphic programs. Perhaps developers or program managers will see some of the functionality that was in earlier graphic programs and will add them to the current versions.
|November 4, 2016|
Long time Macintosh Users may remember ResEdit. Its the topic of this weeks Macintosh Blog post. The next few Macintosh posting weâ€™ll look back at some classic Macintosh Applications.
ResEdit was a tool that Macintosh users used to hack applications. It was a way to make some modifications that normally wouldn't have been provided by the developer.
Here are some descriptions of hack files that were available from the UMI-Mac archive (January 12, 1996)
From an old macology.com Easter Egg page
Sample ResEdit Dialog box for the Simple Text Application.
Using ResEdit users could get a peak of all the icons in a Macintosh Application.
The last official version of ResEdit was shipped in August 1994. The update to ResEdit happened shortly after System 7 was released. Apple has discouraged the use of a tool to edit resource forks and has not shipped an updated resource tool in Mac OS X.
ResFool from The La Jolla Underground is a template-driven, Mac OS X native resource editor. With the extensive template support, ResFool allows you to easily replace your Classic-only copy of ResEdit. That software has been discontinued for a few years now.
|October 28, 2016|
I have been a long time fan of Panicâ€™s Transmit software. I first purchase Panic 3, on September 27, 2006. Today it's my day-to-day application for transferring files from my computer to any remote server.
Panic.com description of Transmit:
Back in 2006, when I was looking at various sftp applications, I felt that Transmit interface and functions were better than anyone else. I haven't found any issues with the application that has made me switch to a different application.
Specifically there are three cool features that I like using with Transmit; DockSend, Droplet and Transmit Disk.
DockSend automatically uploads files or folders dropped on Transmit's icon in the doc. The file gets sent to the correct equivalent location on a server.
This allows you the ability to send files to a server quickly. You don't need to open up Transmit, then pick the server and then drag the file to the server.
I use DockSend to easily upload my blog images to the server:
If you have multiple services that you upload files to all the time, then Droplet is perfect for you.
You simply drag and drop a file on the droplet application icon and within seconds the file is uploaded to the server.
Droplets are a convenient way for non-technical users to upload files to a pre-set location. You can set up a droplet and have someone else upload files to your server.
The neat thing about droplets is that you can change the icon to something different, so it's easy to figure out where the file is going.
Transmit Disk allows you to mount your SFTP as a disk on your Mac Desktop. You can easily move files as you would any other Macintosh folder.
The neat thing about this, is that when you copy files from the server to your computer it keeps the file create date the same as the one on the server. I like this because I can back up old files on the server and know that my backup version will have the correct file date and not the date of the backup.
Transmit makes it easy to access your favorite remote servers from the menu.
AppleScript gives you more flexibility to perform certain tasks without having to remember them. Don't think AppleScript is useful for an FTP application? Check out three examples of how I integrate AppleScript and Transmit:
AppleScript is a bit complicated to setup for everyday users, but I certainly help to understand some of the fundamentals. If you want to get the basics I highly recommend Up and Running with AppleScript on Lyndia.com.
I would highly recommend Panic.comâ€™s Transmit application, itâ€™s certainly worth the $33.99 cost in the Apple store. This is a great utility to have and worth the investment, if you manage any website.
I have been very interested in Panic's Coda, an all in one FTP/Editor/Mysql application. (I even set up a Google News Alert if it goes on sale) I haven't made the switch because I am a big fan of BBEdit and I don't see switching to another text editor anytime soon.
|October 21, 2016|
On October 6, 2016, Serif announced the latest update to Affinity Designer. This is the first major update since October, 2014.
Affinity Designer is the perfect application for anyone wanting to have more control over their graphics. It's a pretty powerful tool that will certainly take time to explore and learn.
In short: If you do any work with marketing materials, websites, icons, UI design - Affinity Designer will take your creativity to the next level.
I have been using Pixelmator for a long time. I can see that the two applications seem to have strengths in various functionality. For example, anytime that I want to touch up a photo, I would use Pixelmator as the "Auto Enhance Color Adjuster" is perfect for that. But if I am looking to add a new header or put together a flyer, then Affinity Designer is the perfect tool.
There is no decent arrow functionality in Affinity Designer. There is a double sided arrow shape tool, but that's just for design purposes. It doesn't work too well when you want to highlight a feature.
In a future update, I would like to see some decent arrow head capability with line objects. I use arrows to point to screenshot functionality. I would like to use Designer to tell a story of why some functionality isn't working properly. One possible solution would be to use Skitch to add arrows to images and then use Affinity Designer to build a storyboard.
There is a better way. I am taking advantage of the new Assets section in Affinity Designer 1.5. I set up a bunch of arrows types that I can instantly use whenever I want.
These are vector shapes, which means that once I drag and drop the arrow object to a file, I can ungroup and then manipulate the arrow to anyway that I see fit.
I have set up different arrow directions, so that I can just drag and drop the arrow where I want it to work. I expect to add additional arrows when I need to. I got the above arrows from https://openclipart.org/. There re some great arrow collections over on creativegraphic.com and InkyDeals.
Reminder: That when you add objects to the Assets section, you should group vectors together. I ran into issues when I was dragging arrows over and the arrowhead would be a separate asset from the line. This is because Designer is treating each object as a separate Asset. Simply select both vector objects and group them. Then drag it to the subcategory that you want. When you drag them out of the Asset section you can ungroup them and then make the arrow do whatever you want.
Got Affinity Designer? You can download my 'QA Asset' category. This includes the browser badges and the arrows.
I am very happy that I finally have a vector application. Over the years I have accumulated lots of EPS files and I haven't had a decent application to properly read these files. I like the fact that I can use the same brushes that I had in Pixelmator in Affinity Designer, especially the "Torn Paper Brushes," which I use frequently.
Affinity Designer Brush Pallet on the left, and Pixelmator Pallet on the right.
I am looking forward to learning a lot more about the capabilities of Affinity Designer. Their training on Vimeo is very helpful in understanding how the application works. They a video tutorial on the fundamentals of every bit of their application.
|October 14, 2016|
This week I was doing some last minute presentation edit for a class that I was going to teach. I was using Apple Pages 6 (latest version) and was discouraged that I couldn't get a 2-page view. It's much easier to organize the layout of a section when you're looking at a 2-page view.
Once upon a time, Pages did have a 2-page format. On my iMac, I have Pages 08, which was released on August 7, 2007 and it has the "Two Up" functionality. Pages 08 was part of the iWorks suite and is officially called Pages 3.0. Here is a look at the both word processing application side by side using the same monitor view:
Pages 3 is on the left and Pages 6 is on the right. Which application do you thing is going to be easier to work with when performing final edits?
In 2013, when Apple updated Pages to version 5, they made many changes so that it would be in sync with the iOS version. Unfortunately, they removed the "Two Up" functionality. According to other online forums this was because the iPad was too small to handle multiple page view edits.
Since the latest version of Apple Pages didn't meat my needs, I decided to venture out and check out other applications. I checked Nisus Writer Express, and found that they don't offer any 2-Page document view. I did find a comment in the Nisus forum, from 2007, of someone requesting that functionality but it hasn't been implemented.
Microsoft Word has the "Two Up" functionality and it works very well. I didn't have any problems using the application in full view mode. It worked like a charm.
Microsoft Word have an excellent "Two Pages" view.
I decided to check out a couple of Page Layout applications since I am trying to decide which one I should buy. I am looking at Swift Publisher and iStudio. Both are similar Desktop Publishing applications. I really like the simplicity of Swift Publisher, but there is no 2-page spread editing, which was in Adobe InDesign CS2. iStudio does have the spread editing functionality.
Apple Pages would be a really good application if they just didn't lose functionality when they upgrade. Computer Monitors are getting bigger, and there's no reason why they can't let users display more than one page at a time.
So for now, I'll have to use Microsoft Word when I do my presentations. Hopefully, Apple updates their application, and I'll check into some of the features of iStudio to see if not having a 2-page spread editing is that much of a big deal.
|October 7, 2016|
Griffin radioShark is a pretty cool USB device as it provides a stereo FM/AM band radio receiver to a Macintosh or PC computer. It integrates really well with Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack.
In recent years, many radio stations have provided live feed via the Internet. radioSHARK key advantage is when you don't have Internet access you can still listen to the local over-the-air broadcast. In addition, your not using up any internet bandwidth just to listen to local radio.
So why not just connect a radio to your computer? You could, but if you wanted to listen to different radio stations it could be a hassle.
Combine with Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack, you have the ability to record live broadcast whenever you want. You can record your favorite morning drive team then at the end of the day change to the "All news station" to hear the events of the day.
Griffin Technology has discontinued the radioSHARK and you can only get it on eBay, Amazon or craigslist. The radioSHARK is available on Amazon for $50, which is premium price of $35 that I paid.
In addition, it doesn't hurt to have access to the radio in a high rise building. If we loose Internet or power, it might be good to hear what's going on.
Setting up the Radio Station is really easy to do in Audio HiJack Pro 2.9.1
Because Someday I'll want to remember the "good old days." When so and so happened:
I have my radioShark connected to my old PowerBook G4 laptop and configured Audio Hijack Pro to record WEEI. This is perfectly legal because I am not going to redistribute the audio file, it's for my personal use.
My PowerBook might be old, but it's still a pretty powerful machine. The battery life isn't all that well as it uses it, but as long as I have it plugged in it works perfectly fine. I simply set up the times and stations that I want to be recorded, then dim the computer screen.
I have an 8GB SanDisk Flash drive that I use to move files from the Powerbook to my iMac computer. An 7 hour 30 Minute stereo radio broadcast takes up 432 MB, when compressed to MP3 (at 44,100 Sample Rate).