Latest Macintosh Blog Post

DateTitle
June 23, 20173 Quick Preview App Tips
June 16, 2017GraphicConverter 10
June 9, 2017Data Storage Backup
June 2, 2017Launchbar Clipboard History
May 26, 2017Swift Publisher 5
May 19, 2017Fluid App
May 12, 2017Daisy Disk
May 5, 2017uBar 3
April 28, 2017Xcode Training Suggestion
April 21, 2017Resize Image via LaunchBar

Welcome to Macintosh

I have been a Macintosh enthusiast since I got my first Macintosh Plus in early March 1988. My parents purchased the computer as a high school graduation present. I got it before graduation so that I could learn some of the computer fundamentals before going to college.

My first application experiences were mostly dealing with Word Processing and games. I really enjoyed practical applications such as WriteNow and Full Write Professional they were certainly ahead of there time. Games such as Dark Castle and Pipe Dream were fun ways to use the computer. I remember going to a computer store in Dennisport, Massachusetts in the late 80's and being the only person their buying Macintosh software. They kept on trying to sell me things just so they could get rid of their inventory.

On these pages, I hope to share my enthusiasm with the Macintosh platform and get you excited about using the computer. The Macintosh has changed a lot in the past few years but the core fundamentals of making the computer easy to use hasn't changed.

Macintosh Inventory Information

I currently own the following Macintosh computers:

ComputerCurrent Status
21.5 iMacPrimary Computer
Dual 1.42 Ghz PowerPC G4 MacintoshIn the home office, using vary rarely.
Titanium PowerBook G4 computerUsed at least once a week
G4/400 G4In the basement, last used June 2009. (Not able to boot up anymore.)
Centris 660AVIn the basement, haven't been used at all since 2002.
PowerBook G3May 4, 2015 update: Just got this back from CT!

Macintosh Desktop - 1999

Classic Macintosh Desk

This was my computer desk at "The Woods" apartment complex in San Jose, California. This was probably taken around 1999. In this photo I have two computers, my 8600/av computer is under the desk and connected to the flat screen display on the right.

Between the two monitors are 2 External CD drives and a Firewire Hard Drive. On top of them is a XD USB card reader

Underneath the other monitor is my 660AV computer, which is not connected. The monitor is displaying my G4 computer which is also under the desk.

BBEdit

BBEdit is a high-performance HTML and text editor for the Macintosh. Unlike a word processor, which is designed for preparing printed pages, a text editor focuses on providing means of producing and changing content. Thus, BBEdit doesn't offer fancy formatting capabilities, headers and footers, graphics tools, a thesaurus, and other staples of feature-laden ≥office≤ software. Instead, it focuses on helping you manipulate text in ways that word processors generally can't.

I have been using BBEdit off and on for a long time. The oldest confirm email I have is when I upgraded to version 6.5 on January 18, 2002. However, I am pretty sure that I stopped by their booth at MacWorld Boston. I have upgraded many times and I am currently using the latest version.

Why BBEdit?

BBEdit is a great text editor and it certainly deserves to be any serious Macintosh users toolkit. The software gives you very powerful search/replace capabilities. I mostly use the 'Zap Gremlins', 'Remove Line Breaks' and ‘Process Line Containing’ to clean up some text that I might get online.

There’s plenty of competition for Text Editors on the Macintosh platform; Coda and Sublime Text and a couple of hard core Programing alternatives. The thing that keeps bring people back to BBEdit is that it feels like very solid application. Power users can customize the application to their needs, and regular users like some of the usability functionality.

You can download a trail version from Barebones Website.

Transmit

If your looking for a practical SFTP client, then I suggest looking into Transmit by Panic Software. I have been using Transmit since early 2006 and find it to be very practical application.

Transmit is an FTP client for Mac OS X. Developed by Panic, Transmit is shareware – after a seven-day trial period, the product can only be used for seven-minute sessions until it has been purchased.

Transmit 4 includes a number of features, many of which take advantage of technologies Apple has introduced in OS X 10.4, such as uploading using a Dashboard widget or the dock, support for .Mac and

iDisk/WebDAV, FTP/WebDAV/S3 servers as disks in Finder (since v4.0), Spotlight, Droplets, Amazon S3 support and Automator plugins.

Two strong features that I like about Transmit;

  • the ability to create Droplet
  • Mount any favorite as a Disk.

The Droplet feature makes it super easy to put images onto my website. I have several droplets setup and instantly can put images where I want them without having to open up Transmit.

The "Mount as SFTP" allows me navigate my SFTP folder as if it was a hard drive. One of the cool things about this is that when I copy files from the SFTP server, the file dates stay the same. I have found using any other method that the filename gets changed to the date/time of the copy.

Over the years I have used other File Transfer applications, such as CyberDuck, Interarchie and FileZilla. They had there strengths, but I kept going back to Transmit because of speed and features.

I was a long time Interarchie (also known as Anarchie) but made the switch in the early 2000s when I was at FTP alternatives and Transmit had just released the Droplet feature. I have been tempted to go back to Interarchie, but the upgrade cost was too much.

You can download a trail version from Panic Website.

TextExpander

textexpander3

I have been using TextExpander since July 2006 and find it to be an awesome productivity tool. I certainly recommend this for anyone involve in Quality Assurance testing.

I originally purchased TextExpander because I was an avid Breevy users - which is the software equivalent for PC users. I highly recommend getting Breevy if your stuck using a PC for work. The ability to share common shortcuts makes Breevy and TextExpender the perfect combination.

Recently I discovered some of the powerful shell scripting capabilities that TextExpander has which will make it very difficult to go back to any tool on Windows. Since version 2.5.2, users can create Shell or AppleScript snippets. This really opens up the capabilities of the software. For example, you could assign the shortcut to a random greetings and display different greetings in your email.

I would certainly recommend trying out TextExpander, and feel free to hit me up on Twitter [cryanweb] for some creative scripting ideas.

Pixelmator

pixelmator2

I was really big into graphics between 1998 and 2004. In that time, I purchased Photoshop so that I could learn new computer skills. Photoshop was a fun application and it was fun to learn about layers and filters.

I came about purchasing Pixelmator on August 2012. A few months earlier, I purchased a new iMac. While I was migrating some of my existings software, I discovered that Photoshop CS2 would not work on that computer. It was time to upgrade.

The problem was that I wasn't really using the latest and greatest version of Photoshop. I was several versions behind. In order to upgrade I would have to spend about $300. It was time to look for an alternative - since I didn’t think it was worth the cost to upgrade.

If photos is what you do to make a living, you should be using Photoshop. Adobe has all sorts of awesome trademarks and copyrights that no one can touch. Also, there’s a lot of third party tools that will make your job easier and fun. If you can afford Photoshop, you should be using it.

For everyone else, who uses Photo editing as a hobby there is a viable alternative to the big photo giant. In my option, Pixelmator gives Adobe a run for their money.

Pixelmator has a lot of the similar core tools that Photoshop is known for (Layer Effects, Color Changing, Blur etc..). This is true especially for those that are use to the way Photoshop CS2 worked. With Pixelmator, I can apply different layers and effects with some of the same keyboard short cuts.

Some of the layouts and dialog boxes are a bit different, it may take a little bit time to get use to it, but it will be worth it.

I would certainly recommend trying out Pixelmator and seeing if the $29.99 application can match the $300 app.

My Macintosh buying advice

The one thing that I learned over the years is that regardless of what Macintosh you purchase always add more memory than what is installed. It's so much easier to install memory when you first get the computer than doing it later.

Apple memory is a little bit expensive because for the most part, you are getting a higher quality memory than from someone else. It's similar to buying Good Year tires for your car. Some people rather pay the premium price, others think a tire is just a tire. Do you think there's a real difference between a $200 tire and a $99 tire? Well the same goes for memory. Your paying a premium because it quality product that has gone through quality testing.

Having said that, I have purchased most of my memory from third party Apple resellers. The time that I have actually purchase memory has been with laptops since I feel that's not an area that I want to risk with. Remember that a laptop does take more of a pounding than a desktop, so I don't want cheap memory with cheap parts to fail the stress test. Especially if I am on a business trip.

Buy Apple Care?

I have never purchased any additional insurance on any of my computers. In 2003, I paid the price when my Powerbook graphic card failed. However, the cost to fix the laptop cost me $299, which at the time was the same cost of buying the extra insurance. So if you feel the need to get the insurance fine, but I don't think it's worth it. (Ya, I might have jinked it saying that now.)

Long Term Storage

If you have several older Macintosh computers you may want to know the best way to store them. Recently, I talked to an electronic expert about the best way to store my old Powerbook laptop and this is the advice that he gave me.

Before you store the laptop for a long time, make sure to turn off the computers completely and then disconnect the power. You should remove the battery from the laptop. Some older desktop Macintoshes had internal batteries, open up the cases and remove the internal battery.

Laptops should be stored horizontal to the floor in a cool dry area. The laptop should be kept in a Rubbermaid container to prevent any dust from getting in the machine.

In addition, they recomend labeling what was still on the computer for future reference. A screenshot of the desktop with a description of the versions of purchased applications will be very handy to have in the future. You should make note of when it was retired and anytime that the computer was used again for inventory purposes. In most cases, a computer that hasn't been used in three years will not get turn on again.

I have found that the only files that I ever needed to get off the computer are personal photos and videos. I have never had to fire up an old computer just to get a Word Document or Microsoft Excel file.

CD/DVD Storage

If you are like the many early adopters that saw the potential of the Digital camera, you should be aware that many DVDs that were burn in the late 90s are about to go bad! This means that you may soon loose some of those pictures that you took with the first generation of digital cameras.

I would highly recommend users to audit their personal DVD collection to see what items you should move to the cloud. I am not talking about your personal DVD movie collection, I am talking about all those crazy data files you backed up.

Cloud storage has become very cheap and a good option when you need to find something. I find that Google Photos offers the best image search capabilities. This is a lot better than looking for that unlabeled disk in the Case Logic container.

Maximize Your Computer Performance

According to several published Macintosh Sources, it's highly recommended to have at least 20% of available disk space on your primary hard drive. This will give your computer plenty of space for using disk memory cache.

So, if you have a 1 Terabyte drive, you should have at least 200 GB of space available. If you don't have that much space available, expect to see some slowness and some performance issues with your computer. Your first priority should be to get to that 20% level as quickly as possible.

Metal Gear Box Substance 2 Hard Drive

A few years ago, I purchased the Metal Gear Box Substance 2 external hard drive encloser to use as a backup drive. I don't recall the size of the drive that I got with it, because the Metal Gear Box is no longer working. Other people on Amazon are complaining about how the power supply is failing on the device. I don't think the hard drive is lost, as I can use an IDE SATA HDD Docking Station to still get the data off the drive.

I do have several IDE and SCSI 30/60/90 GB hard drives in storage. However, there's very little value to using these since there's plenty of USB flash drives that can hold a lot more data. They really don't server too much value right now as I have thumb drives that are bigger and take up less physical space.

Using the Apple Dock with Multiple Monitors

If your using multiple displays, it's really easy to make the Apple dock appear on the bottom of screen.

  • If you've clicked on a display to make it active, note how the Menu Bar brightens. But you don't need to.
  • Without clicking the mouse again, move the cursor all the way down to the bottom of the screen. This is the same technique as if you had invoked System Preferences > Dock > "Automatically hide and show the Dock."
  • When the cursor touches the bottom, the Dock will rise up from the bottom and stay there on the selected display. (If you had previously enabled "Automatically hide and show the Dock," it will disappear as you move the mouse upwards, but remain tied to that display.)
  • To move the Dock back to the main display (or any other display), repeat the process starting with Step #1.

DVDs vs USB Thumb Drives for Long term Storage

For long term storage, consumers are much better off getting a thumb drive than storing it on a DVD or external hard drive. There are countless studies that show that since USB drives don't have any movable parts that they will last much longer than other devices.

DVD and CD disks don't have moveable parts but they can get dirty and scratched very easy. I have many disks that are not useable anymore because they got damaged by something spilling on it or because the disk got scratched by slidding around. If you do have a lot of disks, my personal recommendation is to use a good quality clam shell. They will take up more space, but the clam shell will offer that bit of protetion which will keep your data for a long time.

If you are using a USB drive, You should label the thumb drive so that you know what is on it. Have two copies of the USB data and store them separately, at least keep one of them in a safe.

Recording Radio Stations on your Macintosh

For the past 10 years I have been recording live (AM/FM) radio sounds on my computer. This is a very simple process; the first thing you need to do is make sure that the station that you want to record is near you so that you have a very clear signal. You can find out what towers are near you, use Antenna Search. Next you need to set up a Radio near your computer. I used a Aiwa CA-DW480 and the CC Radio. The CC Radio worked the best since you can dial to a specific station very easily. (I am unable to use the radio since the digital display is gone.)Connect the stereo to the Macintosh using a audio cable, just use the "phone" plug in the stereo/radio and set the volume to 8 or 9.

To record the audio with your Macintosh, download and install Audio Hijack Pro. The source type is "Audio Device" and the Input Device is "Default System Input" and the Output is the "Default System Output." Set up the schedule to when you want to record the show, for example every day at 6am. Click on the Recording Tab, and make sure that the "Limits" is set to start a new file every hour. You can set the tags so that it will be all set when you open it in Itunes. For AM radio recordings, using AAC 128 kbps Stereo seems to be fine. An hour recording will take 83 MB.

With Asphyxiation and Audio Hijack Pro you can set up different sessions to record different radio programs. If you have two radios, you can record different broadcast at the same time. This is very easy to setup using USB Audio adapters.

Converting DVD Movies to play on your iPhone

This is a three step process, and you need to make sure that you have plenty of disk space on your computer for the first step. Also keep in mind that this may take a few hours and some of the tasks can be run overnight.

Step One: You need to "rip" the DVD contents to your computer. Essentially this is just making a digital copy of the movie in the full format size. You can use RipIt or MacTheRipper.. This takes about an hour to ninety minutes to get done.

Step Two: You need to convert and compress the data to be viewable on your iPod or iPod touch. I really like VisualHub, but that has been discontinued. You can try using Handbrake, it works really well on some DVDs and other DVDs it doesn't work at all. Basically the audio may not be in English and sometimes the Closed Captions shows up. You may have to play around with some of the settings, every DVD is different so there's no standard way to do this.

Step Three: Once your done, test the video and audio on the computer and on your mobile device. To get the converted movie to your device, simply open up iTune and then drag and drop the move to the iPhone icon in the listing. If all goes well, make sure to delete the files done in Step 1. There is no need to keep these or to back them up. You can always rip the DVD again if you need to.

Macintosh Tips and Tricks

In 2005, I started sharing some Macintosh tips and tricks. The page is a bit dated, and I'll update with some more information when I have time.