Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: October 20, 2017Total: 215

October 20, 2017

Photo Size Optimizer

Effect Matrix's Photo Size Optimizer for Mac is a powerful image compression application.

I found about the application because it was one of the applications that I picked in this summer's BundleHunt.

Description from Effect Matrix's site:

Photo Size Optimizer for Mac, a powerful photo resizer, and optimizer, allows you to optimize all your photos by 80% ~ 20% compared to their originals while keeping their original resolution, quality and png, jpg, gif formats. With IMAGEmini, you can save huge space and share full-resolution photos with your friends much faster. It supports 70 types of image formats for re-sizing.

Sample Application Screenshot

Omni Photo Size Optimizer

Nine Things I Learned About Photo Size Optimizer

  • There's no documentation or help files with the application, you basically have to play around with the application to understand how to use it. Fortunately, most of it is straight forward.
  • You have no control over the compression. Basically you accept the savings that the application suggest.
  • There's two functionalities, Resize & Squeezer and Lossless Photo Squeezer.
  • Resize & Squeezer - will resize a bunch of images and resize them to a 10 different options. You can also add a custom option. Note: The resize option is for all the images that you dragged and drop, you can't set different demensions per image.
  • Lossless Photo Squeezer - Use this when you only want to shrink the file size and not the dimensions.
  • I found that Affinity Photo, GraphicConverter OmniGraffle offered better compression.
  • OmniGraffle and Graphic Converter offer previews to see how stronger compression may not impact the image. I was able to get better compression using other applications.
  • Some people may have problems installing the application because the application isn't registered. When I tried to open it I got a warning: "Photo Size Optimizer.app" can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer.
  • You can't compress animated GIF files with Photo Size Optimizer.

Overall Feeling

It's really hard to justify paying $29.99 for this application. You'll get better compress and more features in other applications. The application is useful when I want to quickly shrink a file and not have to play around with different settings - basically: "Set it and forget it."

In the long run, your better off buying and using GraphicConverter for $10 more.

Try Yourself

Effect Matrix offers a 10 days Free Trial with Full Features if you download it from their website.

The full version is $29.99.

October 13, 2017

BBEdit 12

Yesterday Bare Bones Software updated BBEdit to Version 12. The feedback from long term customers has been amazing.

B B Edit Fans

Yes, BBEdit has a very strong customer base.

Some Cool Features in Version 12

There are a lot of changes in Version 12, you would expect that with a major release, here are five some of the highlights that I like:

  • Paste Using Filter - You can now apply a filter to any text you paste in. For example you can create a filter to add hyperlinks to certain company phrases.
  • Columns Edit - Now its easy to remove or rearrange data in CSV files.
  • FTP/SFTP Browser - Lots of code cleanup with the FTP/SFTP browser window.
  • Canonize - Allows you to perform batch search replace using a reference file. This is great when you need to run the same file clean up command as part of your daily task.
  • Color Scheme now carries over to the sidebar

ColorScheme_thumb.jpg
The Editor window difference between version 11 and version 12 of BBEdit.
Click on image for a larger version.

Complete details are listed on theirBBEdit 12.0 Release Notes.

Are You Using Completion Correctly?

One of the Preference changes Bare Bones made was to move the Completion into its own category. I actually had it turned off because I wasn't really using it that much. Big Mistake!

BBEdit text completion makes typing HTML commands so much easier. You don't need to use the HTML Markup Tools palette. Simply type in the first few letter and then select the text completion that works for you.

For example, Typing in the words 'an' will bring up the anchor drop down. Hit Return then type the URL then Tab then the text you wish to link. It's a lot faster than bring up the anchor dialog box.

It might take a few tried to get used to it, but once you have gotten used to it, it will speed up your HTML work.

Create a BootStrap Panel Text Completion

If you do any work with Twitter's Bootstrap your probably creating a lot of panels. Here's a simple step to add a panel to BBEdit Text Completion so that it will be super easy to create panels.

To get you started, copy the following text to a BBEdit file:

<DIV class="panel panel-default"><div class="panel-heading"><h3 class="panel-title"></div>
<div class="panel-body">

</div></div>

Highlight the text, right click and select "Save Selection as Clipping..."

cryan

Call it whatever you want, the name is important because that's going to be your Text Completion trigger. Mine is simply: panel.

Create a new set and call it Bootstrap. This will help you organize common Clippings

BBEdit Panel

Test it out! Type in the word 'panel' in any BBEdit document and you should see the drop down.

How awesome is that! Now you can create text completions for all your panel types. Don't forget to add one for Wells and responsive Tables too!

Getting BBEdit

You can download a trial version of BBEdit from their website. You'll have 30 days to try out all the features.

October 6, 2017

FFMpeg

If your looking for a powerful multimedia framework check out FFmpeg. It's a powerful command line utility that has a strong user base and easy to learn.

ffmepg doesn?t have a fancy user interface, which may turn away some users. I believe It worth learning FFmpeg because you'll learn more about creating multimedia files.

Three Examples

Show MetaData

Find out some MetaData on your multimedia file. Here's what information that Quicktime and Finder shows:

Finder Metadata

This is what FFmpeg displays when you run the command:

ffmpeg -i

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from '/Volumes/MONOCARPOUS/Computers/2003/3.17.03/done/mitt.mov':
  Metadata:
    creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
    encoder         : Encoded with Cleaner 5
    encoder-eng     : Encoded with Cleaner 5
  Duration: 00:00:30.06, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 491 kb/s
    Stream #0:0(eng): Video: svq1 (SVQ1 / 0x31515653), yuv410p, 320x240, 442 kb/s, 15 fps, 15 tbr, 600 tbn, 600 tbc (default)
    Metadata:
      creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
      handler_name    : Apple Alias Data Handler
      encoder         : Sorenson Video
    Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: qdm2 (QDM2 / 0x324D4451), 44100 Hz, mono, s16, 48 kb/s (default)
    Metadata:
      creation_time   : 2003-03-16T05:31:43.000000Z
      handler_name    : Apple Alias Data Handler

Convert old .MOV to the latest .MP4 standards

This is a basic functionality of FFmpeg. The core command is:

ffmpeg -i filename.mov filename.mp4

A more advance example would be:

for FILE in *.swf; do ffmpeg -i "$FILE" "${FILE[@]/%swf/mp4}"; done;

That will convert all Flash SWF files in a directory to the industry standard h264 format. This is very useful to view Flash video if you don't have a Flash player.

As you learn more about the FFmpeg, you'll understand which compression will work for your multimedia and distribution method.

Create a Looping File

Let's say you have a howling wolf audio clip and you wanted to have a longer version. Here's an example of how you would go about doing that using FFmpeg.

ffmpeg -stream_loop 4 -i howl.mp3 -c copy howl4.mp3

Real Video Files

I thought I might be interesting to see if FFmpeg would convert some old Real Media files to MP4. I tested converting a couple of Real Video and Real Audio files, some that you can see on this site, and they converted from Real Video 10 to H264 successfully.

Stream #0:1 -> #0:0 (rv10 (native) -> h264 (libx264))
Stream #0:0 -> #0:1 (ac3 (native) -> aac (native))

The video quality was bad. However, it was probably because when I encoded it I went for the smallest file size as possible.

September 29, 2017

Keyboard Maestro Date Formatting

Last week Keyboard Maestro was upgraded to version 8. It?s packed with a lot of features, and I thought it would be time to do a change up and switch from TextExpander 5.1.4 to Keyboard Maestro.

Note: I didn't upgrade to TextExpander 6 because I didn't like to have to pay for a yearly subscription for a Macintosh utility program.

I have been moving a lot of my TextExpander Snippets to Keyboard Maestro's Macros. It?s been a slow transition as it?s a bit hard to get used to Keyboard Maestro?s interface. It?s complicated for a reason - they're so much more you can do using Keyboard Maestro.

Date/Time Variable Reference Chart

Here?s a handy chart to convert Day/Time data from Text Expander to Keyboard Maestro. This is useful when converting your snippets to Keyboard Maestro and want to keep the same date format.

DateTimeChart_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

Date Time Display

This is a sample Macro that I have set up to display the current date time.

USA Date Format

I have three macros to easily display the current date in the following formats:

  • Standard US Date
  • European Date Format
  • ODBC Date Format (Database Format)

Try Out Keyboard Maestro

Try out Keyboard Maestro 8 as its more user-friendly. Watch the YouTube videos to get an idea on how best to use it. The forum is a great place to get ideas and tips from other users.

September 22, 2017

Seamless Images in Affinity Designer

Someone added a comment to a previous blog post asking how I was able to make a background image in Affinity Designer. It's pretty easy to do.

Here are the steps on creating a seamless asset in Affinity Designer. To do this, I'll utilize some functionality in OmniGraffle.

A seamless background image is a pattern that looks the same no matter how big the background is. Think of it as wallpaper pattern.

Steps to create the pattern

  • Open up OmniGraffle
  • Drag and drop the Seamless Background image
  • Omni Image

    In the Image Setting, in the Object Panel, select the 'Tile Image to fit Shape' icon.
  • Now reshape the shape to a large size, such as 1000 px. It's important to keep the image ratio, this is done by holding the shift key and drag the corners.
  • Once done, simply copy the object.
  • Open up Affinity Designer
  • Create a new document.
  • Paste in the file.
  • Open up the Style Panel
  • Right Click on the Image and select the 'Create Style'

Now you have a style that has the background image.

September 15, 2017

FontDoc Copy/Paste

Earlier this year I wrote about how FontDoc was a useful application to see what font looks best for a given text. You type in any text and in a few seconds, you see your text using all the fonts on your computer. Simply scroll through to see all your options

This is certainly better than judging a typeface by the name - after all many fonts look different when you mix upper and lowercase characters.

FontDoc Cool Feature

There is a cool benefit that I didn't mention - copy and paste. You can copy the text and paste it into any document and it will paste in the text using the font style you selected. How cool is that!

Font Doc Example

This makes it really easy to look at header text in different font styles and then paste in the one that you like the most. This will work in any application - Affinity Designer, Photoshop, OmniGraffle, Microsoft Word and more. Any document that supports rich text (RTF) will support this.

This is way better than judging what looks better based on the WYSIWYG menu.

Drag and Drop Works!

Fontdoc Drag Drop

You can simply select the text and drag and drop it into your application. In the above screenshot, I dragged and drop the text to Microsoft Word.

One Exception to the rule

The only caveat is that the font has to be installed. So if you're using FontDoc to check Fonts that are not on your computer, the pasted text will be pasted in Helvetica font style.

The fix is easy, simply install the font and try again. Note: You may need to quit and reopen the application in order for the application to recognize the font.

September 8, 2017

Intensify CK

Intensify CK is an Mac OS Application that makes it easy to touch up images. You don't need to be an expert in understanding how vibrance, Saturation and Luminosity works. There are some cool presets that can help you get the most clarity and intensity from your images.

From Macphun's website:

Intensify helps photographers of all skill levels create powerful images with unprecedented drama and detail. Precise control of contrast, structure, detail, and sharpening across different tonal ranges delivers high-quality results every time.

Intensify features special algorithms to prevent image artifacts, stackable image adjustments with opacity control, dozens of professionally created presets, adjustment brushes, RAW image support, vignettes and the ability to run as a standalone application or as a plug-in for popular host applications. combine to make Intensify Pro an essential part of any photo editing toolbox.

Intensity Side2

Main Preset Categories

  • Architecture
  • Black & White
  • Creative
  • Detail Enhancement
  • Image Tune
  • Landscape
  • Soft

Making Standard Photos Awesome

I like Intensity because it can help make simple photos taken with the iPhone to look so much better. Check out how using the basic Artistic Preset changes the sky in this Fenway Park picture:

intensifyckexample2

When I load up a file in Intensify CK, I then select one of the Presets, and use the down arrow key to see the change in the image with the different selections.

Lynda.com Class

If you want to get more from Intensify CK, check out the Advance Intensity CK class at Lynda.com. Richard Harrington will help you understand some of the advanced options in Intensify CK. It's a good way to learn to use the software.

Summary

I purchased Intensity CK from a recent Bundle Hunt deal. I don't think that I would use this frequently but think that it's a nice tool to have when I need it.

Check it out for yourself, there is a 15 day trial. Where you can play around with the various presets and see how they can make your photos look different.

For example, there are 9 different Black and White presets. Which is kind of neat to see the difference that each one can do to an image.

September 1, 2017

Command One

Commander One is a file manager for Mac, a program like Finder to copy, delete, compress/uncompress files, connect to an FTP server, etc. However, Commander One can do much more than Finder, e.g. search for files with specific pattern across all drives and archives, mount MTP and iOS devices, view processes in the system, etc.

Having multiple windows can be complicated to manage. A Dual-pane browser window can make it easy to navigate between folders and services. With Command One Pro, you can connect to the most popular cloud services and manage them all with one familiar interface.

Command One

Ten things I learned about Commander One Pro
  • Command One Pro is part of the Setup Subscription Service. For $9.99 a month you can have access to 60+ applications. It's a good way to try out various apps to see which ones you may like.
  • A Command One Pro Personal License only allows you access to one installation of Commander One Pro, if you have multiple Macintosh computers you need a Team License.
  • To view folder contents size you have to press the space bar. (There should be a setting so that folder size is always displayed)
  • You can connect your DropBox account and manage it without having to install the DropBox app. Very handy if you have limited disk space on your computer.
  • One good use I got out of this was the ability to back up certain files to a thumb drive. I did a quick search for brush files (.abr) and moved them to my thumb drive so that I had a backup of brushes. Command One made it easy to find the files and move them to the folder on my thumb drive.
  • Really cool that you can open up ZIP and WAR file without extracting. I have quite a few files that have images and text data that I can access whenever I want.
  • Just about every functionality is configurable to a hot key. This makes it easy to make certain tasks easy to perform. (For some reason Command-F is assigned to the Connections dialog. I think it should be assigned to search, fortunately, you can change it.)
  • I found the search to be very helpful in managing misc files on the computer.
  • The Disk List bar makes it easy to switch between connected accounts/drives. Making it very easy to move files between connected USB thumb drives.
  • The Pro pack includes DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, OneDrive and WebDAV. Giving you more power than the standard web interface.

August 26, 2017

Apple External Keyboard Stopped Working

This week my Apple External Keyboard just stopped working for no reason. I have a MacBook Pro connected to a Thunderbolt display. All of a sudden the keyboard just stopped working.

  • I removed the USB end from the display and reconnected it, no such luck.
  • I plugged the keyboard directly into the computer, restarted - no keyboard was found.
  • The Apple Keyboard didn't even show up in the System Information.
  • The caps lock key never lit up.

How did I get it to work?

I read various Apple forums from other customers having the same issue. The "easy" solution was to connect the keyboard to a USB hub. I simply connected my USB Mighty Man hub to the computer and then the Keyboard USB to the hub. That worked!

Keyboard Solution
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Seems like a weird solution. But the advice on Apple.stackexchanged.com worked!

I am wondering if my Optical Gaming Mouse that is connected to the Thunderbolt display is draining out the USB power. Although it doesn't explain why connecting the keyboard directly to the computer didn't work.

The USB Gaming Mouse (Holtek Semiconductor) has a current required 100 (mA), where as the Apple Keyboard has a current required on 20 (mA).

U S B Man Hub
USB Hub Man to the Rescue

In any case, not sure why all of a sudden this started happening. I have been using the Keyboard/Mouse/Thunderbolt connection for about 6 months now with no problems. The system is running macOS Sierra version 10.12.6 with the update installed 17 days ago.

August 25, 2017

Fluid Mask 3

fluidmask

Fluid Mask is an easy way to remove/replace background images. People use this when they want to extract people or objects out of photograph.

This is a professional graphic tool that is more powerful than mask functionality that you may encounter in Pixelmator or Photoshop. This gives the user more power to strip out unwanted backgrounds. The net-net results is a cleaner cut with no ugly pixelated edges.

Some example uses:

  • Change the background from a cloudy day to a nice sunny one.
  • Add someone to a photograph to make it appear that they were at the family outing even though they couldn't make it.
  • Take the 'Welcome to Boston' sign out of a picture and place it on your website header.
  • Remove unwanted objects from your photos.
  • An tool in your photography toolbox to create great images for social media.

From their website:

Extract the true character of an image -- fast! Make super fine mask selections and apply the most powerful blending algorithms for truly professional results.

Good Tools have a Learning Curve

It takes a while to understand how to use this tool. Fortunately, there are plenty of video tutorials to watch and understand the fundamental ideas. Every image is different so learning the fundamentals can help tackle the toughest task.

I did find the layout to be a bit hard to understand but watching the videos and playing around with the software help with the learning curve.

Start off slow. I would recommend just doing a basic background replacement and slowly work your way to more complex masking.

Some Examples of Work

Here are a couple of images that I was able to extract using Fluid Mask.

yosemite at night
A little touch up with Pixlr to keep the colors about the same.

trump white house

Getting Fluid Mask

You don't need Photoshop to use Fluid Mask. It works perfectly fine as a stand alone application. The downside of the standalone version is you can't drag and drop images to open - you need to open the image via the File -> Open option within the application.

You can download a trial version from their website. If you find the tool to be a time saver you can purchase a license for $99.

This might seem a bit expensive for the casual photographer and blogger. However, the tool will save you a lot of time which could justify