Macintosh Blog Posts
Dash is an Macintosh application that gives you local access to hundreds of documentations. You can download the documentations that you need and search for information.
Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash stores snippets of code and instantly searches offline documentation sets for 200+ APIs, 100+ cheat sheets and more. You can even generate your own docsets or request docsets to be included.
Dash is a useful tool to have when your heads down on a project and want to stay focus when searching for programing help.
Nine Things I Learned About Dash
- The trial version has all the features of the full version, just will get notified to purchase everyone in a while. The full version cost $29.99 for all computers. (Not a yearly cost!)
- You can bookmark pages, making it easy to switch between documentations. (For example you can easily switch between MySQL and Postgres date formatting.)
- I found it really easy to search the FontAwesome icon collection. When updating a website icon set. You can't copy/past content like you can on Font Awesome's website, but it's certainly easier to use when you want to quickly add an icon.
- There is a snippet functionality, but I found that Keyboard Maestro has a lot more functionality.
- You can integrate Dash with Bbedit. What this does is link the BBEdit's Find in Reference command to Dash. Simply select any command, such as mysqli_connect and then right click and select Find in Reference. Dash will open up with that search query. It's a great way to find more information about a particular command.
- There is an iOS app, that allows you to have remote access to your desktop Dash app. This is handy because search queries made in the desktop will now show in the iOS. This makes it easier to minimize Dash on the desktop and read the documentation when trying to implement a code.
- Some of the Documentations have a playground area, where you can test the code using CodePen.
- With some Docsets, you can specify the version of the doc. For example, you can download MySQL 5,5, 5.6, 5.7 or 8.0 docsets. (Yes you can download all of them if you want.)
- You can learn a lot from reading some of the available docsets. For example, there's a Docset called You Might Not Need jQuery which shows you similar ways to perform certain jQuery tasks.
Cool Feature to Add
One feature that would be cool to have is a personal code library; sort of like the snippets, but noninteractive. Just a place to store re-usable code - and searchable like any other Docset.
Chalkboard in Art Text
Art Text 3 is a pretty powerful text tool. I wanted to learn how to create a cool chalkboard effect, similar to designs that I saw in BeLight Letter application.
Belight claims that all the Letter designs can be done in Art Text 3. What they don't tell you is that it is just a bit tricky to make it work.
How I got it To Work
For the Background, I created a new background layer, Selected Fill, then Grunge, then gruge_29. If you want more realistic chalkboard backgrounds check out the Chalkboard Textures created by BMACHINA Labs. It cost $5 and you get 16 different variations.
For the Text, it's a bit tricky. There is a Chalk 2D Text, but it's only in Purple. (Not exactly sure why Belight did that.) So the secret is to create your own Brush in White so that it will have the chalk edge effect. (Note: I tried to figure out how to change the color from purple to while but the following steps is the only way I could get it to work.)
To get you started, download my 200 x 200 white image and add it to your collection:
- Download the Smoke Image that I created.
- In Art Text 3, go to Fill, then Shading, then pull down the menu to you see Create a Material.
- Click the button that says, Create from Image
- Find the image that you just download.
- Then Click Apply
- Now the Smoke Image will appear in the Custom Materials section, ready to be applied whenever you want.
So now you can still select the Chalk 2D text as a Font Template, then switch it over to the Custom Shading that you added.
You can see the new Smoke Custom Fill.
Bonus: You can easily create different color smokes effects for different color chalk effects. Simply create a 200x200 image in Affinity Designer or Pixelmator and use the paint brush to create your own creative design. Don't forget to save it as a PNG file!
iterm2 Status Bar
One of the neat features of the Iterm2 is the Status Bar. This is available in the 3.3.0 build - which is still in beta as of this post. The Status Bar is a thin bar at the top of the command window which displays useful information.
Status Bar Options
The status bar has 11 built in configurable components, with more sure to be added. You can configure the Text Color and Background color. These are the components in the current beta:
- Battery Level - How your laptop battery is doing.
- CPU Utilization - Is your computer getting maxed out?
- 'Memory Utilization' - Check out your computer Memory Utilization before running a process.
- 'Network Throughput' - If downloading files is taking a long time, perhaps its too much network traffic.
- Clock -System Clock, with a customizable date format settings. ( I like the following date format:
EEEE, MMMM d, yyyy h:mm:ss a z)
- Custom Action - Easily Select any Menu item, great for those actions that you want to implement right away - such as 'Split Horizontally with a Profile' or
- git state - Once you install the command utility 'it2git,' you'll be able to always know what branch you're working on.
- Host Name - Show the current host that your working on
- User Name - What the current user is - useful if you do a lot of user switching.
- Job Name - What job/process is currently running.
- Current Directory - Avoid typing 'pwd' and instantly know where you are.
- 'Search Tool' - Find something on the current window, and that search term stays as you do work in the window - so you can make 'Exceptions' or 'Errors' will stand out as they occur.
- Composer - Prep up a command before executing it. for example if you have a large SQL Statement but need to change a value in the middle, use this as a staging area before you execute it.
- Fixed-size Spacer - Add flexible amount of space between components.
- Empty Space - Just an empty space.
- Interpolated String - Show some custom text with variables (See the document on some ideas.)
- Call Script Function - Run a Python Function. (See the document on some ideas.)
Finding the Status Bar
If you're using iTerm2 3.3, you can enable the status bar using the Profile Preferences.
- From the iTerm2 Menu select Preferences (Or use the shortcut Command ,)
- Select Profiles
- (The Default one should be selected)
- Select the Session tab
- Enable the check box next to "Status bar enabled" (Its the last item under Miscellaneous)
- Then Configure your bar!
After you install the bar, you can right click on the bar and select 'Configure Status Bar.'
You will need to do this for each of your profiles that you have setup.
Installing Shell Integration
Some of the commands work better with installing Shell Integrations on remote servers. You can easily install the Shell Integration tool to get the most out of iTerm2:
- SSH to any box
- Select the iTerm Menu and then select "Install Shell Integration" which is the second to last menu item.
- You'll be prompt if you want to install the Utilities tool. The additional tools allow you to see inline images via 'imgcat' command, List files with a thumbnail view using the 'imgls' command., Upload files via the 'it2ul' command among other utilities. (Full details on the iTerm2 Documentation page.)
- You will need to login to try out the tools and see the effect of the Shell Integration.
Iterm2 is pretty powerful application and very useful to have if you doing a lot of shell commands on your Mac.
There are very few Macintosh applications that have been around since System 7.5. BBEdit, StuffIt , DragThing are some that I can think of off hand. Many of these applications are still running strong.
Sadly DragThing is being discontinued. This is because Apple has decided to stop supporting 32-bit code. Perhaps you seen this alert when opening up some applications:
Apple has announced that it will no longer support 32-bit applications. This means in the next major release 32-bit applications will no longer work. This is very similar to when Apple started discontinue supporting Classic Apps from pre-OS X days.
DragThing Story Ends
After 24-years, the developers have decided to retire the application. According to the homepage message, this is because the application will have to be completely rewritten and they don't think there's any real value into that.
I haven't used DragThing, as I got use the Apple Dock, and other applications that made navigating the Macintosh easier. I thought it would be good to check out what I missed in DragThing all these years.
DragThing with the default setup
Five Things I learned Playing Around with DragThing
- DragThing first shipped on May 1st, 1995. ( Steve Jobs would return to Apple a couple of years later. )
- DragThing was shareware and cost $29 to register. (It's currently free since it's being discontinued.)
- You can create docs for different tasks, for example if you in the Photo Mode, you can have a row of all your Photo Apps. This actually makes it really easy to navigate between different apps. Especially if your using certain apps together only when doing tasks.
- There a ton of configuration options available. It's great to customize the dock anyway you want. The only thing I couldn't figure out is how to keep the dock always on top.
- The ability to add code snippet was cool, I like how LaunchBar handles Snippets. It's a lot easy to navigate and search for snippets.
Some Alternative Solutions
- LaunchBar - makes it really easy to switch around applications. You can easily running applications and switch around. I use the snippet feature all the time.
- Tab Launcher Lite - Allows you to groups applications into folders, much how DragThing works. So you can have folders for Dev, Design and Play.
Last year I purchased Caboodle as part of Mac App Bundle from TNW Deals. This is one of 15 applications that I purchased for $25. I am a big EverNote fan, I didn't think Caboodle would replace it, but thought it would be nice to add to the collection. (I had to pick 15 apps to get the deal.)
Description from their Website
Caboodle allows users to store and organize varied bits of info. Everyone comes across information that they want to refer to later. Maybe gifts you've received or sent, product serial numbers, recipes, directions to someone's house, a photo of your pet, or anything else.
Eight Things I Learned About Caboodle
- Cost $12.99 and available in the Mac App Store, where as on the Before Dawn Solutions site it cost $19.99
- Last updated 1 year ago - current version is 2.0.4
- The menus/options seem very basic. There's no back up to cloud support, so if your computer crashes - oh well.
- Under the Help menu it references the #bdsCaboodle twitter handle with no tweets. (Strange for an account that is 2 years old.)
- Many of the other Help menus reference documents on the Before Dawn Solutions Website, and are broken links. (Frequently Asked Questions is one example)
- Caboodle is not AppleScript friendly - the application doesn't show up in the Script editor.
- You can create child entries, which is pretty cool.
- When you drag and drop an image into a note you can't resize it within the note.
- You can export notes in HTML, Plain Text, Rich Text and Microsoft Word
I would recommend not getting Caboodle. The application appears to be abandoned. There are many good alternative solutions available.
The WC command is a simple command to display the word count of anything passed to it. You can even pass in PDF documents to see how many OCR words are in the file.
Look at a PDF document
340 1408 31827 /Users/root/Desktop/HotelHistory.pdf
[340 lines 1,404 words 31,827 characters]
Find the number of Errors in a Log
This will count the number of times an error appears by a certain date. You can loop this in a BASH script to see how many times it appears on some days.
cat /mnt/xd/server/debug.log | grep 27/Apr/2019 | grep Exception | wc -l
wc -w gives only the word count.
wc -l gives only the line count.
wc -c gives only the byte count.
wc -m gives only the character count.
Why This Post?
As part of the A-Z April challenge, today's letter is 'W.' Oddly enough, there are not that many interesting things on the Macintosh that start with W.
One Option I had was to review Watermark Pro, but I thought it was more interesting to learn more about the 'wc' Unix command. I also wanted to share some of my knowledge.
Quick Printing using the Printer Pool
If you work in an office environment with lots of printers, it can confusing to print something now and know what printer is available. Sure printing to the closest printer is the solution, but if everyone else in the office is doing that - it may take a while to get your print.
Luckily you can set up a personal Printing Pool so that you can let the computer figure out the best printer to use - almost like a Waze for printing. Your computer will print to the next available printer - you don't need to spend time figuring it out.
The good news is that this is part of MacOS X you don't need to purchase a printing utility.
Setting up your Personal Printing Pool
Here are the steps to getting your own printing pool setup. (Tip you can set up multiple pools, based on location or printer types!)
- Open up System Preferences
- Click on the Printer & Scanners icon.
- Select multiple printer (Hold down the shift key to select the printers.)
- You see the right frame has Multiple Printers Selected. Click on the Create Printer Pool button.
- Name the Pool - I suggest something simple such as 6th Floor Printers or Color Printers near me and click OK
- You'll see the group appear with your other printers.
- You can make this the default group by selecting the name in the Default printer menu.
Keychain Secure Notes
If your looking for a safe place a store sensitive piece of information - your best bet may be Apple's Keychain Secure Notes. The data will be accessible via computer or any iOS device.
This is a good option since third party applications don't have access to this. In addition, it's a bit complex to view a secure note, so you know people won't accidentally find/delete the note if they are playing around with your computer.
Note: Name and Content will not appear in Spotlight Searches. It's a good hiding spot.
Adding a New Secure Note
The only way to add a new secure note is via the Keychain Access application. Using LaunchBar simply type KeyChain and return.
Open up the application. In the Window, select a Keychain to store your note. I recommend using iCloud. Then Shift Command N to create a new note.
I wasn't able to find any limit to how big the note can be, so this might be a good place to store the top secret book that your working on.
You can't store image files in the Keychain.
Viewing a Secure Note
To view any note, simply double click on the note and then type in your computer password.
Need More Power?
If you want more than just basic notes, you might want to check out 1Password. (I haven't used them, so I can't attest to how easy it is to use.) One nice thing is that they have 1 GB of encrypted storage for all your documents.
This is a good way to secure and backup all your work documents!
Export Photos Notification
When exporting a large number of image files from Apple's Photo application, it's pretty scary to see this:
142,311 (of 14,201) files have been exported to: 2015 Photos.
There is no indication of why more files got exported. It made me wonder where the additional files come from. Did I copy some hidden files? Do I have a virus?
It turns out that, in my case, the additional files were 'burst' mode files. Apple treat these as special files, as they are a special collection of images.
Create a Smart Album
Here's the Smart Album that I created, so that I know about Burst files in the future. This is good idea so that I can figure out which of the burst mode images are worth keeping:
Simple steps to creating a Smart Album for Burst Mode.
- Type in Option Command N to create a new Smart Album.
- Use Burst Mode Photos as the Name (Or anything you want)
- Then in the condition, use 'Photos' 'is' 'burst'
Pay Attention to the Export
What's scary is that most people won't notice this message, as it's a simple banner alert. You may not realized that there are some additional images copied over. I just happen to look at the notification and saw the number difference.
Key lesson here is to check the Notification area after doing an export to see if there were any issues with the export. This is essential if your exporting the photos into a online photo album and may not want the burst mode photos to be exported.
The Notification Center is located in the top left of the menu bar.
Anamorphic Pro is a photo touch up application that can help any image to look professional. There are lots of configurations to help make the photo stand out.
Screenshot of Anamorphic Pro interface.
Anamorphic Pro is a professional lens blur tool. Now you can edit iPhone Portrait Mode photos on your Mac. Anamorphic Pro turns your ordinary photos into cinematic masterpieces.
Simple touchup to a Portrait photo taken on the iPhone XS Max
One of the downside of Affinity Photo is that you can't edit the Depth information with Portrait photos. That's where Anamorphic Pro comes in. It allows you to change the front most image and really make a cool photo a cinematic masterpiece.
In order to get the most out of this application, it's best to invest in some time. There isn't much documentation to what each functionality does. I found that playing around with various feature was a good way to learn various ways to enhance a photo.
There is no push button magic - like you find in Photolemur. You do have to play around with various settings to find the one that works for your photo - and your style.
If you don't have a Portrait photo, you can use the brush tool to create a blur mask - define the area that should be blurred out.
Anamorphic Pro cost $29.99 from the BrainFever website or from the App Store. There is a iOS version which cost $2.99 - it might be a good solution if your focus on just iPhone photos.
This is good solution for Affinity Photo users as it currently doesn't offer any depth editing.
Free Trial Available
You can download and play around with Anamorphic Pro for seven days. It's a good way to see how the application can transform any image.