Macintosh Blog Posts
Affinity Designer Backgrounds
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.
Download the Affinity Designer Style!
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:
- Download the Backgrounds.afstyles.zip file and unzip it.
- Open up Affinity Designer.
- Select the Style Tab
- Click on the Panel Preferences and select 'Import Styles category'
- Find the unzip file
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:
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
- Excel 4.0 Tutorial was written in HyperCard
- PowerLock Registration was a Hypercard stack. Once you filled in the information, the data would be sent to Rohan Cook.
- PageMaker included a Hypercard Stack to demonstrate the flexibility of PageMaker Scripting.
- Random Insults - Would show you a random insult every timet the stack loads.
- QuickTurtle documentation was distributed as a Hypercard Stack.
- Smithsonian Institution's Office of Printing & Photographic Services photo catalog was available as a HyperCard database stack.
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.
Boston Computer Society
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.
Boston Computer Society's Freedom Trail Stack
The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites ' 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.
Boston Computer Society's Boston City Guide Stack
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.
Aldus SuperPaint 3.5
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.
Paint and Draw Tools
- 3D Box - A tool with another dimension by Dana Gregory and modified by Marie L. Hughes
- allGON - A plugon twiddler by Dana Gregory
- Crop Marks - Drag the rectandle you wish the crop marks to surround. by Sean D. Baird
- Cycloid - Draws a Hypocycloid shape inside a circle or a Epicycloid outside a cicle by Linda McLennan
- Flowers - Flower shape, with settings for petals, width and smoothness.
- Grid - Creates a grid within a pre-defined area by Peter Kevin Reeves
- QuickShadow - creates a rectangle, multigon shapes and circles with shadows behind them by Marie L. Hughes
- Spiral - Creates a quick spiral shape by Linda McLennan.
- Bubbles - Draws round bubbles as you move the mouse by Linda McLennan
- Calligraphy Brush - changes the brush size as the speed of the mouse changes - supported tablet pressure by Marie L. Hughes
- Charcoal - Mixure of the regular brush and the Spray can by Linda McLennan
- Copy Brush -Copies an area based on the reference image by Linda McLennan
- Dry Brush - The faster you paint - the faster it runs out of paint and leaves a trail as though from the bristles of a brush. By Marie L. Hughes
- Magic Marker - produces an effect similar to a felt tip marker by Marie L. Hughes
- Smudge - Smuges any Paint area by Chris Mohhrman
- Spin - Spins a line as you draw by John F. Simon
- Spray Can - sprays the Area Filled in a round pattern. You can could customize the brush size by Linda McLennan.
- Sprinkler - Using the Area Fill, this tool stamps a series of shapes into the document.
- Texture Brush - Brushes a texture by Linda McLennan.
- Twister - mixes up the pixels in an area around the cursor by Linda McLennan.
- Variable-size Eraser - Users can select from 4 different eraser sizes by Marie L. Hughes
Other Tools that were available in the tool box:
- Text tool - Can be used in Paint or Draw layers
- Lasso Tool - Drag a free-form line around the desired object. The selection area will tighten around the selected obect.
- Airbrush - Paints like a real airbrush using the current Area Fill.
- Pencil - writes a one-pixel line, using the current Area Fill (unless you begin the line in an area of current Area Fill; the it erases a one-pixel line)
- Paint Bucket - the paint bucket pours the current Area Fill over all contiguous pixels that are the color of the pixel under the spout when the mouse button is pressed.
- Eraser - a 16x16 square that erases the area unter the tool. Double-click to erase the entire visible portion of the document.
- Line Tool - Lines are filled with the current line fill.
- Perpendicular Line Tool - Lines are created at 90 degrees or 180 degrees.
- Round Rectangle Tool - Double-click to display the Round Corners dialog box, in which you can configure the round ends or round corners.
- Rectangle Tool - Rectangles are filled with the current Area Fill and are bound by the lines of current Line Fill.
- Multigon Tool - draws equilateral polygons with a definable number of sides. Double-Click to change the number of sides
- Oval - draws ovals filled with the current Area Fill, and bound by lines of current Line Fill and widths.
- Polygon - creates an irregular shape filled with the current Area Fill.
- Arc - creates a one-quarter oval filled with the current Area Fill.
- EyeDropper - click to pick up a color in the Paint layer.
- Freehand Tool - lets you draw free-form shapes.
- Grabber - Drag to move the document in the window, or past the boundary of the working area.
- Magnifier - Click anywhere in the document window to zoom in one level.
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.
Modern Graphic Programs
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.
Long time Macintosh Users may remember ResEdit. Its the topic of this weeks Macintosh Blog post. The next few Macintosh posting we'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.
Cool Tricks with ResEdit
Here are some descriptions of hack files that were available from the UMI-Mac archive (January 12, 1996)
- ResEdit hacks so that when you try to save a file over an existing file, the dialog asking Replace Existing
? defaults to 'OK instead of Cancel.
- Instructions on how to use ResEdit to modify System 7.1 Finder to have disk sizes given in not M, eliminate zoom reacts, the rename delay, the message on when an application is substituted, and the I'll be back message on unmounting a partition.
- This is a small Resedit Hack that will correct your System Information Box to show a PowerMac 7200/7500 icon as well as the proper System Name. This hack can also be used on the 8500 and 9500, but the nifty little Icons aren't provided.
From an old macology.com Easter Egg page
- Open Apple's Sound Manager with ResEdit and open the snd resource. Select the Barking Pumpkin noise, and choose the try sound option to hear this blood-curdling sound!
- Open ResEdit on any Mac, and hold down Shift-Option-Command when you choose About ResEdit from the Apple menu. This gives you a new pig mode which compacts and purges resources every second when ResEdit does its event loop. This slows ResEdit down, but you do get to hear a cool pig sound, which makes it all worthwhile.
- Older Mac computers (new CPU owners, like the iMac, should look in Apple Extra's for this), open up your monitor control panel using ResEdit. Under the PICT resource, you will see three images. One is a happy face, one is a computer, and one is a happy face with its tongue sticking out. Now, if you actually open the Monitor control panel normally, hold down the Option key and you will see the computer appear next to the number. The other faces, however, we can not get to appear, so we must assume they are hidden eggs!
Sample ResEdit Dialog box for the Simple Text Application.
I have been a long time fan of Panic'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.
Transmit Supports AppleScript!
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:
- Every morning I get the latest server.log file
- On the server, I have a cron job to do a weekly archive my database files and I use AppleScript to get the database dump so I don't have to think about it.
- I use AppleScript to log files that I put on the server.
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.
Make the Move
I would highly recommend Panic.com's Transmit application, it'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.
What about Panic Coda?
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.
Arrows in Affinity Designer
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.
Getting Decent Line Arrows in Affinity Designer
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.
Download the Asset
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.
2-Page View in Pages
Is the latest version of Apple Pages better?
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?
Blame it on iOS
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.
Page Layout Applications
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.
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
So why record live radio broadcasts?
Because Someday I'll want to remember the good old days. When so and so happened:
- Remember the time when Trump was running and people were complaining about XYZ.
- Imagine hearing the broadcast of David Ortiz hitting his final home run as it aired the night before he gets inducted into the hall of fame.
- What was like in Boston during the blizzard of 2017?
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).
If your need to create diagrams, process charts, website or graphic design then OmniGraphic is certainly something to look at. This is is a good time to look at OmniGraphic since they are about to release version 7.
Linda.com has several hours of training on OmniGraphic 5 and 6. It's a good way to learn some of the features of the application. It's certainly worth looking out if you have a Lynda.com subscription, and if you don't have a subscription, you should certainly sign up for their free 10-day trial.
Why I used OmniGraphic
I purchased OmniGraphic in 2005 to help with some onsite training. The application provided the right tools to create attractive looking process flow charts.
OmniGraphic Pro was necessary for me to open up all the Visio documents that customers would send me.
New Features in OmniGraphic 7
Version 7 is a complete redesign with lots of new features and functionality. OmniGraffle website list the main features being: Infinite Canvas, SVG Support, Artboards, Stroke to Shape, Text to Shape, Point Editor, Keyboard Shortcuts.
Right out of the box the Infinite Canvas is very nice, now I don't have to worry about the size of the document. I just open up the Application and get to work. The adjustment of the Inspector pallet to the window is much easier to read and deal with.
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Support is nice, EPS support would have been better. I have found that there are way more EPS files than SVG files. For example on CreateMarket they have 8,424 SVG files, and 136,662 EPS files. Perhaps over time there will be more SVG files.
I don't understand the functionality of an Artboard. I have seen it in other applications, but really don't understand it enough to appreciate the feature.
The Point Editor is nice, now I can easily add the right number of magnetic points that I want to put on a shape.
There's lots of cool stencils that come with OmniGraffle 7. I really like the three-dimensional stencils.
Upgrade Path to 7
There's a lot of cool things that the Omni Group put into the latest version that - for me - it's worth considering an upgrade cost. What is it going to cost to upgrade from OmniGraphic Pro 5.5 to OmniGraphic 7?
OmniGraffle has a cool tool on their website to check the license key upgrade path. I did a quick query and found that upgrading from OmniGraffle Professional 5 to Omnigraffle 6 will be $49.99 and the Pro version will be $99. The Professional version has AppleScript, Shared Layers, Tables, Shape Combinations, Visio Support and a few other tools. Since I like using Tables, I would have to upgrade to OmniGraffle Pro 6.
I haven't decided if I'll upgrade yet. The features and functionality look very promising.