Archive for the 'mac' Category

WP Blog Editor Review: Desk 3

February 27th, 2017 | Category: applications,mac,review,wordpress

I’ve decided to work on doing weekly blog posts to get back in the habit of writing about what I’m doing. One of the things that bothers me about editing in a web browser is that the keyboard shortcuts never work well. As someone who spends a lot of time on the keyboard, the shortcuts not working properly can throw me backwards. The one that has bitten me in the past is accidentally trying to navigate backwards and losing what ever changes hadn’t been automatically synced. As a part of that I’ve been looking at Mac native editors to write blog posts on without having to land in the web interface too much.

This post, and a few others, have been written using “Desk 3” an app that bills itself as “Writing, Blogging and Notes for WordPress”.

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macOS Hidden Shortcuts

February 20th, 2017 | Category: apple,mac,macosx,tips

I’m a pretty big macOS user with a combination of my primary Mac laptop, an iMac desktop machine and also an ancient Mac Mini Server machine. I’m also a really heavy Terminal user with someone commenting that they’ve not seen a Mac user with so many terminal windows. There’s a secret to this: the terminal and the Mac share many keyboard shortcuts that you’d not expect.

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Using a Text Service to quickly open a web page URL

February 13th, 2017 | Category: apple,mac,macosx,tips

From time to time I buy products online via eBay or AliExpress. I use a Tap Forms 5 database to track my orders and make sure I keep track of everything from when I ordered it to when it arrives. Tap Forms 5 however doesn’t have a feature that let’s me take the value of a random field and template that into a URL (I should probably ask for that). However the Mac has a powerful framework called “Services” that allows you to hook into applications and execute code. One of the easiest ways to build a service is to use Automator.

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Re-mapping “Quit” to “About” in Safari on macOS

February 06th, 2017 | Category: apple,mac,macosx,tips

One of the most annoying things for me about the QWERTY keyboard is the location of the “Q” key next to the “W” key. If you’re not a Mac user and if you’re not someone who heavily uses keyboard shortcuts you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. However if you are a keyboard heavy Mac user like myself you’ve probably run into the situation where you meant to hit Command-W to close a window but you accidentally hit Command-Q to close the entire application.

This can range from annoying to near data loss situations depending on the application you’re in. For me in the case of Safari, I have a lot of tabs and windows. Hundreds of tabs and tens of windows at one stage. Hitting Command-Q on that doesn’t lose me data but it does unload it from memory. Then I need to relaunch Safari again and it has to reload all of those tabs. This can range from a mild annoyance if I’m not in the middle of something right up to being a massive pain because I’m not somewhere with good internet or potentially any internet like a plane.

Now I have a work around I use to prevent me from unintentially quitting Safari when all I wanted to do is close a window or even tab to another application. This workaround just saved me from accidentally quitting Safari and triggered me to write this blog post!

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Restoring lost Chrome Tabs

June 18th, 2016 | Category: apple,google,guides,mac,macosx,tips

For some reason today my Mac decided it didn’t want to work any more and essentially froze up. It was getting slower over the morning and eventually ground to a halt. I think I might have been able to wait it out and kill some stuff but I ended up hard resetting it. When the machine came back most everything recovered…except for Google Chrome’s tabs.

Google Chrome had opened and left me with a blank window without the normal “It looks like Chrome crashed, do you want to restore the tabs?” button. I have the “Continue where you left off” setting so I’m not sure why that didn’t kick in either. Restoring the tabs restored tabs from one window out of the 10 or so windows I had but also interspersed some tabs I’d closed prior to the crash. A quick Google search for “restore closed tabs after quitting Chrome” gave me a lifehacker article which covered the process. It had some notes on prevention but it had a “Recovery Mode” section which mentioned editing the “Local State” file and changing the “exited_cleanly” entry to be “false”.

The article covers four files in the User Data Directory that are relevant to session and tab restore: Current Session, Current Tabs, Last Session and Last Tabs. The suggestion in “Recovery Mode” is to restore these files. Given I’d lost this data, I wasn’t sure what else had gone so I decided to stop Chrome, rename the “Default” user data directory and then restore the one from an hour ago back in place. Once the restore was done, I edited the “Local State” file as mentioned above and started Chrome. Chrome started and showed the “Chrome didn’t shut down correctly” bar and gave me the option to restore my tabs.

To put this in bullet form, the steps to fix this:

  • Stop Chrome.
  • Go to ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/ and rename “Default” to something else. (TIP: You can use SHIFT + APPLE + G in Finder you can paste the path to go straight to that folder).
  • Connect to Time Machine.
  • Restore the “Default” folder from the Time Machine backup into ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/ again.
  • Start up Google Chrome and click on “Restore” in the bar where it says “Chrome didn’t shut down correctly”.
  • All of your windows and tabs should be restored!

This process is very similar to the one for restoring lost Safari tabs. The important piece in both of these cases is to have regular routine backups. Time Machine on Mac OS X provides hourly backups automatically which is invaluable when these sorts of issues occur. Any routine backup solution will work properly (e.g. CrashPlan), you’ll need to adjust the steps to be appropriate for your platform.

 

Edit: It looks like the Local State file is gone and you may not need to set it anyway according to ssorgs’s comment on this post. If your tabs aren’t automatically restored when you restart, try using SHIFT + APPLE + T to reopen recently closed tabs and that should bring them back.

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iBooks Author Licensing

Today Apple announced their plan on changing the way the textbook industry works. To achieve this they’ve released a new tool called “iBooks Author” which provides a WYSIWYG interface to building ePUB files. Essentially the rub is that while you can use it to build content and you can give it away for free in any of the formats you want, if you want to sell it you have to use the iBookstore. But let’s take a look back at the product for a second.
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Today: 04-Nov-2008: Fun with Kerberos

Today was a mostly ordinary day, though the day started with me buying Red Alert 3, so that wasn’t too bad – yay! Australia! A week behind the rest of the world! I could have pirated the game and had it faster and cheaper, perhaps even finished! But I digress, it was an ordinary day.

Today is Melbourne Cup day, being the first Tuesday of November, so we had a luncheon of sorts and a drawing for the horses. Didn’t win, the food was good, I’m $10 poorer and such is life.

I’ve been spending more time at work using my Mac as a primary machine. Since I’ve moved to Exchange from Domino (or Outlook from Notes), I’ve gotten Evolution on Linux mostly working (with the exception that it doesn’t automatically look up names for emails which is tedious) and Apple’s Mail and Address Book both playing nicely with Exchange. I do miss the fact that I had Notes on my Linux desktop and things mostly worked albeit slowly and consuming large amounts of memory, but it worked with all of the features available normally. Mail’s ability to due autocompletion is what is drawing me back to it as a client, which when you start writing emails is actually more useful than you would think. Its still not up to par with the Notes autocomplete which was quite cool and a lot more advanced than either Mail’s or Outlook’s (I get Outlook via Citrix).

I’ve also been trying out NetBean’s PHP Early Access through a nightly build (has the ability to create PHP projects from existing sources) and I’m impressed with it. I tried it out because I wanted to try out debugging with my PHP instance and the dated version of Eclipse I had (3.2) seems to have issues – more than likely my fault – and I don’t want to waste time on trying to fix something. NetBean’s installed and worked almost instantly, however it took me a while to find where I could change the params to get J! to route items properly. I managed to work out the bug that I was having without too much issue. I knew what it was but not where it was: turned out to be exactly what I thought, an assignment operator used instead of the append operator. The Subversion support seems to be a bit off and doesn’t work yet, so I’m not quite ready to ditch Eclipse yet – but I’ll try with later versions to see what I get.

I had a chat with the principal (we have principal, manager, director, CEO as our chain of command) about the projects that I’m doing and the ones I’m interested in so I’ll have to do some paperwork and business cases for the new projects and justify items. We’ve recently got a new manager who is trying to find where everything is so part of this is explaining everything so that he can get a grasp of the way the system works.

Then I spent the majority of the afternoon with one of the ITS guys working through how our Citrix boxes work with Flex profiles and the mandatory profiles filling in the gaps in his knowledge and how different parts of the system and why items might break or behave in a particular way. I think he’s worked out how it works and he’s even figured out why a few issues are happening. So nothing exciting but useful.

And finally I had fun with Kerberos. I built the Kerberos module on the SLES10 server, installed it, restarted Apache and tried to get it to work. On my Mac both Safari and Firefox requested a username and password instead of using a Kerberos token and IE6 in my Citrix session seemed to just go in a weird infinite loop. I slowly worked through my entire Kerberos configuration on the server until I got to looking at the keys. It turns out that the keys were created with the wrong virtual host name for the server which is causing the issues. The keys for the real server name actually worked fine when I got around to testing them which proves that everything will work once I get the keys. The last part is a fix to the Citrix system which for some reason think that the intranet site is actually on the internet, but I’m assured that this should be easy to achieve. Getting Kerberos up and running was pretty easy ignoring the faulty keys compared with some of the nightmares I’ve had getting items to play nicely together. I’ll probably add something to my guide (http://sammoffatt.com.au/jauthtools/Kerberos) on it, to help with items.

Who knows, I may have even figured this Kerberos thing out!

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Quicksilver

December 22nd, 2007 | Category: applications,mac,macosx

If you are using a Mac and haven’t heard of Quicksilver then you are missing out in life, especially if you are a person who spends most of their time on the keyboard. Even when I’m not on a Mac, I still miss Quicksilver and the functionality it offers. I’m writing about it because just today I wondered “can it do this?” and funnily enough it could. It does help that I have enough plugins to sink a ship installed in it, however unlike other projects it doesn’t slow down when it gets all of these plugins installed on it, or not to any point that I can notice anyway!

For those of you who have heard of Spotlight, Mac OS X’s search utility, might have heard that it can launch applications as well as finding and indexing the contents of the hard drive. Quicksilver takes that one step further and provides not just the objects but allows you to bind useful actions to those objects, but you aren’t restricted to just one action. For example I launch Quicksilver and type “next song” (its found what I’m looking for by ‘next’) and next to this a whole heap of options appear, with the first preference (configurable of course) being ‘Run’ to execute this object. Its actually a Quicksilver plugin for controlling iTunes that I’ve installed.

Quicksilver for me ends up being the main program from which I launch applications. I’m a developer so that means that I end up typing on the keyboard more often than I end up clicking. Not only this but because Quicksilver uses a search metaphor, it is often quicker to find applications or files via typing than it is to move to the mouse and start pointing around. Remembering back to my GUI theory with KLM where pointing and clicking is far slower than plain typing (the benefit of Quicksilver is that I never move my hands from the keyboard). Again for a new user or one who types slowly, Quicksilver isn’t going to be as useful a tool, however for most users who can type at a reasonable pace, and especially for those who can touch type, Quicksilver is brilliant.

For more information about Quicksilver, check out Blacktree at http://www.blacktree.com

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64-bit Hell and Eclipse

October 06th, 2007 | Category: 64bit,development,linux,mac,macosx,opensource,technology,windows

For many years now I’ve had an AMD box that was capable of running 64-bit. I wouldn’t say I’m an early adopter, it just happened to be capable of 64-bit and it didn’t bother me if it was a feature or not. At the time I tried out the 64-bit builds of Linux and Windows, found Windows woefully equipped to handle 64-bit and Linux a bit better (having all of the source code to recompile and fix things on a new word size does help things).

Fast forward to today and I have (again) a AMD AthlonX2 64-bit box now on my desk and I’m running SLED10 64-bit. To be honest I’m doing better than Helpdesk who has a similar test box and have been trying to get 64-bit Windows XP up and running on the machine. They’re still hunting for drivers for the thing and keep complaining they have to go halfway across the internet to get things. For myself I’ve only downloaded one driver for the ATI graphics card on it, more to get dual head mode working on the graphics card. So I’m up and running and I’m not really noticing any issues with applications. Everything I’ve thrown at this box has been handled perfectly, until I decided to upgrade Eclipse. Eclipse is a strange beast and the build I have is a 32-bit build. It worked fine by default, however the Java version that I have on my desktop is rather ancient (1.4.2, thank you SuSE). This meant that some things didn’t want to work properly. I tried to upgrade to the IBM provided 1.5 release which wanted to be 64-bit. Which is fine, until you realize that the Eclipse build has a 32-bit SWT support layer. Try again! So I ended up downloading the 32bit Linux Java off the Sun website and installing it. That got me up and running with 1.6 and Eclipse started and almost got me to where I wanted to be. Then Eclipse hanged itself. Eclipse does this from time to time, so I just let it sit there and do what ever it
does and it came good. I have a feeling its trying to go to the internet or some other network resource which is taking its sweet time to respond, or for the internet, being blocked by a firewall somewhere.So this brings to light an issue with any system that indulges in dynamic linking. One of the issues here was Eclipse’s SWT library being 32-bit (there are 64-bit builds so that is fixable though I know not how) and at one point using a 64-bit build of Java. Funnily enough this isn’t as big an issue on my platform of choice, Mac OS X. As I pointed out in a Slashdot comment Apple has done a great job of shifting architectures for their operating system and let alone the 32-bit/64-bit transition. They’ve had to move from their original Motorolla m68k powered machines to PowerPC based machines and now from PowerPC on to Intel, and they’ve used emulation both times swapping from the m68k to PPC and then from PPC to Intel to make the transition lighter, and utilizing “Universal Binaries” similar to the “fat binaries” they used previously to get things up and running. The only other element of note is providing the “Classic” interface to ease the transition from the nanokernel that powered Mac OS 9 and earlier to OS X’s new XNU microkernel. The system is in effect emulating a Classic machine, though it isn’t complete. Though of most note Apple announced the toolchain to make the PPC to Intel switch all possible ahead of time and integrated it directly into their primary developer tool, XCode.Perhaps this is why Apple’s transitions are so much smoother than that of either Microsoft or Linux.

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Indexing and Application Launching

June 11th, 2007 | Category: linux,mac,macosx,search,windows

Last night I was doing some work and I wanted to do some more research and knew that I had some files on the subject already on my hard drive, but I wanted to see what else was out there. As it happened Google didn’t really turn up much interesting beyond the obligatory Wikipedia article, but Google Desktop Search turned up a direct link to one of my local resources. Doing so saved me from using Spotlight to do the same thing. But that isn’t the only app indexing my hard drive, Quicksilver (my preferred app launcher) also runs in the background check the hard drive for new and interesting files that it can index and add to its database so that when I search for an application all I need to do is type its name and hit enter.

So my Mac has three different indexing tools: Google Desktop Search, Spotlight and Quicksilver. This is in contrast to my work PC (Windows XP) which has Google Desktop Search and Windows Indexing Service (which does poorly on large itemsets such as the contents of your hard drive…most of the useful items I find using this tool is not what I wanted originally but something else thrown up in the list for some reason, completely irrelevant, but interesting to read. There is another tool I use, RockIt Launcher, which is a Quicksilver equivalent for Windows except its catalog is limited in scope and usefulness, plus it has to be manually reindexed.

Linux by comparison seems quite poor, really only having Beagle desktop search, but that would discount the other options available. For example I do a few things differently on this platform: I launch terminals using my function keys (alt-f5 to f12 is bound to local and remote terminals (via ssh)) which means I get access to those applications. alt-f2 brings up the Linux equivalent of the ‘run’ dialog, except with completion. This is my equivalent for Quicksilver as I usually know the app name (as with quicksilver) to launch it. The last app launch/search is the deskbar I have on my lower panel, which has a list of commands run through it (could be desktop search, dictionary or app launch) so I can click that to quickly get to applications or type in the text box to get feature almost identical to Quicksilver. The last app launch point is my ‘drawers’. These are little panels that extend down with Quick Launch icons. They’re grouped so if I’m doing a particular task I know which drawer to go to so that I can launch multiple similar applictions. iIts also handy for eclipse, which has the same name but is three different installs.

So for me, my main use of search is application launching and occaisionally going to find the file I want. Mac has lead the way on the desktop, Google provides another awesome solution, Beagle is very nicely integrated into GNOME and now that Vista has (finally) shipped a few months ago it has search built in. So finally everything is getting indexed, making things easier to find for those of us who have too much information.

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