Archive for the 'apple' Category

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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Apple’s Courage

January 23rd, 2017 | Category: apple,macosx,thoughts

Apple said it took “courage” to take away the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7. And then none of this courage was on display with the MacBookPro that removes the USB ports, the Thunderbolt 2 ports, MagSafe port and SD card slot to replace them with four USB-C ports…and left the 3.5mm headphone jack there. What?

Instead of taking the chance with the iPhone 7 to converge on USB-C for the connectivity, Apple decided to stick with Lightening. I was also mildly annoyed that when they moved from the old 30 pin connector they went to Lightening but it was obvious there were some advantages over the USB options at the time. Now with USB-C many of those advantages have disappeared and having USB-C would make it a standard connector. They’re not going to do that because Apple makes money changing people for the “Made for iPhone” brand though I don’t see why they couldn’t continue to do so with USB-C but it’d obviously not be as well controlled. 

One of the other issues that going to USB-C could have solved would have been one of the first USB-C accessories: the wired headphones for the iPhone 7. Tied with the USB-C only MacBookPro you’d have the first connector that works out of the box. This would be a synergy between the Mac and the iPhone that Apple is supposed to be the go to platform on.

Of course it’d take “courage” to shy away from the “Made for iPhone” profit. Maybe Apple has some more spare?

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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.


Huawei Modems and Mac OS X Mountain Lion

August 06th, 2012 | Category: 64bit,apple,guides,macosx,tips

So I don’t have access to my old Huawei modem with my new Mountain Lion box however some comments on my earlier article indicate that the same steps that go Huawei Modems working on Mac OS X Lion also work for Mountain Lion as well. I’ve updated the earlier post title to reflect this and put an update there. Very cool however that it does appear to mostly work.

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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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Getting your Huawei modem working with Mac OS X Mountain Lion and Lion

July 22nd, 2011 | Category: 64bit,apple,guides,macosx,tips

You know the part before the upgrade where they tell you to check all of your applications before you upgrade? Well, last night I decided that it would be a great idea to upgrade my Mac from Snow Leopard to Lion. Turns out that perhaps wasn’t so great an idea after all when my Huawei USB 3G modem dongle decided that it wasn’t going to work since it wasn’t relevant for the new 64-bit only kernel. Oops, I should have checked first. But it isn’t a complete disaster!

Update: This appears to also work with Mountain Lion as well according to some comments at the bottom. It may not work for everyone but it does appear to work for some.
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iOS, web apps, native and back again

June 19th, 2011 | Category: apple,mobile,technology,thoughts

At Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2007, Steve Jobs came on stage to announce a launch date for the very first iPhone and to announce how developers would build applications for the iPhone. His announcement was that his suggested way of developing for the iPhone was to write web apps (it is a couple of minutes in). So what was the reaction to that?
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iPhone OS 4.0 Ruminations

April 10th, 2010 | Category: apple

My day job is in theory based around development, primarily web application development. Whilst lately I’ve been doing far too much infrastructure stuff, most of what I do lives in a web browser eventually. I am also an Apple user. I have an iPod Classic, an iPod shuffle, an iPhone, I got my Dad an AppleTV and I have a MacBookPro, convinced my ex-gf, her father, my father and my sister to get Mac. Probably a few other people along the way. I came to a Mac because it was the cheapest laptop I could buy that would reliably work well. I was a Linux user at the time (still am to a point) so the UNIX functionality and X11 features in Mac OS X appealed to me. Worst comes to worse, I reasoned, I could run X straight from my computer when I’m at home and hopefully the browser and text editor choices would be fine. I’ve come a long way from that.

So Apple lately have been doing a lot nifty stuff. They’ve released the iPad, their tablet PC. In the announcement the other day they said they’d sold 450,000 of the devices. To be honest that is impressive. That is a lot of tablet PC’s sold, probably a significant portion of the market now are Apple after a week. They also announced iPhone OS 4.0 which has some curious things.

The first change with it isn’t technical but legal. They’ve changed the Terms of Service section 3.3.1 from:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.


3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

So basically if you’re not writing Objective-C, C, C++ or JS (HTML5/CSS/etc) then you’re not welcome. Bye bye CS5’s funky Flash Export to iPhone App feature. I’m not going to comment on this in general however Apple have consistently said those four languages are it. Using or developing tools to get around it was seriously tempting fate given all of the announcements Apple made. I’m not surprised, I’m not sure if it is a good or a bad thing (Flash shares a special loathing in my heart) but given Adobe have lately made their Flash player on Mac a piece of crap and not improvement (don’t get me started on Linux support), I can see where Apple have come from. Some argue that there way it handles it’s fast switching blah blah won’t work with quasi emulated apps because it doesn’t know data structures blah sounds to me like crap. The observation that Adobe’s write once run anywhere CS5 deployment could mean that Apple’s extra features aren’t supported until Adobe deem it to be included is a problem. That would mean any cool features would be unavailable to a portion of the developer community potentially never. It would potentially give Adobe control over the platform in a way Apple may not like. At the end of the day Apple is a public company and what makes them a profit is why they are there, so this is where their decision takes them. And whilst many claim Apple owe Adobe for their heritage, it is clear that recently Adobe haven’t been supplying a good experience for Mac users of their software anyway. Titanium keeps being included in the list of tools that might be excluded but I’m not entirely sure, it is certainly a border case.

The other interesting feature they added is multitasking. But nowhere do I see that people are understanding that it isn’t multitasking, it is just services. Apple aren’t giving people the ability to run what they want in the background, they’re offering services that will handle what they need for them. Other comments like the platform can’t support true multitasking and Apple’s design is flawed have come up in a few places which miss the point of the services. Apple doesn’t want your trashy code chewing memory and CPU, potentially going rogue and killing the users battery like it can on other platforms. That is unfriendly. The iPhone OS runs a system more than capable of multitasking it is just Apple prohibiting access to do so. The services they’ve got seem to meet the criteria and also permit reasonable flexibility. Will it be enough? Perhaps, but it is a start. They’ve got seven services: background audio (Pandora), VoIP (Sykep), background location (anything that watches your location), push notifications (yawn), local notifications (think alarm clock), task completion (the closest to true multitasking, example is a photo upload takes a while) and fast app switching (my old Palm worked like this in some respects). I think these will work well and solve a number of needs on the device and bring it up.

The other features announced included folders (better categorisation really) which reminds me in part of how stacks works as well. The next was improvements to mail for a unified inbox. Apple Mail on the desktop has this and I’m not a fan of it (I use the per mailbox inbox). Other Mail enhancements included threading and opening attachments in other apps. The last useful feature is the multiple Exchange account functionality, this will mean I can use Google’s Sync toy with my work’s Exchange account whilst still retaining some other identities I have. I have things sort of working but it could be better. Their book app is also coming to the iPhone which is more than predictable.

From the enterprise front they’ve beefed up support. Some of it already sounded familiar but the wireless app distribution is going to be useful for work (the current method involves connecting it to a desktop and loading the apps manually or App Store, this is a third option). Game Center seems interesting and a bit late to the game but better late than never as they say. They’ve also got an advertising framework built in. Not sure how this is going to play out but we will see. Hopefully they won’t nuke the third party advertising frameworks but I don’t see them as making that mistake, a regulator would surely snap them for that. Including it in the framework will probably mean the demise of most alternatives and they’re doing it in a way that can be relative unobtrusive compared to how it is handled now. Time will tell.

All in all there are some things that people don’t like (TOS Change) but I can see the Apple progressing slowly and improving. They’ve got a head start over every other platform and it appears that only Google have been able to come close to match them. Microsoft have pulled out all stops with Windows Phone 7 to create something that looks cool but they’ve almost left it too late, those burnt by Windows Mobile are perhaps wary of the next operating system. The Apple ad with the PC going “Trust me” over the ages rings true. My iPhone will miss out on a lot of the cooler stuff with services because of it’s age which is annoying but life. How application developers will handle this will also be interesting.

Of course now the iPad is out, maybe they will update a whole heap of other things.

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