Mac

GrabBox: Screenshot sharing with Dropbox

Posted on Sep 30, 2010 in Mac, Reviews, The web

Okay – by now I think you’ve all heard me rave about Dropbox enough.. but one of the things that is really making Dropbox super useful for me is the number of third party applications that are starting to use Dropbox for fast & easy cloud storage.

I often find myself sharing screenshots with colleagues and friends. There are a ton of applications out there that will help you do this, but most of them rely on you taking a screenshot and dragging it to another application.

GrabBox is a free app that lets you share a screenshot whilst skipping that second step: just take a screenshot and it will automatically add it to your public Dropbox folder and creates a short url for you to share with friends. It puts that url on your clipboard so you can paste it right away.

Here’s a clip of GrabBox in action:

movies/GrabBox.mov

What I love most is that I don’t need to change my workflow: I just hit the regular OS X keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot and GrabBox does the rest: snap, paste, done.

The ugly icon, and the fact that it runs in your Dock instead of your menubar are two minor gripes, but overall it’s highly recommended!

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How to renew your MobileMe account

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in Hints, Mac

If you have a Mobileme account that is about to expire, you can often renew for far less by purchasing a boxed version on Amazon or elsewhere online. But how do you enter the activation code? I recently renewed my account, here’s what you need to do:

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How-to remove a PDF password

Posted on Jul 28, 2010 in Hints, Mac

Have you ever been given a PDF document, only to find you can’t read it on your device of choice because it’s password-protected? Most universities nowadays make course material available in PDF format. However, some insist on making their material password-protected, in order to prevent unauthorized users from reading it.

Unfortunately, the password protection can cause other issues:

  • Preview’s full-screen “Slideshow” view will display a blank screen (rdar: 7757682)
  • Not all iOS apps can open encrypted PDFs (although iBooks and GoodReader have both recently been updated to support this feature)
  • PDF Passwords aren’t saved – so you’ll need to look it up and enter it each time

But if you have the correct password and can open the PDF file, there’s a (slightly tricky) way to store a non-password protected copy for personal use. There are a few different ways you can do this, but after trying out several methods, I believe this is the easiest.

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Free OS X World Cup Vuvuzela Filter

Posted on Jun 14, 2010 in Hints, Mac

If you watch TV on your Mac and been annoyed by the constant buzzing of the Vuvuzela’s during the World Cup games, you might want to try this tip.

I use the equinux TubeStick to watch TV (full disclosure: I work for equinux) so this tutorial was written for The Tube, but it’ll work with other software or online streaming sites as well.

Update:

My colleague has put together a small application that eliminates the need to use Garageband. Check it out for even easier Vuvuzela filtering.

Step 1: Install & Configure Soundflower

Download the free Soundflower utility from Google Code. This utility allows you to pass audio from all applications back into your system, allowing us to filter it using Garageband.

Once installed:

  • Open System Preferences > Sound
  • Select Output: Soundflower (2ch)
  • Select Input: Soundflower (2ch)

Your audio will now be muted – don’t worry, this is normal.

Step 2: Install VuvuX

There are other ways to filter out the buzz of the Vuvuzela’s manually, but Prosoniq offer a free AU plugin that takes care of it for you. Download it, then drag it onto the ‘Components’ alias:

Step 3: Start filter with Garageband

Prosoniq suggest using their filter with Audio Hijack Pro, but if you’d like to save yourself $32, you can use Garageband which probably came free with your Mac.

Simply launch Garageband, create a new real instrument project and adjust these settings:

  • Go to Garageband > Preferences > Audio/Midi and select Audio Input: Soundflower (2ch)
  • Go to your real instrument track, select the Edit tab and click a blank slot to add a new effect
  • Choose VuvuX from the drop down list and make sure it is turned on
  • Switch back to the Browse tab, select Input Source: Soundflower (2ch) and turn on the Monitor

You should now hear audio again. Now fire up The Tube and you will notice that Vuvuzela’s are a fair bit quieter. Turn the filter on or off to really hear the difference. You can also click the filter in Garageband to manually adjust the level of noise reduction – be careful though, too much reduction will cause the commentary and other game sounds to sound distorted.

Any there you have it! Enjoy a vuvuzela-free World Cup!

Follow me on Twitter for further updates and tips!

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Search Chordie iTunes script

Posted on Jun 7, 2010 in Featured, Mac, Opinions

If you play guitar, you’ve probably tried the various tab and chord sites out there. I recently discovered Chordie.com and it has quickly become my favourite.

One thing I often do is look up chords for songs I’m listening to in iTunes. I do it so often that I decided to put together a little script to make it a bit easier to do.

Head on over to my Projects page to download Search Chordie and to find out how to use it.

Download Search Chordie

Search Chordie is based on Search Wikipedia by the fantastic Doug Adams – check out his other iTunes scripts at DougScripts.com.

Thanks also to Chordie.com – if you play the guitar, you’re going to love this fantastic resource.

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Transmit 4 Review

Posted on Apr 27, 2010 in Mac, Opinions, Reviews, UI Design

For years, one of the most popular OS X FTP applications has been Transmit. Panic’s FTP workhorse is so well regarded and robust, it’s engine was even chosen by Apple to power the FTP upload feature built-in to iWeb.

But OS X has gone through a lot of changes since Transmit 3 was first introduced and the app is starting to show its age. Enter Transmit 4!

This latest update adds a completely new user interface, innovative new features like Transmit Disk as well as a slew of customisation options. I was fortunate enough to be a beta tester for version 4, so I’ve had a few weeks to play with the new version – here are some of my thoughts.

New UI

Panic is know for their sleek user interface design and attention to detail and Transmit 4 is no exception. First off, the biggest change of them all: A NEW TRUCK!

But the logo isn’t all that has been refreshed: The entire app feels brand new. Most UI elements have been given a 2010 update and the interface feels a lot tidier.

You start off with a list of your configured servers that uses a sleek black look that was made popular by apps such as PixelmatorCoverScout 3 and SongGenie (disclaimer – I work for equinux).

You can choose an icon for your servers, or use the server favicon

Selecting a server puts you into a familiar file browsing mode – more on that below:

Buttons and features are usually exactly where you would expect to find them and unobtrusive animations and pretty icons round out the package and give the app a nice touch of Panic personality. Here are a few bits of eye candy I noticed during testing:

Progress indicator

Breadcrumb navigation

Nice use of icons in the replace dialog makes it clear which file you need to replace

File Browsing, Places & Quick Look

An FTP client fundamentally has two jobs: show me my remote files and allow me to move files between my local and remote storage. To accomplish that, an FTP application has to replicate a lot of the functionality of a regular file browser, so users can browser their local files as well as their remote files.

Transmit 4 offers single and dual file-browser layouts, (rearrangable!) tabs and the icon, llist, column and cover flow viewing styles you are familiar with from the Finder. But it also has a few additional tricks up its sleeve, that you won’t find in the Finder.

Here are some of the more interesting file browsing options:

  • Folders above Files changes the sort order, so that folders are always displayed before your files in a view
  • Quick Look makes it easy to see a file’s content and even works with remote files stored on your FTP server
  • Places can store shortcuts to your most frequently used folders, so they are just a click away. You can also drag files to a Place shortcut.

Places give you quick access to commonly used folders.

Places is really useful, but the way you add locations by dragging them to the breadcrumb area is a bit unconventional. Once you’ve figured it out though, it quickly became one of my favourite Transmit 4 features.

Transmit 4 offers enough view options to suit almost anyone’s preferred file browsing style. Whether you perfer to work with multiple windows, tabs, split layouts, column view etc – Transmit 4 has got you covered. While it’s debatable whether most users need so many options, file browsing habits are usually so ingrained that it was probably a good idea for Panic to include as many options as they could.

DockSend, Droplets, TransmitDisk and more…

Most of the time, I find myself uploading files to the same place over and over again. Transmit has a number of ways that give you an easy way to send a file to your FTP server straight from the finder:

  • Drag it to a custom droplet you can create in Transmit 4
  • Enable Docksend and you can drag it directly to the Transmit 4 icon in your Dock
  • Turn on TransmitDisk…

TransmitDisk is a nifty new feature, that uses MacFUSE to allow you to mount your FTP server as a volume that the Finder can see. Once mounted, you can interact with your FTP folders like you would with a drive on your local network.

In my experience this worked fairly well, but occasionally felt a little bit more sluggish than using Transmit’s own file browser – but your mileage may vary.

Conclusion

Overall this is a great upgrade to an already very useful application. The new features are well thought out and make working with your FTP server a lot easier and faster. While this isn’t a revolutionary upgrade, it is solid enough to make it worth your while.

You can buy or upgrade to Transmit 4 in the Panic Online Store.

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