Desktop Pictures & Automator!

Some people call them wallpapers, I prefer desktop pictures… and I have a big collection of them. hmm. 336 of them in the current rotation, as of this article. I’ve been collecting them for at least a decade, according to the earliest modified date.

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So what do I do with them, and where do I find them? Well, currently I have them all in a folder in my Pictures folder, aptly named Wallpapers. Yeah, I wanted a short name! They come from various sources, but the main one is http://www.desktoppr.co/ What’s so good about that site? Well, it’s linked directly into my Dropbox folder, so syncing an image is as simple as clicking the little cloud icon under the image. Very nice feature. They all end up in ~/Dropbox/apps/Desktoppr/ which, as you may have noted, is not where I keep my collection.

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Why not, you ask? Because there are many images that are in my collection that are personal photos, and I do not want to make them part of my Desktoppr library. You guessed it, anything I add to the Desktoppr folder goes back up to the site. You can see my collection online, once you login, at https://www.desktoppr.co/theconsultant

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For a while I would sync new images to Dropbox, then manually copy them across to the Wallpapers folder. This got tedious fast, so I worked for a while on cobbling a bit of a folder action script together. After messing around in Applescript for a day and not quite getting what I wanted, I headed over to Automator.

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I created a new folder action and added the “Copy Finder Items” and chose my Wallpapers folder. Umm, that’s it. Too easy. Saved it, and then right click the Desktoppr folder and, in Services, go into Folder Actions, and add the workflow.

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Next time an image dropped into the Desktoppr folder it automagically got copied across. No more manual syncing.

Now I can spend all that extra time looking for the next great desktop picture!

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1Password4 URL trick

There was a trick mentioned at our last ByMUG meeting to make using 1Password 4 on your iOS device a little easier.

There are several ways you can modify a URL to make it open directly in 1Password:

onepassword4://search/<search term> will open the app in the search mode searching for the <search term>. For example: onepassword4://search/icloud will bring up all your saved items with iCloud in them.

Add ‘op’ to any URL in your mobile browser before the http:// or https:// to have the link open in the 1Password browser. Makes it easy to switch over and login…

If you are a developer and want to add 1P support to your app the details, and code, are available in an AgileBits Blog post.

Domain pain continued…

So I took a bit longer than expected to get back to the domain saga.. I went in this evening and pushed the domains from my eNomCentral account to my new retail account (which worked instantly) and then proceeded to renew the domains, and found the price was better, but $29.95 is still not what I asked for. Much clicking around in the main account found a “report” of my price change request, and in the downloadable spreadsheet version was a notes column, which told me that the price I had set actually needed to be $15.36, and not the bare minimum I tried putting in before. Okey dokey.. I went in circles and set things to the new price, emptied and refilled my shopping cart a few times before the new price appeared. Yaay! I saved a bunch of money.. and have now renewed the domains. Whew.

Still stuck in eNOM, but I can’t move them for another month and a half, as that 60 day change limit set by CIRA still applies.

*sets note to self in iCal for early March*

Domain Pain!

So I had a few domains left in my eNom account.. and I was slowly moving them out as they came up for renewal, and it came time to renew the last 2 domains. No problem, right? Well… I would not be writing this if it had been easy!

Why bother moving them? Well, my eNom account is a reseller account, and requires filling the account with a $100 USD increments. No way am I paying that for the last 2 domains in there.

I updated the registrant details, since both clients email accounts were no longer valid. Silly me I update the entire contact info to my data, instead of just the email account. Once updated I pushed out the EPP code so I could transfer the domains. I then logged into my Hover.com account to transfer them over.

Ugh. Domains are still locked. Did I mention that they are both .ca’s? That’ll come up again soon.. so I call Hover.com and they tell me that eNom must have a second level of unlock they need to do, ie. somebody has to push a button manually!

So I call eNom, and the nice gentleman tells me that the domains are locked by CIRA. Huh? Well, it turns out that when you update all the registrant details then CIRA locks the domain for 60 days. He suggests I transfer the domains to eNomcentral, their retail arm, so I can renew just one domain at a time, instead of dumping in a hundred bucks.

So I call CIRA the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, and am told by the nice lady that this is a security measure and that it has always been in place, and that there is nothing they can do. I wonder why they bother letting me change the email address, since that is all I need to change if I were going to steal a domain.

So I transfer the 2 domains to eNomcentral, a painless process I must add, it takes all of a few seconds to create a new account on eNomcentral and then push them across. At this point i’m annoyed, but happy that i’ve found a workaround…

Then I hit the renew button on the 2 domains and discover eNomcentral wants $39.95 each domain!? WTF? I was paying $13.95 each at eNom. $26 markup is outrageous.

After much time on hold I get through to Tech Support at eNomcentral. Can’t help me, passing me on to Sales. I’m on hold again… and they can’t help me. *sigh* i’m being passed off to support again.

Yaay! There is a way to resolve it: I created a sub account in my enom reseller account, which is a “retail account” and then push the domains into there. Since I set the price for my retail accounts I do not have to add any markup, and I can renew the domains for less!

Figuring I should do this early I set the renewal cost for .ca’s in that retail account to no markup. It’s in the queue.

More news next week!

 

 

Using Adobe Acrobat to view PDF’s in Safari 5.1.x and Mac OS X 10.6.8

Safari no longer displays PDF files.. and hasn’t done so on my machine for months. It does not bother me much, as I prefer to download them anyway, by clicking in the URL bar and then holding option and then hitting return, which downloads them.

But a client called and complained that they needed to be able to fill in online pdf forms, and when they clicked the link all they got was a black screen, so I went and figured it out:

On Mac OS X 10.6.8 with up to date versions of Safari, you need to make sure that Safari is running in 64 bit mode for the Acrobat reader plugin to work.

To get it to do so, quit Safari, go to it in your applications folder, right click on Safari and Get Info. Empty the checkbox that says “Open in 32 bit mode”. Launch Safari, and viewing PDF’s in Safari with Acrobat Reader will now work.

You can also run into problems if you have Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Pro installed, any updates to the Pro version may mess up your browser plugins. To fix this you need to delete the plugins and reinstall Acrobat Reader.

The AdobePDFViewer plug-in is used to display PDF files in Safari using Acrobat and Reader. This plug-in is installed as part of the Acrobat X or Reader X installation. The location of this plug-in is:

Macintosh HD/Library/Internet Plug-ins/AdobePDFViewer.plugin

Details are from Adobe’s Help page: Troubleshoot Safari Plug-in

To remove the plugin: Quit Safari, then go and delete the plugin. Yes there’s a second one, called AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin, you can ignore it.

Then reinstall the latest version of Acrobat reader. You can find various installers on Adobe’s Acrobat Reader Download Page.

I should also mention: if you have need to use Acrobat Reader to view PDF’s in Safari and would prefer to use the built in viewer, just go and delete both the plugins mentioned above and then restart Safari.

How to mount the Windows partition of a hybrid DVD

A client of mine has an older Lenovo laptop with a defective DVD drive. He’s saving for a MacBook Air rather than spend money fixing it! I downloaded the installer for his new Fujitsu ScanSnap so he could get up and running right away. But the DVD has goodies that you can not download, so I offered to bring it back home and copy the installers to a USB stick. When I put the DVD in I only get the Mac partition. So here’s how I worked around it:

You need to have a mount point for the Windows partition, on the Mac one gets created in /Volumes when you mount something, we need to make one, so pop open your Terminal and do:

mkdir /Volumes/windows

This creates a directory named “windows”. You can name it whatever you want.

Now you need to find the device name of the DVD:

diskutil list

and, since the DVD is in the drive, you’ll see it come up as a device, and some partitions. In my case it was:

/dev/disk1
#: TYPE NAME SIZE IDENTIFIER
0: Apple_partition_scheme *3.3 GB disk1
1: Apple_partition_map 17.9 KB disk1s1
2: Apple_HFS ScanSnap 943.7 MB disk1s2

To mount the Windows side of the CD:

sudo mount -t cd9660 -r /dev/disk1 /Volumes/windows

sudo to prove we are an admin (SuperUser DO), and the mount command with options to mount 9660 format, the device and the path to mount it at.

It showed up as expected, and then I copied the installers I needed. You can try dismounting it in the Finder, but that will not work, you need to unmount it like this:

sudo umount /Volumes/windows

Note that it is umount not un-mount.

Then go and delete the directory, in the Finder or on the command line:

rmdir /Volumes/windows

After that, you can eject the CD normally, or if you tried from the Finder and can no longer see it, do it from the command line:

diskutil eject /dev/disk1

No I did not figure this all out on my own, I used an article from the codeweavers support wiki. Thanks!

Giving Marketcircle my 2 cents!

The fine folks at Marketcircle, makers of the amazing Mac CRM, Daylite, and invoicing application, Billings, have got people riled up by a recent blog posting of theirs.

We (that’s not a Royal we, that’s myself and a few other folks I know who use their products) have always been frustrated with the Report Engine and the difficulty in customizing invoices and reports in it.

Anyhow, the blog post is here: Stop InDesign Invoicing – Templates Aren’t Enough, and a pile of comments follow it…

My 2 cents?

Dave says:

I know WTL and what he is not saying is that he is a designer and programmer.. and if he thinks the invoice designer needs to be “burned to the ground and rewritten” you’ve got a serious problem!

I’m a consultant, and when clients come to me asking about Invoices, templates, reports, etc in Daylite and Billings, I just shake my head. Not worth the headache, and I have had lots of time to try to figure it out, I have been using Billings since 2006.

So Marketcircle? Go look at Filemaker and see that a super powerful system can be made friendly, and we can all actually use it. I’m sure you can build a layer on top of the designer that would let us do what we want, or even a separate application.

While we’re at it, can we get PDF invoices from Billings Touch? And not these mobile invoices, please follow the numbering in the main app! It’s ok to check out a few invoice numbers when we sync and hold onto them in BT until we sync back. HTML invoices make me look bad. My clients want PDFs!

I recommend Billings to my clients. Keep it up, you’ve got fantastic products that really should only get better!

I’d love to know what you use for invoicing and time tracking.. drop me a line at dave at theconsultant dot net

How to buy a used Mac

A client asked what the best approach would be to buying a few used iMacs for her family for Christmas, to which I replied:

I would not use eBay at all, I would go to Kijiji and Craigslist. That way you can actually go and see the computer before buying it. Yes, you probably will pay a bit more for it.. but it will be less headaches in the end!

As for which models to buy, go download the Mactracker app for iPhone or Mac, and use it to look up and compare with what is for sale. The models you want to avoid are ones that do not meet the requirements for running Lion:

http://www.apple.com/macosx/specs.html

Don’t worry if the iMac you are looking at does not already have 10.6 or 10.7 on it, just look at the CPU speed and RAM, the OS itself you can update later since you already own copies.

Once you find a likely iMac, ask the seller for the serial number. If they are unable or unwilling to provide it, move on.. once you have it, put it into this page:

https://selfsolve.apple.com/agreementWarrantyDynamic.do

Which will return the warranty and service details on the iMac, and this page:

http://support.apple.com/specs/

Which will return the specs on the iMac. Oh, I also ask the sellers about pets and smokers.. since my kids have allergies, and I can’t stand the smoke smell. My biases, it’s up to you to ask in advance, or decide when you get on site. Once you have those details you can decide if it’s worth looking into further. I’m assuming you’re going to read all about how to avoid scams, so I will not go into any of those details.

Next step? You’ve contacted the seller, have brought a friend along, and are meeting the seller and looking at the iMac. Ignore the iMac for a minute and look around, that will tell you a lot more than looking at the iMac itself. Once you are back at the iMac, boot it up and make sure it is the same one you were told about, basically check under “About this Mac” for the serial number, CPU and RAM details. If you have a usb key you can check each USB port to make sure it works, and if you have a DVD you can make sure the drive works. That’s about it.

Once you have it back at home use your handy OS X 10.6 install DVD and erase the hard drive and reinstall the OS from scratch. Unless you have a 10.7 installer.. at which point you should use that instead!

Have fun, and feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions!

p.s. RAM is cheap and easy to upgrade on an iMac, so you might take that into consideration as well, low RAM in the iMac might be a benefit as you can get a good deal for it and then add RAM yourself. Not sure what kind of RAM you need, and what the costs are? Take a look at http://canadaram.com for details.

On Steve Jobs dieing…

I think Apple said it best, in their Think Different campaign:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore.

They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.