Entries from October 2009 ↓

If you care about a free and fast internet…

Berkman Broadband Study
Please visit the above link and read their pdf, a worldwide broadband review for the FCC. It outlines why the infrastructure of the United States is outdated and ultimately fails us as a society.  There aren’t enough providers because the companies who laid out the infrastructure (on our dime) also control who gets to use it, even though we heavily subsidized their implementation as taxpayers.  This Harvard study seeks to inform our government what has worked worldwide to advance other countries telecommunications policies, and why they are “winning” a technology race.

I think the only thing to get the average person in this country to get up and voice their opinion is to be scared about being behind.  If this research doesn’t wake you up and get you to vote for a better future, nothing will. Here’s to hope about getting rid of the terrible oligopolies in the US, and to a brighter future (with faster internet :D .)

Please read this and exercise your voice to the FCC about it.  People who install cable shouldn’t have the final say in who gets to use it, as they are given heavy subsidies and grants to install it.  They should be broken up into separate businesses and made to compete, like everyone else has to do.

iPhone Doubles Contact List in OS 3.0

Prior to syncing your iPhone with MobileMe, be sure to turn off the syncing of your address book in iTunes or you will end up with double contacts when you view the list “All Contacts” in your address book on your iPhone. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it had me baffled for a while.
I had an issue with the speaker port on my iPhone 3G, and sorry to say *cough*, it had to be replaced with a new phone under Applecare. I have had “MobileMe” since it was .Mac, so I was in the Apple Store with a fresh iPhone, ready to leave. No contact info in my phone, say wha?!? I don’t know about you, but I don’t memorize phone numbers. I rely on my phone to do that. So I sync up with MobileMe right in the store and I’m good to go.
Here’s the tricky part. I didn’t realize that if I already synchronized with MobileMe, iTunes would still add my contacts from my Mac, even though MobileMe gets it’s list from…my Mac. What I had to do was delete all of my email address information and re-sync with iTunes.
To avoid that mess, before you sync with iTunes, follow the steps below:
First, open iTunes. Go into Preferences in the File Menu, or hit ⌘-Comma. Under Devices, check the “Prevent iPods and iPhones from syncing automatically” checkbox:

iTunes Preferences--Devices

iTunes Preferences--Devices

Now you can plug in your iPhone, ad nothing will be automatically changed.

Next, select your iPhone in the Devices List,  and select the Info Tab at the top.  You want to uncheck any selections in that tab that would also be synced with your MobileMe account:

iTunes iPhone Info Tab

iTunes iPhone Info Tab

If you have doubled your contacts already, you may have to restore your phone in the summary tab, which is unfortunate, but sometimes worth it anyway.  I’ve read some posts about unhappy owners having to do this, as it takes some time.  Before you try that, you may want to sync/unsync whatever duplicate information you have stuck on your iPhone and see if iTunes will remove it.

If you have tried this to no avail, please comment below and I’ll try to help you sort it out.  If it worked, please let me know that, too.

Thanks for stopping by.  :)

Resizing An Image Without An Image Editor — Using Automator

This is a fast and easy way to scale the size of an image (or a bunch of images) using OS X’s built in utility Automator.  It is very simple (also crude), but it works and the results are pretty decent.

(You can scroll down to the end of the post if you just want the Automator applications and don’t care how I got there.)

First set up the job in Automator by opening the application in /Applications:

Automator Location

Automator Location

Next, choose workflow from the opening screen and select choose (or just hit enter if they’re already highlighted):

Automator Template Chooser

Automator Template Chooser

The next screen has built in functions to select by category.  In the first column, select “Files & Folders“.  Column 2′s selections are based upon what you select in column 1.  Now the next additions to your workflow will depend upon your desired task.  If you’d like to convert a single image, or if you plan on converting a bunch of images in a folder.

First we’ll cover how to make a simple workflow that you can use to select one image, start the workflow, and exit Automator.

With “Files & Folders“ selected in the first column, drag “Get Selected Finder Items“, followed by “Copy Finder Items” into the right hand area.

Next, in the first column, select Photos.  Find “Scale Images” and drag that to the right hand actions area, so it is at the bottom.  Your workflow should look like this:

Workflow to Scale a Selected Image

Workflow to Scale a Selected Image

Next, we want to adjust an options on  ”Copy Finder Items” and “Scale Images”  to force the workflow to ask for a values, rather than having to manually open Automator, change them, and click “Run”.  That Would be tedious, and we are looking for simple.  So, click the options button in the “Copy Finder Items” and ”Scale Images” portions of your workflow, and click the check box “Show This Action When Workflow Runs” in both of them:

Setting Automator To Ask For Values

Setting Automator To Ask For Values

With that done, just use the “Save As” in the file menu (⇧⌘S) and save the file as an application:

Save Automator Workflow As Application

Save Automator Workflow As Application

That’s it, really.  You can now drag an image file onto the new application, it will ask you where to save the resized image, as well as ask you for the type of scale.  You can set by percentage, or by pixels, and set the value based upon how you chose to scale it.  Scaling by pixels appears to be based upon the width, and then uses the same scale factor to the height automatically.

Now, you can adjust this application to do a whole batch of files inside a folder, if you’d like.  First, open Automator, click “Open Existing Workflow”, and choose your new application created above.  Drag “Get Folder Contents” and place it under “Get Selected Finder Items” in the workflow.  Your new workflow should look like this:

Workflow To Scale A Folder Of Images

Workflow To Scale A Folder Of Images

Again, click “Save As” in the file menu, and select a new name for this application.  You can now drag a folder of images and drop it on the application to resize a batch of images.

There are other options in the Photos section of the Library of actions (the left hand column) such as changing the file type as well, for instance if you have a bunch of jpg’s and want to make them png’s for the web.

I hope this gets you interested in Automator–a totally useful and underrated tool–and happy image scaling!

Download the Single File Application or the Folder of Images Application here if you’d like. You can update and change them by opening them with Automator.

Simple Introduction To Apple’s Unix Using Terminal on OS X

This post is for someone interested in learning UNIX on Mac OS X Snow Leopard, but lacks experience using a command line, or has only C:\ prompt knowledge. I will show you, simply, how to map a DOS command to a UNIX command, and to save your profile so the alias name you create is persistent.  If you are a shell scripting genius, this post is something you are encouraged to comment on and expand upon, as learning scripts and commands for OS X can be input many different ways.  It never hurts to have different suggestions.  I will try to make this at the minimum a weekly edition to my blog, and expand each article further than the next.

Let’s get started.  First, open Terminal from your /username/Applications/Utilities folder. This is the command line utility for UNIX, by default it is Bash (Bourne Again Shell.)

You will see your entire present working directory prior to the $ prompt.  The tilde (~) represents /Users/your home folder.  The standard format is computer name: pwd. You can type the simple command pwd and the shell will respond with the folder you are currently accessing.

Default Shell

Default Shell

I like a cleaner shell screen, so I type bash, and hit enter.  This opens a new bash shell, on top of the existing shell.  Next, the command clear deletes the current Terminal text and starts with a fresh bash prompt.  You end up with a Terminal screen that looks like this:

Clean Bash Prompt

Clean Bash Prompt

Here, we can start by showing the man (short for manual;  built in UNIX help pages) page for the command ls (list), which is basically the dir command in DOS.  Simply type man ls at the command line and hit enter.  You can move down the pages line by line using the down arrow key on your keyboard.  To exit the manual, simply type q.

The man page shows you the various options you can use along with the ls command, for example, ls -lia. This command is particularly useful when searching a directory for hidden files (they start with a period), as Finder refuses to display them by default:

Directory Listing With Hidden Files

Directory Listing With Hidden Files

Now, if you are used to DOS, here is a helpful way to stick with the commands you know, yet tell Terminal to run UNIX commands.  You create an alias, basically a command name you make up mapped to a system command. If you want to use options such as -lia, you need to enclose the command in double quotes.  The syntax of the alias command in bash is alias newCmdName=systemCmdName. The command in DOS for a directory listing like the one above is dir /a.  So we can map dirA to ls -lia like so:  alias dirA=”ls -lia”

Note that UNIX is also case-sensitive, for files as well as commands:

Alias DOS dir to UNIX ls

Alias DOS dir to UNIX ls

You can simplify entering commands by using the up arrow to cycle through previously typed in commands.  The history command, saves the commands you enter by line number, which you can view by typing history.  To execute the line number, type an exclamation point followed by the line number:

History Command

History Command

Now, to save this new alias dirA you created into your bash profile.  This way it doesn’t get erased when we kill the shell and quit Terminal.  You may not have a profile set up for bash in your home directory, so what you need to do is create one.  Bash will look for .bash_profile first, so it is best to name any profile you want to use on a regular basis with this name.  It is a hidden file, so you need to have the period in the file name.  For simplicity, you can create a simple text file in your favorite text editor, name it bash_profile (without an extension)and save it in your home directory.  Write the exact command on one line like so: alias dirA=”ls-lia”

Save the file, and then change the name in Terminal.  Use the command mv to change the name so it begins with a period.  Simply type mv bash_profile .bash_profile and press enter:

MV Command

MV Command

MV Complete

MV Complete

That did two things:  one, you moved the file;  two, you learned that mv is the same command as the DOS command move.  You can follow the procedure above to make an alias for the mv command, and place it on the next line in your .bash_profile, so it remains permanent for your login shell.  If you like running an “non-login” shell as I do above, you can use the command cp to copy your .bash_profile to .bashrc like so:   cp .bash_profile .bashrc

Here is a short list of a few DOS commands, along with their respective UNIX bash counterparts (pdf of list here):

DOS COMMAND

UNIX COMMAND

DIR

LS

MOVE

MV

COPY

CP

FIND

GREP, FGREP, EGREP

MEM

TOP (virtual memory use VM_STAT)

*use ctrl-c to end TOP command*

CD

CD (PWD to display current directory)

DEL

RM

That’s all for this quick lesson.  Stop by next week for more DOS examples in UNIX, and (hopefully) working with vi, UNIX’s text editor.