View current playing iTunes track in the menu bar

Feb13

quicktunesI typically play music while I’m working on my Mac.  I have the ability to keep iTunes open all the time and in the foreground (I have 3 monitors), however it still seems to always get covered up by another window.  I can use the MiniPlayer, but I don’t like it sitting on top of any of my windows and I can never seem to find a good spot for it to sit on my screen.  There are a bunch of iTunes menu bar apps that allow you to see the current playing track, but they require you to first click on the menu bar icon.  I wanted to be able to quickly just glance up to the menu bar without clicking on anything and see the current playing track.

After a bit of searching, I came across an old app called QuickTunes.  It lives in your menu bar and simply displays the current playing track and artist.  If you click on the menu, you can control iTunes functions like Play, Pause, Next, etc.  From the menu you can also select “Play Another By This Artist”, “Play Another In This CD”, and “Play Another In This Genre”.  The app also has a floating window similar to the MiniPlayer, but not as useful or good looking (remember how old this app is).

After a couple weeks of use, it hasn’t crashed on my Yosemite Mac and does exactly what I wanted it to do.  System requirements listed on the site say iTunes 4.7+ and Mac OS 10.3+.  So who knows if it will continue to work with new versions of OS X, but it’s lasted this long so I’m hopeful.

Download QuickTunes for free

Newton Gene in OS X – Inkwell

Dec18

I happened to be reading about the Apple Newton and its handwriting recognition capability named Inkwell. Remembering that it was once a part of OS X, I searched for it. I found the following article that shows a history of OS X features and when they were introduced. Inkwell was introduced with Sherlock in OS X 10.2 Jaguar back in 2002, but the article indicates it was dropped.

Can it really be that long and when was it dropped? Another article indicated that it was still around in 2012. It also said that doesn’t show up unless a pen-based tablet is attached. I dug out my old (10 yrs?) Wacom Intuos GD tablet and attached it to my new Mac Mini running Yosemite. When opening System Preferences, a new extension name “Ink” had appeared. Unfortunately, the tablet didn’t work. I downloaded the latest driver from Wacom but it still didn’t work. The tablet works on my old Power Mac G5 running Tiger 10.4. From the Wacom legacy driver website, it looks like Wacom finally dropped support for this tablet after Snow Leopard 10.6

So if you have a newer tablet than I do, rest assured that the Inkwell handwriting recognition technology from the Newton is still available. Read the following articles for more info.

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/the-most-enduring-and-endearing-features-of-os-x-throughout-the-years.-part

http://mac.appstorm.net/reviews/utilities/how-to-use-ink-your-macs-built-in-handwriting-recognition-feature/

Apps that are on Sale

Dec16

A number of apps for OS X and iOS are on sale today. You can find more apps on sale at AppSanta.co.

Mac Apps

Day One (Journal / Notes / Diary): $7.99, normally $9.99 (4.5 stars)

Record life as you live it. From once-in-a-lifetime events to everyday moments, Day One’s elegant interface makes journaling your life a simple pleasure.

Better Rename 9: $1.99, normally $19.99 (4.5 stars)

Better Rename 9 is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That’s why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on Better Rename to organize and maintain files. Better Rename’s user interface supports complex renaming tasks without sacrificing ease and speed of use. Simply drag the files you want to rename straight from the Finder into the large preview table or the application icon.. or use our Finder context menu and hot key.

Deliveries: a package tracker: $3.99, normally $4.99 (4.5 stars)

Deliveries helps you keep track of all your packages, so you always know when they’re going to arrive. Whether it’s the latest gadget you’ve preordered online, or a new graphic novel you can’t wait to dive into, Deliveries will keep tabs on it so you don’t miss the doorbell.

PCalc: $6.99, normally $9.99 (5 stars)

PCalc is the powerful choice for scientists, engineers, students, programmers, or indeed anybody looking for a feature rich calculator. It includes an optional RPN mode and multi-line display, a choice of button layouts, an extensive set of unit conversions and constants, a paper tape, multiple undo and redo, engineering and scientific notation, as well as support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations.

Unibox: $1.99, normally $17.99 (4.5 stars)

Unibox is an email client that groups your messages by person. This way your emails are organized automatically and you always find what you are looking for.

NetSpot Wi-Fi Reporter: $1.99, normally $49.99 (unrated)

Installing a wireless network isn’t always easy. Interference from neighboring networks, and radio noise from electronic devices can cause serious connection problems. While you can overcome those by trial and error, there’s a much better solution: NetSpot is here to do the job for you!

Prizmo 3 – Scanning, OCR & Speech: $24.99, normally $49.99 (3 stars)

Prizmo 3 is a scanning application with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in over 40 languages with powerful editing capability, text-to-speech, and iCloud support. No matter what capture device’s at hand, Prizmo is the key for scanning and performing OCR. It works with pictures taken with your iPhone, iPad, or digital camera, with documents coming from connected or Wi-Fi scanners, even with screenshots! It will help you easily scan any documents (invoices, receipts, boards, giant advertisements…) of any sizes (US Letter, US Legal, A4, and custom)…

iOS Apps

Vert – Unit and Currency Converter: Free, normally $2.99 (5 stars)

Vert is the most amazing, efficient, elegant unit and currency iOS converter. You can personalise it to meet your requirements at its best. Let it be students, people of business, worldwide travellers, rock climbers, anyone who uses on-line recipes or shops on-line, etc. – they all appreciate Vert’s functionality. It blends in with your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad beautifully.

PCalc – The Best Calculator: $6.99, normally $9.99 (5 stars)

PCalc is the powerful choice for scientists, engineers, students, programmers, or indeed anybody looking for a feature rich calculator. It includes an optional RPN mode and multi-line display, a choice of button layouts, an extensive set of unit conversions and constants, a paper tape, multiple undo and redo, engineering and scientific notation, as well as support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations.

Day One (Journal / Notes / Diary): $0.99, normally $4.99 (4.5 stars)

Record life as you live it. From once-in-a-lifetime events to everyday moments, Day One’s elegant interface makes journaling your life a simple pleasure.

Deliveries: a package tracker: $2.99, normally $4.99 (4.5 stars)

Deliveries helps you keep track of all your packages, so you always know when they’re going to arrive. Whether it’s the latest gadget you’ve preordered online, or a new graphic novel you can’t wait to dive into, Deliveries will keep tabs on it so you don’t miss the doorbell.

Printer Pro – print documents, photos, web pages and email attachments: $2.99, normally $6.99 (4.5 stars)

Print attachments, documents, web pages and more right from the iPad on any Wi-Fi or USB printer. Printer Pro lets you wirelessly print from the iPad. It can print directly to many Wi-Fi printers or any printer attached to your Mac or PC via helper application installed on your computer.

Mileage Log+: $4.99, normally $9.99 (4 stars)

Mileage Log+ is an essential app for anyone who needs to track mileage for tax deduction or reimbursement. With predictive input, auto-entry, auto-calculation, and quick access to frequent trips, Mileage Log+ does the hard work for you. A few quick taps will create useful data ready to search, sort, and generate email reports.

Prizmo – Scanning, OCR, and Speech: $4.99, normally $9.99 (3.5 stars)

Prizmo is a universal photo-based scanner app that lets you scan and recognize text documents, business cards, and images, and then export them as PDF/Text, vCard, or JPEG/PNG. Prizmo relies on state-of-the-art technologies, like a highly accurate OCR, real-time page detection, and beautiful image cleanup. Using iCloud, you can even shoot the picture on your iPhone, and finish editing on your iPad or Mac. All of this in an elegant and intuitive user experience.

Bring back the old window zoom button in Yosemite

Nov18

Yosemite changed the default behavior of the window zoom button (green circle) to bring the window full screen instead of resizing (zooming) to the content. You can of course hold down the option key on your keyboard when clicking the button to toggle between full screen and zoom.  However, if you want to change the green button to always zoom again and not have to hold down option, you can accomplish this with a free app called BetterTouchTool.

Once you have BetterTouchTool installed, go into Preferences and configure a new trigger.

  1. Make sure Global is highlighted in the left sidebar.
  2. Click the Configure New Trigger button.
  3. From the Trigger  drop down select Leftclick Green Window Button
  4. From the Predefined Action drop down select Zoom Window Below Cursor (this can be found under the Window Interaction section).

bettertouchtool-1

From now on the green button will zoom to the content instead of going full screen.

Prior to Yosemite, I had been using RightZoom to have the green button maximize the window to the full area of the screen similar to how the maximize button in Microsoft Windows works.  As of now, RightZoom is not compatible with Yosemite. So instead I can setup BetterTouchTool to do the same thing. Instead of selecting Zoom Window Below Cursor, select Maximize Window.

bettertouchtool-2

I also setup another trigger for Rightclick Green Window Button to Restore Old Window Size.

bettertouchtool-3

And just in case I ever do want to go into full screen mode, I setup a third trigger for Leftclick Green Window Button plus the option key and select Enter Fullscreen.

bettertouchtool-4

BetterTouchTool has many other features besides these, definitely worth checking out.

Affinity Designer targets Illustrator CC

Oct03
Affinity Illustrator Logo
Serif, a European software developer, has fired another shot across Adobe’s bow with the release of Affinity Designer. Affinity Designer is professional grade illustration software created for Macintosh. The feature rich application has been out in the World as a free beta for several months and has been well received as an competitor to Adobe Illustrator CC. Affinity Designer will be of particular interest to those put off by Adobe’s price structure and subscription model. The application sells for $49.99 (special introductory price of $39.99 until October 8) through the Mac App Store. Serif promises free updates.
Affinity Designer screenshot

Filter effects are amongst the many tools.

A full review of this software package is beyond my abilities—I am Bézier Curve challenged—but the introductory video is impressive, the early reviews look promising and, if nothing else, the interface looks prettier more accessible than that of Inkscape. At forty bucks, the cost of subscribing to Illustrator CC for two months, I’m in.

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