My own Dashboard Widget

Friday, July 13, 2007

I wrote my first Dashboard Widget last night! I basically followed the Hello World tutorial, except instead of displaying the words “Hello World”, I put in something more useful for me: the symbols for Apple keyboard shortcuts and which keys they are. After using my Mac for so long, I still can’t remember what the symbols stand for. I can remember however the F12 key which brings up the Dashboard, so that’s why I wrote the widget.

Shortcuts Dashboard Widget

The hardest part was not the widget code itself but putting together some graphics that didn’t look like total crap next to the other widgets on the Dashboard:

Shortcuts widget icon

Decorating my computer for the holidays

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Tinseltown theme by TwisterMC for Firefox is adorable! It’s really detailed and puts me in a festive mood.

On my desktop I’ve got a snow man background and in my dock I’ve replaced all of the icons with holiday ones.

For more downloads, check out the 12 Days of Holiday Downloads post and the Holiday Cocoa Duel.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

What is this Disco?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I love getting (free) stuff. So when I hear about this somewhat mysterious and yet-to-be-released app called Disco, and I learn that I can get a look at it for free if I blog about it, I am going to blog about it.

There are a couple of hints out there as to what it might be.

Merging Folders in Mac OSX

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The August 2006 edition of MacWorld has a nice hint on how to merge the contents of two folders together in Mac OSX. In OSX, if you copy a folder to another location which has a folder with the same name, OSX will replace the folder. This is different from how Windows XP does it – Windows XP will merge the contents of the two folders. You can check the XvsXP site for more info. I needed to merge the contents of two folders together (I will be posting more about why later smile) so this was a really useful find.

The solution is to use an Apple Developer tool called FileMerge. It’s not installed by default so you have to install it from the installation DVD.

Edit: Hmm.. after playing around some more with it, it takes a lot of time to use. But it does work.

My Top 10 Mac Apps

Friday, August 18, 2006

After about 2 months on a Mac, I’m ready with my list of top 10 Mac apps. They may not be the most beautiful ones out there, and some of them aren’t free, but they are the ones that I use all the time. I decided not to include the apps that came bundled with my computer.

candybar Candybar. Candybar is a shareware program ($12.95 USD) from IconFactory. It allows you to change the program icons on the Mac. This was the first program I bought that was specifically for the Mac because I love to customize things like this. smile Right now, I’m using David Lanham’s Somatic icon set.

cocoalicious Cocoalicious. Cocoalicious is a freeware program that displays all of your bookmarks by tag. Like director, but for the desktop. It’s got a built in preview so you can view your bookmarks without having to open a separate browser. I find this much easier to use this to search/edit bookmarks than the web interface itself. What would make it better? Perhaps this. Note: The team just released a new API, and to get Cocoalicious to work with it, you need to change the base URL in the program’s preferences.

doublecommand DoubleCommand. I’ve mentioned this app already. It’s a freeware program that changes the default keys. Now about once a week, my Mac will not start up properly. After it happens, I find that I have to reinstall the program again. pout But it’s not a big deal.

firefox Firefox. My favourite web browser. I’ve tried using the Mac-specific browsers like Safari and Camino, but I keep coming back to Firefox, mainly for all the cool extensions. The only thing that sucks is that it can’t use the services menu.

iEatBrainz iEatBrainz. iEatBrainz is a freeware program that tags mp3s by looking them up on MusicBrainz. Although it works fine, I think the Windows equivalent (I’m thinking of Music Brainz Tagger, as I haven’t tried Picard yet) is much more powerful. Hopefully there will be a port of the new Picard program to Mac OSX one day.

keepassx KeePassX. KeePassX is a freeware password management program. I used the Windows version, so I was so relieved to find that there was a Mac version, and that it could open my password database file. I use it to keep track of site logins, forum logins, and serials.

quicksilver Quicksilver. Quicksilver is a powerful freeware program. I use it to quickly launch applications, and to browse for files on my computer. There are a lot of features and plugins available that I haven’t even figured out how to use yet.

sing that itune Sing that iTune! Sing that iTune! is a dashboard widget that detects the current song playing in iTunes, and looks up the song lyrics from the Internet. It is one step better than EvilLyrics (the Windows equivalent that I used before) as it also saves the lyrics into the music file itself. I’m now working on getting adding lyrics to all the songs I have on my computer.

textmate TextMate. TextMate is a shareware text editor that costs €39. I tried a couple of text editors and I liked this one the most. Plus there’s a neat ExpresssionEngine bundle available for it.

xGestures xGestures. This shareware program is worth a lot more than the $5 USD it costs (for me, anyway). It enables mouse gestures for all applications. I’ve been so used to using mouse gestures in Firefox and in Opera that it’s wonderful to be able to use it everywhere else. There are settings for global mouse gestures as well as application specific mouse gestures. The only downside? When I have to use a Windows computer, I continually make gestures with my mouse and it takes me a few seconds every time to realize it won’t work there.

So, that’s my list.

Keyboard Changes

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ha! All of this month I’ve only been updating this weblog on the weekends.

Anyway, there are some old memes on the Internet where people list

It’s been fun going through everyone’s lists to see if there’s something that I’d like too. I’m probably going to do this meme soon. But right now I want to single out one mac app that I’ve found really useful these past few days.

As I mentioned in a previous post, being new to Macs and the OSX operating system, I had trouble with using the Home and End keys on the Mac because they work differently than on Windows. Thankfully people told me what to do. But I’ve been trying to finish up my EE extension, and I’ve come to realize that I really don’t like how it works. To get to the end of a line, you have to hold down the Command key and then press the right arrow key, or sometimes you can use Cmd+E. When I was coding away, I would hit the End key expecting to go to the end of the line and then suddenly I would find myself looking at the bottom of the screen, and my cursor is nowhere to be found. To get back to where I was, I have to press the backspace key and then Undo that. I found that having to type two keys instead of just one was slowing me down.

The other major adjustment was the location of the Ctrl and the Cmd keys. I actually managed to adjust to this one pretty easily. Instead of using my pinky finger, I use my thumb. But at work, I have to use Windows and go back to using the pinky finger.

I did a search on Google and found this article, which tells you how to change the key bindings on your computer. It worked, except only on certain applications – it didn’t work in Firefox for example. After more searching, I found an application called DoubleCommand. It provides a user interface for changing the key binding. With it, I was able to get Home and End keys to work like it does on Windows. I LOVE this. There are a whole lot of other options you can configure as well, such as swapping the Cmd and Ctrl keys (I’m not going to do that just yet though). And it’s free, too!

New to the world of the Macintosh

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I got an iMac today! I’m using it right now to make this entry. It’s the first time I’ve used an Apple computer, ever (unless you count me playing with it at the Apple Store)! I got the 17 inch iMac. It looks huge here on my desk.

I’d always considered myself to be a PC user. Last year the first Apple Store in Canada opened in Toronto and when I visited it I fell in love with the look of the Macs. But I never seriously considered getting one. Today’s purchase was mostly on impulse.

There’s a promotion on right now – if you’re a college student and you buy a Mac, you get a “free” iPod nano. You have to purchase it, and then apply for a rebate that covers the cost of the iPod. Since my brother is in university, he took advantage of it (although I paid for it – and anyway he has no interest in Macs). The 2GB iPod nano costs $229 CAD, and the student discount is $24, which takes the price down to $205. And the rebate itself is for $205 – so essentially I only have to pay the tax on it and have to wait a few weeks for the rebate. Wasn’t intending to get an iPod of any kind at all – but I thought, since there is the promotion, I might as well, seeing as it’d be the only time I could see myself getting one other than winning it or something. There’s also a student discount on the iMac itself.

First thoughts on the iMac? It’s so pretty! It’s quiet! And it’s so easy to set up! I had some trouble with getting the wireless encryption setting to work with my existing linksys router. But I got my brother to turn off the encryption, did a search on Google, and found the solution right away (you have to type a $ sign before entering the encryption key). Other than that, I had no other problems, and I didn’t have to look at any advanced network/system settings or anything – I am impressed!

The biggest adjustment I have to make right now is the using the Command key instead of the Control key. They are two keys apart and it’s going to take a while to get used to. For some reason the “end” key on the keyboard doesn’t work. And I miss the right click – although I’m sure that there’s an option to change that, I just have to find it.

Right now it’s downloading and installing updates. I’ll probably be posting more about my experience with the iMac later. Right now I want to look through the manual and so on. It’s my new expensive toy and I’m loving it!

Firefox 1.5 is out

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox 1.5 was released yesterday. I got around to installing it today, and I love it! There are quite a few new features, but here are my favourites:

  • Tabs can be re-ordered without having to use an extension
  • FF displays a page when there’s an error instead of having a popup window
  • Ability to use the at-rule for matching on site/document URL. I won’t have to use an extension any longer.

I noticed that I could type in slashes in the address bar with keywords again biggrin. And they seemed to have fixed this bug where there would be white lines appearing over images when the images are in an overflowed div.

Also, there were a couple of extensions that were disabled because they wouldn’t work with 1.5, but I was able to find updated versions at the Add-ons site. I’m just waiting for the Furl Toolbar, Bookmarks Synchronizer, and ChromEdit extensions to be updated and I’ll be set!

Customizing Opera’s Toolbar

Monday, October 31, 2005

I’ve been customizing my Opera toolbar so that it looks like my Firefox toolbar. I’ve gotten pretty close to getting them to match. I’ve taken a screenshot of the two programs lined up so you can see what I mean.

ff and opera

Edit: I just noticed that if you try to view the screenshot link in IE 6, the page shows up blank. I have no idea why, but I’ll try figure out how to fix it.

Halloween Desktop

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Avedesk 1.3 was released yesterday. It’s awesome! In honour of this I’m uploading my Halloween-themed desktop.

Opera’s Multiple Document Interface

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

One of the things I like most about the Opera browser is its Multiple Document Interface. It goes beyond the tabbed browsing feature in Firefox. With Opera, each tab is called a page, and you can resize and move each page so that they are next to each other. There is a menu option which allows you to tile your pages horizontally, vertically, or have them cascade.

While I was editing all of the templates that made my site, I used the Opera browser to do it.

Here’s a screenshot:


I have two windows open. The one on the left is the template editing form within my EE control panel, and the one on the right is the EE user guide. When set up like this, it is very easy to look up something in the documentation when I need to. Sometimes I have two template pages open and tiled, and cut and paste bits of code between the two.

Then, on the very left of the screen, there’s the notes panel that’s built into opera. I use the notes to store code snippets that are common between the templates. If I want to use a code snippet in a template, I double click on the title of the note, and the note’s contents appears in the editing textarea. There’s less cutting and pasting involved!

So yeah. I still use Firefox as my primary browser but once in a while I’ll use Opera for its nifty features.

Back to high resolution!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

My laptop is back! My computer starts now. But I have to bring it back in again tomorrow because one of the memory slots isn’t working. I’m running on 512MB right now instead of 512MB+256MB. Both memory cards are working but only on one of the slots. At least I can back up some stuff now!

I often forget how high the resolution of my laptop is. It’s 1400×1600. Whenever friends come over and use my computer I have to turn it back down to 1024×648 just so they can read off the screen. The tech guy who worked on my comp did this too. smile

There’s been quite a few software upgrades in the past week or two. I’ve got to upgrade Firefox to 1.0.7. And Opera to 8.5 – it’s free now. By the way, there’s a keyboard setup called Munin 7.5 that changes the keyboard shortcuts in Opera to the same as Firefox/Internet Explorer, which solves my main complaint with Opera – getting used to the shortcuts. Keepass is now at version 1.03. I can finally upgrade to iTunes 5 now that the Multi-plugin 2.0 beta is out. FileZilla is at 2.2.16. There’s probably even more software upgrades I have to deal with.

Laptop Troubles

Monday, September 12, 2005

My laptop has died. It was working fine on Sunday morning. I left the laptop on all day. When I went back to it just a few minutes ago, the screen was blank. I thought it had just gone on standby. But the computer didn’t respond to anything. I restarted the computer a couple of times but the screen remained blank. grr All I’ve done so far is curse and go to another computer to write up this entry. Well at least I have another computer to use. Hopefully I can figure out what’s wrong tonight.

Nice and Clean

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I formatted my laptop today. Spent hours backing up my files. And by backing up, I mean burning all of my files onto a CD-RW and then dumping them onto my dad’s comp. It has 3.5x more hard drive space than my laptop. The problem was that my one CD-RW can hold 650MB of data and I had about 11GB of data to back up. I tried to set up a home network but I couldn’t get it working.

Right now I am installing XP Service Pack 2. And then I’ll have to move all of my files back onto my laptop again. ouch

It’s all worth it though. The reason I wanted to format in the first place was to get rid of my Linux partition. Two years ago I set up my computer so that it will dual-boot into either Windows or Linux. After about a year I stopped logging into Linux altogether so I thought I might as well free up some more space. If I want to use Linux, I’ll just use one of those Live CDs.

Oh. And I had a look at those control panel themes I made on my dad’s comp. The red one looks awful on that monitor. The green one is wayy brighter but still tolerable and the purple one is OK.

Viruses and Anti-virus Programs

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

You know, I hadn’t really thought about what happens if you get a virus that attacks your anti-virus program until now. What if the virus disabled the anti-virus program so that the program wouldn’t detect anything? Then the virus could just completely take over your computer.

I’ve been trying out the free version of Avast! Home Edition  antivirus for the past week or so. I liked it enough. Then today, a message popped up on the screen saying that one of the files on my computer had been infected. The file in question was an executable file that is part of the anti-virus software. It asked me whether I wanted to delete the infected file, or repair it. I was worried about deleting the file, because it might be a critical file. I chose to repair it, but then I got an error because that file was already being used by another process. Of course it was, I was running the anti-virus program!

In the end I uninstalled Avast, installed AVG Anti Virus Free Edition, and used that to scan my computer. The virus was called Java/ByteVerify. Everything’s good now. smile 

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