Smiley Happy Coder

I'm a web developer with a love of technology and I'm a bit of an Apple geek

Change the file format for screenshots on Mac OSX

OSX’s built in screen shot tool is awesome I’m sure you’ll agree, but there are times when you need to change the format that the images are saved as. Maybe a PNG is just too large, but what about if you want a PDF.
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Showing hidden files on your mac and other cool features

Being a web developer I often need to view and manipulate hidden files such as .htaccess files.

So when I download a .htaccess file to my mac desktop it just disappears. In fact it doesn’t, it just appears to because it’s by default a hidden file. Read On >

A quick fix for speeding up your Mac.

One of the things that can effect performance on your Mac is the Dashboard.

The dashboard sits in the background and has a whole host of small widgets which it must keep stored in RAM.

Pop open the dashboard and check out what widgets you have running. One thing you can do is to delete the widgets that you no longer use.
Alternatively if like me you don’t use the dashboard at all you can just switch it off.

To kill the dashboard open the terminal and enter

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
killall Dock

Don’t worry this isn’t permanent, you can get the dashboard back at any time by doing this.

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO
killall Dock

But in order for any of these changes to take effect, you must restart the Dock by typing:

killall Dock

Trade Nations

Recently I’ve become hooked on an iPhone game. It’s not something I’m proud of. This particular game has even surpassed Angry Birds in it’s addiction level.

I’m talking about Trade Nations

Trade Nations
Read On >

Apple, A suggestion

I have just made the step of submitting some feedback to Apple via their feedback site at www.apple.com/feedback.

My idea is a simple one, but one I think could be a real benefit to folks like me. Alternatively it could be the worse idea ever conceived. Read On >

Tidy up your dock with dock spaces

If you are anything like me you will hate to see a mess. I keep my desk so tidy that sometimes I wonder if I actually do any work there, so why can’t I do that same for my dock? I can, lets get started.

So I have a dock that looks like this, and I hate it. It’s disorganized ugly and more difficult to use than it needs to be.
Dock Pre Space

To start putting things right we’ll need to open the Terminal. If you’re concerned about working in the terminal then let me just say that this is possibly the simplest thing to do in the terminal. Don’t be scared, its worth it.

The Terminal can be found in your Applications folder under Utilities or you could just type start typing Terminal into spotlight.

Now it’s decision time. You see the small dashed line? It separates the applications from the system folders and trash. You can add a space to either side of the line but the command is very slightly different. For reasons that will become apparent now is a good time to decide how many spaces you might like. It’s not the end of the world if you change your mind so don’t worry.

To add a space on the left of the dashed line copy and paste the below code into the terminal and hit enter.

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{tile-data={}; 
tile-type="spacer-tile";}'


You will notice that nothing appears to have changed. That’s fine. If you decided that you wanted four spaces paste the code and hit enter a further three times. Still nothing will have happened and that’s because we need to restart the dock. Again into the terminal enter, or copy and paste this line and hit enter.

killall Dock


You will now see that the dock will slide out and in again and that you should now have a few spaces at the right hand end of the dock. You can now move them around to wherever you like in order to tidy up your dock. If you decide you don’t want a space just drag it off and it will disappear in a puff of smoke.
My dock now looks like this, much better I’m sure you’ll agree.

Dock Post Space

Oh and by the way, If you like a space on the right side of the separator the code is below. Use it in exactly the same way as above.

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{tile-data={}; 
tile-type="spacer-tile";}'


Note: The terminal code needs to all be on one line.

Use Mac OSX’s Spotlight as an app launcher

There is a lot a talk about application launchers recently and there are some really good solutions to the problem. But is it actually a problem?

Granted a lot of these app launcher applications do perform a lot more than just launching applications but I’m just thinking about launching apps.

I have briefly tested a couple of applications and though they are very good I just find that I don’t need them. I have never felt the need to keep one of these apps beyond it’s trial period.

So what do I do?

Well, I just use software that’s built in. Spotlight.

Spotlight comes pre setup with the keyboard shortcut of CMD Space.

So how do I launch an app? Try this key sequence on your mac. (CMD SPACE saf ENTER)

⌘␣saf↩



All being well Safari just opened for you.

Could anything be any faster than that? Tell me you think.

How to quickly restart the finder and dock

I just came across a very good reason to need to restart the finder on my mac. It’s a silly thing that I bet we have all done at some point.

I was working on a site and I wanted to change the permissions on every file. Rather than selecting the correct folder and applying the changes recursively I selected every single file and clicked Get Info.

So now my desktop is cluttered with about a million different get info windows.

Clicking close on each one would take an age so here’s a quick tip.

Open up the terminal. Don’t be scared it’s nothing complicated. Now copy the below code and paste it in. Or retype it if you have the patience.

killall -KILL Finder


Hit return and the dock and finder will restart. All those pesky windows will have closed and everything is back to normal.

Anyone else got any cool terminal tricks? I’d love you to share them in the comments.

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation

I just downloaded the Dragon Dictation App from Nuance. I have always been enthralled by the thought that I could just talk and my words would appear in text. I often have times when I could be doing something constructive but I’m restricted, such as my commute to and from work. I can now write blog posts whilst driving. Maybe not, that could be dangerous.

The application appears to have a reasonably small footprint as it downloaded really quite fast. The app launches quite quickly and presents you with a extremely simple interface which consists of the words “Tap and Dictate” and a record button. Tapping the button initiates the recording of your voice. Once you have said your piece you press the huge red done button and the app then processes your speech.

Looking at the application, it’s size and speed of processing I’d imagine that it sends your speech to a server which handles the actual processing. This brings me to the only real flaw with the application. I have had times when I have submitted my speech and the app has gone away, appearing to send the data and then simply returns to the main “Tap and Dictate” screen. I’m guessing this is due to having a reduced signal strength at the time of sending.

The quality of the resultant text is really quite good. I have a reasonably strong midlands accent and the app manages to discern almost everything I say. Don’t get me wrong I have had some words come back incorrectly but even if that happened to be one word in twenty it would still be way quicker to dictate and correct than to wholly type the piece.

In my opinion it’s a must download.

NOTE:- Nuance, the makers of Dragon Dictation are not aware of this mini review and have not paid me to write about their application.

How Time Machine saved my life!

Apple Beachball - Time Machine

Ok, so the title “time machine saved my life” sounds a little dramatic. As it turns out it’s nearly true.

The other day I was tinkering on my iMac. I was trying to find out if I could export one set of contacts from my wife address book and then import it into a separate group in my address book.

I could have done something wrong but it appears that these exports/imports are a case of all or nothing.

So the crux of the issue was that I left my address book empty after deleting all my wife’s contacts. I then tried to re-import my contacts to revert back to how it should be. It was at this stage that things went awry.

The Beach ball

I got the dreaded beach ball of doom. Each time I tried to import my contacts the app stopped responding and the beach ball did it’s thing. The only thing I could do was to force quit the app and try it again, after a few tries I was forced to give in and head in to the office.

I forgot

I completely forgot about the problem and carried on as normal. Yesterday I hooked up my iPhone as I normally would about once a fortnight and updated some podcasts and the usual kind of things and then went to work. It wasn’t until mid morning when I got a call. I looked at the screen and there was no caller info, just a number and that number was familiar. At first I couldn’t understand what had happened or why there were no names against any numbers in my calls list, so I popped open Contacts and there it was. EMPTY!.

Panic and realisation

So as you can imagine I started to panic. What’s happened? Where did all the contacts go? Did they get a better offer? Then it hit me. You deleted all your contacts then sync’d the iPhone you MUPPET. Clearly upset I put the iPhone down and decided that there was nothing I could do from work. It would have to wait until that evening when I got home.

Time machine, the Saviour

When I got home I logged into my iMac and immediately opened up the Address Book and I found it just as I had left it, empty. After spending about ten minutes flapping and panicking about what to do, it dawned on me. Time Machine. Up until this little mishap I had never used Time Machine to recover lost data so I had no real idea of how it would pan out.
As it turns out it is as easy as it says on the Apple website. I just clicked the Time Machine icon in the dock and the background changed to stars. I moved back through time machines time line until I found the last date when the data was whole and I clicked Restore.

And that’s it, after re syncing the iPhone I have all my contacts back in the correct place.

First moments with iPhone4

So I just got in after collecting my new shiny iPhone4. I know what you’re going to say, isn’t there a load of problems with the antenna’s on those? Well I’ve heard a lot but it just seems to me that it’s one or two big voices with the problems. The only person I know who has one doesn’t have any issues, so that’s enough for me. I’m sold.

So this afternoon I had to drop into town to run a little errand. On the way back I happened to stroll past the O2 store. I didn’t for a second imagine that they would have any stock but it can’t hurt to check now can it? As it turned out they had received a delivery that very afternoon and the two folks in front of me were just buying theirs. I decided to hang on for a few minutes and get one.

So I suppose I should be doing an un-boxing video but the video camera I want to use is still in the box. So I unpacked it and I looks cool. It’s so thin and it has a nice weighty solid feel to it.

The iTunes activation Process

Connecting the iPhone to the iMac opens iTunes as you would imagine and hey it’s clever enough to realise that it’s a new phone. So it starts the setup process. iTunes then notices my backup of the iPhone 3G and asks me if I’d like to use that to rebuild the new iPhone.

The new iPhone is now a replica of my 3G and is working perfectly with the minor issue of a network. O2 are still in the process of deactivating the SIM that’s in the 3G and activating the SIM in the 4.

Now to start playing.