Command ⌘ symbol

Just found out how to insert the Apple Command key symbol . It’s the symbol with Unicode hexadecimal 2318. I saw this post on Mac OS X Hints Forums which told me the Unicode value. The steps are on my ScreenSteps.me page Insert the Command Key which assumes that you’ve already got the Character & Keyboard Viewer menubar icon set up. If not, simply follow the steps at Add the Keyboard & Character Viewer to the Menu Bar. Thanks Allison for telling us about ScreenSteps and ScreenSteps.me.

EclecTech Society

I’m giving a short overview of iOS development at the EclecTech Society at their inaugural meeting regarding “Building Mobile Apps” on February 22. Do check out their website - it promises to be an interesting group.

PromptPuppy: A cute little teleprompter

Just purchased PromptPuppy - it’s the little brother to PromptDog. It might be a “puppy” in name but PromptPuppy is no lightweight application though - it has one thing which I haven’t seen in a low cost teleprompter application - the cue arrow. This helps you focus on where you are reading from in the narration text. I’ve read from a text file when doing reviews and sometimes have found myself hopelessly lost in the mass of onscreen text characters, leading to multiple takes for a review. I’ve used PromptPuppy (10 day free trial) and did the review in one take.

Another neat thing is using the scrollwheel to control the speed at which the text scrolls - neat. The spacebar is used to toggle prompt mode on and off. Send a suggestion to allow you to save the window size, line spacing and font settings - this would make it so much easier to set up.

The folks at DVCreators.net, who make PromptPuppy and PromptDog, really take care of their users’ questions - got a couple of very quick responses. Got pointed to PromptDog / PromptPuppy by Cali Lewis (GeekBeat TV) in her “Behind the Scenes” episode in which she mentions PromptDog.

Best of all, you can install PromptPuppy on two computers - how neat is that! It runs under Mac OS X and Windows as well, and the two computer license covers either (or both) operating systems.

PS Do remember to note down the special referral code shown on the PromptPuppy site so that you get a discount when you decide to purchase it - every little bit helps!

Safari Extensions: Cool Stuff Found

John F Braun and Dave Hamilton from the Mac Geek Gab have a Cool Stuff Found segment in their podcast. Here’s some neat Safari Extensions which I shared with them:

  • Sessions - which saves the set of tabs and can restore them. Even saves the tabs when Safari quits so you can reopen them when it restarts. This will help with Tim’s question in MGG #282
  • Reload Button - yeah I need that reload button!
  • Ultimate Status Bar - comes up to show the moused over link, replaces the “always on” status bar.

Share and Enjoy! PS this should also work with Safari on Windows too...

Safari 5 and PDFs & TIFFs

Just discovered that Safari 5 renders PDFs in place and if you mouse down to the bottom of the window, a translucent overlay appears for zooming, viewing in Preview and saving to the Downloads folder. Used to have a PDF plug-in but now no more!

Additionally TIFFs will also render in place and you can drag and drop them to a Finder window. Have been looking for a way to view TIFFs on the US Patent Office’s website - and now it’s built in.

I’m beginning to like Safari a whole lot more!!

DODOcase is in!

Ordered our DODOcases on 6/26 and they’re in our hot little hands today! Very nice craftsmanship - handmade in SFO. Can’t wait to slip the iPad into it and turn the iPad into the Moleskine for the digital generation.

Dyson Air Multiplier

Now this is really neat design - we just bought a Dyson Air Multiplier from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (not cheap, but with $66 off and I got to use a 20% off coupon on top of that - what a deal!). It is, of course, a revolutionary design for fans - it has no blades - just a circular cowling-like ring which sends the air forwards, and in addition induces a low pressure volume in the cowling thereby drawing in more air from around the ring. Check out the awesome balloon flight videos on the Dyson page.

I got to try another of James Dyson’s innovative designs - the Dyson Air Blade - at the some of the airports we’ve passed through. Naturally, we had to get the Air Multiplier, being the proud owners of a Dyson DC-17 Animal Vacuum cleaner for several years - which really sucks, in a good way, of course!

James May's Toy Stories

James May, one of the presenters of our fave BBC program “Top Gear”, presented a series on the toys of his youth (and of course, ours too). These comprised Lego, Meccano, Scalextric, Hornby, Plasticine, and our all-time favourite - Airfix. Check out the wikipedia entry on “James May's Toy Stories”. Still adore that 1:1 scale model Spitfire - the largest I built was the Airfix 1:24 scale one...

Markdown!

I was looking for a minimalistic markup language - a project was using DocBook markup - which of course is pretty wordy XML, way too many angle brackets for me, and all that tag matching to boot... I remember (fondly) Setext which was used by Tidbits way back when. And then I recalled that John Gruber at Daring Fireball had a markup language called Markdown (wikipedia link). Exactly what I needed!

And then I found pandoc - which takes text marked up in one form and translates it to another. And it does Markdown to DocBook - right down my alley. So I’m writing minimalistically marked up text and creating very nice DocBook files, lowers the effort and aggravation of tag and bracket matching...

PS Turns out there’s a plug-in for RapidWeaver which annotates a section of text as Markdown formatted. It’s called MarkUp and is available for both RW 3 and 4. Check it out here (RW4 version).

QuickTime Development in Windows XP

Sometimes we just have to do Windows... One of the tasks at work was to design and implement a video player that would synchronise video playback across a number of computers (under Windows XP of course...). Naturally the video player engine would be QuickTime, of course! Fortunately Apple’s Windows implementation of QuickTime came with a number of ActiveX components and controls. However, I’m still using Microsoft’s (ugh) Visual Studio .NET 2003 (VS 2003) - because it works... There is little or no information in the Microsoft documentation or website about how to install controls onto the Toolbox so I can drag and drop them into my Form.

Did some judicious websearching and came up with this link: “The easy way to add controls to the VS2005 Toolbox” - which also works for VS 2003. Just drag and drop the DLLs into the Toolbox and voila - they appear! Easy yet quite obscure... Apparently the “Add Item” command works with VS 2005 but I haven’t tried it in VS 2003.

Programmer's Cheat Sheets

Check out these two sites for programmer cheat sheets:

http://devcheatsheet.com/

and

http://www.cheat-sheets.org/

I sourced the two Objective-C cheat sheets from the first site:

Objective-C Reference Card for Java Programmers (PDF)

and

Beginners iPhone Objective-C 2.0 Cheat Sheet V4 (PDF)

ScreenSteps rules!

Allison from the NosillaCast mentioned ScreenSteps from Blue Mango Learning in one of her recent podcast episodes. Looked like an interesting product, and knowing that I had a project at work in which I had to build step by step instructions - I downloaded the 30 day trial.

Took me no more than an hour to get a number of lessons done, complete with annotated screenshots on the PowerMac G5 at work. These were to show novice Mac users (our company is a PC-centric organisation, like many) how to start up QuickTime Pro and extract segments of video from a .mov file. I also had a lesson to show how to connect to the NAS (Network Attached Storage) shared drives to access the original movies.

Now the trial is for the Pro version so I decided to export a manual as a PDF to see how that works as this is a Pro-only feature. Fully delighted with the results.

Finally, since ScreenSteps is a cross-platform solution, I downloaded the Windows version so I could script a couple of lessons on installing and configuring QuickTime Player for Windows XP. Worked like a charm, and ScreenSteps even had the same folder format between Windows and Mac so I could combine lessons developed on one platform with those from another.

A couple more simple lessons to script - starting up and logging in to the Mac, and putting the handwritten / PowerPoint slides for copying the video off the DTE (Direct To Edit) video drives, uploading the videos to the shared drives, and I’m done with the easy stuff. The more involved task would be to list out the steps to conglomerate four time-coded videos, from different video feeds, into one synchronised HD video for analysis.

The proof of the pudding will be when I present the document to the engineers who will be doing the video extracting and editing, probably for the first time on the Mac, and watch them take the steps next week.

I’ve since purchased the Pro version, thanks to Allison’s coupon code - listen to her podcast to get it!

And if you think ScreenSteps is only for capturing steps for computer applications - think again! I’ve used it to create lessons which list the steps I need to do laundry, complete with annotated photos of the washer and dryer taken with my iPhone (since I’m not the primary laundry person in the household, and have to do that when she’s away).

iPhone Stand

Check out the cool iPhone stand from Keynamics who make the Aviator laptop stand, which I have and love! There’s a review of the iPhone stand at ATPM (About This Particular Macintosh).