May 2011

05/31/2011 15:10:06

REALLY round-tripping your Scrivener articles

When I’m working with my editors they all use their own (weird) system for articles. One wants me to send a Word document, another one prefers HTML, another one RTF…. I probably won’t have to say this is no pleasure at all (I’m writing in Markdown).
Luckily Scrivener is capable of exporting almost all of these formats. But what happens when an editor sends his revised version back?

Luckily there is a tool named pandoc available. pandoc allows you to convert text files from many formats to many formats. Unfortunately it can’t read RTF and Word directly, but here’s my trick:

The only downside of this method is that you’re going to lose some formatting, like underlined text, but the most part remains intact. This way you should be able to apply the changes more easily.

05/28/2011 21:30:06

LaunchBar & Alfred QuickCal integration

I’m just checking out the new features added in 2.5.1 and 2.5 in QuickCal. Really good stuff.

QuickCal adds it’s own URl scheme and can be easily called with these URls even without launching itself. This “integration” as they call it looks very powerful to me.
Alfred has the easiest (auto-config) integration, but LaunchBar and QuickSilver (for all the grandpa’s out there) are also pretty easy to setup.

A typical URL looks like this:




I hope I got that right.

"k=ABCD" This where your integration key from the advanced settings in QuickCal goes. (This is a security feature) - required
“q=*” This is the part where your entered text goes. When you create an event or todo the asterisk gets replaced with what you enter in Launchbar - required
“c=work” This specifies the calendar to use. If not specified, defaults inside QuickCal for event/todos will be used. (This doesn’t need to be the full name, just a large enough part to be unique)
“o=0” If you set this to ‘1’, any events created will be immediately opened in their respective calendar.
“t=t” Set this to ‘t’ to create a todo. Default is event creation.

So if you would like to add a new task to iCal you could type in Safari (don’t try it, won’t work):

quickcal://quickadd?k=ABCD&q="Dinner with Jim tomorrow 6pm"&c="Freet"

So creating a new Custom Search in Alfred where q={query} would allow you to add new events, whereas a new search in LaunchBar with q=* would do the same thing. Great stuff indeed.

05/27/2011 21:31:06

NewsRack and QuickCal updated

Last Friday has been one of my most fortunate days. I’m exaggerating a bit…but when I opened the App Store I saw two really awesome updates:

NewsRack is now able to create shortcuts and menu entries out of bookmarklets and AppleScripts.
Add to OmniFocus? (In case you’re blog is about copying stuff from others) Add to Pinboard? Shorten link with and post it on Twitter? Open current page in Delibar?
The possibilities are now nearly endless.
In my case, as you can see from the screenshot above, I added just one bookmarklet which lets me save the current article on Pinboard.

05/27/2011 13:17:24

Add tasks to OmniFocus from almost every application

OmniFocus has a Quick Entry panel, that’s true, but the problem is, that OmniFocus needs to be running all the time. Using a command line interface we would be able to add new tasks while keeping OmniFocus most of the time hidden or closed. But this is also good in for all LaunchBar, Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, etc. users. With a CLI all these nice little helper apps could interface with OmniFocus.
This was an idea Don had a while ago.

Here are his setup instructions (for Alfred):

Start by downloading the latest version of OmniFocusCLI from this link to its GitHub Repo: OmniFocusCLI

Inside this zip folder is the script. Extract it to a location of your choice.

Create a new Terminal / Shell shortcut in Alfred.

Mine looks like this:

Title: Add Task to OmniFocus
Description: …
Keyword: task
Command: /Users/USERNAME/LOCATION_OF_SCRIPT/ {query}

OmniFocusCLI uses a “natural language” for new tasks, which practically means “English only”. I sincerely hope the developers of QuickCal respond to my email where I requested new apps entitled “QuickFocus” and “QuickThings”. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

05/26/2011 21:31:06

Ableton Live controller app Griid

Most people don’t seem to know that I’m an audio guy (made my diploma and bachelor in audio engineering; my master in sonic arts; make music/DJing since I’m 11;). That’s why I usually keep up with all the good things happening to that industry.
One of those good things is Griid and Griid Pro. Both apps allow you to control clip launching in Ableton Live (I LOVE LIVE! I’m the author of a (German) Ableton Live tutorial DVD.)

Griid Pro even allows you to edit a clip’s contents right from an iPhone or iPad. Liine, the company behind Griid, recently started to produce some tutorial videos on Griid. Here’s how the clip editing works:

Get it on the App Store.


Griid Pro

Check out their blog for more.

05/25/2011 22:37:47

New app: DEVONagent Express

This looks promising. DEVONagent Express is a menubar app that intelligently searches the web. It is the smaller brother of DEVONagent, an app that searches the web. Algorithms determine whether a certain result is more related to your context than another. It can search multiple sources too and has plugins.
All the complicatedness is removed from DEVONagent Express.

05/25/2011 21:31:06

Replace a laptop with a USB key

Interesting idea suggested by Carlos Bueno to run a main computing environment in a virtual machine instead of carrying a laptop around.

The Soul of a Portable Machine

via onethingwell

05/24/2011 11:30:00

Building the Alfred icon in Minecraft

When I submitted my thesis I bought Minecraft to mark the occasion and. I. Am. Hooked.
I’m still trying to figure out what I can build so I basically build proof of concept kind of things.
As I’m saying in the video, I hope at least two people like this thing.

I used SpriteCraft to convert the 512x512 Alfred icon to Minecraft blocks. I set SpriteCraft to use “60 blocks” rather than 30.


In case anyone is interested here is the picture SpriteCraft spit out.
Download full resolution.

05/22/2011 21:31:06

Three 1Password tricks

In case you didn’t know. 1Password has three nifty shortcuts that I use a lot.

Go & Fill login

First of all there’s Go & Fill. Default shortcut is ⌘⌥\ (a shortcut Alfred blocks with its “Grab Finder selection” command, which is not very helpful when Finder is not in the foreground. *nudge* *nudge*)

Fill and Edit

When the 1Password menu is active. Hold down ⇧ or ⌥ to change the “Fill yourdomain” to “Edit yourdomain” or “Fill yourdomain”.

Edit does what it says. It brings up a new window where you can edit that particular entry on the fly.

Fill just fills in login data without submitting the form. Sometimes very handy too.

PS: I can’t believe AgileBits doesn’t pay attention to that one overhanging pixel when a shortcut is pressed. This is outrageous! 1 star!!!11

05/21/2011 21:30:06

Give Pastebot its eyes back (sort of)

Don Southard had an interesting idea:

I was heart broke the day I read Tapbots blog post about the legal issues it was having over the Pastebot Icon. As a solution they removed the eyes from the icon but in doing so, the app lost the feel of being a Bot. While poking around in the iPhone OS I found conveniently placed “Beta” icons that brought my Bot back to life.

He suggests browsing a jailbroken iPhone with SSH and replacing the beta icon with the original icon. After a restart the beta icon (with eyes) should be in place.

I would add a couple of things to his suggestion. In case your not SSH-savvy go download iPhone Explorer or PhoneView.
Go to /private/var/mobile/Applications and find (or better search for) AppIconBeta.png. That should bring up any Bots you have installed. Among them should be Pastebot’s folder.
Open it and rename AppIconBeta.png and AppIconBeta@2x.png to AppIcon.png and AppIcon@2x.png. (As always make backups!)

Here’s a slightly geekier solution:

In my case I didn’t even have to restart my iPhone. Just activating “wobbly icon mode” or moving the app in a folder is enough to refresh its icon.

Thanks for sharing, Don.

PS: He’s looking like a soldier with his little yellow-black police tape headband. “Pastebot robot at your service, sir!”

05/20/2011 21:30:06

Acorn tip: Moving Selections

One of the best functions in Acorn (that has been added in 2.0) is “Moving Selections”.
Most often I need to take a screenshot and clean it up a bit. Usually I would make a selection and then copy, paste, copy, paste, copy, paste…. That’s quite annoying.

Gus’ solution is simple:

You can hold down ⌘ and ⌥ (option) when using the arrow keys, and Acorn will continually copy + place your selection around as you move it. Hold down the shift key to make the selection move by 10 pixels each time you press an arrow key.

There’s also a short video demonstration available on Flying Meat’s help pages. (Which have been updated by the way. In case you upgraded recently there’s a ton of new tutorials.)

05/18/2011 21:35:05

New App: SteadyLens

SteadyLens from midnox on Vimeo.

With SteadyLens you can capture videos without hand shake or annoying wobble. SteadyLens uses advanced signal processing algorithms and a little bit of magic to stabilize your video and correct for rolling shutter in real time. Carry a professional film camera in your pocket; everywhere you go; ready to be used at a moment’s notice. So the next time you see bigfoot and your hands shake with fear and excitement, you’ll have SteadyLens to help convince your friends of your encounter.



05/17/2011 23:18:06

Build a SproutCore App in 10 Minutes

Getting Starting with SproutCore from SproutCore on Vimeo.

In this 10-minute screencast, Tom Dale takes you from creating an empty SproutCore project to building a simple todos application. You’ll learn about defining model objects, crafting a user interface using HTML, then connecting them together with controllers. While doing so, Tom explains how thinking of your app in terms of its state, instead of how to respond to events, will change the way you build applications.


05/17/2011 11:29:44

New app: Foodish

A new iOS app has just been approved for the App Store. Its name is Foodish.

In a nutshell: Foodish is food porn at it’s best.

Here’s a short description from the developer:

Foodish records what meals and drinks you had in a hands-on manner and gives a valuable overview how healthy or unhealthy a diet is.

Foodish is the elegant and modern way to track a diet for all those who don’t want to mess with scales and calories or just want to eat more healthily.

Shouldn’t take you too long to buy. I hope.

05/16/2011 21:37:06

Grass Cube - inspired by Minecraft

The cube is just over 2.5” on each side, and sealed with 6 coats of clear lacquer to help keep it durable. It isn’t intended as a toy, but I think these look really nice sitting on my desk.

The cost is for one block - I’ve pictured a few of them together though because they look cool that way I think!

Buy at Etsy.

05/16/2011 16:00:05

Save and restore iPhone game and app data with DataDeposit

This app looks promising. It saves game and app data for restoration when an app is deleted. DataDeposit uses nothing else than Dropbox to keep those files.

I haven’t tested this, but this way you could transfer files from iPhone to iPad and won’t have to start your game progress from the beginning. In case this works: Awesome Sauce!

DataDeposit works (obviously) only on jailbroken phones. Get it from Cydia. (ModMyi repository)

via aptgetupdate (German)

05/16/2011 15:23:00

Search Cydia from your Desktop and Alfred


iPhone news website and repository Planet-iPhones launched at the end of April Cydia Search, an online interface that allows you to browse tweaks, apps, utilities and themes available on Cydia. The web app, accessible from any computer and browser, is not meant to replace Cydia — as the name suggests…

Use this custom search to search from Alfred.

(Thanks to @alfredtips for the quick help. This has been in my drafts for a while.)

05/15/2011 21:31:06

Mac Services: Filter through Markdown

On the shell you can run:

pbcopy | mmd | pbpaste

to get text (Markdown) copied to the clipboard converted to HTML easily.

This procedure can be automated with Automator:

Now you can filter text through Markdown in almost any application using ServicesFilter through Markdown.

05/11/2011 22:00:06

BoinxTV, iStopMotion, FotoMagico cheaper on the App Store

Boinx reduced three of their apps dramatically in price for a little while. Among them is the award winning BoinxTV Home and iStopMotion Home.
$29.97 for three great apps that are usually $127.99. Great bundle.

iStopMotion Home

BoinxTV Home

FotoMagico 3 Home

05/10/2011 21:30:06

Mac applications you may not know

Today: Obtract:
Obtract is a Mac app designed to track and reduce digital distraction for small teams of knowledge workers…

via: moapp

05/09/2011 16:18:23

Mega big awesome news

I’m quite happy to announce:

I’ve just submitted my Master Thesis to my university. This means almost a year’s work has come to an end. A work I’m proud of.
I’m going to publish the thesis, hopefully soon, on my personal blog. Don’t worry the thesis is written entirely in English.1

This basically means one thing:

More time for screencasts! Expect some new screencasts the next couple of weeks. This week however, I’ll be off in Vienna meeting some friends at CocoaHeads AT and then some chilling. ;)

  1. The thesis is entitled “From audience to participant”. I wrote a plugin that manipulates audio in realtime. I gave control to this plugin to some people in my audience while I was DJing. This way we could have some live interaction music thing going on. The plugin was controlled via Wiimotes and iPhones. The participants gave their Wiimote to another person after a while. That was a lot of fun. 

05/07/2011 21:30:06

Get a personal "30 minute security lab session" from @iamleeg at WWDC

If you’re attending WWDC this year you might want to check out Graham Lee’s 30 minute security lab session. Just use the following phrase:

"Hi Graham, I’m [[your name]] and I like my aliens fuzzy".

Here’s Fuzzy Aliens in a nutshell:

Mobile application privacy and security consultancy
Fuzzy Aliens can help you improve the security of your app in every part of the software engineering process. Specific examples of services available include:

Check out Fuzzy Aliens homepage for more information.

05/06/2011 16:00:06

Copy OmniFocus Item URL to Clipboard

New LaunchBar/Alfred/Keyboard Maestro/… script:

I added a new script to the LaunchBar Scripts repository on GitHub.
Please don’t let the name confuse you. These are general scripts for common tasks that may slightly increase your productivity and can’t just be launched from LaunchBar.
Check out the repository and give it a try.

The new script takes selected OmniFocus tasks/projects and copies an OmniFocus URL to the clipboard. (e.g. omnifocus:///project/eYTcoBV19ft) Very handy.

I just saw there are two people who’ve been forking this. If you read this: Don’t forget to pull in new changes to your local repository.

05/05/2011 21:30:05

Customize Finder with a Happy Mac Icon

I’m using the “old” Happy Mac icon for my Finder. It’s pleasing and nice and nostalgic. In case you want to make the same modification to your system, do the following.

Relaunch Finder and your Finder should look happily.
In case you want to immitate my Trash Icons as well. Download the two Bob-Omb Icons as well.


05/05/2011 19:00:00

Play your iPhone tunes on speakers connected to your Mac with shairport

Remember shairport? No? Ok, here’s a brief description:

This program emulates an AirPort Express for the purpose of streaming music from iTunes and compatible iPods.

You need to a be a little savvy with your Terminal, but it’s quite easy to setup. Although there’s a little problem when Airfoil Speakers is running at the same time.

Turns out there are a couple of developers busily working on making shairport easier to run and config for end users.
So far I found three, which you should use very cautiously in terms of “ease of use”. Xcode ist in all/most cases required.

05/04/2011 22:00:06

More Alfred tips

A nice site that lists custom searches and themes (including Quicksilver. Whoever wants that.) for Alfred is aptly named Alfred tips.

Another blog worth checking out is Anna’s Alfred Hat Tips. Anna’s posts guide you mostly through the basics of Alfred. So if you’re just switching or just decided to use an application launcher, I would recommend going there.

05/04/2011 19:00:05

Natural Clouds in your HDR Landscapes from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

Screencast: Natural Clouds in your HDR Landscapes

A 30-minute screencast by Mike Olbinski on some processing techniques to get natural looking clouds in your HDR using Photomatix, Photoshop and Phototools.

Not the best screencast, technically. Content-wise not bad.
Watch on Vimeo for a bigger version.

05/03/2011 22:00:06

Acorn tip: Selection tools, loving the details

Acorn, the best image editor for non-Photoshop users. Acorn 3.0 came out just recently and Gus, the developer of Acorn, has added a tiny little feature that I just discovered, which makes this app just so much more awesome.

Create a new image, select either the rounded or rectangular selection tool and start dragging from the center of the image to the edges. Acorn doesn’t, as opposed to other tools, create a selection that goes beyond the boundaries.
This is even more useful when Corner radius is enabled. Dragging out a selection without fearing to not exactly hit the edges. This way you can spice a boring, straight edged, rectangle up with some nice little anti-aliased corners.

I created the aforementioned “Alfred paste text to desktop” icon with this in only a couple of seconds.

05/02/2011 19:44:25

Alfred tip: Create new text files fast

Sometimes I need a quick way to create a new text file with text that is on my keyboard. I used to use a script for LaunchBar, which I can run from Keyboard Maestro as well.
The quickest solution, that also removes all formatting, I could come up with was this:

pbpaste > ~/Desktop/new_textfile.txt

But here’s the thing: Do you have Alfred (with Powerpack) installed? Then do this:

  1. ⌘⌴ (My shortcut for Alfred)
  2. ⌘, (preferences)
  3. Features → Terminal/Shell
  4. Click the little plus icon:
    • Title: Paste clipboard to desktop
    • Description: Creates a new (plain text) file on desktop from clipboard contents.
    • Keyword: pastedesk
    • Command: pbpaste > ~/Desktop/{query}.txt

{query} is optional, but gives you the option to even set the filenames’ name.

This is so great, that I even made a ugly little icon with Skitch and Acorn for it! (Not that I intend to do a screencast of one those apps in the near(er) future!)

For black themes:

For white themes:

(Of course I have black theme. Green font on black background to be exact. I wanted to have at least one program with this kind of color setting.)

05/02/2011 10:00:06

New text editor Vico looks promising

For all TextMate and Vim people. I would highly recommend to check out Vico.
A new text editor with some promising features. Vim is a highly efficient editor, but lacking TextMate’s awesome Bundle Support. TextMate is lacking Vim’s editing efficiency.
The answer: Vico! Edit like Vim with TextMate Bundle integration.


05/01/2011 20:00:06

Time Machine Growl Notifications

This belongs to “Project getting rid of menubar buttons”.

The only reasons to have Time Machines’ shown in the menubar are:

  1. Entering Time Machine to restore files.
  2. Being informed about Time Machine status, e.g. currently backing up.

Entering Time Machine

The first one can be rid immediately. To enter Time Machine simply launch Time Machine via Spotlight, Dock or an application launcher like Alfred or LaunchBar.

Current Time Machine Status

This is a bit trickier as there is no API or anything developers or AppleScripters could use to get this sort of information directly.
There is however a workaround which uses a rather smart technique reading from system log. Peter Hosey (@boredzo. Follow!) even came up with a very elegant solution in Objective-C to send Growl notifications. Pick the one that fits best your configuration and needs.

This Mac OS X Hint recommends a one-line shell script to get the last couple of messages using syslog. This is handy for GeekTool and direct output on the desktop.

syslog -F '$Time $Message' -k Sender -k Time ge -72h

This is a slightly modified to the one mentioned on OS X Hints. The one there outputs all messages from the last 72 hours. A bit too much for my taste. Replace “1h” at the end with “5m” to get all messages from the last 5 minutes. You get the idea.
Too only get the very last log entry add | tail -n 1

syslog -F '$Time $Message' -k Sender -k Time ge -72h | tail -n 1


Peters TimeMachineGrowler is a faceless background application. (Once started there is no menu or anything. To quit use Activity Monitor.)
The app does basically the same as the aforementioned script, but much more elegantly using native C calls, which makes calls more performant.

05/01/2011 15:00:06

A Flattrish experiment

From today on I’d like to run a little experiment here on this written version of Mac OS X Screencasts.
Flattr is a subscription-based micro-payment service. Their idea is:

Flattr therefore essentially is a way of saying “Thank you”.
You see something on the web, e.g. a tip here on this blog, click a Flattr button and that person gets a few cents.

I’ve put a Flattr button below each article. I could even put a big one at the top of the main blogs’ site, but refused so far. In case you want to see this as well, just tweet me and I’ll see if if it’s worth the hassle.

That’s it. I hope you like this small change. Happy flattrisationing!

05/01/2011 10:00:00

Weekend project: Clean your Apple iPad Case

Instructions by Don Mc Allister.