August 2013

08/29/2013 16:30:30

Collaborative Editing in FCPX

A lot of editing folks have been discussing collaborative editing workflows. Most and foremost Mark and Steve on MacBreak Studio. An excellent episode, but the suggested workflow is a bit complicated. The worst part is that editors pick this up as a “good workflow”. I still would recommend watching the episode, for acquiring the knowledge, but I would also recommend some changes.

What works extremely well for us are disk images. Ours look like this:

The Final Cut Media folder is reserved by Final Cut Pro X. Created automatically by the app, it contains nothing but the shared sequences.
Motion Presets contains all Motion files that were used for a project. Exporting a FCPXML after a project and running it through Motion Template Tool is a regular chore.
Project Files contains, finally, all the media that is used by a project. We “link” to external media, we don’t actually “copy” to the Final Cut Media folder.

This has several advantages for us. We are free to keep our organization[1] and, because of that, it is easier for editors to find the media. If we just move/copy material to FCPX, all we see is a long list of videos.

On an editors’ machine, he or she can use their own ~/Movie/Final Cut Events/ folder to make local edits. People always work on their local machine before it goes to the disk image. Obviously the disk image can’t be mounted when somebody else makes an edit, Final Cut won’t recognize changes without quit/relaunch. But this is really just a minor issue. It is rare that two people work on the same thing.

That’s it. Really. It’s dead simple. Just keep everything in a disk image, put the image in Dropbox, your own server or an external drive.

  1. Whatever organization that might be. Sometimes less organized, sometimes more, depending on the project.  ↩

08/27/2013 16:35:25

3 More Ways to Deal With Distractions Using Keyboard Maestro

3 More Ways to Deal With Distractions Using Keyboard Maestro

I wrote about a way of taking a serious break using Keyboard Maestro before. It’s not that I really need this anymore, but by the time it was really important for me to work on rituals.

The following workflows are going along similar lines, though they are more geared for the workspace. The goal here is to quit certain apps when they have been launched accidentally during work time. I thought the following might be helpful to hear so that other folks can use some of this in their own distraction free approach.1

I find checking every ten minutes a good measure, because even though I launched these apps, why should they quit immediately? Why would I want to hurt myself that badly? When I check Facebook for a minute or two I think that’s acceptable. It is better to get an occasional reminder not to do so, every once in a while.

If App Is Running, Quit It

The simplest one is a macro in the form of “if an app is running, then quit it”. These macros look like this:

Note that you can use multiple “While Logged In” conditions to allow breaks.

If App Is Non-Cocoa App or Non-GUI App, Quit It

The second class of “apps” are a bit trickier. These don’t show up as “running” applications in Keyboard Maestro’s If Then Else action (“if this application name is running”. Compare with screenshot above). Typically these are non-GUI apps such as processes or, in my case, Minecraft or Feed the Beast. Luckily we can use Keyboard Maestro to only run if a secript returns success. Some ps and grep trickery helps to filter out ps/grep.2

ps aux | grep "[F]TB_Launcher

If App Is Web App, Quit It

The third kind of app category is a little harder to quit, but not impossible either. Facebook is an app that I only use in Safari. Luckily we can use some AppleScript magic to close tabs directly. This script work with Google Chrome, too. Just change to tell application "Google Chrome":

  1. Good luck! 

  2. You can use this on a server to monitor whether your http server is up and running, e.g. ps aux | grep "[n]ginx”

08/27/2013 16:30:27

Quick Tip: Use Calca to Plan Your PvZ 2 Plant Placement

Quick Tip: Use Calca to plan your Plants vs. Zombies 2 plant placement

Despite being Free-To-Play, I’m a total fan of PvZ 2. As I tweeted, the balancing is so well done that you don’t really feel the pressure to buy things, though you always can, of course. The game is just a lot of fun.

But that’s not what I was wanting to write about. In PvZ 2 there are levels where you have to keep your spending of “sun”1 within a certain boundary. Placing plants is much easier when you now exactly where to place which plant and how many, in advance. I found it quite useful to pop all plants into a Calca (OS X, iOS) document and simply let the app calculate how much sun I can spend.

Here’s the content of my document:


max sun = 1500

sun = 50
doublesun = 125

wallnut = 50
potatomine = 25
squash = 50
iceberglettuce = 0
gravebuster = 0
springbean = 50

peashooter = 100
repeater = 200
threepeater = 300
bloomerang = 175
snapdragon = 150
kernelpult = 100
cabbagepult = 100

(5*kernelpult) + (5*cabbagepult) + (5*wallnut) + sun + doublesun => 1425

  1. Sun is the currency in PvZ. 

08/26/2013 18:00:56

Read my Book: 10 Tips for Creating Engaging Product Videos

I’m very pleased to announce the release of a little book I wrote. You know that I am producing app and product videos for a living. This book summarizes the best advice I can give on how underdogs can create a great demo video of their product. Its title is:

10 Tips for Creating Engaging Product Videos

The book has 3 main chapters:

Think about 10 Tips for Creating Engaging Product Videos this way: if you have known me for a while and know some advice I gave about screencasting in 2010, then this is what I think screencasting is in 2013.

We have gone far since the early days of screencasting, and we have to go even further to deliver a great learning and watching experience for our viewers.

The book has been designed for iBooks. It uses all of the goodness iBooks ships with, like interactive images, and multi-page pictures. iBooks delivers a stunning reading experience. There is a PDF version available as well.

I give many many practical examples in this book. Basically all1 the things I’ve learned from producing app videos. The best yet? You can look over the shoulders of zCasting 3000 and see how we do it! It features the original storyboards and scripts from my MindNode videos!

Still better yet? The book is free! Both free as in free beer and free as in DRM-free2.

Download: 10 Tips for Creating Engaging Product Videos

If you can do me a favor, please give it a thumbs up on the Store. Restore my faith in humanity and let me know that there can be great free content that is better than sex books and old books that have been morphed into iBooks format.

  1. Well, maybe not all all, but still a lot of the most common beginner problems. 

  2. Why is it free, you ask? It’s really simply. People who are reading this book are not our clients. Our clients are those who want to pay a professional to create a much better video than they could create. Sharing this knowledge has no negative effects on our business, except that I teach video newcomers how to make better videos. But ultimately, I mean, I have to constantly innovate in this company anyway, so why bother? 

08/25/2013 20:00:36

Great talk by David Allen on Priorities, why we need mess to brainstorm and how to become more engaged with life.

08/24/2013 20:00:00

More Articles on Health?

I’m contemplating whether I should post more fitness, sport, and health articles. I have mentioned before that I’m very much into working out and good posture.

This is my personal blog and so far I tried to keep topics like health and sport out of here as much as possible. Instead I focus on geeky/nerdy OS X and iOS topics, productivity stuff, things that I think need to be supported, and things that I find funny or otherwise interesting. I understand that the majority of my readers may not be much into living healthy.

But there’s this part of me that I might want to express. So I would ask for your input on this! Please tell me in the comments below, via Twitter or just answer this post.

It’s not that I plan for the majority of postings to be about health, I want this to remain geeky1. Maybe one, maybe two postings a month are going to be different.

If you are hoping for posts about technology aimed work out and sport, I’m not your guy.

I plan a post about keeping a good posture, one on my “fancy” work out equipment. Maybe I’ll write about how to find health food, too?

  1. Hell yes! 

08/23/2013 20:00:20

Naming Your Keyboard Maestro Variables

Keyboard Maestro 5 introduced variables to its set of features. These variables are really great for us scripters! They are implemented in a way that a variable can be initiated from within Keyboard Maestro[1], which can then be used in other actions such as Shell and AppleScript scripts. One variable, manipulated with everything your Mac has to offer.

Variables can be used with the %Variable%variable name% syntax. Calculations, such as screen coordinates and frames, whether the Mac is online, Safari tabs, etc, can also be used for some nifty things, and they can set variables! There’s a lot to check out with calculations. Calculations, can even have two elements, in which case the variables can be accessed as array. (%Variable%variable name%1%)
In Shell and AppleScript’s this looks similar. Please refer to the documentation for this. A Shell script can access variables like so: $KMVAR_variable_name or so $_ENV["KMVAR_variable_name"].

Which brings us to the point of this article: naming best practices.

Keyboard Maestro variables can have whitespace characters in their name. This is good for human readability. It also makes for better UX in User Input dialogs. Whitespace characters are converted to underscores in scripts. From a Shell or AppleScript’ers point of view these don’t look “natural”.

As I’ve been working on Markdown for Keyboard Maestro 2, Keyboard Maestro introduced a new feature for variable names. Everything that is before two underscores in a variable name will not be shown in User Input actions.


Variable name: MMD__Title Case

Will be displayed as: Title Case:

This variable can accessed from an AppleScript like so:

tell application "Keyboard Maestro Engine"
    set MMDTitleCase to make variable with properties {name:"MMD__Title Case"}
    set MMDTitleCaseValue to value of MMDTitleCase
end tell

So the best practice recommendation: start your scripts by assigning Keyboard Maestro variables to script variables.

In Markdown for Keyboard Maestro all variables are prefixed with MMD__ and they use space in their variable name. Prefix groups of variables with the same prefix. This way it is easier to keep track of belonging variables, e.g. in PreferencesVariables.

As a last best practice recommendation: as a good programmer, clean up after your work. Set variables to %Delete% when they are not needed anymore.

  1. A Prompt for User Input, Set Variable to Text, or a Set Variable to Calculation action.  ↩

08/22/2013 18:00:41

Best Audio iOS Production Environment, Auria, Is on Sale for 50% Off!

One of the best audio production apps for iOS, if not the best, is currently on sale. Auria has been awaited impatiently by many audio folks. The app is geared towards professionals and hobbyist music makers, especially those that want to be mobile. Auria provides professional grade audio filters and effects with up to 48 tracks playable.

I normally don’t do these price-drop-posts anymore, but Auria makes me become excited about audio.

There’s a Lite version available that basically offers the same as its bigger brother, but only half as many tracks, etc.

Get it now, I don’t think this app will be priced lower any time soon.


Auria LE

08/21/2013 15:00:18

New Link Macro in Editorial

I complained that I haven’t found a “good” link workflow for Editorial. I complained, and now I should deliver.

I created an implementation of my New Link macro from Markdown for Keyboard Maestro in Editorial. What this workflow does:


08/21/2013 14:00:25

Released: Markdown for Keyboard Maestro 2.1

Keyboard Maestro 6.2 has just been released, it includes version 2.1 of Markdown for Keyboard Maestro.


Here are your options:

You can download version 2.1 of Markdown for Keyboard Maestro, or go to your Macro Library and add the library from there.

NOTE: You should remove the old macros before adding the new ones! Otherwise they will be duplicated!

Development will slow down now considerably, because now that the library is included in Keyboard Maestro, it’s less convenient for these users to update their library every time an update is available. Follow development on GitHub if you need bleeding edge features.

08/19/2013 18:56:04

My First Two Editorial Workflows: Transpose and Change Case

Editorial has been all the rave when it was released. Gabe and Federico have done excellent work to document this new editor. I am very pleased that it’s taking so many ideas from Keyboard Maestro and making a great writing environment. It also feels a bit like Editorial took some inspiration from my work on Keyboard Maestro, in which case I’m flattered, very flattered[1].

Anyway a lot of stuff is still missing and some things are not working as I expect them, but Editorial tickles my nerdy cells, and that’s just my cup of tea.

After starting it, I was immediately missing two things that I’m used to using on my Mac: Transpose. ⌃t “transposes” the two characters the caret is standing between, i.e. the two are flipped. I use this a lot on my Mac, but it’s absent on iOS…until now.

The other workflow is also not that spectacular yet. I created one to change case, which doesn’t use Python actions, just plain Editorial actions.

I haven’t found any good link workflows yet. All I found so far depend on having the page open in Editorial’s browser to insert URL and title, which is lame. I would much rather use a URL from the clipboard and, if the device is online, grab the title from the page itself. I rarely have the pages open I’m referencing and I’m also very rarely online when I write on my iPad.[2]

  1. Also a little proud.  ↩

  2. I’m using a Wifi iPad. This iPad is with me in the gym, so that I can read books and look up my exercising plan. Sometimes I write articles in the gym. When I’m out and about I prefer to be offline.  ↩

08/16/2013 16:30:15

Test user interfaces using “The User is Drunk” method.

08/14/2013 16:30:00

Beardyman talks about phase shifting and his rad audio setup at TED. Don’t know Beardyman? For those not from the UK, this is Drum’n’Bass.

08/13/2013 16:30:30

VerbalExpressions: Meaningful Regular Expressions

“VerbalExpressions is a JavaScript library that helps to construct difficult regular expressions.”

Basically, to test for a valid URL, this is the code required:

var tester = VerEx()
    .then( "http" )
    .maybe( "s" )
    .then( "://" )
    .maybe( "www." )
    .anythingBut( " " )

This library is based on JavaScript but is currently being ported to many more languages. New is Objective-C, this wasn’t here on Friday.

08/12/2013 23:21:48

Deselect Finder Selection

Deselect Finder Selection

For some reason, I had the urge today to have a shortcut to deselect selected items in the Finder. If you are used to using animation or editing apps, like I am, you are also used to having an easy way to deselect everything. Unfortunately ⇧⌘A, just didn’t work, as you can imagine.

The solution is this short bit of AppleScript:[1]

ignoring application responses
    tell application "Finder" to set selection to {}
end ignoring

Now only if there was an app that could execute an AppleScript easily via shortcut or keyword, right?

  1. What would be a world without MacScripter? It was down last Saturday. I was shaking!  ↩

08/12/2013 16:31:10

How Jonathan Ive got inspired to create the iOS 7 color scheme (by Max Wohlleber)

08/10/2013 15:02:28

#mindnodetips: The End of This Series

I’d like to announce the end of this series. I know that there are two tips missing, but I two duplicates in my collection. I think that this series has been going on long enough.

I hope you all enjoyed the series. From the feedback, retweets, faves, you seemed to have.

Now let’s move on to new things.


08/10/2013 15:00:36

#mindnodetips: MindNode Is a Great Presentation Tool

As readers of this blog know, I’m creating app and product presentation videos. So I have a lot of experience with presenting something and I also give a lot of presentations. I just enjoy teaching people.

I have only three presentation tools. MindNode, Keynote, and Motion. If I want to give a presentation with lots of graphical content and with a certain prestige, I tend to pick Keynote. In some cases the problem that I’m trying to show can’t be shown with Keynote. Say, a certain kind of animation isn’t available, but it totally makes sense to show it that way. Then I would go into Motion and customize slides.

I tend to give less graphical presentations with MindNode though. Most Barcamp talks I give are just mind maps. I write my main points on the canvas and unfold them as I make my points.
Now, obviously this will mean that people will see my main points right at the beginning, but from my personal experience, I’d say this is not very dramatic. Although attendees see the main points, they have no idea what exactly I am going to be talking about.

Most of the time I use my Mac as presentation tool for MindNode, but with AirServer I can also just mirror the screen to a Mac.


08/09/2013 16:30:00

iOS YouTube Clients

UPDATE 12. 09. 2013: As of version 5.1 of Tuber and the official YouTube client 2.x I can’t recommend Tuber anymore. The new version is really buggy, and the official client has become so good that all these clients now have trouble catching up. I find the official YouTube client to deliver the best experience, even though that means I have to watch ads.

I’ve been trying out some YouTube clients for iOS recently, since Jasmine stopped working some time ago.

The official YouTube client is actually not that bad, but it makes me watch too many ads. The way the interface is laid out on iPhone, you first have to watch the video before the “Add to Watch Later” button appears. On iPad there’s a separate button below the actual player to add a video to Watch Later. So on iPhone when you just want to add a video to Watch Later, you have to watch an ad, even though you’re only intention was to hit that button and go to the next video. Not the best experience. I would watch the ad, if it were easier to add videos to Watch Later. The official YouTube client also defaults to “What to watch”. I despise what to watch. It’s almost never what I want. I want to go to my subs directly and maybe once every three months I have enough time to check out what to watch.

YouTube iPhone:

YouTube iPhone

YouTube iPad:

YouTube iPad

FoxTube (iPhone, iPad) is a good stand alone client. The interface is not pretty, but it’s prettier than most clients. Adding videos to Watch Later is not implemented however. FoxTube’s main feature is “caching” it is meant as a local video player. All videos are downloaded and you watch videos from local playlists, which don’t sync across devices. That said FoxTube also has a Mac app.

ProTuber is a better client, though the interface is a bit so-so. The icons look a little cramped. It has a nice quick action feature. When tap-holding on a video a circular menu appear which allows quick access to some most common features, like adding to Watch Later (the clock icon). Navigating the app, especially table views, makes it feel as though this is a HTML5 app, not a native Cocoa app. Landscape is missing on iPad, except for watching videos.1 That said the app is free and I couldn’t find anything yet that would make me buy the full version, except for giving my financial support to the developer. ProTuber has a lot of features. It’s one of the few that allows to choose different playback qualities.


Lastly there’s Tuber, which I would have never found if it wouldn’t have appeared in the App Shopper Popular New Apps feed. This app looks sharp. Flat design and all, ready for iOS 7. On the left you can navigate to your subscriptions and Watch Later, channels, most viewed, etc. Watch Later is a bit too low on the list however, but the settings allow to customize customize the “user menu order”. Subs is called “home”, by the way, this is not YouTube’s stupid “what to watch”. Adding videos to Watch Later is a little more taps away as with ProTuber, but there’s a separate button below the video.


So my vote goes for ProTuber and Tuber. As mentioned, Tuber is free at the moment. Normal price is $2. ProTuber has an In-App Purchase which is also $2. FoxTube is okay-ish, but is not a universal app and costs a lot more than the competition; $3 and $5.

  1. Promised as coming feature. ↩

08/09/2013 15:00:34

#mindnodetips: Smart Layout vs. Standard Layout

Smart Layout is one of my most favorite features in MindNode and I’m quite glad that it’s there, however, there are times where I don’t want smart layoutting.

On the one hand, Smart Layout is more automatic. It keeps your mind map organized no matter how many new aspects and ideas you add to it. It is very good for a brainstorming session to just write down all ideas quickly.

On the other hand non-smart layout is more creative. You can literally take nodes and move them further away from others to visually indicate they don’t belong to each other or just to move ideas out of the way, like you want to say “I don’t want to think about this right now.” It can make sense to hide things completely as opposed to folding nodes.

Just in case you are wondering, MindNode will remember node positions on non-smart layoutted nodes when they are folded. When these nodes are unfolded they have the same layout.


08/08/2013 15:00:37

#mindnodetips: Apply Default Colors to Restructured Maps

When working on a mind map, MindNode will color branches automatically. This is a very good feature.

It only has one downside. When re-structuring a map that has had so many changes, so that it makes sense to have completely new colors, there’s no obvious way how to do that. Or in an other case where you moved nodes around and now they still have their old color.

It’s pretty easy to do. Just open the inspector and re-apply the current theme. That’s it.


08/07/2013 15:00:40

#mindnodetips: Make the Switch From Other Mind Mapping Apps Easier

If you are coming from other mind mapping apps and don’t want to learn new keyboard shortcuts. Take a look at the keyboard shortcut preferences in MindNode Pro.

You can customize MindNode so that you immediately feel right at home with this new app.


08/06/2013 15:00:00

#mindenodetips: Multi-Line Text Nodes

As described earlier, MindNode has no text length limit in nodes. This is neat in a couple of ways.

To create multi-line text in a node press ⌥↩ while editing a node. This will create a line break.

Note also that text within a node can have multiple text formats, so the first line can be bold and 16, while the second line remains in the themes’ default font size.


08/05/2013 17:39:38

Announcement: Supporting MindNode

You read that I’m a really really early user of MindNode. I’ve been beta testing the various versions of this software for years now. I was also responsible for the MindNode screencasts/videos. Heck, I’m even devoting a series here into some #mindnodetips.

Today marks a special day. I will be working as IdeasOnCanvas support staff for the next couple of months. What this means is two-fold:

There’s a lot that has bee planned for my two main projects. MOSX will get a new website along with a complete reboot. zCasting will continue to help creators of products showcase them.

  1. Like support for TextExpander touch. (I know that this is a priority, just not a very high one. Right now it’s more important to polish up the app for iOS 7 and Mavericks.)

08/05/2013 15:00:43

#mindenodetips: MindNode Pro

If you are not using MindNode Pro you are missing out on some really great features. Some I can’t think of living without anymore.

Smart Layout automatically rearranges nodes so they fit on the canvas. This way things are always clean and tidy. Moving nodes around is a very nifty mechanism and MindNode intelligently “knows” where nodes should go when they are dragged.

Image Nodes allow to create visual representations of an idea.

Plus some more. Look at the feature comparison chart if you are still uncertain. My recommendation is to invest money for MindNode Pro.


08/04/2013 15:00:40

#mindnodetips: Comments for Nodes

MindNode has no comment feature for nodes. This is both an advantage and disadvantage. On the upside there’s one less feature to worry about, on the downside there’s just no comment feature. It is easy to work around this missing function though.

MindNode has no limit on the text that can be entered into a node. I use MindNode to plan screencasts. Sometimes I even script in MindNode. In those cases I create a “title node”, a node that is the topic that I want to talk about. Sub nodes will the contain my comment.

Notice the plural here. While comments in mind mapping apps are generally limited to one comment per node, MindNode doesn’t have this limitation1. Simply create as many “comment nodes” as necessary.

  1. Yes, I know, MindNode doesn’t have comments. 


08/03/2013 15:00:33

#mindnodetips: What the Inherit Style Feature Does

MindNode’s default behavior for connecting new nodes together is that Sub Nodes take on the style of their parents.

If you have a blue node and drag it to a red one, the blue node will become a red sub node.

There is a preference setting which disables this entirely. Disabling “Inherit style when reconnecting” makes for very colorful mind maps, which is sometimes helpful, though not always.

I would recommend you leave this on, so styles are always inherited from Parent Nodes, because in case you really really not want to take on a parent’s style, simply hold the ⌥ key down when reconnecting. This temporarily disables this feature and sub nodes will not take on the parent style.

Note that the paste command doesn’t inherit style, while the Paste and Match Style command does.


08/02/2013 15:00:31

#mindenodetips: Spotlight

Here’s a power user tip.

In the Document Inspector are four document info fields

These are standard metadata fields supported by Spotlight search.

Create a new Smart Folder and expand the search by clicking +. Where it says Kind pick Other…. Now depending on what you want to search for find Author, Keyword, Title, or Comments.


08/01/2013 15:00:26

#mindnodetips: Visualize Ideas You Have No Word for With Pictures

If you are coming straight from “real” mind maps, those that are drawn on paper, you will miss the ability to freely and creatively express ideas with a graphical representation. Sometimes when working with mind maps it is hard to find the right phrasing or even remember a word a particular idea represents. With a real-world mind map a picture or shape can be drawn to visualize what a certain topic and its sub-topics are about. It’s a bit harder in MindNode, because there’s no drawing feature, though there’s a workaround.

The OS X version of MindNode allows you to have images (jpg, png, …) in a node. Simply drag an image from the Finder to a node and it will be included. Double click the image to resize. Personally I also remove the node text most of the times.

Here’s the tip: have a graphic library of general photos ready in iPhoto. This way you can simply click Media from the menubar and they will always be available (not just in MindNode).

Using this tip you can also improve diagrams and organization flows.1

  1. Note: This post includes no pictures.