Archive for the 'Mac' Category

Teleport Yourself

Let the nerdiness flow freely and unashamedly. You’ve been warned. At work, I frequently have my laptop (15-inch MacBook Pro) camped out next to my desktop (20-inch iMac + 22-inch secondary monitor) serving as a secondary testing system and jukebox. At least 9 times a day I try to move my mouse from my desktop over to my laptop — usually for simple tasks like pressing the ‘Next’ button in iTunes, or various browser refresh buttons. When this doesn’t work, it takes me a second to realize I need to physically move my body and twist to the left about 13° and convince my hands to relocate and get reacquainted with the track pad and keyboard orientation, and shortly thereafter I need to re-adjust back to my previous position and continue my work.

This is not a new problem. Back in the putty colored computer years, some pocket-protected millionaire figured out how to make a special cable that allowed one keyboard, monitor, and mouse be connected to what normally are two totally independent putty colored computers. This special cable is called a KVM switch. And the ‘switch’ part is the key… to go from one computer to the next requires actually switching a button/lever/toggle deal on the KVM switch unit. ANNOYING! And as if it could get any more annoying, there’s still the whole cable aspect. Me and wires is like peas and marshmallows.

Now, fast forward to shiny aluminum computers and the KVM switch setup just doesn’t seem to be appropriate. So… today I had the crazy notion of asking the Goog for an “OS X virtual KVM switch” and it led me to Teleport. My geek heart swelled with affection all over again today towards my computers Macs. For the uninformed, a geek heart is very much like a dragon heart but with out all the crazy dragon stuff.

Teleport is a preference pane for Mac OS X which installs as an item in the System Preferences, and it:

…lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control several Macs. Simply reach an edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your nearby Mac, which also becomes controlled by your keyboard. The pasteboard can be synchronized, and you can even drag & drop files between your Macs.

We conducted a teleportation “experiment” yesterday; my co-worker, Chad, teleported from his iMac through my iMac, then onto my laptop. This is important stuff. We were not playing as some others seemed to think. Do not mistake our enthusiasm and Mac wonderment for a lack of work ethic — by finding viable solutions to effectively and efficiently interact in the multiMac reality I find myself in saves approximately an hour’s worth of my time per month just in the reaction -> transition time it takes for the HCI re-acquaintance from one computer to the next and back, 9+ times a day.

Teleport is awesome! It even makes a cool wormhole effect around the mouse when it’s performing a jump. In this clip, I move my mouse to the left edge of my screen and teleport into Jen’s MacBook and then come back to my computer through the right edge of her screen. Jumping through the stargate invokes a temporary multiverse effect, creating a parallel counterpart to my mouse which remains in stasis in its original reality until the teleport stream is closed upon the returning quantum jump. Unfortunately, the screen recording app can’t simultaneously record Jen’s screen from my computer… what would that be called? Tele… vision? Someone really needs to crack this quantum computing bottleneck. (note: iShowU is pretty cool too, but that’s for another post.)

Teleport's Layout Settings

Teleport's Layout Settings

Multi-touch Trackpad Zoomer in Finder

So, at some point in the last 6 months I realized my multi-touch enabled trackpad on my MacBook Pro was broken. It would zoom pictures in Preview, and do other multi-touchy things like the “two-fingered scroll” and the “three-fingered next” actions, but it wouldn’t zoom the Finder in thumbnail (or icon) view. Okay, so it’s not really broken. But it is odd that it wasn’t working like it did when it was new. I tried googling a little and gave up when no hits seemed to match my dilemma. I asked for help at an Apple Store once, but I didn’t have my computer with me when Jen and I were out on a date so they couldn’t help. Yes, we went to the mall on our date. They have Rubio’s there AND Cinnabon AND the Apple Store!


Media in the Sidebar

Well, this morning I was poking around the Finder looking for the handy “Media” section which shows up in the sidebar, it seems, only when the open/upload file dialog box is invoked from another Application. Why is this not a part of the normal Finder view? It’s very slick and smart — it adjusts its interface to support the various display needs for the kind of content being viewed. Um, I really wasn’t planning to write about the media section all this much… this point to all this is this semi-obscure option in Finder’s preferences:

I found this setting in
Finder > Preferences > Advanced: Zoom using trackpad.

Zoom using trackpad enabler

'Zoom using trackpad' enabler

Click! Fixed. I’m a “genius.” :)

Pick a Color… Any Color

Here’s a little tip for picking any color on your screen with Fireworks. Let’s say you want to rip-off Skype’s freshy green color from the menu bar on your Mac and use it in your new super slick design. There are a few ways to get to a pixel-level color selection for areas of your screen outside of the application you are using. Most of these methods are cumbersome and force you to leave your design, open some sort of utility like the Digital Color Meter and copy the hexadecimal color code for the color you want to your clipboard, then paste it in your design in the appropriate tool/palette setting. Or… you could use Fireworks (like a good web designer should) and do this:

You can select any pixel on the screen without leaving the app

You can select any pixel on the screen without leaving the app

Yay! Color pickings is easy!


This is a pretty cool Mac UI plug-in for Cocoa-based applications. (Not Carbon-based apps like Finder or iTunes.) Afloat allows you to control application windows like you should be able to control them—making them translucent, or floating on top of other windows even when another application has focus, and a few other tricks that just make sense once you try them. And it’s free.

How to Disable (or Remap) Your Caps Lock Key

I finally got fed up with it enough to do something about it…

It’s the year 2008 now and computers have been around long enough to be everywhere. My kids won’t know what life is like without them… my grandma sends me emails… and I pay for my mortgage by using them.

But, why oh why do keyboards still have the infernal CAPS LOCK key? It only gets in my way like everyday; writing code for hours on end gets riddled with inadvertent hiccups having to undo a string of text in all caps (yes, I still need to look at the keys when typing.. most of the time.)

So anyway, after putting up with this for almost ten years and after about 5 minutes of googling I found a hint about remapping or disabling my caps lock key. SWEET!

Using OS X (Leopard, Tiger) it’s a piece of cake:

  1. Open System Preferences → Keyboard & Mouse: load the ‘Keyboard’ pane
  2. Click the ‘Modifier Keys…’ button (bottom left corner)
  3. Pick your favorite function from the drop-list next to ‘Caps Lock Key’:
    • Caps Lock
    • Control
    • Option
    • Command
    • No Action ← my favorite

Using Windows (any version):

  1. Buy a Mac
  2. Follow steps above.

Ok, moving on with my life…