Control your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad or MacBook trackpad like a boss

MagicPrefsWhen I came across MagicPrefs a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would use it beyond a quick peek at what it could do. It just seemed like the sort of app that was too good to be true, be difficult to work with and make a general mess of a simple thing.

MagicPrefs allows you to completely customize your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad or MacBook trackpad in a ridiculous amount of ways. You can add actions to existing or custom gestures and clicks/taps.

MagicPrefs
You can even assign “areas” of your trackpad or mouse to receive those gestures (see above).

There are so many options that it’s nearly pointless to go through even a few of them. MagicPrefs is free, so there’s no reason not to give it a try if you wished you could do XYZ with a simple mouse gesture.

Free magazine mockup PSD

High-quality magazine mockupFreePik has this really nice magazine PSD mockup, high-resolution and free to download. I like this one in particular because it’s straight-on, so you could use it to show off a 4-page newsletter just as easily as a 64-page magazine.

If you’ve never used Photoshop smart objects, just double-click the layer with the magazine art on it, drop your artwork into the resulting file and save it and boom… your magazine mockup is updated to show off you design.

Apple to put voices in your head

I found this article about Apple’s work with the hearing impared fascinating. I had no idea we were at the point of surgically implanting hearing aids, but apparently 10% of hearing aid customers could really stand to benefit from the surgery. And I’m sure as the technology improves (along with the hardware), it’s going to be more common.

While some companies “throw together” features to sell their wares, Apple spent years developing a low-energy form of Bluetooth for just such a use-case. Bravo, Apple!

How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple’s New Headquarters

Jony Ive - Apple Park

‘‘Jony works tirelessly at the detail, evolving, improving, refining. For me, that makes him a poet.’’
—Norman Foster

The Wall Street Journal has a superb feature article on Jonathon Ive, Apple’s design genius. And of course, it’s packed with gorgeous photos of Apple’s new headquarters, including some inside pics that I’ve not seen anywhere else. You just gotta love the clean lines of the workspaces and common areas shown.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit-back in your favorite chair because it’s a long article, but so worth the time.

Adobe nostalgia: What a tangled Web we weave

GoLive Cyberstudio
Adobe has a habit of buying and killing-off great products. There are so many that I can’t even remember the names of some of them.

I came across a few of these product CDs the other day as I was cleaning out some old storage bins. And it got me thinking…

Adobe’s tangled web:

  • 1995 – Adobe acquires Seneca Inc and its primary app – PageMill
  • 1996 – GoLive Inc releases the first commercial-grade WYSIWYG HTML page builder – GoLive
  • 1996 – Macromedia begins selling Flash
  • 1997 – GoLive Inc releases CyberStudio – the 3rd upgrade to the original GoLive app
  • 1997 – In response to CyberStudio, Macromedia releases Dreamweaver
  • 1998 – In response to Flash, Adobe begins selling ImageStyler
  • 1999 – Adobe acquires GoLive Inc and re-brands CyberStudio as Adobe GoLive
  • 2000 – Adobe kills off ImageStyler and replaces it with LiveMotion
  • 2000 – Adobe kills off PageMill and SiteMill
  • 2003 – Adobe kills off LiveMotion
  • 2005 – Adobe acquires Macromedia and its popular Dreamweaver & Flash apps
  • 2007 – Adobe replaces GoLive with Dreamweaver in Creative Suite 3
  • 2008 – Adobe kills off GoLive completely

PageMill was the first consumer-oriented WYSIWYG HTML page builder. I loved it. Even though it couldn’t create tables, it was simple to use and produced excellent code with little fuss.

Adobe GoLive was a product that Adobe acquired when they purchased a German company named GoLive who made a spectacular application called CyberStudio. I loved this app even more than PageMill. It was truly a professional app that produced much cleaner code than the first version of Dreamweaver—and it was far easier to use.

Adobe LiveMotion
Adobe LiveMotion was basically Flash for designers. Flash was a code-heavy mess even in the early days—usable only by developers for the most part. LiveMotion was a breath of fresh-air. I created several websites for clients back in the day using LiveMotion and nobody knew the difference. It was awesome software.

Macromedia was the originator of not only Dreamweaver, but Flash and Freehand (Illustrator’s only competitor). Many people, including myself, believe that all of the Macromedia products went downhill after being acquired by Adobe, with Freehand being outright discontinued. And many people, including myself, believe that all of Adobe’s competing products were far superior to their Macromedia counterparts. Unfortunately, Macromedia had the numbers.

In summary, Adobe acquired three companies, the only three that produced serious software to create websites in the early days of the web. In hindsight, they killed the easier-to-use software in favor of more complex software, which is why we have the complete mess that we have today.

Incidentally, most of the applications Adobe has acquired over the years came from companies that acquired the apps from someone else as well (Flash, Director, Freehand, HomeSite, ColdFusion and more). It seems nobody ever really wanted to hang on to anything in Silicon Valley.

Don’t even get me started on PressReady, ImageReady, TypeManager, Streamline and Dimensions. All of those apps live-on to this day—rolled into other apps or the OS itself—but none of them offer the simplicity and superior results of their stand-alone predecessors.

Uplet offers multi-account Instagram uploads from your Mac

Uplet 1.3 update
I reviewed Uplet early last year when version 1.0 was released and found it to be quite nice.

In short, Uplet allows you to upload your images to Instagram directly from your Mac. To my knowledge, this is the only Mac-based app that works with Instagram.

Eltima recently released Uplet 1.3 and addressed one of the concerns mentioned in my review. They’ve added the ability to upload videos to Instagram from your Mac! Drag. Drop. Done.

Along with video uploads, the latest version also adds the ability to work with multiple accounts. This is fantastic for Mac users who might manage multiple Instagram accounts for clients, etc. A single click beats logging-out and logging-back-in all day.

Priced at $20 it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth it if you upload a lot of images, work as a social media manager, or just plain hate pulling your phone out when you’re already sitting in front of your Mac.

Mac Websites Walk of Shame. Shame. Shame.

Ads-Trackers
I’ve been experiencing issues when I visit certain websites lately. Specifically, a few Mac-based sites like MacRumors, iMore, 9to5Mac and a few others. The problem is the sites load incredibly slow or fail to load completely—requiring me to reload the page two or more times. I’m running macOS Sierra and using Safari.

I switched to the Safari Technology Preview browser, and that helped a little bit, but not much. Pages still weren’t loading completely.

With all the discussion about privacy, tracking and ads on websites lately, which I mostly ignore because I know it’s out of my control for the most part, I found myself installing an ad blocker for the first time in a long time.

Ad BlockerRather than going with the most popular AdBlockers out there, I went with Ad Blocker from the Mac App Store. It’s a Safari Extension and a stand-alone app. One of the features of the app is a Website Inspector that runs a test to show you how long a page takes to load, the page size (in MB), number of Requests the site sends, number of ads, number of trackers and number of Social Media buttons & doodads it loads.

After installing Ad Blocker, I went to a variety of Mac-related websites I normally visit to compare it with my pre-ad blocker results.

My results were astonishing.

Without going into detail on each site, I’ve compiled a bunch of screenshots of the results below. Some sites are worse than others, but I think the results speak for themselves.

It’s also important to note that some of these sites load perfectly fine and appear in this list simply for context. Also, sites that subscribe to ad networks for their income often have no choice in the ads that appear and would love it if the Javascript-heavy, privacy-infringing, ad-tracking bloatware didn’t appear on their site… they just have no choice.

Ad trackers - macrumors

Ad trackers - cultofmac

Ad trackers - appleinsider

Ad trackers - bgr

Ad trackers - imore

Ad trackers - 9to5mac

Ad trackers - appleworld-today

Ad trackers - arstechnica-apple

Ad trackers - loop

Ad trackers - macdailynews

Ad trackers - macobserver

Ad trackers - macstories

Ad trackers - macsurfer

Ad trackers - osxdaily

Ad trackers - tidbits

As you can see, MacRumors was a major offender of ads and tracking, as was AppleInsider, BGR and iMore. The worst of them all, by far, was CultofMac with a whopping 349 ads and 43 trackers. Now keep in mind that what the software considers an ad or a tracker may not in fact be an offensive ad or tracker. If the site is a WordPress site, it has a tracker, and many sites offer aside items that show a list of popular articles on the site, etc., which typically show up as ads. But by-and-large, anything that shows up in the inspector’s results is something other than the content you went to the site to view.

For context, I ran the inspector on a few other sites. Apple’s homepage has no ads, no trackers, no social annoyances, and loads extremely fast. CNN and ESPN, two sites that are typically considered obnoxious by most users, are relatively tame in comparison to the Mac-related sites I tested (see results below).

Ad trackers - Apple

Ad trackers - CNN

Ad trackers - ESPN

The end result for me was that all the sites I was having issues with loaded significantly faster, and loaded completely the first time when running the Ad Blocker extension.

Sites like Daring Fireball (the clear winner and model website, in my opinion), Macintouch and SixColors manage to run their site profitably (I presume) without killing the end-user’s browsing experience (see results below). All three of those pages load virtually instantly and are a pleasure to read, with or without an ad blocker—which is why I whitelisted them in Ad Blocker.

Ad trackers - Daring Fireball

Ad trackers - Macintouch

Ad trackers - Six Colors

I want all of these sites to make money, it’s what keeps them offering up great content for free. But when it comes at the expense of the user experience, it’s self-defeating. If I don’t block the ads to make the site tolerable, I’m just not going to visit the site at all.

Top 10 Photoshop tips the experts don’t want you to know!

A comedic look at some great Photoshop tips and advice.

The majority of Photoshop training available on the internet is part of a huge conspiracy to keep people from learning the REAL techniques of how to use this program. Why? So you don’t ever actually figure it out and have to keep coming back to them for more!

Whatever you do… don’t ever, ever EVER name your layers!

Shortcut to symbols and emoji characters

Keyboard Emoji ViewerIf you didn’t know, Apple’s macOS has a built-in keyboard/character viewer (see image above) which allows you to view characters available to you such as currency symbols, punctuation, arrows, mathematical symbols, etc. It’s also where you can view all the emoji characters available.

They Keyboard & Emoji Viewer is available in the Mac’s menubar after you enable it in the System > Keyboard Preferences dialog window.

But there’s a shortcut to bring that Keyboard Viewer up without visiting the menubar—a good amount of time savings if you use it a lot or have the menubar icons hidden with an app like Bartender.

Bring the Keyboard & Emoji Viewer up simply by hitting Control+Command+Space.

The one thing that bothers me is that there’s no keyboard shortcut to make it go away. You can’t hit Command+W to close the Viewer window because the Keyboard Viewer isn’t a typical app in that the app window is never the “active” window, and you can’t force it to be.