April 21, 2014
I recently had to print out a floor plan, and it needed to be big enough for me to see all the tiny details. My printer only handles 8.5 x 11” paper. So what could I do, to print the floor plan bigger?
A Mac app called SplitPrint made it super easy. I opened my PDF in SplitPrint, and told SplitPrint how many sheets of 8.5 x 11” paper I wanted (2 sheets high, 4 sheets wide). And pressed the Print button. Voila! 8 sheets came out of my printer; all I had to do was to tape them together to get one giant floor plan.
This type of printing is often called “tiling” because it splits up your image into multiple tiles that you assemble to get the image.
SplitPrint’s tagline is “Big pictures with small printers” and that’s exactly what it does.
It requires Mac OS 10.7 or later, and it’s available for $6 in the App Store.
April 17, 2014
If you use a Mac, iPhone, or iPad, do you need to do anything special to protect yourself from the Heartbleed security flaw?
Good news: The OSX operating system on the Mac, and the iOS operating system on the iPad and iPhone, are not specifically vulnerable to Heartbleed. If you’re running a Mac server, that server is not specifically vulnerable either. So your Mac and iPhone and iPad cannot be infected.
Apple’s online services, including the Apple Store, iTunes, and iCloud, are not affected.
However, if you use the web, your web accounts are vulnerable, and any data you transmitted over the web (including passwords) may be compromised. Which is why it’s so important that you change your passwords for the most important sites you visit.
Articles on Heartbleed and Mac:
April 16, 2014
Here are the best articles I’ve read about Heartbleed – what it is and why it’s scary.
From The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Manage Your Passwords and Protect Yourself from Heartbleed
April 8, 2014
I’ve designed 2 more items, both jewelry, and had them 3D printed.
The other is a necklace that says Lucky (for a family member with that nickname). Made out of sterling silver, I added the chain. Also designed on Tinkercad and printed by Shapeways.
Both came out well. I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out size; even though I have a ruler in front of me while I’m working, I still keep making things too big or too small. The next time I make the cufflinks, I need to make the T longer, to prevent them from falling out.
April 4, 2014
Chris Breen, esteemed Senior Editor of Macworld magazine, gave a presentation at Macworld conference on Mac tips and tricks. Here are our top 5 takeaways from his presentation.
1. Switch off those annoying Mac App Store update alerts!
If you’re in Mountain Lion or Mavericks: Go to System Preferences, choose App Store, and uncheck “Automatically check for updates.” If you’re in Lion or earlier: Go to Preferences, choose Software Update, and uncheck “Automatically check for updates.”
2. Reclaim Garage Band space
Garage Band can take up a ton of space on your Mac, so if you’re never going to use it and space is at a premium, delete the 10GB of stuff it stores.
To do it: Make sure you are in the Finder. Then click and hold the Option key while you open the Go menu. Choose Library from the dropdown. Once you’re in the Library folder, go to Audio > Apple Loops > Apple and delete everything in there.
3. Prevent iTunes from opening the wrong library
If you have moved your iTunes library to a new location, you can prevent iTunes from opening the wrong or old library accidentally. Find the old library (which is probably in your Home folder, in Music > iTunes and is called iTunes Music Library), click it once to select it, then from the File menu at the top choose Get Info. In the window that pops open, click the box next to “Locked.” Now iTunes won’t be able to open it!
4. Turn off annoying web content
If you hate having all those automated movies and pop-up notifications bother you while you’re surfing the web, The Click to Plugin extension for Safari blocks Flash movies and other annoying content. And it’s free. (It only works on Safari.)
5. Use Automator to keep yourself organized
Automator, which is built into the Mac, requires a little learning but it’s not as intimidating as it seems. For example, have your Mac automatically move your downloaded items into different folders depending on what kinds of files they are. Here’s Chris’s how-to article on sorting downloaded items using Automator.
Check out all of Chris Breen’s Macworld articles at the Macworld website.
April 2, 2014
We just came back from Macworld, and the seminar by Joe Kissell on Apple Mail for Power Users had some great tips on software you can purchase to enhance the functionality of Mail. Here are our top 5 Apple Mail plugins from his presentation.
1. Mail Act-On
This plugin costs $30 and lets you schedule your emails to be delivered at a specific time (as long as your Mac is on, of course). Plus allows you to create special mail rules.
2. Attachment Tamer
This plugin costs $15 and lets you have much more control over your email attachments, including automatic resizing and creating icons instead of inline attachments.
This plugin costs 9 Euros and is great if you always want to send large files via email. If you put an attachment into an email, it automatically uploads the attachment to your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or YouSendIt account and replaces the attachment with a link in the email.
Costs $30 and lets you tag messages with multiple tags, so you can find them easily later. You can also tell it to remind you about a specific email in a certain number of days. (Doesn’t work well with Google mail.)
Costs $30 and does an amazing job of filtering out spam from your incoming email.
Check out Joe’s $15 ebook, Take Control of Apple Mail, for more great Apple Mail guidance and tips.
March 31, 2014
We just came back from the Macworld conference in San Francisco, and roamed the show floor looking for cool hardware and gadgets. Here are the top 5 Apple-related items we found.
Last year at MacWorld we saw the prototype of this machine. Now it’s actually for sale. For $2500 you can buy a robot that you pop an iPad into, and then you can remotely control it as it rolls around your office while you’re not there. Go to meetings or stop by colleagues’ desks, all while working remotely.
When you wear this metal ring on your finger and pair it via Bluetooth to your computer, you can stop using a mouse and keyboard and instead use gestures to write text and move around the screen. This is a Kickstarter campaign; cost is currently $185.
Allows you to mount your iPad to the wall. Much more attractive than the usual wall docks. Plus this one lets you put in a custom photo, so that when you remove your iPad from the dock you have a framed mini picture on your wall.
This $30 device lets you mount your iPhone (or any smartphone) onto your camera tripod. Easy way to take videos or still photos without needing an expensive camera.
Attractive metal base to raise up your iMac screen. Way better than the giant hardcover book you’re currently using. And it has a tiny tray for storing cables or pens. Not up on the website yet; we saw a prototype.
March 11, 2014
My first 3D printed item that I designed myself arrived late last week.
It’s called the Scribble Necklace, and it’s made with polished brass.
How I made it:
- I creeated a free account at Tinkercad, which lets you do online 3D design.
- Then I made my scribble on a piece of paper, photographed it with my iPhone, turned it into a black and white image, saved it as a PNG file, and uploaded it to Tinkercad.
- In Tinkercad, I gave it 3 dimensions and added the little rings for hanging. (The chain was purchased at a craft supply store and added later.)
- Then I exported the design from Tinkercad as an .stl file, imported it to my account at Shapeways, decided what material to order it in, and placed the order. It showed up via UPS about 2 weeks later.
Cost: $31 plus shipping and tax.
If I want, I can now go back and order more, or order them in different material such as polished silver for $47.41, gold-plated brass for $43.65. or white plastic for $2.37.
It’s an amazing experience to design something yourself and have it made as a one-of-a-kind piece.
March 4, 2014
I recently flew Delta out of La Guardia airport in New York.
It may be true what Joe Biden says, about La Guardia being like a third-world country, but Delta is looking to improve the gate-waiting experience by having an iPad at every single seat, whether at the food and drink bar or at one of the many tables throughout the gate area.
My experience with the iPads was exctremely positive. From any seat in the whole place I can order food and drink that gets delivered right to my seat. I can also order newspapers and magazines, even electronics (headphones, speakers) which supposedly are hand-delivered within 15 minutes.
Not surprising that Delta is seeing a huge increase in sales per passenger at the La Guardia terminal compared to elsewhere.
In addition, you can punch in your flight info, and the iPad keeps you updated on the status of your flight. Which was great for me, since my flight was over an hour delayed. No need to keep going back to the gate to get updates; they all came through on the iPad directly in front of me.
If this is the way New York City air travel is going, perhaps people won’t be so upset about the perennial delays at NYC airports.
Read more about iPads at La Guardia in the New York Times article from January, 2013: At La Guardia, Delta Uses iPads to Fill the Wait Time
February 28, 2014
Recently I’ve bought a few items from Shapeways. Each item is printed to order, which means it takes a few weeks to get to you. But it also means that sometimes you have your choice of materials, including sterling silver (the most expensive), steel, brass, sandstone, and various kinds of plastic.
A few of the coolest things on the site:
Jewelry. Lots of rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings. Check out this gorgeous pendant that doubles as a pocket-sized art object. It’s based on the shape that soap bubbles make when clinging together.
Miniatures. Tiny model trains and trucks and spaceships.
Dice. If you play a lot of dice games you should definitely check out some of the incredible designs here, like this Botanical Die.
iPhone cases with all kinds of wacky designs, kickstands, credit card holders, and so on.
Ceramic ware. Yes you can print in ceramic, which means lots of unusual coffee cups. Check out this coffee mug with a caffeine molecule design.
Coming soon: I design my own objects and have Shapeways make them!