The Boyce Blog: August 2011

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lion's Mail: How to Fix the Toolbar


Ah, Lion. It's almost as if someone is trying to make our Macs harder to use. Here's one example: the default setting for Lion's Mail app has the toolbar displaying icons only. Problem is, some of the icons are new, and we don't know what they do. Solution: set the toolbar to show the icons and their labels. So much better, and so easy to do.

Here's what the toolbar looks like in Lion's Mail, by default:

Yeah, I know you can figure out most of these, but it's not supposed to be a puzzle.

It would be better if the toolbar looked more like this:

So let's do it.

1. Select "Customize Toolbar..." from the View menu.
2. At bottom left corner, change "Show Icon Only" to "Show Icon and Text."
3. Click "Done" (bottom right).

That's it! So much better. And so easy to do.

You can always go back to Customize Toolbar... and make other changes, including adding and deleting buttons such as "Add To Address Book" and "Smaller Bigger." And, if you get really good at things and you want that quarter-inch of vertical screen space back, you can change back to "icon only" or even to "text only." Nice to know you have choices.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

NFL Prime Time Calendar for 2011, in iCal Format


Here is an iCal calendar showing the times and teams for every prime-time NFL game for the 2011 season. The calendar is provided by Scott Crevier of South End Zone and if you're a football fan I strongly urge you to visit his site.

In years past, I've modified Scott's full NFL schedule using AppleScript, producing a calendar of just the prime-time games, but Scott agreed to build the prime-time calendar himself this year. Scott's calendar has the advantage of being kept up to date as the season moves along.

If you click the link here, iCal will launch and ask you whether you want to subscribe to the calendar.


The answer is "Yes" so click Subscribe (don't change the Calendar URL-- that has to stay as shown). In the next box, you may wish to rename the calendar, change its color, and turn off the Alerts and Attachments and Reminders. You may also want to change the update frequency to every day rather than every week. See below.


The NFL season is right around the corner. Subscribe to this calendar and you'll know who's playing on Monday Night Football (and Sunday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football), and when.

(Those who are interested can read how I created the prime-time calendar myself in years past, starting with South End Zone's full NFL schedule and using AppleScript to systematically remove every game that started before 4 PM Pacific time. Writing the AppleScript was a fun exercise but this year's calendar from South End Zone is better due to the updating.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple: My Thoughts


This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone at MacWorld Expo in January 2007.


This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPad three years later.

I don't know of another big-time CEO who so obviously loves his products. Look at his face. He can hardly contain himself. I can't decide which picture I like more. So here they are, both of them.

***
As you surely know, Steve Jobs resigned his position as CEO of Apple today via this letter to the Apple Board of Directors "and the Apple Community" (which I thought a nice touch). I've received numerous comments via email, text, phone, and in person, all saying "It's a sad day." And I agree. But, as I've written before, it's hardly the end of Apple. It's also hardly the end of Steve Jobs' involvement at Apple-- he's still on the Board of Directors, and now he's Chairman of the Board, and he's still an Apple employee. Yes, it's a step back, but no, he's not leaving Apple. Not just yet.

(Apple's going to be fine. Tim Cook, whom Steve Jobs personally picked to be CEO, is going to take the job. Cook isn't Steve Jobs, but he's been Chief Operating Officer at Apple since 1998, and he wouldn't have lasted that long if he didn't understand what's important to the company and what makes Apple special. I've read that Apple has codified "the Apple way," going so far as to create a series of courses that formally explain and teach the company's core beliefs. Those beliefs may have started in Steve Jobs' mind, but they aren't going to end there. Obviously, Steve Jobs is not replaceable in the sense that we're all different, and Jobs is more different than most. But the company is in good hands with Tim Cook.)

So what's so sad about today's news? Plenty: An unmatched leader is unable to continue doing the work he loves. That's sad. The public has probably seen its last Steve Jobs keynote speech/product introduction. That's sad too. Reading between the lines it's easy to assume that Jobs' health is deteriorating, and of course on a human level that's even sadder still.

Steve Jobs tried to change the world-- and he did it. He had a vision of how ordinary people could use computers and technology to make their lives better, and now, after all these years, the world understand what Jobs meant. The Mac, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, the iPhone, the iPad-- all game-changers, instantly copied, with the ideas being so good that even the copies were better than what was there before.

Steve Jobs changed computers, music, phones, and with the iPad, "everything." He changed the world, and now it appears he might not be around to enjoy it very long. That, to me, is saddest of all.

UPDATE: According to Ars Technica, Tim Cook sent a letter this morning to all Apple employees, saying "I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change." Read the full text of Tim Cook's letter at Ars Technica.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Print Faster, and Save Ink


Inkjet printers, as a group, have a couple of features in common:
1. Replacing the ink costs more than the printer did, and
2. Printing takes a long, looooong time.

I can't make the cost of ink go down but I can show you how to make your inkjet use less ink, and print faster (a LOT faster-- in my tests, doing it "my way" cut printing time by a factor of SIX!). The trade-off is print quality, but there are plenty of times when all you want to do is print out an email, or someone's address card, or a recipe for barbequed turkey, and quality is not an issue. There's a time and a place for everything. Anyhow, here's how you do it.

By the way, this will work with Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, and 10.7.

First, find something to print and bring up the Print... dialog box. If it looks like this, click the triangle in the blue box (circled here) and expand the box.


If you're using Lion, it's a little different. In Lion, you "Show Details."


Either way, you end up with a bigger Print box. Now look for a pop-up menu in the Print box. I've circled one here, but programs can modify the Print box in various ways so your Print box pop-up menu may look different. However, the choices will be similar.

Click that menu and you'll see something like this. Choose "Paper Type/Quality" or whatever you can find that looks the most like that.

In the box that appears next, click on the Quality pop-up (shown below) and choose the fastest, least-ink-using choice as shown here.



If you hover over the various options here you'll see a yellow flag telling you what you should expect. Here's what you get when you choose "Fast draft" on an HP printer:

Sounds good to me. Now print!

In my testing, by using the "Fast draft" option I was able to print an entire six-page document in 55 seconds. Using the typical settings (that is, if I just went to Print but didn't change anything) it took 63 seconds for the first page alone! I stopped the test at that point because I didn't want to waste the ink.

If it sounds like a lot of work... well, it's not. It's a medium amount of work. But, if you do it once, and you like the results, and you don't want to do it again, you can save the settings as a so-called "Preset." What you do is make all of your choices, then click the Presets menu as shown below.

Slide down to "Save As..." and name your "Fast draft" settings something like... oh, I don't know, maybe something like "Fast Draft." This saves all of the choices that you made by hand, so next time you want to print something, you either print it "Standard" (which is to say, the usual way), or you choose "Fast Draft" from the Presets menu. You can make and save as many Presets as you like-- in this picture, you can see I have a few already.

To the best of my knowledge, only one person in the entire world has ever saved a Preset in the Print dialog box, so how about you try it and we'll be up to two. It really is a very cool feature, whether your goal is to go cheap and fast, or to go high-quality on glossy photo paper. It's a real time-saver to be able to set a whole bunch of options by simply choosing your custom preset and it costs nothing to try.

Note: the Fast Draft setting is going to get your page out lickety-split but it's not the right choice for photos or a college term paper (Spencer) or anything else where looks matter. Still, when speed is what you want, and you don't want to use up all your ink, the Fast Draft setting is exactly what you need.

One More Thing: Laser printers probably won't have a "Fast Draft" setting but they sometimes have a "fast" or "light" option, so look around in the Print box and see what your options are. You won't find the same settings I've shown here but you'll still be able to print quickly and with less toner than you would normally.

The money you'll save on ink and toner can go toward properly celebrating National Sponge Cake Day. Hurry up, it's upon us.

Friday, August 19, 2011

HP Doesn't Get It

Hewlett-Packard appears to be through as a PC maker. Their TouchPad (HP's version of the iPad), introduced only six weeks ago, was recently discounted-- and now it's discontinued. Today, at HP's quarterly earnings conference call, HP said that it was "exploring options" for getting out of the PC business altogether. Wow.

There's a lot of other HP news, though none of it as shocking as HP's ability to face the fact that an HP logo on a not-as-good-as-the-iPad tablet isn't nearly good enough. The thing that really stands out, though, is what HP's CEO and CFO say is the driving force for the company: namely, creating and increasing "shareholder value."

You never hear Apple talking about "shareholder value" in its conference calls. All Apple talks about is making great products-- and about record sales. I don't think it's a coincidence.

If you make it plain that your Number One priority is "increasing shareholder value" you also make it plain that "making great stuff" can't be higher than priority Number Two. To my mind, HP has it backward. Make great stuff first. "Shareholder value" will come along for the ride.

In case anyone from HP is reading... imagine the man on the street talking about your products even when the products haven't been announced. Imagine world-wide news coverage of your every product introduction. Imagine repeat customers desiring your products so strongly that they camp on the sidewalks outside your stores for the privilege of exchanging their money for your goods. If you're HP, you can only imagine. But if you're Apple, you know what it's like first-hand.

Maybe one day HP will realize that they got where they are (actually, where they used to be) by making great stuff, and maybe one day they'll focus on that instead of on shareholder value. I hope they do. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Here are some excerpts from HP's conference call (with emphasis added by me). You can read a transcript of the entire event here. You can search the transcript for the word "shareholder" and find it many times, including in the snippets below:

Léo Apotheker, HP's CEO: "Today is all about rising shareholder values and addressing the challenges we face in our business."

Mr. Apotheker: "... continuing to execute our current device approach in this market space [tablets] is no longer in the best interest of HP and HP's shareholders. Therefore, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to shut down the webOS hardware provisions within Q4 2011."

Mr. Apotheker: "... most importantly, we very strongly believe the transaction [purchasing Autonomy] will create significant value for our shareholders."

Mr. Apotheker: "...as CEO, I believe in transparency about what we are facing and be clear on the decisive things we are doing now about it. To conclude, I'm taking ownership for these decisions and investments with a focus on driving actions that deliver value for shareholders as we shape the new HP."

Catherine Lesjak, HP's CFO: "We are repositioning our portfolio, discontinuing or exploring options for lower margin businesses and investing in higher margin areas, including Services and Software. This effort will require patience, but the clear objective is to drive long-term shareholder value."

Mr. Apotheker: "I said it before, this is about a transformation to position HP for a new future and about driving long-term shareholder value... As CEO, I'm steadfast in my commitment to take action to do the right things to drive value for our shareholders."

Yikes.

Here's something a little different: the transcript from Apple's July 19th, 2011 quarterly earnings conference call. You can search it for the word "shareholder" but it's not mentioned even once. They do mention"products" six times, and "customer" eleven. Maybe they're on to something. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lion Update 10.7.1: Big Improvement



Today Apple released its first update to Mac OS X Lion: 10.7.1. You can read a little about it on Apple's site. If you're on Lion already, this update is a must. Here, 10.7.1 runs in glorious silence, quite a difference from my Mac's "roaring" (get it? Lion? Roaring?) fans under the initial 10.7.0. That's a big plus.

It's likely that Apple was working on this update even before Lion's initial availability, which means that much of 10.7.1's improvements is stuff that Apple already knew about. And that means that bugs that were found after Lion's release could still be present-- but I'd expect a lot of them to be fixed in 10.7.2.

If you're on 10.7, Step One is be absolutely positive that you have a current backup. You can go to Time Machine's menu and tell it to "Back Up Now" (that's what I did). Step Two is get 10.7.1 via Software Update under the Apple menu. Step Three is restart, which the Installer will insist upon. You might get some disk activity and fan noise immediately after the restart, but it ought to go away in time. You can restart again after that and from then on it ought to be smooth sailing.

You can probably tell that I am not keen on Lion. I prefer Snow Leopard for several reasons, some of which I will write about someday soon. But, if you're already on Lion, you'll be happier after installing the 10.7.1 update. Just be sure you have that backup, just in case.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Bring Back "Search For" in Lion's Finder Sidebar


You have questions, we have answers. It's a match made in Heaven. Today's question:

"What happened to "Search For" in the Finder sidebar? I liked being able to use this occasionally and don't understand why it was dropped. Is there any way to get it back? Thanks. Sincerely, Anonymous."

What a great question, with a double-duty answer. With one blog post we can solve a problem for Lion users while simultaneously introducing Snow Leopard users to something they might not know about. I can't wait.

Here's a refresher, for those of you wondering what Anonymous is talking about. The Finder in Snow Leopard has something in its Sidebar that Lion doesn't have, and I've bordered it here in red.

By default, without you doing anything, Snow Leopard has this nifty "Search For" section, and when you click one of the items in that section the Finder shows all of the files that match. Here, I clicked "All Images" and Snow Leopard's Finder is showing 9,997 image files, from all over my hard disk.

You will also notice the "Today," "Yesterday," and "Past Week" items. Click them to find all of the files that have changed for the given timeframe. If you've ever forgotten what you named a document, but you know you worked on it yesterday, clicking on "Yesterday" in the Search For section will help you find it.

You can see that this "Search For" stuff could be handy. But Lion doesn't have it. Here's a look at the Sidebar in Lion's Finder-- no "Search For" to be found.

It's just not there. What a drag.

The good news is you can put it back with just a little work on your part. The really good news is that you can do even better than the standard Search For section (and that goes for you non-Lion users-- what you'll learn here will work for you in Snow Leopard and "regular" Leopard too).

Here's how you do it.

First, click on the Desktop, or the Finder icon in the Dock, or on a Finder window-- the point being that Step One is to be sure the Finder is the active program. Not sure? Look up by the Apple menu. If the next thing to the right says "Finder" you're ready to go. If not, click the Desktop (or the Finder icon in the Dock, or on a Finder window) and make it so.

Next, go to the File menu and choose Find. You're going to find something.

In this case, we're going to find every image on the hard disk-- that is, we want "Kind" to be "Image." Here's what the top of the Find box looks like. (Note the Save button. We're going to save our Find criteria when we're done.)



Click where it says "Any" and change it to Image. You will get another little menu next to that menu, where you could, if you wanted to, choose to only find JPEG or PNG or whatever. Leave it set to "All." Then click the Save button.

What you're doing here is saving the Find requests. Give it a good name and be sure the Add to Sidebar box is checked. Don't worry about where to save your search-- Apple takes care of that part for you. See the picture below.



Now have a look at your Finder's Sidebar. Your saved search will be there. It won't have a red arrow pointing to it like mine does here but it will be there.



Nice going. Now try another one! Go to File, come down to Find, and let's make one that says "Last modified date is yesterday." Here's how it looks:



Save that one with a good name... then do one more for "Last modified date is today" and you're well on your way to recreating the complete "Search For" section that Apple left out of Lion.

Here's how Lion's Finder Sidebar looks on my Mac after adding the three saved searches we did here (and I have clicked on the All Images search so you can see what it does).

You can really go to town with this technique, searching and saving and displaying your saved searches in the Sidebar as much as you want to.

Here's the kicker: you can do all of the above in Snow Leopard (and Leopard) too! Of course, you don't have to do it, because Apple's put All Images, and Today, and Yesterday in the Sidebar already-- but you can do so many other things using this technique! Search for every document that has the word "Barbeque" in it! Find every image that was modified within the last 30 days! Find every PDF whose size is greater than 5 megabytes! The sky's the limit. Do your Find, click the Save button, give it a good name-- and from then on, any time you click the saved search in the Sidebar, it's as if you manually did a Find the hard way.

If you're wondering whether these saved searches are "live", the answer is YES. You're saving the search criteria, not the search results. Every time you click a saved search in the Sidebar it does the search all over again. It's always fresh.

Here are a couple of bonus nifty things that you should know about.
  • Technically, what you're doing here is making "Smart Folders." That's what Apple calls them.
  • You will see similar "Smart" items in iPhoto ("Smart Albums") and in iTunes ("Smart Playlists").
  • You can drag your Smart Folders upward in the Sidebar but only if you click on the little gear icon (not on the name).
  • You can control-click a Smart Folder and "Show Search Criteria" if you want to make adjustments, or even just to remember what your Smart Folder does.
  • You can Command-drag a Smart Folder out of the Sidebar if you want to get rid of it. However, this does not really delete the Smart Folder. It just gets it out of the Sidebar.
Gee that was fun. Thanks for the question, Anonymous!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Clear Out Bad Addresses in Apple's Mail


Apple's Mail program is really smart about guessing who you are sending an email to. Type the first few letters of a person's name (or the first few letters of his email address) and Mail fills in the rest. All you have to do is accept Mail's suggestion, by pressing either Tab or Return on your keyboard.

(Bonus Hint: alternatively, you can type the first few letters of a person's last name. Mail will still look it up.)

This works very well when Mail has only one suggestion. It works just slightly less well when there are several matches-- for example, let's say you're going to email your friend Jack. You type "j" and then you type "a" and Mail shows you a list with Jack, Jason, Janet, Janice, Jamal, Jackson, James, etc. That's easy enough to deal with-- just type a little more, and the list narrows down to the one you want.

Where it really works very poorly is when someone you've written to changes his email address. Mail remembers the addresses of people you've emailed before, so even though you've changed the person's name in the Address Book, Mail keeps suggesting the old address. That can be a problem.

For example, let's say you have a friend, Joe Smith, with an email address as shown here:

Send him even one email at that address and Mail will very helpfully suggest "joe@joesmith.com" every time you begin addressing an email with "joe."

Now let's say Joe changes his email address to something a little different (or, let's say you had it wrong all along-- no wonder he didn't write back!). Let's say his new address is this one:

You've changed it in the Address Book, but look what happens when you start addressing an email to Joe. Mail suggests both the current email address and the old one, like so:



Obviously, it would be nice if Mail would forget about Joe's old email address. Here's how you make that happen.

Choose "Previous Recipients" from Mail's Window menu as shown here:

You'll get a little window, where you can type in what you're looking for to narrow it down. Here's what it looked like after I searched for joe smith:

Click the address you want Mail to forget about, then click "Remove From List," and that is that. Next time you address an email to Joe, Mail will suggest just the new address, as shown below.



Pretty cool.

This works the same way in Mail whether you're using Lion (10.7), Snow Leopard (10.6), Leopard (10.5), or even Tiger (10.4). Have a look in your Mail program's Previous Recipients window. I'll bet you'll find a bunch of addresses that can be cleared out (including some that were typos, which Mail remembers anyway).

In case you wondered: Mail looks for email addresses in both the Address Book and in the Previous Recipients list. It does not look at the addresses of people who have sent emails to you unless they are already in your Address Book or Mail's Previous Recipients.

UPDATE: eliminated duplicate paragraph at top of blog entry (8-14-2011).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good Stuff in Mac OS X Lion


Even though Mac OS X Lion has kept a lot of us busy looking for work-arounds and otherwise solving problems, it also has some nice touches which bear pointing out. Here are a few that I especially like.

1. Finder: New Folder with Selection. Select some files, then choose File/New Folder with Selection (n Items) and it does what it says it says it will do. (The "n" is the number of items selected.)



BETTER: control-click on one of the selected items and choose New Folder with Selection (n Items). There it is, right at the top.


Either way, you get a folder called "New Folder With Items" and it is ready for you to rename (no need to click it, just type the new name).


You've probably done something like this in iTunes (New Playlist from Selection). Now you can do it in the Finder.

iCal: double-click an event to edit it. Doesn't sound like such a big deal, but in 10.6.8 you double-click the event, then you click the Edit button. Lion's iCal eliminates the extra step. Thank you, Lion! You don't need a picture for this, just try it.

Mail: Favorites Bar. Drag your favorite mailboxes ("folders" to you and me) to the Favorites Bar for quick access, then hide the mailbox list so you have more room for mail. Go from this three-column view....
to this two-column view, leaving more room for the stuff you really need (that is, the mail that you are reading).
The important parts are highlighted in red (the Favorites Bar) and yellow (the Show/Hide button, which shows and hides the third pane of the Mail window).

If the Favorites Bar is not showing in Mail, choose "Show Favorites Bar" from the View menu. Note: you can file a message by dragging it onto an item in the Favorites Bar. Very nice.

I hope to find more stuff I like in Lion. If and when I do, I will let you know.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to Fix Lion's Finder Preferences


My first look at Lion's Finder was a mix of "that looks familiar" and "holy cow, what happened here?". Some of Lion's Finder looked like Snow Leopard's, but some of it didn't. Turns out that some of the stuff that didn't is the result of some questionable default choices (by Apple), and since it's easy to change things, I did. Here's how.

First, I didn't like the way Apple made Finder windows look. It felt like something was missing. Have a look.


In fact, something was missing: the slider to change the size of the icons, and the information about how much room was left on the disk-- along with the rest of the bottom of the window frame. One quick trip to the View menu and I'd turned on the Status Bar, leaving me with windows looking like this:


That's better. Now I can use the slider at bottom right to make the icons larger, and now I can see how much room is on the disk (and the number of items in the window).

After using the slider, the thumbnails are large enough to be useful.


Note: of course you could change the size of the icons by going to View/Show View Options (or, Command-J, thanks for reminding me Dave), but that's a bit of extra work. Just show the Status Bar and be done with it-- you'll have the slider right there all the time, for all Finder windows. One change and you're done.

Bonus: with the Status Bar showing you have something else to click on when you want to move the window.

I say turn the Status Bar on and leave it on. I also say turn on the Path Bar (in the Finder's View menu) and leave it on too-- that way, you'll know "the path" to the window you're looking at. For example, with the Path Bar on, I can see that the folder I'm looking at ("texas flowers") is in the Pictures folder, on the disk called "cboyce." I find that incredibly handy. You can double-click any item in the Path Bar and you'll jump straight there. That's even more incredibly handy.

The next thing that Apple turns off by default in the Lion Finder is our old friend the scroll bar. You can get the scroll bar back-- go to Apple/System Preferences.../General and look for "Show scroll bars:" and then click "Always."

(The scroll bars in Lion are a little thin for my taste, and there aren't any arrows to click on at the ends of the scroll bars-- something I really hope Apple changes its mind on soon. For now, no scroll arrows, none at all. Ugh.)

While you're in there, try changing the size of icons in the Finder's "Sidebar." Here's what it looks like with the Sidebar icon size set to "Large." (No, you can't change the color-- it's going to be shades of gray for the Sidebar in Lion, not that I see that as an advantage.)

Personally, I like my Sidebar icons "Medium."

You might want to come back and change your settings here someday down the road so remember where they are (and I agree that it's weird that some of the Finder's preferences are handled by selecting "Preferences..." from the Finder menu, while others are handled by going to System Preferences/General).

By the way, there's no little "lozenge" at the top right of Finder windows to toggle the toolbar and sidebar on and off. Instead, you have to go to the View menu and "Hide Toolbar" or "Show Toolbar." Why hiding the Toolbar also hides the Sidebar, I don't know. And there is no preference for putting the lozenge back on. I would just leave the Toolbar (and Sidebar) showing all the time. At least you know how to hide it if you want to.

But wait-- there's more!
What's wrong with this picture?



What's wrong is they forgot to show my hard drive on the desktop (or, rather, Apple's default setting is to NOT show hard disks on the Desktop). That's fixable: choose Preferences from the Finder menu and check the box for "Hard disks." Here's a picture of how it looks right out of the box-- I ended up checking all of the first four boxes. Why not. I can turn them off later I suppose.

And that's about it. I have my scroll bars back, I have my icon-resize slider back, I have my hard disk back. I miss seeing color in the Finder's Sidebar but I'll have to live with that for now. Truth is, I think Lion's Finder is a little bit lost, to make a bad joke. The way I see it, Apple "fixed something that wasn't broken." For now, I'm managing, but I'm hoping for some minor changes in a future Software Update.