#Mac

The 2018 MacBook Pro Sucks

I’ve been an Apple fan for a long time. My first laptop was a Powerbook 5300cs, purchased secondhand at the Auburn University Surplus Auction. I’ve been using Apple equipment exclusively since 2007. My desktops and laptops are all Apple, I use AppleTVs exclusively for streaming, I carry iPhones and iPads. If it has a shiny Apple logo on it, I’ve probably bought one. So it pains me to write this post, but… The 2018 MacBook Pro sucks. There. I said it.

Wallpaper Swapping with Hammerspoon

Hammerspoon is a pretty nifty tool. It’s kind of difficult to explain what it does, but the best I can do is that it allows you to use Lua to script actions on your Mac and, crucially, respond to events. For instance, I use Hammerspoon to lauch all my applications when I get to work and lay them out on the screen in the order that I like. I can do this because I was able to attach a location listener to work’s location, and execute Lua code on arrival. The amount of things that you can do with this tool is pretty stunning. It’s become an indespensible part of my macOS experience.

What I use: 2016

Since it’s been awhile since I wrote a post about what I use in regards to software, hardware, etc. Perhaps it’s time that I did that again. So here’s a list of what I’m using in 2016:

Multiple Calibre Servers under Mac OS X

So there’s this program out there called Calibre which, despite it’s pretty terrible UI, is pretty much the gold standard for managing eBooks. Seriously, it’s such a great program whose only fault is its terrible engineer UI. One of the nice things that Calibre includes is a built-in web server that can serve books via OPDS. If you have an OPDS-compatible reader (I use Marvin), you can browse and download from your library directly on your device, basically creating your own private eBook cloud. But, this presents a little bit of an issue. Namely, I don’t want all of my books to be publicly available, while still providing a subset of my library for visitors to browse and use. But I still want to be able to access them myself from my “private reserve collection.” Fortunately, with a little bit of work, you can do that under Calibre.

360iDev 2014: A Review

So last month I had the pleasure of attending 360 iDev in Denver, Colorado. Overall, this was a very good conference. As always, I learned so much from my fellow developers.

Cocoaconf Atlanta 2013: A Review

So this past week I attended the first (I think) Cocoaconf to be held within a reasonable distance of Huntsville. In this case, a mere 3.5 hours away in Atlanta. Overall, I’d say this was a very good conference. It was small (I’m guessing about 150 or so attendance). The location was easy to get to, and the conference in general seemeed well organized.

What I use: 2013

Since it’s been awhile since I wrote a post about what I use in regards to software, perhaps it’s time that I did that again. So here’s a list software I’m using in 2013:

Creating an iTunes Dropbox on a Mac

Download I recently added a Mac mini to my setup at home, that I’m using to drive my in-home “video on demand” system. With many of the TV’s in the house on AppleTVs, any TV in the house can watch any movie in the library at any time. I put the mini (headless) in the closet, along with the Drobo and a printer. But, the new Mac mini lacks an optical drive. So, how to continue ripping the DVDs I already own? The solution, it turns out, is to continue doing the actual work on my iMac when it comes to ripping, filtering the files through iDentify and MetaX. But I don’t want to have to go to screen sharing on the Mini and add a file to iTunes. I want that to happen automatically. That’s where Automator - one of the most underrated pieces of software that comes with every Mac - comes in. With Automator, you can attach an action to a folder, so that that action will be performed whenever anything is added to that folder. So here’s what I did to get files from a folder into iTunes: Create a folder somewhere on your system. I put mine in my user directory. Open Automator. From the dialog box, select “Folder Action.” At the top, where it says “Folder Action receives files and folders added to,” select “Other” and select your new folder. Search for an action called “Set Var of Value”. Drag that action over to the right. From “Variable” select “New Variable.” Call it “Source” Search for an action called “Import Files into iTunes”. Drag that action over to the right underneath the variable action. Be sure to select “Library” from the empty dropdown. Search for an action called “Get Var of Value”. Drag that action over to the right underneath the iTunes action. Be sure the selected variable is “Source”. Search for an action called “Move Finder Items to Trash”. Drag that action over to the right. Search for an action called “Run AppleScript.” Drag that action over to the right. In the AppleScript action, paste this: on run {input, parameters} tell application "Finder" to empty trash return input end run Save the action. You’re done.

Merging M4V files on a Mac ... with chapters!

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, one of my projects right now is ripping all the DVDs I own so that I can watch them on my AppleTV (or any AppleTV in the house). Well, one of the problems I’ve run into a couple of times is longer movies that are distributed on two discs. This is usually movies like the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition or The Ten Commandments. Really, they’re one movie, but are distributed as two separate movies because of the restrictions of physical media. Well, digital media imposes no such restrictions on us, so why have two separate movies listed on the AppleTV? So after much trial and error, I finally discovered a way to get everything play nicely together. Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to solve and even involved me writing a small script that could merge chapter files together because every single method I could find would eliminate chapter markers. So here, in abbreviated form, is the process for merging m4v files together and preserving chapter markers. Note: This tutorial assumes some level of technical proficiency. This is not a point-and-click process (yet :P) and requires the use of multiple tools and the shell. Tools you’ll need: Handbrake or whatever tool you’re using for ripping your legally obtained DVDs. MetaX and/or iDentify Subler remux Quicktime, which is now built into Mac OS X. chaptermerge, a script I wrote that merges chapter files together. The proces: Rip both movies from their individual DVDs using Handbrake or whatever other tool you’re using. Be sure that you’re adding chapter markers. Load each movie into MetaX and download the chapter names. That’s really the only thing you need to add to the file. Save the files with chapter names. Load each movie into Subler and extract the chapter files. To do this, select the chapter track and select File -> Export. Now, open the first movie in Quicktime. Drag the second movie on top of the first one. Quicktime will add the two together. Save the movie for use on an AppleTV. Get a beer or 6, because this takes awhile. While the movie is saving, use chaptermerge to merge the chapter files together. See the docs on how it works. Once the file has finished saving as a Quicktime MOV (it’s actually still h.264 inside the file), fire up remux and convert the merged file back into an m4v. Drag the file into remux, set the output to m4v, and save. Should be pretty quick - a matter of minutes. Load the merged file back into Subler and add the merged chapter track. Drag the chapter file into the Subler window. Save the file. Load the merged file into a tool such as iDentify or MetaX and add the remaining metadata. That’s it! You now have a merged file with both parts of the movie, accurate chapter markers and full metadata, ready to be copied to iTunes and viewed on your AppleTV.