fullscreen mode and multi-monitor setups

Lion’s been out for a little more than a day now and it’s time for my first rant. There are a lot of things I like about it but there are also a couple of things that I don’t like. Like paper cuts, they won’t kill you, but once you notice them, they will drive you batshit insane mad.

safari screenshot

One of these paper cuts is the new fullscreen mode for applications. It makes great use of the limited screen real estate on single smaller screens, but the easy and quick access in mission control is where it excels. Single smaller screen? That’s right. It doesn’t mix well with multi-monitor setups. If you’re familiar with the concept of spaces you will know that in multi-monitor setups a space consists of the two (or more) screens. And that’s part of the problem. A fullscreen application, making use of the new Lion API, doesn’t take up a single screen, it takes up the whole space. It’s goes fullscreen on your primary screen, locking any additional screen on that same space. You get the blueish-grey linen background that’s also used in Mission Control and that’s it, you can’t place any windows on it, you can’t place anything on it. It’s useless.

It defeats the whole purpose of the fullscreen mode, decreasing effective screen real estate. One can only hope that Apple will fix it. However, I have to admit, I have my doubts. I can’t imagine this remained unnoticed throughout the developer previews. The only reasonable, and most disappointing, explanation seems to be that we’re dealing with a serious case of ‘working as intended’. Let’s hope I’m wrong about this one.

Lion’s most awesome new feature

I’ve read a lot of OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’ reviews and no one, not one mentioned that there’s a smiling pile of poo 💩. How are people not talking about this?

It’s part of the Unicode Emoji support that was brought ‘back to the Mac’ from iOS.

Unicode Emoji

Here‘s the fileformat.info page for the character.

You can use the HTML-code 💩 but it won’t display anything but a box unless your OS knows the character. So far it seems only to be working on Lion and iOS.

If you’re looking for a list of Unicode Emoji to use on iOS, take a look at www.mackeys.info on your iOS device. You can change the user agent to view it on Lion, but since it’s now part of the “Special Characters”-dialog, there’s little reason to. You can access the dialog by pressing ⌥⌘T in most apps.

Resizing images using the command line

If you happen to find yourself in the situation that you want to resize a large amount of images in OS X, you basically have two options:

  • Buy an App that does it for a couple of quid.
  • Use the tools that came with your OS.

If own a copy of Pixelmator you already have bought an App that’s capable of batch resizing images. Just take a look at Automator, Pixelmator added a few new actions to it.

But this is about using the tools Apple gave you, specifically sips.

scriptable image processing system

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My take on the CoverSutra controversy

It’s been two days since the Mac App Store has been released and there has been a lot of confusion and a lot of anger. CoverSutra, an app to control iTunes and displaying CoverArt on the Desktop, in particular has caused controversy and is the first little scandal of Apple’s new software repository.

The application in question is developed by Sophie Teutschler, best known for her Apple Design award-winning iOS app Articles, an independent software developer from Germany. In spite of promising free updates until the next major release (3.0) of CoverSutra, she released version 2.5 exclusively on the Mac App Store. This caused a lot of angry comments, disappointed customers and supporters insulting each other, criticising or defending Teutschler’s decision.

I’ve been a CoverSutra user for a while, and I did buy the MAS-version of the app, the moment I saw it. I wanted to support the developer of a great piece of software. However, I did not know that there wouldn’t be any more updates for users that did not buy the new version. To be honest, I was quite surprised as the promise to provide existing customers with free updates is featured very prominently in the app itself, as well as being displayed upon registration. This isn’t only a promise, it’s an agreement the developer entered with her customers. They paid for the software, they fulfilled their part. She agreed to offer updates which she, according to her own words, simply forgot. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s astonishing to me that she does not seem to acknowledge to making one but instead offered a list of pretty weak excuses. Contrary to the opinion expressed by a lot of supporters of disappointed users being cheapskates that just want to get everything for free, I really don’t believe it is about money. CoverSutra costs $5 on the App Store, and while it’s certainly worth every penny it does not change the fact that she did not honour her part of the deal. Imagine you had ordered a pizza and paid for it, only to find out that the delivery guy ate a piece, and then, when you called the place, they told you they had decided to give a piece to the delivery guy because he had forgotten to have lunch and got hungry. You’d be pissed. I certainly would.

I understand that independent developers don’t have the easiest job in the world, and having to deal with customers, especially an angry mob, isn’t easy either but one shouldn’t make promises one can’t keep. Fine, she forgot, but when then she was reminded, taking a step back and honouring her part of the bargain would have been the right thing to do in my opinion.

Here are Teutschler’s two blog posts, followed by a list of posts I read about the controversy.


And here’s what Pieter Omvlee, developer of apps like FontCase, Sketch and DrawIt wrote to me on twitter:

@mrigns It’s true that I don’t understand why she can’t keep pushing Sparkle updates. Takes no effort. But some people should get a life. :P
08.01.11 19:38
Posted in Mac

Three ways to do some quick math in OS X

I often find myself in the situation where I need to do some quick math. Calculator.app and the calculator widget are pretty basic and a pain to use as they try to mimic the paradigm of a physical device.

There are other ways…


Did you know you could use Spotlight as a calculator? Just type away and it’ll give you the result instantly.

terminal.app (bc)

I’m a regular terminal user. Most of the time I have at least two terminal windows open and guess what there’s a command line app for calculations. It’s called bc.
Just type bc into to prompt and hit enter. Now you can type things like 2+2, or 2*(20-40)^2. Enter.
If you’re done, type quit and hit enter. bc can do a lot more than that, you might want to take a look at its manpage.


Another option is AppleScript. There’s a pretty handy OS X service, you can use. Open System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts and mark “Get Result of AppleScript” under Development.
Now you can use any text input area as your calculator, just type and select the term and press ⌘*

General things

You’re allowed to use brackets.
Use sqrt(n), or (n)^(1/2) to get the square root of n
Use x^(1/n) to get the nth root of x

A lazy man’s guide Smart Folders and Labels

I never really used Smart Folders in OS X, just as I never really cared about labels or stationery pads.

A lot of Mac users don’t even know what these things are. In fact I assume most don’t know. But it’s really not some obscure diabolical ritual. Just select a file and hit ⌘I
What the labels do should be pretty self-explanatory. A stationery pad is comparable to templates you might know from Microsoft Office. When you open a file that’s that has this checkbox checked Continue reading

Posted in Mac

My First Mac

Looking for a new laptop I decided to get a Mac, a MacBook Pro 13″. First I was hesitating, cost, unfamiliar OS and the fear of the lack of interoperability left me doubtful. The problem of price sort of solved itself as I stumbled over a coupon code on the web and so I could save about 150€ (~$212 as of 25th January). I had to act quick and decided to get it before the offer would expire.

A couple of days later the MacBook arrived. The unpacking, the packaging being premium to say the least, reminded me of boxing day as a child. Continue reading