Organization

Free Create Shadow Action in Photoshop

I have created a Photoshop action to automatically generate a shadow for a given png. I recommend extending the canvas right 10 or so pixels first. It expects the file to have a single layer with transparency. It duplicates the layer, adds a black color overlay, rasterizes the layer effect, squishes the layer with free transform, skews it to the right, puts the layer below the first one, sets the opacity to 57%, and hides the first layer.
This is useful for generating custom pin shadows for leaflet, google maps or bing.
Create Shadow.atn
On mac you can place this in: ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS6/Presets/Actions/

Make Firefox’s URL Autofill Behave [solved]

I like to go to websites as quickly as possible. Firefox usually gets me to the site I want to go after I type two letters – ‘di’ autocompletes to digg.com, ‘li’ takes me to lifehacker.com, etc. But there were some sites that it would not autocomplete, no matter how many times I would arrow down and to go that site. If I typed ‘ny’, it would never take me to nytimes.com, and if I hit enter it would accidentally take me to a google search for NY. Likewise, if I typed ‘fa’, it would not take me to facebook.com.

For a while I was using this lifehacker tip to force autocompletion, but that wasn’t working well either – often it would try to force me to a sub-page of the site I wanted to go to. So when that was turned off in a firefox upgrade, I didn’t re-enable it.

Finally, I found a solution that worked. Facebook and nytimes.com tend to redirect to www.facebook.com/home.php and www.nytimes.com. It also turns out that I had bookmarked these two sites, with the www in the URLs because of the redirects. The first step was to delete these bookmarks – they were overriding my history.

Then, the next time I typed in ny, I hit down until I found www.nytimes.com. Then I hit shift-delete to delete this URL from my autocomplete.

Finally, I had to type ny again and arrow down to nytimes.com. I hit enter, and now whenever I type ‘ny’ and hit enter I go to http://nytimes.com. Finally! I did the same for facebook and my other sites.

Move Some Common OS X Apps Out of the Dock [solved]

There are some really nifty apps out there that I have set to run all the time, and they’ve been starting to crowd up my dock.

Jungledisk is better than Mozy and is my preferred online backup utility. It’s secure, it uses Amazon S3, it supports versioning, and allows online access. Anyway I noticed their latest version of the app allows you to show the app in the status bar instead of the dock. Update Jungle Disk and then go to Configure > Application Settings > Show application in: Status Bar.

QuickSilver is another great keyboard launcher app I use all the time. It also supports hiding the app from the dock. Go to Preferences > Application and uncheck Show icon in dock. It automatically shows in the status bar when you do this.

Growl is one of my favorite apps, as is HardwareGrowler. However HardwareGrowler has no user interface but still hangs out in the dock. You can fix this by following the instructions on this page. It took me a couple tries (I put the <key>LSUIElement</key><true/> in the wrong place the first time and had to start over…Also you touch the whole HardwareGrowler.app package in the finder), but now it’s hidden from the dock.

Now if only I could get VineServer working with Growl. VineServer does allow you to install a system server, but unlike the app, it does not notify when someone connects, which I prefer to know about. So for now, VineServer sits in my dock as a hidden application.

Back up iPhone SMS messages into an excel database without jailbreaking [solved]

So here’s a somewhat complicated but entirely graphical way of backing up your SMS messages from your iPhone into an excel spreadsheet. I couldn’t get Syphone to work so here is my solution.

The first thing you’ll need is iPhone Backup Extractor. It’s a mac program, but there are other cross platform backup decoders out there such as mobilesync-inspect. You’re looking for the SQLite SMS database (iPhone Backup Extractor calls it SMS.db). iPhone Backup Extractor is not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0 yet but it does work with 2.2.1. Hopefully 3.0 will work soon.

Run iPhone Backup Extractor and select your most recent backup. Scroll down to the bottom of the applications and choose iPhone OS. Choose a folder to save it in.

iPhone Extractor

Then, use an SQLite browser such as SQLite Manager (don’t know why this is a firefox addon, but it rocks) to view the database.

export

All of the SMSes are stored in the messages table – you can right click on it and export it as a CSV. Alternatively you could export the whole database as an SQL or XML file. But open up the CSV in excel and you’re done! Sweet!

SMSes in excel

Sync notes with iPhone 3.0 beta

I’m trying the new iPhone 3.0 OS because I’m a registered developer. So far it’s sweet! My only issues so far are that wifi had trouble connecting at first, and my notes apparently didn’t sync.
Turns out my notes were in mail. They didn’t show up in my left hand navigation bar at first, but I tried doing “new note” and just writing “test”, and then the rest of them all showed up from my iPhone. (no clue where windows would put them.)
Hurray!

Sync Firefox bookmarks to the iPhone with Foxmarks

I’ve tried a few browser bookmark syncing services in the past, but I’m really impressed with Foxmarks, for their Firefox, Safari, and IE support.
As a bonus, once I set up foxmarks for Safari, and then synced my iPhone, my firefox bookmarks transferred to my iPhone.
Lifehacker recommends an app, O-Marks, for using foxmarks to sync your bookmarks over the air:
http://lifehacker.com/5051271/o+marks-syncs-your-foxmarks-bookmarks-to-your-iphone
But I find just opening up Safari every once in a while and syncing the iPhone works well enough for me.

Send list of open tabs to URL list, text file or clipboard [solved]

I’ve always wanted a Firefox add on that would send me a list of my open tabs in an email so I could look at them later. No, I don’t want these bookmarked, I just want to read them later. Read it Later comes close, but I’m finding myself never actually coming back to read those later.

I thought of this again tonight when I had a zillion tabs open for a research paper and thought I’d do some googling. Ideally I wanted to export a list of tabs with both the URLs and titles of the pages so I could list them in my bibliography. In the past I’ve had to re-google the pages I used to reference them.

I did find what looks to be an awesome citation management add on for firefox called Zotero. This add on has many features but was overkill for my needs – it stores PDFs and documents, attempts to capture citation information from web pages, and lets you take notes. But as far as I can tell it does not just save the title and URL of the web page you’re browsing, and instead tries to parse that page itself for citations.

Finally, a search for ‘firefox tabs urls titles’ did it: I found Send Tab URLs 2.0 for firefox which is freaking perfect. You can get a plain, numbered, or bulleted list and send it to yourself via your OS’s email or gmail. Even better, you can just send it to the clipboard. So simple and yet I’ve been longing for this for so long. It works perfectly, I paste it into Word and voila, I have a bibliography. Thanks, Alex Eng!!!

Sync iPhone with Google Calendar and Outlook [solved]

I have too many calendars. I’ve managed to consolidate most of them though:

First, I synced my work Outlook calendar (on my PC) to my gcal with the fantastic app Google Calendar Sync. I gave it my info and told it to sync both ways every hour.

Then, I subscribed to my google calendar in iCal: First, in google calendar, click on Settings, Calendar Settings, Calendars, [your calendar], Calendar Address: and click on ICAL. Copy this URL, and then in iCal, paste it into Calendar: Subscribe… and have it update every hour.

And you’re done! My iPhone will only sync when I connect it to the computer, which is fine with me, but you can either subscribe to mobileme for push calendar notifications, set up text messaging alerts with google calendar, or use the web-based iphone version of google calendar in Safari.

-edit-
Edit: The events show up as separate calendars on your iPhone.

It looks like this currently does not work with mobileMe. You can convert the items to your personal calendar in iCal by exporting them and then importing them. See macosxhints workaround here.

Two Moving Tips [solved]

A couple things I realized while moving:

1) You don’t have to deal with getting rid of stuff before you move, but make DONATE boxes to sort into that you can deal with later at your new place.

2) Trash bags are awesome, but quickly become disorganized. Old junkmail envelopes taped to the side of them work as great labels.

Delete iTunes Duplicates For Real with iDupe on OS X [solved]

This weekend I freed up 30 GB of mp3 duplicates using a handy program called iDupe. I’d tried several programs before, including an early version of Corral all Duplicates without much luck, but iDupe was able to process songs via ID3 tags, file size, date modified, and some fuzzy logic I don’t totally understand. I don’t know how it works, but it did.

iDupe is $8 and has a simple 3 step process – selecting, analyzing and deleting. It will optionally remove items from your library and delete them, letting you review them first. Warning – it is only for OS X and windows users who accidentally buy it will not be refunded. My only complaint would be that it can only handle a maximum of 2000 files at a time, meaning even when I subselected iTunes’ ‘show duplicates’ view, I still had to manually process chunks of my library at a time. It would be nice if it selected 2000 songs for you at a time, or even automated the processing in 2000 song chunks. But I trust the decisions it made and it worked great. Oh, and it removed all my dead tracks too.

For competition’s sake, Doug’s Scripts has evolved Corral All Duplicates into Dupin, but I haven’t tried it.

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