Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I've got a new Mac, stuff I've been learning about it

I've got a new Mac for work stuff so that I can work from home. It's a lot bigger and whizzier than my own Acer Aspire One which is fine for 'home' stuff but not really oomphy enough to handle what I need to interact with the website at work and make changes to it (Dreamweaver plus a VPN to UCL which is where the files are located, even though I work at Queen Mary).

Here's what I've discovered in the couple of hours of playing around on it.

Because I'm used to working on a PC I tend to spot all the things doesn't have (just took me 20 seconds to work out how to make italics!) rather than focus on the positives but don't get me wrong, I am quite taken with this thing.

Forward delete
There's no forward-delete button only a backspace delete one, but the option is available as Fn+backspace.

Hashtag key is Alt3 #
The # hash symbol is Alt3 - it may be possible for me to 'remap' my keyboard so that I can select a key and sacrifice it to the hash. It would be great if all keys were just customisable in this way.
Lifehacker on remapping Mac keyboards: http://lifehacker.com/5882684/the-best-keyboard-remapper-for-mac-os-x

Screenshot - taking a pic of what's on screen
I regularly (daily) take a screenshot of something on my PC's screen and whiz it into Paint for some mild pruning - often a map, or something else I want to edit. It's a bit more faffy on a Mac. First of all I downloaded a Mac version of Paintbrush from sourceforge and then I had to discover how to capture a screenshot - that's Ctrl+Cmd+Shift+3 (until I've worked out how to shush the Mac from sonifing every little thing I do this also makes the 'camera aperture shutter' sound of taking a photograph), then Cmd+V to get it into the Paintbrush window for tweaking.

To avoid tweaking I can use Ctrl+Command-Shift-4 to bring up crosshairs which I can then click and drag to enlarge over the area (and only that area) that I want to capture. The Ctrl bit means it's copied to clipboard, without that it's saved as an image file on the desktop.

Screenshot info: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/screencapturemac/ht/macscreenshot.htm
Paintbrush info: http://paintbrush.sourceforge.net/downloads/

Numlock and fancy characters, umlauts and whatnot
Not spotted the Numlock keys so not sure how much fun I'll be able to have with the Alt+numbers which normally bring up a wide variety of strange symols on a PC. Undoubtedly these things will work fine on a Mac, I just need to find out how to do that. I think my favourites are Alt+175 » to make little chevrons (alt 174 makes the reverse type «) and Alt+0254 to make a little tongue sticking out (it's similar to the runic 'thorn' symbol) รพ

Alt codes info: http://www.spike-jamie.com/alt-codes.html - copying and pasting these works OK but it would be nice to be able to make them directly from the keyboard.

Basic editors - notepad and paint >> TextEdit and Paintbrush (see above)
Having just copied those symbols directly into this blog post I've also just realised that normally I'd paste it first into Notepad to get rid of formatting, and then copy /paste it into the blog so that it would be the same font type / size as the text around it. So I think that means tomorrow's jobs include finding out where Notepad is or downloading a 'fix' version from somewhere. Unusually I just started typing this blog post straight into Blogger.

Either I downloaded TextEdit or it was already in my Applications window but it seems to do fine for unformatted basic text. I confess I've also been pasting stuff I've copied from various websites or PDFs into the comment windows on my own blog just to de-format stuff (or if I'm typing a new post I briefly switch to HTML view to paste unformatted before reformatting somewhere else).

Effing scrollbars
Goodness knows why anyone wouldn't want scrollbars to persist on pages but apparently it's not a default. Fortunately it's solvable in the grey button that's system tools (looks like gear wheels) as there's an option to have scrolling always available.
More at http://www.itworld.com/software/217351/turn-persistent-scroll-bars-lion  

How to switch it off
Hilariously I've no idea how to stop my Mac. I just close the lid and it seems to leap back into action when I open it again. I suppose I ought to let it run through a proper shut down sequence at least once a week...?


------ Six weeks later: 29 November 2012 -----

Well I'm still using the Mac and am fairly familiar with most of its quirks. Still finding it immensely annoying that there's (seemingly) no easy way to take a screenshot of something and tinker with it - this is something that I do so frequently on a PC that I've found it a real irritation. The Paint thing I downloaded doesn't seem to let you add text, or draw (you can add rectangles and lines) - also you can't get rid of white space and have to decide how many pixels you want before you open a new editing window. Inexplicable ;)

I've just discovered how to view the desktop - this has been annoying me for ages and just got onto the cusp of 'having to take action' by asking on Twitter and Googling for more info. It's fn F11. The system torments you if you do the three-finger upwards swipe on the mousepad - there's an option for 'desktop' but that just takes you back to whatever you were doing. No good at all, I was after the equivalent of Win+D which, on a PC, will auto-minimise all open windows and let you see what's on the desktop.

Also I am still daily / hourly irritated by the crapness of the scrollbars which have no top arrow or bottom arrow that would let you move through the page in a finely-grained way. Clicking and dragging my finger up and down the mousepad is rather blunt, although the up and down arrow buttons aren't bad. I've also found that if I click and drag slightly, then use another finger on the mousepad I get much finer control.

I still find myself deferring certain tasks so that I can do them better on my PC at work.

1 comment:

  1. Paint.Net for Mac-Paint.Net for Mac like MyBrushes, Pinta, and GIMP are some equivalents digital artists can choose to use Paint.Net Mac.

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