Archive for May, 2007

Displaying images in the right order in Preview

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

This is one of those tricks that you rarely need, but when you do need it, it really saves tearing your hair out!

You probably know that Preview lets you view multiple images in a single Preview window, with each image thumbnailed in the drawer. (To do this, simply multi-select all your images in a Finder window, and hit Command-O to open them.) Preview helpfully sorts the images in the drawer alphanumerically by filename (by default). This is a really handy feature, as it means that you can open, say, 100 images without causing 100 Preview windows to appear!

This is all very well, but occasionally Preview displays the images in the wrong order in the drawer. (This happens in Mac OS 10.4.9 – the latest at the time of writing – and I’m pretty sure it affects earlier versions too.) It seems to happen pretty much at random, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s something to do with the way Finder passes the filenames to Preview. You can see the problem in the screenshot below – the third image should be fg0104, not fg0807b:

Preview showing files in the wrong order

This is frustrating if you’re viewing a lot of images, and you need to view them in the correct order. For example, in the above screenshot I’m previewing hundreds of figures for a Photoshop book I’m writing, so I need to make sure they’re all there in the right sequence. (more…)

A handy, free colour picker

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

If you build websites, you’ve probably run into situations where you need the hex colour value of a pixel in a Web page. Sure, you can grab the browser window using Grab, save it out as a TIFF file, open that file in Photoshop, then use the eyedropper tool, but there’s a much easier way.

Pipette is a simple, free Mac app that reports the hex value of a pixel anywhere on your screen. Simply drag the eyedropper across to the pixel, and release. Pipette displays the hex value, pre-selected and ready for copying and pasting into your Web editor. Job’s a good-un.

Mail: How to display received times in the message list

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

This one caught me out the other day. I suddenly noticed that my Date Received column in Mail was only showing the dates, not the times. I could have sworn it used to show the times as well!

I hunted around in the Preferences but couldn’t find any option to display times as well as dates.

Eventually the penny dropped. The solution? Click the right edge of the Date Received column header, and drag to the right to expand the column. The times magically reappear! Mail cunningly displays just the date if the column is only wide enough for the date; make the column wider, and it has room to display the time as well.

(As you might imagine, the Date Sent field behaves in the same way.)

A nice UI touch, but it stumped me for a while there! Maybe I just needed more coffee…

Installing Photoshop CS3 on top of CS3 Beta? Beware!

Friday, May 4th, 2007

I’ve been using Adobe’s beta version of their new Photoshop CS3 software for the last few months. It expired the other day, so I shelled out for the full retail version. However when I tried to install from the CD, I got this irksome message:

Adobe Photoshop CS3 cannot be installed because it conflicts with:
Adobe Photoshop CS3

Nice! So Photoshop CS3 conflicts with itself. That’s a good start. Righty-ho, I thought – let’s uninstall the CS3 Beta. Naturally I dragged the application to the Trash. WRONG! What you’re supposed to do is use the uninstaller, squirreled away in the Applications/Utilities/Adobe Installers/ folder. How obvious.

OK, so I did that – still didn’t install. Turns out the uninstaller does a pretty poor job at removing various stray CS3 files, and the CS3 installer is very intolerant of any CS3-related files it finds on your hard drive – or even on your backup drive, for that matter.

The solution is to remove all those stray CS3-related files. Handily, Adobe has produced a little script, along with an informative PDF file, to help with this. Download it here. Open the PDF file inside the disk image, and follow the instructions therein. I managed to get away with Method 1, without having to run the cleanup script. (Which is a good job, as running the script sounds scary, going by that PDF. Make sure you back up everything on your Mac first if you use the script method!)

Basically I opened these two folders in the Finder:

  • /Users/<user_name>/Library/Preferences
  • /Library/Application Support/Adobe

…then searched for “CS3″ in those folders using the search box at the top right of the Finder window, then dragged the search results to the Trash and emptied the Trash. The CS3 installer on the CD then worked fine, and in ten minutes I was up and running with CS3.

I think the same general approach applies to the Windows version too.

Hope that helps someone! Again, make sure your hard drive’s fully backed up before trying any of this. More info on the subject here, and in this thread.

Wi-fi, take #2

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

WRT54GL photo. Mmm, nice.

I first toyed with (802.11b) wi-fi a few years ago, when I bought a D-Link access point and a DWL-650+ wi-fi card for my ThinkPad running Linux. Memos to self from that experience:

  1. Don’t buy D-Link wi-fi stuff ever again. It really, really sucks. Shame, because I used to trust D-Link as a brand.
  2. Beware of little plus signs at the end of model numbers. I thought I was buying a DWL-650, which used a chipset for which there were proven, stable Linux drivers. But no, the little “plus” meant that it instead used a completely different chipset – the acx100 – which (at the time) had no production-quality Linux driver. (Side memo: don’t buy any wi-fi- cards with Texas Instruments chipsets if I need Linux support. Unless TI have woken up and smelled the coffee in the meantime?)

The results of this erroneous purchase were (a) days and days of messing about trying to get sodding alpha-quality drivers loaded into my Linux kernel; (b) when I finally got it working, speeds of around 200 kbytes/sec on a good day; (c) frequent disconnects, duplicate packets and lockups; and (d) the card overheating to the point where it hurt your hand as you pulled it out.

No, that was quite enough for me, thanks very much. All that, combined with the easily-crackable WEP encryption, meant that access point and card were quickly dumped in the garage.

So naturally, I approached the idea of wi-fi on my Mac with some trepidation. However, as I’m soon getting shunted into the bedroom to make room for little Isaac, and I really couldn’t be arsed to wire up the bedroom with Cat5, my hand has been somewhat forced.


Sleep your iMac screen – instantly

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

In my continuing quest to find a way to instantly, reliably turn off the iMac screen and keep it off, I just stumbled across this little gem: Sleep Display. It’s a little utility – in application or widget form – that lets you sleep your Mac screen instantly. None of that “make it sleep in 1 minute” hassle – just open the app, and your screen instantly sleeps. Wonderful – and about bleeding time. :) (Having said that, I like to lock my display first, so I’ll still probably use the “1 minute” trick – but I’m sure this app will be incredibly useful to some folks.)

Now we just need a way to keep the damn display off. I’ve abandoned the idea of running my DVD backups overnight in the bedroom – spinning up the DVD “conveniently” wakes the display – so I now have to run these during the day. Ah well.

Haven’t moved the iMac into the bedroom yet – that’ll happen in the next month once little Isaac outgrows his bassinet – so I’m not sure what else might cause the display to spontaneously wake in the middle of the night. With a bit of luck it was just the DVD. Time will tell.