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Automatic screenshot sharing via DropBox on a Mac

A new small Mac app has been getting a bit of attention lately called TinyGrab. Its function is really straight-forward; it intercepts screen grabs you make and uploads them to its webserver for public sharing. Very nice little idea actually, and whenever I’ve needed to solve this task I’ve just used DropBox, which I am absolutely in love with (my DropBox referral link if you don’t have a free account yet).

So I got thinking, how can I automate this for my needs? First of all, I don’t want all my screenshots going up to DropBox, but I do want the ability to easily add them. A right-click option to “Send to DropBox” would be perfect. 10 seconds of Googling reveals Post to Dropbox Service by Oliver Stengele. It does exactly what I wanted… and why I hadn’t thought of looking for it before today is beyond me.

I made some quick adjustments; since I always wanted these sent to a subfolder called “Screenshots” I simply created it inside my Public DropBox folder.

Screenshots folder in Public DropBox

Addendum: I had a note here about changing your dropbox id to include “/screenshots” after it, but that isn’t needed with the new workflow files.

After the files are downloaded (there are 2 *.workflow files included, just move them into ~/Library/Services/) you’ll need to edit them to include your user id. This is where the path for DropBox comes from, so instead of making mine:

dropbox_id '906310' 

Make it:

dropbox_id 'whatever your dropbox id is' 

Addendum: I also changed the “Copy Finder Items” folder to “screenshots” in Automator. If you want to save yourself the trouble, here are my revised scripts (DropBox_tools.zip).  Please note that you must change the “dropbox_id” line above in each to get it working. Do do that, just double-click on the workflow and it’ll open in automator. Then edit away!

And now anytime I’m ready to share a screenshot, I right click it and it is automatically moved into DropBox for me, and the URL is automagically copied to my clipboard.

Right-click context menu to send a file to DropBox

Handy!

 

Those little apps I just can’t live without

Recently Derek Jones shared a little addon for Textmate with me called ProjectPlus.  I love it, and now I wonder how I was getting along without it.  This isn’t the first time someone has shared a little utility or app with me that I’ve found indispensable.

So here’s my list of lesser known apps that I use on a regular basis.

Fluid, Campfire, DataMapper and useful links

In no particular order, here are some things that I’ve found interesting, useful, or funny.  Mostly useful.

Fluid

A Site Specific Browser (SSB) that you can use to run web applications in.  I use it for BambooInvoice, ExpressionEngine and Campfire.  It rocks my socks.  Find it at http://fluidapp.com/.

Growl Notifications with messages for campfire and fluid

I tried using Pyro as a client for Campfire, but it didn’t go so well.  It looks like promising software, but for now… wasn’t working.  Enter my favourite app from above, Fluid handles it like a champ, but one thing that was bugging me was the lack of Growl notifications (if you aren’t using Growl yet and are on a Mac, go install it right now).  First result in Google was Growl Notifications with messages for campfire and fluid.  :: sniff ::... its like they read my mind.

Also useful is the Fluid Icons Flickr group.  I’ve got to get one for BambooInvoice into there…

DataMapper

DataMapper is an Object Relational Mapper written in PHP for CodeIgniter. It is designed to map your Database tables into easy to work with objects, fully aware of the relationships between each other.  Well documented and with a loyal following, it looks like Simon Stenhouse has a real winner on his hands.  I’m hoping to find time to really sift through the code but so far haven’t had the chance.

[edit: And D’oh! I was a fool for not also mentioning IgnitedRecord at the same time!  Thanks for the comment m4rw3r.]

Sequel Pro

Sequel Pro  is a desktop program for managing your MySQL databases.  It runs beautifully, and I think I’ve mentioned it before, but was asked again recently about it.  The only catch I found is that with Mamp I needed to set the “socket” to “/Applications/MAMP/tmp/mysql/mysql.sock” when connecting.

ExpressionEngine Plugin: SS Friendly 404

The SS Friendly 404 plugin suggests relevant pages to users on your 404 page. It is used in your 404 template and returns suggested weblog entries based on the final segment of the 404 URL.  Well documented and cleanly implemented.  Well done!

jQuery Pumpkin

Found in the jQuery blog, the jQuery pumpkin had me smiling for 30 minutes.
jQuery pumpkin

Apple Store service, the way service should be

Apple Store Yorkdale Mall Late last week I flipped open my macbook, and was surprised that the battery was totally dead.  I thought I had charged it, but there was no power. Turns out, even plugging it in didn’t help, the battery simply wouldn’t accept a charge, and the macbook (when plugged in) was telling me it couldn’t even detect the battery.  I’ve had this particular laptop since March ‘07.  D’oh!

A quick google search indicated that a few others had reported similar issues, and were nearly always resolved by getting a new battery, many people even mentioned that Apple had taken care of it for them.  So I decided today to drop into the Apple Store at Yorkdale Mall and see if they can help me.  What an absolutely fabulous experience

Here’s how it went down: I walked into the (packed) store and made my way to the genius bar.  I was hoping to schedule an appointment, but the digital sign said that all appointments were booked for the day.  As I was deciding how I’d handle it a cute and energetic representative approached me and asked if I needed a hand.  I relayed the battery story to her, and she politely asked if I had an appointment with the genius bar.  I told her I didn’t, and before I could get another word out she said “one sec, I’ll get someone to help you”.

About 15 seconds later another cute rep in a different coloured shirt comes over and listens to the story.  She asked how old it was, and I said “a year and a bunch of months” (I couldn’t exactly remember).  She types my name into the computer, tells me with a smile that she’ll be right back, and walks into the back.  A minute later she emerges with a brand new battery and a receipt for me.

“Here you go.”
“Wow, anything I need to sign?”
“Nope, you should be all set.”

A quick test to verify it actually did solve my problem and I walked out in under 5 minutes, very happy, with a new battery, and a renewed appreciation for service.  The experience was inspiring, and I hope each person who deals with me, and with EllisLab feels the same way.

Turning off smileys in iChat 4

Instant message has become a part of my daily life.  I use it pretty much non stop for work, and my work involves writing a lot of code.  It isn’t uncommon for me to send something like

if ($a=($b+$c)) 

I like iChat (Adium of course is the old favourite, but hasn’t been used much since I moved to Leopard and Apple improved iChat so much), but sometimes it’s too cute for its own good.  This is especially true of the “helpful” way it converts :) and ;) into :) and ;) respectively. Helpful in the same way that Clippy was helpful.

This behaviour gets very annoying when one is trying to look at code.  The above code example becomes if ($a=($b+$c)).  You can image how annoying this is when every third line of chat is code.  So I went hunting through the iChat preferences to find a little box I could uncheck and turn off smileys, only there was no box to be found.

A quick trip through google didn’t turn up too much either, but I was able to figure out where iChat kept its preferences for that.  A minute later, I had figured out a way to turn them off.  Here’s how:

Browse to /Applications/iChat.app, and “Show Package Contents”.
Show Package Contents

Next up, browse into Contents/Resources/English.lproj and look for a file called SmileyTable.plist.  This is where all the smiley definitions are stored.  Without it, iChat can’t translate smiles, so rename it to “SmileyTable.plist.banished”.  If you ever want smileys back, just reverse the process!

code with no smiles in it

There, that feels better ;)

Things worth reading

I've been kind of in isolation the last week or so, (more on that in another post) and I've not even taken the time to read my RSS feeds latesy, only skimming a few things here and there, or marking things for reading later. So today, I had a bit of time, and boy am I glad I took the time to re-visit those! Here are a few wonderful things worth your time to read.

Man, there was some good stuff on tap! Something from each of those will be making their way into my work in the very near future.

CodeIgniter textmate bundle and other stuff that’s saving me time

I was thrilled to see that there was an update yesterday to the CodeIgniter Textmate bundle for CI 1.6.  If you use Textmate or E-Texteditor (Windows) then download it and give it a shot.  Nice work… thanks, I’m using it right now!

A few other little utilities I’ve been getting a lot of use out of recently.  The first is the excellent clipboard utility Jumpcut.  It keep track of the last 10 (that’s configurable) things that you’ve copied and makes them available to you.
jumpcut screenshot

There are also handy keyboard shortcuts to get at it.  Normally not super-useful, but I’ve been doing a lot of work that has needed me to copy and paste language keys, and this let’s me buffer up a whole page worth of

$this->lang->line('something'); 

and paste it all at once.  Sure faster then copy > flip page > paste > flip back > copy > flip page > paste > repeat again and again.  Its also open sourced under the MIT License.

Another great little tool I’ve discovered recently is for my mouse.  I’m one of those guys that needs and uses the 4th and 5th buttons on my mouse.  The left I use for copying, and the right for paste (see a pattern here), but in Leopard, those buttons default to… jeez I don’t remember… Expose I think.  Reconfiguring them was a bit of a pain.  Fortunately, I found the excellent USB Overdrive, which you can use to re-program your mouse buttons.  Aside from having what might be the ugliest website I’ve seen this year, the little shareware application has been fantastic, and is well worth plunking down my $20 for it (although to be clear, the downloaded version is 100% functional and remains so).

On the topic, other little known utilities that I love include caffeine (temporarily prevent your computer from sleeping) and AppDelete (gets rid of stray files when deleting a program).  That’s hardly an exhaustive list… just 2 little quickies for anyone reading this ;)

Mac : an excellent daily source of “kick ass”

In case you missed the news from any one of a thousand different news outlets, fan sites or blogs… Apple has released their Safari browser for Windows.  Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone on Windows would care, but I’m glad to see it released.  Apple has a cache that most companies don’t have, so heck, anything that makes people aware that they are using a browser is good as far as I’m concerned - I still get surprised by people who have not even heard of Firefox before.  Mind you, these are usually the same people who, when asked if they’ve heard of Netscape, nod absently.  I guess its nice that developers on Windows can test out their work without buying a Mac (or begging me for more screenshots… you know who you are!).

Even now that I’m on a Mac, I find myself going to Firefox at least 90% of the time.  In truth, I can’t live without Firebug or the Web Developer extension.  Heck, even colorzilla has a special place in my heart!  So now I start the process of hoping that Apple makes it as good on Windows as it is on a Mac.

As a sidenote, the Safari page is beautiful.  Check out the “12 reasons you’ll love Safari” list on the bottom.  Brilliant use of Scriptaculous if I do say so. Note to self… steal that idea….

Found an interesting article on Apple’s website.  It seems they recommend you calibrate your Mac’s battery.  I’m giving it a shot right now, although I can’t imagine I’ll notice a difference… makes me wish I had read that before I’ve been on this thing for 8 hours a day.

Also read that your Mac does not want to be “optimized” by which they basically mean defragmented.  Fun times.

Oh yes, and cool kids keep their docks on the left (or right… currently its left ;) ).

screenshot with Mac dock on the left

The beautiful wallpaper is courtesy of Wolfgang Bartelme .  In fact, he even makes the Photoshop source available.  If you’re interested, he has a short tutorial on how he made it available as well.

Productivity Tools

Ever been working along and say to yourself “whoa, where’d the time go”?  Then you look back and can’t believe how much you’ve got done?  Sometimes it just magically happens to be sure, but I think the tools I’m using must play a big role in it (and turning off my email and cell).  These are the tools I find myself using in those spontaneous moments.
The tools of my productive environment

CodeIgniter, ExpressionEngine, Firefox and plugins, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Coda and the interweb.

Notice how the operating system is not there?  I haven’t found any noticeable difference between operating systems, as long as my macbook is plugged into a nice big monitor.  I do notice a decline as my screenspace goes down.  That said, there is something psychological going on there, since I want to use the Mac more then I ever wanted to use a pc.  I must be influenced by all those ipod and “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials.  I’m such a slave to media…

I’ve always liked Dreamweaver (yes its expensive, but feature for feature as good as any editor I’ve ever seen including Textmate), but I absolutely hate it on my Mac - and truthfully, its only 1 thing… I hate all those dopey floating panels.  I’ve been spending a bit of time with Coda.  Yeah there’s a lot of hype, but it isn’t undeserved.  I like the integrated environment, I have absolutely no need for a CSS editor (its nice that its included, but I don’t use it anyhow), and I find the terminal completely adequate.  I might just buy it since the trial runs out in a few days.

CodeIgniter and ExpressionEngine have completely revolutionized the way I build sites in the last year.  Fireworks has been my “go to” image editor for a long time now.  Its combination of vector and bitmap tools have been ideal for me, although a switch to Illustrator might happen if I find the right project. 

What tools do you find yourself using when the magic moment strikes?

Switched to Mac

I’ve re-started this post three times now trying to think of something witty to say.  Bottom line, I’m typing this post on my sexy new Macbook.  Yup, I’ve succumbed to the allure of the Mac.  I’m not sure if its those clever but over-played “Hi I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” commercials that I always skip through for some other cosmic factor, but here I am. 
Mac desktop

I figured it would be a pretty easy transition.  I frequently flip operating systems (Windows and LInux).  Pretty much every app I rely on is either open source (Firefox, Tunderbird, Open Office, Apache, etc), or is available on the Mac (the Adobe suite).  The ones that aren’t have nice Mac equivalents (I liked HeidiSQL on Windows.  The Mac has CocoaSQL).