CCATP #419 Bart Busschots Pretty Markdown & HTML Links with TextExpander & Perl

Bart likes to give credit to the sites he references in his shownotes but the links get fairly clutterly. He wrote a very short (17 line) perl script and put it inside TextExpander to make pretty links instead. He wrote this for Markdown but since I like html better he created a version for html as well. He walks us through his detailed tutorial here: www.bartbusschots.ie/…. Then he tries to convince me that Markdown is awesome and html is dreadful. Listen along to see if he succeeds.

I mentioned an video tutorial series created by Richard Baker on TextExpander. Here’s a link to the one he did on embedding scripts into TextExpander: www.youtube.com/…


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NC #555 Black Screen of Death, Don’t Turn off SIP, Tenba Messenger Bag, Security Stuff

What would make not one but two Macs suddenly have their screens go black? We’ll unravel that mystery along with a Dumb Question from John Ornsby asking if it’s ok to partially turn off System Integrity Protection (SIP). I’ll give you a review of the Tenba DNA 8 Messenger Bag and then we’ll close out the show with Security Stuff from Bart Busschots.


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What Would Make TWO Macs Go Black Screen?

Incase ICON sleeve for 12I had a HUGE problem with my MacBook this week. A lot of people mock the MacBook because it only has the one USB-C port and for a while there I thought they might have been right. For Christmas Steve got me a new USB-C dongle that would give me an SD card reader and 3 standard USB ports. It’s a nice form fitting device that just sticks to the side of the laptop instead of dangling off the side like my old one. We celebrated Christmas at Lindsay’s house and I was super excited to give it a try.

When I plugged it in, disaster struck. The screen on my MacBook went black. It was weird because the light came on on the dongle, and sometimes the keyboard would light up, but the Mac display was dead. I was so sad! I finally closed the MacBook up and took it into the other room for a time out.

A few hours later I opened it up, and it worked just fine! Yay! Forget that new dongle, I plugged in my old dongle to bring in some photos from an SD card…and the screen went black again. I fiddled with it like crazy, shut it down, reset the SMC (system management controller that controls power stuff), even did an NVRAM reset but no joy. Again I closed it up in the other room and when I opened it back up later it was fine.

I was afraid that now the USB-C port itself had gotten damaged, but the MacBook charged just fine overnight via USB-C.

We drove back home and I wrote a couple of blog posts while in the car and had no problems at all. We got on the road again the day after Christmas to go to Steve’s sister Linda’s house and again I used the MacBook in the car to do a bunch of writing and nothing went wrong.

At Linda’s house I had planned to record a few segments with Bart. My plan was to use my ATR-2100 Mic plugged into one of the dongles to record while sitting in a back room next to her router to get good speeds. I plugged everything in and just as I got Bart on Skype…the screen went black again!

Well the Sheridans are not without a backup plan, right? Steve had his MacBook Air with him and so he let me borrow it to Skype with Bart. Steve didn’t say anything but I know he believes this single USB-C port thing is just silly so he was probably happy that his multi-port MacBook Air would be there to save the day. No dongle needed, I plugged the ATR-2100 into the MacBook Air and called Bart. Everything was fine, and then I slightly moved the MacBook Air…and the screen went black!!!

Seriously. There’s nothing in common between these failures at all, other than ME! I briefly got the MacBook Air to come back up and again I moved it slightly and again it went black. Unbelievable!

As you’ll hear in Dumb Question Corner and the other segments we recorded, I ended up having to do the calls with Skype on my iPhone using Apple earbuds (even though I had plugged in my ATR2100 to the phone using a USB to 9pin adapter it didn’t recognize the mic). In addition I used my iPad Pro to read the shownotes Bart had put together. We managed to muddle through but it wasn’t what I had in mind!

On the way home in the car, again I was able to use my MacBook with no problems of the screen going black. When I got home I decided I’d better get a genius bar appointment right away because I really need my MacBook when I go to CES the second week in January. Right before setting the appointment I thought maybe I should take a gander at the Apple discussion forums to see if there are any reports of this black screen problem.

I found a thread started by alexmac27 that sounded like the exact same symptom. He later posted that he figured out what went wrong and it fixed my problem. Believe it or not, he and I were both putting the laptops on top of a sleeve case that had a magnetic closure on the short side! I tested it out and it’s 100% repeatable. I can move my MacBook or Steve’s MacBook Air so that the charger port is near the magnet and instantly the screen goes black. Move it away and it comes right back. Can you believe that???

Since I was sitting on the bed when I was trying to record, I had used my Incase sleeve to stabilize both of the Macs on the bedspread. You should have seen me dancing around the house after reading alexmac27’s explanation!

I had just recently gotten the Incase sleeve but Steve had one for ages that he always put under his Mac when on travel so I wondered why his didn’t cause the same problem. Turns out the magnet on the 13″ sleeve is on the long edge in the middle which doesn’t affect the Mac at all. By the way, these sleeves are fantastic and I wouldn’t get rid of mine for anything. They fit super snug but give great protection on all four corners and have really nice soft padding inside. I just won’t ever set my Macs on it again! They’re called ICON sleeves from Incase and you can get them for all sizes of MacBooks for around $70 on Amazon or direct from Incase.

One more tidbit. During the débâcle at Lindsay’s house, when my MacBook wouldn’t wake up, I resorted to using my iPad Pro with the Apple keyboard but even THAT stopped working. Since the iPad Pro has a magnetic attachment for the keyboard AND a magnet to put it to sleep, it looks like the keyboard doesn’t like the magnet in the sleeve either.

I love this story because it was so weird and then having the solution be 100% repeatable makes me giggle with delight.

If you want to see this in action, Steve and I put together a video showing the repeatable effect of the magnetic closure on the MacBook.

Using a Screen Reader? click here

Dumb Question Corner – Is it ok to partially turn off System Integrity Protection?

apple diagram showing layers of protection from keychain to sandbox to gatekeeperOur Dumb Question this week comes from John Ormsby, aka NasaNut in the chat room. He’s asking whether it’s ok to follow the advice of some app developers and partially turn off the protections Apple has put in place in El Capitan.

Here’s John’s full question where he explains why he’s asking the question:
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CCATP #418 Bart Busschots Programming By Stealth 5 of x (HTML Images & Links)

In this week’s episode of Chit Chat Across the Pond we have Bart Busschots with another installment of Programming by Stealth. He covers the syntax for images and links in HTML and the attributes you can apply and more importantly why you should apply them. He promises that with the first 5 episodes under our belts we’ll be ready to move on to understanding CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. You can read along with his detailed tutorial and download the example files at \bartbusschots.ie/s/2015/12/27/programming-by-stealth-5-of-x-images-links/.


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Tenba DNA 8 Messenger Bag – Perfect for Mirrorless Cameras

Tenba DNA 8 messenger bag closedI’ve sung the virtues of owning a mirrorless camera before with the major delight being that they are much smaller and lighter than digital SLR cameras, without sacrificing photographic quality. Traditional SLRs (single lens reflex) cameras, whether digital or analog, use a system of mirrors to provide the photographer with a view through the lens so that they can see the precise framing of the photo. The photographer is actually looking through the lens prior to hitting the shutter button.

When the shutter button is pressed, those mirrors flip up out of the way, which allows the sensor (or film) to now be able to “see” through the lens. After the sensor/film has been exposed for the chosen shutter speed, the mirrors flip back down and the photographer can see through the lens again. As you can imagine, the mirrors and the mechanical hinge that flips the mirrors up and down weigh a lot.

With these new, smaller cameras, there are no mirrors and of course no mechanical hinge. Instead of an optical viewfinder as on an SLR, the viewfinder is actually a tiny little digital screen that displays exactly what the sensor sees. Not only has the weight of the mirrors and hinge been removed, the volume required to flip that mirror out of the way has been eliminated.
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NC #554 Black & White with Red Filters, Everything is Fiddly, Taming the Drobos

Steve and Antonio had a great conversation about red filters on black and white photographs, I go on a rant about how every one of my Apple tech toys is fiddly. I tell a fun story about how I used what I learned in Taming the Terminal to finally tame my Drobos.


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CCATP #417 Chris Ashley on the New Hotness from Microsoft

Big chris ashley ccatpIn this week’s show Chris Ashley from the SMR Podcast (smrpodcast.com) joins us to talk about all of the cool new hardware products from Microsoft.

We talk Microsoft Band, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and the new 950 Windows Phone. We talk about how great it is that Microsoft, Google and Apple now build on each other’s ideas which is only good for us, and how Microsoft makes some amazing tools for the Mac and iOS. It’s a really fun conversation with one of my favorite people.

Chris told me he’d never forgive me if he caught me taking a photo with the iPad Pro…so I took this photo of him on my screen with my iPad!


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In the conversation we talk about how Rod Simmons from the SMR podcast brought his Surface Book over to our house and we compared the tablet portion to the iPad Pro. Here’s a photo showing the comparison.

Rod allison surfacebook ipadpro

Taming the Drobos

Drobo5nI’ve been working on a super challenging technical project for months now. I’ve wanted to tell you about it but I have run into so many barriers that I was unable to overcome, there wasn’t a good story to tell. I still have not conquered my original task but I’ve had some partial success so I want to do a mini celebration about that.

The Problem to be Solved

Some of this story you may heard before but I want to bring everyone up to speed. A while ago we bought a new Drobo 5N to replace our aging (and never that good in the first place) Drobo FS. The 5N is a dream, with its SSD for caching, it’s super fast and makes a terrific place to store giant and small files alike. I set up a Hazel script to automatically pull over my audio file so my internal MacBook Pro drive doesn’t get filled up any more. Steve stores his giant Final Cut Pro X libraries over on the 5N when he’s done with them. It’s awesome.

Drobos use RAID-like proprietary tools to protect our files from a drive failure, so we do have some fault tolerance but this isn’t technically a backup since our data is only in one place.
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Everything is Fiddly!

Angry gnome faceLast week our friend Rod Simmons came over for a visit and he brought the new Microsoft Surface Book. He tried to connect it to our home network but it kept getting in and then losing the connection. I wanted desperately to make fun of it, what with my ever so slight Macintosh bias, but I couldn’t. You know why? Because EVERYTHING is fiddly now. Let me give you just a few examples.

AppleTV

I love my new AppleTV and was excited when I heard about the new Plex app that lets you view your ripped and home movies on your AppleTV. Pat Dengler shared her Plex account with us so we could watch her movies on our TV and it worked great. But later when I tried to use MY Plex library it got fiddly. I had our media library on a hard drive hooked up to the Mac mini and had to upgrade it to get it to work with the new Plex app on the AppleTV. Ok, that’s reasonable. But after I did that, I couldn’t get OUT of Pat’s library!
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