Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Going to Directories

About a month ago, Muness posted a message about using APPLE-SHIFT-G to use filename completion with tabs to go directly to a directory in Finder and Path Finder. Here's a related tip. The same keystroke combination works in standard Apple Open and Save dialogs. You can navigate more quickly to your destination via the keyboard, especially with the ability to tab-complete entries.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Proxy Icons in Finder

Mac OS X is generally easier to use than other operating systems, but it does have its hidden little secrets that you cannot find accidentally. One of those features is proxy icons. In any Mac OS X application (including Finder), you can access the icon for the file you under edit by clicking on the icon in the title bar. Now, you can drag the icon somewhere else to move it to a new location.

The other handy thing you can do it [APPLE]-click on the title bar icon, which shows you where the file lives in the directory structure, as shown here:

Image of Finder proxy icon

Very hidden, but also very useful: no more guessing where a particular file lives or where you are in the directory structure.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Unparalleled Evil

This happened a couple of weeks ago when I was giving a talk. I could not nail it down until today (actually yesterday, but I am still in airport with flight delays) when it happened again, in the middle of another presentation.

On the Mac, when I asked it to open an IDEA ipr file (using quick sliver), it suddenly came up with a dialog asking me if I want to open the application within Windows. "Heck no" was my response. Then it started asking this question for all kinds of files I was trying to open.

First, what seems to trigger this? I upgraded to Parallels 3.0 a few weeks ago. Every thing seems to be normal until I start IDEA within Parallels. I use IDEA mostly on the Mac, but when I give my "Java 6 Features" talk, I bring it up within the Windows Vista in Parallels. Right after this, when I try to launch applications on the Mac, it wants to open them in Windows.

I am not sure if this is the only action that causes this "feature" to be activated. Here is what I did to perform a quick fix. In Parallels, I click on "Applications" menu, and select "Reset Windows Application" menu item. This is only a quick fix. I hope to find a better solution for it.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Microsoft RDC 2.0 Beta

Microsoft has finally updated their Remote Desktop Client to be more of an OS X app and less of a shell around a protocol. It is now a Universal Binary, supports newer versions of the protocol, allows single sessions with one app installation, screen resizing and better support for printing to Mac-connected printers.

The download can be fetched here.

I haven't tried it yet, but they have also released a plug-in to better support Open Office documents in Word here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Quicksilver Files: Create New Files from Templates

Those darn Quicksilver guys just won't quit coming up with cool new stuff. Here's one that I read on LifeHacker today. One of the "missing" features in OS X is the ability to create new files from a template from Finder (you know, in Windows, you can right-click and say "New Word Document", for example). You can do the same in Quicksilver, but you get to/have to create your own document templates. The procedure is described here. The advantage is that you get to decide what types of documents for which you want templates, unlike Windows, which spams all kinds of new types onto your right click menu.

Quicksilver: no safety in numbers

Oblique Strategies

Back in 1975, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created a creative thinking technique they called "oblique strategies". It was a deck of cards designed to spur creative thought at times when you are blocked because of pressure or external factors. You can buy Oblique Strategy decks at this site. From the introduction to the 2001 edition:

These cards evolved from separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognised in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack, or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear...

You can also download a Dashboard widget that includes several generations of oblique strategies here. These are a great way to spur out-of-the-box creative thinking when you think you are stuck.