Musings from Mars Banner Image
For Software Addicts: Yes!MaybeNah!
Articles In Category <em></em>

Articles In Category

August 16th, 2012

Keyclick: Still Yearning for Audio Feedback When Typing?

January 2nd, 2008

Announcing CrystalClear Interface v. 1.8.12

border: none; height: 220px; width: 300px; This unexpected journey into the realm of transparent user interfaces has taken me much further than I ever imagined. It's been almost a year now since the first inkling of the idea rattled my brain, which led to the first release of Crystal Clear for ShapeShifter in mid-February.

Thanks to the Cocoa InputManager SetAlphaValue, I was led, Pied-Piper-like, into the enormous and strange world of Objective-C and Cocoa during the summer. I'm finally surfacing from that expedition and have brought a souvenir of my travels into the strange, terrifying, and glorious realm of Cocoa.

Each computer user will have to decide for themselves just how much transparency they can stand while working at their Mac. I was surprised at the amount of loathing that was expressed towards Leopard's newly translucent menubar last month. But I don't think it's indicative of any permanent flaw in the concept. Quite the contrary, in fact: If anything, Leopard's toying with translucency is too much of a baby step, on the one hand, and smacks of me-tooism with Vista, on the other.

Very briefly, the premise I'm proposing is that our computer monitors are essentially glorious light sources, much like the ones that shine through windows in our houses and automobiles. Just as we do with those windows, there are times when we want to bask in the beauty shining through, and other times that we prefer to close the blinds to avoid glare. On the computer, we already know how to close the blinds. I'm suggesting that there's a world of beauty awaiting computer users who can enjoy the light as well.

Full article

October 31st, 2007

In Praise of Third-Party Mac OS X System Enhancements: Hats Off to Mighty APEs, Incredible InputManagers, and Satisfying SIMBLs!

On the Unsanity website this week, a heated discussion broke out regarding some problems Leopard users were having with an older version of the company’s Application Enhancer (APE) module. What ensued both there and across the web–wherever those “blue screens of death” were discussed–was a revival of the ongoing argument about how “safe” APEs are. Most of the writers also bundled InputManagers and SIMBL (Simplified InputManager Bundle) plugins into the mix, which just pissed off the developers who know how different APEs are from those beasties. Meanwhile, developers of APE haxies and InputManagers have had to continuously address legitimate concerns about the security of their products and their impact on system stability, and so they’ve tended to become a bit defensive even in constructive arguments. I was so distressed by it all that I was moved to write the following lengthy entry on Unsanity’s forum. It turned out to be an article I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now, and for this Mars report I’ve spent some time cleaning it up and adding information to it. I hope it adds something mostly positive to the debate about the value of these kinds of system enhancements. At the very least–if you have the patience to wade through my overlong prose–you’ll be rewarded with a list of 30 “system enhancements” that I use (or have used), which try to explain why I find them so useful and necessary to my Mac Life.

Full article

October 11th, 2007

Update On That Crystal I’ve Been Growing

I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since I published the preview article for Crystal Clear 1.5! What was going to be a 2-3 week project after that turned into a monster of a project that’s taken me on several journeys into the bowels of Mac OS X and Cocoa, the primary framework for building Mac OS X software in the programming language Objective-C. But the story of those journeys–if I ever have time to write them down–is an article unto itself.

Today, I just want to briefly report what’s going on with Crystal Clear. Besides the features noted in August, the screen movie above shows a variety of noteworthy advances, some obvious and some not so obvious. Here are the ones I want to point out in particular:

Full article

April 29th, 2007

MaxiMice: A Unique Enhancement To Scrolling, And More

April 28th, 2007

OCSmart Hacks: Add Major Smarts To Any Cocoa App

April 28th, 2007

MondoMouse: Grants Your Mouse Magic Powers Over App Windows

April 28th, 2007

Zooom!: Another Utility To Enhance Window Handling

January 26th, 2007

Sounds4Fun: An OS9 Relic Returns Sounds to OS X

January 20th, 2007

AutoCompleter: An Early Take At Autocompletion for Mac OS X

December 12th, 2006

Dragster: Drag/Drop File Transfer Docklet

November 29th, 2006

A Solution To Washed-Out h264 Video Exports

November 28th, 2006

What If Growl Displays Were Just Little Web Pages?

If you’re a Mac user who’s GlassCandy Growl Artwandered in to this article and don’t know what Growl is yet, you might want to stop by that essential open-source project’s home page to get acquainted. Once your Mac starts Growling, you’ll understand how fitting it is that Apple’s naming all their OS X releases after large cats. :-)

If you’re a Windows user, you’re still welcome to read up on Growl and why it’s become a standard component of so many Mac users’ desktops even though it’s still only at version 0.7.4. If you find Growl cool, too, you know what to do.

This article isn’t about Growl, though. It’s about Growl displays—the part of Growl you actually see when an event occurs you’ve asked to be notified about. You see, like many other cool apps nowadays (Adium, Synergy, Menuet, etc.), Growl is “skinnable.” Part of the fun—and the utility—of Growl is that users can customize the appearance of different kinds of alerts. In fact, Growl provides you with an astonishing degree of control over your customizing, and this flexibility is one of Growl’s coolest aspects. Using the Growl Preference Pane, you can:

With so many options, it’s no wonder that Growl users collect Growl styles like some Mac users collect system icons or desktop pictures!

Growl notifications can take several forms: Email, speech (using the Mac’s built-in vocal chords), or visual displays. The visual display types are roughly broken down into two kinds:

  1. Displays you build with AppleScript or xCode (those with the extension .growlView), and
  2. Displays that are basically just little web pages (those with the extension .growlStyle).

It’s the latter type I want to briefly shout about today.

Full article

October 30th, 2006

Stattoo: An Alternative Dock for Information Feeds

October 14th, 2006

Overflow: Another Launcher Enters A Crowded Field

June 10th, 2006

protoGrowl Provides Growl-Type Notices for Ajax Sites

April 21st, 2006

WebKit Team Illuminates the Website Pixel Problem

Just Say No To Flash