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Showing posts from February, 2014

Automator - just one MORE reason why I use an Apple Mac....

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Mac vs PC debates have raged through the ages, of course. And I can't hope to summarise the pros and cons of each in a simple blog post here. But I did want to shout about something that delighted me in recent months about my Mac and that's discovering how to use the Automator utility.

Here's the use case. I had a bunch of photos and screenshots, all of which I wanted resized to 600 pixels wide, for inclusion in a Wordpress blog post elsewhere. Painstakingly, I opened each in Seashore (v0.1.9, the older one, is the best to use, IMHO) and resampled down, then saved. There must be a better way, I thought.

I started browsing through the Mac App Store and did find a few batch resizers, but they all cost money and seemed too complicated. I wonder.... I remembered seeing Automator a few times in my app list on the Mac, so I gave it a whirl:

Start AutomatorClick on 'Application'Click on 'Photos'Drag the 'Scale images' action to the application pane (you'…

The Rolls Royce of smartphone belt cases: PDair

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In a mad world where I change my smartphone almost weekly, as part of the review process, one thing has remained constant: the case I carry said smartphone in. You see, and I realise I run a huge risk of being declared uncool here, I'm a passionate believer in belt cases. As slimline and unobtrusive as possible, of course, but a belt case nonetheless.

Cynics will point to the fact that I'm already married and thus don't need to attract the opposite sex in quite the same way as younger folk might need to, and I accept that there's a certain 'geek' impression created by a belt case - but then aren't geeks supposed to be cool now too? Aren't we geeks supposed to inherit the earth, etc.?

The advantage of a belt case are:
you don't have to keep standing up and taking a phone out of your trouser pocket - the case is accessible in any positionyou can't easily leave your phone behind somewhere - less lost phonesthere's greater protection than if a ph…

Mini-review: JPEGmini (for PC and Mac)

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Sometimes a product just works like magic. This is just one such....

The problem is this, you see - JPGs. Photos, screenshots, scans, just about anything graphic uses the JPG compressed image format these days. As a journalist I use a lot of JPGs and there's always this terrific push-pull going on between quality and byte size.

Not many people realise that a JPG can be any size. it's essentially a lossy approximation of your original image (e.g. from a camera or screenshot or scan), but intelligently degraded such that you don't notice any difference.

Take a 5MP photo from your phone. Uncompressed, you'd be looking at 20MB or so, but the device probably spits it out at 2MB or so, applying a particular JPG 'quality' (usually about 85% or so) - your eyes can't tell the difference most of the time, but look down at the pixel level and you'll see artefacts.

So the photo could be represented by a 5MB JPG with almost perfect 'quality' and almost no ar…