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This is the personal blog of Don McAllister, the host and producer of ScreenCastsOnline.

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PopClip - Indispensable

Just noticed an update to one of my favourite Mac utilities - PopClip.

It's come a long way since it's initial launch when it was really just a replication of the copy and paste menu on iOS on the Mac. With the advent of PopClip extensions, it's absolutely wonderful.

You basically select some text, and PopClip will pop up a configurable menu right next to the text - really handy.

Standard copy and paste are included but the popup menu can be extended using extensions - and there are lots and lots of them!

Extensions allow you to act on the selected text, right from within the Popclip menu. Install the Evernote extension, and any selected text can be sent to Evernote, install the OmniFocus extension, send the selected text straight into OmniFocus. Paste and match Style - covered. Best is, there are no keyboard shortcuts to learn and you don't have to travel all the way to the Menubar to select actions.

The new update has removed the previous limit of 10 extensions, so you can install as many as you find useful.

I have covered PopClip before in a ScreenCastsOnline members show, but I've just made it available to view for free from the ScreenCastsOnline website - Free PopClip ScreenCast

So check out the screencast and get a copy to try for free from the vendors website

To review a list of the current extensions, take a look on this page.


Moving Forward

Screenshot 03 01 2013 12 27Just got back from a trip to my local Apple store to finally get around to sorting out the ghosting on my Retina MacBook Pro. I picked up one of the first 15" Retina MacBook Pros when they were launched back in June 2012. It's a quad core i7 with 16GB RAM, and it's probably the best computer I've owned.

Performance is stunning, connectivity is brilliant and I love it to bits.

It's so powerful, it was able to completely replace my 2008 8-core Mac Pro - it even encodes faster.

The only issue I have, is that it does suffer from "ghosting" or image persistence. In day to day usage, this isn't a problem to me as I usually work with the machine in clamshell mode, hooked up to 2 x 27" Thunderbolt displays. However, when I do use the laptop without the external monitors, it is noticeable. So, I thought I'd better get it seen to whilst still in warranty.

After inspection, the intended course of action was to replace the screen.

The only problem is that they wanted me to leave the machine with them and it could take up to seven days to replace the screen. As the rMBP is my main production machine, and I've got a ton of work to do leading up to Macworld, that wasn't really an option.

I have got a couple of spare Macs, but they are all a bit old now (relatively) and none have Thunderbolt connectivity. I still have a "spare" Mac Pro, but that is still only in use as it supports some legacy cards for some RAID enclosures and my DroboPro.

More recently, I've bought some Thunderbolt storage, which hooks up directly to my rMBP.

I love having a single production machine, but there are occasions when I would like to access the storage when my rMBP is not on my desk.

2012 macmini overview boxOne of the things I pondered last year, was to look at replacing an older Mac mini with a new one. I held off at the time as I wanted to wait until they were available with both Thunderbolt and USB3. Well now the new Mac minis do support Thunderbolt and USB3, have quad core i7 processors plus have the benefit of the new Fusion Drive.

The thought of having to live without the rMBP for potentially up to 7 days has crystallised my thoughts. If it causes me pain to be without it for a planned outage, what about if it has an unplanned outage.

You can see where this is going don't you.

So, my current plan of action is this…

  • Acquire a 2.6Ghz Quad-Core i7 Mac mini with 4GB RAM plus a 1TB Fusion Drive
  • Upgrade to 16GB RAM from Crucial (I'm not completely barking)
  • Build the Mac mini as a hot standby production machine
  • Move the Thunderbolt storage to the Mac Mini and have it permanently accessible.

So whilst the rMBP is off for repair, I can use the Mac mini as my production machine and have it as an up to date spare machine with comparable performance. It also gives me the benefit of being able to access the Thunderbolt connected storage from any machine (or remotely) plus gives me some exposure to the new Fusion Drive technology for review, and to feature in a ScreenCastsOnline tutorial.



My Perfect Travel Bag

TB0223 01bThis post should have been written nearly twelve months ago.

Back in 2011, I purchased a Tom Bihn Ristretto laptop bag. I'd been looking for a smallish "gadget" bag, mainly to use as a separate carry on bag for air travel. When travelling, I have a standard carry on case to go into the overhead locker, but I really wanted a separate bag to carry all the stuff I need to access during a flight - one small enough to push under the seat in front of me.

You know the stuff I mean - my iPad, noise cancelling earphones, a book, styluses, my kindle, all the various necessities for a long haul flight.

The Ristretto was recommended to me by various Twitter peeps and I ordered one.

It was fantastic - amazingly small and compact, but cavernous in its capacity.

I think I tweeted about it just before Macworld last year, and was delighted to get contacted by Tom Bihn on Twitter. They were delighted I was happy with the bag as well as letting me know that the Ristretto was having a redesign. Even better was that they would like to send me an updated design to try out. As I was going to be in San Francisco, they arranged to have one shipped directly to the hotel.

The new bag duly arrived and I've been using it constantly ever since.

The redesign wasn't overly dramatic, so all of the features I loved about the original design remained. Some of the new features included tougher material used on the exterior and interior of the bag, a new zipper to close a small, easy to access pocket on the outside of the bag and a redesigned grab handle on the back of the bag.

I've used the new bag all through 2012 and it still delights me with its functionality and capacity.

Blog21On the recent MacMania 15 trip to Australia, we had over 20 hours of air travel to endure, and the Ristretto managed to keep both my wife and I in sufficient gadgets for the entire trip. It actually held:

  • 3 x iPad 2 (well they only have 10 hours of battery life)
  • 1 x iPad mini
  • 1 x iPod touch
  • 1 x Kindle Paperwhite
  • 1 x Kindle
  • 1 x Bose QC 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones (in hard case)
  • Spare Batteries
  • Apple Headphones
  • Various pens and styli
  • Spare glasses
  • Passports and Travel documents
  • Sweets (got to have some sweets)

The Ristretto just swallowed the lot!

There's nothing I hate more than getting on the plane and having to open the overhead bag to retrieve stuff I need for the flight. Even worse is having to pull down the overhead bag during the flight - nightmare.

With the Ristretto, I just throw the bag on my chair, stow my overhead bag and sit down, with everything I need easily to hand.

I would recommend getting the Absolute Strap if you're going to be using it a lot, or packing it with a lot of gadgets - it's a specially padded strap that is really comfortable.

Of course, once at my destination, I don't cram it with as much stuff, so it's really lightweight and easy to carry around.

Before I switched across to the 15" retina MacBook Pro, my main laptop was the 11" MacBook Air and the 13" Ristretto was perfect for carrying both the 11" Air and my iPad 2. It has a padded divider in the main section that separated both devices perfectly, without the need for a case or sleeve for either device.

They do specific versions of the bag for the iPad and the 11" MacBook Air, but I went with the 13" MacBook Air or MacBook Pro version. As an aside, (and they probably wouldn't recommend using it in this way) I can actually fit my 15" retina MacBook Pro in the 13" bag. Ideally you'd want to use a sleeve on the rMBP but at a pinch, it does work - perhaps not recommended for long trips though - best stick to the recommended sizes.

I feel as though I should finish this update off with some negative comments about the bag, but honestly, I can't find any.

It really is my perfect travel bag and thanks to Darcy over at Tom Bihn for not asking for it back!

Tom Bihn - Ristretto for iPad
Tom Bihn - Ristretto for 11" MacBook Air
Tom Bihn - Ristretto for 13" MacBook Air or MacBook Pro


Happy New Year 2013

Don't worry, I'm not going to list a whole screed of New Year's resolutions in this blog post, but it does form part of one itself.

I really must try and work smarter this year and make some room to blog more. A blog post a day would be ideal, but it's a big ask - consider this the first one!

I also want to organise myself properly. I'll be focusing more on using the tools I have available to me to create some structure around me - The three principle ones being

  • Pocket for storing things for immediate consumption,
  • OmniFocus for managing tasks
  • Evernote as the main receptacle for all the other stuff

All three have strong cross platform support on the Mac, iOS and the web. All three have strong integration capabilities.

I'll also be looking at automation more closely with Automator, Hazel and System Services - all aimed at working smarter. You can expect to see some of the results of this organisational doubling down in the blog and undoubtedly, in some ScreenCastsOnline tutorials.

2013 is the year I will take on some help - I've said it for the past couple of years, but this year I must. I need to make it easier for me to produce more quality content and not get caught up in the post production cycle. Post production tasks are now pretty routine and easily repeatable, there's no real reason why I can't offload some of the procedural stuff onto a production assistant - should have done it last year.

I've still got a couple of days before I start back on the process of creating the weekly shows, so I'll be doing a lot more thinking and planning over the next few days, but I'm looking forward to moving onwards and upwards in 2013.

Thanks so much to all the ScreenCastsOnline members who have loyally supported me over the last year, as well as the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly magazine subscribers and purchasers of the SCOtutor applications. Things have come a long way since making the decision to make ScreenCastsOnline a full time business back in 2006, it's really impossible to have foreseen how things might have worked out, but I'm so glad and grateful that they have.

So welcome to 2013, and I hope that you and your family have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!


New iPad or iPad mini? - Some Essential ScreenCastsOnline Resources 

IconSo, do you know someone who has received a new iPad of iPad mini for Christmas?

It's really difficult to remember just how different using an iPad can be. This is true if you have only ever used a PC or Mac before, or for some people, it's their first computing device. This post covers some essential ScreenCastsOnline resources available to new iPad users to introduce them to the iPad and iOS, as well as keeping them up to speed on the latest apps and developments.

SCOtutor for iPad - Video Tutorial - Free - App Store Link

So before you spend too much time leading them through the basics, do yourself (and them) a favour and point them in the direction of SCOtutor for iPad. This is a free tutorial available on the App Store, aimed specifically at new iPad users and is designed to teach them the basics from scratch. Even if you ignore the rest of the recommendations, be sure to get them this free application. It saves so much time getting up to speed and exploring the iPad and iOS.

SCOtutor for iOS6 - Video Tutorial - £2.99 - App Store Link

Once they have mastered the basics of the iPad and iOS, bring them up to speed with the latest changes in iOS6.

ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine - Newsstand - Single Issues or Subscription - App Store Link

For regular monthly iOS (and Mac) video tutorials, hints, tips and application recommendations, the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine is available from the iPad newsstand. Over 4 hours of video content in each monthly issue.

ScreenCastsOnline Premium Membership - Quarterly or Annual - Information

Get weekly Mac and iOs video tutorials every week via the ScreenCastsOnline website or pushed directly to your iPad. Premium membership also includes complimentary access to the Magazine and access to over 400+ video tutorials in the ScreenCastsOnline Archive.

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