Sunday, March 17, 2013

Migrating To Mac

I've been working off a WinXP Asus L5GA desktop replacement since 2003. Of course it will die soon. I managed to extend its life by replacing its two 512k sticks of RAM, but they were tricky find and expensive. I recenty bought a Mac Mini to let me program iOS, and I wonder if I could transition entirely to the Mac.

Finder, March 2013

# groups folders before files in finder 
View > Arrange By > Kind
View > Show View Options > Sort By > Name > Use As Defaults
(this really only works when you've selected to view items in columns)

Browser, March 2013

Why not just use Firefox? Because "Activity Monitor" shows that baseline RAM usage is 230 MB for Firefox, 50 MB for Chrome, and 30 MB for Safari.

Adblock Plus is available on cnet (0.4.0 RC3, August 29, 2009) for Safari/Mac and on softonic (2.1.2, 09/08/12, adblock_plus-2.1.2-sm+an+fx+tb.xpi) but only for Firefox/Mac. There is also safariadblock, although I can't tell if it's all the same brand.

Anyway shows it available for Firefox, Chrome, Android and Opera. So why not just ditch Safari and use Chrome?

download googlechrome.dmg
double-click googlechrome.dmg
drag chrome icon to applications icon
close, eject, and delete googlechrome.dmg
drag "Google Chrome" from applications to task bar
double-click chrome icon
login to your google account

Chrome > Preferences
 On startup > Open a specific page > Set pages
 Appearance > Show home button > Change
 Show Advanced Settings
  Passwords and forms > [uncheck] Offer to save passwords

[right-click] TextArea > Spelling & Grammer > [uncheck] Check Spelling While Typing

to add trusted sites, you have to update the os keychain
in safari go to the untrusted site
 Show Certificate > [check] Always trust... > Continue

New Tab Redirect extension lets you define what appears on a new tab. If you close your last tab in chrome then the window goes away. Next time you launch chrome you will get the new tab page instead of the "On startup > Open a specific page". So to actually define your startup page you need this extension.

Add to Chrome
Open new tab
My new tab page should show this url: ...

Another annoyance in Chrome on Mac is that Gmail displays in the compact density (as opposed to Cozy or Comfortable) whenever the window is not maximized. There appears to be no easy fix to this other than always maximizing the window.

Adblock Plus > Add to Chrome > Add.

Terminal, March 2013

This is native software on the mac. CTRL+C copies highlighted text. CTRL+V pastes highlighted text. WIN+C aborts the current program, like CTRL+C in putty.

# connect to ec2 on custom ssh port with unsecured private key file
ssh -p 12345 -i unsecured.pem ec2-user@

# convert unsecured private key file to one protected by a password (passphrase)
openssl rsa -des3 -in unsecured.pem -out secure.pem
chmod 400 secure.pem

# connect to ec2 on custom ssh port with password protected private key file
ssh -p 12345 -i secure.pem ec2-user@
# a popup window appears to collect the password

Cyberduck (aka WinSCP for Mac), March 2013
Download Version 4.2.1, Dec-12-2011,
Universal Binary. Mac OS X 10.5 or later required. Works with 10.7 Lion
[drag] to the Applications folder
[launch] Cyberduck from Applications in the taskbar

Open Connection
 Port: yourSshPort
 Username: ec2-user
 [uncheck] Add to Keychain
 [check] Use public key authentication
 Browse to secure.pem
 [check] Always
 Enter password for secure.pem

Next time you use Cyberduck, this connection is available in "History".
To transfer, drag files between Cyberduck window and Finder window.

Image Editing, October 2012

I use Paint Shop Pro 7.04 on WinXP. There appears to be a recent release PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate for $100 that although advertised from Mac sites only supports Windows.

There is an old post that lists alternatives to photoshop for Mac users. That suggests GIMP (open source) as the number one alternative. does post a Mac OS X build, but it's not clear when it was built, what it supports or what to do with it. In the user comments for GIMP on there is a good explanation that suggests is the authorative binary source. has been providing builds of GIMP for OS X for years, and is a trusted member of the Mac community. The binary is Mountain Lion only and is bare-bones. provides builds for several versions of OS X and includes plug-ins that allow you to get started right away.

On my Mac Mini, the "About This Mac" dialog says "Processor 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo" and says that means it is a 64bit processor. Clicking "More Info" then "System Report" then "Software" shows "64-bit Kernel and Extensions: Yes", which according to indicates that my Mac Mini OS X 10.7.5 is 64bit.

At, I clicked the GIMP 2.8.2 for Snow Leopard & Lion download link because it is for "10.7.x Lion - native - 64 bit". That opened with "Disk Image Mounter". It's 95 megs and took about 5 minutes to download. It downloaded to /Users/me/Downloads/GIMP-2.8.2-SnowLeopard-Lion-x64.dmg and displayed a folder containing, License, etc. I dragged the icon to the Applications Icon in the Dock, which I believe just copies it to /Applications/, the final size being 283 megs. I then closed the Gimp finder window and ejected the mounted dmg, which remains in your downloads unless you explicitly Trash it.

The Gimp App had a big "No" icon over top of it in the applications pop-up, which just means you have to agree to run it the first time because the OS knows it came from the internet. Gimp startup took about two minutes the first time and about 10s thereafter. It seems like a high quality, easy to use program, but with with just Gimp and Firefox open, my Mac Mini was noticeably slow. Also it may be buggy. The filter and Basic dropdowns in the brushes menu just flash and do nothing, although I was able to accomplish all the tasks I had in mind.

I had trouble picking up the basics. According to the gimp manual you can change the brush size with the scale slider, but that was tricky for me to find. By default the tool options dialog is a tab halfway down the Histogram window. Inside that you can edit brush size with what looks like a dropdown, the default being 20px.

Save was also tricky. The default formats weren't familar to me. My problem was choosing "Save As" which only supports Gimp's native formats. For PNG, you have to choose "Export To". Even that was not without difficulty. The PNG fromat has many options I don't understand, and the Gimp defaults may not be ideal. For example, I chose not to "Save comment". However, I left "Compressoin level: 9" because asserts that "quality isn't effected".

So far, I'm satisfied with Gimp on Mac.

Simple Code Editing, November 2012

I really like Notepad2 on WinXP. It's not available on Mac. The number one suggestion on alternativeTo is open source gedit. Looking at gedit's official site, it seems to be a good Notepad2 replacement. This blog from January 2012 explains how to install the 3.2.6 distribution, but I haven't tried it yet because of all the posts about bugs. I think that you want gedit-3.2.6-3_SnowLeopard_64bit.dmg for a MacMini running Lion. The version available on softonic is 2.30.2.

With xcode 4.3.2, you can edit php fiels and get correct syntax highlighting, but it wants <php...?> tags, which is a non-starter for me.

The php plugin for Eclipse had good reviews, and I'll need Eclipse for Java anyway, so maybe I'll try that.

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