Using SMS URIs with OC Transpo

Ottawa’s OC Transpo service provides real-time bus schedules through text-messages on your cell phone. Basically you text 560560 your stop number, like 7595, with the option to specify a bus, like the number 18. It will shortly reply with a GPS adjusted schedule. In some cases you will be asked to text back a 1 or 2 for specifying the direction, when you are at a transitway stop or loop that services both directions.

There’s a mobile app for iOS, but I like the simplicity of sending a text without needing to fiddle with an app…

At some point I ran across an article explaining how to embed an SMS link into a web page (such as this one) and decided I needed to try it out.

A live example:


The components:

SMS: defines this as an sms link
560-560 or 560560 is the OCTranspo number to text to
&body= the contents of the text message
7040 the stop we want data on
%20 html code for a space
20 is our bus number
%20 another space
2 as we want to go towards St. Laurent.

A bunch of these urls got set up and stored in Apple Notes for all the most common stops I use.

Once you tap one it will load up a new message with the contents defined, touch the send key and wait a few seconds. Here’s the result I got back in this case:

Stop 7040 route 20 St-Laurent at 18:46 to St-Laurent; 19:14 to St-Laurent; 19:44 to St-Laurent.

Now if only I could figure out how to send it automatically i’d save a whole tap!

Fun with SED!

(Found this sitting in my blog’s drafts folder.. only 11 years old but all of it still just as valid today!)

A couple of shell scripts for renaming files on the command line.

# Replaces JPG in any file with jpg 
for ii in * ; do ARG1=`echo $ii | sed 's/JPG/jpg/g'` ; mv $ii $ARG1 ; done

Stany’s renaming scripts:

# Mass REname of english filenames
# relies on fixfilename regexp engine

for ii in * ; do ARG1=`echo $ii | fixfilename `   ; echo -n "." ; mv "$ii"  "$ARG1" ; done
# the fixfilename regexp engine

sed 's@(@@g;s@)@@g;s/ /_/g;s/\,//g;s/\&/and/g;s/_-_/-/g;s/-_/-/g;s/\!//g;s/\;//g;s/\]//g;s/\[//g;s/%20/_/g' 

A combined version…

for ii in * ; do ARG1=`echo $ii | sed 's@(@@g' | sed 's@)@@g' | sed 's/ /_/g' | sed 's/\,//g' | sed 's/\&/and/g' | sed 's/_-_/-/g' | sed 's/-_/-/g' | sed 's/\!//g' |  sed s/\;//g | sed 's/\]//g' |  sed 's/\[//g' | sed 's/%20/_/g'  `  ; echo -n "." ; mv "$ii"  "$ARG1" ; done

This script will remove the first 4 characters of a filename:

for ii in * ; do FOO=`echo $ii | sed 's/^....//g'`; echo mv \"$ii\" \"$FOO\" ; done

This will echo what it actually does, and place quotes in front and after each filename. In the for ii in * bit you can adjust the regex to match the files you need. So for ii in *.txt will match all the files ending in .txt

Remove the echo to run it, or pipe into shell: | sh

Intro to iOS: Thursday Dec. 6

Tom and I are doing another Intro class this Thursday, Dec. 6th, at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Library Branch.

The class is free but registration is required.

Join us for an introduction iOS, the operating system that runs iPhones and iPads, with Dave and Tom, founders of the Bytown Mac User Group. ByMUG has been helping Ottawans using Mac and iOS devices since 2006. Bring your device and follow along. No device? No problem! This informative workshop will cover the basics and much more! 

If you are attending and have questions.. please send them in in advance so we can be prepared.

Capture all tabs in Safari as URLs to the clipboard

Sometimes you’re doing research and have a pile of tabs (and windows) open and need to get them into a document to share with coworkers… so I went digging and tweaking and found an Applescript that does the job:

tell application “Safari”
set docText to “”
set windowCount to count (every window where visible is true)
repeat with x from 1 to windowCount
set tabCount to number of tabs in window x
repeat with y from 1 to tabCount
set tabName to name of tab y of window x
set tabURL to URL of tab y of window x as string
set docText to docText & tabName & ” – ” & tabURL & linefeed as string
end repeat
set the clipboard to the docText
end repeat
end tell

You can save it as a standalone script and run it from there, or stick into a script item in Automator and run it as a service.. or even call it from the command line as an Osascript.

Looking up Mac specs..

Did I mention I love TextExpander? Yeah.. so, to make a long story short: clients ask me questions about their computers, upgrades, lifespans, etc. I don’t normally remember all the details of their Macs so I get them to send me the Serial Number (Open the Apple menu, click About This Mac and it should be right there.)

Once you have it you can go by Apple’s support site and look it up… but that takes too long.

Make a new TextExpander snippet with Applescript as the content type:
property theURL : ""
set theURL to "" & (the clipboard)
do shell script "open " & theURL

Then you just copy the serial number, and anywhere you can type use !specs to invoke it and up pops open Apple spec page a few seconds later.

Opening a pile of urls all at once — updated version!

A year or so ago I wrote a post on how to use xargs to open a bunch of urls that were in your clipboard. But it turns out that in newer versions of OS X something broke, deliberately or otherwise, and that method no longer works. Well, it works fine, it’s just *too* fast. So today I needed to check about a hundred urls.. and so it was time to fix that script. I’ve been slowly working on learning Python, so I decided to use that.. and this is what I ended up with:

#! /usr/bin/python
import webbrowser
import pyperclip
import time
url_list = pyperclip.paste()
clean_list = url_list.splitlines(False)
for x in clean_list:

It only took me about an hour 😉

What does it do? It grabs the clipboard, splits each line inside the clipboard at the return character, and then there is a loop which tells the browser to open the url .. wait a half second and then do it again.

I’d like to figure out how to grab the clipboard and clean it in one line.. but that’s for another day!

Back to work..

All about games..

There are a few places to get Mac games, other than the App Store.

A few of the larger ones:

Steam lists 2500 games for Mac.
GOG or Good Old Games has 1297 games for Mac., has hundreds in each category.

There are quite a few others, and reviews of them are available online if you want to know which is better or worse than another, and why.

The reason we’re here is for games.. and knowing what’s good *before spending money* is important, go read reviews. There are many review sites, and they all have “best of” lists.

What do I play?
More like what do I still play? aka what still works on El Capitan.


Quinn, a Tetris game, which you can still download from

The Tiny Bang Story, a kids puzzle game.

Cave Story “Doukutsu Monogatari” is a great side scroller ported to the Mac. A bit of fiddling required to get it to work, but worth it! Start here:

Bungie. What else do I need to say? Yep. Halo. Myth, and many more. Halo 5 just came out.. for Xbox. Although Microsoft did port 2 games to iOS (instead of Windows Phone, what a surprise!) : Halo Spartan Assault and Halo Spartan Strike.

Yes, You can still play Halo, from 2004, using
You can stil play Myth as well, using Project Magma.

But we’re not limited to just Mac games.. we can run emulators as well. One that I have used on occasion is Boxer, which lets you run DOS games.

Shout out to Ambrosia Software and one of my all time favorites: Avara! Apparently I can run it under emulation. Still making games after 20 years!

I’m sure i’ve missed many, what are your favorites?

Open a pile of links in browser tabs, all at once!

One of things I occasionally do at work is to grab every url for a client’s domains/sites and open them up to eyeball them and see if anything obvious needs fixing.

First I go and copy a list of all the active domains, and clean it up with a “search and replace” script. I end up with a list of url’s, one per line.

After that I copy it all and go over to the Terminal and run a nice little script which I call “tab”. My current default browser then starts sprouting tabs galore.

Here’s the script:

pbpaste | tr "\r" "\n" | xargs -n 1 open

How does it work?

pbpaste provides the contents of the clipboard to the command line (see pbcopy to put things into the clipboard). tr translates characters, in this case from one kind of line end (or return character) to another. An issue with pbcopy from what I can tell! Then the cleaned up clipboard gets pushed to xargs which take the command -n 1 open and builds one open per line of data being fed to it. Yes, xargs is very cool. The open command will then “open the URL in the default browser”.

I am sure this can all be done in Applescript or Automator.. but typing tab and return on the command line is the fastest and simplest for me!

If you want to use the script and are not sure how to take the shell code above and turn it into an actual script.. let me know and i’ll provide instructions (gee, another blog post!).