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 "http://support.apple.com/specs/#" & (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.
macgamestore.com, 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 macintoshgarden.org

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: http://www.cavestory.org/download/cave-story.php

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 http://halomd.net
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!).

Desktop Pictures & Automator!

Some people call them wallpapers, I prefer desktop pictures… and I have a big collection of them. hmm. 336 of them in the current rotation, as of this article. I’ve been collecting them for at least a decade, according to the earliest modified date.


So what do I do with them, and where do I find them? Well, currently I have them all in a folder in my Pictures folder, aptly named Wallpapers. Yeah, I wanted a short name! They come from various sources, but the main one is http://www.desktoppr.co/ What’s so good about that site? Well, it’s linked directly into my Dropbox folder, so syncing an image is as simple as clicking the little cloud icon under the image. Very nice feature. They all end up in ~/Dropbox/apps/Desktoppr/ which, as you may have noted, is not where I keep my collection.


Why not, you ask? Because there are many images that are in my collection that are personal photos, and I do not want to make them part of my Desktoppr library. You guessed it, anything I add to the Desktoppr folder goes back up to the site. You can see my collection online, once you login, at https://www.desktoppr.co/theconsultant


For a while I would sync new images to Dropbox, then manually copy them across to the Wallpapers folder. This got tedious fast, so I worked for a while on cobbling a bit of a folder action script together. After messing around in Applescript for a day and not quite getting what I wanted, I headed over to Automator.


I created a new folder action and added the “Copy Finder Items” and chose my Wallpapers folder. Umm, that’s it. Too easy. Saved it, and then right click the Desktoppr folder and, in Services, go into Folder Actions, and add the workflow.


Next time an image dropped into the Desktoppr folder it automagically got copied across. No more manual syncing.

Now I can spend all that extra time looking for the next great desktop picture!


1Password4 URL trick

There was a trick mentioned at our last ByMUG meeting to make using 1Password 4 on your iOS device a little easier.

There are several ways you can modify a URL to make it open directly in 1Password:

onepassword4://search/<search term> will open the app in the search mode searching for the <search term>. For example: onepassword4://search/icloud will bring up all your saved items with iCloud in them.

Add ‘op’ to any URL in your mobile browser before the http:// or https:// to have the link open in the 1Password browser. Makes it easy to switch over and login…

If you are a developer and want to add 1P support to your app the details, and code, are available in an AgileBits Blog post.

Domain pain continued…

So I took a bit longer than expected to get back to the domain saga.. I went in this evening and pushed the domains from my eNomCentral account to my new retail account (which worked instantly) and then proceeded to renew the domains, and found the price was better, but $29.95 is still not what I asked for. Much clicking around in the main account found a “report” of my price change request, and in the downloadable spreadsheet version was a notes column, which told me that the price I had set actually needed to be $15.36, and not the bare minimum I tried putting in before. Okey dokey.. I went in circles and set things to the new price, emptied and refilled my shopping cart a few times before the new price appeared. Yaay! I saved a bunch of money.. and have now renewed the domains. Whew.

Still stuck in eNOM, but I can’t move them for another month and a half, as that 60 day change limit set by CIRA still applies.

*sets note to self in iCal for early March*

Domain Pain!

So I had a few domains left in my eNom account.. and I was slowly moving them out as they came up for renewal, and it came time to renew the last 2 domains. No problem, right? Well… I would not be writing this if it had been easy!

Why bother moving them? Well, my eNom account is a reseller account, and requires filling the account with a $100 USD increments. No way am I paying that for the last 2 domains in there.

I updated the registrant details, since both clients email accounts were no longer valid. Silly me I update the entire contact info to my data, instead of just the email account. Once updated I pushed out the EPP code so I could transfer the domains. I then logged into my Hover.com account to transfer them over.

Ugh. Domains are still locked. Did I mention that they are both .ca’s? That’ll come up again soon.. so I call Hover.com and they tell me that eNom must have a second level of unlock they need to do, ie. somebody has to push a button manually!

So I call eNom, and the nice gentleman tells me that the domains are locked by CIRA. Huh? Well, it turns out that when you update all the registrant details then CIRA locks the domain for 60 days. He suggests I transfer the domains to eNomcentral, their retail arm, so I can renew just one domain at a time, instead of dumping in a hundred bucks.

So I call CIRA the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, and am told by the nice lady that this is a security measure and that it has always been in place, and that there is nothing they can do. I wonder why they bother letting me change the email address, since that is all I need to change if I were going to steal a domain.

So I transfer the 2 domains to eNomcentral, a painless process I must add, it takes all of a few seconds to create a new account on eNomcentral and then push them across. At this point i’m annoyed, but happy that i’ve found a workaround…

Then I hit the renew button on the 2 domains and discover eNomcentral wants $39.95 each domain!? WTF? I was paying $13.95 each at eNom. $26 markup is outrageous.

After much time on hold I get through to Tech Support at eNomcentral. Can’t help me, passing me on to Sales. I’m on hold again… and they can’t help me. *sigh* i’m being passed off to support again.

Yaay! There is a way to resolve it: I created a sub account in my enom reseller account, which is a “retail account” and then push the domains into there. Since I set the price for my retail accounts I do not have to add any markup, and I can renew the domains for less!

Figuring I should do this early I set the renewal cost for .ca’s in that retail account to no markup. It’s in the queue.

More news next week!