Modifier keys not working in Lion for External Keyboard

Lion Tip of the Day:

As a emacs user, I always change the caps lock key on my Mac keyboards to "Control". This is in fact a nice built in feature since Leopard. However today I docked my new MacBook Pro for the first time and the Caps Lock key on my external aluminum keyboard (USB) does not send the new modifier key.

Turned out this is a feature. In Lion, you can select different modifier key actions for different keyboards. There is a new dropdown at the top. Select external keyboard and update the modifier key.

How to Find a iPad 2 using Python

I did not buy the version 1 iPad because an iPad without a front facing camera just does not seem right. At iPad 2 launch day, I was going to go stand in line (as I did for my iPhone 3GS) for one, as my office is about a mile away from the Boston Apple Store. However real work got in the way.

I did not anticipate the demand for this thing. I guess a lot of people were like me, skipping the iPad 1 and waited for the iPad 2. I did place an order order days after, which is of course too late.

Python to the rescue! Someone posted the links to check for stock on the Target mobile site. I threw together a quick python script, using BeautifulSoup (Don't you love BeautifulSoup ?) to scrape the site. Saturday night, I found a 32G black iPad 2 available in a Target close by ! I drove over almost first thing Sunday morning, only to find that the two that they had in stock was already purchased by someone who got there, waited for the store to open, at 8am.

Lesson here? Programming is easy. Actually getting up in the morning and driving over to wait in line is, well, a bit overkill. I think I will just wait for the online shipment.

Meanwhile, you can try out the python program here. Rename to .py for running.

How to Change File Associations in Leopard

After one year, I finally gotten around of fixing this little annoyance. Everytime I click on a .doc document, my Mac wants to open up Microsoft Office. Finally I switched the default association back to pages.

  1. Select any file with the extension you want to change.
  2. Click Get Info
  3. Down near the bottom, change "open with" to whatever app you want, and
  4. also click "change all"

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Apple's Dirty Little Secrets

The Mac is great. I do all my work on a Mac Book Pro. I switched from Windows to Leopard completely this year and couldn't be happier, except: There are a few big problems in the Apple / Leopard universe. Somehow no one is publicizing these issues. If Windows have these problems the blogsphere and the tech writers will be all over it. How come? Is it because the average Mac users are just not complainers? Well, a lot of these issues are very bad. Someone need to make a note of them and push Apple to get them fixed:

Apple TV can only view public Flickr Photos

You saw all the demos, read all the hypes. Sounds like I can upload my family pictures to Flickr, marked them as friends and family only to have some privacy, and view the pictures anywhere in the world if I have an Apple TV? No you cannot. So if you rushed out and bought grandma an Apple TV so that they can automagically view their grandson's baby pictures, you are out of luck. The Photo viewing software can only access Flickr as Guest. You cannot view "your" photos.

See this discussion thread on the Apple forum.

Keynote Voice Over feature does not work for any presentation that has builds

Keynote is great. The visual designs are stunning. Smart builds gives you presentation such sizzle. Are you ready to create a presentation, record a voice over, and export it to a quicktime file so that you can share it with other people? You cannot.

The voice over recording feature, while sounds great (sic), has a lot of problem. The biggest one is that if your presentation has builds, it will not maintain the timing synchronization of slides with the audio. So the feature is pretty much useless.

Also, depending on which version of Quicktime you have, the audio may not even be exported when you create the quicktime movie. So Keynote one, Voice over zero.

FrontRow cannot view Remote Photo Album from Aperture

Anyone that is half serious about their home digital photos will be using Aperture, which is a great product. Saw how Steve Jobs demo connecting a Mac Book Pro to his friends network wireless when he visits, and automatically they can view his pictures on the families' big screen TV? No you cannot. Not if your pictures are in Aperture. The very nice FrontRow software for viewing any media across any local network do not see photo albums in remote Aperture library.

Do you know of other dirty little secrets? Let me know. Let's get Apple to fix them.

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My New iPhone 3G

Yes. I got one. Spent total of six and a half hours. Worth it? Yes. Weather was nice, a little hot but not too much. Apple staff were very nice. Especially Alex -- She worked the line. Gave out (free) water, candy, went to get sunblock and more candy, even picked up a pizza for someone, then popsicles, and more water. They try very hard to make the waiting bearable. Why did I do it? I live very close to the Boston downtown Apple store. Drove by the night before, no more than 20 people where in line. Figure I will walk over at 7:30 to see the situation. There were about 400 people there. Decided to wait for one hour to see what happens. They said they have 40-50 reps in the store doing iPhone setup. It was true. The entire store was setup for the launch. After getting into the store, you line up around the central circular staircase, and they have individual reps meeting the head of the line, taking you up stairs to start the purchasing experience. The rep that I had, Ryan, was super patience when we hit some sort of AT&T error and had to call two different AT&T rep over the phone to get one that "helped". They have subtle touches like keep giving me a store phone to play with during the process, to complete the experience.

I stayed because during the first hour, the line moved so quickly, more than 100 people I think were in. Looking good? Until the ITMS crashed, halting the activation processing. Then they said AT&T was having problem as well. So the next two hours were mostly waiting and chatting with the neighbors. By noon time things were moving again and I was out by 2:30 with about 20 minutes spent with the AT&T problem. ITMS was still slow, so I did not get the phone itself activated until I got back into the office. The account was activated and number transfered (from Verizon) very quickly. In fact there was an hour or two I was without a working phone because the Verizon account was closed and the new iPhone was not working yet.

This is my first iPhone. Switching from Palm OS is a big switch. I am still learning it. But it is worth it, so far. More functional review next post.

Moving Images in Aperture

Seems like a normal workflow to me. When I import my pictures from my camera, I import them into a "year" project and a "year-month" album. That become their default "location" in Aperture. However as I arrange my pictures, I want to move them into other projects and albums. Because of the way Aperture use projects and albums, this is not an easy task:

I want to move picture P from Album A1 in project P1 to Project P2.

  • Drag the picture P from Album A1 to Project P2
  • Aperture will issue a warning: "You are about to move one or more master images to a different project. References to them will be maintained in any album that include them". Click "move".
  • Aperture will move the master from P1 to P2. Aperture will copy the version from A1, leaving a copy in A1.
  • You should immediately "remove from album" P from A1 to clear out the old version in the old album.

iTune + FrontRow + Airport Express + Harmony = Digital Music Heaven

I finally got my home digital music solution implemented. You’ll need:

Three key things make this work:

  • the iMac screen is big enough to be used across the room when running FrontRow
  • you can have FrontRow stream music to an airport express, just start iTunes first and point it to use the remote speaker at your airport express location
  • the Harmony remote knows about the Apple remote IR signals

This is what you need to do:

  • Rip all music to apple lossless encoding for high quality sound
  • program a “digital music” activity on the Logitech Harmony remote to control both the iMac and also the receiver (more later)
  • connect the airport express (I am running it wirelessly) to the receiver using digital output
  • start iTunes first, and point the speaker to the airport express remote speaker
  • Now you can use the harmony remote to control the FrontRow software from a distance, and control the sound volume on the receiver at the same time

Programming the Harmony Remote

The Logitech software knows about the iMac remote. You need to create a “digital music” activity and select the receiver for controlling the volume, and select “multimedia PC (iMac)” as the source of music.

I change the button assignments so that the “cursor pad” on the remote matches the apple remote. I remap the following buttons:

  • “up/down” buttons (not up/down arrow) to “imac:volume up” and “imac:volume down”
  • “left/right” to “imac:rewind” and “imac:fast-forward”
  • “ok” to “imac:play”