(Image above from Wikipedia)
Tech Tips – We all use USB (an abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus) cables, often many times each day. We know from experience that USB cables come with a variety of connectors, but do you know how to identify each one?
The early USB cables were equipped with the A and B connectors (the male versions of the connectors are shown in the photo above). The Type B connectors are often used to connect to devices such as printers and scanners. The Mini and Micro connectors, which were introduced in April of 2000 and January of 2007 respectively, can be found on many different peripheral devices. All of the above connectors can be found on cables that are compatible with the USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 standards.
A slightly different set of connectors were introduced with the November 2008 USB 3.0 standard. Note that connectors BM, AM, and AF will have a blue insert to distinguish them as USB 3.0 compatible. The AM and AF connectors look just like the Type A connector (other than they have the blue insert) and are backward compatible (they can be used anywhere a Type A can be used),
The Type C connector was introduced in August 2014. It is different from prior designs in that it is a reversible connector allowing insertion into a device in either orientation.
Tech Tips – Have you noticed that your Safari tabs do not show the favicons for the sites you visit? You can fix that very easily.
If you are asking what a favicon is this is how Wikipedia defines them:
A favicon /ˈfæv.ɪˌkɒn/ (short for favorite icon), also known as a shortcut icon, website icon, tab icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, is a file containing one or more small icons, associated with a particular website or web page.
Safari recently began (I am using Safari 12.0.3 running on macOS 10.13.6) to natively support favicons. Favicon display must be enabled before you will see them in your browser tabs. To enable them on your Mac do:
- Open the Safari App
Click on Safari in the top left corner, then select Preferences from the drop-down menu
- Select ‘Tabs’
Click on the Check Box next to “Show website icons in tabs”
- Close the Preference window
You are all set now. Favicons will show up in the browser tab for each site you visit that has favicons implemented.
So now when I open tabs in Safari with pages from the Wikipedia, Apple, and Stuff You Missed in History Class sites respectively, you see the little icons in the tabs. Having favicons enabled isn’t a big deal, but it does let you identify at a glance the source of each tab.
See my other Mac and macOS articles
Web Tools – There are lots of way of getting the weather on your computer. Most of those will open in your browser with lots of content, animations, and probably advertisements. But wttr.in is different. It is text only. What is wttr.in? From their website:
wttr.in is a console-oriented weather forecast service that supports various information representation methods like terminal-oriented ANSI-sequences for console HTTP clients (curl, httpie, or wget), HTML for web browsers, or PNG for graphical viewers
I used curl wttr.in from the terminal command line to get the image shown at the top of this page. This should work on any Linux or macOS system. When I enter http://wttr.in into my Safari browser I get similar output as shown in the image immediately above.
This site provides many options to choose from in their weather report. While it takes your current location as the default, other locations around the world can be specified. Queries from the US appear in USCS units, while most of the rest of the world get values in the Metric System. Optionally you can specify the units.
Reports can be returned in ANSI for the terminal, HTML for the browser, or as a .PNG image. All of the options are explained on their GitHub site.
I like this minimalist weather report and have added the URL to my Safari Favorites.
CLI – If you are wanting to copy a file from one place to another then you may want to look at the dd command. This command is particulary useful when you want to copy the file while making edits to it on the fly.
The command is also useful when copying a disk image to other media. This can be very useful in creating a bootable SD card for a Raspberry Pi. The Wikipedia page on the dd command gives a good overview of how the command can be used.
The description of dd in the macOS man page is:
The dd utility copies the standard input to the standard output. Input data is read and written in 512-byte blocks. If input reads are short, input from multiple reads are aggregated to form the output block. When finished, dd displays the number of complete and partial input and output blocks and truncated input records to the standard error output.
To learn a lot more about how to use dd, take a look at “Linux dd command explained for beginners (8 examples)“. Yes, this is a Linux article, but the dd command as implemented on macOS is fundamentally the same. Check the macOS man page for dd for all of the available options.
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Tech Tip – I saw this a while back and thought it might be of interest to any Mac user. This cheat sheet was developed by MacMost and is available for free download. As MacMost said about the cheat sheet:
It is a one-page PDF that you can print with quick how-to tips for macOS. These are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions from Mac users. The descriptions are very short and meant to quickly guide you to a solution, rather than provide a detailed step-by-step explanation.
See my other Mac and OS X articles
Tech Tip – I recently downloaded some Disney Wallpaper images for use on my Mac. Once I had them, I wanted to set up the wallpaper on my desktop to randomly change periodically between the images I had downloaded.
It was easy to set this up. I created a folder “Christmas Desktop Images” in my Documents folder, then I copied all of the images I had downloaded into that folder.
Next, I opened the “Desktop & Screensaver” System Preference panel. To add a new folder to choose images from, press the “+” in the bottom left.
Now pick the folder with your new images, then click on “Choose”. You will want to make sure that the checkbox for “Change Picture” is checked. I also checked the checkbox for “Random order”.
Finally, you will want to set how often your desktop wallpaper is changed. I choose every 30 minutes.
I will probably remove these after the Holidays. While I like the festive nature of the images, I find some of them too ‘busy’.
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CLI – If you encounter a file and are not sure what type of file it is (often because the extension is missing), the the file command is what you are looking for.
This command allows you to lets you see the type of file you’re dealing with. The description of file in the macOS man page is:
file tests each argument in an attempt to classify it. There are three sets of tests, performed in this order: filesystem tests, magic tests, and language tests. The first test that succeeds causes the file type to be printed.
The type printed will usually contain one of the words text (the file contains only printing characters and a few common control characters and is probably safe to read on an ASCII terminal), executable (the file contains the result of compiling a program), or data meaning anything else (data is usually “binary” or non-printable).
To learn a lot more about how to use file, take a look at “Linux file Command Tutorial for Beginners (5 Examples)“. Yes, this is a Linux article, but the file command as implemented on macOS is fundamentally the same. Check the macOS man page for file for all of the available options.
See my other CLI and macOS articles
Tech Tips – NaNoWriMo begins November 1. Are you ready?
Haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo? That stands for “National Novel Writing Month” which is November of every year. As their website states:
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
If you happen to be using a Mac or iPad and the included Pages software to write your novel, how do you keep track of the words you have set down? That is easy on both devices.
On your Mac:
Open Pages to the document where you are writing your novel
Select View in the Menu bar, then Show Word Count
Now at the bottom of your window will appear the running word count in your document.
On your iPad
- Open Pages to the document where you are writing your novel
Click on the View Options icon in the Menu Bar
In the drop-down menu, click the slider switch to enable Word Count to be displayed. Once that is done, the document statistics will be displayed in a small bubble at the top of the page. The default, as shown above, is Page Count.
Now click on that Page Count bubble and you get another drop-down menu to chose which statistic about the document you wish to display. Click on Words.
Now the Word Count will be displayed at the top of the screen while you are in the document.
See my other Mac/OS X and iOS articles
Tech Tip – I was unaware that this shortcut existed until I read “There’s a keyboard shortcut that will transform how you browse the web hiding in plain sight” today. Needless to say, this is a Keyboard Shortcut I will use dozens of time each day from now on!
I just tested this on my Mac with both Safari and Google Chrome. It works as advertised on both, scrolling down the viewed page one screen at a time each time the spacebar is pressed.
This doesn’t sound like much, but if you are reading through multiple web pages each day using this keyboard shortcut can save you time. As I have said before, each time you shave seconds from your daily work process, you make yourself that much more productive.
See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles
Tech Tip – We almost all use Apple Mail as our email client on the Mac. One keyboard shortcut that will save you time is for replying to your email messages.
This is one of the simpler shortcuts. While reading your email, you can reply to one by simply holding down on the CMD key and pressing “r”. This will then open the reply window and allow you to type in your response. To reply to all simply use SFT + CMD + r instead.
This doesn’t sound like much, but if you are replying to multiple mail messages each day, you will end up saving many seconds per message. As I have said before, each time you shave seconds from your daily work process, you make yourself that much more productive.
See my other Mac and Keyboard Shortcut articles