Tag Archives: Tech Tip

Weather at Your Terminal Command Line

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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

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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.

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CLI – dd

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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.


See my other CLI and macOS articles


 

Free macOS Mojave Cheat Sheet

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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


 

Want to Set Up Changing Wallpaper Images for Your Mac Desktop?

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.

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Next, I opened the “Desktop & Screensaver” System Preference panel. To add a new folder to choose images from, press the “+” in the bottom left.

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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”.

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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’.


Read my other Mac & OS X articles


 

CLI – file

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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


 

NaNoWriMo is About to Start – Count Your Words in Pages

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

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Select View in the Menu bar, then Show Word Count

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Now at the bottom of your window will appear the running word count in your document.

 

On your iPad 

  1. Open Pages to the document where you are writing your novel

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Click on the View Options icon in the Menu Bar

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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.

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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.

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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


 

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts – Scrolling down with the Spacebar

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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


 

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts – Reply in Mail

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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


 

What Kind of Wi-Fi Access Point are You Attached to?

Tech Tips – I wrote a couple of days ago about the new Wi-Fi naming convention. If you are out and about using a public Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) access point, how can you tell which version of Wi-Fi you are using?

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If you are using a Mac, that is easy! Hold down the Option key while you click on the Wi-Fi icon in your menubar. Under the access point you are currently connected to you will see the Physical Layer mode being used. In the example above, my MacBook Pro is connected to an IEEE 802.11n (Wi-Fi 5) access point.

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Conversely, if you want to know what your Mac will support, that is straight forward a well. Option-click on the Apple icon in the menubar, then click on System Information. When the window opens, go down and click on Wi-Fi under Network. The resulting window will list all versions of Wi-Fi that your Mac is compatible with.

For your iOS devices, making this determination is much harder. So far I have found no way to determine the type of Wi-Fi connection an iOS device is using. Even with third party Apps, this data seems to be absent. Apparently, a lot of information is not included in the API for App developers.

If (when) I find out how to make this determination on an iOS device I will update this article.


See my other Mac & OS X articles


 

What Version of Wi-Fi Do You Have?

Wi-Fi, otherwise officially known as IEEE 802.11, is the communications standard by which we can be wirelessly connected to the Internet. Per Wikipedia:

IEEE 802.11 is a set of media access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for implementing wireless local area network (WLAN) computer communication in the 900 MHz and 2.4, 3.6, 5, and 60 GHz frequency bands.

The IEEE 802.11 standard was created and is maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) LAN/MAN Standards Committee (IEEE 802). This committee is made up of interested volunteers from both the academic and corporate space.

Wi-Fi Version IEEE Standard Speed Released
1 802.11b 11 Mbps 1999
2 802.11a 11 Mbps 1999
3 802.11g 54 Mbps 2003
4 802.11n 600 Mbps [5] 2009
5 802.11ac 3460 Mbps [5] 2014
6 802.11ax target of 4 x version 5 [5] 2019

 

We have been using IEEE 802.11 or Wi-Fi for many years now (since 1999), but the standard has evolved as the technology has matured. Subsequent versions of the standard have steadily increased the data access speeds [4]. (NOTE: the table above shows thearetical maximum speed and is not necessarily what you will achieve) The result is that while we have devices that claim Wi-Fi compatibility, and many locations that offer Wi-Fi access, those ‘Wi-Fi’ are not necessarily the same [3].

Fortunately, each subsequent release of the 802 standard is backwards-compatible with the prior versions. That means if you walk into a coffee shop with an older Wi-Fi access point that is still only 802.11n compatible, your iPhone X with 802.11ac will automatically downgrade its connection to match the access point. Likewise if you have an iPhone 5 that is only 802.11n compatible and you are in a location with an 802.11ac rated access point, the communication will be limited to 802.11n speeds. You can check this site to see what you iPhone is capable of.

WFA_CERTIFIED_Flat_Web_LR.pngThe Wi-Fi Alliance is behind the “Wi-Fi Certified” logo that we see on basically every Wi-Fi enabled device [10]. Up until now, Wi-Fi implementations have been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit that manages the implementation of Wi-Fi, by numbers and letters associated with the corresponding IEEE standard. It has now simplified the naming scheme by adopting more user comprehensible version numbers, such as Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 [2]. While the Alliance will be certifying devices, there is nothing to force vendors to comply with the new branding [2].

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As vendors adapt their device software to the new naming convention, users should see a visual indication, such as those shown above, to indicate which type of Wi-fi network they are connected to [2].

References:

  1. Wi-Fi 6: What’s Different, and Why it Matters
  2. Wi-Fi is adopting a simplified naming scheme based on version numbers
  3. The next generation of wireless networking will be called WiFi 6
  4. The evolution of WiFi standards: a look at 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  5. 802.11: Wi-Fi speeds and standards explained
  6. The new version of Wi-Fi is called Wi-Fi 6 because rules don’t matter
  7. Wi-Fi 6 Will Arrive Next Year; Wi-Fi Versions To Get Simpler Names
  8. Wi-Fi versions to get names people can actually understand
  9. Newest WiFi Version Will Be Called WiFi 6
  10. Wi-Fi is adopting version numbers such as WiFi 6