Testing New Tools for Doing Good Work

Archive for the ‘Mac Desktop’ Category

Mac: Convert MTS for iMovie, Final Cut, or Other Editors

In Mac Desktop, Video on 09/27/2012 at 1:18 pm

What’s an MTS and why would I need to convert it? What is this window with the arrow, and what is “Drag Media”?

Nice, clean interface. Easy.

MTS is the video file format for most consumer HD camcorders (total nerd info dump on this at Wikipedia). You likely have never even seen the MTS files on your HD camcorder if you’re used to transferring directly from your camera from within your video editing application on your Mac.

But if you’ve copied from the camera to your computer without going through your video editing app, then you’ll have orphaned MTS files that most video editors won’t play with. You’ve likely tried going to File > Import and navigating to where you’ve saved them, but they won’t import. You make a sad face.

I have found and tested a tool that does it: Media Converter.

Download the file, unzip it, and put it in the Applications folder.

You’ll need to add the Re-wrap AVCHD for Quicktime – uncompressed Audio preset from Media Converter’s Presets page as well.

Once it’s downloaded and unzipped, to add it to the list of available presets, go to the Preferences in Media Converter and click the Presets tab and then the + button at the bottom of the list.

This will allow you to drag and drop your mts files and have them convert to the format you want and save in the directory you want – you can choose default settings in the Preferences.

Again, to import without this conversion rigamarole, it’s essential to keep the mts video files on the camera or card in exactly the file/directory structure on the card. You can’t just copy the folders to your computer.

There’s a fiddly alternative, but you need to be comfortable with disk image files on Mac OS X. You can make a disk image (.dmg) file of the media cards from your video camera. This completely replicates the file structure, and iMovie/FCP can import from that. Macworld has a good clear article explaining how. Note though that the recommendations in the last couple of paragraphs are superseded by Media Converter. Which is good news for all – except the developers of the $40 and $50 conversion apps.

Leave a comment if any of this isn’t clear.


Installing Mountain Lion: What you need to know, from Macworld

In Mac Desktop on 07/30/2012 at 10:08 am

Mountain Lion image courtesy AppleDan Frakes of Macworld with excellent advice:

Before Lion (OS X 10.7) debuted last year, installing the latest major version of Mac OS X meant buying a disc and slipping it into your Mac’s optical drive. But Lion changed all that by making OS X available for direct download. OS X 10.8—better known as Mountain Lion—inherits Lion’s distribution method. More specifically, it’s available only as a download from Apple’s Mac App Store. This makes it easier and more convenient to upgrade your OS than having to buy and use a DVD or thumb drive, but it also raises a number of questions, and it presents upgrade obstacles for some users. As I did last year with Lion, I’ve compiled this guide to getting and installing Apple’s latest OS.

Read the full story: Installing Mountain Lion: What you need to know | Macworld.

How to create read-only PDFs in OS X | Macworld

In Mac Desktop, Teaching on 07/16/2012 at 9:54 am

Lock PDF files in OS X
How to create read-only PDFs in OS X | Macworld.

Macworld, in a quick video, explains how to make your PDFs secure with the built-in tools in OS X’s Print dialog box. If you can print it, you can make an uneditable, even an unprintable PDF right from your desktop. Think of the uses….

Icon images courtesy Dermalog (PDF icon) and IconArchive (lock icon).

OS X Daily: 14 Must-Know Tips & Tricks for Mac OS X

In Mac Desktop on 06/11/2012 at 10:18 am

image courtesy OS X Daily14 Must-Know Tips & Tricks for Mac OS X.

These are hugely helpful and will save you time like you wouldn’t believe. Take a few minutes to practice some of these. A tiny investment of time now will reward you with efficiency later.

Bootable OS X Lion Installer Explained

In Administration, Mac Desktop on 05/09/2012 at 11:17 am

Lion DiskMaker Icon

What is a “bootable Lion installer” and why would I want one? Macworld’s Dan Frakes explains:

Unlike previous versions of Mac OS X, Lion (OS X 10.7) doesn’t ship on a bootable disc—it’s available only as an installer app downloadable from the Mac App Store, and that installer doesn’t require a bootable installation disc. Indeed, this lack of physical media is perhaps the biggest complaint about Lion’s App Store-only distribution, as there are a good number of reasons you might want a bootable Lion installer, whether it be a DVD, a thumb drive, or an external hard drive.

For example, if you want to install Lion on multiple Macs, a bootable installer drive can be more convenient than downloading or copying the entire Lion installer to each computer. Also, if your Mac is experiencing problems, a bootable installer drive makes a handy emergency disk. (Lion features a new recovery mode (also called Lion Recovery), but not all installations of Lion get it—and if your Mac’s drive is itself having trouble, recovery mode may not even be available. Also, if you need to reinstall Lion, recovery mode requires you to download the entire 4GB Lion installer again.) Finally, a bootable installer drive makes it easier to install Lion over Leopard (assuming you have the license to do so).

That newer article delves into some nerd-specific steps, but today Macworld posted an article, Lion DiskMaker makes it easier to create a bootable Lion installer, that seems easier. If this is still challenging nErdSPeAk to you, then check with your department or college’s tech support people, and show them this link!

Automator workflow of the month: Convert PowerPoint to Keynote | Macworld

In Keynote, Mac Desktop, PowerPoint, Presenting on 04/30/2012 at 2:31 pm

PowerPoint to Keynote via Automator

Automator makes it easy to convert PowerPoint presentations to Keynote, even in batches

Automator workflow of the month: Convert PowerPoint to Keynote | Macworld.

“What’s Automator? What’s a workflow? I have PowerPoint on my Mac, why do this whole nerd-looking thing?”

Good questions. Learning this will make you more comfortable on your Mac, especially if you’re a recent switcher from Windows. Automator lets you set up processes, called workflows, that can make repetitive desktop operations easy. You can save a workflow as a drag-and-drop application: drop a bunch of PPT files on it and – boom – you’ve got your converted Keynote files, ready to go.

Note that not all conversions will be smooth; there are troubleshooting tips in this post, and here are some bonus links: the time-saving, and sometimes it feels like life-saving PowerPoint FAQ; the Office for Mac Help FAQ for PowerPoint; and some very good Keynote tips from Dave Taylor.

How to Format a Drive for Mac and PC Compatibility with a Gotcha

In Mac Desktop on 04/26/2012 at 1:55 pm

Mac and Windows can get along

Format your drives to work on Macs and Windows

OS X Daily offers a steady stream of news and useful tips users of Apple devices and apps. Sometimes they’re a little nerdy, but sometimes that’s just what you need, as in this case: a dead-easy how-to guide to formatting a USB drive (or USB key or flash drive or thumb drive or whatever you may call it) for use on both a Mac and a PC.

Be ready though: if you use such a drive on a Mac and then access its files from a PC, you may think you’re seeing your files twice. A file named file.txt will appear again as ._file.txt. Note the dot-underscore “._” at the beginning: the period “.” and underscore “_” at the start of the file name. That little file contains the Mac system’s reference information about the file.

Those infamous “dot-underscore” files are invisible on the Mac. Any file name that begins with a period (“dot”) is obscured on the Mac’s desktop, but they will show up when you look at the disk containing those files on your PC. You can delete them with no problem, but make sure you know which you’re looking at, and don’t get mixed up.

ESPI at work: The power of Keynote | Edenspiekermann

In Mac Desktop, Presenting, Teaching on 03/28/2012 at 9:45 am

The power of Keynote for more than presentations

You probably don’t think of yourself as a designer. You may think of yourself as a teacher or professor or an administrator, or perhaps some combination of those. Think about it though: if you ever use PowerPoint, or Word Art, or if you create anything else that requires visual elements that are more than plain text, that makes you, in that role at that moment, a designer. You are a designer. So, Designer Person, how would you like a tool set that makes that easier and more intuitive and so so much better looking?

I thought so.

If you’ve switched to using a Mac, you have access to that tool set in Keynote. The post I link to here is written by a web designer who describes his switch from the complexity of Photoshop and the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite to the relative ease of Keynote for many kinds of design work, from layouts and graphics for presentations to interfaces for desktop and mobile apps. Keynote makes better use of imported and embedded objects and can output or export to more formats that are more useful in more situations. And if all you do want to do is make presentations, after your initial moving-from-PowerPoint adjustment period, you will slap your own face at how great your work has become. Read this post and take a long look at Keynote. You’ll be glad.

ESPI at work: The power of Keynote | Edenspiekermann.

Via Daring Fireball.

Salt Lake Tribune: Seminar on Accessibility with Apple Devices

In iPad, Mac Desktop, Special Education on 03/26/2012 at 10:14 am

Apple builds in accessibility on so many levels. Image courtesy Apple Inc.

The The Salt Lake Tribune covered a seminar on accessibility on Apple devices. Did you know your Mac or your iDevice can read its screen to you? Zoom in so even very visually impaired people can take and edit photographs? Read on:

At Salt Lake seminar, visually impaired learn how high tech can unleash creativity

In this day and age, creativity — verbal, written and visual — often comes with the aid of computer technology and, once achieved, that creation is shared and spread through social media.

Perez’s presentation focused on accessibility features on computers and iPhone, iTouch and iPad devices from Apple. Perez does not work for Apple, but his efforts to share his knowledge of the accessibility features and associated applications earned him the title of Apple Distinguished Educator.

Via Heng-Cheong Leong’s My Apple Menu.

iBooks 2—much more than meets the eye? | Tapity

In Mac Desktop, Strategy, Teaching on 03/23/2012 at 1:41 pm

iBooks Author

App developer Tapity posted this on their blog a few days ago. Tapity developed the Grades 2 iPhone app, which “shows students what they need to score on their upcoming assignments, tests, and finals in order to get the grade they want” and which earned Tapity an Apple Design Award last year.

Here Tapity thinks aloud about what the iBooks Author app means outside the world of textbooks. Thoughtful:

iBooks can compete with all published books, and anyone can be an author and a publisher at virtually no cost. Whoah. No publisher in between author and customer. Whoah. Did you get that?

In our view, iBooks 2 + iBooks Author + iBookstore = a new Wild West of publishing. And not only that, with interactive widgets, iBooks can also be a much less expensive way to create certain kinds of iPad applications, particularly ones that are primarily about presenting content. And not only that, iBooks could become a platform for publishing all kinds of other highly-interactive crazy stuff, from fancy ads to annual reports to digital album extras to college course catalogs to user’s manuals to movie promos to…you get the idea.

I can see students doing reports, even theses and dissertations (eventually), with this tool. I can also see this as a viable presentation software. Oh Apple, what don’t you disrupt?

via Shawn Blanc.