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#964: Rivalries; Customize Terminal; Helpful Tips


Hello Fellow Technophiles,

Since our last issue of Tech Tails the most important day of the year has come and gone: Rogue One release day! Despite my picture to the left, I am a huge Star Wars fan and have already seen the new film twice with more theater viewings likely. People have often described, perhaps inflated, the rivalry between fans of the big two science fiction franchises, but like a good Vulcan I say that celebrating infinite diversity in infinite combinations is a more desirable state of mind.

In our tech world, the big rivalry is between Microsoft and Apple. But I am here to tell you that these two worlds are more intertwined and compatible than you might think. Heck, Microsoft even bailed out a struggling Apple company in 1997 by purchasing $150 million in stock and agreeing to support Office for Mac for 5 years (and it is still available today!).

Some other examples are that Macs can connect to PC servers and vice-versa, you can run Windows on a Mac either virtually via Parallels or natively using Boot Camp, and many file types (such as .jpg, .mp3, .pdf, .txt, and many more!) are supported on both systems.

While we are mainly focused on Apple products, our technical team can assist you with cross-platform integration and troubleshooting. Email me or anytime for advice or to book one of our consultants.

Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!


  From the Archives: Terminal Tricks  

Originally Published in April 2011

Are you a command line junky? Or just a command line aficionado that would like to spiff up your terminal windows? If so, wonderful—you, my friend, should most definitely read on. In Mac OS X, the Terminal application provides the user with a multitude of customizable items.

To start, in Terminal Preferences, under the Settings tab, you have several preconfigured window settings from the classic “Pro” theme to “Red Sands” to the colorful “Grass” theme. Within each of these themes is the ability to customize several things such as Window and login Shell. Or, you can create your own theme.

For instance, you can change not only the color of your Terminal window text and cursor but also its opacity. This may seem like a minute adjustment that only affects the aesthetics of your interface, but these can come in very handy. For example, a semi-translucent window will allow you to see behind it, which is helpful if you want to ping an address you can’t remember and can’t copy.

You can also save window groups in different colors, sizes or different locations on the screen. This is a handy feature if you tend to run several commands simultaneously, usually in conjunction with each other. It’s very helpful if you want to use dscl to query a users network account info and then ping the users host server in another window. This is a common network account troubleshooting tactic, useful for resolving network home folder issues.

Here’s another primarily aesthetic adjustment for the more advanced Terminal user. (Note: If you are not entirely comfortable with the command line, I suggest that you DO NOT attempt this.) Your default command prompt displays the name of your computer followed by your user name. This command prompt can be edited as well. To do this you will first want to create your profile (.profile from the Terminal window) with your favorite text editor. I prefer vi, but you can use pico, nano or any other if you prefer.

Please note that the creation of the .profile file is designed to retain your settings for the next session. If you enter any of these commands as is they will invoke the same response, but will not be retained once you close the window. So if you would like to play around with the settings without keeping them permanently, just enter them directly from the command prompt.

Now enter in the following command

export PS1=” “

This is the basic command that tells the Terminal what to show before the command prompt. What you would like to see for you customization can be added between the quotes. Aside from whatever unique word or phrase such as “Hello World” you can add in special characters that will invoke the following responses.

\d — Current date
\t — Current time
\h — Host name
\# — Command number
\u — User name
\W — Current working directory (e.g.: Desktop/)
\w — Current working directory, full path (e.g.: /Users/Smalldog/Desktop)

For example, if I typed in:

export PS1=“Hello World! \w \u :”

Logged in as smalldog with my Desktop folder as my working directory, my command prompt would appear as follows:

Hello World! ~/Desktop small dog :

There are many more customizations that can be done, but for now I will leave you with the Hello World! prompt. Happy modding!

  Quick Tips!  

One of the best parts of my job is how excited I still get when I learn about something new I can do with my devices. I am constantly learning and finding out about new things that I can do or as often is the case, an old tip I’ve forgotten about. Here are three favorites!

Read Song Lyrics in iTunes

How many times have you found yourself singing along to a song and just start to hum through the part you don’t know? Better yet, how many times have you had a friendly argument over what the lyrics really are in a song? Most of us know that you can simply Google the lyrics, but did you know you can get these answers right from iTunes? If you’re running iTunes 12.5 and using Apple Music you can instantly get song lyrics. You can check to see if what you just heard was what you sang by clicking the lyrics button in either the” up next” popover or the mini player window. I will say it doesn’t work for every artist. In my playing around with this feature it worked for most artists. This article took me down memory road for some forgotten artists. Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus album was a favorite of mine in high school. The album is in Apple Music but, alas, not the lyrics.

Copy Phone Numbers From Incoming Calls

I’ve been adding contacts to Contacts from incoming text messages or even via digital address cards, but did you know you can also copy numbers via your incoming call log? This is handy if you need to redial a phone number or share it but you don’t want to keep it on file in your phone. In the phone app’s recent screen, there is a hidden workaround that lets you copy the number. Tap the ‘i’ button (it’s typically blue with a circle around it) next to the call, then press and hold the number for a second or two until the copy button appears. Tap copy and you can then paste that number into Mail, Messages, Notes etc. To paste: tap where you want the number to go and then the paste option will appear.

Take Screenshots

If you experience something weird on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you might find you’re in a situation where you need to record what’s on your screen. There are two quick ways to do this: press command-shift-3 to take a screenshot of your entire screen or command-shift-4 to select a specific area you wish to take a screenshot of. The image will go to your Desktop. On an iPhone or iPad, press the Home and sleep/wake buttons at the same time. Your image will go to your camera roll in the Photos app. On your Apple Watch, press the digital crown and side button simultaneously.


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