Where have I been? What have i been doing?

Well it has been a while and what have I been up to that has slowed me down or put a temporary halt to the Mac 20 Q podcasts?

Before I started the Mac20Q podcast I ran a site which looked at trading or gambling methods, there are a lot of ways people try to make money out of trading on betting exchanges. I looked at these techniques that people promoted and gave an opinion as to whether I thought they would work and actually make some money, and that is what I have been doing during the last couple of months. Writing an eBook about a specific technique and taking a a method that was popular some years ago although flawed in the way that it was set up and improving on it to make it workable.

scrivenerlogo.pngI won’t go into it here to explain it but it is on my trading sites if you want to find out more. I have got to about 9000 words on the eBook so far and have been putting it together using Scrivener of course. The best thing about Scrivener is the way you break things into small parts and then juggle then into a coherent final work. At the end of that process I can publish out to ePub, kindle format or PDF right from Scrivener. If you have not bought Scrivener yet have a look on the site more information about it. I rate it really highly and use the button to buy. At only 45 dollars it is a bargain.

Writing an EBook about the Footy Money Maker

Apart from writing the book I have had to spend time using the formula to test it, and that of course takes time too. I have to say that it is a great shame that there are no really good applications for trading on the bet exchanges on a Mac unless you go virtually into Windows. I have found one application called Betdaq Assistant which does some of what a really good application like BetAngel does but it is not available for the most used Bet exchange Betfair and as the name says it works through Betdaq.

It is not a true Mac app in that it is a cross platform Adobe Air application. It has some limitations you would expect to find in an app that is not native. I can’t resize some windows of it that I would like to, to get the best out of the experience and it is limited in functionality – Would be great to have the financial grade charting that I could get in BetAngel if I was a Windows user.

I am going to stick to my guns though and keep to Mac only because that is what I am happiest using.

I have been learning Mac programming myself lately and in particularly iPhone programming and that also takes time from my podcasting efforts. Would be great if long term I could make a good application that will work natively on the Mac for the sports trading on the bet exchanges that is so sadly lacking now.

I did get to use another application on the Mac before, can’t remember what it was called but it was a Java based application. You would think it would be slow and unwieldy or ugly but it wasn’t

I was disappointed when the developer gave up on it. I actually quite liked it.

Learning iPhone Programming

Aaron Hillegas.jpgThe book I am following for the iPhone programming is the one from Big Nerd Ranch by Joe Conway and Aaron Hillegas. With it I have been able to make some applications that have worked on my iPhone and had a few light bulb moments on the way. Objective C is not that easy and there are some explanations of things that have done a few somersaults in my brain. I am working on the assumption is that if I persevere and keep going over the information in the book, numerous times that at some point in time it will start to make sense.

I would love to have the cash available to go on a BNR course like my friend Stefaan Lesage did. To be able to have an actual person in front or me to ask questions of would be excellent. There is tons of info on the Apple site for you to learn programming but I can tell you it is a really dry read, as it assumes a level of knowledge that is beyond the beginner.

For example in Xcode if you use Cmd Option Dlb clik on a name of a method it will open up the documentation for you to have everything right in front of you about that part of the code you were looking at. such as a class reference for example.

What else has been going on Mac wise here.

Art Text

I saw on the MacUpdate site that they have a bundle of 8 or 10 applications for sale for 50 dollars. Most of them I have or have applications that do the same thing. One that caught my eye though was Art Text. One of the things I like to do is to have nice looking headers and other graphics on my sites. I am fond of the letters that look a bit 3D. To that end I recently bought Pixelmator, well partly because it was half price too, so that I could make this type of image. There is a quartz composer filter that does the 3D sculpting of objects on a layer in a bitmap/ I got my hands on it from one of the main guys in the Pixelmator forum.

I love the way some of the filters work and the graphical way they are represented while being used in Pixelmator. They are Mac like, which means they look pretty at the same time as being very functional. There is a kind of wire or floppy cord metaphor which dangles from the filter controls to where the filter is having its effect on your artwork.

Well the thing is that despite all that mac loveliness in Pixelmator and the sexiness of Quartz composer filters I saw that the Art Text application does what I want but so much easier and more of a dedicated tool for working with text. To be honest the final result is also that much better because of the better control you have over the text. For instance there is a choice of flat edges rounded edges or concave edges. The rounded edges give you the pillow 3D button sort of look.

I like that I can use it to put as many outlines around the text as I want with full control over the width and colour of each of them. Also it does the drop shadows and the glow effects too. Nice and easy

All of that was nice but not enough for me to buy it because I could do what I wanted in Pixelmator but it just took a little longer – the main thing that took it a stage further and made it a no brainer to get was the ease of being able to take a section of the text and shape it which ever way you want and still have editable text to work with.

I can shape individual letters or apply shapes to the whole design and get a very sexy looking logo out of it. Brilliant! The application is a bitmap application but the editing of the text is more like it would work in a vector based application like Illustrator.

For the shaping of the text you go to the right side of the application and choose the Geometry tab. In there you have a few preset shapes you can use to stylise the shape of the text and then there are four different shaping modes where you take the nodes available to drag them around until you get the shape that you want.

You can use all of the symbols available in fonts in logos and do the layers with a multitude of blending modes to choose from.

In the Styles tab on the right hand side you have a choice of Buttons and icons or headings. There a number of styles that you can choose from and just go in to change the text to say what you want it to say in the headings or take a button style and add some text on top of it. All you have to do then is to export it out to png with the background set to transparent and you have something that you can have fit in perfectly with your web site or it could be used in an application you are programming in Xcode.

Another reason I got interested. iPhone apps have to look pretty too. I suppose most of the work in Art Text will happen in the effects tab, You choose the layer to work on and set the depth of the effect and direction of the light that is shining on the letters, shape or icon. This is where you can give it a stroke or outline a shadow or that glow.

With the shadow and the glow there are more settings such as the colour, the amount of blur, the distance and the angle of the shadow from the letters or object.

There are a large number preset effects to choose from to give plastic, glass, metal artistic and simple texture effects. Perhaps the gold or bronze effects are the ones that float your boat. Just choose it and then twiddle with the settings so that you have it just right. If you mess it up no worries just select your starting effect once more and you are ready to mess it up again.

One more thing- you can apply textures, there are a few included with Art text and what you can do is to duplicate the layer and duplicate the object in so doing then apply one of the effects then change the blend of the top layer to give you a 3D button with a texture or a pattern on it.

Of course with all of this artistic twiddlin and fiddlin you have to make some artistic and aesthetic decisions along the way to make some final art work that looks good and that no one will laugh at. At least with Art Text you have all the tools that you need to be able make something that will suit someones visual sensibilities even if it is only yours.

I like the application and give a Mac20Q thumbs up

Art Text is 49 dollars from BeLight Software and at the moment you can get it as part of the mac Update bundle.

 

I listen to other podcasts and one of them is the MacBreak Weekly despite that buffoon Leo who rudely talks over the top of everyone – I thought we would be in for a treat with Andy Ihnatko taking the reigns for the latest episode.

Trouble was that he tried to be Leo and succeeded and I have to say I prefer him to be an erudite guest that knows what he is talking about instead of a surrogate buffoon. Did it seem to you that it was more of a This week in Google than anything to do with Mac. Apple news is a bit thin at this time of the year.

Here is a workflow that I use that might be of help to other bloggers

It involves the use of Hazel, Skitch, iPhoto and Marsedit. I like to put images into blog posts and I will regularly capture them with skitch whci has just come out of beta. I was tempted to go pro for 14.95 a year but it does all I need in the basic free version.

What I need is to have these images easily accessible in Mars Edit my blogging software of choice. and this is how I do it. After capturing the image perhaps from a web page or from an application I will decide if the size is correct for the web pages. I could have the full size image go on the web page but to have html size if down but that is inefficient and makes web pages load slower

I then will use the drag me button, the button allows me to take the image in Skitch to where ever I want it. If it is too big I drag to the icon on the dock for Pixelmator

It seems to still be possible to crop the image in Skitch even though = from the menus it looks like it is a pro funcionality. In Pixelmator I can crop it and or resize it and then I save the png file to the desktop. If the picture is just as I want it in Skitch after the capture I will just name the image and drag directly to the desktop

You may think that David has a very messy desktop or spends forever cleaning up but that is not so

I have Hazel do the work for me

Noodlesoft_ Hazel.png

Hazel is a super little app that will watch a folder like the desktop in this case and apply some rules to keep it tidy. I have hazel set up to copy images to a new images folder in Pictures and also to add the image to iPhoto

Once I have it in iPhoto I then have access to the image in the media manager – there is a button on the top area of Marsedit

Mediamanager is also available in other Mac apps too

I like to have all the web pictures in one place and ready for action in iPhoto – very useful – otherwise the images would end up all over the place – Hazel is worth its weight in gold for keeping it all organised without me having to think any more about it once I have set it up

 

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