Navigate to picture – on your Mac!

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A while ago I wrote a post about how to navigate to a place a picture was taken on your iOS device. Today I wanted to do the same on my Mac using the Apple Maps app. As it turns out the way to get there isn’t too evident. Anyhow it is possible and here is how to do it.

This afternoon I got a message from a friend asking me about the location of a waterfall I visited four years ago in Austria. I remembered it was a very nice place, but I totally forgot about the name and where it was. What I knew was that I took a picture with my iPhone there, so I would be able to locate it 🙂

On my phone I only store a handful of photos, so I had to head to my Mac to find the one I had in mind. The picture was quickly found, but how to know how to get there?

The circuitous way

If you want to do it the hard way (for whatever reason), you can open the information window for a given picture (CMD-I), get the latitude and longitude from there and lookup the location at a suitable webpage (like http://www.latlong.net/Show-Latitude-Longitude.html).

The almost proper way

In the Mac Photos app you can find out where a picture was taken by clicking on the header line above a picture in the “Photos” view. Doing so will take you to a map view showing you a thumbnail version of the picture at the location it was taken. The problem is: No way to get directions to there nor a link to open the Maps app (at least I didn’t found any). Sure you could zoom in and try to identify the address, but this wouldn’t be the productivity.ninja way.

The right way

Here is how to do it the smart way. Open the given picture in the Preview app (choose “Open with” -> “Preview.app” in the context menu). Now open the Preview Inspector (“Tools” -> “Show Inspector” (or CMD-I)). On the tab labeled with the information icon (i) you will find a button “GPS”. Click on this guy and a summary about the location will be shown – together with a small map section. And on the bottom you have it: “Show in Maps” (yeah!)

Preview Inspector

Switch your Mac between showing or hiding hidden files the easy (and working) way

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Most of the time it is okay not to see the hidden files of your system. But sometimes you want to. Doing a short web search you will quickly find the solution:

  1. Open a terminal
  2. Change the variable which controls if hidden files are shown:
    “defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE”
  3. Restart Finder:

    “killall Finder”

While this certainly works, it is inconvenient and the next time you want to “toggle the switch” you will have to do a web search again because you will sure have forgotten the syntax.

Some people on the web came up with the idea to write a shell script to automate the process. This is a good approach and the solution I present here will build on that. However I found that many scripts I spot on the web were not working, so I coded my own one.

My solution is to run the script within an Automator action and to save the Automator workflow as an application. This way you can start the process as easy as starting your browser and if you have a shortcut application like me, you can even fire it up with a keyboard shortcut.

The whole assembling can be done as easy as 1-2-3 in three minutes:

  1. Open Automator and choose to create an application
  2. Drag a “Run Shell Script” action onto the workflow and paste in the script from below.
  3. Save the workflow

The Shell Script:

if [[ $(defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles) == TRUE ]] || [[ $(defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles) == "YES" ]] || [[ $(defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles) == "1" ]] ; then
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
else
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
fi
killall Finder

Automator: Toggle visibility of hidden files

Enjoy 🙂

Feeling weary? Maybe it’s your nutrition.

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As I wrote before, one of the preconditions to be productive is a good physical and mental fitness. If you feel powerless, you will have a hard time trying to achieve excellence.

Sure an important factor to feel wide awake is a sufficient amount of sleep. But have you ever thought about your food when you felt exhausted?
Recently I read a lot about the impact of our modern life eating habits to our bodies – and it’s not very pleasant…

I will not dive into it too deep (there is a lot of information out there already), but in short it can be said that our predominant consumption of meat, bread, pizza, pasta and sweet beverages will cause a permanent over-acidification (Acidosis) of our body.

The negative consequences connected with this are manifold. The most daunting ones for me are obesity, physical and mental weakness as well as bone resportion.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that! 🙂

Acid base calculator

With the Acid base calculator you can check the effect of more than 750 food products to your acid base balance. As a rule of thumb a healthy nutrition should consist of about 80% basic food (in general vegetables and fruits will help a lot).

More Information:
http://greenopedia.com/alkaline-diet-benefits/
http://www.balance-ph-diet.com/acidosis_symptom.html
http://www.balance-ph-diet.com/acid_alkaline_food_chart.html
http://www.saeure-basen-app.de/en/introduction/

App Store Acid base calculator iOS

Eliminating the last reasons to own a chunky printer

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The last time I wanted to print something out and I failed because my (almost never used “original”) ink cartridge was dried out, I decided to put my personal end to the unfortunate era of killing countless trees for paper, paying a fortune for ink and wasting space on my desk for a bulky printer.

Ask yourself: Do you really need this annoyance anymore? My last two use cases to print out stuff were 1.) To take booking confirmations for flights, rental cars, hotels, etc. with me and 2.) When I was asked to download, print, sign, scan and return some kind of form or contract.

With the former problem you often already get a PDF from your airline, rental car company, travel agency or whatever (if not one can convert every webpage, graphic, Word document, etc. into a PDF-file with the excellent app Power PDF Pro).
What I do today is to copy these into the Documents-App on my iPad. In there I always have them handy (even offline), in case somebody wants to take a look at them (But I found that most of the time I only need a passport since reservations are readily available on the point of check-in, what makes an useless print-out even more annoying.).

Problem number two can be solved using the Adobe Acrobat DC app. Don’t get scared by all the subscriptions which are offered as IAPs (In-App Purchases) – the feature I demonstrate here can be used free of charge.

So if you have to sign a document which is offered as a download, make sure it is a PDF (most of the time it will be – if not, convert it (see above)). Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat DC and execute a long tap onto the position you want to place your sign. A context menu will pop up which offers you to insert a signature.

Sign PDFs

If you are not comfortable with signing using your finger, styluses can be found inexpensive all over the Internet.

Once the document has your sign, you can return it – for instance by sending it via eMail (use “Share File”). Another tree saved! 🙂

App Store Adobe Acrobat DC

App Store Power PDF Pro

Let the Internet robots do the reading for you

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Last time I demonstrated how one can use Zapier to create a RSS feed from daily newsletter mails. Today I’m taking this “Webapp Automation” to the next step – I’m going to delegate the reading of the RSS feed as well 🙂

As I said before I want to be aware of bargain offers related to “Disneyland”. My approach last time was to define a keyword in my RSS reader and get notified through this application. For this to work you 1.) have to have a RSS reader application and 2.) it has to run permanently. The latter sure may increase your battery and internet usage which may not be desirable at times.

Today’s solution will neither stress your battery nor your internet traffic. In fact you don’t even need a RSS reader!

We’ll relocate the feed monitoring to another “Webapp Automation Service” – IFTTT (If This Than That). There we create a recipe with a “trigger” that takes a RSS feed as an input and fires if a new feed item with a given keyword shows up. As the action of the recipe we define an iOS notification. On “makeuseof.com” they have a great article about how to create IFTTT recipes (so I don’t go into that here).

notification

Got a notification! Checking it will lead one to the IF(TTT) application. From there the associated webpage can be opened in Safari. No RSS reader involved…

ifttt

Declutter your eMail inbox – move newsletters to RSS

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So I found this interesting travel deals website – www.ab-in-den-urlaub-deals.ch. From time to time they offer real good deals to go to Disneyland (Yaaay! Disneylaaand!). Sure I want to keep an eye on their offerings.

However – do I want to have my eMail inbox cluttered by their bloated bling-bling newsletter mails day after day? No way!

I want to have it in my RSS-reader. And I want to set a keyword to get a notification if there is a new offer for Disneyland (or maybe Kenya, or whatever).
Unfortunately the guys behind the website aren’t aware of the power of RSS and so they don’t seem to offer any RSS feed 😦

Self do, self have! Let’s fix their shortcoming…

For this intention the “Webapp Automation Service” Zapier offers (beside other cool stuff) a way to “transform” eMails into a RSS feed:
https://zapier.com/zapbook/email/rss/4104/create-rss-feed-from-email/

Within five minutes I managed to set up such a “Zap” (that’s how they call their “recipes”).

Zapier will provide you with a dedicated eMail address for the given Zap, which you can then use to register for the newsletter (Even though I decided to create an own mail address to forward to Zapier and registered that one with the deals page. So I can intercept the acknowledgment mail in case I want to unsubscribe from the service.).

That’s it. Only thing left to do is to add the feed URL (also provided by Zapier) to your RSS-reader.

From eMail to RSS

Let the system do the typing for you

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There are words, phrases and/or numbers you have to type into various forms and text fields over and over and over again. Like your eMail-address. Or your telephone number. Or whatever.

Doing that on a real keyboard is cumbersome, but having to do it on a small virtual keyboard is a pain. There’s got to be a better way! And there is.

The built-in solution

iOS has a built-in solution which already helps a lot: “Keyboard Shortcuts”. These should not be confused with the keyboard shortcuts to start up stuff. Admittedly I find the naming a little bit misleading – IMHO a better term would be “Abbreviations”.
However they can be found under [Settings -> General -> Keyboards -> Shortcuts].

On my system I created a shortcut “.em” for my eMail-Address, for my telephone number I defined “.tel” and suchlike. Every time I have to enter my eMail somewhere I just enter “.em” (check here to see how to speed up the typing of the dot (“.”) as well) and my iPhone offers me the desired input to be inserted. Nice.

Keyboard Shortcuts

As always Apple has created a comprehensive solution here and so all the shortcuts you create on your iPhone will also work on your Mac and vice versa, synchronized by iCloud.

BTW: Nobody stops you from getting creative here. How about to have an abbreviation to insert a sweet “.bear” ( ʅʕ•ᴥ•ʔʃ )?

More sophisticated solutions

There are times when you need more than just a static replacement. For example if you have to compose a daily eMail with a predefined subject. Let’s say it has to be:

“My very cool report for 03/19/2015” (where the date always has to be of today)

(Just as an example – you could also create an Automator workflow to prepare such an eMail.)

With applications like “TextExpander” or “TypeIt4Me” you can create abbreviations for this kind of “dynamic” phrases, too. Doesn’t have to be today’s date. Could also be yesterday’s date or whatever you want to have inserted. I set up “.lm” for “last month” (-> “02/2015”), “.tm” for “this month” (-> “03/2015”) and “.nm” for “next month” (-> “04/2015”) because I often use these in my financial management app.

You can even define complete text blocks including pictures to be pasted. Comes in handy when you do live demos. The audience will be amazed how fast you can create extensive documents!

Happy (virtual) keystroke saving! 🙂

App Store
TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard (iOS)
Mac App Store
TypeIt4Me (Mac OS)

RSS – a second appeal

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Despite the huge amount of love I put into my last post about the advantages of RSS, I had to find out that a good friend of mine still reads his IT-news on cluttered, ad-overloaded webpages.

His argument: The RSS-reader he tried once showed him only two lines of information in the overview and when he wanted to read more, it started to load the whole webpage. The latter turned out to be very slow, so he was faster to go to the webpage in the first place.

My answer: Bad RSS-reader! A good RSS-reader preloads a certain portion of the article to be accessible at the snap (swipe) of a finger. Take a look at this:

newsbar

Admittedly in many cases the two lines of text in the list view aren’t enough to decide if an article is worth a reading. But with this kind of preview you are surely able to estimate.
I found out that in 90% of the cases I do not need to load the webpage. Either I already read enough or found the article not to be interesting.
And with the 10% of the news at which I want to read even more – well, that’s worth the three second wait.

I’ve already wrote a lot about the advantages of reading news via RSS last time, so I’m not going to repeat them here. There’s only “one more thing” I didn’t mention before: Getting Push-notifications for news that match a keyword you defined (can be activated in the application settings).

Why is this a power-feature? Imagine this: You have a web-account with a given hosting-provider (let’s say WebFaction) and this provider offers you status informations via RSS-Feed (like http://statusblog.webfaction.com/feed/). What you can do now is to define a keyword that matches your hostname (like “web007”) and whenever there is a status info for this host, you will receive a notification on your phone (so if necessary you can take appropriate steps) 🙂

Newsbar iOS version

Newsbar Mac version

Navigate to picture

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One of my favorite productivity apps isn’t an actual productivity app. But it saves me a lot of time and even money. It’s my navigation app Sygic (Europe).

I would even say the money I paid for this application was the best spent money I ever invested in a mobile app. For the price of 29 bucks (got it on a sale – like it is again at the moment) I got offline maps of whole Europe (by TomTom), which you get free updates for (elsewhere you have to pay pricey subscriptions for this).

The app has a nice user interface and a ton of useful features. Personally I like the lane assistant and the traffic circle drawing which previews the correct angle where to leave the circle (maybe nowadays this is normal navigation system stuff – my hardware TomTom is like 10 years old…). And it warns me of these perfidious highwayman devices reminds me to drive responsible where advisable (certainly I only activate this features where not permitted by law!).

The accuracy of the precalculated arrival time is amazing. I once drove about 650 km and it predicted the journey time with a deviation of only 5 minutes!

Anyhow the most important thing is its reliability. I’ve used it a lot and it never let me down; not even in Spain or Turkey where I first had some doubts about the exactness of the map material.

But all of this praise (BTW consented by all the Sygic-users I know of) isn’t the reason for my todays post. The cause which brought me to throw some light on the app is a cool new feature I stumbled upon while activating my new ViewExif app (also a very cool tool!) in my photo settings: The “navigate to picture” feature:

IMG_1685

I totally love this new functionality! Imagine this: After a weekend trip on which you just cruised around aimlessly, you totally forgot the exact route you were taking. But along the way there was this wonderful view / building / restaurant / you-name-it (sure you took a photo of this place). How to get to this place again? Open the photo, hit the share-button, choose Sygic and there is your route to this amazing location!

(Sure you could also find out the position information from the picture’s Exif data and enter it into your navigation app manually, but this way it’s sooo much cooler 😉 ).

App Store Sygic Europe on the App Store