How To Edit Fonts For Fun, Profit, And Art

Way back in the day, during another life, in the days when Apple was a fledgling company that produced the LaserWriter printer, I dreamed of designing fonts for the masses. The tool of choice back then was Fontographer which Mac designers used to turn bit-mapped fonts into beautiful works of artistic fonts.

As it turned out, Fontographer was a great tool for those with patience and artistic ability and a more youthful me had less of both. Then along came TypeStyler, the Mac app which took any font and manipulated words, stylized letters, and constructed text logos with little more than point and click. It was, for those in the last century and users of Mac Classic OS, the de facto way to turn text into art.

TypeStyler came upon hard times during the early days of OS X and seemingly vanished from planet earth. A few years ago it returned, better than ever, and more affordable. What you see is what you get. Letters and words turn into art with just a few clicks.

TypeStyler

As if not wanting to ruin a good thing by improving the look and feel, TypeStyler today looks and works much like the original from back in the day. Toolbar across the top highlights basic functions, while floating palettes of tools and preferences for each can be moved around on the Mac’s screen.

TypeStyler takes pretty much whatever font or graphic shape you throw at it, and turns it into art; grunge effects, gradient fills, strokes, color combinations of each element, even 3D-like graphics. TypeStyler doesn’t care much about what size you want your creation to be. Choose stamp size or poster size. Also built-in are commercial quality packaging prototypes, a 3D visualizer (think spheres, cones, disks, planes, cylinders, et al), and the whole shebang works well and plays nice-nice with Photoshop, Illustrator, Apple’s Keynote, and other Mac graphic design tools.

The package of font and shape tools makes TypeStyler an easy way to create posters, logos, advertisements, video titles, brochures or tracts, catalogs, newsletters and anything else that need a stylistically designed combo of text and shapes.

While TypeStyler was hibernating many Mac designers flocked to Art Text which remains a popular choice for font and text manipulation; which works much the same way but costs half as much.

Shoddy Reporting

Rene Ritchie busts the attention grabbing headline that Apple’s OS X and iOS have more security vulnerabilities than other popular computer operating systems.

The relative security of a platform has nothing to do with how well a company reports the vulnerabilities they fix — though seeing good reporting is certainly comforting. The relative security of a platform certainly has nothing to do with grossly distorted and disingenuous attention-bait.

In other words, don’t worry. For OS X and iOS users, there are more threats to your security from the government, your family, your neighbor, or co-worker than from a list of so-called ‘vulnerabilities.’

Tesla’s Elon Musk Hates This Toyota

It’s quite likely that Drew Harwell is drawing on his imagination rather than asking Tesla CEO Elon Musk what he thinks about Toyota’s new hydrogen powered car, but it’s the future so anything goes, right?

Toyota this week officially rolled out what it’s betting will mark “a turning point” in automotive history — a sleek, affordable, eco-friendly “future” car that can drive for 300 miles, takes less than five minutes to charge and comes with three years of free fuel.

It’s everything haters of gas-guzzling car culture could love. And the biggest name in electric cars hates it.

Harwell is talking about Toyota’s Mirai (means ‘future’ in Japanese), a mass market car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, so it’s even more green than electric cars, which is probably why Musk hates it, though hate is such a strong word. Musk actually said this:

If you’re going to pick an energy source mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick. The best-case hydrogen fuel cell doesn’t win against the current-case batteries. It doesn’t make sense, and that will become apparent in the next few years.

Musk isn’t so much on ‘hate‘ as he is on ‘dumb‘ which changes the meaning a bit. So, why is it a dumb idea? And, why do we have to wait a few years to figure that out?

Muslims Predict Jesus Will Defeat ISIS, Beginning in 2015

Good grief. Where do these things come from? Dr. David Liepert:

One way or another the end of ISIS is in sight, and it’s all resting securely in the hands of Jesus, peace be upon him.

Uh, OK. How’s that again?

Mainstream orthodox Muslim websites are already predicting Jesus’ return as early as 2022, starting an Islamic prophetic clock set to run over the next 7 years, in the purportedly rapidly approaching run-up to Armageddon.

Somehow I missed that even though I’m known to watch CNN.

Even though ISIS claims they’re fighting on the side of the angels, it’s obvious they’re not, and it should become progressively clearer to even the most misguided Jihadi that either ISIS is wrong about Armageddon or that they’re on the wrong side, because of all the things Muslims know are supposed to happen.

Oh, boy. I see a mini-series in the making. Maybe it will be limited to Netflix. What about Jesus?

Even though Muslims and Christians disagree about what he is, with Christians claiming he’s God and Muslims declaring he’s not, everybody agrees about what sort of a person he was, is and will be: a man who fulfilled the Jewish Covenant and taught benevolent compassion to his followers, his example remaining a source of hope and inspiration to all humankind for the rest of time.

Sigh.

If You Take Photos Seriously You Need This Mac App

As a photographer, Mac user, and app reviewer I try not to review the same apps too often, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. If you take photos and store them on your Mac you will love using Snapheal. There are a number of apps that help to remove unwanted objects in a photo and they range from nearly free to Photoshop’s monthly rental fee, but none do the deed quite as easily and effectively as Snapheal.

Start with an otherwise decent photograph that happens to have a few objects visible in the photo that you’d rather not see. Trees, telephone poles, people, pimples, or whatever. Snapheal’s simple tools make it a pleasure to delete objects you’d rather not see in the photo.

Here’s a perfect example.

Snapheal

Snapheal comes with a few additional features for color correction and photo enhancement but the claim to fame is ‘healing’ a photo by removing objects or imperfections you don’t want in the photo.

Pimples are easy. Simply dot the offending blemish with the Snapheal tool. The tool ‘reads’ the area around the pimple, then fills in the blemish hole with skin texture and tone that matches the surrounding area. The same goes for poles, trees, wires, lines, even people. Objects are erased, but the gap is filled into by calculating the texture and color of the nearby portion of the photo; think of it as spot healing.

Snapheal comes in two versions; vanilla which should be used mostly for quick photo enhancements and removal of unwanted objects, and Pro which is faster and has more precise healing, but also works as a plugin to Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture (for as long as it lasts). The developer makes a try-before-you-buy version, but that requires an email address and you will be bombarded with offers forever and ever.

High Tech Karma

Chris Matyszczyk:

One man got on the subway train last Monday morning and wasn’t in the mood for politeness or pleasantries. As another man stood in his way, he shoved him and, so that there was no doubt as to his intent, told him to “Go f*** yourself.”

It happens. We’ve all see it happen. This is what happened next.

Perhaps the curser thought nothing more of it. He went about his day. He even had a job interview later in the afternoon.

He walked in and, within seconds, began to curse himself. For his interviewer turned out to be the very man he’d cursed at on the subway.

Some call it Karma, some call it ‘What goes around, comes around.’ Or, just desserts. He didn’t get the job.

Should You Turn Your Computer Off At Night?

It’s an age old question answered by experts who still do not agree. Simon Hill:

The idea that you should avoid turning your computer off at night is pretty popular: After all, frequent shutdowns and start ups are going to have an impact on the components and wear them out faster. Aren’t they? On the other hand, you’d imagine having your computer running all the time is going to contribute to wear and tear as well, wouldn’t you?

So, it the end, it depends. If you use it all day, don’t turn it off for brief periods. If you use it for a few hours only, turn it off.

The 10 Most Expensive Cars You Can Own

There must be a reason we’re attracted to lists of vehicles most of us will never see, let alone drive, let alone own. It takes a few clicks to get through Exotic Whips list of expensive cars, #10 starts at $445,000.

If you happen to have a TON of cash sitting around collecting dust, this is going to be a great guide on how to spend that cash quickly! However, if you’re the typical gear head and you love checking out ridiculous cars, you’re who this is meant for! These are the current most expensive rides you can buy. This has been a pretty amazing year for super cars. We were introduced to the LaFerrari, Porsche 918, and McLaren P1…all of which made our list of most expensive cars, go figure

Spoiler Alert!

  • Lamborghini Aventador Roadster – $445,000
  • Rolls-Royce Phanton Extended -$550,000
  • Porsche 918 Spyder – $850,000
  • 2013 Henneyssey Venom GT – $1,000,000
  • 2014 McLaren P1 – $1,150,000
  • 2013 Pagani Huayra – $1,500,000
  • 2013 Koenigsegg Agera R – $1,700,000
  • 2014  Ferrari LaFerrari – $1,700,000
  • 2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse – $2.25-million
  • 2014 Lamborghnini Veneno – $4-million

What $4-million gets you.

Lamborghini Veneno

I prefer red.

Free: Cosmic Brush Is The Coolest New Mac Paint Tool

Photoshop competitors have come out of the woodwork in recent years, starting with Pixelmator and more recently Affinity’s new Photo app. In between are a few hundred photo enhancement, paint, and drawing apps which fill specific needs, but at a much lower price point than Adobe’s Create Cloud’s monthly rental fee.

The latest to hit my Mac’s screen is Cosmic Brush. I’m not sure if it’s merely a colorful way to doodle over a photo or create a radiant piece of neon art, but the results speak for themselves.

The first screen shot image has ‘doodle’ written all over it.

Cosmic Brush

Cosmic Brush brings multiple tools and options to fullscreen mode, including layers, color sets, undo and redo, and the all important customizable color palettes. Keyboard shortcuts make it easy to navigate through and around an image, matched with trackpad gestures.

Unique to Cosmic Brush and obviously resembling the name are the brushes; 3D-Shaded Brush, Plasma Chain Brush, Translucent Brush, Halo Brush and others. Yes, there’s even a built-in eraser because, well, you know; trial and error is your friend.

Cosmic Brush can be downloaded and used free from the Mac App Store, so you can get an idea of how it works. To remove the advertising and add more tools, including more layers, and multiple paper color options, the pro version will set you back a few dollars.

Cosmic Brush

I can see how the effects generated by Cosmic Brush, even in the free version, could be useful. They’re cool and colorful but altogether limiting. Every example given indicates Cosmic Brush could just as easily be renamed Neon Brush.

Apple Car: ‘Hairball’

From Dan Akerson, former CEO of General Motors on Apple building a car.

I think somebody is kind of trying to cough up a hairball here. If I were an Apple shareholder, I wouldn’t be very happy. I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business… A lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate… They’d better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing… We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that.

Of course, Apple didn’t know diddly squat about the smartphone business before taking away the industry’s profits.

7 Surprising Facts About Cannibalism

I can’t be the only one disturbed by the fact that someone tracks these kinds of facts. Phil Edwards explains:

Historians and anthropologists, however, have tried to study the history and science of cannibalism over the years: why it happens, when it occurs, and who’s affected. It tests the ultimate boundaries of cultural relativism, health, and ritual. Though this list isn’t at all comprehensive, it catalogs some of the unusual things about cannibalism you might have missed.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Humans are mostly hard-wired against cannibalism — but not always
  • Animals are mostly hard-wired against cannibalism — but not always
  • “Cannibalism” was named after people who might not have been cannibals
  • Cannibalistic rituals could be surprisingly complex
  • Cannibalism was practiced in colonial America
  • The Donner party wasn’t solely about cannibalism
  • Cannibalism was sometimes used as a medical treatment

Apple Car Is Fantasy

Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée on the potential for an Apple car.

Apple has made a commitment to better in-car systems, not in and for themselves in isolation, but as a reinforcement of the iOS ecosystem. If the large number of engineers that they’ve “poached” from Tesla seems a bit much, consider again the enormous size of iPhone (and iPad) revenue for this past quarter: $60B – compared to GM’s $40B for the same period. To Apple, anything that helps the iOS ecosystem is well worth what looks like oversized investments to outsiders.

So, it’s Apple wanting to put iOS into every car on planet earth vs. making one with an Apple logo. Do you want one?

An Apple car feels good: design, quality, service, trust. A winner. I’ll buy two. It’ll work because it’d be really great if it did… but a small matter of implementation – actually the larger Moore’s Law intrudes.

The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy.

But what a great fantasy to ruminate over for a few years? Just like we’ve done with an Apple-branded TV. My only question is, “Where is Gene Munster on this rumor?

How To Control Sound Volume Level On Each Mac App

My Macs are home to more audio recording, editing, and mixing apps than celebrities have gaffes and scandals. The latest is SoundBunny. This remarkable little app does something that Apple should put into OS X. Individual audio controls for each Mac app that uses sound.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this image of the SoundBunny control panel tells you everything you need to know.

SoundBunny Controls

What you see are the apps in OS X which use sound. SoundBunny gives you an individual volume control for each one. Set iTunes to be loud or soft. Set Mail’s incoming email notification sound to a lower volume, or mute the sound entirely.

You get the idea. Each app that uses sound can be individually controlled for volume or mute. This functionality has purpose. Set the volume on Mail so it’s nice and loud and drowns out iTunes if you’re expecting important email to arrive.

Adjusting the audio controls is equally simple. Drag the control knob to the left to reduce the volume. Drag it back to the right to increase the volume. Click the sound button on the right of each slider control to toggle sound on or off.

SoundBunny does require a restart once you’ve installed the app. What’s missing? I would dearly love to see a few sound enhancement functions for each app’s sound, and perhaps an equalizer feature, but those are minor requests. Otherwise, SoundBunny is sufficiently useful and so totally obvious that Apple should put similar controls in OS X Yosemite already.

Be Your Own ‘Genius’

This one is easier said than done but can work well if your Mac, iPhone, or iPad is having troubles not quickly solved. Joe Caiati was an Apple Genius and gives good advice for Mac users.

No one likes visiting the Genius Bar.

If you are going there it’s because something is wrong with your Apple product and depending on the time of day, you could be waiting for a while to see a Genius. Some wait all of that time just to ask a simple question, but others may need a repair and can be without their Mac for a couple of days or more.

The list is useful but probably not aimed at the average Mac user who does not understand Plist files and whose eyes glaze over when opening Activity Monitor.

Ex-Flight Attendant’s Top 10 Airline Etiquette Tips

My favorite flight is from Honolulu to Maui. 10 minutes up, 10 minutes down; barely enough time to open the in-flight magazine or drink the guava juice. Sid Lipsey created a list of flying tips from flight attendants. Some are obvious, others not so much.

Being late to the airport, getting stuck in a long security line, being told your bag’s too heavy to carry on — these are all preventable mistakes that can lead to great stress, which, as we all know, is a recipe for inconsiderate behavior. So step one for being a courteous flier is to not make any unforced flying errors: Prepare for your flight.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Don’t pack what you can’t lift
  • Help others with their bags
  • Check behind before recline
  • Know the armrest rules (aisle and window seats get one, middle seat gets two)
  • Be respectful of others (no loud music or stinky food)
  • Be polite to noisy, talkative seatmate
  • Those in front should get off first
  • Hold your tongue (no sense in having two people be rude)
  • Be a good parent (or, just never travel with kids)

10 Old Cars On The Way To Becoming Classics

These lists are always subjective but this one is a good way to see if you happen to have an oldie that can also be a goodie. From Autos runs through page after page of Porsche, Lamborghini, Jaguar, before getting to a true classic:

In a sure sign of the collector car generational shift, Bandit-era Pontiac Trans Ams, which could be had all day long for under 10 grand five years ago, are now easier to sell than 1964 GTOs. Great 1976-79 Trans Ams (in black with the screaming chicken hood decal) are among the hottest collector cars in America right now.

How To Rip Colors From A Photo On Your Mac

Color picker apps and color palette utilities abound and Mac users have a growing choice of color tools. One function you won’t find in many such apps is the option to rip a color palette from a photo or graphic design or image. Every photo has a color palette and knowing the colors helps in design.

If you’re a Mac graphic designer or photo professional who needs the color palette pulled from a photo or image and you’d rather not devote the time, effort, and expense of Photoshop’s monthly rental fees and extravagant learning curve, there’s Color Palette from Image; an elegant Mac app that leaves change from a $2 bill.

Drag and drop a photo or image onto the app window and this is what you get. A color palette.

Color Palette for Image

As simple and elegant as the palette extraction is– drag and drop is about as simple as it gets– Color Palette has a few useful tricks.

For example, use Color Palette to correct a palette, save the adjustments or export a color palette to OS X’s color picker.

More Color Palette

Even the number of colors in a palette can be adjust in Color Palette.

What’s missing is a magnifying loupe to extract color values, color picker style. Sure, plenty of apps do that, and there are many inexpensive color pickers on the Mac App Store, but since Color Palette is already open, why not have a built-in picker?

Otherwise, nicely done, often needed, therefore useful, and priced about right.

How To Tell If Your iPhone Battery Is Healthy Or Bad

This tip works on both iPhones and Android smartphones (and probably on any other phone, smart or otherwise, that contains a battery). From Nick T on battery problems you can see:

If the battery of your phone is removable, simply take it out with caution (after turning the phone off, of course) and look for symptoms like bulging, corrosion near the metal terminals, and green or white-ish stains. These are all signs that the cell is about to kick the bucket. If you don’t see anything wrong with it, proceed to the next tip. If you find suspicious stains or if your cell has developed a hump, however, it is a good idea to ask your carrier or vendor for advice as your battery most likely needs to be replaced. Don’t put the old cell back inside the phone as you don’t want it leaking any nasty chemicals; these may damage the phone’s circuitry. Instead, seal the battery in a plastic zip bag and make sure you recycle it once it is confirmed to be faulty by a professional.

Duh.

What about problems you can’t see?

Not all phones have batteries that can be easily inspected by the user. If that’s the case with your handset, you can diagnose the health of its cell by monitoring how fast its charge level drops. It is not supposed to drop by two or more percentage points at a time. (Most phones allow you to have their battery level displayed as a percentage in the status bar. If you can’t find the option in its settings menu, try using a widget.) And if your battery goes from full to zero in a matter of hours even when you barely use your phone, its is probably a goner.

My iPhone 6 Plus can go about three days on a charge, a bit less if I play games or use FaceTime.

Cheapest Gas Price On Planet Earth

Vying for the lowest gasoline prices anywhere, even when the earth’s economy faces a glut of oil and lower fuel prices, is Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kevin Sullivan on prices to make you jealous (but not enough to move there):

Ahmed al-Ghaith pulled his Dodge Durango into a gas station in central Riyadh and told the attendant to fill it up. In a country where gas sells for 45 cents a gallon, that cost him $12.

Ouch.

Millionaire Pitcher Lives in VW Microbus

Keith Griffin:

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris was paid a $2 million signing bonus. He promptly used that money to buy a 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia microbus…that he lives in.

That’s right, it’s not part of his automotive collection. A good part of the year it’s his home. This talented pitcher, who made his Major League debut in September 2014, would rather rough it than live the easy life in a place with four walls, a shower and a toilet.

Roughing it?

Daniel Norris

The dude shaves with an ax.