Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

Snow Leopard, Adobe, Fonts, PostScript Type 1, Helvetica Neue, and All Things Related

It started with me trying to use an PostScript Type 1 version of Helevetica Neue in place of the OS X version of Helvetica Neue. I won’t get into why I was doing this, but it’s a common problem that a lot of people have dealt with for years. Part of that process involves removing the Mac Helvetica from a couple of System folders, one of which is buried very deeply in folder after folder after folder.

The good news is that I was able to use the version of Helvetica Neue I wanted without too much trouble.

Then things got weird.

Snow Leopard "Drag to Dock" Exposé = D.O.A.

I’ll keep this quick. The “drag to dock” Exposé feature I’d seen a demo of wasn’t working on my computer. Dragging items to icons in the dock did nothing. Boo. I figured it was some sort of conflict with Launchbar. Or Default Folder X. Or maybe even Sprited Away. Or Dropbox. Grrr… Nothing made it work. Then I got a flash of inspiration while I was somewhere between sleep and consciousness this morning (as I so often do). Turns out the solution was as simple as this:


Yeah, I had that box unchecked. I use the spring-loaded folders feature, I just don’t like it when folders accidentally open when I don’t want them to, so I’ve kept that unchecked and always just tapped the spacebar when I wanted to jump into a folder.

While I’m on the subject, the refinements that have been made to Exposé in Snow Leopard are very, very nice. At least if you, like me, are one of those folks who are really into the details and are possibly a little bit OCD. This nice little video on YouTube shows some of the refinements.

Compiling SWFs From TextMate With the Flex SDK

I finally feel like I’m all growds up.

Perhaps some details about this transition will follow in the coming days. But let me just say that this is the post that finally got me up and running with the Flex 3.3 SDK and TextMate. I’m not sure how often I’ll use this method. It’s way too soon to tell one way or another. I’m only now trying to figure out what Flex can do compared to Flash. My impression is that Flex isn’t as adept at doing totally custom visual experiences, but I could very well be totally wrong about that.

Two quick notes:

  • I couldn’t figure out why the flashlog.txt output wasn’t getting updated each time I compiled the SWF. Turns out I simply wasn’t opening the SWF after compiling it. Gotta open the SWF to generate the output text!

  • Which leads me to wonder, from TextMate can I quickly compile the SWF and open it in the Flash Player right away?

Screencast Question - Voiceover Preference

What do you prefer? When screencasts are clearly narrated while they are being recorded, such as Merlin Mann’s desktop tour or when it is obvious (or at least appears obvious to me) that the voiceover was added after the video portion was recorded, such as this screencast about Blogo? (I should mention that the Blogo screencast isn’t the best example of when voiceovers go bad)

I’m more of a fan of the first variety, since it makes it much easier to follow along with what the presenter is doing. On the other hand, the second method allows the narration to be much more polished. In my mind it comes down to a decision between more natural vs. more polished (but not necessarily more professional).

What do you think?

Two MacBook Pro Features I Like...

…that I didn’t think would be a big deal at all:

  • The LED backlighting that means the screen has no “warm-up” time when I lift the lid. The screen is instantly at the brightness you want. No waiting and adjusting. A very nice touch.
  • The multi-finger gestures on the trackpad. I’ve loved the two-finger scroll and right-click on my old MacBook. But the three-finger forward and back is awesome. And the pinch-to-zoom on web pages has come in handy a few times because things can look so small on the high-res screen.

Now I'm Happy... MacBook Pro Battery Update

Check this out:



I switched to the integrated graphics in my 17" MacBook Pro. Not only is battery life way ahead of what I was getting with the dedicated graphics, the machine runs a lot cooler and I don’t see any difference in performance. As long as I’m not playing 3D games (which I never do) or doing heavy lifting in Aperture, there is no reason to use the dedicated graphics. The only real downside is that a good chunk of RAM (maybe 200MB?) is sucked up to be used by the integrated graphics chip. Not a huge deal, though, unless, once again, I’m doing a ton of work in Aperture. I’ll have 8GB in this thing one day, though. Not a problem.

SuperDuper Smart Update - New Computer - Old Clone

When I moved from my iMac to my new MacBook Pro, I used Migration Assistant to move all my stuff over to the new machine. When it was time to make my first SuperDuper clone of the new machine, I thought I’d try to use SuperDuper’s Smart Update function to clone my new computer to the external hard drive that had a clone of the old hard drive.

Have I lost you yet?

Smart Update

My thought was that the data on the new hard drive would be pretty close to what I had on the old hard drive, so I could probably save some time by using Smart Update. I was correct. I did save a good chunk of time. A whole bunch of files still needed to be copied to the external clone, but I think it would have taken at least twice as long to do a full, fresh backup of the new computer. Thought I’d share this little tip to those of you who already use SuperDuper and are moving to a new computer.

"Fun" With the iTunes Store

Today I tried to download an update to an iPhone app and was greeted by this:

Update Account

Okay, so the AIM username I’ve been using to buy stuff from iTunes isn’t allowed anymore. Lame, but I’ve also wanted to ditch that account and switch to my Apple ID. Looks like this is my chance. So, I click on the Update Account button and get this:

ActionScript TextFormat.font Values

One thing I have to do a lot with ActionScript 3 is make TextField instances at run time that use something other than the default font. One way that I’ll do that is like this:

// make a new TextFormat object and set its "font" property
var myFormat:TextFormat = new TextFormat();
myFormat.font = "Arial";

// then make the TextField and apply the TextFormat to it
var tf:TextField = new TextField();
tf.defaultTextFormat = myFormat;

(This doesn’t deal with actually making sure that the font you want to use is embedded in the movie, but that’s another story.)

One part of this that’s been a bit of a mystery to me in some cases is exactly what to set as the TextFormat.font property. And, as you’ll see, there’s good reason to be a little confused, depending on what font you want to use. What you see in the CHARACTER portion of Flash’s PROPERTIES panel doesn’t always match what you need to type in as the TextFormat.font value. For example, if you want to use the following font:

Unibody 17" MacBook Pro Battery

I love my new 17" MBP, but claiming that you can get 7 hours out of a charge while using the 9600M graphics is just a bit of a stretch. Unless, of course, that estimated battery life in the menu bar is way off. I’ll be lucky to get 5.5 hours and all I’ve been doing is light chatting on iChat, listening to music on low volume, and now I’m writing this blog post. I should also point out that, since it’s night time and I’m sitting in bed, my screen is on the lowest brightness setting. I’ve got to say that I’m kinda bummed about this :-/ It’s still good, no doubt, but I was expecting more based on some of the reviews I’d been reading about this machine’s amazing battery life. Oh well… I’ve give it a real test one of these days to confirm 5 to 5.5 hours is more like it.