Reduce blue light impact on eyes – at least with Night Shift and F.lux

After reading Lifehacker articles about methods for improving sleep for high-stressed desktop warriors, I used F.lux to reduce blue light at night. It is automatically triggered from sunset to sunrise based on your location. This is available on all platforms.

Well, adjusting screen brightness is important too. And ultimately for a good night’s sleep, stop using a device in bed.

Besides a better snooze, there was also research about harmful effects blue light could cause to the eye. And when I got new spectacles recently, blue filters were already a default provision in the new lenses.

Last week, new research further highlighted the possibility of permanent, irreversible damage to the eye – “Blue light from mobile phones and computers can cause irreversible damage to eyes: Scientific Reports study” [link]. The brief advice there was to “avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark, and wear sunglasses that can filter both ultraviolet and blue light.”

Well, with that, all Mac users should now be keen to trigger Night Shift on their devices – on both iOS and macos). Go to Settings/System Preferences > Display & Brightness/Displays > Night Shift:

Night Shift on iOS
ios-NightShift

Night Shift on macos
NightShift-macos

We will review our use of devices and cut down on mindless scrolling, I hope. But younger users, with long years of exposure ahead of them, will demand better solutions from device manufacturers. Notice has been served.

Advertisements

Reviving my upgraded MacBook Air mid-2012

With my five and a half year old MacBook Pro in the shop for the third time, it was time to revive my mid-2012 Mac Book Air (MBA) which was on hiatus last semester. Having maxed its RAM at purchase to 8GB, and having changed the battery last year, it is in reasonable shape.MacBookAir-revived

The internal hard disk is a fast SSD but small at 500GB. So my most immediate files are on the cloud in Dropbox, GDrive or iCloud (and at work, nBox or the office server). I’ll survive with some discomfort and that will spur me to replace the faulty 1TB SSD I got from from OWC (I bought the kit below). Once I get my replacement, the MBA will be ready for some heavy lifting.

1TB OWC kit

Back up happens by virtue of working on cloud drives, and a background programme, CrashPlan Pro. And just in case, for the most current presentation, I have an emergency 200gb microSD card.

This mid-2012 Mac Book Air has a few ports: one thunderbolt, two USB3 and an SD card port. And I pack thunderbolt adaptors for VGA, HDMI and ethernet with it so that makes it functional in most places.

Some archives are residing on external 4TB and 5TB drives and must be backed up to Crash Plan Pro. Their subscription includes  unlimited backups on multiple devices including external drives, so less e-waste at the user’s end eventually. I tried retrieval off files and its not bad. Important when pulling out relevant photos or videos from a field site ages ago!

If you have old Mac laptop and want a second life with it, check your model (Apple venue > About), and then examine your options at the OWC upgrades page. If your unit is DIY-capable, there are videos to guide you through the process. With the SSD HD and battery upgrades (and some repairs), my laptops are soldiering on in their sixth year and the iMac is doing well in it’s ninth year.

Native Blog Editor, Mars Edit 4.0 to maintain multiple blogs

MarsEdit is a native macOS blog editor which I have used since 2007 to maintain multiple blogs on WordPress (including NUS Blogs) and Blogspot, some with multiple authors.

Webpage editors on desktop and phones have caught up immensely and are useful for a quick fix, but MarsEdit still reigns supreme for heavy duty work.

MarsEdit can switch between rich text and HTML which I had to use with my first blog engine. While I use system-wide Typinator html shortcuts, MarsEdit does provide for this with “Formatting Macros” (Format > Customise).

The SweetSetup has a detailed review of the Dec 2017’s ver 4.0 by Red Sweater.


MarsEdit handles multiple blogs simultaneously, switches between HTML and rich text and has a pre-publication preview.

Don’t panic, your files on Google Drive are safe (only the desktop app retires)

Google really scared us when it announced it was retiring the Google Drive desktop app. Many did not see the original announcement but the many headlines by tech sites which more dramatically suggested that “Google Drive dies!”

Even I blinked when I encountered that with sleepy eyes, so I shared the tweet, asked the question in my mac meetup LINE chat and left for class. When I checked my Facebook thread for responses later, a few friends were upset – was this yet another service which had collapsed?

As it turns out, most friends are not sync-ing files to desktop but only using Google Drive on the cloud. Really then, all of us could have simply ignored this announcement, which Gizmodo explains was really meant to “move enterprise users over to the new Drive File Stream app”.

To summarise:

  • Google Drive on desktop (for those who used this) – retires by March 2018; can be replaced by “Backup and Sync
  • Google Drive mobile (iOS and Android) – unaffected
  • Google Drive (on cloud – unaffected

I wonder how Google Backup and Sync will affect the Singapore-based company Insynchq, which has provided a Google Drive client for file backup all these years.

27″ iMac 2009 flies with a 1TB SSD and 32GB RAM upgrade

In 2010, the late 2009 model quad-core 2.66GHz iMac with its large 27.1″ screen and 1TB 7200rpm hard drive was mind-blowing. And extremely helpful for tired eyes managing multiple windows. After half a decade, it seemed to slow to a crawl. In preparation for some intense use, it has been given a new lease of life with a long-awaited upgrade!

Shopping at OWC last week procured a 1TB SSD hardisk and 32GB of RAM. I paid close attention to the installation videos which had served me well when upgrading the Mac Book Air’s battery. And indeed, the process of replacing the hardisk and RAM ran smooth.

There were just two hiccups – the very strong magnets along the screen perimeter kept displacing the last eight screws. Eventually a tweezer was brandished and forced the screws to align, solving that problem. Then a missing Phillips #2 screwdriver threatened to upset the RAM installation but my handy bike tool came to the rescue!

It was nice to see some clean insides this time, because the cats can’t perch on top of this machine, and it was free of the heat-producing harassment of fur which peppered the Mac Book Air’s innards.

After six and a half years, it’s great to see the iMac experience a second wind. The old hardisk will continue its long life as an external drive once enclosed in a 3.5″ case, and the RAM will be recycled though OWC.

Screen Shot 2016 11 03 at 1 33 37 AM

Screen Shot 2016 11 03 at 1 33 47 AM

Screen Shot 2016 11 03 at 1 36 34 AM

NUS VPN on macOS Sierra? Update Pulse Secure to version 5.2r5.0-b869

With each version of OS X, it is necessary to update NUS VPN to access certain university sites remotely. This prevented me from using the macOS Sierra beta version as the VPN software would not be updated until stable release.

The Pulse Secure version that works in macOS sierra is 5.2r5.0-b869, which is available from NUS Computer Centre at https://comcen.nus.edu.sg/eguides/

Screenshot 107

If you have updated your OS, you should go ahead and download this latest version.

Test run the macOS Sierra public beta and alert Apple about bug fixes

Caught up with some MacWorld reading and it seems the macOS Sierra public beta was released in early July. Want to be a test pilot? Sign up to the Apple Beta Software Program with your Apple ID. You can sign up for both macOS and the iOS.

This public beta software is confidential, so you can’t share any information about it except to send reports directly to Apple with the built-in Feedback Assistant app.

As this is pre-release software, you should not try this on your workhorse mac. Some applications may not be ready for macOS Sierra, but some will have public betas ready, which they hope to recruit feedback for as well.

This sort of exercise has solved many problems I have had over the years with various software so I am glad to see this happening again.

If you have been dying to try out macOS Sierra, want to put it through its paces, want to help iron out conflicts for a smooth ride eventually, and can’t wait for the official release in a couple of months, then sign up here.

How to get the macOS Sierra beta