Trigger Torrent Downloads by email in Mac OSX with Dropbox and IFTTT

This is a nifty little recipe for triggering a torrent download using Dropbox, Transmission and IFTTT on Mac OSX.

It’s useful if you find a torrent you want to download but you’re not at your computer. Combined with the new Power Nap feature which can keep one eye open on your apps in the background even when your Mac is asleep, this formula for Transmission Remote downloads is a great little Mac trick.

1.Set Up Transmission to Watch A Dropbox Folder

Enable Transmission Watch Folders

This will allow Transmission to keep an eye on a folder that you specify. When a new torrent file is added to the folder you choose, Transmission will automatically start downloading the torrent.

  • Open Transmission Preferences
  • Click ‘Transfers’ and select ‘Adding’
  • Enable ‘Start transfers when added’

This means that the transfer will download as soon as you add the torrent file, without the need to confirm the location or any other settings.

Tip: It’s useful to set up some filters for different file types. e.g. I have a rule that automatically stores any file with an avi extension in the Movies directly on my secondary drive. I also have my torrent files set to delete after completion, so the Torrents folder stays nice and clean.

If you need a Dropbox account, you can create a free account here:

Enable ‘Auto Add’

This will allow Transmission monitor a folder that you specify. If a torrent file is added to this folder, Transmission will automatically start downloading the file (assuming the computer is a) powered on and b) connected to the internet).

I created a folder called ‘Torrents’ in my Dropbox folder and set Transmission to watch it. Now, no matter where I am I can upload a torrent file to Dropbox and my computer at home will start the transfer.

Tip: You might want to set a threshold for seeding if bandwidth is an issue. I have mine set to 1:1. Sharing is caring after all.

 

2. Email files to Dropbox using IFTTT

  • For this to work, you will need an account with IFTTT. You can create one here – www.ifttt.com

Once your account is open, you will need to enable Dropbox as a ‘Channel.’ Click on Channels, then select Dropbox and complete the authentication process.

Once authentication is done, select this recipe  – https://ifttt.com/recipes/68867 – and add it to your Recipes.

Now, whenever you send an email to triggers@ifttt.com with the tag #dropbox in the subject line, it will add whatever file you have attached to the Torrents directory in your Dropbox account (or any other directory you choose for that matter).

And since Transmission is watching this folder, it will start the download for you.

 

Email files to Dropbox IFTTT recipe

 

 

I know that if you’re attaching a file to your dropbox, you may as well just log in to Dropbox and upload it that way, but I like doing it this way for two reasons

  1. It’s cool, and it got me thinking of other ways I can use this (e.g. I have a nifty recipe which allows me to email in any audio file and Dropbox will convert it to an MP3. Way cool)
  2. You might not always want to log in to my Dropbox account, e.g. if you are at work. But you could, for argument’s sake have a rule that forwards any mail from your work with the tag #dropbox to triggers@ifttt.com. So that way you can DL a torrent file at the office, mail it to yourself and kick off the torrent back home, without even having to open your personal email account.

Create a strong exoskeleton for your laptop backpack with a cheap in tray

I’m paranoid when it comes to my gadgets, especially my Macbook. I spend a fair amount of time lugging it around in my backpack, and from time to time I put the backpack down a little too hard or bump against something.

Now I use a cheap in metal in tray to protect my Macbook.

1. Buy a cheap metal ‘in’ tray.

Make sure that it’s just a little larger than your laptop so that you get good coverage. I found one with a curved lip at the end, which is better for easily sliding your laptop in and out of your backpack.

laptop-exoskeleton-1

2.Check that your laptop fits in the tay

My laptop lives in a pouch, so I measured it while in the pouch, it fit just fine.laptop-exoskeleton-2

 

3. Insert the tray in to your backpack’s laptop compartment

With my Targus backpack, the tray slid right in with no issues, I’m showing it peeking out here, but the tray is fully concealed in side the compartment. Make sure that the back of the tray is facing the back of the pack.

laptop-exoskeleton-3

4.Slide your laptop in to your new exoskeleton

laptop-exoskeleton-4

Now that I have this in my backpack, the bottom of my laptop is protect by the bottom of the tray, so if I do put the back down too hard, the tray will take the hit. The back is also protected. This isn’t an issue when you’re wearing your pack, but it can be a lifesaver when your pack tips over or someone accidentally kicks your pack when it’s on the floor (it’s happened, it was ugly).

Overall, the in tray hack doesn’t add much weight to my backpack, and what little weight is does add, I’m more than happy to live with when I consider the added peace of mind this little lifehack affords me.

How to Sign PDF Files with a Digital Signature in Preview (Mac OSX)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing lots of virtual paper work, banks, contracts work, etc. Most of this, however, was done virtually via PDF. One of the problems I constantly faced was having to sign documents. It’s a problem for me because I don’t have a printer or a scanner, which meant out of the way trips to little copy shops.

Now though, I have a found a solution that lets me use my Mac’s camera and Preview’s Annotate feature to digitally sign documents.

Creating a signature in Preview

  • Open Preview and select “Preferences”
  • Click on “Signatures” and then “Create Signature”
  • Sign on a white piece of paper and hold it up to the camera. You’ll see a preview of your John Hancock on the screen, so keep going until you’re happy.
  • Click on “Accept” to capture the digital signature

Now you can access and stamp your signature onto any PDF files opened within Preview.

Signing a Document in Preview

Now that you have your signature on file, you can use it to sign a pdf document that you open with Preview

  • Open the PDF file you want to sign
  • Click on the Annotations button (pencil icon) followed by the Signatures button
  • Next, select the area in the document where you need to sign and drag out the size of the signature.

Sign A PDF document with Mac preview

That’s all there is to it, once you have signed the document, you can save it and it’s ready to be used.

Evernote – yet another application I can’t live without

A while back I did two posts on my favourite Mac software (one here – http://lesterhein.com/mac-software-i-cant-live-without/ and another here – http://lesterhein.com/mac-software-i-cant-live-without-part-2/) and now I have one more bit of kit to add to the list – Evernote. I’ve been very late to adopt to this piece of software, mostly because when I first tried it a few years back it felt clunky and well, ugly. Since then the Evernote people have sharpened their pencils and straightened their rulers, so all that’s changed…

To be fair, Evernote’s not strictly a Mac application, but rather a cross platform, cross OS, cross device piece of genius. And most importantly – it works brilliantly, most of the time without you noticing a thing.

The concept is simple – Evernote helps you take notes. The difference is that it helps you take notes everywhere – on your phones, on your mac, on your pc – wherever you happen to have an idea. I used to keep a txt file in DropBox and then update this file, which has pretty much the same effect, but Evernote does a MUCH better job of it.

With a brilliant desktop client for each OSX and Windows, it’s easier than ever to make notes. In face, I’m writing this post in Evernote. I’ll probably finish it up at the office if I have a minute and then post it from there. Absolute genius.

 

 

More than just notes

Evernote is more than mere text characters. Right now I’m using the web clipping extensively – this allows me to save a bookmark or clip an entire article, which means that I can read it offline later.

Images, audio clips and many other things are all part of the Evernote ensemble, but I haven’t yet delved too deeply into it. All I’ll say for now, is that I love it :)

Evernote review

How To Calibrate Your Macbook Battery In 4 Steps

The term calibrate is a just a fancy way of saying that you should reset your battery’s memory. This will show you how to calibrate the battery on your Apple Laptop in 4 simple steps.

Why Calibrate Your Macbook Battery

Your battery is actually pretty smart. It has an internal microprocessor built in that  controls the time remaining box you see in your toolbar and also manages the battery’s energy efficiency. Recalibrating your battery makes sure that this little computer’s numbers stay on track and you get better battery life from your Macbook.

How To Calibrate and Apple Macbook Battery
 

How To Calibrate Your Macbook Battery

  1. Charge Fully
  2. Run It Down All The Way (You can use it while you do this)
  3. Let is sit for 5 hours (while the battery is flat)
  4. Charge it Fully again – You’ll know it’s full when the charger light turns from amber to green

That’s it, you’re done.

Apple recommends that you do a calibration once per month to get the best possible battery life from your Macbook. I have an alarm set on mine that reminds me once a month.

Happy tapping





Lolcat Battery Level 0%

Apple Magic Mouse great at being pretty, not so great at being mouse

Gadget Rating: ★★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

This week I bought an Apple wireless keyboard. I told myself it’s because I don’t want to damage my Macbook’s keypad with my constant jabbing, but really I just love the way that the keys feel having used one at work for a while. So I bought one.

The guy selling me the keyboard also had a Magic Mouse for sale, and at $30 it was a very good deal, so I went ahead and bought it. After giving it a few days to review it, I can now safely say that buying it was a mistake. Well, mostly a mistake.

Apple Magic Mouse Review

Looks and ergonomics  – 3 stars

When I got home and connected the mouse I was instantly underwhelmed. The Magic Mouse is a desperately pretty accessory, all curves and reflections. Judging from the way it looks, I thought it would be phenomenal. The first problem I encountered is that I’m not quite sure how to grip it. After using a ‘regular’ mouse for so long, I’m used to the comforting hump in the middle of the mouse for my palm to rest on. No dice on the magic mouse. It’s flat, meaning that my fingers would either be all the way down or I would need to actively keep them raised. Which is tiring.

The mouse is also too heavy. Maybe this is because my current mouse is very light and very nimble, but the Magic Mouse felt like a stone in my hand when I started using it.

Tracking 2 stars

Tracking is way too slow – even with tracking turned all the way up, it was still a pain moving the mouse around. The way to get around this is to install a third party piece of software called Magic Prefs which allows you to boost the tracking speed of the mouse by a further 200%, making it finally usable. Trying to use the mouse with the default settings made me feel like my computer was retarded.

Gaming 1 star

The points raised above mean that the Magic Mouse is not really any good for gaming. Playing Counter Strike :Source I was constantly aware of the mouse. It was no longer an extension of my mind, like my previous mouse, but rather something else to get used to in the game. The slow tracking and inaccurate placement meant I got fragged a lot. The multi touch gestures also get in the way of the games functions when playing, which meant I was often switching weapons unintentionally and sometime literally bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Another reason it’s no good for gaming is that it’s very cumbersome to move around – this is partially because of the weight and partially because of the two plastic rails along the bottoms which make it about as nimble as a freight train.And again, tracking is slow as sin.

I was really hoping that this mouse would work as well as it looked. Actually, I take that back, I was actually hoping that the mouse would work as well as the keyboard. Because the keyboard… oh the keyboard. It is a thing of beauty to use. But that’s a story for another post.

Multi Touch an Magic Prefs

So far, the only redeeming feature of the Magic Mouse is the Multi Touch gesturing. Being able to swipe through apps and view Expose straight from the mouse is convenient, if a little awkward at first. The standard gestures are very limited, which is why I installed a free third party gesture enhancement app called Magic Prefs. This nifty nettle app integrates into your system’s Mouse prefs and allows you to tweak all sorts of things from gestures to the sluggish tracking speed.

MagicPrefs is a great way to enhance the functionality of the Magic Mouse

 

Overall ? ?

I would not recommend this mouse. It sacrifices too much functionality for the sake of it’s (admittedly very pretty) form. If you really want Multi Touch, you’re probably better off getting a Trackpad.

As a side note:
My current mouse is a Genius Ergo T355, which unfortunately only seems to be sold in South Africa and Australia. If you can find this mouse, buy it. It’s an amazing mouse – very accurate, 1600dpi resolution. It has a touch scroll at the top which feels amazing and a turbo scroll button on the side, so browsing long web pages is a breeze. If someone from Genius is reading this , I have three questions

1. Do you make a bluetooth version?
2. Can you send me one please (pretty please with a cherry on top)
3. Why the bloody hell don’t you sell the T355 in the US!

Mac software I can’t live without (part 2)

(Read part one here)

Coda – Web Editor

Coda editor

I was first introduced to Coda while working at Afrigator. At first glance, it looks like just another text editor, but look under the skin and you’ll see that there’s a lot more to Coda than meets the eye. The software is fast and light (unlike Dreamweaver) and the preview feature works like a charm so that you can see what you’re doing as you work.

Being able to connect directly to sites (great for editing online newsletters) or use Subversion are just some of the other cool features that the software includes.

The software goes for $99 on the Panic website, which is a steal considering that you’d nee to shell out close to $500 for Dreamweaver.

Transmit – FTP Client

Transmit FTP client

From the same guys who make Coda, Transmit is pretty close to being one of my favourite bits of software. The coolest feature is being able to mount an online location as a drive on your machine. This makes drag and drop file transfers a real breeze. I made the switch from Cyberduck to Transmit and it was a great move. Transmit is lightening fast, looks great and pretty cost effective at only $34.

You can buy Transmit from Panic for $34. Trust me – it’s worth every cent.

AppCleaner – Application uninstaller

Applcleaner for Mac

Uninstalling applications on a Mac is a breeze, but sometimes they leave some traces behind – language files, preferences, settings or log files. These can be a nightmare to find and remove completely, and more often than not I just never get around to it. Enter AppCleaner. Applcleaner is a great application for uninstalling software. It’s even better because it’s free :)

So, which software do you rock on your Mac?

Mac software I can’t live without

(Part 1 of 2. Read part 2 here)

In the course of an average day, I use dozens of software applications, both on my Mac and Windows machines. A friend of mine has recently decided to switch to a Mac and asked which applications I use, so I put this list together.

Mailplane – mailplaneapp.com/

Mailplane is a desktop application that helps you manage multiple Gmail accounts on your Mac. If you only have one Gmail account, then I dout you’ll get much use from it. I have about 7 Gmail accounts that I actively use and being able to easily switch between them is a real blessing.

Things – culturedcode.com/things

I have a brain like a drain pipe. Not much stays in at any given time. Things helps me keep things in order and remember which tasks I need to get done. Highly recommended if you need to keep your life in order. I actually have a task listed as ‘Get life in order’. It helps.

Chrome – google.com/chrome

I used to be a hard core FF user, but lately, she’s been a bit of a resource hog. I made the switch to Chrome and have been happy since. Fast and responsive, Chrome helps me get stuff done.

PixelMator – pixelmator.com/

Photoshop is an expensive toy. Great as it is, I can’t afford to play in that pen right now. Enter Pixelmator. Pixelmator is an image editor for Mac that allows you to do most of what Photoshop does, but at a $59 price tag, it’s a lot easier to live with. The down side is that Pixelmator doesn’t do shape editing or things like drop shadows or gradients. Sometimes I miss these things in Photoshop, but mostly I deal with the loss everytime I look at my bank balance.

Tweetdeck tweetdeck.com/

I dig using Twitter. I use it for my personal account, to monitor the StereoType Records account and also to manage a few client account. Tweetdeck allows me to keep everything in one place. One of my favourite things is the ability to follow people from multiple accounts.

These are just a few of the apps I use and there are many more, but I think this will get my buddy off to a good start.

(Part 1 of 2. Read part 2 here)