Category Archives: Apple Mac

Apple, Apple Macintosh Computers, Products, Software, Mac OS X, Any and/or All of the above.

The ultimate video studio-on-a-desk

Have been spending a lot of time in video meetings, and running remote training over the last 12 months. Not to mention creating videos for online training, podcasts, youtube, instagram, tiktoks etc.

Found myself collecting a range of pieces of gear and tips and tricks to set the home studio up in such a way that it’s fast and efficient to create videos and hold meetings, trainings and events.

Some of the features it supports:

  • Zoom/teleconference calls have two webcams
    • one as main view front on
    • The other to ‘share’ which allows (via ATEM Mini) switching between 2 camera angles + an overhead camera + a laptop screen
  • Overhead view is used for ‘whiteboarding’, drawing diagrams and taking notes
  • Laptop screen is used to run slideshows or any software for collaborative viewing
  • ATEM Mini also allows for external audio sources (lavelier mic) to be mixed with audio from the laptop (can send video or spotify etc)
  • HDMI switch into the teleprompter display allows for:
    • An input running directly from the main camera, so you can monitor yourself while staring down the lens
    • An input from laptop which can be used to view a teleprompter script, or the participants of your zoom/remote call while you maintain eye contact with the camera
  • StreamDeck allows easy access to mute me, mute all others in zoom, or end the zoom call, as well as powerpoint controls and music controls
  • A Hue Smart switch controlled by Google Home allows for all the cameras, lights and ATEM to be powered on and off easily together

I may create a more complete run through of the different components and how to hook them together in future. Let me know if this interests you?

Otherwise, for now, here’s a parts list, from which you can piece all this together.

Update, here’s a new version of The Setup, will have an updated post and photo soon.

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My first public WordPress plugins

I’ve been playing with WordPress for a fair while now. Hacking together themes, trying and modifying existing plugins, writing my own simple plugins from time to time. Generally doing too much in the theme files, and not enough abstraction into proper plugins.

Recently I’ve decided it’s time to bite the bullet and formalise some of these hacks, so I bring you my first two public WordPress plugins:

  • Custom default avatar

    Plain vanilla WordPress provides a list of default avatars to choose from, but doesn’t allow you to choose an image of your own making. This plugin allows you to specify your own default avatar

  • Custom app icons

    This plugin allows you to specify icon(s) to be used when iPhone / iPod Touch users create a shortcut to your site using the ‘Add to Home Screen’ function in Safari

I hope you find these useful, and eventually I will think about submitting for inclusion in the plugin directory. Before I do however, I’d appreciate any and all feedback, for example: any functionality limitations, plugin faux pas, coding style issues, etc…

Let me know what you think!

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Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Windows

For web development, I prefer to work on a Mac. But I also like to game. So I tend to invest in hardware that will allow me to game and work without shelling out for a top-of-the-line Apple PC (at the moment, I think that would be my ideal setup).

I’ve never had the time to fully embrace Linux as a Desktop environment (too busy trying to understand Windows, which as you’ll remember, I require for gaming). This has historically left me in a somewhat uneasy truce with Windows as my primary OS (Operating System).

Anyway, about a year ago I decided to take the jump to Vista. Don’t ask why, that’s a separate saga, and not important to the information presented here (if you ask nicely, I might tell you some time).

Just add RAM

After upgrading, my rig was coping ok with 2 GB of RAM, but it felt sluggish at times and did not seem quite enough for Vista plus gaming. RAM is fairly inexpensive these days, so I considered simply adding some more. My assumption was that this would be a simple upgrade “just add RAM”, you know like “just add water” (note: don’t mix the two). Needless to say I ran into a number of problems upgrading and trying to tweak performance, of which there seems to be much confusing and often conflicting information available online in articles and forums.

Luckily, at the time I was on holidays, so I had time to sift through the mountains of technical missives, waffling threads, and all-out flame wars to distil what I believe to be the most useful and accurate advice — which I’ll publish one day soon, in the meantime, the saga continues…

Just add 32 bits

After upgrading to 4 GB of RAM it became apparent that not all of it was visible to Vista, it turns out that a 32 bit operating system can only address up to 4 GB of memory (including RAM and memory attached to other devices, like a video card).

I considered enabling PAE (Physical Address Extension) but read that would introduce driver incompatibilities. Instead, I decided to upgrade to 64 bit Vista because a 64 bit OS can address all of my RAM and video memory at the same time.

Just add XP

Unfortunately, while 32 bit Vista was sluggish and a little unstable, 64 bit Vista was sluggish and extremely unstable. I put this down to a lack of quality 64 bit drivers, but the result was a return to XP. After weeks of reading, upgrading and general frustration I was back at square one.

At the time I decided not to blog about all of this because I don’t generally like to dwell on the negatives (certainly not worth dwelling on a failure of this magnitude).

Just add Windows 7

It’s ok though, because the saga has a happy ending. In the last couple of months, I have installed the 64 bit Windows 7 Release Candidate (W7) and the results have been very promising. Stability is good, and performance is great, and I’m a big fan of the W7 features and UI improvements over XP.

Many of these UI improvements of course have been lifted straight from the Mac OS X playbook, but Vista/W7 have a few nice features of their very own, for instance they provide very nice options for replacing/merging files and folders.

Two weeks ago I upgraded my rig to the Nehalem architecture, and 64 bit Windows 7 has been just as reliable, and a little snappier thanks to the i7 processor and 6GB of RAM.

The verdict

In short, for best performance and usability: If you can’t afford a hulking Apple — Use Windows 7, use the 64 bit edition and pack lots of RAM.

For a more detailed list of performance dos and don’ts that I accrued through much reading, trial and error, stay tuned for my next post…

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Mac OS X 10.4.4 Update Breaks MySQL

Just updated to Mac OS X 10.4.4, only to discover it will break your MySQL socket configuration.
Here’s the fix… Run the following code in

$ sudo mkdir /var/mysql
$ sudo ln -s /tmp/mysql.sock /var/mysql/mysql.sock

(Thanks to Blake and John, for spotting the problem and providing the fix)

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Presence 1.2

I have reached as much of the 1.2 roadmap goal as I can/am-going-to at the moment, so here’s the release.
I have added support for iChat in this version.

In terms of support for Fire, MSN IM Client, Yahoo IM Client, and others, I have been unable to find AppleScript support for these applications. I have decided for now, that I will be relying wholly on AppleScript (I am at a lack of time to explore other options at the moment).

So until other IM applications add AppleScript support, or unless someone can offer tips, suggestions, advice on other ways to control these applications, Presence will only be able to integrate with iChat, AdiumX and Skype.

Downloads and more information about Presence 1.2 here.

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