Saturday, July 31, 2010

Replacing PowerPro for Windows with OSX tools

As I have written in my initial switching post, one of the softs that i am missing under OSX is the magical PowerPro (PP) program for Windows. PowerPro is a very small program but it is a real Swiss Army Knife with a very rich set of functionalities (I am sure that during all years I have used it, I have not been able to discover all of them!). I have first find Butler to replace PowerPro for some of the facilities, but inserting text templates (like different greetings in mails or small LateX snippets) was rather painful. First open the shortcuts screen of Butler, then type the alias for the snippet, then type return, etc. Under PowerPro, I could just type ;prop and PP would replace it with
I was used to have at mys disposition a whole set of such snippets for different softs, and was missing them under OSX.
Enter KeyBoard Maestro (KM)! It is definitely not as powerful as PowerPro, but it brings the exact function that I was missing. I can now type ;prop and get the corresponding snippet. Or type CTRL+F and activate the French spelling dictionary in FireFox (combining the very nice Quick Locale Switcher plugin with Keyboard Maestro). KM can do many other tricks (launching programs, resizing their windows, opening some default document by simulating clicks on menu items, etc.). It is not free, but it is not unaffordable either.
You can check its features from this page and, if you are convinced by its possibilities, you can order it from this page.

Living with the reflective screen of the MacBook Pro

My switch to Mac is now complete and I very rarely start Parallels Windows 7 VM. One of the major difficulties I have met with the MBPro is the eye (and brain) strain caused by the very reflective screen of this laptop, when I work outside, under high sun light. Apple indeed does not propose a matte option for the MBPro 13’. Since I have used anti-reflective filters for my PDAs, I knew that such a solution exists. After having done some research on the Net, I have ordered a Nushield DayVue Screen Protector that I have received today.
Installing the filter has been quite a hassle, as its is always the case with this kind of protections. The important point is to install it without capturing any dust between the filter and the screen. I have spent some time to clean the screen of the laptop. I had to admit that I would not be able to eliminate all traces from the glass, since at least one of them has completely resisted all my rubbing efforts. Since it was a very small bump point, I have decide to install the filter anyway. You must be very careful not to capture supplementary dust during the installation. Consequently, you need a dust free environment. Doing the installation in the bathroom, after a hot shower is the trick, since the humidity captures dust particles. With the help of my daughter (installing a 13’ filter is a little bit more complex than a 3’ filter I have used for my PDAs!), we have been able to make quite a nice installation, without many particles and bubbles. When I have finished pushing all bubbles to the borders of the filter, using a credit card, I was ready to test my new screen in the garden:
  • Anti-reflection works really! I continue to see some reflective light on the screen, but it is much less disturbing. The result was quite impressive indeed.
  • The filter does not reduce much the light emitted by the screen. I have read for other filters that their users were complaining about the necessity of using the screen with maximal brightness. I have not observed such a negative effect.
  • The filter does not introduce any distortion in the screen. In fact, I am totally unable to see it on the screen (except in on the very small dust point that I have not been able to eliminate from my screen).
  • My experience with this filter is very satisfactory until now. If I observe new problems, I will edit this post to share them with you.