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Quicksilver for droplets

Monday, November 6th, 2006

One of the amazing and particularly ginchy features Quicksilver has is one that I don’t often hear people talking about, and sometimes wonder if many people are aware of.

Whenever you have something selected in a quicksilver pane – application, file, whatever – you can drag it right out of that pane as though you were dragging it in the finder. So you can drag a file out of quicksilver onto an application on the dock to open it, or you can make a copy or an alias of it with keystrokes as usual.

But what’s really handy about this – perhaps even extra-super-awesome – is that you can drag things onto one of these panes as well. So if you’ve got a handy dandy droplet but it’s not in your dock, you can just call it up with Quicksilver and there it is, no faffing around necessary.

This is also handy for opening files with nonstandard applications.

So woo! Another piece of awesome from the single finest program on the mac.

Using Automator as a display power button in os x

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

The Problem

I like all-in-one Macs. Currently I have a Macbook, before that I had one of the old CRT eMacs. The all-in-one design minimizes clutter and cable mess. There’s a tradeoff in a lack of upgradability and maintenance, but I feel the pros outnumber the cons.

Anyway, these macs are all missing one feature that, for me, is rather important: a power button.

If I’m doing a batch-processing task, or downloading an especially large file, I like to be able to switch off the display on my Macbook to avoid power costs – that display is the really power-hungry part of the computer. The only easy way to do this with an all-in-one is to open system preferences, go to energy saver, and drag that little slider all the way to the left.

That’s okay, but I’d prefer a keystroke, thankyou-very-much.

There are Applescript solutions available, but they involve playing around with the pmset command line utility, which requires sudo access to alter, so you have to play around with sudoers and whatnot. I’d rather avoid that if I can.

Instead, I’ve found a ginchy way to do this with Automator.

The Fix
So to fix this I’ve found a neat little Automator action that you can download and install yourself. You can get it here as well as lots of other handy-dandy Automator doodads.

What this action does is give you a slimmed down version of the energy saver right there in the Automator window. Here’s a pic to illustrate:

Picture 1-1

Now all you have to do is make up a simple one-action workflow and attach it to a keybinding. Bam! Display on/off switch. Well, sorta – it turns off after a minute. But it’s the closest thing you can get.

You can also use this action in a bunch of other workflows – I use it in my alarm clock script to ensure that the display turns off while the musics are waking me up. Hallelujah!