Home » Archive by category "Mac" (Page 5)

f.lux – Better lighting for your computer

I don’t remember how I bumped into this one, but f.lux is a really nice piece of software that adapts your screens colors depending on the time of the day. After the sun has set it transitions your screen to a warmer color palette that’s a lot easier on the eyes when the lighting in your room gets less as well. It’s especially nice in the evening as you’re not really looking into a big source of light anymore. Well, you are, but it’s not that blueish light anymore and if you’re using a laptop reducing the brightness improves it even more.


F.lux is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and iOS (requires jailbreak) and is freely available from http://stereopsis.com/flux/.

Using tmux – shortcuts

Even though Windows 7 is my main OS I use terminals a lot. I don’t mean the Windows command prompt in this case, though I actually use that a lot as well. The terminal I’m talking about now is Bash, which I use on my Raspberry Pi, VPS’s and virtual machines. To connect to these systems I use PuTTY.

The biggest benefit tmux gives is not having to open several terminals. Instead you use tabs (windows) or you split the current window. When I’m working on a project which has its own dedicated virtual machine (through Vagrant) I usually log in, create a 2×2 grid, setup 2 panes for tailing log files, another connects to MySQL and the 4th is available for regular terminal stuff.

Another nice feature is being able to detach your current session and return to it later. I do that with my Raspberry Pi for instance. Inside my tmux session I run irssi (an IRC client) and instead of having to reconnect all the time I just detach the session when I’m done, and recover it whenever I need to hop on IRC again.

Key in using tmux effectively is knowing the shortcuts. Memorizing them improves productivity a lot. So to help you get started I listed the main ones below.

  • ctrl+b % or ctrl+b " for pane splitting
  • ctrl+b space for changing pane orientation
  • ctrl+b n for next window
  • ctrl+b arrow keys for pane selection (older versions only support up/down)
  • ctrl+b , for renaming window
  • ctrl+b d for detaching session (close without shutting it down)
  • tmux a to resume a detached sessions

Am I missing any neat shortcuts? Let me know by dropping it in the comments.

Sharing my mouse and keyboard on multiple machines

Whenever I want to do some paid work I have to do this on my laptop. I have a nice (well, sometimes we argue) 17″ laptop with a screen resolution of 1440*900 which is fast enough to run all the software I need (although Vim does play up at times…). The reason I have to use my laptop for this is because it has a VPN client configured, network drive mappings and some other stuff related to my job.

I unfortunately only have 1 decent workplace at home to comfortably work at and it’s occupied by my desktop PC, its keyboard, mouse and a Full-HD 24″ monitor. Sure, I can get work done from the couch and there’s also a small table in the living room, but both aren’t really comfortable spots to work for a longer time. Besides, working at a Full-HD resolution gives me more space to work with than when I’m on a 1440*900 resolution. So my aim was to find a solution on how to share my mouse and keyboard on multiple machines.

Since my 24″ monitor had a spare HDMI input and my laptop has a HDMI output I wanted to connect my laptop to the 24″ monitor through HDMI. VGA and DVI weren’t an option for me since those were already occupied (VGA by my Xbox 360, DVI by my desktop PC). The added benefit from using HDMI would be having the sound from my laptop through the speakers of my 24″ monitor.

After searching for a couple of hours I couldn’t find any nice hardware solution. Sure, KVM cables with 2 USB connectors for your mouse and keyboard are available, but also come with VGA connections which, as far as I’ve been told, have to be used for it to function. Other dedicated hardware for sharing 1 USB device with 2 or 4 computers also exist, but meant I had to buy 2 of them.

Having wasted a couple of hours I finally gave up on it. A couple of days later I remembered a software solution existed as well. Within a couple of minutes on Google I found what I was searching for: a project called Synergy. Synergy is a very nice piece of software, which you can get for free, is open-source (GPL) and runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.

Basically you’ll install Synergy on all systems you want to use your keyboard and mouse on (yes, systems, it supports multiple systems!). You run a server instance on the system which has the keyboard and mouse connected you want to use. The other systems simply run a client instance. When connected you can move from one computer to the other by simply moving the mouse to the other computer. Added benefit is that if you copy something to your clipboard on PC 1 and move the mouse to PC 2 the clipboard its content is available on that system as well!

My only complaint with it is that the initial setup was a bit confusing. It does have a graphical user interface but if you’re not used to the software it’s hard to figure out how to configure it. Another more annoying issue I’ve run into was that at some time Synergy (or my OS) switched keyboard language which couldn’t be changed. Only solution for that was to reconnect the client.

Aside from that I’m very happy with this solution. I can now do my paid work behind my 24″ monitor using the keyboard and mouse that are connected to my desktop PC. So all I have to do now is connect my laptop to my monitor through HDMI, start the Synergy server and client and change the display input on my monitor to see my laptop’s desktop.