Pixelstick: Time to upgrade Free Ruler and Colour Selector

Upgrading to Mac Lion means letting go of those useful little utilities that only run using the old PowerPC emulation.

Free Ruler, a utility that pops a ruler over the top of your screen has been one of those ever-so-useful little Mac applications for ages now. But released in 2003, it isn’t ready for Lion, so it seems I need to move on.

Also in the same category is Colour Selector by Telcontar, an app with an eye dropper to get the colour part of your screen. I realise there are probably lots of apps that can do this, but Colour Selector has been easy and dependable for years.



In searching for something to replace Free Ruler and Colour Selector that runs on Lion, I came across PixelStick. I needed to read the Help files to figure out how to use this software – it is one of those applications that is intuitive once you know how it works.

While I’ll miss the useful yellow bars of Free Ruler, PixelStick shows a lot of promise. And solving two problems at once – finding the size of things and the colour – that is very handy indeed.

iMac 24" Screen – Too Bright / Anti-Glare Fixes

[Nov 2013 Post Mavericks Update: Shades no longer works on Mavericks, but ShadeIt Рavailable from the App Store Рdoes the same job.  GN]

I use an Apple 24″ iMac.

imac-24-all-in-oneIt is an excellent computer for many reasons, the best Mac I’ve ever used.

But there are two problems – one big and one little. The iMac 24″ screen is just too bright, even on the very lowest setting. And if you have a light source behind you (such as a window), you can get reflections from the glossy screen.

It seems that more than a few people are reporting eye strain using this model. Some think it is the glare, but personally I put it down to the brightness of the screen.

There are several free Mac applications you can use to reduce the brightness of your screen:

  • Shades – once installed use Alt+ or Alt- to adjust the brightness of your screen (my favourite)
  • DarkAdapted – designed for astronomers and others who need to keep their eyes adapated to night vision while using a computer
  • Brightness Control

I’ve also ordered an anti-glare film – there are a few to choose from:

I’m not sure the anti-glare film is required, figured since I have a window behind me it isn’t a bad idea. But fixing the brightness is the big one.

Mac Leopard: ssh, RSA key pairs, passphrases and the annoying password window

If you are getting stuck at this prompt, read this post

If you are getting stuck at this prompt, read this post

As I was monitoring our servers for a period over the holidays, I had a chance to get back to grips with ssh. Here is a quick public service announcement for any Mac users out there who are using ssh and RSA keypairs who are encountering a window asking you to:
Enter your password for the SSH key “id_rsa”

In short, if you use ssh to connect to a remote server, you can setup an RSA public/private key pair to allow you to connect to your server without a password. In Leopard 10.5 this doesn’t seem to always work as it used to, and I couldn’t find an article that gave a solution.

So, here is a way to get your passphrase loaded in to your keychain to avoid the annoying password window (that won’t let you enter your ‘password’).

1. Clear the contents of your ~/.ssh directory and set the directory permissions to 600
$ rm ~/.ssh/*
$ chmod 600 ~/.ssh

2. Generate your rsa key pair (there are variations for this, but this is the version I used):
$ ssh-keygen -t rsa

3. Set the permissions for all files in ~/.ssh to 600
$ chmod 600 ~/.ssh

4. Copy your id_rsa.pub key to your server’s .ssh/authorized_keys file

5. Add your passphrase to your keychain using this command:
$ ssh-add -K
(you will see Enter passphrase for [your system]/.ssh/id_rsa: )

6. You are all set to login using ssh without a password

This is a solution to the passphrase problem – here is more general information if you want to learn more about setting up ssh with an RSA key pair.