Audio Equalizer for the Mac (and Spotify)

Having recently switched from iTunes to Spotify for all my music, it baffled me to discover the Mac app doesn’t come with an equalizer. Is no one at Spotify giving a fuck about, you know, sound

So, yesterday I searched for a solution that would work with Spotify. 

eqMac2 is a free and Open Source equaliser for the Mac. Yep, for the Mac: the app will let you adjust the sound system-wide, not just in Spotify.

Once started, it quietly sits in the menu bar.

I’ve just started using it, so there is not much I coudl tell beside the fact that so far it’s wroking well. It comes with a set of pre-defined settings but you can easily create and save your own. Which is neat.

The app itself is lightweight and doesn’t seem to be intrusive at all. Kudos to its dev(s).

I Don’t Need All That Power (Keep The Mac Quieter & Preserve Battery Life)

This is not a secret: most of us don’t need a 10th of the power that comes with our computer, or even with our phone.

“So, what?” You may ask.

Three things. Beside the fact that we keep on paying for power, most of us probably just don’t need. This power also has two side effects that can be a problem: heat and shorter battery life.

Heat is the processor getting hot doing its job–crunching numbers–which in the long run can be bad for the hardware, wearing it down. A CPU working harder is also more power hungry, reducing autonomy and battery life. And a CPU getting hotter needs more air… from spinning fans, that will also impact the battery and generate noise. I hate noise.

Solution? Put a leash on the CPU, don’t let it go too high, too hot. It’s good for the hardware, for the battery, and for the ears.

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Downgrading a Mac that shipped with Catalina to Mojave

It’s on Scripting OS X and it’s what I’m doing right now to a new Mac Mini.

I genuinely tried to use Catalina, but no, thanks. I’ll go back to Mojave for the time being.

This is not a long-term solution–I will have to upgrade eventually–but it gives me time. Time during which I can work without having to fight my operating system. Time for Apple to fix the mess.

Let’s just hope they change course faster than they did with their Butterly keyboards…

Force Any iOS App to Use Dark Mode, with Shortcuts

A few apps on iOS do not support dark mode–in my case it concerns five apps, some I often use: my bank app, Antidote FR/EN dictionaries, my mobile carrier and Apple’s own “Apple Store” app.

Apple’s Shortcuts–free in the App Store–comes with a neat feature called Automation that can force those apps to use dark mode, well kinda by automatically turning Smart Invert on each time you launch one of those apps.

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Creating a Custom Resolution with SwitchResX

Yesterday, I mentioned using SwitchResX to create custom screen resolutions when those provided by Apple are not enough to compensate for my bad eyesight.

But you don’t have to have a bad eyesight to create a custom resolution. Maybe you want things on screen to be a bigger so you can see them from farther away? Or whatever.

Let’s just create a custom together.

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Writing French, using a qwerty keyboard on the iPad

Yesterday at the library, while I was happily typing my way through some research, a young person asked me how I enjoyed the iPad and, after noticing that the ‘odd little keyboard’ it was connected to was US/qwerty, how I typed all the accents we use in French.

I looked at her. As far as I could tell, she was a student and it was surprising to imagine students today not being taught to type but, hey I also had to learn it all by myself back then. So, I briefly explained her how it works (well) and–learning to write English–why I decided to switch to a qwerty layout.

She seemed genuinely interested. So in case you were wondering too, here is the written version of what we talked about.

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macOS: How-to invert colors in a video

Why would anyone want to invert colors in video, you may ask?

Well, let me ask you this: why wouldn’t they want?

More seriously, I do that for a very specific reason: my bad eyesight makes it so that I can’t read black text on a white background. You know, the kind of text you occasionally find in books, or in slides. The kind of slides, you’ll find almost everywhere while watching College de France many lectures. Like in Dario Mantovani’s Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains).

A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture "Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)". Text is printed in red on a white background.
A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture “Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)”. Text is printed in red on a white background.

To read this slide, I need the background to be dark and the text to be light.

Under macOS, I could easily invert colors of the whole screen, but that’d be impractical as that’d also invert colors in all my other windows that are already dark.

Here is how I invert only the colors of a video under macOS (see here for Windows).

  1. Install IIna, a free fork of VLC optimized for macOS. It’s a great app, really.
  2. Open the video you want to invert and go to Video->Video Filters.
  3. In the window that opens, click the + sign at the bottom left and select Negative. Click Add.
  1. Back to the first window. Click the Save button that is next to the new line with your filter and give your filter a name.
  2. Done. From now, with any video you play in IIna, you just need to go to Video-> Saved Video Filters, and click your filter. Or you can define your own custom keyboard shortcut in the Filter window.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.

My deepest apologies to Dario Mantovani for the treatment I put him through, but I’m sure he’ll understand that I was more interested in being able to read his slides than to look at him during his lectures 😉

Cloud & Privacy: Boxcryptor

Abandon privacy all ye who enter the cloud” is something that should be engraved over the entrance of most, if not all, cloud services.

At least this is what it feels like to me, having to relinquish all notion of privacy and intimacy knowing my files will be analysed—some cloud providers being more invasive than other in that regard. 

I’ll gladly open all my files and folders to any legit authority asking me to do so, provided they have a reason and the right to ask. But I don’t want anyone else accessing my files–be it on purpose, in order to offer me some service, or because of a security breach–to be able to read them.

I don’t want anyone to discover that I’m the author hiding behind the pen name of dear « Dulcinea Von Liebe, Duchess of Hot Steamy Romance ». I don’t want anyone or any algorithm to be able to read my medical documents, or to see the pictures of my cat. That’s none of their business. That’s, you know private. And that’s not the reason why I decided to use cloud to store my files.

The obvious solution would be to not use the cloud at all. Problem solved, thx for reading, bye. Save that I want to use the cloud: it’s a great tool. It’s just the lack of a stricter legislation that makes it such this Wild West and this Eldorado for those companies, giving them free rein over our data.

Enters Boxcryptor. 

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My Must Have Dark Mode Friendly Apps

My eyesight being what it is, I’m now almost to the point where I can not read a bright screen anymore: it’s really painful on the eyes. Everything is much easier when the screen is dark. So, no surprise, I welcomed Mojave’s Dark Mode as a blessing–a perfectible one, though.

Here is the list of the apps and utilities that help me to take full advantage of this. There are many more, but those are the one I use the most.

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