Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

How to watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ for free on Apple TV+

December 20, 2022

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is my favorite Christmas special, by far. It’s a masterpiece, in my opinion.

The title of the following article from Macworld is somewhat misleading — you don’t need a subscription to Apple TV+ in order to watch the program.

From December 22 to 25, anyone with an Apple ID can watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Anyone who owns an Apple device has an Apple ID, but if you don’t, Apple IDs are free and you don’t need a credit card to sign up. Once you have signed up, you can watch in a number of ways: … Source Credit: How to watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ for free on Apple TV+

The “True Meaning” of Christmas is my favorite scene in the program.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Identification guides for Sable Clubtail

July 26, 2022

Identification guides for Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersii) were created for both adult and larva/nymph forms. (Remember, a well-preserved odonate exuvia is a perfect model of the final instar larva.)

Sable Clubtail has a limited range and is classified as rare to uncommon.

The adult flight period is from May 21 to July 24 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Source Credit: “CHECKLIST OF THE DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES OF VIRGINIA, April 2017 and April 2020 updates” by Dr. Steve Roble, Staff Zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.


Apple macOS and Safari (interactive)

Apple macOS and “Safari” were used to convert the Web page version of “Field marks for identification of S. rogersii” to PDF (Portable Document Format). The PDF version of the same Web page is 351 KB, ad-free, and is interactive (with Internet access), meaning the embedded hyperlinks work as expected.

Apple iOS and Safari (non-interactive)

Apple iOS and “Safari” were used to convert the Web same page to PDF. The PDF version is 5.4 MB, ad-free, and is not interactive.

(See complete PDF version of “Field marks for identification of S. rogersii.”)

The preceding screenshot shows what the output looks like.

Apple “Photos” can be used to view PDFs on iOS devices. For macOS devices, Apple “Preview” can be used to open the complete PDF version; select “View / Actual Size” and resize the window as necessary. And of course PDFs can be opened using a Web browser.


Apple macOS and Safari (interactive)

Apple macOS and “Safari” were used to convert the Web page version of “Stenogomphurus rogersii exuvia” to PDF. The PDF version of the same Web page is 692 KB, ad-free, and is interactive (with Internet access).

Apple iOS and Safari (non-interactive)

Apple iOS and “Safari” were used to convert the Web same page to PDF. The PDF version is 4.8 MB, ad-free, and is not interactive.

(See complete PDF version of “Stenogomphurus rogersii exuvia.”)

The preceding screenshot shows what the output looks like.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another way to convert a Web page to PDF

July 22, 2022

In my last blog post I explained how to use Apple macOS and “Safari” to convert a Web page to PDF (Portable Document Format).

In this post I will explain how to use Apple iOS and “Safari” to do the same thing. Well, almost. More about that later.

I use an Apple iPad mini 6 running iOS version 15.5 to convert Web pages to PDFs. Before you begin, go to Settings / Safari / Reader …

Turn on Reader for “All Websites.”

Launch Apple “Safari” and open a Web page such as Hunting spiketail dragonflies in Virginia. The page should open in the “Reader” view; if not, then tap the “Refresh” button.

Take a screenshot of the Web page by pressing the “Power” button and one of the “Volume” buttons simultaneously. (Press “Power” and “Home” simultaneously on older models.)

A thumbnail of the screenshot will appear in the lower-left corner of the screen. If you do nothing, then the thumbnail will disappear and the screenshot will be saved to “Photos.” Don’t do that!

Instead, tap the thumbnail and the following screen will appear …

Notice there are two buttons located near the upper-center of the screen: “Screen” (default); and “Full Page.” Tap the “Full Page” button. Also notice the scroll bar located on the right side of the screen. Use the scroll bar to check to see that the entire Web page was captured.

Tap the <Done> button located in the upper-left corner of the screen and select “Save PDF to Files.”

(See complete PDF version of “Hunting spiketail dragonflies in Virginia.”)

The preceding screenshot shows what the output looks like. Using Apple “Preview” to open the complete PDF version, select “View / Actual Size” and resize the window as necessary.

Pros and cons

The PDFs created using this method are relatively large files. For example, the PDF version of “Hunting spiketail dragonflies in Virginia” is 4.6 MB. [Editor’s Note: Limited testing suggests 25 MB is the maximum size that can be created.]

The PDF files are ad-free but they aren’t interactive, meaning the embedded hyperlinks don’t work. The output looks nice but larger file size and no interactivity is lose-lose, in my opinion.

In contrast, the PDF version of the same Web page, created using Apple macOS and “Safari,” is only 238 KB, ad-free, and is interactive (with Internet access).

What are the take-aways?

The method you choose to convert a Web page to PDF might depend upon the type of hardware that you own. Given a choice of either Apple macOS or Apple iOS, I think the former works better than the latter. But hey, if an Apple iPad is all you have then you can still get the job done.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

How to convert a Web page to PDF

July 19, 2022

It’s possible to save a Web page as a PDF (Portable Document Format). Print-to-PDF, rather than print to an external printer, is a feature of many Web browsers that works well in some cases.

For example, when I pay bills online I use print-to-PDF to make electronic copies of the payment receipts from my bank.

In contrast, print-to-PDF might not work well when printing a blog post with embedded advertisements.

I tested print-to-PDF using Google “Chrome” and Mozilla “Firefox” to save a few of the posts from my photoblog. The results looked bad. I had to find a better solution.

That’s when I discovered Apple “Safari” can be used to convert Web pages to PDFs that look fairly good. Some of the Web page formatting might be lost but the PDFs are ad-free and interactive (with Internet access) — that’s win-win! Here’s how it works.

How to use Apple Safari to convert a Web page to PDF

A computer running Apple macOS is required. Step-by-step directions are as follows.

  1. Launch Apple “Safari.”
  2. Open a Web page in Safari.
  3. Select View / Show Reader
  4. Select File / Export as PDF…
  5. Click the <Save> button.

The “Reader” view in Safari displays text and graphics only; advertisements are not shown.

For example, I used Safari to create a PDF version of “Collecting odonate exuviae,” one of my recent blog posts. The following graphic shows a screenshot of the first page from the PDF. A link to the entire PDF is provided in the image caption.

(See complete PDF version of “Collecting odonate exuviae.”)

Buoyed by success, I used Safari to create a PDF version of “Hunting spiketail dragonflies in Virginia,” another one of my recent blog posts. The following graphic shows a screenshot of the first page from the PDF.

(See complete PDF version of “Hunting spiketail dragonflies in Virginia.”)

If you compare/contrast the Web version with the PDF version of both blog posts, then you will see the PDF version isn’t a perfect copy of the Web version. Some PDFs will look better than others.

How to use Apple Preview to “mask” unwanted content

Some minor clean-up of the PDF output might be necessary, depending upon the Web page. Here’s how I use Apple “Preview” to “mask” unwanted content.

  1. Launch Apple “Preview.”
  2. Select View / Show Markup Toolbar
  3. Set the border color to White. Set the fill color to White. [See the larger red rectangle that highlights these two settings, as shown in the following screen grab.]
  4. To add a new all-white shape, click the Shapes icon and select the rectangle shape; click-and-drag to reposition and resize the rectangle, as necessary. [See the smaller red rectangle that highlights this setting, below.]

Screen grab showing Apple “Preview.”

In case you’re confused by what is shown in the preceding screenshot, notice you can see two iterations of the “Markup Toolbar”: the upper version is the one used to add the red rectangles to the document that appears in the “floating” window; the lower version is the one used to create three white rectangles that were placed over content that I wanted to mask. You can’t see those white rectangles but they are there.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Apple Sidecar

December 17, 2021

Apple “Sidecar” is a free utility that enables you to use an iPad as a secondary display for your Mac.

Sidecar is only compatible with relatively newer devices such as my MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and iPad mini 6. [Note: Significant capability is added to my iPad mini by pairing the tablet with a Logitech “KEYS-TO-GO” wireless keyboard (compatible with both my iPad mini and MacBook Air) and Apple Pencil (2nd generation) or Logitech Pebble M355 Wireless Mouse.]

I tested Sidecar recently and I’m pleased to report it works as advertised. I’m just starting to think about how to utilize Sidecar. Any suggestions? If so, then please comment on this post.

Must-see TV

The show notes for the following video by Apple Support lists a link to a Web page entitled “Use an iPad as a secondary display for a Mac.” The first section is called “Get ready” and includes a sub-link to another section called “Sidecar system requirements” (located near the end of the same page). Also see the next section, “Additional requirements.”

The next video by Tech Gear Talk provides lots of useful guidance for making settings, how Sidecar works, as well as some practical applications.

The last video by Terry White answers the obvious question, “Can your iPad be used as a graphics tablet for use with mac OS applications such as Adobe Photoshop?” The answer, in a word, is “Yes!”

As you might have guessed I’m wondering whether Sidecar can be used to enhance my Photopea workflow. More later after I experiment.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Tech Tips” Tuesday

November 30, 2021

In this blog post I’m going to show you how I add special characters to some of my annotated images, such as the pictograph for “male,” shown below.

Photo used with written permission from Michael Powell.

I’ll show you how to do it on my older Apple 24″ iMac desktop computer (Early 2009), then I’ll show you (in more detail) how to do the same thing on my newer Apple 13″ MacBook Air laptop computer (M1, 2020).

macOS Yosemite (Version 10.10.5)

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Keyboard” and check the box for “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar.”

As you might expect, a new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see three (3) options (listed from top-to-bottom): Show Character Viewer; Show Keyboard Viewer; and Open Keyboard Preferences… Select “Character Viewer” and navigate to Pictographs. (The last option takes you back the same screen that is shown above.)

macOS Monterey (Version 12.0.1)

After I was unable to figure out how to make the same setting on my MacBook Air, I referred to the “macOS User Guide” that is a built-in feature of the computer. A screenshot of the guide is shown below.

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Input Sources” and check the box for “Show Input menu in menu bar.”

A new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see the three (3) options shown below. Select the first option, “Show Emoji & Symbols.”

A new window will open on-screen. Navigate to Pictographs. Some sample Pictographs are shown below, including the female and male symbols (fifth row from the top).

Practical example using Photoshop

Here’s an example of part of my workflow to annotate a photograph using Adobe Photoshop.

Open a photo file in Photoshop. Select the “Text Tool” and create a new layer called “male symbol.” Click on the image to add an insertion point, then click on the “Show…” icon in the computer menu bar and select “Show Emoji & Symbols.” Navigate to “Pictographs” and select the “male sign.” You should see a list of “Font Variations.” I always use “Arial Bold.” Double-click on the icon and it should appear on the photo. ♂ Use the “Move Tool” to, well, move the symbol wherever you like on the image.


I stumbled across an application recently called “Photopea” that is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Photopea is a Web-based clone of Photoshop — Photopea doesn’t do everything Photoshop does but it could be used to annotate photos using a workflow similar to the one I just described. Look for one or more Photopea-related blog posts in the near future.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dragonfly socks

June 4, 2021

A good friend sent a special gift to me. I love me some dragonfly socks. Thanks, Susan!

I know you’re thinking “Gee, I wish had a pair of dragonfly socks.” But you don’t. Hah!

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Fujifilm X Acquire” updated

February 26, 2021

Fujifilm X Acquire” tethered shooting software for Apple Mac was updated on 17 February 2021 from Ver. 1.18.0 to Ver. 1.19.0.

What’s new?

The release notes say Ver. 1.19.0 includes a “1. Fix of minor bugs.”

The “splash screen” that featured cryptic characters from an Asian alphabet is gone. Otherwise, I see no difference between Ver. 1.18.0 and Ver. 1.19.0. Most notably, a fix for the “Linked Software” problem is not included in the latest X Acquire update.


The “About FUJIFILM X Acquire” window directs the user to allow access to “Photos” and “Files and Folders” from Apple “System Preferences” → “Security & Privacy” → “Privacy” [tab].

The same directive is reinforced on the Fujifilm X Acquire “Preferences” page.

First, a word of caution: In my strong opinion, Apple “Photos” is the wrong application to pair with Fujifilm X Acquire — if you do, then “You’re entering a world of pain.” (Source Credit: “The Big Lebowski.”) I think Apple “Preview” is a better solution for this task.

Second, there is a “bug” in “Big Sur” — the latest version of the Apple macOS — that doesn’t allow users (including system administrators) to add items to the list of applications that can access “Files and Folders,” as shown by the grayed-out +/- symbols in the following Screenshot (an Apple utility).

The same screen shows several Adobe applications can access “Files and Folders,” including “Adobe Lightroom Classic,” “Adobe Photoshop 2021,” and Adobe “Creative Cloud.” I must have granted permission (during installation) for these Adobe applications to access “Files and Folders” because it’s clear I can’t do so manually.

I strongly recommend Fujifilm should update X Acquire to do likewise, otherwise we’re stuck with a “Catch-22” dilemma in which X Acquire doesn’t set the necessary permission(s) to operate properly and Big Sur doesn’t let the user grant permission for apps to access “Files and Folders.” Both Fujifilm and Apple should fix these problems STAT!

Related Resource:Return to tethered shooting” – a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W

October 12, 2020

In my experience, digital camera batteries are the weak link during extended macro photo shoots — it seems like they never last long enough and always go dead at the worst possible time! So I started searching for portable power solutions that would solve the problem.

I stumbled across an FAQ page on the Fujifilm Global Web site that provides information regarding two mobile batteries recommended by Fujifilm. Warning: Be patient — the FAQ page takes a LONG TIME to load!

Both batteries are made by Anker; the more powerful model is no longer available. As far as I can tell, the PowerCore+ 26800 PD 30W version of the battery featured on the FAQ page was replaced by a new model (Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W). Editor’s Note: One or more upcoming blog posts will be related to using the Anker battery as a power source for select Canon- and Fujifilm digital cameras.

The same battery can be used to power the Laowa LED Ring Light that is featured in my last blog post. When I was doing my homework before deciding to buy the ring light, the first thing I noticed is it doesn’t feature an On/Off switch. I thought, “No problem, the Anker battery has one.” See that big button on top of the battery, shown below? Naturally I assumed it’s an On/Off switch. Wrong! The fact is, I have NO IDEA what that button does other than indicate whether the battery is fully-charged. This battery is essentially a fire hose of power that’s always on when a device is plugged into one of its USB ports. Needless to say, that’s less than ideal for use with the LED ring light.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

Similar to GoPro’s dizzying array of nearly identical action cameras, Anker sells so many types of batteries (including variants of the same model) that it can cause decision paralysis! For what it’s worth, I bought the PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W that includes an AC charger.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

If you have purchased a product from Apple, then you know the unboxing experience is one of life’s simple pleasures — the attention to detail is astounding! And so it is/was with the packaging for the Anker battery I bought. Regrettably the joy ends abruptly when you attempt to read the documentation provided with the product — it’s practically unintelligible! Seriously, I have learned more about the battery by watching independently-produced YouTube videos than by reading the User Manual.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

On/Off Switch

After an exhaustive Google search, I discovered a (relatively) short USB extension cable that features an on/off switch. The product is sold in a two-pack of cables.

Product image courtesy RIITOP Store (on Amazon).

In my opinion, it’s important to choose a USB extension cable that can be used for both data and power in order to maximize the usefulness of the cable.

Product image courtesy RIITOP Store (on Amazon).

A USB power cable is provided with the Laowa LED Ring Light. I connect the Laowa cable to the LED ring light, then connect the other end to one of the RIITOP cables with an On/Off switch. Finally, plug the RIITOP cable into the Anker battery.

What are the take-aways?

In my strong opinion, the Laowa LED Ring Light would be greatly improved by adding two inexpensive features: an On/Off switch; and a dimmer switch. C’mon Laowa — my suggestions are a no-brainer!

And if Venus Optics (Laowa) were feeling ambitious, they should engineer a solution that would enable the LED ring light to be powered directly from the hot shoe of a digital camera. Hot shoe pin-outs vary by brand of camera, but the middle pin is always used for power so one connector should work with all types of cameras. Do it!

And while I’m talking about no-brainers, c’mon Anker — is there a compelling reason your mobile batteries don’t feature an On/Off switch?

Related Resources

This blog post is one in a series of posts related to continuous AC power and long-lasting battery power for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Walking tour of CAHH parks

November 26, 2018

Hollin Hills is a development in Fairfax County, Virginia, about 10 miles outside of Washington, D.C. It has about 450 houses. It was designed by Charles Goodman and developed by Robert Davenport.” Source Credit: “Hollin Hills” website (no longer online).

The Civic Association of Hollin Hills (CAHH) owns and maintains seven small parks in the community: the Wildlife Sanctuary; Sutton Potter Park; Brickelmaier Park; Charles Goodman Park; Paul Spring Park; “Mac” McCalley Park; and Voigt Memorial Park.

All of the parks are located along streams except Sutton Potter Park and McCalley Park. The Wildlife Refuge/Sanctuary extends from Woodlawn Trail to the dogleg in the road at Boswell Avenue and Delafield Place. Two parks straddle creeks that are tributaries of Paul Spring, a stream that runs along Paul Spring Road: Brickelmaier Park runs from Popkins Lane to Paul Spring Road; Goodman Park runs from Marthas Road to Paul Spring Road. Paul Spring Park runs along Paul Spring from the intersection of Rebecca Drive and Paul Spring Road to the intersection of Rippon Road and Paul Spring Road, directly across the street from McCalley Park and Voigt Park. The upstream end of Paul Spring Park is near White Oaks Park, a mid-size park maintained by Fairfax County Park Authority.

Sutton Potter Park was featured in an article that appeared in Washingtonian Magazine, “Best of 2004: Sledding Hills.” I shot two photos from a viewpoint about halfway up the long hill: one looking downhill; another looking uphill. Trust me, neither photo provides a sense of the true steepness of the hillslope — a sled ride downhill could be either extremely exhilarating or very terrifying! The park entrance is located at the 7400 block of Range Road; another entrance is located behind the townhouses along Windbreak Drive.

The Wildlife Sanctuary is (or was) a good place to look for Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis). Peak activity was observed during July. A segment of Paul Spring, a stream located in Paul Spring Park, is (or was) good for Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami); the entire length of the stream is good for damselflies, including Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) and Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis)/Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea).

The Backstory

During Fall 2010, I used my Apple iPhone 3G and an app called “EveryTrail” to create an interactive map showing the location of the entrances to the CAHH parks. At some point, I noticed the hyperlink to the interactive map stopped working.

As it turns out, ownership of “EveryTrail” transferred to “TripAdvisor” in 2011; EveryTrail was acquired by “AllTrails” in 2016.

All of the interactive trail maps that I created eight years ago survived two ownership transfers, much to my surprise! Some of the interactivity of the original maps was lost in translation, but hey, all is not lost. “Walking Tour of CAHH Parks” is the current iteration of the interactive map, available from AllTrails. See also “Walking Tour of Huntley Meadows Park (Ver. 2).”

Tech Tips

The “EveryTrail” app was used to record a GPX file that traces the route I walked.

Photos were shot at selected waypoints. All photos featured in both interactive trail maps were taken using the built-in camera of my Apple iPhone 3G; the photos were geotagged automatically by the iPhone’s GPS receiver.

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