Author Archives: smittytone

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PreviewApps updated

All three of my PreviewApps — PreviewMarkdown, PreviewCode and PreviewYaml — got big updates this week. Headline features: significantly improved font, style and colour selection, across-the-range stability improvements, and faster PreviewCode theme preview presentation.

Each app allows you to pick a different font to display Markdown, YAML and source code file previews. The last two previously offered a limited selection of monospace fonts — now you can choose any monospace font that’s installed on your Mac. Additionally, the styles available for each font — regular, italic, bold, condensed, heavy and so on — can be selected separately:

Select any monospace font installed on your Mac…
…and select from among a font’s available styles

PreviewMarkdown uses monospace fonts for code blocks and proportionally spaced fonts for all other text. Again, you can now pick from any font of those types installed on your computer, and apply any of the available styles.

PreviewMarkdown and PreviewYaml use colour to highlight different parts of the presented file content: YAML keys, for instance, and code blocks in Markdown. Earlier versions provided a set of pre-defined colours, but some users wanted to apply different colours, so the new releases provide colour selection through the standard macOS colour picker:

Choose text colours with the macOS picker

Additionally — because it was requested — you can now pick a separate colour for headings to help them stand out even more.

These two PreviewApps were designed to provide simple, straightforward previews, so the range of customisation is intentionally limited. macOS’ QuickLook facility is meant for glances as files rather than content consumption, after all. So there’s less customisation on offer than a reader app might provide. That said, there is demand for deeper preview customisation, the feedback I’ve had via the apps themselves and the Mac App Store, so that’s on my list to add to a future release.

Speaking of feedback, please do keep your suggestions and bug reports coming in. Go something to post? Use the Send Feedback button in the apps’ main window.

Incidentally, for those of you asking about images in previews, that’s in the pipeline. Watch this space.

All three PreviewApps are available from the Mac App Store:

How to pop up a Picoprobe from the Adafruit QT Py RP2040

A little while back I wrote about Adafruit’s QT Py RP2040 and how it makes a nice, compact Picoprobe. That’s a Raspberry Pi RP2040-based device used as a bridge between your computer and a target device for debugging work using Single Wire Debug (SWD). I first used the QT Py RP2040’s side-mounted GPIO pins, but SWD hosting is a great role for the device’s QT Stemma connector.

QT Py Rp2040 with its SWD-ready QT Stemma connector in black and RGB LED marked NEO
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Tackle async signal safety in Swift

How do you safely interrupt a command-line program written in Swift? This question was posed to me this week by a reader who got in touch to point out that boilerplate code included in my How to write macOS command line tools in Swift post might not be totally safe: it could leave a program and system in an undefined state, which is never a good thing. So I took a closer look.

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Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX81 with this multifunction-key-tastic T-shirt

Nearly half a century ago, Clive Sinclair’s Sinclair Research made history. It released the ZX81, one of the key home computers of the 1980s, as the first low-cost micro available to High Street shoppers. And you can express your love of early 80s tech with my latest retro-wear: the ZX81 keyboard shirt.

Modelled by yours truly
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Raspberry Pi Pico proxies: the Pimoroni Tiny 2040 and the Adafruit QT Py RP2040

Having spent some time with the Raspberry Pi Pico, I thought it was time to try out some of the other RP2040-based development boards that have become available. When it launched the Pico, the Raspberry Pi Foundation said it would make its RP2040 microcontroller available to third-party board makers. Retailers Pimoroni and Adafruit were among the first to toss their caps into the ring. Their offerings: respectively, the Tiny 2040 and the QT Py RP2040.

RP2040 boards: Pico (L), Tiny 2040 (TR) and QT Py RP2040 (BR)
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Looking for syntax highlighted QuickLook code previews? Look no further

I’d like to introduce you to the latest member of the PreviewApp family: PreviewCode, which provides syntax-coloured QuickLook previews and Finder icon thumbnails for over 50 programming languages, including Swift, Objective-C, C++, Rust, JavaScript and Python, and data file types for macOS. You can choose to preview your source code any of 100 dark and light themes.

Previewed code courtesy of PreviewCode
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Stay ahead of git with this sharp script

I work on quite a few git repositories at once, and I don’t always commit changes in one before making changes to another. Or if I do, I don’t always push the changes up straight away. That might not be best practice in software development, but hey, it’s what I do. The issue for me is remembering what state each repo is in. Here’s the script I use to tell me.

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MNU now supports Mac terminal emulator iTerm2

MNU, my macOS menu bar utility that lets you call up regularly used command line operations and more, now supports iTerm2, the popular alternative to macOS’ own Terminal app.

MNU in action
MNU in action
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