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VR Tips and tricks

VR Tips and tricks
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After having had an Oculus Rift, and now an Oculus Quest, I’ve collected a few tips and tricks for playing in VR, which I’d like to share with others.
These are the tips and tricks I use for myself, but also when introducing folks to VR, so hopefully these tricks are useful for you as well …

Note : Even though this article is mostly based on the Oculus Quest, most of these tips and tricks will also apply to VR headsets from other brands.

Note : To show friends and family all about VR, I have dragged my HMDs (VR headsets) all over the place, even to different continents.
Especially the Oculus Quest is very suitable for carrying it around, since the Quest is just so easy to get started. Just put the Quest on your face, switch it on, and you’re good to go.
(unlike some other HMDs where you need to setup base-stations first, which takes a bit of time and aggravation)

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller
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One thing that has disappointed me, in VR in general, is how poorly applications and games seem to handle taking screenshots.
The user either has to jump through several hoops to get a mediocre screenshot, or the user has to blindly figure out where the heck his or her keyboard it, in order to press the screenshot button. Quite a poor user experience if you ask me.

The annoyance became even worse when I got Half-Life: Alyx (highly recommend it for VR players!) where I wanted to share screenshots of funny things I found or did in the game.

In this article, I’ll show you how I managed to get SteamVR (!) managed to bind taking a screenshot, to long pressing the Joystick in the Left Controller of my Oculus Quest – anywhere in the game (or anywhere in SteamVR for that matter).

Note: This is a tweak/setting for SteamVR!
– it will very likely work with other SteamVR compatible HMD’s as well (eg. Valve Index, Oculus Rift, HTV Vive, etc, etc).
– but it will not work for  Oculus Quest native VR games – only for games and applications running in SteamVR.

This trick makes use of the excellent VR companion for SteamVR users: OpenVR-AdvancedSettings, a must have for all SteamVR users.

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats
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As most of you know, I do not regularly post articles that are related to specific games.
However, Half-Life: Alyx most certainly is an exception for many reasons.

Having played and loved all Half-Life games, growing up with them, and having an interest in VR games, “Half-Life: Alyx” was simply a MUST HAVE.
After playing the game from beginning to end, more than once, I can only say that this is the new gold standard for VR gaming.

Spoiler alert!
Before you start reading this:
I HIGHLY recommend you finish the game first!

Really, it is so worth it, and you would not want to spoil the game with some lame cheats.
Don’t get me wrong; Cheats can be fun after you finished the game and you’re ready to mess around in the game.

So be warned as this description may contain spoilers.

Bluetooth XBox One controller on a Mac

Bluetooth XBox One controller on a Mac
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With the arrival of support for third party game controllers in macOS Catalina (10.15), we can now connect most certain game controllers to our Mac. In this article we look at Bluetooth enabled XBox One controller.

Once such a controller is paired with your Mac, you can use it with games that support controllers, like certain games on Steam, nVidia Geforce Now, Apple Arcade and potentially many more.

Note: Some of you may have read my older article on how to connect a XBox 350 controller to you Mac (2015). This method, and the XBox 360 controllers, are still working of course, but it is time for an update now that Catalina offers native support for certain controllers. Personally I like the newer XBox One controllers better anyway (especially the Elite models, even though these are not exactly cheap).

ConnectMeNow v3 – Mount Network Shares Quick and Easy on a Mac

ConnectMeNow v3 – Mount Network Shares Quick and Easy on a Mac
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macOS is great – I really like it a lot – but one thing it doesn’t handle all that great is … network shares.

In this day and age a little weird to still see this, especially from a company like Apple. We are more network connected than ever before – at home, in school and at work. We have network shares on our computers, want to access company network shares, or have a dedicated file server or NAS (Network Attached Storage) to store our information or make our backups.

Unfortunately, it is still cumbersome under macOS X to connect to those “shares” (also known as mounted network “Volumes“).

In Finder, a server doesn’t always appear right away, we need to go through a list of shares on a given “server”, get confused if we need SMBCIFSFTPSSHWebDAVNFS or AFP, and I’m not even mentioning the need to enter a username and password on protected shares.

For this reason I created ConnectMeNow – initially just for personal use.
But the arrival of the 64 bit requirement, mandatory signed applications, and notarization requirements, and Catalina issues, my original old version was simply outdated.

So after months of work, I’d like to present ConnectMeNow v3, which hopefully makes working with shares easier for you as well.

MacOS – How to create bootable macOS install media

MacOS – How to create bootable macOS install media
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In this article, I’ll show you the steps to create macOS install Media …

As most Mac users will know; each new macOS version comes with a few challenges. For some it’s nothing, for other it’s a disaster.

Catalina is one of the latter, a disaster for quite few amongst us, due to changed security rules and the lack of support of 32 bit applications.
Some of my favorite tools simply no longer work, and as a developer this makes me nervous when considering switching to the latest and greatest.

For this purpose I always create a virtual machine in VMWare Fusion, running the macOS version that I ran before the update.
This comes with challenges though, since Apple, in their infinite wisdom, does not simply provide macOS install media (eg. a DMG or ISO file) so you can install another version of macOS. We have to create our own.

Note: Here I describe how to create macOS install media, either as a bootable USB stick to do a fully clean macOS install for your Mac, or a DMG file, for example to setup a virtual machine.

MacOS – ToggleTheme – Single click Toggle Theme

MacOS – ToggleTheme – Single click Toggle Theme
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As a hobby developer, when testing dark theme vs light theme under MacOS X, I have those moments where I have to switch back and forth between both themes quite often.
Going into the System Preferences to toggle theme, choosing the Appearance option, and then selecting the desired theme, does indeed work, but I wanted just a “one click” theme toggle.

To help myself with that, I created a small application that does exactly this: it toggles to “the other” theme, with just a simple click.
So when Dark Theme is active, it switches to the Light (Aqua) Theme. If however the Light Theme is active, it switches to Dark Theme.

The application is super simple, and has no interface. Just start the App and it changes theme and then closes itself.
Normally, this App would just sit in your Applications directory, with the optional shortcut in your Dock or even on the Touch Bar (if your Mac has one).

ApplePi-Baker v2 – Backup & Restore SD cards, USB drives, etc.

ApplePi-Baker v2 – Backup & Restore SD cards, USB drives, etc.
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ApplePi-Baker has become well known amongst Raspberry Pi users, with a Mac running macOS, to backup and restore SD-cards. Users do not just use ApplePi-Baker for this purpose anymore – I have seen users use it for backup and restore of pretty much anything not Raspberry Pi related.

Late 2013, I created ApplePi-Baker for my own use – I just got tired of looking up the proper command-line statements.
This way, ApplePi-Baker became my personal frontend for command-line tools like “dd“, “diskutil“, “mount” etc.

Over time, the use of command-line tools came with some problems; thanks Apple for changing command-line tool output with every new version of macOS. Besides that, having to enter your “sudo” password each time was a pain as well, and came with the occasional problems for a small group of users, so that had to go as well.

About 2 years ago I decided to rebuild ApplePi-Baker from scratch, no longer using any of the command-line tools. This came with quite a few challenges, especially since Apple increased security for macOS, not allowing me to do certain things straight from my program (see also SMJobBless: Elevated Privileges in Lazarus Pascal). I’m not even mentioning the drama when it comes to supporting the different compression formats, signing applications, and 64-bit requirements.

Almost 2 years later, I proudly present ApplePi-Baker v2. – special thanks to Jeff and Mark for testing!

UPDATE: ApplePi-Baker now also support shrinking and expanding of Linux partitions!

MacOS – Organize your Dock – Stack Overlays

MacOS – Organize your Dock – Stack Overlays
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Apple has done a pretty good job with the Dock in MacOS. There is just one thing that I do not like though; the way it stacks icons when you add a folder to your Dock.

A smart guy from Japan (2007 – Yasushi Chida) actually came with a neat idea for that, by introducing “buckets” (or better said: Stack Overlays) placed over the folders in your Dock. All that without the need to install any extra applications!
Unfortunately, his website at Yahoo!/Geocities has been gone for quite a while now.

The few steps you have to take can be a little bit challenging for MacOS beginners (even though it is pretty easy – as usual; once you know how it works). So in the article I’ll show you how to use buckets (a.k.a. Stack Overlays) in your MacOS Dock. This seems to work as of MacOS X Leopard and still works in Mojave (and I do expect this to work in future versions as well).

MacOS – Create a “Sleep” Keyboard Shortcut on a Windows Keyboard

MacOS – Create a “Sleep” Keyboard Shortcut on a Windows Keyboard
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Some of you may be familiar with the problem … no sleep button on your keyboard.

You have a really nice Mac, but you’re using a Windows keyboard since there is no MacOS keyboard that you really like.
I’m using a keyboard from Havit (you can find it here).

One of the things I hate about this setup is that I have no key or key-shortcut to put my computer to sleep.
When you look at the Apple reference, you’ll only find keys that cannot be found on your Windows keyboard, like the Eject key, or the Power key.

So in this article, I’ll show you, without the use of special software, how I have created a keyboard shortcut to put my Mac Pro to sleep, using a Windows keyboard.

Bash Script – Press Any Key To Continue

Bash Script – Press Any Key To Continue
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In this article I’ll describe what I have used to create a “Press Any Key to Continue” in a Bash script (Linux/MacOS X).

Working with scripts in Bash (Terminal or Shell) isn’t what I do daily. The day I had to create a script to help me do an SVN update followed by a massive recompile. I wanted to see the SVN result first before proceeding with recompile, so I had to add a “Press Any Key To Continue” option in the script.

Since it took me a little effort, I figured; let’s describe this in an article. After all, it may be good reference for myself and for others.
These methods work for Linux and MacOS.

miniWOL v2 – Quick and Easy Wake On LAN Utility

miniWOL v2 – Quick and Easy Wake On LAN Utility
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Waking up devices that are network connected, can be done with the so called “Wake On LAN” feature provided by certain devices (like for example a NAS, FileServer, or even a PC). A while back I created a simple application for this – miniWOL – keeping in mind that the user may not be too familiar with all the configuration details (see: previous miniWOL versions).

I wanted just a simple menu in the System Tray (Windows: next to the clock, usually the lower-right corner of your screen) or Menubar (MacOS X – top of your screen, Linux often at the bottom of your screen). Well, after a bit of searching I could not find anything suitable or to my liking and I decided to just write something myself.

The old miniWOL been good so far, and plenty folks seem to have a good use for it privately and professionally. However, Apple had to change a few things (moving to 64 bit, using Cocoa instead of Carbon, and the need to sign applications – unfortunately Microsoft will probably follow soon) so while revamping the Mac version, I revamped the Windows version as well, and added a 64-bit Linux version as well (by request).

Rename My TV Series 2

Rename My TV Series 2
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Rename My TV Series, a tool to rename tv series episodes, has been around for a while now, and it’s time for an update (the “old one” can still be found here). So I proudly present: Rename My TV Series 2.

Two of the main reasons for this new version are the needed update of the user interface and support for the new API of TheTVDB.com. But there is more; macOS users wanted a 64 bit version to avoid the 32 bit complaining and having the application signed was on the wishlist for them as well. Support for SSL (since theTVDB.com API requires this), the use of notifications and the support for a dark theme, the merging of 2 episodes, caching results, are a few of other desired or needed items.

I’m still striving to do as much cross-platform development as possible, so macOS, Windows and Linux users can use my tools, which means that this new version will be available for all these 3 platforms.

Windows 10 Quick Assist – Troubleshoot a Friend’s PC Without Any Extra Software

Windows 10 Quick Assist – Troubleshoot a Friend’s PC Without Any Extra Software
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Ever needed to help a friend or family with their computer issues with remote access? Quick Assist is the way to go for Windows 10 users for remote assistance!

If you’re reading this, then there is a good chance that you’re looking at the same challenge I have every now and then; a friend or family member is having issue with their PC and if you can please help them … like right now! In that case (or when you live on a different continent) remote access is the way to go, unless you’re pretty close by.

In the past I used LogMeIn, it was probably the best tool I’ve every used for remote access, but unfortunately it’s no longer free or affordable.

For a while I’ve used TeamViewer, but in all honesty – I really dislike how the tool works even though it is free. The fact that both parties need to install software and those funny codes, weird screens, and sometimes confusing settings – well, it’s just not for me.

This weekend I had to assist my nephews, both of them using Windows 10. And again I was stuck with the same question: what tool to use?
Well not entirely … seems Windows 10 is equipped with everything we need and in this article I’ll show you how it’s done.

Chmod Calculator – Set file permission with chmod

Chmod Calculator – Set file permission with chmod
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For most of us, working in Linux or in a shell is not necessarily a daily activity, and that’s totally OK.
I’m not daily working with it either, but occasionally I use one of those funny commands to set the access rights to certain files and/or directories.

This command, chmod, is not super complicated to work with, and is commonly used when working in a shell or terminal on both the MacOS X and Linux platforms. But we need a “magic number” to set these rights. The “magic number” for chmod is also commonly used with FTP programs.

Whenever I use this command, I need to refresh my mind on how to calculate the “magic number”, and I find myself looking for a chmod calculator.
Since I’m lazy at times, I figured: why not have one on my own website?

So I started playing with JavaScript and created this chmod calculator.

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