Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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36 words

Here comes a fun quiz for the Mac-aficionados:

Icon with amusing name

Tell me what exactly you see on that image, how to generate it with a minimal number of steps and what happens when you edit the object’s name.

November 22, 2005, 0:40


Comment by Dave2: User icon

If I ever had a clipping end up being named with that funky “OBJ” (DBJ?) tag… I would become very frightened. I am more interested in learning how NOT to reproduce it than I am in trying to make one of my own! :-)

November 22, 2005, 1:49

Comment by Simone Manganelli: User icon

Ha! That’s so simple.

First, this is what I see: I see a text clipping icon with a name that seems to be a single unicode character that looks like the letters “OBJ” surrounded by a dotted line.

How to generate it with a minimal number of steps:

  1. First, select the word “Mac-aficionados” in this weblog entry. Click and hold on it for half a second, then drag to the desktop and release. This should create a text clipping with the name “Mac-aficionados.textClipping”.

  2. Now, show the Character Palette. You can do this a number of ways (a is the easiest): a. Selecting “Special Characters…” from the Finder’s edit menu. b. supposedly by pressing Command-Option-Y (which doesn’t work for me) c. Going to the International preference pane, selecting the “Input Menu” tab, selecting “Show input menu in menu bar” at the bottom as well as “Character Palette” in the list, and then selecting “Show Character Palette” from the keyboard layout menu extra in the right half of your menu bar.

  3. In the “Character Palette”, click in the search field at the bottom. Type “obj” and press return. After a second, a list should come up with one result: “Object Replacement Character”, under the heading “Unicode Name”.

  4. Double-click on “Object Replacement Character” in the results list. The character palette should switch to the “Code Tables” view, it should select row “0000FFF0” in the top with a title of “Specials” and a category of “Specials”. In the actual code table, the character in column C and row FFF0 should be selected (right to the left of the black diamond with a white question mark). This character appears blank in the palette.

  5. Switch back to the Finder. Select the clipping you created in step 1 and press return to start renaming the clipping.

  6. Switch back to the Character Palette. With the “Object Replacement Character” still selected in the code table, press the “Insert” button (you can also double-click on the character itself). The Finder will have appeared to have entered a blank character into the text clipping’s name.

  7. Switch back to the Finder and press return to end renaming. The Finder will ask you if you want to remove the “.textClipping” extension. Click “OK”. Once you do so, you will be done — the image above will be displayed in your Finder.

When you try to edit this object’s name, here’s what happens: the name turns blank, and the blinking insertion line fails to appear until you press one of the arrow keys on your keyboard. If you don’t change anything and press return again, the funky “OBJ” character returns.

So do I get a million dollars?

Oh, by the way, you can see a screenshot of my Finder window with the above object by going to http://homepage.mac.com/simx/.Pictures/haiwinigetamilliondollars.png

— Simone

November 24, 2005, 3:48

Comment by ssp: User icon

Good analysis Simone,

I think there are still some steps to save in this process.

Hint: You can create this clipping without actually wanting to do so. Mail may be your friend in that. Now that you’ve figured what the name of the clipping is, you might even be able to see how to create it!

November 24, 2005, 9:29

Comment by Simone Manganelli: User icon

Hmm…. zones out while focusing on Mail

November 25, 2005, 8:19

Comment by Dave2: User icon

Um… do we get the short answer? :-)

November 28, 2005, 7:47

Comment by Simone Manganelli: User icon

I dunno, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the clipping without meaning to. I realize that when I create a clipping, it automatically names it according to what was dragged to the Finder, so theoretically I could insert this character into a text editor, drag it to the Finder, and the name would automatically be created correctly.

However, this method is thwarted by the fact that this character doesn’t actually appear in a text editor — that is, it’s a character with 0 pixel width and height, so you can’t actually even select it to drag it! And even if I could, would that be “creat[ing] this clipping without actually wanting to do so”?

I thought about other methods to create text clippings that aren’t tied to having to select and drag the text. Services don’t seem to be of any help. I also even tried simply copying text and pasting it into the Finder, thinking the Finder might intelligently interpret my action of pasting some text into nothing in particular would result in a text clipping. No such luck.

By the comment about Mail, I’m assuming that there’s some quicker way to create a text clipping from text through Mail, but that Mail is not the only application that can do so. Perhaps Mail is the app that’s most often used that is capable of doing this, or perhaps Mail simply exposes this capability more easily than other applications. However, I still don’t see exactly what I’m supposed to be doing that eliminates a step or two.

It does occur to me that maybe our Finder settings could affect the “minimal” number of steps. I have my Finder set to reveal all extensions (which, unfortunately as of Tiger, includes “.app” extensions as well, but I suppose this is consistent). So, if one turns off this setting and allows the Finder to reveal extensions, the second half of “step” 7 is not necessary. If this setting is off, once you rename the text clipping, the Finder hides the extension and does not ask you if you really want to remove it.

If that’s the only part that’s blocking me from getting to the “minimal” number of steps, then maybe we’re just quibbling over nothing. I suspect, however, that Sven has something more in mind.

Still struggling… I’m not sure if I want an answer yet. Maybe another hint. :)

— Simone

November 28, 2005, 10:27

Comment by ssp: User icon

All right, the solution is…


…quite simple really. I accidentally ran into this a few times and thought it was really odd. It’s one of those things that turn out to be quite logical and look like a clean design but just aren’t very useful.

To reproduce it you need a Mail message with an attachment. Usually you’ll just drag the attachment to the desktop and be done. But from time to time you might miss the icon by a pixel or so when wanting to click it and then drag the mouse onto the icon. That will select the file in the sense of a text selection. If you then try again and drag the icon to the desktop, you won’t drag the attachment but text with the inline attachment.

It seems like Mail textually represents those inline attachments by the ‘Object Replacement Character’, which might exist for that very purpose. So technically you’re just dragging a single character of text.

As I said, this is very logical but it’s also not very convenient.

The next question would be where exactly the glyph seen in the Finder comes from.

November 28, 2005, 12:05

Comment by Simone Manganelli: User icon

Interesting! I don’t feel so bad knowing the answer now… I definitely wouldn’t have found that — I have good target practice with Mail attachments. :)

Fun quiz, though.

November 28, 2005, 12:21

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