Automating Apple with AppleScript

If you have a Mac and are even the least bit interested in automating the work you do on it, you need to pick up a copy of AppleScript 1-2-3 This is part of the Apple approved training series of books and is written by Sal Soghoian.

Apple AppleScript BookSoghoian being the author of this book is significant for two reasons. First, he is the product manager for AppleScript. He has been using and working with AppleScript for years. Simply put, nobody knows more about what AppleScript can do that Sal Soghoian. Second, he is a great teacher. If you have ever heard him speak at a conference or maybe seen one of his podcasts on MacBreak Work, you will already know this. If not, you are in for a pleasant surprise. His style is light and friendly without being causal and silly. He has the rare ability of making technical subjects easy to read – and not a cure for insomnia.

AppleScript 1-2-3 is a large volume of nearly 900 pages that is broken down into three broad sections. Starting with the absolute basics in the first section, Sal and his co-author Bill Cheeseman, take you through the fundamentals of scripting with plenty of examples and explanations. The second section takes what was gone over in the first section and expands on it. This second section goes into more tools, tips, and methodologies to make your scripts both easier and more powerful. Finally, the third section of the book takes you through specific examples of fully working useful scripts that you can use, modify, and make suit your own purposes. This section give you a strong toolbox to start you on way scripting.

Many people who move to the Mac lament the fact that they can no longer use their trusted MS-DOS batch files. Or, as in my case, don’t have VisualBasic aka VB to play around with. The truth is that Apple’s AppleScript is much more flexible and powerful. The problem is, as with using VBScript in Windows, there is a bit of a learning curve to unlocking the real power. This book is the answer to that problem. From automating repetitive actions to performing complex series of actions, the power you need is there. This book can help you harness that power.

Mindless backups

We all know we should be backing up our computers. We also all know we should exercise more, eat more leafy green vegetables, and spend more quality time with our families.  Well, I can’t help you with the lifestyle choices, but I can give you a way to make doing your backups as painless as possible.

What is my secret painless backup method? One word, Mozy. Mozy is a remote backup service that works on Windows or Mac. Basically it backs up your data to the cloud. Yes, the famous Internet cloud we all keep hearing about. The software is a quick download and is simple to install and setup. And here is a real cool thing – it is free for up to two gigs of data. Yup, if you are just going to backup a subset of your files, it is free! And if you want to backup more or even all of you data, it is only about $5 per month for as much space as you need.

Back The F: Up!There are both pro and home versions of the Mozy software, so if you are looking at backing up an office environment they have you covered. And, heaven forbid, if you ever need to do a restore you can do it over the Internet to the same machine or to a different machine. If you have backed up a huge amount of data they can even just send you a physical copy of the data instead of having to download it all.

I’ll tell you the truth. I use Mozy because it works and it is kind of just a “set it and forget it” solution. I don’t have to swap tapes. I don’t have to worry about taking something off-site, and I don’t have to fear that the backup media or disks might get stolen and compromised. Everything is stored securely far away from here so I just let it run.

Again, there is a totally free version for up to 2 gig of storage, meaning there is no reason not to try it. So please, backup your files. If you don’t use this, use something. There is absolutely nothing worse than losing your work, your taxes, your financial records, or your prized family photos and knowing that you could have prevented the loss.

Oh, and if you want help with all those other lifestyle issues… check out ZenHabits.

Microsoft Office for Mac Deal

This is the Thanksgiving shopping deal that you don’t want to miss. If you have any need for Microsoft Office on the Macintosh at all, now is your chance to get it for a ridiculously low price. For a short time only MacMall has an instant rebate on the Special Media Edition. (Note: If you click the link early, the non-sale price will show.) $350 INSTANT REBATE! Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition NOW only $69.99! (was $429.99) from 11/27-11/28

I was personally debating whether I was going to put MS Office on the new MacBook I am buying. This answers that question. In addition to the normal Office features, including Entourage which is the basically Outlook for the Mac, this special media edition includes Microsoft Expression Media. Expression Media is the program that used to be known as iView Media Pro before Microsoft bought them. It is an excellent document and imaging cataloging and retrieval program. Think of it as iPhoto on steroids.

So, there you have it. So far our of all the Black Friday previews I have seen, this is the big winner. And, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

[Update: 12/01/08] Please note that this deal has now ended. Sorry!

What Programs Are Used?

I am often asked what programs I use, so I thought it was about time that I just go public and list them all here. A couple of words of warning before the list. First, my normal machine of choice is the Macintosh. That means that the real workhorses of my stable are under the Mac category. That being said though, I work on Windows constantly, so I have a lot of tools there as well. Second, I am cheap. I tend to try to not spend too much money on software. I don’t mind paying for a quality product and will do it quite often, but if I can find a $60 tool that does the job of a $600 one, I will go for the former. And then again, if there is freeware out there, I am very likely to use that.

Ok, so now on to the list…

On the Macintosh

On Windows

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other programs to use please let me know!

Adobe Creative Suite 4

Just got in the first info / ad I have received for Adobe CS4. From what I hear, there are some significant improvements to work flows, screen layouts, and usability – especially in Photoshop.

So, here is the ad…
“Be the first to experience this brand new software. Create visually rich, engaging content for virtually any media – print, web, interactive, video, audio and mobile – using the tightly integrated tools and services of Adobe CS4. Express yourself in exciting new ways and trends. Buy now and get exclusive discounts and freebies, only from The Mall With It All – MacMall.”


Apple Software