The Boyce Blog is written and maintained by Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant Christian Boyce.
The blog has one goal: to be

The best site for Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips, period.

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iWork '09 Missing Manual

After months of hard work the iWork ’09 Missing Manual is now available.
Here’s the cover (enhanced):

iWork 09 Missing Manual cover, technical review by Christian Boyce

Frankly, I think it’s fantastic, and not just because I was involved in it. Josh Clark has written a superb book and you are going to want to read it cover to cover. Click here to read all about it on the publisher’s website (note: they have a “buy two books, get one free” promotion going on if you buy it there-- $39.99). Click here to buy it from Amazon ($26.39 as of this blog entry).

iWork ’09 includes Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, and you can read all about it here. In a nutshell, iWork is Apple’s software for writing letters and reports, laying out brochures and flyers and posters, making presentations, working with figures, and making graphs. If that sounds like Microsoft Office to you, you’re right-- but there’s no comparison. You’ll love using iWork. I already know that you only use Word and Excel because you have to.

Take my advice and download a 30-day demo of iWork ’09 here. Watch the video tutorials (under the Help menu in each iWork component program). And buy the book, even though I’ve already been paid and won’t get any royalties even if you tell them you’re buying it because of me. Wouldn’t hurt to try though.


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FREE job-hunting AppleScript

You might not have heard but there’s a recession on. People are looking for work. Even I, the great and powerful Christian Boyce, am being a little more proactive about being gainfully employed.

I had the brilliant idea of searching the job postings on www.craigslist.org every day for Mac-related stuff, but quickly found that craigslist is sort of picky about search terms, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll miss stuff. For example, if you’re looking for AppleScript jobs, and someone’s posted one that says “Wanted: AppleScripter” you WON’T find the job if you search for “AppleScript.” Don’t ask me why-- that’s just the way it is. Search for AppleScripter, and you find it. Search for AppleScript, and you don’t. (Search for “Apple” and you do. Search for “Apples” and you don’t.)

Frankly, I don’t quite understand it. But, understanding it is not our job here, and while it is tempting to try to figure out why craigslist works the way it does, it would be tangential to my original goal, which is to search for jobs on craigslist. Related, but off on a tangent.

I determined that if I searched for these terms I’d find what I wanted:

  • Apple
  • AppleScript
  • AppleScripter
  • Scripter
  • Mac
  • Macintosh
  • iPhone

That’s seven searches. Doable, but then I decided it would be nice to search craigslist in Austin, TX (austin.craigslist.org) as well as craigslist in Los Angeles, CA (losangeles.craigslist.org). Twice as many cities means twice as many searches-- now up to 14, and I could see that this would not be a lot of fun after the first day or two. And remember, I wanted to do this every day.

So, what do we do when we have a repetitive task? One option: pass it to someone else. That gets it out of my hands, but it’s not reasonable to expect anyone to do 14 searches perfectly every day. Mistakes get made when you have so much to do.

The correct answer, of course, is to make an AppleScript. Talk about practicing what you preach!

Here’s what I wrote, word for word. You can copy this script, paste it into Script Editor (you have it-- look in the AppleScript folder inside your Applications folder), and run it. You can change the cities and the search terms as you wish. (You can even change it to look for things other than jobs. I can help you with that.)

The script:

-- AppleScript by Christian Boyce, to search craigslist.org for jobs
-- Original version written May 21st, 2009.
-- May be copied and modified as desired. Let me know if you find it handy.
-- Write me at macman@christianboyce.com
--
set the_cities to {"losangeles", "austin"}
set the_search_terms to {"apple", "applescript", "applescripter", "scripter", "mac", "macintosh", "iPhone"}
--
tell application "Safari"
activate
repeat with a_city in the_cities
repeat with a_search_term in the_search_terms
make new document at end of documents
-- the next two lines belong together-- from “set” to “a_search_term
set URL of document 1 to "http://" & a_city & ".craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=" & a_search_term
end repeat
end repeat
end tell



You can almost read it like a book. The gray italicized stuff is just comments, notes for us so that down the road we remember what we were doing. We set up a list of cities, using the terms craigslist uses in its URLs. Then we set up a list of search terms. Then, starting with the first city, we tell Safari to open a new window (document) and put a certain URL into it. (The first URL is “http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=apple”.) And then we make another window for the next search term, then another etc. until we’ve done all the search terms for the first city. Then we go back and do it all for the second city (in this case, Austin).

The whole thing takes about 8 seconds to load 14 pages here. Plenty fast-- a lot faster than doing it by hand, and of course there are no typos.

The nice thing about this script is it’s easily modified. If I decide to search San Francisco, or Dallas, or San Diego, or Sacramento, all I have to do is add those cities to my city list (“the_cities”). If I want to search for other kinds of jobs (“snake handler”, “exotic dancer”) I can easily add those to my search terms (“the_search_terms”).

It’s going to save us a lot of time over here. Copy it and modify it for your own purposes (and if we apply for the same job remember who wrote the script for you).

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10.5.7 update

Apple released the 10.5.7 update yesterday, and while it has worked fine for me on two Macs (iMac Intel 1.83 GHz, and MacBook 2.2 GHz) I have read about quite a few issues that others are having with it. As usual, it’s impossible to make sense of it all because the people who have problems are the ones more likely to write to websites such as Macintouch and MacRumors to tell about their experiences, but just to be on the safe side why not have me do the update for you. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’ll have someone there (me) to make it right.

There are benefits to 10.5.7. The most important one to me is it fixes a bug in Apple’s Mail program-- a bug that gradually slows your Mac way, way down when Mail is left running for a long time. I have not seen any new or different features in 10.5.7 and Apple is not advertising any, so maybe it really is all bug fixes. Anyhow, I’m glad I did the update.

If you want to apply the update on your own be sure that your machine is in good shape before you apply the update. Restart your machine, quit any programs that launched as startup, then run Disk Utility and repair permissions. If you have problems with Disk Utility it would not be wise to do the 10.5.7 update. If you don’t have trouble, go ahead and update.

The best way to do the update is to get the so-called “Combo” update. It’s bigger than the update that comes when you do Software Update under the Apple Menu, which means it takes longer to download and install, but I’d use the Combo update anyway. Applying a Combo update will reinstall system pieces that have somehow gotten lost, in addition to updating the machine to 10.5.7, and generally speaking the Combo update is the way to go. Takes a little longer, but worth it.

Here’s the link to the 10.5.7 Combo update. Remember to quit all of your programs before you do the installation.

Call me if you’re stuck-- preferably, before you’re stuck.

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Stuff I Like, part 2

It’s taken nine months but here, finally, is Stuff I Like, part 2. (Stuff I Like, part 1 was about PowerSupport Anti-Glare Film-- and I still like it.)

You can read all about these programs at their websites, so I’m not going to go into great detail here. I will give you a short summary and some special features I especially like.

First up: 1Password. Remembers your passwords for logging into various websites. Works with Safari, Firefox, and a couple of other browsers and you can switch back and forth between them and 1Password works regardless. Generates strong passwords if you want it to. Lets you create “Identities” such as Home and Work for filling in web forms with one click. Lets you create secure notes. Synchronizes across machines and with the iPhone. Price: $39.95 (iPhone app is free). Free trial download.

Next up: RapidWeaver. Web-site creation tool. Lots of pretty templates, fairly easy to use (much easier than DreamWeaver, about the same as iWeb). Something like Apple’s iWeb but a little more expandable. Used to create this very site. Price: $79.00, free trial download.

Last but not least: VMware Fusion. Allows you to install Windows on your Mac. Much more stable and trouble-free than Parallels. Does not require a reboot like Apple’s Boot Camp. Easy installation procedure. Price: $79.99, free trial download.

More to come, as I find more Stuff I Like.

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