MacHeist II: 11 great Mac apps for $49

This year’s MacHeist includes 11 applications in the bundle, which individually would sell for $368.75. When bought as part of the MacHeist promotion, the whole collection is under $50.

MacHeist II: 11 great Mac apps for $49

Now, it’s a rare person who would want and use every single one of these applications; there’s just too much variety to have everything fit perfectly. But if even half of them would be useful, then you’re way, way ahead.

For me, the big winners are 1password, TaskPaper, CSSEdit, Snapz Pro, and Pixelmator. Pixelmator alone costs $10 more than the bundle, and I’d been meaning to buy it for over a month, since this terrific review of Pixelmator appeared in Macworld magazine. So buying the bundle was an easy decision.

Maybe it will be for you as well.

One week with an iPhone

Last Friday I bought an 8 gigabyte iPhone at an Apple store. I’ve been using the phone for a week now, and overall, while there are certainly flaws and omissions, it is a spectacular synthesis of hardware and software excellence. No other handheld device I’ve used even comes close, including the seven previous iPods I’ve owned. It’s a major advance in mobile phones, and in computing generally, and while I certainly look forward to getting the 2nd generation product, I’m going to love this 1st generation device all on its own.

Beyond that general impression, I have a few specific things I thought would be worth writing about.

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Recommended: Sonos Digital Music System

Sonos SystemWe bought a Sonos Digital Music System back in September 2006, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. It’s a terrific product that has us listening to music far more regularly than we ever did. What’s more, it works pretty well with audiobooks that we’ve imported into iTunes or purchased from Audible.com, which is nice for listening to them when we’re moving around (e.g., in the kitchen), when an iPod and headphones might get in the way.

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Thoughts on Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”)

I watched the Apple WWDC Keynote video stream last week, and have been following the reactions online about features demonstrated for the next version of Mac OS X, 10.5 (“Leopard”). A lot of people (especially non-Mac users) have commented that features like Spaces and even Time Machine have already been done on other operating systems, or as third-party utilities for OS X. They’re missing the point. What’s great about these new features in Leopard is their accessibility to normal people, i.e., their simple interfaces.

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Eudora 7 for Mac OS X Progress?

Eudora 7In addition to posting a few beta versions of a minor patch release to Eudora 6.2, the current version of Eudora for Mac OS X, QUALCOMM apparently is getting enough inquiries about the long-anticipated (and overdue) Cocoa rewrite of Eudora to have recently posted an official statement about it.

It doesn’t sound particularly close, but making a statement at all seems to imply that there continues to be commitment and progress, and I consider it a positive sign. I’d love to see betas of the new version, too, but we take what we can get.

How to Join Together Audiobook Tracks

Update: This post contains useful information about the Join Together utility, but has been superseded by a new article that details additional options, for both Mac and Windows users. See How to join multiple tracks into a single audiobook file for the new information.

One of the top two questions I get asked about audiobooks by visitors to Aldo on Audiobooks is, after importing a bunch of audiobook CDs, is there any way to join the many tracks together to get a single track for the audiobook?

For a while I simply shrugged, and said I hadn’t found a good tool. Then I found a good tool, and added it to the FAQ, but didn’t advertise it too heavily because it was only available for Mac users. But with the latest release the tool has gotten so good, I feel the need to share and promote it. (Windows users, I am sorry, but I haven’t found anything for you yet.)

Doug Adams runs a terrific site called Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes. Now on its fifth revision, his Join Together tool has evolved from a basic AppleScript into a stand-alone application which gives you a terrific interface for combining tracks and adding the right metadata such as title and author, along with options to convert to different formats, and even add chapter marks to the resulting merged track:

!/images/audiobooks/join-together_v5.png(Join Together 5.0 user interface)!:http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=jointogether

It’s truly an outstanding piece of work. If you’re importing audiobooks on a Mac, get it now. And if you use it and like it, be sure to thank Doug with a donation!

RailsConf 2006

RailsConf 2006Last weekend I was in Chicago for the first ever RailsConf, a gathering of about 600 people focused on developing web applications using the Ruby on Rails application framework. Other people are posting lots of details and thoughts (try clicking the RailsConf tag below), so I’ll just add a few deltas:

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Dude, You’re Getting a MacBook Pro

I’m sure a million people will be linking today to the Apple announcement of Boot Camp, a new utility that now makes it both possible and easy to install Microsoft Windows XP onto an Intel-based Mac. I’m also sure most of them will put their amateur analyst hats on, and tell people what they think it means. (Most will be wrong.)

My interest in and comments on the announcement are quite a bit less global in scope.

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Add Sender to Address Book

I continue to use and love “Eudora”:http://www.eudora.com/ as my email client. This despite it being a little long in the tooth, and with a visual style straight from 1999. I’ve been waiting for a new version with some new features for a while, and I finally got tired enough of a specific missing feature to do something about it. Here’s an AppleScript to tide me (and possibly others) over.

Update: The latest version of the script is 1.1, released 15-Nov-2006. Download link below. See the ReadMe file and script version history for changes.

I continue to use and love Eudora as my email client. This despite it being a little long in the tooth, and with a visual style straight from 1999. It may look like a Classic application, and it might not have had a major release in a while, but it works, and is highly usable, especially for people like me, with a huge archive of email messages.

On the Windows side, a new version of Eudora was released late last year. From what I’ve read on the Eudora discussion forum, Qualcomm is working on an all-new release of Eudora for Mac OS X, which will bring a great many improvements, including one that I’m eagerly anticipating, use of the OS X Address Book to maintain the email contact list, instead of Eudora’s nicknames list (which is also confusingly called Address Book in Eudora, but it used to be called Nicknames in earlier versions, so that’s what I’ll call it here).

But, Eudora 7 for OS X is apparently behind schedule (it was supposed to start appearing in beta in the fall of 2005), and not having that feature is driving me nuts. Eudora can already read addresses out of Address Book, so all I need to tide me over is a way to easily add a new sender to the Address Book.

I looked for a while to find an existing AppleScript to add a Eudora sender to the OS X Address Book, but as far as I can tell, nothing exists. Indeed, it looks like people stopped writing AppleScripts for Eudora years ago. But by stitching together ideas and techniques from old scripts, scripts for Apple Mail and Address Book, and some new code, I was able to create a script which pretty much duplicates Eudora’s Make Address Book Entry command, except sticking the new entry in the system level Address Book.

!/images/clickscriptlarge.jpg(Download the Add Sender to Address Book AppleScript)! “Download the Add Sender to Address Book AppleScript”:/resources/dist/Add-Sender-to-Address-Book.zip

The distribution includes a ReadMe file with much more detail, but here’s the basics: To install, download and decompress the script distribution archive. Then move the script file to your ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/Eudora folder. To use it, select a message in your Inbox, or open a message, which is from someone you’d like to add to Address Book. Choose Add Sender to Address Book from your Scripts menu. Edit the sender’s name and address in the dialog, click Add to Address Book, and voila, Address Book should come forward with the new entry displayed. Add further information to your contact there, if you wish.

There are a number of limitations to the script; see the ReadMe file for details. Hopefully this will be useful to someone besides me!

TextMate

I’ve been a BBEdit user for more than a decade, and consider it one of the finest pieces of software I’ve ever used. But a new text editing application, TextMate, has me re-evaluating my loyalty. I hope to make 2006 the year I achieve “text editing zen,” and I think TextMate is the application to help me do it.

I’ve used BBEdit for many years, starting with version 3.5 and buying every version released since then. It’s a wonderful application, one where when I learn of a new version, I send them my credit card info before reading what’s actually in a new release. To say that I love BBEdit is an understatement; it’s been one of the core tools I’ve used to earn a living for more than a decade.

A little over a year ago, a new kid on the OS X text editing block appeared. TextMate was the first text editing application I’ve seen in 10+ years which has tempted me to leave BBEdit, mostly on the strength of a screencast for Ruby on Rails, where TextMate was (in theory) an incidental part of the demo.

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Announcing Aldo on Audiobooks

When I posted my instructions for importing audiobooks into iTunes and the iPod, it quickly became the single most popular post on this site, both in page views and in comments. I followed it up with a companion piece, covering the differences for MP3 CD audiobooks, and that quickly became the 2nd most popular page on the site. After weeks of on-and-off-again writing, I am replacing those posts with a whole new section of Aldoblog: Aldo on Audiobooks. Please check it out.

When I posted my instructions for importing audiobooks into iTunes and the iPod, it quickly became the single most popular post on this site, both in page views and in comments. I followed it up with a companion piece, covering the differences for MP3 CD audiobooks, and that quickly became the 2nd most popular page on the site.

I also ended up answering a lot of questions in the comments to those two posts, trying to make the instructions more clear, as well as covering special cases which occurred for some people. From the number of questions, it was clear to me that there are a lot of people looking for help in getting their audiobooks onto their iPod. But my answers, while useful, were hard to find, because there was no organization except chronological in the comments. I decided it was time to rethink keeping that information in a weblog format.

Well, after weeks of on-and-off-again writing, I am finally ready to launch a whole new section of Aldoblog, Aldo on Audiobooks. This collection of information represents a complete reorganization and rewrite of all of the information I’ve posted here previously covering audiobooks on iTunes and the iPod, along with all-new information covering recommendations for what audiobooks to get, and where you can find the best places to get them.

This new section entirely replaces the earlier posts; I’ll be going back and amending them to note that fact. I’m also planning a number of additions to the section, which I hope to post in the run-up to the holidays, in time to help folks who get brand new ipods as gifts.

So, please, go on in and give the new stuff a look. Currently there’s no way to comment on the pages themselves, but I’d love feedback, either as comments on this post, or via email — my contact information is in the sidebar of every page on this site.

Medicine (the restaurant)

Rochelle and I ate lunch today at a new restaurant called Medicine. The food is Japanese Zen monk vegan, called “new-shojin”. The flavors are delicate, subtle, and quite good once your brain and palate adjust. And I thought I was at the Apple Store.

Rochelle and I ate lunch today at a new restaurant called Medicine. The food is Japanese Zen monk vegan, called “new-shojin.” The flavors are delicate, subtle, and quite good once your brain and palate adjust.

What’s kind of funny is the weird visual sensation I had while eating. The restaurant has an Asian-style glyph, which the staff all wear on their black shirts (photo at right). The glyph, rendered in white, has shape elements to it — most of a cross-hatch, loop-ish strokes at three corners — that it looks, out of the corner of your eye, like the Macintosh Command symbol: ⌘

So, the effect — of the clean lines of the restaurant’s brightly-lit interior, and of the couple dozen staff whizzing around in their black pants and black shirts with the Command symbol on it — is that you’re eating in the Apple Store.

Zen vegetarian food, beautifully prepared and presented, served in a clean, simple environment. I think Steve Jobs would be a fan.