Category: Macs

UPDATE: TV.com (which I use to find the show titles) has since changed their format, so I cannot guarantee that this script works as advertised. I will confirm it in the near future.
UPDATE 2: This Applescript has been replaced by a more efficient and lightweight Bash script.

After picking up a 750 GB hard drive for my Airport Extreme, I’ve started to rip my DVDs so that I can watch them on my computer. The problem is that the files don’t come out with descriptive episode titles, leaving you guessing when you want to pick a show to watch. If you decide to add the titles yourself, the process can be tedious and time consuming, not to mention downright annoying.

That is why I’ve created a combination Automator/Applescript workflow to do the job automatically. After entering the name of the TV show you’re looking for, the program takes the selected files and searches TV.com’s vast episode guide for the correct titles. Once the data has been collected, the titles are added to the selected files. The only preparation you must do is rename the files in the format SxxExx where S is the season number, and E is the episode number (S02E05, for example). This step is very easy when you use a program like NameMangler, which can add sequential filenames in one pass.

Download

Get TV Titles Application Download and run as standard application
Get TV Titles Workflow Automator workflow that can be saved as an application or Finder plugin
Get TV Titles Finder Plugin Can be run from the Finder contextual menu (right-click). To install, download and save to the folder Userfolder/Workflows/Applications/Finder.

Instructions

  1. Collect files and rename them in the SxxExx format. Using NameMangler seems to work best, but there are other applications out there to do the same thing.
  2. Select all the files you wish to add titles to.
  3. Start the program in whichever way you’ve downloaded: directly from Automator, the standalone application, or by the contextual right-click menu and navigating to More > Automator > Get TV Titles.
  4. Type in the name of the TV show you’re looking for episodes from.
  5. If you’re running it via the contextual menu, you’ll see this status message in the Finder menubar.
  6. Once the computer has processed the data, you’ll see all the episodes neatly named.

So far I’ve been able to edit more than 20 files at once. Of course, your mileage may vary, so please comment with feedback and results.

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I’m writing this today as a public service. You may notice that your mail client typically contains 3 address entries: To, CC, and BCC.

To is self explanatory, but the other two are often misused. CC, or carbon copy, sends the same message to whatever addresses are in that field. What people often forget is that everyone who receives the email can view all the addresses associated with the message. To solve that problem, every email client uses BCC or blind carbon copy. This sends the same message to all the addresses, but hides them so that it appears that they are the only one receiving the email. This is great for sending a message to your entire address book without everyone knowing who you have contact information for. Sadly, spammers have also capitalized on this feature, as many now send messages in this way.

Next time you send emails to multiple people, remember the benefits of using BCC. Otherwise, people may know you’re friends with iamawesome83636@aol.com.

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It’s been just over 1 year since I waited in line on October 27, 2007 for Leopard. Now that I’ve had 52 weeks to use and abuse the operating system, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve come to like, dislike and can’t live without.

The Good

QuickLook
This tiny little addition to the Finder has changed the way I open files. Having the ability to preview a movie, view a PDF and view inside a ZIP archive (with plugins) has made working much easier. Moving to a Mac still on Tiger is quite annoying now because any file I wish to preview must be opened in its original application. It also makes viewing slideshows of folders full of images exceptionally easy.

Time Machine
Fortunately, I haven’t had the need to restore my entire computer from a Time Machine backup. What I do use the utility for, however, is to restore revisions that have gone awry. Most files, programs or projects contain numerous versions that need to be organized, and when a version gets unusable for any reason, I can easily go back in time to restore the original copy. Having a constant update is always comforting, and this is truly one of the “set it and forget it” kind of applications. I’m sure it has saved many other people from having to start over from scratch, and that is precisely what it was meant to do in the first place.

New Finder Sidebar
Some people love it, some people hate it. I’ve found the network share part of the sidebar to be incredibly useful. Having one-click access to other computers or hard drives on the network has proven to be consistently fast and effective in most network setups. However, the other element of the new sidebar, Search for, is rather annoying, because it cannot be removed. Sure you can collapse it, but it doesn’t free the same space that erasing it completely would.

Preview
Preview is here because of a single addition: the change size tool. Writing blog posts, updating websites and general media work requires a lot of image resizing, and having the ability to resize images quickly, efficiently and with high quality results saves a lot of time over opening Photoshop.

The Bad

Spaces
I’ve yet to fully make use of Spaces. Right now I have 2 Spaces, with all my primary work being done on Space 1, and use full screen apps like Parallels or VNC on the second space to make things more organized. It works nicely, but that’s all I can see myself using Spaces for. What would help me adopt it more readily would be providing the option for disconnecting a specific application from all Spaces. What that could mean is choosing Finder in Space Y opens a new window instead of going to back to the Finer window in Space X. Some applications you want to open normally regardless of what is open around it.

Front Row
Recently I’ve gotten into the whole Network Area Storage media center thing by getting a 750GB drive connected to my Airport Extreme (more details on that to come in a later post). This is great for sharing all my media in a way that I can access it from anywhere in the house, and even view the shows on my TV by streaming on my MacBook. It’s like having an TV without having an TV. But after using Front Row more and more, I’ve found some rather basic things that could improve the app significantly.

First, TV shows that I have carefully labelled and organized inside iTunes don’t display the order you might expect. You’d think that the natural order to display TV shows is by Season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In a TV show with 4 seasons, the links are displayed Season 4, 2, 3, 1 which is very weird. On top of that, you can’t tell you’ve entered the wrong season until clicking through because Front Row only displays the show name rather than the season. By adding the ability to sort by show, then season, navigating the system would be made a lot easier. Another annoyance is Front Row’s inability to use network shares or other storage medium with the Source menu. The only way to view media outside iTunes, iPhoto and the Movies folder is to use an alias (I’ll explain that later too). I hope Apple makes some of these changes for the upcoming versions, as these basic modifications could make using a Mac for a media center even more elegant.

iCal information
My final beef represents the largest step backwards from Tiger to Leopard. In iCal versions predating 10.5, editing activities and events was as easy as opening the drawer on the right side of the window. This meant that to edit a new event, you only needed to select the item on the calendar, and the drawer would update accordingly. That all changed with iCal 3, as changing an event now requires the Command+I keystroke, or for you to double click the event on the calendar. Not only is this an extra, unnecessary step, but it covers up space on the calendar that is likely needed to compare events. In terms of usability, it is definitely a step back.

I don’t know if Apple has any of these changes in store for Snow Leopard, but let’s hope that they keep the great stuff, and find a way to improve the features that aren’t quite as useful as they should be.

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It finally happened. Today in Cupertino, Apple unveiled new MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and MacBook Airs that satisfy nearly everything I wanted in a MacBook. Shown in the above image from Apple.com, the new MacBooks feature an aluminum enclosure, glass trackpad, LED backlit screen and nVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics. That last one has me most excited, as the graphics power of my current MacBook definitely leaves something to be desired. I won’t really know how badly I want a new MacBook until I can use one in person, but right now I’d say that these are some of the best, if not the best consumer laptops to come from California. It should also be mentioned that this new crop of MBs do not include FireWire 400 ports, but rather use the faster FireWire 800 standard.(Update: Ruh roh, no FW 400 either, that could be a deal breaker) Connecting your digital video camera and hard drive just required another adapter moving to a MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro

As the flagship laptop in the Apple lineup, the MacBook Pro received an abundance of upgrades that make it an even better choice for business professionals. In addition to the glass trackpad, new aluminum enclosure and LED screen, the MBP gets a dual graphics setup that allows you to use the integrated GeForce 9400M for normal stuff, then up the ante with a GeForce 9600GT for those times when only the highest FPS will do. Personally I really like this new design as well, but I find the 15″ screen to be too big for what I use a laptop for.

MacBook Air

The only laptop in the fleet to get zero case changes, all the upgrades to the MacBook Air go on under the hood. It gets the new GeForce 9400M, the same keyboard and screen, and now has more hard drive options like 120GB HDD standard and 128GB SSD as an option. Still a niche product, but it’s always good to see more power cost less.

So another Apple presentation brought another 3 reasons to have a thinner wallet. Sadly, I must wait a few weeks months before I can even consider a new machine, but I can always dream.

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Nothing stirs up the Apple nerds in cyberspace like an invitation to an event to release new laptops. October 14 is scheduled to be a busy day on the internets for Apple, as Engadget, Gizmodo, and MacRumors all received press passes to an event in Cupertino where “The spotlight is on notebooks”. What does Apple have in store? Only time will tell, but the rumor mill has been wild with speculation.

Rumors include:

  • New MacBooks and MacBook Pros (sort of a gimme)
  • Dramatically new shell as a result of Apple’s reported “brick” manufacturing process
  • Aluminum shells to the MacBook line
  • nVidia graphics chips (Woohoo!)
  • Possible Blu-Ray?

Of course, these could all be way off the mark, but whatever Apple does release tomorrow, it should be interesting.

[tags]Apple event, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Apple rumors[/tags]

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