Announcing Version 9 of A Better Finder Rename

Introducing A Better Finder Rename 9 for Mac

We are thrilled to announce the release of A Better Finder Rename 9. We are excited about this new release and hope that you will enjoy the new version.

Refined Single Window User Interface

As befits a major new release, we have updated and refined the single window user interface introduced in version 8. We are rather pleased with the update and hope you will like as much as we do.

Manual Ordering

This has long been the Number 1 request for A Better Finder Rename and we have finally found a truly intuitive way to implement it.

You can now re-arrange the order of the files in the preview list simply through drag and drop. The sequence numbers, roman numerals or alphabetical sequences will automatically change to take into account the new ordering.

Tag-Based Renaming

Over the years, we kept getting requests for adding this or that type of meta-data. We wanted to find a really great way to integrate all kinds of file meta-data into the product without sacrificing the simplicity and elegance of the interface. The new tag-based renaming feature adds over one hundred tags allowing you to exploit camera, lens, image, color, music & date meta-data in your naming schemes.

Version 9 is but a new beginning

Customers who have been with us since A Better Finder Rename’s humble beginnings in 1996 will know that every new release is only the beginning of a new cycle of iterative refinements. Over the past 16 years, few months have gone by without a point update to A Better Finder Rename and this will of course continue unabated with version 9. We have come a long way in the three and half years between version 8.0 and version 8.95 and we intend to continue developing A Better Finder Rename aggressively.

Free & Discounted Upgrades

A Better Finder Rename 9 is free for all customers who have bought the product after the 1st of January 2011 or who own a forever license.

Upgrades to the version 9 are available at the discounted price of $9.95 (Single User License) from our web store. You can also take the opportunity to upgrade to a family/small business license covering up to 5 individuals or a business license covering up to 100 users.

Better Rename 9 & the Mac App Store

Better Rename 9 is available on the Mac App Store for $19.95 and some of you may prefer using this opportunity to “crossgrade” to the Mac App Store version.

At present Better Rename 9.0 maintains feature parity with A Better Finder Rename 9 and we would like to keep it that way. Note however that on the Mac App Store, everybody plays by Apple’s rules and those rules may at any moment force us to remove features, some of which you may find crucial.

Vitamin-R receives 4.5 out of 5 mice review from MacWorld

It’s always nice for an indie developer to get a good review, but doubly so if it’s MacWorld:

http://www.macworld.com/reviews/product/573630/review/vitaminr_118.html?expand=true

I like the conclusion:

“Overall I found Vitamin-R to be one of the few get-thing-done applications that actually works for me—in my book, that’s a huge task accomplished.”

so much that I had to plaster it over all the product pages 🙂

twitter..

I’ll admit it, I’m not a great Twitter fan. Perhaps at 30 something, I’m already well past it.

I find myself agreeing at least partially with notorious software pundit, Joel Spolsky who announces his retirement from blogging with this little tidbit:

l appreciate that many people find Twitter to be valuable, I find it a truly awful way to exchange thoughts and ideas. It creates a mentally stunted world in which the most complicated thought you can think is one sentence long. It’s a cacophony of people shouting their thoughts into the abyss without listening to what anyone else is saying. Logging on gives you a page full of little hand grenades: impossible-to-understand, context-free sentences that take five minutes of research to unravel and which then turn out to be stupid, irrelevant, or pertaining to the television series Battlestar Galactica. I would write an essay describing why Twitter gives me a headache and makes me fear for the future of humanity, but it doesn’t deserve more than 140 characters of explanation, and I’ve already spent 820. [Joel on Software Blog]

Nonetheless, despite the fact that I have never advertised the existence of a twitter feed in my name (you’ve got to see what all the fuss is about after all), I do seem to have acquired a very small following anyway, so I feel honour bound to make an effort.

So henceforward, at least until I completely forget about it again, here’s a link to my official twitter feed.

OrthoMouse Review

OrthoMouse

My interest in ergonomic hardware was triggered in the late 1990s when I contracted a bout of tendonitis while writing up my PhD, working full time as a Research Assistant and starting out with publicspace.net concurrently.

Nothing focuses the attention more than pain and the prospect of ending your IT career before it’s even started. I made a lot of changes both to how I work and the environment that I create for myself to work in. In those years, “human factors” were beginning to become a big thing and the awareness of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) was rapidly growing.

Back then, I learned to type using the dvorak keyboard layout, got myself a “proper” ergonomic keyboard (Kinesis Advantage), dabbled in voice recognition (a lot of my thesis was dictated into Dragon NaturallySpeaking) and tried pretty much every pointing device out there.. settling finally on the FingerWorks iGesturePad which has become the grand daddy of the iPhone (and as rumors have it the iTablet/ iSlate, etc.).

Since the late 90s, while ergonomic design has entered the main stream, there have been few ergonomic products of particular note and the companies specializing in such gear seem to have fallen on hard times. RSI, while it hasn’t gone away, has gone out of fashion.

It was in that context that when I came across the “Ortho Mouse” I jumped at the opportunity to test one. Here was a product that seemed to break the mould of computer mice and promised some real health advantages.

The “unboxing” of a new piece of kit has become a bit of a review ritual these days. With Apple’s products this is of course usually a special treat. You feel like you’re getting a boutique item presented to you and even companies such as Wacom have started doing a nice job.

Ergonomic gear usually falls flat on its face in this department. Usually it comes straight from its Chinese factory cardboard box filled with little “chips”. In a word, the experience is more “organic food produce” than “Cartier watch”.

The OrthoMouse doesn’t come in a cardboard box but in a nice looking but much maligned “rigid plastic clamshell” package. I usually hate those things because it’s impossible to get the product out of it without cutting yourself somehow which kind of is the point given that it is first and foremost used as an anti-theft device. Luckily, the OrthoMouse doesn’t fail at this first ergonomic hurdle. The packaging is only held in place by the pressure on its rim and comes open very easily without having to apply more than a gentle push. So don’t open it with box cutters, knifes or scissors!

Just in case, you do come across more “traditional” clamshell packages, here are some safety tips for opening such packages (try the can opener technique).

The packaging itself is quite nice, not up to Apple standards, but it does a good job of explaining the main benefits of the product, looks good and it even let’s you put your hand on the mouse to get a “feel” for it before buying it.

Once opened the package contains the mouse, several plastic shells that can be used to adapt the mouse to your hand size and form along with a mini-CD that contains the documentation and some instructional videos. There are three plastic “prolongers” for small, medium and large hands and two “upper adapters”. I’ve got small hands, so I put on the small prolonger and that seemed quite nice already (I like “puck” style mice anyway).

Connecting the mouse to your Mac is as simple as attaching it to the nearest USB port and the default settings are just fine.

My first impressions were very positive. The mouse fits well into my hand and it rests in the typical “vertical mouse” relaxed neutral position with zero tension in your hand.

With “normal” mice (Mighty Mouse, Magic Mouse, Microsoft mouse, Mac “puck”, etc, etc.) the palm of your hand lies pretty much flat or “horizontally” on the mouse. This seems intuitive until you try a “vertical” mouse where your hand is the “handshake” position.

This position is much more comfortable to work in and leaves your forearm and wrist in a neutral position avoiding much of the discomfiture that often ends up in tendonitis and carpal tunnel injury.

What is noticeable to a long term vertical mouse user is that the OrthoMouse isn’t fully “vertical”. Meaning you have to rotate your forearm a little bit towards the body after all. This intrigued me at first but a quick look through the manual revealed that the grip mimics the traditional hand writing position where the thumb and the index finger hold the pen in a pincer position. I can’t vouch for whether this is better than the “vertical” position advocated by vertical mice, but it certainly feels “right” and gives you a feeling of precision that is sometimes absent in vertical mice.

The next thing that is noticeable is that there is no scroll wheel or little trackball, etc.. instead the OrthoMouse uses two micro-switches on the side of the mouse that you activate by moving your thumb up and down. Moving your thumb up will scroll upwards, moving it down will scroll down. The scrolling continues until you release the switch by moving your thumb back into the middle. The desired speed is selected through the number of clicks: clicking once and holding will result in a very slow scroll, clicking twice and holding results in a “normal” speed and beyond three clicks you get into fast territory. This sounds a bit odd, but in practice feels quite comfortable and intuitive. There’s also no problem with accidentally hitting the switches with your thumb; your thumb rests quite comfortably on the body of the mouse and it takes no effort to keep it there. The switches are responsive and take little effort to activate.

The OrthoMouse is a three button mouse and the third button rests just under the top of your thumb, which can be usefully mapped to Exposé. The two main buttons lie in the entirely intuitive index and ring finger positions and the buttons extend all the way from the knuckle to the tip of the fingers so you can use the entire length of your fingers to click. The microswitches again are of good quality and produce a clearly audible clicking sound.

The body of the mouse features high-grip textured surfaces across most of its surface and is made of a light weight plastic material. This doesn’t exactly give it a quality feel (our brains tend to associate heavier as being better) but it does help with the ergonomics by minimizing the effort required to move it across your desk. Even on a less-than-optimal surface the mouse also slides very easily and the tracking and sensitivity are good. The manufactures have even gone the extra mile and provided an “ultra-flexible” cord that “minimizes resistance to displacement”.

I can vouch for the result being vastly superior to the Apple “Magic Mouse” which on the hotel table (velours top!) that I wrote this on had huge problems with its tracking. The OrthoMouse worked just fine.

Having now worked with the mouse for well over a month, it has become my preferred input device. It’s comfortable and intuitive to use and just blends into the background. Precision tasks as well as general pointing and clicking tasks can both be performed without any problems. From a purely tactile point of view, it’s not as satisfying to move around as the Evoluent VerticalMouse, which feels a bit heavier and looks more aesthetically pleasing.

The “OrthoMouse” is a great compromise between proper ergonomic design and everyday practicality. Its industrial design emphasizes function over aesthetics without producing the medical equipment look that so often makes people shy away from such devices.

If you already suffer from a repetitive strain injury, this mouse is definitely worth a try even at its comparatively high price point of $109. If you don’t already have problems, now is probably the best time to make sure that it stays that way.

Tutorial: Using A Better Finder Rename to import image files from your camera with Snow Leopard

Photographers, both professionals and ambitious amateurs make up a large fraction of A Better Finder Rename users.

All-in-one photo management and manipulation software like iPhoto assumes that file names are of little consequence and you’ll want to organize your images according to a project structure or meta data. This is fine as long as you never leave the photo management software, but of course you do so for all kinds of reasons: export the files to send to a third party, manipulate your files in a third party application, publish them to a non .Mac gallery, etc., etc.

In all these situations, you’d rather give your image files more meaningful names than IMG_66387.jpg. But how can you do this when all the files are managed by iPhoto software?

There are essentially two solutions: You can give your files meaningful names before importing them into your photo management software or after exporting them out of your photo management software.

Don’t ever try to rename files within the photo management software’s folder hierarchy! Applications, such as iPhoto, keep a lot of information outside of the actual image files and if you rename these files without the program knowing anything about it, you will lose valuable meta-data such as your albums, galleries, etc..

Using A Better Finder Rename to rename your image files after exporting them is trivial: simply drag & drop the files into A Better Finder Rename and let it do its magic.

Renaming the files before you import them is a little trickier.

Many Mac users do not know that you don’t need to import your pictures directly into iPhoto. For the true professionals, Mac OS X offers a specialized application that does nothing but import images from your camera (and other image devices): Image Capture.

Image Capture lives in your “Applications” folder. Simply double click to launch it:

Now it’s time to connect your camera and switch it on. iPhoto will probably launch and ask you whether you want to import your pictures. Politely tell it that you don’t need it and quit it for now.

The Image Capture window will now show your camera.

(You may have to click the Devices triangle to see your camera):

You can do pretty much everything in Image Capture that you could do in iPhoto as far as importing your images is concerned. “Import All” will simply get all the pictures off your camera, while “Import” will let you choose from the thumbnails which ones you want to import. Note that you can also choose which folder you want to import your pictures to, but be sure to sure to stretch your Image Capture window so you can see the “Import To:” drop down list.:

Once the photos are imported to the folder of your choice, you can use A Better Finder Rename to rename them and then import them using iPhoto’s import feature:

Voila.

But that’s still 3 steps and a little too complicated for you?

The next step requires A Better Finder Rename version 8.31 or better, released October 1, 2009. Remember the “Import To:” drop down list? Not only does it allow you to select the folder Image Capture should import images to, but it also allow you to select a program that should be run just after files have finished importing:

For now let’s simply choose the “A Better Finder Rename” application as the automatic task by:

  • selecting the “Other…” item in the “Import To:” drop down list
  • navigating to the “A Better Finder Rename” application in the “Applications” folder.

Pressing the “Import All” button will now first download all the images from your camera into your Pictures folder and then start up A Better Finder Rename:

You can now use the full power of the tool to give your pictures more meaningful file names.

You can, however, still go one step further.

It is for instance often convenient to encode the shooting time and date in the file name; that way you always know at a glance when the original picture was taken. If you use this type of naming convention you can take advantage of A Better Finder Rename’s droplet feature.

Droplets are small, independent, applications that automate common tasks. You save a rename action and the correct parameters into such a droplet application and every time you drag some files on the droplet the files are automatically renamed according to these settings.

Instead of defining A Better Finder Rename as the “automatic task”, we can use a droplet that we have prepared earlier. In this case, I have encoded our naming convention into a droplet called “Image Capture Automation” and defined it as the automatic task in Image Capture:

Now as soon as I push the “Import All” button, the pictures are imported to the hard disk and once this is finished they are automatically renamed with our naming convention.

One final note. You may have noticed that Image Capture in Snow Leopard does not allow you to specify what folder you would like your images downloaded to when you select a program to run afterwards. Instead, images are always downloaded to your Pictures folder before a program, such as A Better Finder Rename is run. If you’d like to be able to specify what folder your images are sent to before running A Better Finder Rename, take a look at this post. We’ve prepared an Automator action for Image Capture that does this.

Snow Leopard Update

Right, Snow Leopard has officially been released, so we can start talking about it..

Like many  in the Macintosh community, I thought that “sometime in September” would mean.. sometime in September, so I felt that it was safe to go on holiday until the second of September and that would leave me plenty of time for a nice orderly rollout of Mac OS X 10.6… silly old me, of course it meant the 28th of August!? I’m not really sure what Apple stands to gain from this kind of exercise, but it sure doesn’t make it easy for third party developers.

The good news is that I have tested all current products including A Better Finder RenameA Better Finder Attributes, “The Big Mean Folder Machine” and MacBreakZ with the latest beta release, which rumor has it is the gold master of what appears on the shelves today and it’s all running just fine.

A Better Finder Attributes displays some odd behaviors on certain file date changes which I’m fairly certain are  due to actual bugs in Snow Leopard. I’ll report them to Apple when I get back to the office next week. The workaround is simple: click on the “OK” button twice and everything is fine.

Snow Leopard also appears to no longer allow the creator part of the creator & type legacy codes to be set!? This isn’t a great loss since creator & type codes have been on their way out ever since 10.1 came out and the creator part is arguably of less relevance than the type part. I’ll investigate.

A Better Finder Rename runs just fine with no problems at all, so assuming that the beta I had was indeed the Gold Master, it should be smooth rollout.

The Big Mean Folder Machine” and MacBreakZ have displayed no problems at all.

Of course, once you put a new operating system into the hands of a couple of million actual users, inevitably quirks are discovered, so please let me know immediately if you find something. I can only fix problems that I know about..

One more thing..

How to get the Finder context menu on Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard finally does away with contextual menu item plug-ins, which is definitely a good thing. This ancient technology is replaced with “Services”.. you know that weird menu that appears in every application’s menu bar and you have no idea of what it does.

The gotcha here is that you need to activate the A Better Finder Rename and A Better Finder Attributes services to actually see them in the Finder context menu or the new streamlined Services menu.

  1. A Better Finder Rename and A Better Finder Attributes now definitely need to reside in your Applications because that is where Snow Leopard looks for “Service Providers”.. so if you have them installed somewhere else you need to drag them into the proper folder now.
  2. go to the Finder, open the “Finder” menu and select “Services Preferences…” from the “Services” menu
  3. in the Services Preferences tick the A Better Finder Rename 8 and A Better Finder Attributes 4 items

Voila.

If the items don’t appear in the Services Preferences, you might need to

  1. launch A Better Finder Rename 8 once
  2. and if that doesn’t work, log out and back into your account/ reboot

The reason for this complication is that the Finder only finds new services when it starts up. A Better Finder Rename 8 nicely asks the Finder to update its services list when it starts up , but it’s only a request..

I wish you all a good transition..

Frank

Snow Leopard Compatibility

One question that is certain to be on everybody’s mind at the moment is “Will it work on Snow Leopard?”.

I couldn’t possibly comment.. as I’m under NDA.. but surely it’s okay to just say: “Yes.”

There’ll be more info posted here on the 28th of August, the official Mac OS X 10.6 release date.

I’m on holiday right now and normal service will be resumed on the 2nd of September, so expect a few minor updates to iron out some minor issues that are sure to occur when tens of thousands of users simultaneously get their hands on a new operation system.

Looking for Web Design Partner

Our website is due a re-fresh and there’s lots of design work to be done on the product side as well.

We are looking for a talented and motivated designer or small design outfit for a long term partnership.

Now most of the users of our software happen to be designers and I’d love to welcome somebody on board who already has a genuine interest in the Mac community and would love to see his/her work featured on a leading Indie Software site.

If you are interested, drop me a line at reiff@publicspace.net