First beta of Vitamin-R available

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Publishing a new product is always a bit of an out-of-body experience. After spending a great many hours (or in this case well over half a year) working quietly away at your “big next thing” in total isolation from the world, you post the link on MacUpdate and Versiontracker and expose it to the scrutiny of the entire world.

What if people think that my baby is ugly?

I have been there a few times before, but I don’t think anything will compare to the first time in 1996 when my Ph.D. prototype “publicspace” went up on the newly bought “publicspace.net” domain. My gift to the world. Three years of research, two years coding. And totally free. An hour later I had half a dozen complaints about Command-A not selecting all the files.. and no congratulations on my huge achievement from an adoring public. You live, you learn 😉

Well, what makes me think about that experience 14 years ago is that my new application, Vitamin-R is a more personal product than any of those that came after the eponymous publicspace.

Vitamin-R is my personal attempt at creating a productivity enhancement tool. Unlike A Better Finder Rename, A Better Finder Attributes, “The Big Mean Folder Machine” and even MacBreakZ which were largely developed by me for other people, Vitamin-R is designed to help me and hopefully people like me, become more productive and more satisfied with how they spend their work days. It’s for creative people who love doing stuff but find it hard to get down to it.

What has always irritated me with the productivity systems that are out there, is that they focus on capturing and organising action items rather than actually getting anything done.

Getting Things Done is a great idea and has a few nice ideas, but if you are anything like me, you’ll soon have a huge to-do list, but will still not have gotten around to actually doing any work. For some real GTD fanatics managing their to-do list and their reference system and all the rest appears to be an end in itself.

What did you do today? Oh, well.. I did my weekly review, worked through my in-tray, reorganised my contexts in OmniFocus and synched my to-do list with my iPhone. Wow, I rock!

This was the starting point for my Vitamin-R project. Instead of spending my time organising in minute detail what my next action should be, I wanted a new system that could live with a little bit of creative chaos and that would help me get my work done. I’m not about to throw out my to-do list manager away, but I’m done hoping that my actual work will magically get done if I just keep reorganising my database often enough.

So as a good former academic, I started researching the issue. Along the way I read many a book from one productivity guru or another, took a brief detour into neuroscience, tried a few things myself and then started coding.. I haven’t stopped reading, thinking or coding since.

What is released as the first public beta today is not the finished product. It’ll never be finished and will keep evolving and my head is already bursting with ideas for all the great features that will be added in the future.. and that is before I get into the feedback loop with (potential) users.

This is merely a beginning. Perhaps you will think that my baby is ugly. That’ll be unfortunate. Please let me know, so that I can improve it.

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.

Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Review

I started my quest for the ultimate input device more than a decade ago when I had a bout of tendonitis as a result of spending too much time on the computer, using the wrong techniques with the wrong hardware..

One of the results of all this was of course MacBreakZ, our “Personal Ergonomic Assistant” for the Macintosh.

Another was a constant stream of high-tech gadgets making their way through “Frank’s Ergonomic Testing Lab”.

Unlike many other people, I have always had a soft spot for track pads rather than mice. A track pad doesn’t need shifting around endlessly, it can do without buttons (which is nice for those fingers) and it’s super fast to just move the pointer around quickly in between bouts of typing. On the downside, they are imprecise and absolutely, categorically no good for anything to do with graphics or where you need pixel accurate positioning.

A lot of track pads are plain rubbish, especially those dreadful things on many cheap “netbooks”, so it’s no wonder they have a bad reputation. There are also some quite astonishingly good trackpads around, my all-time favourite easily being the Fingerworks iGesture Pad, which is a direct ancestor of the iPhone multi touch interface (Apple bought FingerWorks). They are no longer available, but seem to be sold at something of a premium for $999 these days! If you are interested, I’ll sell you mine at that price!

Anybody who wants to do anything graphical will of course want a digital tablet and over the years I have owned a ridiculous number of different models, most obviously from Wacom. The problem with tablets is easily described.. they rock at doing graphical stuff, but suck at anything else. The reason for this is that you need to put the pen down (or on its stand) each time you use the keyboard turning everyday tasks into an ordeal.

I always use the tablet for a few weeks and then it disappears rapidly into its box never to be opened again.. still next time will be different won’t it?

Sadly the same is also true for track pads. They usually stay next to my keyboard for at least a year, then get shoved back into their box when I start doing a lot of pixel-perfect stuff again.

Why not have both? A pen for pixel perfect work and a touch pad for quick clicks? Besides the space problem on your desk there is no reason why this shouldn’t work.. which is precisely why when Wacom announced their new Bamboo Pen and Touch Tablet, I had to have one.

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The Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch Small Tablet combines a jumbo sized track pad that allows you to move the pointer with your fingertips with a “small” tablet that takes pressure sensitive pen input and throws in a few function keys and multi-touch gestures for good measure. In essence it’s a FingerWorks iGesture Pad with pen input. What could be better?

My first worry was that the drivers wouldn’t work properly. This is pretty much a Wacom trademark: great products, awful drivers, lots of crashes. Luckily so far everything seems to work just fine (as long as you don’t count the Bamboo Scribble handwriting recognition software that comes with the tablet, use Mac OS X’s “Ink” if you must).

As a long time Intuos user, I’m used to paying a lot of money for a tablet, but to also get great results. The Bamboo model range is much more accessible and well.. not of the same quality. The pen tracking is fine, the pressure sensitivity is okay, but it’s all a lot cheaper than the Intuos range.

The track pad is indeed large and works reasonably well, but bears no comparison with either FingerWorks’ or Apple’s efforts. On the FingerWorks track pad, you can roll your fingertip to make the pointer move just a little. On the Bamboo this does exactly nothing. You need to move the whole finger or nothing at all. In other words, as a trackpad it’s at the imprecise end of the spectrum, which would be a fatal flaw if it wasn’t for the fact that you also have the pen for precisely those kinds of tasks!

If you look at the entire package and factor in the sub-$100 price tag, it’s a great little input device. It is a tablet and offers all of the advantages of a tablet and it is also a track pad and offers most of the advantages of that type of device as well. Combined, you get a device that is fine for run of the mill pointing and clicking tasks, but also let’s you draw and supports tasks that require more precision.

You are left with a perfectly adequate (in fact more than adequate) input device for a wide range of tasks, but you can’t help thinking that there are better track pads and there are better tablets out there. It’s a bit like a washer/dryer, it doesn’t wash as well as a proper washing machine and doesn’t dry as well as a proper dryer, but cost less and takes up less space than having two separate devices 🙂

In future, Wacom will probably add multi-touch to its premium Intuos range and then we might very well get the best of both worlds at the kind of price that this entails. For now the the Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch Tablet is the only game in town.

I had expected Apple to leverage the FingerWorks iGesture technology that it acquired to greater effect on the desktop. If it worked fine a decade ago, why not offer a separate track pad for the Mac? We keep hearing about the combined pen and touch input for the fabled Apple Tablet, so I had kind-of-expected Apple to release something more exiting than the Apple Magic Mouse, which is basically a multi-touch trackpad on top of a mouse, but without the ability of moving the cursor with your fingertips.

In my view, it’s a strange decision because multi-touch on top of a mouse doesn’t really give you very much. Especially when your keyboard and its vast number of shortcuts is only inches away. After all if you want to navigate forwards and backwards the cursor keys on your keyboard do a perfectly good job. The pinching gesture and scrubbing gestures might be more interesting, but all this would be so much more intuitive on a track pad.

In the end, I think it’s a matter of Steve Jobs liking mice.. and not track pads.

Anyway, I ordered mine today for my “testing lab”, so I’ll be put right soon 🙂

How to use Image Capture to import images to a specific folder and run A Better Finder Rename

A Snow Leopard rewrite of the Image Capture utility brings about many new features, but one has been removed: the ability to specify where to save your photos just before a program is run on those pictures. Image Capture will allow the user to download images to a folder of their choice, or download to the users Pictures folder and then run an external application on those images.

But you want to be able to specify the folder where your images are downloaded, and then use A Better Finder Rename to rename them. Today I put together an Automator action which does this.

Installation instructions:

  1. Download the Automator action here. This will put the file MoveAndRename.tgz in your Downloads folder.

  2. Double-click MoveAndRename.tgz. This will produce a file called “Move and Rename.workflow”

  3. Double-click “Move and Rename.workflow”. This will open the workflow in Automator:

  4. Click File, Save As, name the workflow (the default is “Move and Rename”) and click Save:

  5. The Automator workflow is now saved as an Image Capture plugin.

Usage Instructions:

For more detailed instructions on using Image Capture, check out this tutorial.

  1. Open Image Capture

  2. Under “Import To:” you’ll notice a new option: “Move and Rename.workflow”:

  3. Click “Import” to import the selected images or “Import All” to import the entire camera roll

  4. You are now asked what folder you would like to move the images to. Select the destination folder and click “Continue.” If you don’t want to move the images anywhere, leave “Pictures” selected and just click “Continue”:

  5. Next, A Better Finder Rename is launched. Rename your filesas your normally would.

 

Notes:

  • Automator is unable to save the last folder you used in the “Move Finder Items (Move Images)” step.

  • If you do not select “Replace existing files” in the “Move Finder Items (Move Images)” step, and images files of the same name already exist in the destination folder, Automator will bomb out. This is a limitation of the Automator action.

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.

publicspace.net moves to its own server

It’s been a while since I last updated the infrastructure on which publicspace.net was running.

In fact, it was back in 2006 when it moved onto a new hardware and software platform. Back then it moved onto a “virtual private” server, meaning shared hardware with software that makes it look as if it’s running on its own machine.

Since then a lot has happened, so I’ve taken the opportunity to migrate software versions, clean up some loose ends in the software implementation, etc.

The new dedicated machine delivers much faster download times and response rates.

If you had any problems with the server yesterday that was probably due to the domain name being shifted around. If you notice anything out of the ordinary just let me know.

I hope you’ll enjoy the new faster and better experience.

Manual Auto-Updating.. Sorry guys.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time doing behind the scenes stuff to get my development practices up to the state of the art.

I’ve migrated from svn to git version control, I’ve started automating builds and release management. I’m synching my home office with my office machine, etc.. all in the name of working more efficiently and thus getting more stuff done..

The problem comes when things start going wrong.. they kind of spiral out of control.. as they did yesterday.

My first TNG (the next generation) release yesterday just went very slightly wrong.. nothing catastrophic.. A Better Finder Rename 8.15 has a very slight bug that means that the contextual menu item in the Finder only opens the application but does not add the selected files to the preview.. you’ll have to drag and drop them there anyway.. oops.

It took me a while to track down the reason for this and it’s quite simply that the 64-bit APIs in Leopard are not 100% backwards compatible and this caused the problem. I solved it and thought, wow! now I can really use that fully automated build process and do another release in less than a minute.. haha (evil laughter)..

And I did and it went wonderfully smoothly and fully validated why this was a good idea in the first place. I tested everything and it just worked first time over. No problem.. until I tried to update A Better Finder Rename 8.15 to the fixed 8.16 release using the auto-update feature.

I was greeted with an “Application is incorrectly signed” message.. oops.. especially since I have never signed the application updates.. how can it be incorrectly signed when it’s not even signed?

As it turns out when migrating A Better Finder Rename to 64-bit I included a new 64 bit friendly version of “Sparkle”, Andy Matuschak’s free auto-update framework that powers half the auto-updating applications on the Mac (Thanks Andy!).

Fortunately (or in this case not so fortunately) Andy is very concerned about security.. so much so that he has removed the ability to update without using digital signatures from the latest release of Sparkle that I’ve included in A Better Finder Rename 8.15.. which means that 8.15 needs my public key to verify any update that it downloads is valid; otherwise it just refuses to install the update.. only 8.15 does not have my public key.. which kind of means it can’t auto-update.. which means you have to manually update it.

I’m really sorry about this.. you’ll have to click on the link below:

http://www.publicspace.net/download/ABFRX8.dmg

and drag the application icon from the left to the right onto the Applications folder and confirm the overwrite.

It’s little consolation, but I seem to be far from the only developer who has fallen into this trap. So there’s a bunch of applications out there using Sparkle that will/ have already required a manual update after all.. it’s a bit unfortunate because Andy’s done more than anybody else to bring auto-update features to Mac applications.. security is important, but then again so is backwards compatibility.

It’s not really what an auto-update feature is supposed to do.. but at least now you get securely signed updates delivered.. and I’ve learned a lot more about version control, automated builds, 64-bit APIs and code signing than I had bargained for this early in the morning 🙂

As a small aside.. I’ve spent yesterday working on the promised speed and scalability improvements on A Better Finder Rename and it’s coming along very nicely. The preview is now between 3 and 5 times quicker and the new version only uses 320MB of real memory to preview 180,000 files.. I think you’re going to like it.