Now on Twitter—and praise for Anne-Marie Concepción, the Vin Scully of lynda.com

Automated Workflows now has a company account on Twitter: @scriptsmatter

It's my first venture into Twitter-dom, and I owe many thanks to Anne-Marie Concepción. Her excellent Twitter for Business course at lynda.com was very helpful. I’ve viewed several of Anne-Marie’s courses over the years, and they were all outstanding.

Anyone who has followed Anne-Marie’s career at Seneca Design, InDesignSecrets and elsewhere knows that she is extremely knowledgeable about the publishing world and covers some other fields as well. I’ve seen her give conference presentations on InDesign and would rank her among the best.

Confession: I have a very critical nature. Show me an Apple keynote and I’ll list 20 things which could have been done better. I’m so critical that when I’m leading a seminar I think, “Please, please don’t let there be anyone in the audience like me.” I don’t want to see that person's feedback form.

Still, there are many top-notch presenters and trainers deserving of praise. Among lynda.com authors, Anne-Marie is the best. What makes her so special?

Then I realized…Anne-Marie as the Vin Scully of lynda.com. Yes, I love baseball. And although I’m not a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, frequently I will tune into a Dodgers broadcast just to listen to Scully call the game. He’s simply remarkable, broadcasting the entire game solo as opposed to the two- or three-person crews covering most other teams. The rest of the announcers have conversations with each other throughout the game. Somehow Scully manages to have a conversation with the viewer.

That’s what Anne-Marie does at lynda.com: she has a conversation with the viewer. There are some very good lynda.com authors, but it is obvious many are reading from a script. Not so with Anne-Marie. She comes across as having something to share with you—the viewer—and she wants you to know it because it is important, as if she were talking with you at a coffee shop. That's very challenging to do when it is just you and a computer in a recording room.

In general, I find lynda.com a great resource, well worth the monthly fee my business pays. Imagine all the various Mac programs which people ask me to automate. Knowing a program well is just as important as knowing a scripting language. How can I keep track of the ever-changing features?

I could turn to documentation, books and web searches, but the written word often goes to torturous lengths to describe an interface, with long descriptions and screenshots spread across multiple pages. Videos are so much better for this type of learning. What about free videos on YouTube and elsewhere? A few can help, but the lynda.com courses are far more consistent in quality, and the interface has some very helpful features, such as the complete written transcript (love it) and the new ability to save notes.

With all that being said, not everything at lynda.com is great. I can’t recommend the AppleScript course, even as an intro. And the most common problem is authors talking way too fast. As in I've-got-so-much-to-tell-you-but-want-to-keep-this-section-under-x-minutes-so-I-will-cram-in-so-much-that-you-will-retain-almost-nothing. Critical me.

Back to Anne-Marie. I've received nothing but positive feedback when I’ve recommend her courses to others. Don't think she does this well just because she is a natural. A lot of hard work goes into each video course, to say the least. At last count, she appears to have done 22 videos on social media and Adobe products. In my mind, that’s the equivalent of writing 22 technical books. Wow.

I don’t know the inner workings of lynda.com, but I would hope there is some type of internal course for first-time video authors—something every presenter must view before developing a course. If there is such an internal video, by all means it should be done by the best: Anne-Marie Concepción.

Full disclosure: I’ve met Anne-Marie three times at events, and about 10 years ago she was kind enough to make a home-cooked dinner for me and a travel-weary Australian in the land of Chicago. A memorable meal.

-Ray Robertson
ray@automatedworkflows.com

Macworld Article > Latest iWork update is another win for AppleScript

scriptLate last year, Apple generated a wave of negative press after releasing slimmed down Mac versions of the iWork apps—Keynote, Numbers, and Pages. Rewritten from the ground up to focus on ease of use, consistency, and iCloud support, the apps lacked lots of the useful productivity features that Mac users had come to use. One major setback was a significant reduction in AppleScript support, a problem for anyone attempting to automate an iWork-based office workflow.

I’m pleased to say that this week, Apple has delivered!  The iWork apps have received a notable set of AppleScript improvements across the board. [Read more on Macworld.com...]

Macworld Article > AppleScript makes a comeback in Numbers 3.1 iWork Update

scriptBack in November, I wrote about the growing concern in the Mac community that Apple might be abandoning AppleScript. The occasion was the virtual removal of AppleScript support from the iWork apps (Keynote, Numbers, and Pages). At the time, I stressed that Mac users should remain calm, that this was nothing new, that the level of AppleScript support in any given app had always ebbed and flowed from release to release.

Looks like we’ve just had another ebb and flow.

[Read more on Macworld.com...]

Macworld Article > The state of AppleScript: Let’s not panic … yet

scriptIt’s that time again. A new version of OS X is out, and with it come the recurring cries of AppleScript’s demise. But let’s try to remain calm: Recent Internet rumors that the sky is falling may be slightly exaggerated. Nobody knows for sure what the future holds, but personally, I don’t think AppleScript is going anywhere just yet.

[Read more on Macworld.com...]

MacTech Article > Workflow Quick Tips > Productivity App Pick: File Juicer

I develop custom automation solutions for lots of clients, but I don’t like reinventing the wheel. If there’s an existing tool that works well and reduces development time, I tend to use it.  File Juicer, from Echo One (http://echoone.com), is one such tool, which I’ve used with great success in numerous client projects.

[Read the full article in MacTech magazine's September 2013 issue, available in print and in the MacTech iPad Newsstand app]

iOS Productivity: Remotely Access your Mac with LogMeIn

Your ability to accomplish things while on the go is key to your mobile productivity.  You've got tons of great apps on your iPhone or iPad, and probably have some level of access to your important files too, maybe through Dropbox or iCloud.  You can do almost anything, but every now and then, you hit a wall.  Maybe you need to make some emergency changes in an InDesign layout back home, check on the status of your Mac's backup, or dig up tax returns you filed away on your external drive.  If only you could connect to your Mac remotely, take control, and do what you need.  With LogMeIn, you can do exactly that. [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Mac and iOS Productivity Tip: Keeping Up with the News

Staying up to date with your favorite websites and blogs can be a real chore, and a major productivity drain.  If only there was a way to quickly get the latest unread headlines from top sites in one place, at any time, on any devices.  There is.  Available for iPad, iPhone, and Mac is Reeder, the popular Google Reader client. [Read more on the Peachpit blog...]

Macworld | iWorld 2012 Favorite Find: olloclip

More and more, my iPhone is becoming my camera of choice.  It takes great photos, and I always have it with me.  This year, at Macworld | iWorld, I was excited to stumble upon the olloclip.  It's a 3-in-1 lens that fits snuggly over your existing iPhone lens.  Included lenses are fisheye, wide-angle, and macro.  I have to say, I love this lens, and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to do more with iPhone photography.  It'll set you back about $70, but it's such a great little accessory, to me, it's well worth the price.

For anyone considering it, here are some observations…

  • The olloclip is tiny.  It will easily fit in your pocket.
  • It only works with the main iPhone camera (the one on the back of the phone), not the one that faces you.
  • You access the macro lens by unscrewing the wide-angle lens.  To use the macro lens, you need to get in very close, within about 1/2".
  • The fisheye lens has an extensive range, so you'll need to grip your iPhone more on the sides if you want to prevent your fingers from being visible along the edges of the photos.
  • The olloclip is a tight squeeze.  You'll have to remove your phone from its case to use it.  And, if you have a screen protector, it may push it out of the way if you aren't careful.
  •  The olloclip is designed for the iPhone 4/4S.  If Apple releases a new form factor iPhone 5, you'll probably need to purchase a new olloclip, assuming they release an updated version.
  • The olloclip comes with a small microfiber bag, which doubles as a lens cleaner.

In short, I concur with Stephen Hackett's Three-Word Review of the olloclip… Buy it now!

-Ben

olloclip Gallery: