file_wrangler_2 BETA detail

I apologize for the lateness of this post, considering my original plan was to release file_wrangler_2 in the first half of this month. A move and heavy job searching/interviewing occupied quite a lot of time, but I was able to make progress. As such, I’m happy to announce that the BETA was released to a select group of testers yesterday.

There are still many non-coding things that need to be done: manual writing, help menu, icon design, webpage design, press release to write, and so forth. Of course, let’s not forget to repair whatever bugs the testing group finds. So, all that said I do feel that a release before the end of the month is a realistic goal. (UPDATE — Found some things that need more detailed attention to repair than expected, especially for my 10.5 users; currently looking at a July 9 release schedule).

Now that it has been released as a beta, I feel comfortable sharing more details about the program with you. We’ll start with a screencapture that I feel says a lot about the features and interface.

file_wrangler_2 takes a new approach toward the toolset for batch processing files.

First, let’s look at the main window at the grey bars labelled “Filtering” and “Building”. When you first launch the program these areas are empty; there are no interface elements on screen whatsoever. file_wrangler_2 lets you build your own interface for the task at hand.

Second, notice the Toolbar on the left side. These are small modules of functionality that you can add to the main interface. You can add them with a click of the button, at which point the module (a Filter or a Builder) will be added next in line to the chain. You can also drag a button into the chain at any arbitrary point. The existing panels will slide out of the way to make room for your drop, reshuffling themselves as you drag along the chain. Panels are rearrangable at any time by grabbing the blue title bar and dragging.

Third, notice that I’ve included two of the Date Filter panels into the chain. The first include anything modified BEFORE a certain date and the other includes anything modified AFTER a later date. This means I’ve excluded those files modified from 6/1/2009 to 8/1/2009. You may add as many of the same type of Filter or Builder as you wish.

Please consider what this means for name building. It means that when building a new file name there is no longer any concept of a “prefix” or a “suffix”. The order of the panels is the order of the name, and you can insert as many of the same type as you wish. So, bring in a Sequence Builder, bring in a Name Builder, and bring in a Text Builder. Set the sequence to number your files (or letter them), choose to use the original name as the basis of the new name, and append any arbitrary text using the Text Builder. Don’t like that order? Just rearrange the panels into the order you like and the live preview will reflect your decision.

I believe this to be the biggest contribution the new interface brings to the table. By breaking the interface down in this way, the program can contain 100% of its functionality, offer maximum flexibility, yet still work well for those with low-resolution screens. Just resize the windows and scroll through the tools as you add them to the interface. file_wrangler_2 will be what you make of it.

Additionally, a chain of Filters or Builders may be saved as a “set” for recurring naming purposes and those sets may further be established as a default upon application launch.

The filename with the yellow highlighting currently has “violation characters” in its new name, according to the violation character set I created and applied to this session via the Preferences window. The “New Name” column shows the file extension in italicized light grey. This is due to the Extension Builder choice to turn off extension visibility. These files will hide their extensions upon rename.

QuickLook integration means that you can preview a file before committing to the rename, as we see here with “Compute’s Amiga Applications” document.

In the upper left corner we see toggles for Files and Folders. Either may be targeted and renamed by file_wrangler_2.

There are many more columns available for viewing/sorting than is shown here. A full panel of options is available to turn on and off at your discretion.

Of course, there are many other options available in the program than can be captured in this screenshot; however, I think this gives everyone a good taste of what I’ll be releasing. file_wrangler_2 will be free to try for 30 days, after which it will cost $14.99 US. The original file_wrangler_1 will remain free in perpetuity. The new modular design of the program opens up many interesting doors for the future of the program and will make it very easy to add new Filters and Builders (and other things?) as time goes on, bringing continuing value to my customers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at file_wrangler_2, and I look very forward to getting it into your hands very soon. Comments, both good and bad, are always welcome.

Things are Developing

I can’t believe it is only Wednesday; it feels like next Thursday so much has been going on. Java projects are done and turned in, Java final is over, freelance work is done (for now), gave a speech at last night’s Spoilrr Meetup event, trying to coordinate people buying my furniture, prepping for this week’s move back to San Francisco, building a Joomla website for a client, job interviews, informational interviews, and probably a few things I’m forgetting.

After getting file_wrangler_2 to alpha status last week, I’ve had to spend this week taking care of all the other life-things that have languished a bit during development. This means file_wrangler_2 development is delayed by a week, but as of next Tuesday life calms down again (did I just jinx it?) and I make a major push to wrap up.

Ah, it is so difficult to decide what should be in version 2.0 and what should wait until 2.1 and 2.2. That roadmap is essential for helping me keep my sanity, and I wish I could put everything ever asked of me into the first release.

I have two screencasts I’d like to upload soon. First, a file_wrangler_2 feature demo to briefly show how the new interface works. Second, the presentation I gave at Spoilrr last night was to help define for content creators what it means to “develop something for the iPhone/iPad”. As a kind of introduction to the various ways one can get content onto the iPhone OS platform, I think it contains a lot of good information. Last night’s slides are being shared at If you are a content creator and know a group that may benefit from this information, I’d enjoy giving a high-level overview in person, gratis. I think there is a lot of misconception about the development process and I always enjoy the challenge of helping creative minds understand what technology can do for them.

file_wrangler_2 “Alpha” reached!

A big push this week to get an early version into a few testers’ hands today for an early alpha of file_wrangler_2. I’m very happy to have the program to a point I’m ready to share with a small group and after using it for a while, it is difficult for me to use other, similar programs again including my own! It is my hope that the interface I’ve developed will become a distinguishing “signature” for my utility software, so it is important to me to get it right.

It is currently running on 10.6, but 10.5 compatibility is my intention. There are some features that have been requested in the past that will not make it into the 2.0 release, but the groundwork is laid for introduction in 2.1 or 2.2. I need to make sure the foundation of the program is solid, especially with regard to the new user interface, before committing further development resources into feature additions.

I can’t help but feel a little nervous, having reached this milestone. I know a lot of people around the world have come to enjoy the original “file_wrangler” and continue to use it to this day. Nobody’s expectations for the program are higher than my own, and I certainly do commit my time and energy toward the goal of delivering a solid product with outstanding customer support.

If you have previously made a PayPal donation to file_wrangler_2 development and would like to give early feedback on the new version, drop me a line and I’ll send you a copy.

Review of 17″ Core i7 MacBook Pro (mid-2010)

My last Macintosh purchase was about four or so years ago with the first Intel-based 17″ MacBook Pro. With 1GB RAM, 100GB 7200-RPM hard drive and the almost-instantly-obseleted 32-bit Core Duo running at 2.13GHz, it is a machine that remains viable and functional. I have never had any issues with the system whatsoever. It has been a rocksteady, stalwart friend and convinced me I never need to buy a desktop system ever again. It traveled the world with me, dutifully performing its duties as dual-boot game machine, design machine, and primary development machine.

Alas, it has recently begun to show its age in the screen, making it difficult for my already-terrible eyes to focus on its dulling, yellowing image. Hooked up to my TV or an external monitor, it yet has much life in it, but for my daily on-the-go needs I’m afraid its day has come. So, he gets turned into a media center for the TV, hooked up to the QNAP NAS drive and the PS3, and I splurged on my next laptop, the just announced 17″ Core i7 MacBook Pro.

  • 2.66GHz Core i7 (displays as a 4-core processor in Activity Monitor)
  • 500GH 7200-RPM hard drive (solid state still just a wee too expensive)
  • 1920×1200, 17″ anti-glare screen
  • Stock 4GB RAM

I’ve had it for about a month now, and my first impressions are that the keyboard is a marked improvement over the previous one. A nice solid, poundable feel and I especially like how the keys don’t appear to be so easy to pop off. I never had the problem on the old system, but I’ve certainly experienced it on similar keyboards.

The build quality is phenomenal, and I can’t go back to the lid latch of my prior system now. The magnetic closure is solid, especially with the fit and finish of the aluminum case. Some complain about the sharp edges of the unit cutting into their palms, but the 17″ has a nice spacious wrist rest and I don’t find that to be a problem.

I have a very difficult time looking back at the screen on the previous laptop as well, and not even for the dim, yellow reasons. The pixel density is much higher on this new unit and everything just seems too big and chunky on the old screen. Menu options are huge, and I feel cramped using it. When I have multiple windows open in Xcode, I truly enjoy the utility of freedom in having those panes open simultaneously without needing to scroll and jump between them. And have I mentioned how BRIGHT the new display is? Almost blinding with full brightness turned on in the dark. Have we entered a time when things can be TOO bright?

I’m still feeling a little mixed on the trackpad, if only because I’m not convinced it works properly. Or maybe it is a software issue? I don’t know, but something is definitely wonky here. At times it seems not to register my trackpad clicks, requiring multiple clicks where I swear I only need to click one time. I have definitely seen it not close a window when I click the red “close window” button, even after multiple clicks.

However, the red button does visually register the click. In fact, that is typical. Clicks that do not perform the expected action (a menu choice, a window close, etc.) do VISUALLY seem to register the click, yet nothing happens. Multiple clicks on the close button do nothing, but then mouse to the minimize button and it works as expected with the very first click. Thereafter, clicking behaves as expected.

Even now I’m experiencing strange behavior with the system beyond the trackpad. My brightness and sound volume buttons aren’t working, but the Expose and Dashboard buttons do. If I go to the Apple menu and choose “About This Mac…” nothing happens. Why would that stop working, of all things? When did it stop working? The volume keys were working not ten minutes prior to writing this review, and yet here we are. I will say, though, that inertial scrolling is something I can never give up again.

The other day, the trackpad was acting SO bizarrely I thought I would need to take the unit into the Apple Store for repair. It continually acted as though two fingers were on the trackpad, unless I hit the Escape key a number of times, then the trackpad behaved normally for about 10 seconds before returning to normalcy.

Windows 7 64-Bit Professional with Aero in Bootcamp is quite nice and I dare say I may even LIKE it. I was never too smitten with Windows after XP (and XP itself kind of drove me crazy), but Windows 7 Professional is something I can get behind, though coming from XP there is a bit of a learning curve and the visual display of glassy “windows” may be taking the metaphor a bit to an extreme? That said, the OS feels solid, look good, and honestly makes a good pairing with the MacBook Pro (please enable inertial scrolling in Bootcamp, Apple!).

The speed of the laptop is difficult to gauge, because I honestly don’t push a system very hard. Build times on file_wrangler_2 are definitely faster than my previous system, but when we’re talking about a difference of 5-10 seconds, it is hard to say, “Oh my God, this system screams!” That said, Half Life 2, Episode 2 in Windows 7 runs at 1280×720 with all graphics options set to high, plays silky smooth, and revealed graphic details I had never seen before (the contorted faces of headcrab victims, for example) on my previous system. If Oblivion didn’t make me physically nauseous when playing, I’d love to see how it fairs.

So, all in all I would rate the system at a 8.5 out of 10. Given the advances since my previous system, I expected more of a “Holy cow, the differences are like night and day!” But I’m not feeling that; rather I feel more like, “This is a good, solid system. If the issues I’m experiencing get ironed out, I will definitely enjoy using this system for years to come.” Oddly enough, I feel the difference in performance more on the Windows side than in the Mac, which may just be a testament to OS X and its ability to run well on older hardware (both systems run 10.6.3).

Quick Update

I’m a bit overdue keeping up with the blog lately, so here’s just a quick update on the goings-on (going-ons?).


Lots of good progress has been made over the past two weeks with file_wrangler_2’s user interface. Some big breakthroughs, some design reconsiderations, some learning… it all amounts to a pretty interesting way of dealing with files and filters and renaming procedures. The long and the short of it is that Macintosh users have certain expectations on “how things should work” and I want to adhere to those expectations as much as possible. This means digging into areas of Cocoa that formerly weren’t so important to me. It has been a lot of work, but I believe the payoff was well worth the effort. What I have now is a toolbox of modules that represent filtering and renaming tasks (or intentions, as I think of them when developing). Clicking on a tool adds a miniature interface to the main window in a “well” devoted to one category of task. So “filtering” has its own “well”. These miniature interfaces look like little blocks, similar to Dashboard widgets I suppose (that’s a bit of a stretch) and the blocks may be reordered and rearranged by drag-and-drop, similar to how the slide ordering in Keynote works. Blocks move and slide out of the way to make room for your drop location. Changes to the well are instantly reflected in the file list, which is big, front-and-center, and clearly the dominant focus of the app.

A speaking arrangement

I will be giving a 10-15 minute talk tomorrow at the inaugural get together for a new Meetup group called “Spoilrr” started by Robert Pratten. I’ll be speaking about “How creators get their content onto the iPhone & iPad – a look at the development process, timescales and revenue flows”. Creating content and getting that content into consumer hands are very different processes. In the realm of transmedia, many wish to leverage technology to tell their stories in new ways. My talk will be a kind of primer for storytellers about how to work with a developer to make, distribute, and make money off of these new media explorations. We’ll be at Sandbox Suites on Tuesday, April 27 starting at 6:30 p.m.


Two impending reviews in the works. Recently bought two new computers and I’d like to share my findings, especially as compared to one another. First up, Apple’s new Core i7 17″ MacBook Pro represents the latest-greatest of the high end of things and has been quite a dream so far. That will be followed by the absolute opposite end of the spectrum with a 4-bit computer that must be programmed in machine code and is giving me newfound appreciation for what happens inside the computer. I wish to understand at a more fundamental level what my code does to the machine, and I have to say I’m enjoying beyond expectations the older architecture.