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Mon, 02 May 2005
Automated Metadata on OS X

I was looking forward to Tiger, but some of the stuff that I've seen in the last few days is making me excited about the Mac.

One of the areas making me excited is the whole metadata scene. John Siracusa's great review of OS X uncovered a lot of under the hood stuff related to metadata.

Les Orchard pointed out that Safari is annotating downloaded files with the URL's that were used to obtain them. This isn't the first time that Mac OS had this feature, but it's the first time that it's appearing in OS X. And of course, you can search these annotations with Spotlight.

I have a David Allen style read and review list, and much of what I want to read and review is PDF files. I had been using OS X Finder labels to mark whether I had printed a particular file (I have a file of papers of various lengths that I carry with me so that I can make the most of breaks), and then to mark when I actually finished the paper. So I can create a smart folder of 'printed' PDF files and then use that to mark those documents as read after I finish. And if I use Safari to get those PDF's in the first place, now they'll record where I got them from.

I already sent a feature request to Brent to have NetNewsWire do the same thing when it downloads files. Pretty much every application that downloads files ought to be doing this. I really want Firefox to do this too.

Russell wrote a post about sticking tags in the Spotlight comments in the Finder. He even suggested that someone write an application that would let you batch tag files. A bunch of his readers commented that you could just use Automator to do this. Lon Baker even posted his Automator workflows. Elapsed time to solution? About 4 hours to the first Automator suggestion, 5 hours till Lon's post.
[ Update: here's another Automator/Spotlight Comment action ]

Today I went looking for the latest version of Growl (.6.2) which has a fix (among other things) to make the Smoke theme visible. I learned that the version of GrowlMail in subversion is supposed to work with Mail 2.0. It does, except that some proportion of the time it kills Mail. Hopefully that will get fixed soon. But I also discovered an Automator action (in svn) for Growl (and that's in addition to the Python bindings and the command line growlnotify).

Perhaps Automator is going to end up surprising a lot of people in a very positive way.

[23:30] | [computers/operating_systems/macosx] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

I wrote a wrapper, xattr, that offers up an easy/obvious way to mangle extended attributes from Python.

This is of course useless to spotlight, because it doesn't use these for metadata, but it is arbitrary metadata that you can attach to files that often move along with them (when using updated tools anyway).
Posted by Bob Ippolito at Tue May 3 20:47:45 2005

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