Migrating my mum to OS X – Adressbook and applescript

One potentially show-stopping problem for migrating my mum was that she had over 1500 contacts in Windows Live Mail (WLM). These were sorted into many groups, which had to be recreated in the mac’s address book application. The main problem was that Microsoft’s tool does not give any option to export the groups a contact is associated with, either through hotmail, through the app or any other method I tried until I found this solution:

First, you should export the complete contact list from Windows Live Mail, this can be done from the edge of the address book tool bar. I used .vcf format, which creates 1 card per contact. You should also be able to find this option in File -> Export.

Exporting contacts from Windows Live Mail

On the Windows PC, in the address book for WLM, you have the split screen view of the groups on the right and the people assigned to them on the left. If you double click on a group name, that group opens in a detail window. In the bottom part of that window is a selectable list of all the contacts belonging to that group. Copy the whole text area with CTRL-C and paste that in Excel with CTRL-V. Then you’ll need to split that input into separate lines since that are comma separated. Save each group as an individual text file (usually named the same as the group) with the people belonging to group.

The next step is to move these files to the mac. First of all import all the contacts into the mac’s address book. This can be done by dragging all the contacts .VCF cards to the address book window.

Now comes the reassigning the contacts to the groups. What I did was create the group in the address book, then edit my following applescript to set the group I wanted to import to “MyDesiredGroupName, then run the following script:

tell me to set the text item delimiters to (ASCII character 13)
tell application “Finder”
  set Names to paragraphs of (read (choose file with prompt “Pick text file containing names to go in group”))
  repeat with nextLine in Names
    if length of nextLine is greater than 0 then
      tell application “Address Book”
        set thePeople to (every person whose name = nextLine)
        set theGroup toMyDesiredGroupName
        repeat with thisPerson in thePeople
          add thisPerson to group theGroup
        end repeat
        save application “Address Book”
      end tell
    end if
  end repeat
end tell

By setting the MyDesiredGroupName, you should be able to get most of your contacts imported into the correct group. I had a slight issue with about 1-2% of the contacts not being selected or found properly, especially those that had accents in their names (é, è, ö, ü, …). If you look in the output log of the script, it is fairly easy to find those that were not selected correctly by the line “set thePeople to (every person whose name = nextLine)” since they appear with a { } empty selection in the output log. 

In fact, I took the output log and passed it into a text editor searching for { } to find the few people that were not correctly imported. That allowed me to make sure the groups were correctly populated.

Remember to check the number of people belonging to the group at the end of the import.

That’s it. I hope this helps someone else make the switch from WLM to apple’s address book.

Migrating my mum to OS X – Experiences

So I spent the whole week-end migrating my mum from the old Windows XP to the new iMac.

First of all, the iMac is gorgeous. Take it out of the box, put it on the desktop, plug in the power cable and you are done. Amazing! If there was no legacy to migrate, it would of been a matter of minutes to be done, but… Now comes the hard part, migrating: The 50’000+ Emails, 1’500+ contacts sorted into groups, 60+ GB of Music, 30+ GB of data files.

The software we installed is:

  • Pages and Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac – For the office stuff, Pages was an addition to see if it could be used for more design oriented work (instead of Quark or InDesign). Both Purchased.
  • Roxio Toast 11 – The old burning program that support .nrg (Nero) file images. I tried to convert the images to ISO, but since they are binary images of Audio cds, none of the conversion tools (nrg2iso, nrg4iso, etc..) worked. Purchased
  • Inkscape – For the existing cd centers, previously in Corel draw (.cdr), the files were converted on the PC both to SVG and to PDF so that they could be stored and later edited on the mac. Free.
  • Audacity – For audio processing of aquired music. Free.
  • VLC – Video player supporting every format under the sun. Free.
  • Transmission – Torrent software. Free.
  • Gimp and Paintbrush – Both image editing software. Free.
  • Blue Griffon – WYSIWYG HTML editing. Free (with no addons).
  • FileZilla – FTP client for updating the websites. Free.
  • Avery DesignPro® for Mac® – For making new CD labels, it’s an amazing piece of software. Just works. Free.

For the browser, we simply used Safari.

For the mail, currently we are using the Apple Mail app, but it was not very successful so far. Maybe it will change. I hope to post more about the mail in a further blog. Both the import of the emails and the import of the address book posed substantial challenges.

For the music, we are using iTunes to manage the collection, although we disabled the “Auto sort the music collection” option of iTunes so that the music was not moved around into new folders. The music collection being extensive and mostly untagged makes iTune’s management a nightmare.

Installing the printers (and accessing the multifunction scanners on top of these) was easy  as pie. By just plugging in the printers, they were detected, an apple update was downloaded and they were ready to be used. Both the HP and the Brother worked. We used Image Capture to do scanning.

Migrating my Mum (OS X)

Or a return to Mac after 10 years of MS Windows

After a long reflection, my mum has decided to get a iMac. The decision was brought about by the aging PC she used, by recommendations from her friends and by the fact that the all in one iMac would seriously diminish the cable salad that sits behind her desk. Now that’s said and done, here’s the facts: I’ll have to be able to do her tech support and find equivalent software for her tasks, including migrating all existing documents, addresses and mails to the new computer. Last time she had a mac, it was still something like system 7.

My mum is a dance teacher, here are the points to resolve I’ve identified:

  • Burning CDs from her enormous collection of circle dancing music, which add up to a couple of thousand of CDs in a year. This has a tendency to wear out CD writers. How easy is it to swap out the CD drive in a iMac or should we get an external writer straightaway?
  • Her CDs were currently setup in Nero Burning Rom, either as nrg disc images (which should be easy to handle, since it’s a complete image) and in nra files which directly link to individual songs on the hard drive. The problem with the nra file is if a song is moved, it cannot be found anymore. I fear I’ll have to recreated the 30 or so different CD lists manually.
  • Hundreds of word documents, either for workshop programs or for dance descriptions. My guess is bite the bullet and get Office for Mac. Although, I am curious about Pages from Apple and how easily my mum could transition to it.
  • The labels she prints onto the CDs are made in Corel Draw X3 (cdr files), and seeing the price of a new licence of Corel for Mac, it would make sense to try find a cheaper or free alternative that could import these. For the moment the converter (UniConverter from sk1 project) doesn’t correctly covert the files to SVG, so I’m not able to use InkScape for that. Again, if I have to redo them manually, it’s another 30+ CD centers to redo.
  • Migrate her mail and address books from Windows Live Mail to a mail client on Mac OS X.
  • Locate replacements for Audiograbber (CD ripping) and Audacity (Sound editor)
  • Choose a website editor, I was previously using an antique Dreamweaver (like v4)

The iMac has now arrived, and I will be unpacking it and setting it up on the first week-end in January (8-9), I expect to have an update on my experience with setting up an OS X iMac then.