Astronomy Picture of the Day 3.4

The AstronomyPictureOfTheDay desktop wallpaper updater is a Mac OS
X application that downloads the latest image from the Astronomy
Picture of the Day site
and sets it as your desktop background. It
can be run by hand, or installed to run automatically through iCal.

What’s New in this Release?

This version fixes a problem with APOD pages that link to multiple
images so that only images on the APOD website are downloaded.

Download

Visit the project page to download the latest version.

Astronomy Picture of the Day 3.3

The AstronomyPictureOfTheDay desktop wallpaper updater is a Mac OS
X application that downloads the latest image from the Astronomy
Picture of the Day site
and sets it as your desktop background. It
can be run by hand, or installed to run automatically through iCal.

What’s New in this Release?

This version fixes a problem with APOD pages that link to multiple
images so that only the main image on the page is downloaded.

Download

Visit the project page to download the latest version.

AstronomyPictureOfTheDay 3.0

I finally fixed one of the lingering “issues” I’ve had since migrating
from Tiger to Leopard last month. Something in the Automator actions
or other behavior changed in my AstronomyPictureOfTheDay app and
every morning I have been greeted with 2 Safari windows. One is the
usual window showing the description of the image downloaded that
night, and the other is the local copy of the image. I don’t need to
see the latter, and it seemed a little sloppy so I wanted to fix it.

After some fiddling around with “View Results” actions I determined
that the local filename was being added to the output chain by “Set
the Desktop Picture”. So where before I had a chain of actions that
only sent the remote URL to the final “Show Web page” action, now I
needed to filter the data. Throwing a variable into the mix did not
solve the problem. I’m not sure how the variable is supposed to work
– it seems like it should replace the output instead of extending
it. So I took the brute force option and inserted a shell script to
filter the URLs before opening them.

So if you’ve been running an earlier version of
AstronomyPictureOfTheDay under Leopard, grab the new one and give
it a try. As usual, email me with any problems.

AstronomyPictureOfTheDay 2.0

There is a new release of AstronomyPictureOfTheDay available this
morning. Version 2.0 is a substantial rewrite of the 1.1 version, but
retains essentially the same functionality. The primary difference is
that you no longer have to run a script to “personalize” it during
installation. Now that it is distributed as an Application instead of an
Automator workflow, you can just drag it to your Applications folder.

The source is still created with Automator, but some of the Finder
actions for working with directories have been replaced by Shell Script
actions to perform the same operations. The Finder actions are
hard-coded to specific folder names, selected in the Automator UI when
the action is configured. With a Shell Script action, I can use
environment variables such as “$HOME” to make the action more flexible.
Using variables also avoids the problem of having everything in the
workflow tied to my own home directory, so that the paths needed to be
modified before the workflow was usable by anyone else.

I could, of course, have written the entire program as a shell script,
Python program, or whatever. But the point of building it with
Automator in the first place was that it was easy. I suppose I am
stretching the boundaries of where Automator is the easiest tool for
this particular job, but at least now the hack is hidden inside the
app instead of hanging out where everyone can see it in the
installation instructions.