Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Scratch, Automator, and Trial-and-error Learning

What do you do when you have about 600 files to print for mailing and you only want the very first page of each file?

You find a student volunteer to click, click, click, click for hours.

What happens when the files are confidential tests results you can’t let anyone else see?

You pull up Automator and create a workflow.

I think Automator is incredibly cool and useful, but I don’t get too many chances to use it. I know the basics, but for the most part, I have to try several times before I get the result I want.

For example, the first time I ran the workflow, I accidentally dumped all 563 files onto my desktop. I cleaned up, made changes, and tried again. After a few tries, I finally sent everything to the right printer. Now I have this powerful tool for the next round of testing.

Creating in Automator is not that different from creating in Scratch, another tool I absolutely love. Learning Scratch trains the brain to go through iterative learning using trial-and-error in a simple, safe environment. The process is time consuming, but it teaches lessons that can’t be replaced by any other pedagogy. It is not about the tool, learning the syntax, or recreating existing successful projects. It is about going through the process and training yourself to stick with it until it works.

Would you like to learn about Automator? Email or stop by my office and I’ll get you started.

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