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No matter how much you enjoy using your computer, some jobsbacking up your hard drive or scanning for viruses, for exampleare always pure drudgery. Walnut Systems' Cruise Control 1.0 promises to simplify your life by letting you program agents that perform basic Macintosh operations, including copying or moving files, launching or quitting applications, making aliases, and emptying the Trash. On newer Macs, you can also turn the computer on or off, wake it up, or put it to sleep. With its optional extension loaded, Cruise Control doesn't even have to be running for agents to work. And since Cruise Control runs on 68020 systems and uses less than 2MB of RAM, it's an ideal application for that old Mac IIcx gathering dust in the closet.
In addition to Cruise Control's standard suite of actions, agents can execute compiled AppleScripts, so they can control any scriptable application indirectly. If you're not familiar with AppleScript, a handy option lets you create agents that record and execute macros. The first time through, the agent records all your cursor movements, mouse-clicks, and keystrokes, which it then replays on subsequent passes. Unfortunately, you can't edit macros, and they won't work predictably if any windows change position between executions.
Cruise Control offers two options for triggering agents. Calendar agents, as their name implies, run at specified times and days (see "Cruising Along"). Idle agents execute whenever the Mac has been inactive for a specified period of time. (You can indicate whether you want idle agents to monitor the mouse and keyboard, disk drives, or network for activity.) For added flexibility, you can constrain either type of agent to run only during a specified range of times, dates, or days of the week. For example, you can limit an agent that appears on the calendar every weekday to running only on Mondays. But there's no convenient way to force agents to trigger at odd intervalssay, the third Friday of every month.
Like any new program, Cruise Control suffers from a few rough edges. For example, you can record agents' actions in a log, but you have to create the file and drop it into the System Folder yourself. And while the manual covers basic operations adequately, it needs more-practical examples.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Unless you know AppleScript or you can make do with its relatively simple macros, Cruise Control's repertoire of actions may seem somewhat limited. But Walnut Systems plans to offer additional scripts and plug-ins that extend the program's capabilities, and third parties may do the same. If you routinely perform repetitive tasks that don't require any interaction, Cruise Control is worth a look.
RATING: PROS: Simple interface; minimal hardware requirements. CONS: Limited macros and repeat options. COMPANY: Walnut Systems (800/945-8024, http://www.walnutsys.com ). LIST PRICE: $99.
July 1999 page: 60