Buy me some peanuts and AppleScripts

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People always ask me what the best part of this Macworld gig is. The access to the latest Mac hardware? The media passes into Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo keynotes? All wonderful perks to be sure, even though my colleagues almost always seem to get dibs on that latest Mac hardware long before me, leaving me to make do with an aging 15-inch PowerBook with a battery measurable in minutes, not hours. But for me, the best thing about my job is that any time I’m faced with a problem I don’t quite know how to solve, all I have to do is speak up, and someone—usually a reader—will have a pretty good answer at the ready.

Take an iCal conundrum I brought to your attention a little more than a month ago. To recap, back in early February, I had been scouring assorted iCal shared calendar sites, looking for a subscribable version of the Oakland Athletics’ 2006 season schedule to add to my iCal calendars. When my search came up blank, I sat down and created my own A’s iCal calendar—a tedious process that required me to create 162 separate entries for each game of the 2006 season. As I wrote at the time:

Perhaps there’s an Automator action or AppleScript that I could have conjured up if I was going to make a habit out of this iCal business, but for a one-time-only calendar, it made more sense just to keep hitting Command-N until my index finger began to lose feeling.

Confession time: I sort of had a feeling that by throwing that off-hand comment about AppleScript out there, someone would undoubtedly rise to the challenge. That someone turned out to be Frank Zalar, who was inspired by my pathetic mewing to create a Sports Scheduler AppleScript. You can see Frank’s original script—created to make a calendar for the Ohio State Buckeyes’ 2006-2008 football schedules—in the comments section of my original blog post.

I say “original” because I wound up using a modified version of Frank’s script, courtesy of Macworld Editorial Director Jason Snell. Jason happens to share my interest in baseball, and his knowledge of AppleScript rivals my ability to rattle off obscure middle infielders of the 1980s. Jason took a look at Frank’s script and made a few minor modifications (mainly to use the comma-delimited format favored by Major League Baseball )— and faster than you could say “Shooty Babitt” we had a script that you can use to create an iCal schedule for any Major League Baseball team (or take and modify to meet your own needs).

Here’s how to enjoy the fruits of Frank’s labors and Jason’s tweaks:

  • Download the script.
  • Pick out the schedule of your favorite team from the MLB Web site.
  • On your team’s schedule page, go the left-hand pane and click on Downloadable Schedule. You’ll be taken to a page with a link to the CSV file; Control-Click on that and select Download Linked File.
  • Open the downloaded file in Text Edit.
  • Run the script.

How easy is this script to use? So easy that any idiot can produce an iCal calendar in no time flat, and being just any idiot, I should know. I used the script to create a calendar for games involving one of the A’s lesser rivals, currently playing its home games at an undisclosed location in Southern California. You can subscribe to the calendar here, if you are so inclined.

So, the dilemma of creating quick-and-easy iCal calendars for sports teams has been solved, thanks in large part to the efforts of a Macworld reader. Now if anyone wants to tell me how to fix the battery life on aging 15-inch PowerBook, I’m all ears.

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