It’s the little details

It’s the little details about Apple’s products that make them so great. I’ve been using Address Book for years. I store all my contacts in it, some 987 people and companies at last count. But Apple’s not perfect and for years I had to cobble together solutions from one place or another to ensure that my contacts were synced with my mobile, especially as because of the American focus of Apple they were particularly slow to realise the scope and penetration of mobiles in the European market and add native support in iSync for new models as they were released. Fortunately the developer and open-source community has always made up for this gap and I’ve been able, with a little hacking and manipulation, to keep my phone’s contacts synced for the last five years or so.

Syncing calendars has always been much harder and before I traded my Nokia N73 (never have I used a more robust phone, although I have to confess in it’s second life with one of my friends was short lived (it died under the heel of a stiletto – RIP)) in for an iPhone I generally ignored my calendar applications and relied instead on iCal for my daily schedule, after all my laptop generally comes with me as frequently as my phone, so not the end of the world. However, since the syncing of the iPhone was so good, I have moved on to relying on my phone…

This has however not been without consequences. I rely upon my calendar alarms to remind me of most of my appointments, if it is not alarmed, with a busy schedule I often don’t see some appointments that come without reminders, even when I’m staring straight at them. Over the last year one area that this has effected is my remembering of birthdays, when I relied on iCal I was required to be more observant, now I’m less so, and as Address Book’s automatic generation of the birthday calendar creates effectively a read-only event from the perspective of the calendar I’ve not been able to add reminders for myself. This is clearly a little detail too far for Apple… :-(

Fortunately tonight I stumbled across the following solution, courtesy of the forums over at MacRumours and in particular the skill of Andrew Bussman who wrote the following AppleScript:

tell application "iCal"
	tell calendar "Birthdays"
		set all_events to every event
		repeat with this_event in all_events
			tell this_event
				delete every sound alarm
				make new sound alarm at end with properties {trigger interval:-21600, sound name:"Basso"}
			end tell
		end repeat
	end tell
end tell

Which when you compile and run in AppleScript Editor adds an alarm to all your birthdays! It’s great and simple solution to the problem of adding alarms to your birthday’s calendar. Once run in a few seconds it adds a reminder to all your birthdays. I imagine the only problem will be that you’d have to run it again once you add any additional birthdays. I think Andrew has proved it should be a relatively easy process why can’t Apple solve this?

Published by Peter Neal

I'm a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see

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