Home Screens - Ben Waldie

This week’s home screen post features Ben Waldie (Web site and Twitter) is the godfather of Mac automation. Ben has written books and published some excellent screencasts on the subject. Indeed, when Microsoft wanted to add Automator tools to the office suite, they went to Ben. I had the pleasure meeting Ben this year at Macworld and he is just as nice as he is smart. So Ben, show us your home screen.

What are your most interesting home screen apps?

Well, I should probably begin by explaining my home screen app organization process. As you can see, I organize my apps into folders, which are arranged alphabetically. Within each folder, I arrange the apps themselves alphabetically too. By doing so, I always know where any given app resides. The only exceptions are games, which I don’t organize alphabetically. Why not? Because I have multiple folders of games, and I don’t want to reorganize every time I install a new one. (I also arrange my Mac OS X Dock alphabetically, and yes, I realize I’m a freak.)

While I probably wouldn’t consider them most interesting, the apps I use the most are the ones that let me get work done efficiently while on the go. I use Mail and Safari regularly, iCal and AddressBook (with MobileMe sync), Dropbox, OmniFocus, and LogMeIn.

The app I find most interesting and fun is Star Walk. Just point your iPhone at the sky wherever you are, and it shows you real time information about stars, planets, satellites, and more.

What is your favorite app?

My favorite app changes on a regular basis. At the moment, it’s probably Reeder, which I use to keep up to date on the latest tech news. I love its ease of use, nice interface, and sync integration with Google Reader, which eliminates the need for me to read the same headlines when I switch devices.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I freely admit that I love Facebook for keeping track of what’s going on in the lives of friends and family.

What is the app you are still missing?

This isn’t an app, it’s more of a feature… I’m still missing a way to wirelessly keep my entire iPad/iPhone in sync with my Mac. Sync is super important to me, since I never know what device I’ll have with me at any given time. I have configured some apps to sync using Dropbox or MobileMe, but I’d like to see something on a more global scale.

An app I’m missing is one that will eliminate supermarket and other retail membership cards, so I don’t need to carry them in my wallet. I have actually seen some apps designed for this, but they don’t work with most checkout scanners.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

It’s difficult to calculate, but I would estimate that I often don’t go for 5 minutes without using one or the other. My wife just considers them extensions of my arms.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature is probably the camera. I love having such a great quality camera with me wherever I go to capture the funny things my kids are doing, special events, UFOs, or whatever else I encounter. I also love using apps like Photoshop Express and Camera+ to manipulate and improve photos right on my phone. And, of course, the ability to video chat with the kids when I’m away on business is simply awesome.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’m sure there are a million things I’d add or change. One would be to improve the printing capabilities. Another would be to allow FaceTime usage over 3G (in the interim, Skype works great for this).

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for your interest in checking out my home screen!

Thanks Ben.