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June 22, 2010

This is the online edition of the Macro Express News email newsletter. You can have future editions delivered directly to your email inbox. Visit the Macro Express News page to subscribe or to view past issues.


Macro Express v 3.8a ME

Macro Express v 3.8a is now available from www.macros.com/download.htm. This release of Macro Express contains several enhancements and bug fixes including:
  • Fixed a bug where the program would lockup a program when launched on a 64-bit system.
  • Fixed a problem backing up macro files with uppercase letters in the macro file extension.
  • Fixed several bugs in the scheduled macros that could cause an 'Invalid Floating Point Operation' error.
  • The 'If File Exists' command now supports wildcards.
  • Fixed a bug in the 'Ping Site' command where it would not work properly on Windows 7.
  • Fixed a problem where the 'Email Send' sent email attachments incorrectly.
A complete list of changes is available on the version 3.8a Release Notes or the Revision History pages.


Become an Affiliate or Reseller ME - ME Pro

You can make money selling Macro Express and Macro Express Pro.

Are you a software distributor, VAR or systems integrator? Our reseller program is right for you. Purchase licenses to resell to your customers at a discounted price.

Do you have a website, blog or newsletter? Build revenue by becoming an affiliate. Just add links to your site and start selling.

Visit our Reseller and Affiliate web pages to get started. Or contact us with questions.


Improving the Quality of Life for People with Disabilities ME - ME Pro

Macro Express can be used to automate redundant tasks. This can be especially beneficial for people with certain disabilities or illnesses.

Customers have long been using Macro Express to ease computing tasks for those with full or partial blindness. Macros are used to integrate and automate interactions with screen reader programs such as Jaws, Window Eyes and other resources for the visually impaired. They also are used to overcome difficulties using mainstream applications with screen reader programs.

Caregivers are writing macros to assist those with certain impaired motor skills such as cerebral palsy. A single macro activation can accomplish the multiple steps needed to perform what normally requires many separate and individual keystrokes, mouse movements and clicks. This saves these patients untold time and effort and can allow them better use of their computer and broaden access to the wide world of the Internet.

Customer Miguel G. shared his story about how Macro Express has reduced his repetitive stress pain. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a motor and sensory disturbance of the median nerve caused by repetitive actions. By reducing or eliminating many repetitive actions, those suffering from repetitive stress injuries, such as CTS, can heal without having to give up using their computer.

Alan Cantor shares another way that Macro Express Pro can be used to improve the quality of life for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gerhig's Disease, and similar conditions. He says, "ALS is a progressive degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The result is muscle weakness and atrophy, and eventually, death. As the disease progresses, people lose the ability to talk. ALS affects the body and not the mind, individuals become 'locked in' -- they think and feel, but cannot communicate."

Alan Cantor and his associates are using Macro Express, along with a program to record sounds, to "bank the voices of people before the disease progresses so that they can communicate, using their actual voices, after they lose the ability to talk." Individual words are recorded and saved as wav files. "ShortKey activated macros [are created] to play back the files. A user types words, and each word is enunciated after pressing a suffix key. This works because people with ALS usually lose the ability to talk long before they lose the ability to operate a keyboard."

Find out more about Alan Cantor and the work he is doing by visiting the Cantor Access Inc. website.

Are you using Macro Express to assist those with disabilities or illnesses? If so, we applaud you. And we would like to hear your story.

For more information on this subject you may wish to refer to these resources:
    "Intelligent" Macros that Reduce the Cognitive Effort of Operating a Computer
    Super Shortcuts: Software Modifications for People with Disabilities
    Through the Wormhole: Exotic Computer Shortcuts for People with Disabilities
    Computer assistive technology for people who have disabilities: computer adaptations and modifications


Tip: Keep It Simple ME - ME Pro

Our support staff suggests "Do not over complicate macros. Simpler is better than complicated."

Often, when a macro does not work quite right, the best thing to do is to streamline it. A simpler macro is easier to understand and maintain. As an example, you may not want to use window controls when keyboard shortcuts are available in the application you are automating. A search for 'shortcuts' or 'keyboard shortcuts' in the documentation for the program will often list these shortcuts. Also, it is usually more efficient to type Ctrl-p to print instead of Alt-fp. This is especially true when you need to insert a delay between the f and p.

Another example is when logging onto a web page. Using a macro to do this is very convenient, especially for web sites that you do not access very often. But, I have learned from firsthand experience, that these types of macros can be frustrating to maintain.

Signing on to a website normally requires two distinct basic steps. First, the web page needs to be loaded in your favorite browser. Then the user name and password need to be entered. Macro commands, such as Wait for Web Page or Wait for Window Title can be used to determine when the login page of the website has fully loaded and is ready to accept your login credentials.

However, some web developers frequently change the title of their web pages. Usually the web address does not change or is automatically redirected to a new link. But this can break macros. After much effort to keep macros updated I decided that sometimes two macros are better than one.

I use a macro to enter passwords in various programs and web pages. When I press my password hotkey, the macro determines which window has focus and enters the correct password. By combining this with macros that bring up a website, I now have a two step process that uses two macros instead of one. However, often this is more reliable than a single macro.

If you look for ways to simplify your macros they will be more reliable, easier to understand and less work to maintain.


Tip: Encrypt Sensitive Information ME - ME Pro

You can protect sensitive information in your macros, like login names and passwords, from prying eyes.

As described above, I have a macro that contains login user names and passwords for a variety of programs and websites. To say the least, it would be very inconvenient if someone else gained access to this information. I use two techniques to protect this sensitive information.

Instead of using a 'Text Type' command to enter a user name and password use the 'Encrypted Text' command to prevent someone seeing login information in a macro. And, if someone examines the macro file (e.g. macex.mex) using a binary file viewer, they cannot see the sensitive information because it is stored in an encrypted form.

To protect your macros from a knowledgeable user requires one more step. Both Macro Express and Macro Express Pro allow you to add passwords to a macro. You can add a password to prevent others from editing your macro. This, combined with the 'Encrypted Text' command, will keep your information secret.

Be sure to remember your password. For security reasons Macro Express does not have a ‘master password’ or a feature to allow anyone to remove a forgotten password.

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