Year: 2008

Billings 3

Marketcircle makes one of the best invoice programs for the Mac, period. It's called Billings, it's in its third version and it's near-perfect. From its icon to its functionality, it all breathes thoroughness, and careful and thoughtful design. Billings 3 has multiple timers, recurring invoices, and an interface that is as easy to use as it is pleasing to the eye. The only thing I'm still not very impressed by is the template designer for invoices, estimates and reports, and I do think the retainer concept should be explained in more detail.Billings 3 is fully integrated with Daylite if you want it to. You can therefore invoice customers from within Billings 3 and create projects, working slips and other project material as well as track payments in Daylite. However, I think many people who don’t have Daylite or have a use for it, will use Billings by itself. Billings starts from the assumption that everything you do can be called a Project, but you can have working slips that are not related to projects as …

Path Finder 5

Is there such a thing as an indispensable application? Most people will answer with a resounding “Yes” and list a whole lorry full of them. But if you insist and demand that they list only one or two applications they can't live without, I doubt if Path Finder would make it with the first two. I mean, it's just a Finder replacement, right? Wrong! Path Finder is a life saver --and I'm being very polite, because if this wouldn't pretend to be a serious and professional information resource, I'd have used a different name instead of “life”.What is indispensable on a Mac? Not in terms of programs, but in terms of functionality. I’d say good backup capabilities, compression capabilities to decompress at least, something that makes disk images, a permission adjustment tool, something that keeps your disks healthy, and in general anything that enables you to take full control of your Mac. Translated into products, applications like DiskWarrior, FileBuddy and TechTool Pro will come to mind, but Path Finder? And yet, Path Finder does belong …

BBEdit 9 review

BBEdit was the number one text editor on the Mac long before TextMate saw the light of day. It still is a powerhouse for programmers and web developers. Version 9 gives us new capabilities that put it in a comfortable position to compete with TextMate.BBEdit 9 looks familiar, but has a lot of new features. It replaces the term “File groups” with “Projects” which brings its terminology to the same level of understanding as TextMate’s—although projects are not entirely new in BBEdit; they do gain some additional capabilities. Projects allow for direct editing within the Project window, and direct manipulation of items within a project, including the ability to rename, create, and delete files and folders. Projects can contain any combination of directories and individual files, and their contents can be directly searched as well as processed by text factories. BBEdit gains multi file search windows, and non-modal Find, and now allows you to edit in browsers, which again brings it closer to what TextMate users are used to. BBEdit’s search capabilities are now always …

Personal Brain for the Mac

Personal Brain is a mind mapping tool originally developed for Windows and since some time also available to Mac users. It's a unique approach to mind mapping that goes beyond the exotic terminology used by the program.In Personal Brain you enter thoughts (logical) into the Plex (the visible, graphical portion of the Brain window). Personal Brain enables you to attach notes, attachments and metadata to thoughts. And the metadata you can attach can further expand on the Brain’s usability. Originally a Windows application, Personal Brain is a Java implementation on the Mac. This makes it somewhat slower than a native program, but not so much as to be annoying or getting in the way of what you want to do—even when your Brain gets filled up nicely. Except for Personal Brain being a Java application, there is one other critique that I have. Although Personal Brain doesn’t look like a Windows program—it looks pretty unique—it does lack some typical Mac functionality. For example, you can attach dates to Thoughts, but you can’t synchronise these with …

Barcode Producer 5

Intelli Innovations' Barcode Producer (and Automator) is a classic in the world of barcode creation programs. It's now also the most flexible application in terms of output design, help, and checking tools.Barcode Producer 5 has a unified interface that resembles iTunes. Left are the barcodes ordered in different categories of ranking order, such as “Applications” and “Types”. If you want to create a barcode for book publications, you’ll either choose the “Books and Periodicals” application, or the “Fixed Numbers” type. Traditionally, Barcode Producer could handle almost any barcode that’s known and used. The tradition goes on, with support for ISBN 13 and SSCC-18. The ISBN barcodes come with the most extensive help and correctness checking system that I’ve ever seen in a barcode program. It also has the most powerful design options, including barcode width, colour, text size, and an item called “Strippable or non-strippable Indicator”. If you have a license for the Barcode Automator plug-in, you can even generate multiple barcodes in one go. Barcodes created with Barcode Producer can be saved as Illustrator, …

EyeTV DTT Deluxe Micro Stick

The EyeTV DTT Deluxe is a particularly small USB stick TV tuner. It is especially well suited for portable Macs where Elgato's normal sticks would sit in the way of other USB connectors.The EyeTV DTT Deluxe comes in a black box. Being a packaging freak myself, I like black boxes only if they’re not vulnerable to scratches or other blemishes. My test unit’s box was blemished indeed—it had scratches on it and lots of them. A pity, as the packaging design is great. Inside the box I found the stick, a tiny telescopic antenna, a special connector-with-cable so you can connect the stick to a regular portable antenna, a portable antenna and a USB extension cable. I was quite stunned by the size of the EyeTV DTT Deluxe. The “ordinary” Elgato sticks are all firm USB sticks that block USB ports next to them. This stick was so small, I couldn’t but wonder whether the signal quality would be as good as with the others. I also had the chance of comparing it to Miglia’s …

1Password Turns Your Keychain into a Security Powerhouse

Developers team's enthusiasm results in great product.Password managers and generators have been around for a long time. Some of them are plain useless, others look OK but you can’t help wonder how secure your data really is with them. And then there’s that third category: applications that just work well and really secure your data. 1Password belongs to that category. It stores your passwords and secure data in Apple’s own keychain file. That file uses TripleDES to encrypt the password field of every keychain entry. TDES still is considered a highly secure algorithm, and Apple’s weight behind it means that if you decide to stop upgrading 1Password, you won’t lose any data. 1Password tries to make it impossible for phishing sites to steal your data, for keyloggers to steal your online account passwords, and it makes it easy to create and fill in strong passwords. It has an interface that lets you easily store identity information (Wallet), Web data (for forms and accounts), serial numbers (like in software registrations), and identities. It has secure notes, …

Getting Things Done on a Mac

Things, OmniFocus, Dejumble and Daylite all somehow embrace the GTD philosophy, but the way they do it differs enormously. Besides, do we need GTD?If you happen to be in the market for a GTD application, you are certainly pampered when you’re running Mac OS X. Under Leopard, GTD applications have even seen an explosive boost as some of the synchronisation functionality offered in some of these programs heavily depend on Leopard technologies. With the Mac increasingly becoming an all-round tool of productivity for organising anything from your personal life to your enterprise-class creative or publishing work, GTD and mind mapping are becoming essential concepts and technologies. Started under Tiger, most of the GTD applications currently available for Mac OS X are only now finding a large market of eager users. The reason is a mysterious sales driver that is not so mysterious when you come to think of it. It’s the iPhone and especially the fact that the iPhone is increasingly being used as a professional tool (so much for Gartner’s original assessment of the …

FTP Clients: Transmit, Interarchy and Flow

When the new FTP client Flow was released, I decided it would be a good idea to compare three of the many FTP clients available for Mac OS X today. I ended up with Transmit, Interarchy and Flow. Transmit is the FTP client I use myself. Interarchy was my favourite for a long time until I found out about Transmit. When Transmit was released some years ago, I found Interarchy lacking the interface quality I looked for. And now, Flow seemed to take over from Transmit. When I saw the screenshots on the developer’s web site, I thought this must be the new Transmit. Unfortunately, it worked out a tiny bit differently. Let’s start with Transmit. Transmit is Panic Software’s FTP client and over the years it has evolved into a file moving client that can handle much anything you throw at it. It transfers files fast and efficient, and with a minimum of errors or retries. Transmit is not only fast, it also knows about most protocols, supports some very technical functionality all in …