Month: October 2009

BusyCal Review: Finally real time management on Mac OS X

Apple's iCal can be quite limited in functionality. It lacks good synchronisation with third party calendars, for example. It's also a bit limited if you want to use it for alerts and time management. Enter BusyCal by Busy Mac. This application seamlessly synchronises with iCal, yet offers much more in terms of synchronisation with other people's calendars on the network, and even syncs with Google Calendars. BusyCal is a real time management tool with a simple interface.I am always weary of replacing an Apple application by something else. You never know if a developer is going to continue churning out updates and upgrades, or if Apple suddenly decides to change a technology so the third-party replacement does no longer work. In BusyCal’s case, I thought I’d just install it, try it out, write the review and throw it off the system again, but after having played with it for several weeks now, that’ll be hard. When installing BusyCal, you can set a preference to let BusyCal be your default calendar software. If you allow that, …

1Password version 3 review

In case you have missed it, Agile Web Solutions has released a public beta of its version 3 of 1Password, and if you thought (like I did) they couldn't improve this industry leading password and license manager anymore, they've proven us wrong. 1Password 3 is nicer to look at, better structured, and has time saving features even.To keep your login data secure, you need a good password manager. Preferably one that can encrypt your passwords using the best algorithm and managing those passwords in the most simple and efficient ways. In order not to end up with many different managers to keep your sensitive information secure, you’ll also want to manage credit card data, software licenses, identities, and everything else you care to write down and classify as sensitive. 1Password has all of this. Other software like it can also deliver the same functionality, but often some elements are missing or the management concept is flawed. In some cases, you aren’t sure which algorithms the developer used to protect your data. In other cases, the …

Data Rescue 3 clones disks and recovers your own file types

For many years now, Prosoft Engineering has been developing Data Rescue. This application is to data recovery what DiskWarrior is to disk catalogue recovery: it has become an industry standard and an essential tool for Mac users who want to be sure they can recover from disaster in 99% of the cases.Data Rescue 3 is the latest version of Data Rescue and it’s the most advanced data recovery tool that is available to professional disk recovery experts and Mac users in general. It can be used on disk drives with volumes that refuse to mount, on disks with damages partition maps, on some non-HFS/HFS+ file systems, on large volumes and even on password-protected ones (as long as the data itself isn’t encrypted). The most obvious visible change from the previous version is the “Arena View” which Prosoft Engineering also uses in its Drive Genius product. The Arena View can be left for what it is, but although it takes some getting used to, it’s actually a very efficient way of representing the available functionality modules …

Backup Apps: Retrospect disappoints, BRU Server as expected, PresStore revelation of the day

Backing up is like New Year's resolution: you are determined to do what you've set out to do, but half way the year you realise old habits die hard, the carefully developed backup plan took too much time, or was to complicated to perform, and the whole backup strategy starts collecting dust --until it's too late. In many cases, people don't backup because it's too difficult, too tedious to set up, takes too much time, and demands attention. In order to convince the average user to backup on a daily basis, the backup software should make backing up a no-brainer that runs in the background, silently, unnoticed --until the day comes you need to restore one or more files.Macs used to have little choice when it comes to backing up. The only professional backup tool that was available once was Retrospect. Retrospect worked fine on versions of Mac OS prior to version X. However, when Mac OS X was released, the program seemed outdated, and when EMC acquired it, there was no further development on …

Do you buy a device for its design or its quality of build?

A week ago LaCie's PR firm invited press reviewers to present its newest range of external hard disk drives. Press that couldn't make it and even those of us who for health reasons can't attend much anything these days didn't get the presentation.That was a shame, because I for one would have loved to ask the LaCie managers attending this event if they believe their products have reached a quality level at which design has become the sole selling proposition—I received the announcement of LaCie’s new products two days later, and they turned out to be Philippe Starck designed external hard disk drives. The announcement of the presentation said LaCie was going to reflect upon twenty years of innovation and design—“en passant” showing the attending audience some new products. When I read which these were a couple of days later, I couldn’t but ponder over what exactly drives today’s sales of commodities such as external hard disk drives. Apparently, LaCie believes it’s design. The Philippe Starck designed hard drives that were presented are described as …

TechTool Pro 5 has many functionalities you will rarely need, except for one

I have always been a fan of TechTool Pro. I got it on CD in my AppleCare box, and when version 5 came out, I begged Micromat to get me a NFR fast. After over half a year of begging, they finally sent me their latest and greatest. Perhaps my expectations were too high after those six months of waiting, but I am slightly disappointed. That doesn't mean TechTool Pro 5 isn't a good tool. It means there are at least equally good ones, except fro one set of features that is TechTool's unique selling proposition.The idea of an interface with car-like dashboard clocks telling you how your USB bus, CPUs, and FireWire bus is holding on, is a great idea. The only problem with such ideas is that if they stop at just showing you some rough representation of the bus’ health, it’s pretty useless. I think that’s a bit the problem with TechTool Pro 5’s interface. The USB bus clock shows me the USB bus is OK, but that information I can easily …

Prizmo 1.1 uses your digital camera to scan text and apply OCR

What if you could scan documents using a digital camera instead of a flatbed scanner? What if you could “scan” all sorts of documents, including billboards, rare and antiquated letters, treaties on parchment, and even rare books, without ever touching the surface? If you could do that, you would be a reprographic photographer. Reprography is a specialised job, with specialised and often very expensive equipment, but Prizmo gets close enough to at least offer entry-level reprographic capabilities for the price of three pints of bitter.Prizmo 1.1, a Creaceed application, has some nifty features. Judging by its simple interface, it looks just a lightweight image editor, but under the hood Prizmo 1.1 has an image processing engine that enables very skewed images to be straightened without sacrificing detail, and an OCR engine. The combination of the two in theory allows you to take a photograph of whatever document—invoice, letter, cashier ticket, billboard, book…—straighten it and OCR its contents. This in turn allows such documents to be indexed by Spotlight. It also allows you to digitise your …