Alan Harper
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Biologist, photographer, some-time programmer

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Alanterra reviewed on 26 Nov 2011
I really want to use MoneyDance as a replacement for Quicken 2006. It appears that as of Nov, 2011, MoneyDance and Quicken Essentials for Macintosh are the only programs that allow one to bring both Classes and Categories over from Quicken 2006. They both transfer Classes into Tags (allowing any transaction to have multiple Tags).

Unfortunately, the user interface for entering tags in MoneyDance is only mouse-driven. You tab to the Tags field, and then you have to pull down and click the tag. There are no keyboard shortcuts for entering a tag (like typing its name and hitting return). This makes MoneyDance very difficult to use if you are tagging every transaction.

Otherwise, it is a nice program. I didn't explore it in detail, as I can't imagine clicking to choose a tag for every transaction.
[Version 2011]


Alanterra reviewed on 26 Nov 2011
This is brief, as I just evaluated it enough to know whether I could use it. When I found I could not use it, I stopped evaluating it.

I am looking for a way to transfer from Quicken 2006, and thought that this might work. I use Classes in Quicken, and thought that the Tags in Quicken Essentials for Macintosh (QEM) would work similarly.

While Tags have promise, there is no way to do a report by tag. You can only do a report by Category + Tag, so you can't see what you spent on a tag. (In my case, I am looking for tags with values other than 0, which is an easy thing to do in Quicken 2006).

You can only budget on a monthly basis, there appears to be no way to compare budgets on an annual basis.

These were show-stoppers for me. I have asked for a refund.
[Version 1.6.1f6707]


Alanterra reviewed on 07 Aug 2011
This is a short review, as you can download a trial to see if you like it.

I hate the interface that Apple has giving Spotlight, and Houdah has put a very clean and much more powerful front end on it.

One thing I just figured out is that HoudahSpot allows you to search by field in the xmp metadata of photos. If you tag your photos using any industry standard tool (Lightroom, Media Pro), the tags are written in a standard way--either into the image itself or into a "sidecar" file. With HoudahSpot you can search your computer for image files, without having to use cataloging software. It allows similar searching for tags in music files, but I haven't tried that feature.
[Version 3.4]

1 Reply


Alanterra replied on 08 Aug 2011
Hi Pik80

You have to search for "keywords" to find Lightroom keywords. It is under "other..." in the pull-down menu. And, of course, you need to export metadata from Lightroom.

Alanterra reviewed on 03 Aug 2011
I have only started to use PhotoLinker to tag my photos. It uses industry standard IPTC tags to set metadata for photos (ie, what Adobe does). I am using it to both georeference photos, as well as to maintain metadata.

For the georeferencing function, the user interface is clean and very easy to figure out. The issues of setting the camera's time zone, and any errors in the clock, are well thought out. The program uses Bing maps for georeferencing, which are a little slow and less useful than, say, Google Earth (which HoudahGeo uses).

The details of metadata for photos are very complicated, and, while I have read about them extensively, While I do not purport to be an expert on xpm metadata, when I communicated with the author about some of his decisions, I found him open to suggestions and quite well informed.

The program is being actively maintained, and a Lion (beta) version came out before the operating system was available. I am still using Snow Leopard, so I can't speak to Lion compatibility, but the message boards seem to indicate it is working well.

While it is expensive for what it offers, it is very well designed. If you are just going to georeference images, there are cheaper programs. But if you want georeferencing, plus a clean way to maintain metadata for large numbers of files, this is your program.

[Version 2.5b1]


Alanterra reviewed on 13 Apr 2011
I am using this regularly to georeference lots of photos. I use a Garmin GPS and save the tracks, and then georeference from the tracks. There are lots of features of this app that I have not used, but the ones I do use just work. However, I have found, after georeferencing thousands of photos, a few gripes.

1. If you georeference from GPS tracks, you have to remember to set your camera's clock before you start taking photos. If you end up changing the clock after you start, you need to set up two documents--one for before and one for after changing the clock. (You better write down when you changed it!) Likewise, if you have 2 cameras, you need to set up separate documents for each camera unless they are exactly synchronized--which is clunky (the delta between camera and GPS time is constant for each document). A better interface would be to have the delta default to the same, but be able to change it for groups of photos. Then you could keep all the images from the same trip, but different cameras, in the same document.

If you are GPSing from Google Earth, the interface is confusing. If you click on an image that has been georeferenced, then Google Earth is activated, and your next keystroke goes to Google Earth. But it hasn't been georeferenced, then Houdahgeo keeps control. This is very strange behavior--you run through a bunch of photos trying to remember where you took them, and use the down-arrow to scroll through them. When you reach an image that has been georeferenced, suddenly the scrolling stops, because Google Earth is now getting the keystrokes.

This is a file-based program (which is probably right), so it saves a reference to photos and various data for each photo (like Lat/Lon) in the file. You then write out the data when you are done (so that, e.g., the Lat/Lon will be included when the photo is uploaded to Flickr). However, there is no indication within the program whether the Lat/Lon in the image is the same as in the Houdahgeo file. So it is very easy to update the Lat/Lon in Houdahgeo and forget to export the change, so your images have the wrong data.

Overall, a stable and very useful program. The developers have done lots of work to make sure it interfaces as well as possible with various photo programs like Lightroom and iPhoto (which I don't use). But it could use a complete review of its user interface to make easier to understand.

Also, I recommend that you become familiar with exiftool, as it is the easiest way to change the date/time in a photo if you set your camera's clock incorrectly, which you should do before you run Houdahgeo.
[Version 2.8.4]

1 Reply


Alanterra replied on 03 Aug 2011
I can't figure out how to edit my review, so I am "replying" to myself.

I am less infatuated with Houdahtool now that I am using it more. Two problems:

1) Houdahgeo goes out of its way to not update the "file modified" date on files when it writes out the gps location data. This means that you cannot figure out which files were modified when, and back-up software may not catch the changes, so the changes may not be backed up.

I have communicated with the author about this issue, and, while he indicated that he understood the problem, he has not addressed it. It would be easy to address by adding a preference to the program.

2) I have had some issues with errors in the programs due to various xmp metadata fields being in the file. The author showed little interest in figuring them out, so I moved on to another program that does not have these problems.

In summary, while HoudahGeo is a nice single-purpose program at a good price, seems like the author is not able or willing to put the effort into making it better. If it suits your needs, great. If not, you could look into PhotoLinker.

Alanterra reviewed on 18 Jul 2010
Tags has a very clean interface that allows one to assign and browse OpenMeta tags. You can assign tags to one or multiple files from the Finder (or PathFinder) with just a key-press and a mouse-click.

There is a tag browser that allows you to find all files with one tag, a union of tags (this tag or this tag or this tag), or an intersection of tags (this tag and this tag and this tag). You can also search by content within a set of tagged documents.

Tags includes a Spotlight replacement that has a better user interface which also allows you to search by tag. I like it better than Spotlight, but I don't use it that much.

The program is also scriptable, but I haven't used that yet.

The one thing it doesn't allow is to search for tags within folder hierarchies (all files with tag X in my "Personal" folder).

I have found one small display bug, and the authors say that they will fix it in the next release.

In all, a wonderfully simple implementation of OpenMeta tags.
[Version 2.0.2]


Alanterra reviewed on 16 Nov 2009
I have used Sente 5 for almost a year now, and am just upgrading to Sente 6.

Pros--powerful management of references for reading, browsing, filing, and including in bibliographies. Able to take large databases in a single bound! Great support for downloading papers from the web. All-in-one solution for management of references, including web references, journal papers, books, scans of xeroxes. And now including synchronization of libraries between computers.

Cons--occasional user interface glitches, undo not fully implemented, no comprehensive user manual.

While I still have not used all the parts of Sente, it has changed my life researching various topics. I right now have 3,000+ references, and this is growing quickly. My research is in various old corners of the biological world, so I can't use PubMed, and Sente's integration with Google Scholar is great. (In spite of all the data problems in Google Scholar). I often am using old journals, and I xerox the articles and scan them, and it is easy to add these to Sente. Integration with JSTOR is great.

Sente 6 now has "keywords" and "tags", keywords being supplied by the author and skimmed from the journal's online site, and tags being supplied by the user. Not the most obvious solution, but I think it is pretty common. You see the same solution in Papers.

I am not using the synchronize feature, but the word is that it works well, but causes some limits on how other programs can link with saved pdfs (because Sente needs to copy, rename and delete pdfs behind the scenes to implement synchronization).

I just spent a few hours looking at some of the competition, and here are some comments:

Papers: Nice but incomplete. For instance, you can't add books to the reference database. And, while you can add tags to references, you can't add the same tag to multiple references at a time. Reading their forums, it is obvious that many people want these features, but the authors have not had time to implement them yet.

Papers focuses on reading pdfs, not compiling and filing them. While it is useful, it might be just as useful to use the Finder + a good pdf reader like Skim.

Mendeley: I couldn't transfer my Sente database to Mendeley--the pdfs did not transfer (meaning that I would have to drag and drop 2,000+ pdfs one by one). Other fields that I use in Sente to organize my database (like Status, or Library Call #) also didn't transfer. It seemed like a better solution for a lab that is working mostly with recent documents, not a person who still uses a physical library like me. Mendeley is still in beta, but the price can't be beat (free), and Mendeley is cross-platform.

For me, the time I have saved keeping my references organized in Sente is more than repaid by the cost.
[Version 6.0.19]


alanterra reviewed on 26 Feb 2009
I just wanted to put in a short review saying how much I like PDFPen. If you are considering Acrobat Pro, definitely check out PDFPen--it might be better and cheaper for your purposes.

I first bought PDFPen for "light editing" of PDFs. Even though I own Acrobat Pro 8, I wanted a program that was specifically meant for editing pdf documents. You know when you have a form that has spaces that you are supposed to fill out--like with an IBM Selectric typewriter--PDFPen does that perfectly. It also assembles PDFs out of a group of separate documents, so you can take the form, delete the 3 pages of instructions, add the essay answer, paste in your signature and date, and just email back the final application without scanning or printing.

But, I just figured out today that the other thing PDFPen does well is that it "understands" multi-column documents. If you have ever tried to select text in a two-column document using Preview, you know what a PITA it can be. But PDFPen understands the document better, so you can select just the text you want.

I also use PDFPen to highlight passages in documents, just like reading a real paper document with a yellow highlighter in your hand!

I haven't tried the OCR yet, but have read that it is as reliable (or unreliable) as Acrobat's. I'll compare the two programs later.

But, in general, there is little that most of us need to do with a PDF that PDFPen can't do.


Oh, PS, I don't think it has ever crashed on me. I'm not sure I can say that about any other program I use (maybe BBEdit, not sure).
[Version 4.0.4]


alanterra reviewed on 14 Feb 2009
This is just a short review. I looked at Papers and decided to not use it.

Its user interface is well-thought-out, but it feels very incomplete. I could not figure out how to add a book or a book chapter as a reference type (and neither could a number of other people who posted to the forums). There isn't a manual that you can search for answers to simple questions, only some introductory movies plus forums on the developer's site. I ran into a number of refresh problems, which, until you figure out that they are just cosmetic bugs, cause pointless head scratching (do I not understand? is the program broken?).

As a way of browsing lots of pdfs, and for looking up bibliographic data in Google Scholar, this program is awesome. But if you move beyond its strengths, you find it hard to know how to continue.

I would definitely look at this program and see if it meets your needs, but also check out the alternatives, from Zotero to Sente (ie, from free to much more expensive).

[Version 1.8.6]


alanterra reviewed on 14 Feb 2009
I haven't explored all the features of Sente, but it seems to be head and shoulders above its competition. I spent the last few days looking at Sente, Papers, Zotero, and one programs that I didn't even bother to look at due to bad reviews (EndNote).

For my needs, Sente is the best. I am trying to organize a couple of thousand pdfs (and a few other kinds of documents), and continue to research various areas from that base. Sente seems to have a strong emphasis on medical research (it uses PubMed as a default database to look for things, and I haven't figured out how to change that). But the tools of being able to look up bibliographic data automatically in Google Scholar, use keywords, and browse pdfs from within the program make the program exactly what I need.

As of Feb 2009, the developers are giving some insight into the next version of the program, which looks to be a useful improvement. It will be a free upgrade to anyone who purchases the program after Jan 1, 2009.
[Version 5.7.3]

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