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Comic Neue 1.1
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on 15 May 2013
At the risk of sounding like a BusyMac shill, I have to say I LOVE BusyCal! I've been using version 2 daily (actually, several times a day) since it was released, so about six months of heavy duty usage as of this writing. Using it has been life changing for me, and in ways other calendar apps could not and did not work for me (and I tried others). At the end of 2012, I was completely out of control with my appointments and to dos and due dates, and BusyCal is the tool that has helped me get it all back under control. Pretty much MY GTD type of app (but, no, not a traditional GTD workflow).
I primarily use the Months view in conjunction with the integrated To Dos sidebar. Something BusyCal does is allow me to show up to 12 weeks at a time in a contiguous scroll; I often view 7 or 8 weeks at a time. Is today November 30th? What do I have on my calendar for tomorrow, December 1st? Or even just next week? WIth other calendars that adhere to the ridiculous skeuomorphic concept that a "month" is a sheet of paper with a fixed view of the days, I have to swipe back and forth to see one month in context to another. Not so with BusyCal; its Months view flows the days and weeks continuously, just like real life.
Another limitation of other calendar systems is the lack of integration of the dated calendar entries with your to dos. BusyCal allows ALL tasks, appointments, events, to dos, dated or undated--whatever--to show within a single app, a single window, eliminating again the need to shuffle back and forth between different places to see fundamentally related information.
While there is no BusyCal app for iOS yet (hey, developer, we DO want that!), it does sync my iCloud account seamlessly with the Apple iOS apps, Calendar and Reminders (and, for that matter, with their desktop counterparts). So, while I would prefer all information to reside in an integrated app, at least I have my information with me while on the go, and can do the heavy lifting of data entry and manipulation back at my desk.
BusyCal is not without its quirks. For example, dragging and dropping To Dos back and forth from the To Dos sidebar to the main Calendar has its minor annoyances. Also I realize the current lack of Exchange support is a dealbreaker for many (unimportant for me). And the new highly-touted feature of including graphics and emoji seemed kind of silly to me. I really don't need pumpkins and santas on my calendar. That said, I DID just find a great use for an embedded graphic; I was having trouble remembering the keyboard shortcuts for the multiple ways you can enter data, so I just did a screen capture of that tiny portion of the menu bar drop down and pasted that "text" into an otherwise empty square on the calendar to create an always visible cheat sheet. (HINT: If you do this, and then want to move the graphic to another open square, open the Graphics Panel to make the graphic selectable. Quirky, but workable.) And if there was anywhere I would seriously chastise the app, it was in its pricing. While I love you, developer, $50 seemed a bit too high. Your apparently new $30 price point is exactly on target and a good value.
Finally, I have found the developer to be quite supportive, responding fully to every inquiry I've ever made, and in a timely manner. And the developer is smart to offer, as of this writing, a fully functional 30-day demo from the website, allowing a try before you buy that otherwise could not be done through the Mac App Store.
All in all, BusyCall has been a very pleasant and productive experience for me. I look forward to seeing where it goes!
on 27 Sep 2011
In October of 2008, I left a glowing review of PopChar here on MacUpdate, even calling it a "must have" tool. While true at the time, and while PopChar probably continues to be an excellent utility, I must say I have long since moved on and no longer use nor pay for PopChar.
Character Viewer from Apple, already included on every contemporary Mac, does everything I used to do with PopChar, just as easily and just as well. The only trick is you need to know how to FIND Character Viewer.
Go to System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources, and then check two boxes: "Keyboard & Character Viewer", and "Show input menu in menu bar". Now look in the Menu Bar at the top of the screen, over on the far right side. You'll see a (very strange) little icon, sort of like a box with an asterisk on it. Click there, and then choose "Show Character Viewer". Done.
PopChar may or may not have additional functionality beyond how I use Character Viewer. But PopChar is just too unrealistic in today's global economy about its pricing. When I can buy an entire operating system such as Lion for $30 (and, furthermore, am authorized to install it on several systems), a one-trick pony like PopChar, currently selling for about $40, needs to seriously re-evaluate its pricing and licensing structure.
on 24 Sep 2011
on 24 Sep 2011
Be aware that, unlike its PC counterpart Dragon Naturally Speaking, Dragon Dictate for Mac does NOT support using digital voice recorders to capture your speech for dictating while on the go. This is, for me, a deal breaker. Sadly, this major omission is not made at all obvious in their marketing. Indeed, given that the PC version has had this feature for years, it is too easy to make the assumption that the Mac version would include the same significant functionality. Nope.
Dragon does still sell Macspeech Scribe, a separate product designed ONLY for working with digital voice recorders. However, that is ALL it does, is a separate non-integrated application, costs $150 on its own, is not compatible with Lion, and having not been updated in any way in over 15 months appears to be a dead end product.
on 29 Sep 2009
Sprint SmartView is a prime example of poorly-conceived and -engineered software that pays no heed to Macintosh standards. While more-or-less functional, it features a terribly designed and quite ugly interface. Given how little the software does (or needs to do), the application window is HUGE and NON-RESIZABLE, measuring approximately 568 pixels by 212 pixels, most of that empty, wasted space (that still manages to use only super-tiny text in its difficult to read buttons) in an ugly layout. It could have done its job in a window easily 1/8th that size. To compound the problem, space is devoted to several pop-up buttons that serve, at best, questionable functions far better served through traditional Web sites/browsers/bookmarks or, at worse, features that are not yet even implemented (as admitted by Sprint).
In addition to the application window, it also gives you the option to place an icon up in the Menu Bar. However, that icon is essentially useless. A proper Menu Bar icon would be available 24/7 and then actually give you constant status information, such as bars of signal strength, or let you do something with it, such as click on it to launch the app and/or connect/disconnect, The Sprint icon only appears after you've launched the application from elsewhere (disappearing when you quit the app) and then is essentially just a big yellow bump in your Menu Bar. Unlike similar network-related Menu Bar icons, the Sprint icon offers no signal strength info or other status information until you click on it--and then the signal strength is reported, not in consumer-friendly bars, but in text form as signal strength measured in dBm, such as "-77dBm", info that will be meaningless to many folks. And it does not even function as an app launcher or connect/disconnect button. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I could go on and on with specifics of how frustrating this application is, but it's just too much effort to document its vast idiosyncracies when I doubt Sprint will ever read this or, if they did, even care. Still, I would be derelict in my duties if I did not at least say, Sprint, all I want your software to do is let me click a tiny Menu Bar button to launch and connect/disconnect and then display a constant and passive visual report of signal strength in bars, both of which could be done through the Menu Bar icon but aren't. For the application itself--which I'd rarely if ever want to actually see--hire a designer to fix your hideous layout, preferably one that is Mac-aware.
PaintGrade for Aperture
on 17 Feb 2009
Whoa! $239? Are they kidding? Best laugh I've had this week!
on 29 Oct 2008
PopChar is an excellent utility. I have been using PopChar as a paid/registered user for many, many years and through many, many versions of the Mac OS. I consider PopChar a MUST-HAVE tool and, while I have to admit I'd like the license key to be just a tiny bit lower than the equivalent of $38 US--blame it on the US economy, not the developer's €29.99--it is nonetheless a product I feel is worth owning. I use it daily to call up those hundreds of oddball characters, such as ® ™ ¶ æ Ω ç and €. I don't have to try and remember any of the keyboard contortions to access these infrequently typed characters, I just pull up PopChar, see the character I want, tap on it and the character pops into my text for me. Hey, look at that...character pops...do I see a product name here? ;^)
FYI, I also wrote a reply to the previous reviewer who I believe misunderstands how the PopChar license key works. Bluntly stated, the previous guy is wrong, see my reply there. I don't want one unfortunately incorrect review to throw people off track and possibly hurt the longevity of a product I consider essential.
Olympus DSS Player
on 04 Sep 2008
A caution before updating: be aware that the 7.x software does NOT support several older but still commonly used Olympus recorders. From the 7.0.1 ReadMe file:
Note : DSS Player for MAC V7 does not support the following discontinued recorders DS-3000/2000/660/330/320/150/10, DM-1 and the RS-25 foot pedal. While direct recording is supported, Direct Recording in DSS LP mode and WMA fomat are not.
On a test machine, I tried installing the software anyway just to see what would happen, and the 7.x software DID NOT work with either my DS-2200 or DS-2000 recorders, nor did it work with the RS-25 pedal--just like the ReadMe indicated. Very sad as these devices just are not that old.
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