Friday, March 27, 2009

A search for software (pt2)

See also, part one of this series.

GEEK ALERT: Despite being written for a general audiance this article is quite technicle in nature. If you are a non-geek, simply ignore the terms you don't understand, and you will still get three quarters of it.

I have been looking for replacements for some of the old DOS programs I built years ago, and this is a discussion about my quest to find a Personal Information Manager. I found three free PIM's that seemed, at first, to fill most of my requirements.

TreePad Lite is probably the easiest to find on the Net, but it turned out to be too limited - it seems to be mostly designed to wet your appatite for the business version. The business version seems to be quite good, and if you need a business PIM, you might want to check it out. There are actually four or five versions, and if you find it too your liking, I would reccommend paying for, and using the premium business version, if you use a Windows based computer in your business.

ChaosManager is a very simple and very compact PIM and organizer. While it is really, really, simple, the help pages and documentation are on its website and clicking on the help menues caused it to access its home URL. That is the main reason I didn't go with it. Beyond just not liking the fact that you have to go continually back to the web site to view documentaion, having the help menues access the web site means that if the web site goes under, so all of your help menues. I consider this a fatal error in the author's judgement.

I finally settled on EssentialPIM (for now) I used Micro$oft Outlook for e-mail many years ago, and this reminds me of that program. This program, the freeware edition, anyway, is so much like Micro$oft Outlook(without the e-mail), that I cannot really even define the differences in look and feel. Most of it revolves around a calandar and appointment book type of function. It also has a separate to-do list. The contact manager is very robust, even including a notepad and a place for a picture of the person.

There is a "Pro" (professional) version and it, just as much as treepad, has my reccomendation for those who need it for business.

  1. Help files are not very complete, and again, refer you to the author's website, where there is a forum for users of the product. This is, in my opinion, a huge drawback, and because of that, it took me a while to decide to use it anyway.
  2. There is no direct mechanism to move things automatically from calandar (schedule) to to-do list. You can make to-do list items repeat on a regular basis, but I would have prefered those items to be listed on the calandar and at a certain number of days before the due date, add themselves to the to-do list.
  3. Even though it shows you 6 weeks in the "monthly" planner, you can only print a calandar month, week or day.

The next program I need is a general purpose database, with some calculation capability. The primary, and first, purpose of this is to handle my checkbook register. I would also use it for my journal. There are some other things I would use it for, but these are the first.

I will cover this topic in a future "software search" article.

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