Evernote for Mac Reviewed (beta version)

2008-03-22

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Update (2008-05): The beta version was updated to 1.1, bringing support for PDF documents and some other minor goodies.  I’ve updated this post accordingly.  It also reflects the updated scores of Together 2.1.

In March, I was able to snag myself a TechCrunch invitation to try the upcoming Mac version of Evernote.  When I first discovered it in 2004 (for Windows), I soon became an advocate of Evernote for its organizational capabilities.  Evernote wasn’t perfect, but it was already a leader in the market and since then, it’s kept progressing at a steady pace.  Now that it’s starting to breathe on OS X, it’s time for a new testing round.

Today, I took a few hours to run Evernote against my web information collection test benchmark.  I’m now ready to share with you how Evernote, in its actual pre-release form, competes with the pack.

As this is pre-release software, please understand that Evernote will probably fare even better than now when it’ll reach Release Day.  Until then, here’s what I found. Read the rest of this entry »

EagleFiler 1.3 Reviewed

2008-03-14

Update (2008-05): Together and Evernote have been overhauled.  I’ve updated this post accordingly.

Reading this new version’s change list, which includes some great new features, I thought it’d be interesting to update my recent comparative review to see how EagleFiler now fares with its competitors.  But I’m not going to update the comparative review now, so I decided to simply post the score-changing differences here, along with their impact on EagleFiler’s evaluation.

  • EagleFiler’s global score for Collection brings it to become the second greatest of all the apps I’ve tested, for collection purposes (behind Evernote’s 65).  From 50, it raised to 62:
    • It’s now possible to import a selection of a web page as a web archive!  (You need to use Safari, or probably any other webkit-based browser.)  Until now, only Together supported this functionality.  This brings the score for Collection – Support from 26 to 29.
    • The addition of the optional window dialog to file what you collect (tags, comment, etc.) ups the score for Collection – Interaction from 18 to 24 and brings the score for Collection – Consistency from 6 to 9.
  • Various small improvements to EagleFiler’s tagging support bring its Organization – Tags integration score from 9 to 10, and its global Organization score from 30 to 31.

These changes bring EagleFiler’s global score from 124 to 138, with an average of 2.1 that now becomes 2.4.  That’s quite an improvement!

Now, there’s two more things I’d like to mention:

Read the rest of this entry »

Uninstallers: AppZapper vs Hazel

2008-02-12

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Update 2 (2008-12): MacApper posted a review of CleanApp 3, which has been released a month ago, and it looks even much more interesting than it did before. I’m yet to try it, though.

Update 1 (2008-04): Someone else compared many uninstallers, reaching similar conclusions.  Hinted at CleanApp possibly being the perfect solution.  Reviews on MacUpdate are fairly positive.  Cleanapp’s rating would be almost perfect if it wasn’t of some performance bugs that might get fixed when version 3 is released.

In the past few months, Hazel, an application that’s useful to automate your organization of files and folders, started lending a hand when you want to uninstall software from your Mac.

This move from the author is a really wise one, as it widens Hazel’s target market into the uninstaller utilities category of applications.  And indeed, that’s what convinced me to buy it, because first, I needed a good uninstaller, and second, I might someday want to build myself an automated workflow for my files and folders organization.

Now, the main question is:

How good is Hazel at uninstalling applications,
compared to the leader of this category, namely AppZapper?

I started my tests a month ago with the hypothesis that neither one would be really sufficient as a uninstaller, because unless I’m wrong, they both solely rely on Spotlight to find which files should be trashed when you uninstall something.

To verify this hypothesis and find an answer to the main question, each time I needed to uninstall an application, I would both use AppZapper and Hazel to see which one fares better.  It’s easy to do.  First, drag your doomed application to AppZapper.  Then, drag it to the trash.  You will end up with both AppZapper’s and Hazel’s suggestions as to what should be deleted along the application package.

The Short Answer

Neither one is that much better.  Neither one is sufficient.  Use both.

The Long Answer

Read the rest of this entry »

A Review of the Mighty Mouse

2008-02-11

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Update (2008-06): I now hate the Mighty Mouse.

Switching from a regular PC to a Mac also means, in most cases, switching keyboards and mice.  When I started using my brand-new iMac, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the Mighty Mouse, but I wanted to give it a chance, so I decided I would use it exclusively for at least two weeks.

My first impression was that I’d miss my back and forward buttons.  And let me tell you I do.  Next, I found it’s hard to use the side buttons, and up to this day, this hasn’t changed.  I was also really surprised to learn that the side buttons are in fact together only one button.

After a few days, I was hooked at its scroll wheel.  Er, sorry, I meant scroll ball.  It’s addictive.  It’s wonderful.  It’s even ergonomic.  Scroll wheels hurt.  Scroll balls don’t.  Scroll wheels wouldn’t if they were designed as small as this ball.  And I say that with some experience with carpal tunnel problems.

What’s funny is that after two weeks, I still hadn’t understood how to succeed at right-clicking every time I tried it.  Most of the time, the mouse would register a left click instead.  It would drive me nuts.  And it’s even funnier that my wife picked it up fine starting on day one.  But we weren’t able to find what it was I wasn’t doing well.

Seeing something was (ironically) wrong with me, I decided I wouldn’t revert to my Logitech mouse until I had solved this problem for myself and tried the mouse in this new glorified way for at least one more week.  And then, a few days later, I found out you have to make sure no finger remains on the left side of the mouse when you push on its right side.  That’s so counter-intuitive.  I mean, why should I need to lift my left finger before right-clicking?  My wife, on the other side of the fence, always did this with any mouse.  How (un)lucky she is!

The most annoying problem of the Mighty Mouse is that its cursor sometimes jumps from one place in the screen to another one when we’re moving the mouse, instead of following our movement.  At first, I thought I was facing some kind of bug in OS X.  Now, I believe it’s because this mouse’s optical system has some problems recognizing the surface of my desk.  When I try my Logitech mouse, I never face this problem.  Let me tell you it’s a really annoying bug, and no, I don’t want to use any kind of mouse pad.  That would ruin the careful looks of my workplace, wouldn’t it?

So, after 4 months using the Mighty Mouse, how do I feel?  Well, I think it’s time to buy a new desk.

Seriously, I hope Apple will make a better device soon.  I would gladly encourage them to continue producing half-crap devices by buying their next mouse instead of switching back to my previous mouse.  Until then, I’m going to rock (argh…) and roll (yay!) with my Mighty Mouse because I’m hooked at the Mighty Scroll Ball.

20 Observations from a Switcher

2008-02-02

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Update (2008-06): Updated to reflect how it works for me now.

Like most computer users who started with a Windows system, I once believed Macs are mostly crap or hype.

Background

That said, I would never have considered switching if Apple hadn’t introduced Mac OS X.  Mac OS 9 wasn’t my cup of tea (I used it for some school projects).

Through the last 7 years, my progressive discovery of the open source community in general drove me more and more to feel and experience how Windows sucks for a non-ms developer.  I needed some kind of unix/linux flavor, and even in 2007, my opinion was that linux distributions aren’t mature enough for me.  But linux is worth another rant.

When I started to understand in 2005 that Mac OS X had redefined the game and was indeed a great system, my interest raised enough for me to start reading a bit about it when bloggers would mention it.

In 2006, I saw the birth of MacTels and much more people starting to switch.  At that point, I was really enthralled by Leopard’s promises.  But I wasn’t ready to switch.  I needed to realize a three more things:

  • Mac OS X is so much based on a unix system that it’s in fact the best unix/linux-compatible distribution out there for the mass market, while at the same time being great for developers.
  • I can replace all the Windows applications I use with strong Mac alternatives.
  • Buying a Mac is a no-risk decision, since I could always switch back to Windows with the same Mac by using BootCamp.

When I understood all these facts, I knew I needed to give OS X its chance.  That’s when I started waiting for Leopard’s release.  This waiting wasn’t the happiest of all, especially after MacWorld 2007 came without the next cat.  I was of those wanting Steve Jobs to tell us to go buy our Macs now and he’d ship us Leopard later for free, but now I’m happy I waited.  I got a 24” aluminum iMac instead of a 20” plastic iMac.  I bought it one week before Leopard’s release and I ordered the 10$ upgrade disc to get Leopard one week after its release.  I received it three weeks after its release, probably because I’m Canadian.  I was angry at first, and then I felt deceived and sad about that.  When I finally received Leopard, I forgot all about that and continued using my shining, brand new iMac.

Observations

  1. I’m lost! I’ve used DOS and Windows for about 14 years and now I must find how to do almost anything.  …After a few days, most of that feeling was gone.
  2. PhotoBooth is a great deal of fun. My wife would like us to take one picture of us each and every day.
  3. System Preferences are much easier to browse and use in general than those of Windows XP.  And it’s really great that they all take effect without having to click on an OK button. Read the rest of this entry »

8 Web Information Collectors Reviewed

2008-01-31

Update 3 (2008-05): I reviewed Evernote’s and Together’s recent updates.  While reading this post with its slightly outdated results chart, remember to use the one that’s besides this paragraph to get the updated results.

Update 2 (2008-03): Evernote is the new wolf that’s coming in the pack, and it already redefines most of what’s best.  Read this review to know how.

Update 1 (2008-03): EagleFiler’s new version 1.3 makes it fare much better.  Read this review to know what changes regarding the following comparative review, as I haven’t updated this post in any other way than this mention.

Although computers are great to work with information, in the last 10 years using a Windows PC, I never found any software solution that would work well for my information collecting and management needs, although OneNote and EverNote came close to it.  But now that I use a Mac, I wanted to see if I’d be able to find something really great.

Our Problem

I believe what makes it hard to find the good application for our needs is that we all have our own very personal ways of dealing with the information that comes before our eyes every day; but most importantly, I believe we still haven’t seen our software in general become mature. Software still behaves like a baby who won’t share his toys. Software will grow someday, but Software just isn’t there yet. Say, Software, what will you do when you’ll have grown up?

Our Need

Until Software becomes an adult, there’s many applications available, and some of them might solve most of our information collecting needs. How would we define the best proposition?

I believe what we need in any application is that it:

  • supports the features needed,
  • interacts comfortably with us, and
  • keeps doing the previous two criteria in a consistent manner.

This definition is most probably critical in the case of information collection software. When I speak of consistency for information collection purposes, I mean, for example, that whatever the web browser I use and the method I use to collect something, it will always produce the same kind of rich text entry, accompanied by its link.

The Contenders

Now, since this is all about reviewing different applications to see which one of them is closing the most towards maturity, here’s what I tested:

DEVONthink PersonalEagleFilerJournlerNoteBook

ScrivenerSOHO NotesTogetherYojimbo

Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, World!

2008-01-31

world.jpgNow, now, let’s see, I’m trying out the blogging thing again.

After all, it’s been more than 7 years that I’m hooked to reading some great bloggers, and I rarely contributed my own thoughts.  I used to write three blogs from 2003 to 2005, each one with its own purposes.  One of them was called SoftwareCreation.  I might bring back some of its posts if I believe they still have some value today.

So what brings me back in the blogosphere today?   Steve Yegge nailed a good point and it looks like it’s all I was waiting for to show my nose here.  It’s funny how a rant that’s been written three years ago can still have an impact today.

I hope I’ll enjoy the ride this time more than the last one, and who knows, you might enjoy it too.

Cheers!