Archive for July, 2010

A Tool in Search of a Problem

July 31, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Have you ever come across a program that was just so cool that you really wanted to use it, but just didn’t know what to use it for?  For me, that program is Ortelius.  It’s software for making maps.  Very awesome-looking maps.

Some day I have dreams of making the world’s most beautiful map showing the location of our office.  I’m not sure that’s worth the trouble of learning how to use it, though.  Until then, I’ll just file the bookmark away.

OmniFocus makes a grand appearance on the iPad

July 30, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

If you were anything like me, you were probably checking the Omni Group forums every few hours for the past week.  So you would know by know that OmniFocus for iPad (iTunes link) was approved by Apple today.  I have only had a chance to play around with it for about 30 minutes, but I figured I would never live it down if I didn’t share my initial thoughts today.

There are a handful of developers, and the Omni Group is one of them, that are really pushing the envelope on the iPad.  I used Things for months on the desktop.  And when the iPad was released, I took it for a spin for a few weeks there too.  The iPad version was pretty much a well-executed port of the desktop version.  Except for the placement of buttons and some eye candy, Things looks and works fairly similarly on the desktop and the iPad.

Not so with OmniFocus.  The second you start up OmniFocus on your iPad and sync your data, you’ll see that the iPad application was designed from scratch with a smaller touchscreen in mind.  It’s absolutely gorgeous (dare I say, lickable?).  And from my limited use, I actually like it better than the desktop application.  It’s like the Omni Group redesigned OmniFocus from the ground up based on how the interface should work, completely disregarding the desktop version.

Some of the new features are just delightful.  I love the +1 day, +1 week, +1 month buttons on due dates.  I love the Forecast screen, allowing you to see how many tasks are coming due each day.  This was the one feature that I really started to feel like was missing from the desktop version as I transitioned to using OmniFocus for all of my task tracking.

And then there’s the new mapping feature.  OmniFocus for iPad allows you to associate a map location with a context.  I am sure someone will come up with an awesome way to use this feature (but right now it’s not coming to me).

The bottom line is that OmniFocus for iPad makes me want to use my iPad rather than my desktop when it’s time to sit down and plan my day or see what’s next.

EDIT:  MacSpark already has an in-depth review up (but frankly, he cheated a little because he was a beta tester).

Holey DRM, Batman!

July 26, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

The DRM, it’s got holes in it.

The big news from today (apart from the news that will apparently be breaking tomorrow) is that the Library of Congress came out with its new list of DMCA exemptions (a task it takes up every three years).

The headline, that everyone is talking about, are the new rules on circumventing cell phone software to enable interoperability of software (a.k.a. jailbreaking).

As an IP lawyer who hasn’t jailbroken his iPhone, I latched onto a different change.  The Library of Congress now explicitly permits circumventing DRM on DVDs to incorporate short portions of the movie for “non-commercial” use.

This is highly interesting for two reasons.  First, they specifically named DVD and the CSS protection used by commercial DVDs.  That means this exemption does not apply to Blue-ray disks.

Second, the additional exemptions may usher in an era of legal de-CSS software.  Sure, DVD ripping software is fairly easy to find, and some of it can be purchased.  But the movie industry has been pursuing the companies that sell the software and winning lawsuits against them.

The threat of litigation may finally be over for vendors of DVD ripping software now that the Library of Congress has sanctioned such a broad-reaching use for the software.

Everyone now has the right to rip a movie to extract a few clips, mix them together, and throw the results up on their blog.  People have been doing that for years.  But it’s nice to know they now have the right.

OmniFocus for iPad, soon!

July 23, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Via @kcase on twitter Wednesday:

OmniFocus for iPad has been submitted to the App Store! (Latest stats are that 85% of new apps are reviewed within 7 days.)

is it too much pressure to say that I am expecting OmniFocus for iPad to be a game changer in task managers?

FileMaker Go Released

July 20, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Yesterday FileMaker released its iPad and iPhone versions of FileMaker Go ($39.99 and $19.99 respectively).  FileMaker Go allows you to view, search, and edit FileMaker Pro records right from your iPad or iPhone.  And if you won’t have internet access where you’re going, you can also copy the database to your device and run it from there.  You can copy the database back to your desktop computer when you’re done, but it looks like an all-or-nothing proposition.  There doesn’t seem to be syncing.  You can also access a database from your DropBox account.

The release of FileMaker Go certainly muddies the decision between a standard “desktop” database and a website-driven database.  I am still undecided on the technology that will serve as the foundation for our next-generation practice management tool.  FileMaker Go certainly ups the ante on the desktop side of things.