Archive for the 'iPhone' Category

Firetask: A new(ish) GTD app for Mac OS X

February 19, 2011  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Our firm has finally settled on a practice management application (more on that in a few days).  That tool should cover our task tracking needs for client work.  But we still need an application to make sure our marketing and practice-development projects stay on course.

Until recently, I had been using OmniFocus.  My path to OmniFocus (via Things and other apps) has been a long and storied one.  But I still wasn’t entirely sold on it.  OmniFocus has some quirks, and it’s not the easiest application to use.  Plus, OmniFocus just isn’t pretty (yes, I know that shouldn’t matter, but it does!).

And then I stumbled upon a new entry into the field, Firetask.  What makes Firetask somewhat unique is that it started on iOS and migrated to Mac OS X after the success of its iPhone and iPad apps.  The design of the desktop client was clearly inspired by the iPad app, both usable and attractive.

Firetask has a few interesting differences from other GTD apps.  First, Firetask is (proudly, I might add), a project-oriented task manager.  Every task belongs to a project (by default, tasks go into the Miscellaneous project).  Unlike OmniFocus and Things, Firetask doesn’t distinguish between types of projects (ie. completable project vs.  single action / area of responsibility).  Second, Firetask has predefined categories.  These are similar to the contexts in OmniFocus, but they include a handy visual icon indicator.  The colorful indicator allows for easy identification of different types of tasks when scanning through a list.  And like OmniFocus, Firetask allows users to define their own categories (although you’re limited to the set of 31 built-in icons).

Firetask has much to like:

  • Attractive interface is quite user friendly, letting you get in and start working without a steep learning curve
  • Category indicators allow me to quickly identify different types of tasks

But Firetask isn’t perfect:

  • No apparent way to add long descriptions, links to email messages, or attachments to task description
  • Needs to make better use of drag-and-drop (for example, the info palette seems to be the only way to change a task from Today to Someday)
  • Using the calendar for entering a due date oddly requires users to click on a different task first
  • Syncing is limited to wi-fi (no MobileMe syncing yet)

Firetask is definitely a contender.  But as you can see, the list of negatives is longer than the list of positives.  Of course, the same is true of OmniFocus and Things (which is what has made choosing a final direction so difficult!).

MobileMe calendar takes a step forward

October 20, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Before today’s Apple event begins, I thought I would squeeze in a note about an important Apple release from last week.  Apple updated the MobileMe calendar application.  The MobileMe web app now much more closely resembles the iPad app.  But more importantly, it now supports calendar sharing.

We previously had been using iCal server on Mac OS X server.  But this setup limits us to syncing our shared events to our iPhones by plugging it in.  Two years ago, that wouldn’t have been a problem because my iPhone couldn’t last an entire day.  But batteries and cell efficiency are far better now.  My iPhone 3GS lasts a couple days without being plugged in.  And working off a two day old calendar is a big no-no.

So we’ve tried setting up a few shared calendars using the new MobileMe sharing, and it works pretty well.  I ran into one situation where I updated the text of an event and it didn’t sync to the “shared” computer.  But other than that one hiccup, the sharing has worked quite well.

We still have big plans for Mac OS X server, but right now it seems that the plug is being pulled on iCal server.

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.

All About iOS 4

June 20, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

In a review whose depth has only been matched by Arstechnica and Digital Photography Review, TiPb last week posted a walkthrough of all of the changes coming in iOS 4 (the new name for iPhone OS).

Whatever you think you know about the changes coming this week to your iPhone, I am sure you will find something new in this article.

Gizmodo and iPhonegate

April 22, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

I was tempted to write something about Gizmodo’s handling of the “lost” iPhone this past week. But I am glad I waited.

As usual, John Gruber over at Daring Fireball says it much better than I could have ever said it myself in his well-researched and thoughtful writeup on the matter.

I have been very disappointed in Gizmodo’s behavior through this whole process. Publicly naming the engineer who lost the device was completely classless. As John Gruber puts it:

The people whose identities I’d like to know are those who obtained and then sold the phone, not the guy from Apple who lost it. There is no interest served by outing him other than taking sociopathic glee in making a public spectacle of someone who made a very serious but honest mistake.

For Gizmodo it’s all about the spectacle. It’s one thing to dedicate yourself to finding out the latest scoop on Apple products. That’s what news organizations do. But it’s quite another to turn it into a game. The writes at Gizmodo seems pretty proud of themselves right now. They even claimed success against Apple in this made-up game of theirs:

A controlled leak? The lost iPhone planted by Apple? You have no idea how Apple PR works—and how, like it or not, Gizmodo finally beat them at their own game.

It seems odd for a company that reports on Apple so much to have such an antagonistic attitude towards Apple. I guess this is what Think Secret has been replaced by – a website that is more interested in making noise than it is in the technology itself.