Archive for the 'News' Category

Billings Pro hits the shelves

August 31, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Marketcircle released Billings Pro today.  It’s a multi-user time-tracking system based on the quite successful Billings application.  We’ve used Billings for some time and are quite pleased with the workflow.

The main problem with Billings is that it is very inelegant at handling time from multiple workers.  It’s not even just that Billings runs on a single computer.  Billings simply doesn’t allow for multiple workers to be handled in a simple and transparent way.

Billings Pro aims to solve all of that, allowing multiple workers to enter their time from their OS X computer, via the web, and on their iOS devices.  But it’s not cheap.  Billings logs in at a svelte $39.95.  By comparison, Billings Pro costs $199.95 per user.

Given all that it Billings Pro does, the price is probably about right.  But small firms with only a couple of billing workers face a steep price climb by using Billings Pro, from $39.95 (lumping work for two people into one timesheet in Billings) up to $399.90 (managing two workers properly with Billings Pro).

But that one-time bump in cost may be worth it.  I’ll be checking it out over the next few weeks and report back.

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?

Apple’s Been Busy

July 9, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Apparently it hasn’t all been about the iPhone 4 and iOS4 down in Cupertino.  This week Apple announced a preview of updates to the MobileMe calendar.  From the screenshots, it looks like a step in the right direction.  Currently, the MobileMe calendar is a poor knockoff of the (already poor) iCal application.  The updated calendar app looks much more like an iPad application – quite attractive and much more useful.

Apple also updated the MobileMe iDisk app.  It’s a universal app, so it runs on both iPhone and iPad.  I hadn’t been looking for this app because we use DropBox rather than MobileMe for online backup, syncing, and storage.  But is seems like a fairly capable entry into the field, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Now if Apple would just release new iMacs already…