Things To-Do Manager for OS X

5 12 2008

thingsWhile there is no shortage of to-do lists for OS X,  many don’t fit the requirements that I need to have one that suits my needs. TaskPaper oversimplifies it, OmniFocus is fairly expensive and more complex than necessary and the built-in To-Do list for OS X doesn’t have enough features. This is where Things comes in.

Things, by the folks at Cultured Code, is a very simple and organized task manager that works with most users’ needs for a task manager. The Things sidebar is broken down into three main sections: Collect, Focus and Organize. Let’s start with Collect.

The Collect section in Things is where new to-dos that haven’t been sorted will be sent to. In short, it’s your dumping ground for to-dos. Once you’ve inputted all of your things that need to be done, it’s times to move into the second section, Focus.

The Focus section of Things is where you’ll be spending most of your time, and is also what makes Things so great to use. It’s divided into four main parts: Today, Next, Scheduled and Someday. Any tasks that you feel you should be able to complete that day, you can place in the Today section. The checkbox to the left of it will turn yellow indicating that it should be completed today. The Next area is where you will place items that you can complete once you’ve finished everything in your Today section. Scheduled is used if you want to repeat to-do items more than once on a regular basis or want a specific to-do to appear on a ceartain date. For example, you have to ask your boss something at work, but you aren’t able to do it because it’s the weekend and your boss is away, so you move it to the scheduled section and set it to appear on Monday in your Today section. Very handy. Finally, the Someday section is used for items that you don’t want to accomplish right now, but will want to eventually – such as re-doing the basement, but you don’t have the money right now so you file it under Someday.

Now for the final section: Organize. In here, you can create Projects and Areas. A project is basically a multi-step goal that you have that can be accomplished. An area on the other hand, is that can not actually ever be finished. Taking the previous example of building a kitchen, lets say you finally have the money to do it. You would make a project  called “Redo Kitchen” and place all your to-dos for that inside there such as “Pick out backsplash” or “Find nice cupboards” etc. If you were to have a Work folder, you wouldn’t make it a project because it can’t actually be completed. This is what the Areas section is for. You can make a new area called “Work” and place all of your to-dos for it in there.

And that is the gist of how Things works as a to-do list manager. There are some other neat features that Things also has. First of all, you can invoke the Quick Entry panel using the hotkey of your choice (I use F5), which brings up a nice HUD for inputting all the things you need for a new to-do: title, tags, notes, due date and its location inside of Things. They also save your data in an open XML file format which means that third parties are able to communicate with Things and your to-do list is viewable using any modern browser, regardless of operating system. Cultured Code also has built a beautiful iPhone/iPod touch application that’s available through iTunes for $9.99 [iTunes link]. The app syncs over-the-air with your Mac as long as the application is open on both systems. The only issues I have dfound with the app would be the lack of support for Areas or tags for to-dos. To get around the Areas issue, I just use Projects section instead, which I haven’t found any issues with.

Overall, Things is a very solid application – and now with the ability to access it on your iPod/iPhone – quite versatile. My ONE complaint? No web-syncing.

Things is currently available as a free preview until 1.0 is released at the Macworld Expo ’09  on January 6. The price for version 1.0 will be $49, but if you sign up to their newsletter before it’s official release, you’ll gain a 20% discount bringing the cost down to $39.


Pixelmator 1.2 Draftsman

30 04 2008

The Pixelmator team just posted a new article today on their blog talking about the future of Pixelmator. In summary, they’re going to be working all summer on 1.3 codenamed Tempo. Their goal with Tempo is all around performance. “Our task with Tempo is to stun every single user of Pixelmator by speed (think large images) of the app as much as we did with the UI and other never-before-seen things.” They also posted a screenshot on Flickr of 1.2 – most notably, you can see the Polygonal Lasso Tool (finally), Cuves and Guides. Visually, 1.2 looks the same as the current version and the team made no reference to the UI in 1.3 – which will presumably reman the same as well. You can read the entire post on the Pixelmator web site here.

Update: Pixelmator 1.2 Draftsman has been released and includes rulers, guides, grids, snapping, curves, color balance, auto enhance, a polygonal lasso tool and a completley reworked transform tool (allows you to use it as in Photoshop Elements with the box around each layer and isn’t glitchy like the prior version).

Cool Mac Apps

26 04 2008

I stumbled on to this cool web site, Donelleschi Software, that has developed some really handy little applications: Sapiens, Sticky Windows, Filegazer and DockFun!. All of the apps are Shareware, so there is a demo available, but it nicely reminds you to please purchase it. Check all of the applications out here.

Note: Filegazer and DockFun! do NOT work with Leopard.

Sound Studio Unlocked!

22 04 2008

Just to let everyone know, Sound Studio v.3.5.5 has just been unlocked iI the MacUpdate Parallels Bundle. Make sure you grab it before it ends in 7 days!

p.s. BannerZest is unlocked after 780 more sales.

MacUpdate Parallels Bundle!

16 04 2008

The MacUpdate Parallels bundle is finally here! The bundle retails for $64.99 and includes the following:

DVDRemaster Pro – recompress large DVDs to fit on standard DVD5 disc, or for use on the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV
StoryMill – creative writing tool to outline, write and publish a novel
Hazel – create rules to automatically sort and organize your files
Art Text – create high quality headings, logos, banners, buttons
MenuCalendarClock – iCal compatible menu-bar calendar.
Leap – advanced file browsing and tagging
Typinator – type common phrases and pictures
Sound Studio* – record and edit audio
BannerZest* – create animated Flash banners
Parallels 3.0* – PC virtualization software for Intel Macs. Run Windows in Mac OS X.


*After 5,000 units sold – Sound Studio unlocked

*Announced after Sound Studio unlocked – BannerZest unlocked

*Announced after BannerZest unlocked – Parallels unlocked

Grab it while it lasts…the final day is April 29th at 11pm – 13 days! Also, to give some perspective, last time around they sold 27,000 units and they expect to sell more this time around.

Review: Pixelmator

3 02 2008

For those of you who are unaware, Pixelmator is an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop that includes many of the same tools and filters found in the aforementioned. The standard price of Pixelmator is $59 but recently had been included in the Mac Heist bundle for $49 as well as being on the Mac Update Promo for $29.

Almost every tool found in the younger versions of Photoshop such as the clone stamp tool, the magic wand and eyedropper are included in the package. Also things like levels, masks, hue/saturation and blend modes for layers are there as well. The graphical interface of pixelmator is quite stunning. Every pallet and toolbar is displayed on a HUD thats semi-transparent, which gives it a very modern look. There are a lot of subtleties throughout the program that make it quite visually appealing, even more-so than Photoshop, itself. An example of this is when you select a tool in the toolbar, its icon will become larger than the others, indicating that it is in use. Finally, almost every keyboard shortcut that is in Photoshop is identical in Pixelmator with a few exceptions.
Now that all of the good things are out of the way, it’s time for some of the bad things about Pixelmator. For one, there is no history pallet. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t save your history (you can always use cmd+z) but there is no visual way to go back to a specific point like Photoshop. Another gripe that i have is the fact that there is no polygonal lasso tool. The polygonal lasso tool is one of my favorites in photoshop and I miss it dearly in Pixelmator. Also the outline that is normally encompassing your brush or pencil is gone completely. I found that to cause choosing the correct brush size the first time quite difficult. But also don’t forget, Pixelmator is only at version 1.1.2 as of right now and will hopefully see many updates over the next couple of months.
Overall, Pixelmator carries a much larger bang-for-its-buck compared to Photoshop which retails for around $800. Hopefully, over the next little while Pixelmatr will see some updates that may very well bump this up to four and a half or even five stars. But as of the current program, I would have to give it three and a half stars.

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