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ATPM 14.12
December 2008


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Congrats to you, sir. All good things come to an end. That is so we can recognize them. Good luck. Love and marriage are a marathon, not a race. Pace yourself.

—Grover Watson

PDFPen and PDFPen Pro 4.0.1 Review

How does this compare to the free solutions? Skim and Preview?

—Max Thibodeaux

Thanks Max—good question.

I have to say, I use Preview for viewing almost all PDFs initially. I love its simplicity and how fast it opens even bulky PDFs. And the new features that Apple has introduced in more recent versions are great.

I’ve used Skim only a couple of times—I didn’t find it a compelling alternative to Preview.

Both Preview and Skim allow for adding notes and other annotations, as well as a couple of other features that PDFPen touts as values. It may be that, for many, these are sufficient.

But if you want to complete forms or add a signature, neither Preview nor Skim will answer. Also, if you need OCR, neither will provide what you seek. And if you work extensively and frequently with PDFs, tools like PDFPen’s library and the Pro version’s Table of Contents and Forms creators might be essential—again, not to be found in the other two.

All of that is to say: both Preview and Skim are good and popular PDF readers, each offering a modest set of tools for doing slightly more than simply reading PDFs. With these tools available, it’s easy to imagine that most Mac users might eschew Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, particularly given its relative slowness in loading and running and bulkiness on the hard disk.

But if you want or need something more powerful than Preview or Skim, but want to avoid the high cost of Acrobat Professional (you actually have to jump up to Professional to get some of the features that PDFPen offers), PDFPen (and Pro) are a great alternative.

I actually wonder if Adobe isn’t missing a huge market here—not unlike their Photoshop Elements line, which gives some key features but reserves some of the real power for the pro version. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a $50 or $75 version of Acrobat offered that looks surprisingly like PDFPen. (Remember: you heard it here first, folks.)

—Ed Eubanks, Jr.

Next Actions: Master List for November

One general comment about the products mentioned here that supposedly have iCal and iPhone sync. The fact that most of these products don’t synchronize with the desktop surprises me. Most of those that do are set up as if you’ve never entered a to-do in iCal. For me, my first test of a to-do list program is, can I get my existing to-do’s in and easily start using the program in a basic way. If I have to invest hours to get to that point, I might as well stick with the lousy to-do manager in iCal and carry a printed list with me.

A summary of some key issues with some of the products:


Synchronization has to be done via their server. You better hope they have proper security and that they stay in business…otherwise you’ll end up with two disconnected islands of data or someone else will end up with your data.


There’s no way to bring in your existing tasks, and the synchronization looks like it’s really push to iCal not true sync. Retype all your to-do’s and be careful to never enter something in iCal’s Task list when you’re using iCal’s calendar.

Easy Task and Things

Both happily pull in your existing iCal to-do’s but not their completion status. If you’ve got all Palm Desktop data in there, you’ll finally realize how productive you are! Be prepared to click “done” a lot.

Before trying any of these programs, backup your iCal data. Some of these programs are buggy and will trash your iCal to-do list.

—Tim Wood

Good comment on iCal syncing; yes, some of the “syncing” is limited. That’s the way the authors have chosen to do it, in many cases—for whatever reason they personally prefer it that way, or couldn’t get the kinks worked out of a full sync, etc.

As for OmniFocus: it does offer a full synchronization with iCal, and it will pull in new tasks from iCal (even at first run). For this (and many of the other applications), reading the documentation before you just start playing around (and inadvertently muddling things up) can be a blessing.

And yes, backing up iCal data before the first run (and frequently thereafter!) is a great idea.

—Ed Eubanks, Jr.

Photoshop: File Format Fever

Thanks, Lee! This is a nice synopsis of information I have tried to share with others. Good luck; we will miss your writings.

—Michael Jenkins

MX Revolution Review

Bluetooth is much less performant than Logitech’s RF. I couldn’t stand the Bluetooth mice I’ve used.

—Lally Singh

To state a little better what Lally is trying to say, I have used a couple of Bluetooth-enabled mice. I have no technical knowledge to be able to say what the problem might be, but every one of the Bluetooth mice I’ve tried exhibited occasional reception issues where the pointer would briefly not respond. True, only milliseconds, but definitely perceptible. The only time I ever have trouble with the proprietary RF is when the batteries in the mouse are getting low. Based on what I see of the pictures, and what I know of Logitech, Chris is right on with the majority of this review, but I feel missed the mark to knock it due to the lack of Bluetooth. Like Lally, I won’t buy Bluetooth mice any more.

—Lee Bennett

• • •

I would agree with the above. Having tried a Microsoft Bluetooth mouse with my laptop I eventually ditched it and switched to using a Logitech VX Revolution.

I’ve been using an MX Revolution with Mac OS X for nearly a year now, and as a Mac Pro user, having the receiver permanently attached isn’t an issue. However I can appreciate that for laptop users it is one more thing to lose, unlike with the VX model where the receiver can be stored safely inside the mouse.

I’ve had no problems at all with The Logitech Control Centre software on the Mac, which was pretty much a set-it and forget-it affair. My only problem with my MX Revolution is that the rubberized coating on the right-hand side of the mouse is blistering and peeling away.


Datahand Professional II

My Datahand saved my life. My publishing company, would have died years ago without it. I have two keyboards and am hunting for a third as backup in case they go out of business. I may have one to sell if people are interested. Not sure yet, though.


• • •

Be careful. The Datahand also “saved” my career four years ago, but now I have “tennis elbow” and tendon problems in my left hand. I am sure that it is from holding my arms and hands rigidly in one place. I was never able to adjust the Datahand to make all movements feel “right.” I could never get the built-in mouse to work in the way that I needed, so I use a touch pad. I have given up touch-typing and use the one-finger hunt-and peck method on a regular keyboard. My condition has improved, but I am months away (at best) from living without splints and straps.

—Lisa Gamuciello

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