Easy Alarms: All PIMs are not created equal
Author: George Glaser
Date: November, 1993
Keywords: Nisus Software personal information manager software application utility review
Easy Alarms: All PIMs are not created equal Review by George Glaser, SMUG member
Under New Management: Easy Alarms 2.1 came as a simple shrink wrapped manual and disk envelope. The manual was wrapped in, and stuffed with, various sizes and colors of flyers. These declared the change in ownership from Essential* Software to Nisus* Software. Judging by the changes included in their first upgrade, and the other Nisus products, it looks like Easy Alarms users are in good hands.
All PIMs Are Not Created Equal: Easy Alarms falls into the category of Personal Information Manager (PIM). Unlike word processing software, PIMs vary widely in function and features. Easy Alarm's speciality is alarms and reminders on a calendar format, as you might expect from the name. When I first saw Easy Alarms, I equated ''Easy'' with limited. I was wrong. In fact, Nisus should update the name to ''Easy Power Alarms!'' Loading the two compressed 800K disks and setting up a few reminders was quick and easy, but diving into the manual revealed that the water gets deep fast. Behind the usual ''day-week-month Calendar'' views and ''To Do List'' interface is a host of setup windows that access the power features of Easy Alarms. They include: * User scripting * Apple Events receiving and sending * Network-wide calendar access * Play & import sounds * Import and export reminders * Send reminders with sound to others on your AppleTalk network * Excluded applications (not to be interrupted by reminders) * One time and repeating reminders * Advance notices * Movable, sizeable reminder display dialog box * Quick editing of displayed reminders * Snooze, variable snooze and auto-snooze * Print reminders, date books and calendars * Multiple, colorful calendars with custom views. * Search for reminders The setup windows are somewhat self explanatory, but it sure helps to keep the manual open for the first few times through. There are so many windows and options that it can take a while to get comfortable navigating through them. There are a few rough edges, but I like Easy Alarms a lot (except for the way it prints). It's a bird, it's a plane, no... it's AppleScript: The list of features is long and broad in spectrum, but it is the ability to customize the features that gives them their power. The power of Easy Alarms combined with scripting will become more appreciated as more applications are rewritten to accept AppleScript.
User scripting is the key to the following special features: * Mathematical and comparative functions (+-*/,.=). * XCMD's (external commands) and XFCN's (external functions), this enables Easy Alarms to communicate with and control external hardware devices. * Write (append) text to TEXT files, keep a running record or an archive of textual information, e.g.: logging data gathered from a data acquisition device or keeping a text file archive of reminders. * Sample scripts for integration with ''TimeSlips and LapTrack'' applications to control a billing clock via Apple events. * Sample scripts for integration with ''Notify!'', the reminders can automatically be forwarded to your pocket beeper. * Sample scripts for integration with ''X-10 Home and Office Control,'' this automatically controls lights, appliances, heating systems, computers and peripheral. A complete hardware system with Easy Alarms 2.1 is available from Nisus Software for $189. * Sample scripts for integration with ''Radiant CNX'' (an AppleTalk controlled sense and control device) and ''PowerSwitch'' (an AppleTalk controlled power outlet). * Sample scripts for automating AppleLink ''Auto Mail.'' Nisus' existing products tend to focus on programmers and power users, and under the new ownership, Easy Alarms has the potential to become the ultimate power PIM.
Wish List: For starters, I want more printing options. If I had a PowerBook, I probably wouldn't mind the printing limitations, but I went back to my far less desirable PIM, DayMaker, just for the ''print across two pages'' feature. I want to be able to define my ''weekends'' and weekdays, and not globally! And, how about an ''academic week'' option that starts on Monday. An Excel style icon bar would help with the navigation. I want modular add-ons that would allow Easy Alarms to include all of the best features of all of the other PIMs, as needed by the individual user. And while I'm at it, a PowerBook specific version would be great!
Specs: Mac Plus or later, System 6.03 or later, Hard drive. Easy Alarms 2.1 for $99 available from: Nisus Software Inc. 107 S. Cedros Ave. Solana Beach CA 92075 (619) 481-1477 (800) 922-2993
Copyright © november, 1993 by George Glaser