What a long, strange trip it's been
Author: Larry Kuhn
Date: October, 1993
Keywords: Grateful Dead software application review filemaker pro BrainDance Development personal information manager program
Text: You knew it had to happen. It was just a matter of time, and now it's here; The Daily Tripper. The Daily Tripper is a collection of FileMaker Pro (version 2.0 required) templates that offer the Deadhead a somewhat firmer grasp on day to day reality. (if indeed this lofty goal is possible?) On the surface the Daily Tripper is attractively packaged in a cardboard double-CD format. It fits very neatly away in your collection. Inside, there are two 1.44 disks. Installation is straightforward, and takes only a few minutes. BrainDance Devel-opment takes an interesting approach to making this product 'cross-platform' capable by using Claris FileMaker Pro files as a delivery medium. Windows users who have FileMaker Pro for Windows can also use this product. This is an interesting way of attacking the cross-platform problem without developing two separate programs. System Requirements for the Mac, The Daily Tripper requires; a 68030 processor (or better), Claris FileMaker Pro 2.0 or higher, System 6.07 or higher, 4 MB of RAM, a hard drive and 1.44 floppy, 8 bit color video, and QuickTime for Macintosh. Once installed, the Daily Tripper folder displays a ''Steal Your Face'' icon familiar to so many Deadheads. You can start up the Daily Tripper by either double-clicking one of it's files, or opening FileMaker Pro and starting from there. Either way works fine. Startup is pretty quick, and there is a wonderful welcome screen to greet you when you arrive. What does it do? In essence, the Daily Tripper is a Personal Information Manager (PIM for Deadheads, but it can be useful to other people as well. Among the features it has are;
To do Today: lets you organize errands, appointments, calls, daily expense records, gas & mileage (helpful for those with a home business), and areas for four projects. And what would any PIM for a Deadhead be without a section that helps you plan travel to the next show?
Appointments: This area lets the user catalog appoint-ments including time, date, who, what, where, directions, and even has an area to log agenda, and follow-up items.
Calls: Lets you organize your busy day on the phone by categorizing information such as who, when, why, subject discussed, and future action needed. Another nice feature is giving calls a priority ranking.
Personal Finance: Although it is not intended as a total money management tool, The Daily Tripper does allow a neat and convenient way to keep track of mileage, receivable, and payables. This section also boasts a large area for personal notes and comments.
Dairy: The Daily Tripper has an electronic page on which to keep your thoughts, and perhaps recollections of a recent show. (I always maintain; ''I know nothing, I was there!)
Week at a Glance: This feature lets you access information from your to do today, calls, and appointments, and lets you see then as a list. Very handy, and a neat feature for printing out two weeks at a time.
Year at a Glance: Offers a nice block view of all the months right on one screen. You can't go to a particular month or week by clicking on it, and perhaps that would make this feature a little more integrated and useful. Because The Daily Tripper is a collection of FileMaker Pro templates, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you need FileMaker Pro to run these templates. The good news is that if you can run this, you can easily customize this to suit specific needs you may have that aren't addressed. That is one of the most frustrating things about PIM's is that each one of them does a few things really great, but none of them do it all well. With the Daily Tripper, you get a lot of things that you need (but don't have time to build for yourself) and the flexibility to customize and add information and categories that really suit your needs. This is a real value-added feature to using this approach for development. The other bonus in terms of ease of use is that if you are familiar with FileMaker Pro, you know how to use this software. So far, all I've really mentioned are some of the standard features that might be of interest to most anyone needing PIM software. What makes this program special (and unique) are several things that really caught my eye; When you start up The Daily Tripper there is a information window (they call it the ''Dead of the Day'' that has a Grateful Dead related picture. Navigation controls are below it to go to a specific day, back or forwards. All very well laid out. If you decide to click elsewhere, it's showtime! The Daily Tripper also takes advantage of Quick-Time, and presents you with several animations and Quick-Time movie clips of Uncle Jerry and friends. For a Deadhead, these are the features that sep-arate this from ordinary PIMs. More tie-dye they cheered! From a purely functional standpoint, I really like the layout of information and the navigation controls. There are colorful icons that let you choose between day, week, year, appointments, calls, money matters, dairy, and a very interesting and unique category called 'shop'. This is a layout that lets you create a shopping list, and I mean a comprehensive one! Information is nicely arranged into categories from vegetables to dairy, pet supplies to beverages. I'm going to take this list with me every week from now on. If I fill it out before hand, I will rarely ever miss anything at the store. In some ways, this is one of the most useful features of the Daily Tripper, and certainly one that isn't in other PIM's, but should be! I had no problems with using Daily Tripper, but did give BrainDance Development a call to see what customer support was like. I ended up talking with the lady who wrote the database scripts. She answered one or two questions that I had regarding the change in color look up tables after exiting the QuickTime and animation section. I made a few suggestions to her regarding the fact that I thought there should be some kind of expanded section that allowed you to keep track of when mail-order ticket dates were happening, some smart alarms to that effect, and a template for mail-order tickets that you could print out and tape to the standard 3x5 card that is sent in. She seemed very amenable to suggestion, and I can hardly wait for version 2.0! All in all, I feel this product is better and more useful every time I use it. I like being able to customize it, and I like that I can use a familiar environment like FileMaker Pro to do searches if I need to be item specific. Is it worth it to buy FileMaker Pro just to run Daily Tripper? If you're a Deadhead, it may be just what you need to get your life more organized between shows, or get it organized enough so you can actually make it to the shows. BrainDance Development 70-U Woodland Ave. San Rafael, CA 94901 415-454-9876
Copyright © october, 1993 by Larry Kuhn