By James Hicks: Well, it seems like weâ€™ve been waiting for the iPad case called the Quirky Cloak since day one when numerous sites hailed it as the â€œBest iPad Caseâ€ sight unseen. Is this the case (so to speak)? As I looked at the early iPad cases, any one I considered needed to function [...]
Hi kids, Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Podcast here, hosted at http://podfeet.com! It’s been AGES since I’ve been on — have you missed me? Well, I’ve missed you. I really love the Mac Reviewcast. Well let’s see what we have on the ticket today.
As always we have to start with a problem to be solved. The problem I have that I’d like to have solved is a way to keep track of all the license codes I have for all the software I load. A nice hard drive failure, or a clean system install and where are you without all your license codes? I used to use RapidoSerial to keep all of this information, but the developers have dropped the project and so there hasn’t been an update in a year and a half. After I had to bail on it, I sadly pasted all of my data into Excel. It’s not as bad as you think, but it’s certainly not ideal. The worst part is that I’m too cheap to buy the latest version of Office just for Excel, so I’m running an old version that takes forever to launch in Snow Leopard.
Now how about another scenario — you buy a Mac and decide that you want to roll the dice on buying AppleCare until right before the first year is up, and only then pay for the extra 2 years. You’d like to have some easy way to keep track of when that warranty is up. And what about all those internet passwords? You’ve got to keep track of those too.
Enter iKeeper from yenco.com. Mike Yenco, the developer, created iKeeper to scratch his own itch — he had a drawer full of scraps of paper with warranty information and license codes, so many he could barely get the drawer shut. Let’s take a look at iKeeper.
iKeeper has a very simple interface. There are basically two modes – Internet, and Product. Internet is where you store passwords for websites, and Product is where you store license keys and warranty information.
Before we get in too deep, at least half of you are going to be thinking, “Why would I like iKeeper better than 1Password?” I asked Mike this question, and prefaced it with the fact that I don’t actually use 1Password. He wrote back and confessed that he hasn’t used it either, and that while he’s aware of it, he can’t really comment on the differences between his product and theirs. He went on to say:
“My goal is to focus on and design the best software I can to accomplish a task and make each version better than the last based on what I see Apple designing in terms of interface, based on features I would love and have the capability to add at the time, and most importantly based on my efforts to respond to user feedback. I’d like to think that makes my software rather unique and not a carbon copy of other apps or feature sets. I’d also like to think that the Mac market is big enough (and growing larger every day) for software approached from different points of view to solve some of the same challenges.”
So don’t expect a comparison here, but look at iKeeper with fresh eyes and see if it fits a need for you.
Starting with Internet mode, you have fields for Site Name, Site Link, Label, username and password plus a date you entered it, and the expiration date. My first question was how secure this application is if I want to store my internet passwords in it. I asked Mike what encryption algorithm he used, hoping to hear words like 128bit AES encryption. I have no idea what that means actually but I know it makes security people happy. Instead he came back and said he’s using blowfish. Um, ok, isn’t that the guy that sings with Hootie? Of course I turned to my security expert, Bart. When I asked him whether blowfish is any good he said, “It’s the cat’s meow. It’s the best practice state of the art.” He also said, “I think if you whispered blowfish in Steve Gibson’s ear he’d wet his pants!” If you don’t know Steve’s work, he’s a well known security expert and does the Security Now! podcast. Great – now we know this is a secure way to store our passwords, we can keep going.
Once you make an internet entry, you see the list of all your entries with website, username, and password showing on screen. Your password is not hidden with those little dots, so make sure you don’t work on this with someone lurking over your shoulder to pick up your bank account password! There are two little symbols next to each entry. One is an arrow, which is very cool — click that and it takes you right to the website. The other icon is an “I” that you click to open the entry. I would prefer just being able to double click the entry, I kept naturally doing that, forgetting that I had to click on the I instead. Opening the entry lets you view all of the info you’ve entered and edit if you like.
I think the Internet module will help me keep passwords in one place, I’ve always done it on a wing and a prayer, and half the time I can’t remember how to get into my sites! Now where I really got excited was the Products mode. In Products you enter a lot more data but it’s the stuff I really need to keep track of. In this module you enter the purchase date, whether there’s a warranty, the product name, another a label. Then the good stuff — who it’s registered to and the serial code. If you want you can also enter information about the company from whom you acquired the product — phone, email and a web link. Again if you enter a web link, then that nice little arrow in the full list view will take you right to their website.
Now expand your thoughts beyond the software world, and think about your refrigerator, or your car — entering the warranty date could be the difference between a serious problem later and reporting it now when it’s under warranty. Unfortunately with iKeeper I couldn’t figure out how to actually enter when the warranty was up. I had a purchase date and then a pulldown for days/weeks/months/years but no way to enter how MANY of those units till it was due. That was until I wrote to Mike and asked him about it. Turns out there’s a grey area between Warranty and the units that if you click in you can enter the time period. That’s one thing they could improve — it’s not completely obvious where to click to enter information, some sort of indicator that there’s a field there to enter info would be an improvement. Once he told me where to click I was able to set my warranty info on AppleCare to 3 years so I’ll know when it’s coming up. This is a feature I don’t think I’ve seen in other standalone applications on the mac.
In the preferences you can set the defaults for when iKeeper should start getting worried about your warranty status — by default, your caution status turns from green to yellow when you get within 15 days of your warranty running out. I would like to see a feature where iKeeper also sends you an email warning you that a warranty is coming due, that way you don’t have to depend on yourself to check iKeeper all the time to check on things.
iKeeper has a nice search functionality — makes it really easy to find your products or sites quickly. I did notice though that you have to be in the right mode to have a successful search. For example if the pulldown is set to product, but you’re looking for an internet site, you won’t find it. I’d like to see the search be global so I don’t have to pay attention to that. iKeeper allows you to save your searches, which are then easily accessible in a little slide out drawer. There’s one product I’m struggling with right now that I have to enter my serial number every time the developer does an update, the saved searches in iKeeper would save me a TON of time with that. I had one issue, I can’t figure out an obvious way to get out of a saved search. There’s no x box to click, no all button. The only way I figured out how to get out was to swap the product/internet mode pulldown, that seemed to let me out.
iKeeper has labels that you can apply to your products and internet sites, but they’re a bit immature at this stage. You can create your own labels but not on the fly as you’re entering a product, you have to go into preferences to add them. Oddly when you add a label in preferences it doesn’t show up there until you exit prefs and go back in. I think that one is a little bug. In search you can use your label names to search, but that’s about all you can do with them. You can’t apply multiple labels to a single item, so they’re not really like tags, they’re more like categories really. I’d like to see this developed more too.
The help file in iKeeper is fantastic. Simple and quick to search, answered most of my questions right away. I know, it’s not like me to read but I’m starting to realize that if I’m really going to dig into a review I really should scan the help file just so I don’t miss any functionality!
I know I’ve nitpicked a few things in iKeeper but I really like the product. It will definitely fill a hole in my world at the very least for an easy place to drop in my software serial numbers, and a secure place to store my internet passwords. I may even start paying attention to my warrantees! Here’s the best part, iKeeper is only $20 from yenco.com. It’s perfectly priced for the functionality you’ll gain and I have complete faith that Mike is a developer who will keep improving his products.
For more reviews like this, be sure to head on over to podfeet.com and subscribe to the NosillaCast Podcast. That is, AFTER listening to the Mac Reviewcast!
This week I don’t have just one app as a review but I am revisiting a couple of Apps with some updates and highlighting a couple of apps that I found quite useful this week.
You may remember I reviewed Screenium from Synium Software, well at the very end of my review I mentioned that I found it odd that they hadn’t got any screencasts of their own on the website. Well I’m pleased to say that they now have a Demo video of the product, which gives you a great idea of what the App can do for you, especially if your undecided if you need a screencasting app, and it is also quite informative on how to use the application.
They have also added hotkeys to the current 1.1 version, so you can define your own key combination for starting and stopping your recording sessions. If you recall, I mentioned that you had to remember the predefined key combination, so now you’ll only have yourself to blame if you forget your own hotkeys. I’m most definitely not taking any credit for the video going onto the website, as I’m sure they had plans for it and hopefully, a few more detailed walkthroughs in the future. So if you’re still not sure if the application will be of any use to you then go take a look at the information on the website and watch the video.
A few years ago I bought an Elgato video encoder at Macworld. This little thumb device immediately became a regular part of my video encoding workflow. Recently Elgato released its upgraded HD version, the Turbo.264 HD which has improved upon the original in every way.
The Turbo.264 HD uses a new HD encoder that handles more formats and is faster than its predecessor. How fast? Really fast. I’ve been using the device a month and usually encoding goes twice as fast with the Turbo.264 HD than it does without it. Sometimes quite a bit faster.
The science behind the Elgato Turbo.264 HD is its ability to take the video encoding work from your processor and do it with the Elgato’s own hardware encoding accelerator. In addition to accomplishing this faster than your Mac’s processor can, this also gives the added benefit of freeing up your processor for other jobs
today I’d like to review a little piece of sharware that might just solve a problem you have. If you’re like me, you have attention deficit disorder, and as a result you’re flipping between applications as the wind blows and you lose track of time and appointments you should be taking care of. iCal is a great calendaring application, but some recent changes have made it a bit harder to enter data in my opinion, and you do have to wait for it to launch when all you want to know is “what time was my haircut?” I also have a bad habit of flipping the calendar to some date in the future, and not noticing that’s how I left it so I get all confused when I open it again a day or two later and the dates are all weird because I’m on the wrong month.
This week I’m going to review another CD and DVD label printing software called iWinSoft Label Maker. The software which sells for $29.95 opens up with the very basic Mac interface with a choice of labels or prints in a window on the left and your disc layout on the right.
I’m what you would call an “old school” gamer which means while I’m generally cannon fodder in Halo, put me on a 25 year old stand-up Tempest game and watch out! So I’ll admit I’m not the most up to date gamer out there but I’m also a parent. When I saw Freeverse’s Big Bang Brain Games I was immediately interested. This looked like something that would be fun for my family to do together.
The MacBook Air has now been in the wild for a few months and reviewed by just about every major technology journalist and pundit. So as I sit down to write this review I wonder what I could possibly add to the discussion. Maybe the answer is some perspective by someone who actually paid for it and has been using it, not for review purposes, but as a tool to get through my day.
Lets start with a few well-trodden points. I doubt there is any computer on the market that gives you less bang for the buck than the MacBook Air. For $1,800 you get 1.6 Ghz, 80 MB drive, and a single USB port. This is the least powerful laptop in the entire Apple lineup. In other words, if you choose your computer from a spreadsheet of features, move along, this is not computer you’re looking for. So is it overpriced and underpowered? I think that is a much more relative question than it initially appears.