end kvetch

Macs, productivity, &c.

Software Sumo: Journler vs. MacJournal (Rematch)

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Some people did not like the agèd nature of MacJournal during the original match. So now, considering that MacJournal has just released a new version and Journler will soon be going commercial, I figured I would do a “fairer” match-up.

Interface

I must say, kudos to Mariner for the improvements in the MacJournal interface. It is starting to look like a nice, Leopard-worthy app. However, one thing I simply do not get is the fact that some of those godawful toolbar icons from v2 are still hanging around. I mean, they have a new dock icon, I don’t think it would kill them to get some new toolbar icons as well. Those hideous, Panther-y icons are what’s really killing this interface. I’m not crazy about the fullscreen here (but I’m not really big on fullscreen writing anyway) but it is quite customizable. The option to display entries either in the sidebar or above the actual entry text (like you would see messages in Mail) is nice. The calender looks a bit odd swimming in a see of white space when one’s sidebar is extra wide but otherwise it looks a-okay. One thing I do not like is that while in three-pane view, the entry list does not have an alternating background. The entry selection buttons (on the far left of the toolbar) are a little odd because they go up and down rather than left/right. Although this makes more sense I still think it looks a little odd (however, the plastic finish on the buttons is nice).

macjournalscreensnapz002.png

The Journler interface recieved a pretty small facelift with the latest update. The main change is that I noticed is slightly more spacing in the entry list. Overall, the Journler interface is quite similar to that of MacJournal. I prefer the calender in Journler and I obviously prefer Journler’s toolbar icons. Magically, Journler finds out what your system folder icons and uses them in its sidebar. I also like the more integrated header in Journler because it is both easier to fill out and, in my opinion, looks better.

journlerscreensnapz001.png

MacJournal: 7/10 – This would be a really solid interface if Mariner would just redo those buttons!

Journler: 8/10 – A nice, consistent interface that could use a couple tweaks.

Features

I’m not sure if journals in MacJournal are supposed to act like folders, but I’m not feeling it. Although journals can be placed inside each other, I really don’t like how the hierarchy works. Bad folder structure aside, MacJournal has all the features I would expect. It has wiki-linking, labels, fullscreen and blogging as well as sound and video recording.

Journler has finally brought real tags, a feature I have been waiting for for a while. Journler has all the features of MacJournal except blogging support which was recently dropped because the developer decided it was an underdeveloped feature. However, I do feel that the fullscreen (which includes all three panes rather than just the text) isn’t as strong as the fullscreen in MacJournal.

MacJournal: 7/10 – Bad folder hierarchy aside, a very nice set of features.

Journler: 7/10 – Good features but no blogging and fullscreen is lacking.

Overall

Journler is ahead by just a little bit and because it will be selling for ten dollars less, I think it’s the better choice.

MacJournal ($34.95): 14/20 – Needs more polishing, but it’s a good app at the core.

Journler ($24.95 as of v2.6): 15/20 – A good journaling application that needs a bit of work in some areas.

Look here for more screenshots from this edition of Software Sumo.

Filed under: Apple, Software Sumo, , , , , , ,

Software Sumo: Corrections

Recently, I have taken even more heat for my comparison of Journler and an outdated (but free) version of MacJournal.  Because Mariner has recently released a new version of MacJournal and Journler is (to my great chagrin) becoming shareware, I have decided that a rematch is in order.  However, I may wait until the first non-freeware version of Journler becomes available.

In another review I declared Vienna the better RSS reader.  However, several months ago I picked up the NNWL alpha/beta/something and really liked it.  So, imagine my delight when it was announced that the full version of NetNewsWire was going free.  Because of the much-improved (and Leopard-like) GUI and the full range of features available in the full version, I am now a convert.  Although I am considering it, I probably will not write another review of the two apps.

Also, expect rundowns on IRC clients (this one may have to be a three-way match) and  alarm apps (there may be four contenders for this one).  Stay tuned, these should be up soon.

Filed under: Apple, Software Sumo, , , , , , ,

Finally, the Questing Days are Over

Although it wasn’t really a consideration when I moved to WordPress I soon realized that Journler works with WordPress. Obviously I am very happy about this, especially since I’m not crazy about the WordPress web interface. Since I have chosen Journler for my note-taking application this year it will would be super easy to blog during school (and school, like the dentist, always provides good blog fodder) while looking like the diligent student– not that I would do that. Just saying.

Regardless, despite the initial spats WordPress and I are getting along now just fine (we just needed a third-party mediator).

Update: The annoying thing about offline editors is their uncanny ability to generate useless HTML, and, of course, their willingness to convert your tags into web-safe symbols.

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

My Revolutionary Not-Too-Exciting Note System

I’m not the kind of person who likes to take notes. This isn’t really the problem that it sounds like because I can member most things without having to refer back to a little scrap of paper.

Much of my note-phobia originates from a) my horrible handwriting and b) the difficulties in trying to come up with a good organizational system for pieces of easily torn notebook paper. My original solution, Levenger’s Circa, solved the second problem (for the most part) but not the first.

Prior to my Circa debut (no, this isn’t my life story, I am getting to the point) I had had one fleeting experience with computerized note-taking. These notes were marvelous, clearly organized and infused with sarcasm. I was in love. Sadly, at the time computerized note-taking was not practical (no, not because it was 1980 and computers were the size of small armories) because I did not yet have a laptop. This all changed in the winter of 2006/2007 when I got a MacBook of my very own. I started off, like most novice note-takers, in MS Word. But as I pointed out in my earlier journaling software review, Word lacks the capability to organize multiple documents. At this point I was using the glorious Schoolhouse 2.0 to organize my assignments (having recently moved on from the not-so-glorious iCal). Schoolhouse contains a fairly rudimentary note-taking system (basically a version of TextEdit which stores documents to the application rather than a file) which I used happily until the end of the year (its probably the reason I did so well in biology1).

It seems like a rather anti-climactic ended, right? Well its not the end. *Dramatic music*

Frankly, for all my praise Schoolhouse isn’t really the best solution for me (although that could all change with the possibility of a third version come-September).

(Sorry, putting this post on hold, there’s a new episode of The Burg)

Anyway, as I was saying, Schoolhouse isn’t really the best assignment tracker for me (I think I’m going to crawl back to iCal) and its certainly not the best note-taking system. This is where Journler (the winner of the first Software Sumo) comes in.

After realizing that lots of numbers and abbreviations make note titles frickin’ awesome2 I came up with a simple little cataloging system to use with the journaling superstar. The system has three components: the subject (a letter abbreviation), the quarter number and the note number. For instance, ENG.1.5 would mean the fifth English note of the first quarter. A title can then be tacked onto the back (making for “ENG.1.5: The Rise of Hemmingway”, which sounds an awful lot like a sci-fi film). Another nice thing about Journler (which I neglected to mention in the review) is its wiki-like linking between entries. So, if I make reference to a concept I can then link back to a full entry pertaining to it, something which I really liked doing in VoodooPad.

So, there you go. If you were able to read that entire thing I commend you and know you know all my note-taking secrets (which you probably didn’t want in the first place).

Footnotes:
1 Not to brag, but I was at near the top of my class.
2 As it were, that’s how I described the liver on my bio final.

Filed under: Oldies, Productivity, , , , ,

Software Sumo: MacJournal vs. Journler

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There has been a rematch! After complaints that an old version of MacJournal was used, I have reviewed these two apps again. Click here to see the new review.

I have finally caved to HitTail’s requests and now I am launching a new feature: Software Sumo! Software Sumo will evaluate two Mac softwares (often freeware…in which case I guess it would be Freeware Fencing). Today we will be kicking off with MacJournal vs. Journler. Soon I hope to evaluate NetNewsWire (Lite) and Vienna. Any other requests you have for match-ups can be emailed to me. And now your regularly scheduled programming….

As the names imply MacJournal and Journler are both journaling applications. For the purposes of fair evaluation I have chosen to match up the latest free version of MacJournal (2.6) against Journler.

Interface

In this first screenshot we see a comparison of the toolbars:


Journler has a nice unified look going while MacJournal has a split aqua thing going on (however, in the most recent, fairly pricey version they have moved on to unified). The buttons are fairly similar but I prefer the ones in Journler.

Next, lets look at the MacJournal window:


We see there are two drawers, one that holds journals and another that holds entries. In the middle there is a basic text entry area with a title box, a main body area and a small button to lock the entry. Pretty boring stuff especially compared to this next shot of the Journler window:


Here we see a three pane, Mail-style layout. On the side we see the Journals (as well as a nifty calendar), on the top pane we see entries (with plenty of information about them) and on the bottom we have the text. The text pane allows for a title and the body text as well as tags, a category and the date. There is also a handy word count ribbon at the bottom of the window.

I certainly prefer the interface of Journler because it is more compact without drawers hanging out all over the place, it provides more data and it just looks better (if not perfectly integrated with the OS’s interface).

MacJournal: 5/10 – Looks like it stepped out of Jaguar or Panther.
Journler: 8/10 – Doesn’t look completely at home among other windows but fairly nice looking.

Features

Both applications have rich text entry and picture capabilities as well as journal locking and statistics and blogging (which we’ll look at in the next section). In addition to these Journler has labels (arrived in a later version of MacJournal) and better media integration. I personally never use the media features but I’m sure people will find them handy. In my opinion, as long as the application has basic text and organization features it can pass as a decent journaling application (or at least an improvement from using MS Word).

MacJournal: 7/10 – Has the basic features but not much else.
Journler: 9/10 – The only feature I wish it had is new Blogger support.

Blogging

MacJournal has full support for LiveJournal and Blogger, Journler has support for most every blogging service. Journler clearly says that it does not yet support the new Blogger, MacJournal does not address the issue but I assume that is the case because it would not configure correctly (this is a problem I have had with all blogging clients besides MarsEdit and Flock). Obviously I cannot try out the blogging features (at least not until they get new Blogger support).

Overall

Overall, Journler has scored better with 17/20 as opposed to MacJournal’s 12/20. This certainly reflects my experiences, anyone else who has used these apps want to chime in?

Journler – Free ($10-20 Donation Suggested)
MacJournal – 2.6 is Free, Others $29.95

As you can see, at the moment applications are only being evaluated based on two main points, if you have more suggestions please email them in.

Filed under: Apple, Oldies, Software Sumo, , , , , , , ,

The (Continued) Quest For A Free Blogging Client

If nothing else, HitTail has helped me realize the obvious: if I want to find a free blogging client for Mac I should Google it (by the way, I’m the top hit if you do so). I did so and found several. The first two I came across, Bleezer and Qumana failed to configure correctly so I moved on to option three– Flock. Flock is a media-based web browser based on Firefox technologies that I have heard of before. Flock isn’t an ideal solution, seeing as how it’s a web browser and not a real blogging client which means the process of posting something isn’t as simple. The only way that it would be quicker to use Flock is if I migrated all of my web browsing to it, which I’m not willing to do.

So, lets look at the rundown of blogging clients…

1. MarsEdit: The best one, but its not free.
2. Ecto: Didn’t configure properly (and isn’t free).
3. Journler: Great app, but no new Blogger support.
4. Bleezer: Didn’t configure properly.
5. Qumana: Same as above.
6. Flock: Not much of an improvement over the Blogger entry client.

I think I’m just going to keep doing it the old fashioned way until I win the lottery (or find $20 in the street) and can buy MarsEdit.

P.S. Why do computers have such antiquated dictionaries? Flock (which I used to write this post) repeatedly told me that “blogging” and “Google” were not really words.

Filed under: Apple, Oldies, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hit, Hit, Hooray!


HitTail has finally given me a suggestion (right on que cue). It has suggested that I write on the topic of “Journler vs. MacJournal”. Unfortunately I has no experience with MacJournal (I gave up when it proved difficult to download). I’m not even sure why it picked that keyword, there are three pertaining to a Mac (free) blogging client but only one referring to Journaling apps. I suppose this is the point where I could put my faith in computer aside and use my own common sense to see that people want to hear about blogging clients but my experience is a little limited there too (but if the nice people at Red Sweater want to give me a free copy of MarsEdit I would be more than happy to write up a nice review1).

Footnotes:
1 Yes, my love can be bought.

Filed under: Oldies, , , ,