Open Source Time Management Software – timeEdition is Perfect

timeEdition

For years I used TimeSlice on my Macintosh (it’s a cross-platform app though) for tracking my freelance hours.  It was simple, easy to setup for jobs and printed out a nice report for my clients to see.  However, it wasn’t open source.  It wasn’t expensive either, really, but I like the idea of using an OS app that I can contribute to if needed both in terms of feedback or code edits for improvement.  Having updated my version of Mac OS  somewhat recently, it was time to look for a good replacement.  I found something I think I’m coming to like even more than my trusty old TimeSlice app.  timeEdition.

This little app (and Dashboard widget if you are so inclined) does all I need it to do and more.  With it, I can setup clients, projects, tasks and the rates applied to each of these tasks.  The ability to specify a different rate for simpler tasks is something I valued a great deal in TimeSlice.  With TimeSlice, you had to have a file for each client – not so for timeEdition.  I can shift between clients and tasks in one simple (and small) interface.  See this screenshot provided by the developer –

timeEdition Version 4.x

Note that there are multiple windows shown here, but that’s just to give you the different color options really.  Note also that this app is cross-platform, too.  There’s a Macintosh, Windows and Linux version!  Very nicely done.

manage your projects with timeEditionAnother feature I found extremely useful is the ability to select where the database file and backup file one can create are stored on your computer.  I chose to put mine in a DropBox folder so that I could have assured backup and potentially do work on another machine if needed.  I had configured some clients, projects and tasks before changing my database location over though and these items were not automatically moved to the new location.  Beware of that.  It was a pretty simple process to find the default location and import my data into the new database, too, but that’s really the only complaint I can make about this very well laid out and simple tool.  The reporting is more than sufficient for my needs too.

If you are in need of a time logging tool, I highly recommend timeEdition.

 

Mac OS X Lion Invoicing Software — “Invoicing”

As I have written earlier, I somewhat recently upgraded to Lion on my Macintosh and dumped my ancient version of QuickBooks for iBank.  One feature missing in this otherwise fantastic piece of software is the ability to create and print an invoice.  I sampled several invoicing apps in the Mac App store and debated even trying this rather inexpensive app simply called “Invoicing” but am really quite happy with it. For an application that is less than $5.00 USD, this thing is an incredible bargain and does all I ever need an invoicing program to do.

The latest version, 3.01, has plenty of features for my small business needs.  I can quickly enter line items, apply a discount if needed, bill for partial hours, customize which columns are displayed and choose from a few different templates for look and feel.  The app also has some reporting tools, which honestly I don’t see using, but they may be of value to others.  The application did not get a very good rating for its earlier versions and as such, is still rated only 2 out of 5 stars in the Mac App Store.   I’m glad I decided it was worth more than just a glance, it’s a great little app that does exactly what I need it to do.

 

iBank – Great Macintosh QuickBooks Replacement Software

I finally upgraded to Lion — I got Snow Leopard just to make the upgrade, having not even bothered with that update either — and spent a fair amount of time researching and analyzing replacement software for programs I either didn’t want to pay to upgrade (Photoshop) or ones that simply won’t work any longer on this modern OS that is tuned to run on the Core Duo 2 chip set. This post is for one of the programs that falls into that latter grouping – a replacement for QuickBooks.

iBank

My copy of QuickBooks for Macintosh was actually not supposed to be run on Leopard but I had determined several work arounds to keep it alive, but it was a pain. I really wasn’t a fan of QuickBooks either and wanted something that would not only replace this so-called “business standard” but be better to use, too. Simply put, I never even liked QuickBooks. It was clunky, had reports I didn’t want or need, and was difficult to use. I got it because it was what seemed to be the “standard” in business. It was time to think differently about that.

For about a week, I researched and when possible tried out different Lion capable accounting software packages. Some were good, and several were better than QuickBooks, but it was iBank that really fit all of my needs.

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Upgrading to Mac OS Lion

I’m a die hard Macintosh user having had one since 1986 – a Mac 512K E that I purchased with a grad school loan.  (This was back in the day of not having as much grad school debt as one might expect when buying a home.)  Still, I’m never an early adopter of the latest operating systems.  I’ve got a MacBook Air at work that I like a great deal, and it’s been running on Lion for the past several months.  My personal computer is an older MacBook and until a little over a week ago, had left it running with Jaguar.

Seeing as Chrome will no longer be getting updates for the older Mac OS X versions, and that I rely on my computer for my livelihood, it became harder to justify not upgrading my OS simply because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle; it was becoming a bigger pain dealing with the work-arounds than it might be to go through the upgrade.

The upgrade to Snow Leopard didn’t go well at all.  Several attempts were made only to fail in the last 5 minutes with a rather useless error dialog telling me that the software update had failed and to contact the maker.  Ummm… Apple?  I finally decided to reformat the drive, do a clean install of Snow Leopard and then import my latest files from a Time Machine backup.  That took about 10 hours of time and somehow failed to get all of my iTunes music.  Well, any of my iTunes library actually.  Fortunately, I could re-download my purchased music and I’ve got access to other copies of all of my ripped CDs so that wasn’t too painful.  However, this was now two days into just upgrading to Snow Leopard!  I see again why I resist doing these massive updates as long as possible.

As my father-in-law says, “God hates a coward” so I decided to download Lion next and get to the latest OS X version in one painfully long upgrade.  Lion surprisingly installed reasonably quickly and without even a hint of an error.  I’m going to make a thumb drive with a Lion install and startup disk on it soon, too.  My older MacBook has only 2 gigs of memory and the cost of moving to 4 gigs is only about $32 making this jump a no brainer.

One thing the clean install of Snow Leopard did was force me to reconsider which applications I want to put back on my Mac and how I might not need certain files and apps any longer.  I’ll save all of the choices this led to for my next post.  I’m happy to find my older MacBook running like a new Mac with this newest OS X on it.

Pixelmator – An incredible value and better replacement for Photoshop

Yes, I said it — Pixelmator is a better replacement for Photoshop.  I don’t say this without some experience to back me up either – I’ve used Photoshop for 15 years and even taught classes on it for UC Santa Barbara.

When upgrading my Macintosh recently from Leopard to Snow Leopard, I needed to consider the upgrading of Photoshop, too.  (I’ll likely post about the nightmare of this upgrade in Mac OS X software soon, too.  Yikes!)  Photoshop is a great program — but at a cost that is overwhelming for most people (i.e. the 99%), and frankly it is now extremely bloated.  I just couldn’t see shelling out the money for yet another upgrade to this app.  It’s not that it isn’t a power and really useful program – Photoshop is truly all that.  However, the cost is an upgrade is more than all of my other apps combined.  Is it seriously worth that much?  I searched for a replacement and didn’t expect to find something that would manage PSDs, work in Lion and be so feature rich.

I first looked at the open source app GIMP.  While feature rich, the interface feels very… PC? 1990s?  clunky?  It also requires running in an X11 environment further dimensioning it’s desirability for me.  There may be many reasons to love GIMP, and I do appreciate that it’s open source, but the interface has gotten more difficult to use with each upgrade that I’ve tried over the years and it always turns me off.

Some research led me to checkout Pixelmator.  It’s a design winning application, including one by Apple and was named App of the Year in the Apple App Store in December of 2011.  That’s pretty impressive right there.

I thought I might have to spend a fair amount of money to purchase it.  By fair, I mean reasonable, too — something in the range of $100 to $150.  I was shocked – at $30 a license, it was really too good to believe at first.  (There is currently a special sale price at 50% off too!)

Pixelmator is also light in both file size and resource consumption.  Pixelmator does all I need it to do and for me, completely replaces my dependence on Phototoshop.   I’m sold and highly recommend this application to everyone.

NOTE: Images were downloaded from the Pixelmator website and then resized for display.