Haworth College of Business
Western Michigan University Since I purchased my first Macintosh in 1984, I have been searching for the perfect personal information management (PIM) software to keep track of my appointments and of the addresses of my acquitances. Although this never ending search continues, the combination of Now Contact 3.0 and Now Up-to-Date 3.0 comes closer to achieveing my goals in a PIM than anything else I've used.
Before I sing the praises of Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date, let me point out the downside: cost. Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date is costly both in terms of purchase price and the demands that it places on your hardware. In terms of price, the most recent MacWarehouse catalog offers the Datebook Pro/TouchBase Pro bundle for $49.95. Claris Organizer is also priced at $49.95. Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date costs $99.95. (If you use another PIM or have Hypercard, you can eliminate the price difference by purchasing the "Universal Upgrade" to Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date for $49.95 "while supplies last.")
I use a Macinstosh IIsi with 9mb of RAM, RamDoubler, and access to virtually unlimited hard disk space through the college's network servers, but the hardware demands of Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date will prove to be more than many people can afford. For example, the Reminder control panel in Now Up-to-Date uses 139k of disk space and 85k of RAM to remind me while I'm typing this review that I have a meeting across campus later today. The Claris Organizer Alarm extension accomplishes this same task using 34k of disk space and 28k of RAM. (The extension used by Datebook Pro requires even more disk space and RAM than Now Up-to-Date's Reminder control panel.) The Reminder control panel in Now Up-to-Date does much more than just remind you appointments, but some of these functions, such as installing a clock in your menubar, duplicate features found in System 7.5. Not including the files installed in the system folder, Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date take up over 4.5mb of my hard disk space. By contrast, Claris claims that Claris Organizer requires only 660k disk space. You can significantly reduce the amount of disk space required by Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date if you are willing to give up the templates, network software, and tutorial files.
If Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date costs more and makes such enormous demands on your hardware, why do choose it over Claris Organizer or Datebook Pro/TouchBase Pro? First and foremost, Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date comes with server software that allow you to share contacts and appointments over a network. This allows you to schedule meetings on every participant's calendar at once. Indeed, you can even search your colleagues' calendars to find which day and time works best for everyone. This software is not difficult to set up or use, and it does not require a dedicated server, i.e., it can be installed on any macintosh on the AppleTalk network. You cannot do anything remotely like this with Claris Organizer or Datebook Pro/TouchBase Pro. There is a significant limitation, however, in that Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date does not support Windows or DOS clients. You can only schedule meetings and share contacts with other people using Macintoshes. In my department, most people use Windows, so the best thing about Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date is almost useless to us. Now Software Inc. recently acquired Datebook Pro/TouchBase Pro from Adobe in an effort to gain a foothold the Windows and DOS markets, so this limitation may be temproary.
Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date also contains an astonshing arrary of "bells and whistles." For example, you can maintain a list of important telephone numbers in your menubar. Now Contact includes a word processor, which allows you to draft and form letters and faxes without having to export anything to a word processor. Little balloons called "hot help" are attached to the tool bars to explain what the icons stand represent. Context sensitive help is available online in virtually every window. Templates are included for an enormous range documents, labels, calendars, etc. You can also use the "time stamp" feature to keep track of your time on a client by client basis for consulting work. Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date also supports Drag and Drop between the programs. So, for example, you can drag the name of a person from Now Contact to a date on a Now Up-to-Date calendar and an appointment with that person on that date will automatically be set up. Frankly, Ganntt charts and a predefined way to schedule projects are the only significant features I have found on any other PIM which is missing from Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date.
Finally, Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date just looks better to me than its competitors. It has the same sleek 3D look and feel of Now Utilities 5.0. Datebook Pro/TouchBase Pro is colorful, but clunky and two dimensional. Claris Organizer has a nice interface, but it does not have the same support for attaching graphics or banners to events.
Now Software Inc. has announced that Now Contact/Now Up-to-Date will soon be upgraded to version 3.5. The new version should contain numerous enhancements to existing features. The price of version 3.5 is expected to be the same as the price for version 3.0, and the cost to upgrade from version 3.0 to 3.5 is expected to be $19.95.
Now Software Inc. can be reached by voice at (503) 274-2800, by fax at (503) 274-0670, or on the internet at email@example.com.
Norman Hawker firstname.lastname@example.org