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/// Usenet Review:  Time Tracker version 1.0
    ----------------------------------------
    By Edward D. Berger
    (eb15+@andrew.cmu.edu)



PRODUCT NAME

        Time Tracker version 1.0


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        Time Tracker is what the DOS/Windows world call a Personal
Information Manager, or "PIM" for short.  It is basically a combination
of appointment calendar (with alarms), address book, phone note editor,
"to do" list manager and calculator.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           INVENTURE
        Address:        P.O Box 777
                        Morrison, CO  80465-0777
                        USA

        Telephone:      (303) 697-5270
        FAX:            (303) 697-5260

        E-mail:         Unknown

        The program was written by M. Joel Guerra.


LIST PRICE

        Unknown.  I purchased the package for $69.95 (US) at a local
Amiga dealer.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                512K RAM or more.
                Hard drive recommended, but not required.
                Battery backed clock recommended, but not required.


        SOFTWARE

                AmigaDOS 1.2 or higher required.
                AmigaDOS 2.x and 3.x compatible.
                req.library required (and is provided with the
package).


COPY PROTECTION

        None.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 3000/16
        2MB Chip RAM
        12MB Fast RAM
        AmigaDOS 2.1


INSTALLATION

        Drag the program drawer from the floppy to a hard drive
partition. To get automatic startup, drag the special project icon to
your WBStartup drawer and manually edit the icon tooltype with the
correct AmigaDOS path to find the program.  Under AmigaDOS 1.x, you add
aline to your startup-sequence and add req.library to your LIBS:
directory.


GENERAL INTERFACE

        Time Tracker is a multiple window program that can open on the
Workbench or on a custom screen.  When run, it pops up its calendar
window, or you can set it to start iconified with or without a digital
style clock.  It uses the AmigaDOS 2.x 3D-style buttons for its calendar
days and other uses.

        Unfortunately the program has the Topaz font hard-coded into
its interface.  I'd prefer it to use either my default screen font or my
default system font (Times 11, Courier 13) for its text.  When Time
Tracker is opened on the Workbench screen, its title bar and menus are
in my default screen font (Times 11).  When opened on its own custom
screen, it uses my system default font (Courier 13) for its screen title
and window title bars and menu texts.  The gadgets' texts always remain
in topaz.font.  I would prefer this to be consistent, and preferably
user-configurable.  The program would look more professional if the Day
buttons matched my Workbench font or used a prettier font like
Helvetica.

        Time Tracker is unaware of public screens (AmigaDOS 2.0 and
up). Other programs cannot easily open on the Time Tracker screen, and
the Time Tracker windows cannot open on a named public screen.  These
are general faults of programs written for AmigaDOS 1.x.  Perhaps a
newer version of Time Tracker will be enhanced for later versions of
AmigaDOS.

        One slightly quirky thing about the interface is that some of
the windows are available by way of button gadgets at the bottom of the
calendar window, and some through menu items in the calendar's 'other'
menu.  I think they should be available by both methods.  The Icon
button at the bottom is also redundant since it performs the same thing
as the window's close gadget does.  While there is a button gadget for
help in the calendar window, the program does not respond to the
keyboard 'help' key.  Also the help gadget only puts a text help on top
of the calendar display.  I'd like it to pop up a separate window with
AmigaGuide help.

        The menu layout does not follow the Amiga User Interface Style
Guide.  The menus do have many shortcut keys, using an unusual
combination of both upper and lower-case shortcut keys.  Unfortunately,
the shortcut keys are not always consistent between the various windows
of the program, sometimes leading to confusion for this user.


CALENDAR AND APPOINTMENT REMINDER

        From the calendar window, you can click on a Day button to pop
up that day's schedule window and add an event.  Once you add an event
to the calendar, the button for that date gets a highlight added to the
right side of its button.  A small horizontal line appears relative to
the time of the appointment, with earlier events being towards the top
and later ones toward the bottom of this highlighted section.

        With the pre-marked Alarm times for non-repeating events you
can add events for times on the hour or half hour between 8:00am and
5:30pm.  You can enter any time you wish; but if your schedule is quite
different, you may wish that the preset times listed would either go
24-hours or be user configurable.

        Below the preset times is a subsection for writing notes about
the day.  A short note can be added to a given date's button on the
calendar window by typing an exclamation point before the alarm text. 
The alarm text will be spoken, if you have the appropriate speak-handler
software installed from AmigaDOS 1.3 or 2.04, or it will use the
standard AmigaDOS "display beep" function.  I would prefer to have the
addition of using multiple sampled sounds instead of one display-beep. 
Alarms can also launch AmigaDOS programs if you precede the command with
a "^" character.  The programs do not inherit Workbench's search path. 
They can only find C:  and "Current_Dir".  You could work around the
display beep limitation by using an outboard AmigaDOS program which can
play a sample.  You must specify the commands full path such as
"SYS:mybin/play8svx".

        ARexx is not supported by the alarm, nor the rest of the
program.

        Adding repeating events is handled one of two ways.  The first
way is for 'every month on this day' type of events which you add by way
of a requester, and a user-defined abbreviation of up to four
characters appears on the calendar day.  The second way uses an editor
window where you type 'first Sunday of every month' or similar verbose
descriptions.  This allows for such things as 'every Wednesday' or 'odd
Thursday'.  Unfortunately, you can't enter 'the Wednesday after the
third Sunday'.  I'd need this for one of my user group meetings.  I was
also unable to enter 'last weekday of every month:  Pay day!'.  I'd like
to see more flexibility here.

        It would be a welcome addition if you could choose images to
appear on the day button for a given event, such as a dollar symbol for
paying someone or a telephone for reminders to call someone.  This would
probably require a less cluttered view such as a 'view by week' instead
of the current monthly format.

        The 'Tickler' button gives you a preview of the next seven
days' events.  The Monthly summary gives a listing of all the month's
entered events.  Both of these are editor windows and you can delete all
the lines that you feel are unimportant.  I think the event editor
should have a line option so you can exclude events from the monthly
summary at the time you enter them.  I plan to use the monthly summary
for work related reports. You can print either of these out.  You can
only have one or the other open at a time as they use the same window. 
I'd like to have two separate windows instead.


TO DO LIST MANAGER

        The To Do List manager opens up with a blank text editor
window. You can select from one of three lists.  To enter an item, you
simply click and start typing.  To show that you have finished an item,
you press Shift and click on the left mouse button with the cursor on
the line you wish to check off.  It then displays a copyright symbol in
front of the line.  I think this interface, while usable, is not
intuitive.  A 2 column arrangement with the first column having some
sort of GUI selection for, say, a check mark and other visual queues for
such things as priority (How important is this To Do item?) would make
this much more appealing to use.

        After an item is completed, you can have the program transfer
that information to the Calendar's Day Note's subsection.  This is
useful for preparing a monthly report.  I think that at least one of the
To Do lists should be configured to do this transfer automatically. 
The others should have it as an option.  I would like this subsection of
Time Tracker to have more than 3 lists.  I'd like to be able to name
such lists things like 'Work', 'Home', 'User Group', 'Amiga', etc.  Of
course you can currently just add such headings as Text to the current 3
lists.

        There is an option to print To Do lists, and the manual
suggests you precede your items with the "[]" characters so you have
something to check off.  I think this should be added automatically and
save time.


ADDRESS BOOK

        The Address Book features 2 lists -- Business and Personal. 
I'd like to have more lists such as: Family, CoWorkers, BBSes, Clients,
and Suppliers. There is a listview gadget on the left side of the window
for finding your entered items.  To enter an item you click on the
'New' button and start filling in the various string gadgets.  There are
2 phone number entry gadgets.  One is for phone and one is for FAX.  I
could use more phone entry gadgets for things like home phone as well as
business phone numbers, or multiple extensions at a place of business
to try to reach someone.

        There is a gadget to have your modem dial the number in the
string gadget.  There are the standard fields for street address, city,
state, Zip Code, country, and additional notes.  I'd also like to have
multiple addresses per entry.  For business use, this could be address
for billing, and address for shipping.  For personal use, this could be
home address and work address.  There are options to print from here,
but I haven't had time to evaluate that -- yet.


CALL NOTES AND NOTEPAD

        The Notepad is a basic text editor.  By default, it opens the
last opened file, usually 'Call Notes'.  I think that since there is a
menu item for editing 'Call Notes', The Notepad should have its own
default file, so the user doesn't have to select 'New file' or 'Open
File...' every time they start the Notepad.  Unfortunately, you can only
have one of these editor windows open at a time.

        The editor has some quick menu shortcuts for things like Enter
Date, Enter Time, Enter Calculator Answer, etc. It does not support
drag-select, nor does it use the standard AmigaDOS Clipboard, so I can't
copy text from TurboText to the NotePad, nor copy an address to a
letter I'm writing in Final Copy.

        While there is word wrap, there are no options for using
non-default fonts or any styles such as bold or italic.  There is a
separate 'Call Notes' editor which you can access from the phone book,
by way of a gadget next to the phone number.  I think the 'edit call
notes' should not run the Notepad; instead, it should call this a editor
with the timer turned off and an option to turn it on if appropriate. 
This would keep the call notes separated from the Notepad, which is how
they belong in my opinion.  This separate Call Notes editor
automatically time stamps your entry and starts a timer to let you know
how long you've been on the phone.  This is good for keeping track of
what you talked about on the phone.  It has the same basic feature set
of the Notepad with the addition of the 2D analog clock style timer on
the left side of the editor window.  A prettier LCD type of display, or
a3D-style clock, would enhance its appearance.  A settable alarm for how
long you want to talk would also make a welcome addition.


CALCULATOR AND PUZZLE

        The calculator is a separate window with 2.x style buttons and
a visible paper tape to let you see your previous calculations.  It
responds to the numeric keypad just like the standard Workbench
calculator.  Its main additional features are memories, square root, and
percentage functions. While you can paste to other Time Tracker
editors, this calculator does not support the Amiga clipboard and thus
external programs.

        The included puzzle is a separate window with 3D-style buttons,
each containing a number from 1 through 15 which are shuffled.  The
object is to put the numbers back into appropriate order by clicking on
the piece you wish to move to the empty spot in the puzzle.  Just
something to waste time while you are waiting for someone to answer the
phone.


DOCUMENTATION

        The program comes with 74 page manual + 1 page addendum for
AmigaDOS 2.x and above users, explaining the WBStartup installation. 
The manual's binding cuts off some of the printed text so that it can be
difficult to read.  The print quality of the text and graphics is also
of poor quality, also hindering its ease of use.  Once you get past
that, the manual reads well and provides a useful reference for the
program.  It starts out with a tutorial, for those in a hurry.  The
manual then provides supplemental information and examples to help you
to use the program well.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        I like the basic functionality of the program and the 3D-style
gadgets.

        I dislike the hard coded topaz.font, and think the program
could sell better if were written for AmigaDOS 2.x and above and used
prettier fonts.  I almost declined to purchase the program when I saw
the screen shots on the box.

        I'd like to see some more features added:

        - support of the AmigaDOS clipboard.
        - ability to send and receive ARexx commands.
        - support of AmigaDOS 2.x public screens.
        - ability to resize the calendar, address book, and puzzle
          windows.
        - alternate views for calendar (by month, by week, by year).
        - additional visual cues for events in the calendar.
        - user configurability of the default times listed in the event
          editor.
        - more and user titled To Do lists, with their own separate
          windows.
        - a more intuitive To Do List interface, with additional items
          like priorities.
        - more fields in the address book.
        - ability to print out in fonts other than the printer
          defaults.
        - a font sensitive interface.


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        I had previously purchased versions of Who!What!When!Where! and
Nag Plus, only to find their AmigaDOS 1.3 style interfaces reduced my
desire to use them.  Time Tracker does have an AmigaDOS 2.x style to
match my Workbench.  I don't have enough experience with these or the
various shareware packages to make any detailed comments here.  The
shareware packages I have taken a cursory glance at either had similar
misfeatures or a less attractive interface, in my opinion.


BUGS

        I didn't find any bugs.


VENDOR SUPPORT

        The registration card had a stamp on it, suggesting the company
wishes to keep track of their customers.  The technical support phone
number is listed as being available only on Wednesdays 9am-4pm Mountain
Time.


WARRANTY

        The diskette is warrantied for 90 days.  All else is
disclaimed.


CONCLUSIONS

        Overall, I have mixed reactions to this program.  It has much
of the functionality I require and will use.  I think the program could
be greatly enhanced to be both more functional and attractive.  I'm glad
I have something to use today.  I'd like something better to use
tomorrow.  I think the author should consider a rewrite with AmigaDOS
2.04 as a minimal platform, using more up to date things like clipboard
support, ARexx support, AmigaGuide help, an Installer script, and a font
sensitive interface.  The program is quite useful, but could be even
more so, with further development.