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REVIEW: ON THE BALL
By: Katherine Nelson
On the Ball is a great personal information manager from Oregon Research
that can be found for about $35US. Its many features include a calendar, an
appointment manager, a To Do list, an address book, and a notepad.
The calendar can be viewed either by the week, month, or year. On the week
view, all appointments are shown within their time slots. On the month
view, the text "name" of the appointments are shown on the appropriate
days, and on the year view, all dates that have appointments are
While not in use, On the Ball appears as a small calendar on the Workbench
screen. This calendar shows the current month, with appointment days
highlighted. The current time also shows at the top of the calendar, and
the current day is also shown. Clicking on this calendar brings up either
the appointment manager, the To Do list, the address book, or the notepad,
according to whichever was viewed last. If the appointment manager
appears, it will flip to the current date.
All the pens used in the calendar and other windows are selectable from the
current Workbench colors, allowing one to customize On the Ball to taste,
which is a nice feature.
The Appointment Manager:
The appointment manager allows one to add, update, delete, or search for an
entry. The entries consist of a text "name", the start and end times, the
repeat types, and the reminder.
The repeat types are quite versatile, with options such as "No Repeat",
"Daily", "Every Four Weeks", and several in between. Also, the appoinment
can repeat on forever with one of the patterns, or only a specified number
As stated above, the appoinments are shown on the calendar. They can be
printed out in any of the calendar views using the small "P" button on the
right side of the window frame on the calendar view. Using print from the
appointment window will only allow one to print the appointments that are
selected, and one can only select appointments that appear on the same day.
A nice feature that could be improved is "tagging". It allows one to
catagorize appointments, and view either all appointments, only untagged
appointments, appointments with a specific tag, or specific tagged
appointments and untagged appointments. Noticeably lacking is the ability
to view items from 2 tags or more without viewing all. The only way I've
been able to view items from 2 different tags is to create a third tag, and
copy all appointments from the first two tags, and tag them with the third
tag. This is time-consuming and inconvenient, but hopefully the problem
won't crop up often, or perhaps future versions of On the Ball will allow
multi-tag viewing, or the ability to put more than one tag per item, rather
than having two copies of the information.
Finally, a reminder is available that can be set to appear on the Workbench
at a specified number of days/minutes before the actual appointment. The
reminder has a "snooze" capability, for those who are too busy (or too
lazy) to acknowledge it the first time around.
The Address Book:
The address book has all the standard fields (with Country), plus the
ability to have up to 20 phone numbers. With fax machines and beepers
becoming more and more common, this is a nice feature. Internet addresses
can also be stored there, provided they have 24 characters or less.
Tagging is also available here, which allows one to separate business
contacts from friends and family. Again, the tag viewing problem makes it
difficult to see all people except those belonging to a specific catagory.
But again, hopefully future versions will take care of this problem.
A "note" can be attached to any entry. The window for entering the note
has all the same features as the notepad, as mentioned below.
Sorting can be done on any of the fields, so if one wants to see only the
people with addresses in Sweden, it is an easy thing to accomplish.
The print feature has many options, including the ability to create mailing
labels, or simply print a table of addresses. In either case, one can
select the fields to be printed from a list of those available.
The notepad has much the same format as the To Do list, with searching and
the same method of printing.
Other than that, it's a notepad. The notepad has all the expected
functions. It even has find/replace capability, which is nice, but
The To Do List:
The To Do list is much more simple than the appointment manager, but this
is to be expected. The window has a list of "To Do"s according to due date
to scroll through, or to search. (There is also an option for no due
While a reminder and a repeat function are not available, tagging is,
allowing one again to separate personal from business. These can be viewed
in the same tag combinations as the appointments.
Printing is available, but only through the To Do window, by selecting the
items to print. A calendar option is not available. Something I would
like in future versions is the ability to print the appointments and the
"To Do"s on the same calendar. I would like to have to only look in one
place for my schedule and such.
Oregon Research states in the manual that they are in the process of "a
major upgrade to both the program and the documentation." Hopefully, the
new version will include the features I have listed above as "missing".
Unfortunately, no date was given for the expected release of the newer
This is a great package for the money. It is much cheaper than its
counterparts for the Mac and PC, and while it may not look as "slick", it
is still quite attractive and certainly useful.