Outlook vs Thunderbird vs Entourage

I shot a question off on Twitter last week simply asking for a decent Outlook replacement on the Mac. I received a few recommendations, mainly Entourage & Thunderbird. I thought it best to detail my needs in a blog post to solicit more detailed responses.

I have email correspondence dating back to 1988, when my messages were either on electronic bulletin boards, Prodigy, or Compuserve. My message archive has been copied into Word documents, converted to Compuserve mailboxes, and ultimately into Outlook PST files. It is my hope that at some point I can transcribe some of those messages into a memoir of some kind.

Given the GINORMOUS archive of messages, I have been slow to move away from Outlook, currently the only PC application I still use. I know I can run virtual Windows on my Mac, but I really don’t want to fire up Fusion just to check email. I also have pushed the limits of the program by including Notes & Categories in all my Contacts, while tagging messages & calendar information. Currently, I sync my Outlook calendar to my Google calendar which makes it easy to get my schedule to people who need to know. And there’s the little used Journal feature which helps me track billable time on projects (also tagged with Categories & associated to Contacts). Outlook also syncs with my phone so I have a 90 day snapshot of everything I need on the road. Chances are you could ask me what I have done on any given date in the past 20 years, and I could find it somewhere in Outlook.

Which leads us to my original question – what application (or group of apps) would best suit my information management needs?

I use Gmail which excels in terms of message searches. I do not have any folders setup for my Gmail account. I simply search for the thread I need, and it’s so much quicker than Outlook.

Thunderbird looks like a possible option, and it appears to have a calendar plugin, but what about contacts? I would want to use the Notes (& Categories if possible) from my existing Outlook contacts.

Entourage seems like a poor man’s Outlook. I’m not sure I want to exchange one single-file message system for another single-file message system. Also, I remember reading something about Spotlight searches were incapable of reading the Entourage data file. I would lose my Google calendar sync option with Entourage.

I might have to change my approach to this problem. I was hoping to move some of the current Outlook information into the new system I choose, but I may have to do a “clean slate” cutover. This would entail still using Outlook for message/calendar history, but that may be the front-runner solution.

UPDATE – IDUG Dallas Meeting is June 10th

The Dallas chapter of the InDesign Users Group will meet on Tuesday, June 10th at the Clampitt Paper Creative Center.

Your humble chapter leader will be delivering a presentation on using styles in InDesign CS3. We will discuss paragraph styles, character styles, object styles and I’ll mix in some next style techniques. If time allows we’ll even explore nested styles.

The meeting agenda is as follows:
11:00-11:15AM Socializing, Announcements, Eating
11:15-12:30PM InDesign CS3 Styles
12:30-12:45PM InDesign Questions
12:45-01:00PM Closing and Raffle

Be sure to register for the meeting online at our Dallas chapter homepage. I look forward to seeing members and new faces at the meeting.

Movie Review – Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian - The Chronicles of NarniaThe Plot – It’s been over a thousand years since the High Kings & Queens ruled Narnia and it is not the same magical place. Telmarines have invaded & conquered the land, leading many Narnians to go into hiding. It is only when Prince Caspian, heir to the throne, is betrayed by his Uncle Miraz that events are put into motion that bring the Pevensies (Peter, Edmund, Susan, Lucy) back to Narnia in its time of need. Will the High Kings & Queens be able to save the Narnians once again?

The Review – I first became aware of the C.S. Lewis series when I was in the third grade. I watched the first story, “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” on TV as an animated movie. Within the next few months I had read the entire series of books. When word came that the series was going to be launched in epic movie fashion, I envisioned something grand along the lines of the Lord of the Rings series. The first movie was a bit of a disappointment. Good, but not great.

I found that I enjoyed the sequel a lot more. The original actors reprise their roles as the Pevensie siblings, and new faces are introduced. Unlike the Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter, this series does not call upon the same characters in every book, which may allow for all seven stories to be brought to screen. I thought the characters & story were better developed in the sequel, and overall it drew me more into the film.

While not Oscar winning performances, I was moved by Peter’s growth through the story as his arrogance leads to failure at the expense of Narnian life, and his willingness to accept his failed faith brings about a moment of redemption. The pace of the movie kept the Peter/Pevensies story arc from overtaking the rise of Prince Caspian, but the Prince felt like a support character at times.

Overall I was happy with the film, and hope the quality of the series continues to improve as the next books are brought to life in film.

Grade: B+ (The series hasn’t quite reached EPIC status yet)

POW! BAM! ZING! Updated Website!

Between clients, the birth of my daughter Sydney, finding time for Michelle, school, frequent air travel, and well, that which we call having a life, it’s taken several weeks to get the website redesign flushed out. But here you have it. I chose to build the site using Brian Gardner’s Revolution Theme set. Overall, it wasn’t too difficult to tweak the theme, and Brian has some decent Camtasia tutorials on the website. He has also built a pretty active community around his themes. If Brian cannot assist you with web development, he has several recommended WordPress enthusiasts who can.

I can now direct my attention to generating the content that we (the collective) have so readily talked about in recent months. I have my minions working in the background to transfer content from previous sites, and launching the podcast is the next big update for the blog.

For longtime readers, I appreciate your patience during this transition, and for all the new folks dropping in, expect great things here.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

It’s inevitable. If you’re going to take on Adobe products, you’re going to get your hands dirty (and your head full) of keyboard shortcuts. The following shortcuts work in Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign.

Knowing the shortcuts for the toolbar is a good start, and then I would commit CMD+Spacebar (for the Zoom tool), and Spacebar (for the Hand tool) to memory. Don’t have a CMD key? That’s okay, on a Windows computer the shortcut for the Zoom tool is CTRL+Spacebar. Even if you are not a keyboard shortcut person, those two commands are more practical then simply selecting the tools from the toolbar. The “temporary” shortcuts allow you to quickly switch back & forth between whatever tool is active, and navigating the document. You only need to be using the Type tool or Pen tool once to understand the advantages.

NOTE – If you’re using InDesign, I suggest using ALT+Spacebar on a PC or OPTION+Spacebar on a Mac for the Hand Tool. This combination allows you to use the Hand Tool even if your cursor is active in a text frame.

To access the program preferences use CMD+K (CTRL+K). To reset the program preferences for Photoshop or Illustrator use CMD+OPTION+SHIFT (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT) as you start the program. You will be prompted to delete the existing preferences, and the application will be reset to the factory default settings.

NOTE – To reset InDesign preferences on a Mac use CMD+CTRL+OPTION+SHIFT commonly referred to as “The Claw.”

You can download a quick Photoshop Shortcut list & InDesign Shortcut list from the Media Cats website.