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View the documentMac software for entrepreneurs

I use the Panorama spreadsheet/database/report generator for my Mac, and like it better and better as I learn to use macro programming, relational links, graphical analysis, and other advanced features. There's a near-zero learning curve for just spreadsheet use, and setting up a database view isn't particularly difficult. All data is kept in RAM (or virtual memory) for fast searching, which works great on 5MB-8MB Macs for up to about 10,000 records -- or less, if your data includes pictures or sounds. All text fields are of arbitrary length, but you can restrict data to numbers, dates, financial amounts, choices, or other special formats. Data entry is simplified by input filters and automatic completion. The best part is being able to switch between spreadsheet and single-record views. What you can't do yet is use different fonts in different fields, or display only selected spreadsheet columns without making a new data file. (You can display selected fields in the database views, of course, and can add buttons to switch between such views. There's a "list" view that I haven't tried yet, and printed reports -- or labels, nametags, phone books, etc. -- can be about as fancy as you wish.) I'll upgrade eagerly, but the next version isn't expected for 6-8 months. You can get the $395 Panorama 2.1 for $149.95 if you order from (800) 966-7878 by 11/30/94. (Ask for the "special anniversary pricing.") For info, contact ProVUE ([email protected]), (714) 841-7779, (714) 841-1479 Fax. [11/16/94.] (Infrequent upgrades are a blessing, if the software already does what you need. It takes me years to get used to any new environment.)

If you want an integrated personal information manager, spend another $39.95 (through 11/30/94) for ProVUE's Power Team calendar/reminder system, address book, financial calculator, correspondence manager, checkbook register, and travel expense tracker. The Power Team interface is still a bit ugly/buggy, but useable if you always keep Panorama memory-resident -- sort of like having a Newton. (Unfortunately, the Mac OS can't give you a small memory partition for Power Team if you also need a large partition for your Panorama databases.) Other add-on capabilities are available from third-party vendors. Developer programs (with info, discounts, beta versions, distribution licenses, and a directory listing) are available for $75/year and $395/year. The installed base is small, so don't expect to make money with a mass-market product.

Actually, I haven't much used Power Team. I got started with "Remember?" -- a $20 shareware program from [email protected] -- for birthday/holiday reminders and First Things First for one-shot reminders and repeating tasks (such as white laundry on Monday mornings). I do bookkeeping and address tracking in Panorama, and type correspondence and Communiques in my WriteNow editor.

Another product that I really like is MultiClip. It has drawbacks, but I endure them to be able to copy multiple items to the clipboard and then paste them back in sequence. I can copy a name, netname, address, and phone number, for instance, and then paste them into my database or into a Communique item.

Sometimes it's better to have a keystroke name for each text chunk. Then I use QuicKeys to assign a name to each snippet or macro action. QuicKeys is too complex for casual use, but great for a professional Mac user who does repetitive tasks. It's helped me construct personalized netmail messages during membership drives. I use QuicKeys to cut text from my database and paste into a Microphone window talking to a Unix host at SRI. (I type the salutation myself, which still gives me a sense of communicating personally. And I use varying macros or text fragments to construct appropriate messages.)

Two recent discoveries are Applicon and ButtonPad 2.0. Applicon is a power launcher, with an icon "button" displayed for each active program. I show them as a stack, building upward from my screen's trash can. What's really great about Applicon is that it hides all windows except for the program you're activating. (You could do the same with a QuickKeys macro to open the menu bar's "Hide Others" command -- but it gets tiresome to invent and remember control-meta-cokebottle keystrokes for everything.) Applicon is freeware from Rick Holzgrafe ([email protected]); FTP it from info-mac at or from

Button Pad 2.0 is a convenient multi-notebook for temporary jottings under user-defined topics. I use it to save quotations, business ideas, and possible software projects. $10 shareware from Jeffrey L. Ehrlich ([email protected]). (Button Pad does have a bug, so always click back to the main screen before leaving the program. It would also be better if it opened pages at the end instead of the top.)

That's not all of the Mac software that I use, of course. The great thing about Macs is that you can stay spun up on dozens of programs -- necessary if you're going to run a business and be your own system administrator. There are often two or three good software choices for any function (but far fewer than in the PC/clone world). Use what you're used to, and start learning what you'll need.

-- Ken