Software Reviewing as It Should Be Done

Over the decades I've often written about "interesting" programs, or "software for thinking," from Lotus Agenda (also here) or Lotus Magellan in the olden days to Zoot (about to come out in a new version) or InfoSelect, to Chandler or bCisive (also here) or ThinkingRock or PersonalBrain or NoteShare now. Among others.

One of my current favorites is (Mac-only) Tinderbox, whose creator, Mark Bernstein, was a guest blogger in this space recently.

Steve Zeoli, of Vermont, has an extensive posting about Tinderbox at Mac Appstorm that is a model of how to both assess and explain a complicated piece of software. Even if you're not interested in Tinderbox, the review suggests some of the broader ways to think about what programs can and cannot do for you. And if you are in the Mac world, it may entice you to give the program a try.

Two sample screen shots from the review, the first explaining how the program works and the second illustrating one of its (many) possible ways of displaying info. The first:


And the second:


Bernstein's own book, The Tinderbox Way, is also worth considering if you're interested in software-and-thought. For now congrats and thanks to Steve Zeoli.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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