I Am Joe’s Blog:

August 10, 2005 • 12:43 PM

Are We Now Up-to-Date?

This week, after many months of preparation, my latest ebook was finally released: Take Control of Now Up-to-Date & Contact. This title is different in several respects from all the other Take Control ebooks I’ve written. It’s much longer, for one thing: 249 pages. It’s also the first time I’ve written an ebook that will be distributed with the software it describes (in place of a conventional manual). So although you can download it free, it really costs $120 (since it’s of no use unless you have the software). The arrangement we have with Now Software is such that they get high-quality documentation quite inexpensively, while we forgo high per-unit royalties for (what we all hope and expect will be) high volume. So all parties—including readers—should benefit from this arrangement. After all, as with all Take Control titles, we’ll provide free updates to the ebook as new information becomes available.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this software, Now Up-to-Date & Contact is a highly regarded, cross-platform, network-ready scheduling and contact management package. If you’ve outgrown the capabilities of iCal and Address Book (on Mac OS X) or don’t wish to sell your soul to Microsoft in exchange (sorry) for Outlook on the PC, Now Up-to-Date & Contact offers a great solution for small and medium-sized businesses and even individual users. The just-released version 5.0 has a thoroughly updated interface, several major new features, and lots of bug fixes.

Before I started working on this ebook, it had been years since I’d last used Now Up-to-Date & Contact. Now I’m apparently the new authority on the software—even before the ebook was published, readers (having heard that I was writing it) sent me email asking technical questions. (While I’m flattered and everything, I don’t get paid to do tech support, so kindly direct such questions to Now Software in the future!)

Now Software is hard at work on the Windows version of the software, and I’ll be producing a Windows version of the ebook to go with it. There’s also a version 5.1 for Mac OS X coming, which will include some Tiger-specific enhancements (such as support for Sync Services) as well as, of course, yet another updated version of the ebook.

There is some irony in the fact that during the months I was working on this title, my schedule felt incredibly out-of-control. In theory, Now Up-to-Date could have enabled me to manage my schedule and to-do list masterfully, but I’ve learned through experience that one should never put “live” information into a program one is testing or writing about; the process of experimentation usually results in data loss. Countless times I thought, “This is a great program—I sure wish I could use it myself!”

But then, the real problem is that I habitually pile far too many projects onto my schedule. I’m working on that, though. I’ve added “Decline next project” to my to-do list. I’ll get to it eventually.