- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

My Mac experiment is chugging along, with most of my daily (and weekly) work being done on an IMac, and quite happily. There's never a crash, applications work nicely without impinging on one another, and the IMac is a dream system. After packing the computer's 40 gigabyte hard drive with programs and data files and lots of each I'm still at less than 50 percent of capacity.

Along the way, I've come across some small wonders in the software area that make my life easier. If you are a Mac user or contemplating the switch they might be useful for you, too. (The applications mentioned below run under Apple's Mac operating system X, the Unix-based, solid operating system toward which the company has pointed all its developers.)

•Accounting for costs: MYOB First Edge is a simple accounting program for small businesses and such solo practitioners as free-lance writers and artists. The $99 program allows users to track sales, generate and e-mail invoices, as well as maintain ledgers and reports.

Setting up and using the program is particularly easy because MYOB, an Australian company with a U.S. sales and support office in Rockaway, N.J., includes more than 80 "charts of accounts" for such various types of business as accounting and advertising agencies, and veterinarians and Web designers.

I have printed and e-mailed quite a number of invoices with the program and have had no problems getting the information to those who need it. Invoices are sent as Portable Document File, or PDF, readable on all computer platforms using Adobe Acrobat or similar programs. Entering client information and generating the statements are easy tasks. The software can be used to fill in blank checks as well.

For the time being, MYOB has the dominant position in the Mac accounting market because it offers both First Edge and the more advanced AccountEdge.

If you want to make the switch to a Mac platform for your work and business, it's nice to know there is good software available for one's accounting needs. More information on both programs can be found at www.myob.com/us/index.htm.

•Contact and calendar management: Now Up-to-Date and Now Contact are a pair of Mac standards that have long had legions of fans. The contact manager is straightforward yet can be customized: It will handle all sorts of data, do automatic fill-ins, convert a lower-case-typed "ca" to the proper Postal Service abbreviation for California, which is CA.

Finding names in the Now Contact database is super-fast type a few letters in the find window and contacts start popping up. Or you can click on the telephone button the program puts in the menu bar to show a list of quick contacts or the ability to find a contact quickly. The program will also dial the phone if your Mac's modem is connected to a phone line.

The Now Up-to-Date calendar is charming and cozy, yet equally powerful for scheduling meetings and appointments.

The programs synchronize with Palm OS handheld devices and can import files from other contact managers. The $130 price may seem steep, but if you live by your contact list, it is a bargain. Information can be found at www.poweronsoftware.com/products/nudc/.

• A sound idea: BIAS Peak 3, from Berkley Integrated Audio Software, is the latest version of an award-winning digital audio-editing application, now available for Mac OS X.

Write to: Mark Kellner c/o The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com.

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