Group Organizer 4.0 for Mac OS X is here

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Chronos has released Group Organizer, the first networkable PIM (personal information manager) available for Max OS X (it also works on Mac OS 8 and 9 with CarbonLib extensions installed), according to Robert McCullough, Chronos' VP of engineering.

Chronos calls its product the "Swiss Army Knife" of productivity software. It integrates a calendar, address book, word processor, memo taker, personal journal, phone dialer, and alarm clock into a single application. It synchronizes with all Palm and Handspring handheld organizers. Group Organizer 4.0 is intended specifically for network users who need to share information with their co-workers, according to Jerry Halls, V.P. of Sales at Chronos.

"Group Organizer uses an advanced client/server design to provide a robust and reliable group collaboration solution including the ability for PowerBook users to disconnect from the network, with information in hand, and synchronize changes upon return," Halls said in announcing the product.

A system administrator isn't necessary to set up Group Organizer 4.0. The new Administration Wizard was specifically designed to help small business owners set up the software themselves by simplifying the creation of private and public accounts. A custom picture can be assigned to each account for easy recognition, Halls said.

Group Organizer 4.0 comes with over 20 pictures or users may use their own including digital photographs. The wizard also guides you through steps like creating public categories, assigning access privileges, and specifying automatic backup options. A new feature called "Auto-Open Accounts" lets users specify which public accounts should automatically be opened when they log in.

A new Account Bar displays the name of the server being accessed and shows the account picture for each account that's presently open. The Account Bar may be placed anywhere on the screen and may also be resized to show account pictures up to 128x128 pixels in size.

Group Organizer 4.0 uses a new security mechanism based on access privileges rather than passwords, according to Halls. This new system eliminates the need to constantly enter passwords when accessing public data, he added. Plus, a new Open Additional Accounts dialog makes it easy to quickly access public or private accounts to which a user has been granted access, Halls said.

A new Palm Sync Setup Wizard "asks" the Palm handheld which categories are being used. You can then select the categories to synchronize. Group Organizer can even synchronize memos, Halls said.

Group Organizer 4.0 also sports a built-in, customizable spell checker and a resizable Button Bar that offers drag and drop customization for quick access to program features. Favorite applications may even be dragged to it from the Finder. The Button Bar may be oriented horizontally or vertically. Plus, you may place an unlimited number of Button Bars on the screen at once using different orientations, sizes, and buttons.

A new progress dialog displays the account being opened and the server on which it resides. Group Organizer boasts adjustable mini-calendars in the Day View. A Default Account preference lets you specify the account to which any newly created activities, to-do's, contacts, or memos will belong. Group Organizer's Switch Primary Account dialog lets you specify and see which account is automatically opened when the app is launched.

It comes with a HTML-based online help system that's based on the 250+ page Group Organizer Reference manual and is fully searchable using Sherlock technology. What's more the speed of nearly every aspect of Group Organizer 4.0 has been "dramatically improved," Halls said. Accounts open and close 25 to 100 percent faster than the previous version and PowerBook mirror files and backups save 500 percent faster, he added.

Group Organizer 4.0 incorporates Mac OS X's standard Aqua interface elements and then "takes things to the next level," Halls said. The Day and Multiday Views display appointments as aqua objects. Banners in the Month View appear as aqua bars. The Button Bar and Account Bar use photo-realistic icons which are resizable from small to very large sizes including 128x128 pixels. What's more, Group Organizer 4.0 comes with several new interface themes or skins that can be used to customize the look and feel of the software.

Group Organizer 4.0 requires Mac OS 8.6 or above including Mac OS X. The Group Organizer client application takes 13 MB of disk space and runs in 5000 K of RAM. The Group Organizer server application takes 1 MB of disk space and runs in 3000 K of RAM. The server software may be installed on either a Mac OS 8.6-9.x computer or a Mac OS X computer. The server software may be installed on either a dedicated server computer, or on a computer running the Group Organizer client.

A 30-day trial version can be downloaded from Chronos' Web site. The cost is US$99.99 per user license though the Group Organizer Server software is free. Current Group Organizer users may upgrade to version 4.0 for $59.99 per user license. For an additional $10 per license, you can get StickyBrain, which can store any type of information including text, pictures, sounds, file/application links, contacts, web and e-mail addresses, and more.

This story, "Group Organizer 4.0 for Mac OS X is here" was originally published by PCWorld.

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