Review: Birthdays and Such…
Published by: Ron Lichty
San Francisco, CA 94127
Shareware Fee: What’sItWorthWare (See Review)
System 6.04 or later
Any Mac made since 1986 (not a Mac 128 or Mac 512)
I’ll get this out of the way right from the start: Birthdays And Such... is the most nearly perfect Macintosh program ever written. Ever. It’s small, only 17K, unobtrusive and runs on almost every Mac ever made. It could save your marriage, bring peace to your family, or even save your job. If you are the forgetful type, you must get this program. Set it up with important dates, sit back, and be the envy of all your family and friends. Imagine never again forgetting a birthday, anniversary, doctor’s appointment, or job interview!
Birthdays And Such... is an application which is meant to be launched daily on startup to remind you of dates that are important to you. Using it is very simple; it requires a one-time setup, after which you only have to update your Reminders file as necessary to keep track of new events and delete unneeded ones.
To use Birthdays And Such..., download the folder containing the program, manual, and sample reminders file. Make an alias of the program and drag it to the Startup Items Folder in your System Folder. Now Birthdays And Such... will start up each time you start your computer, look up the current date, and display any reminders for that date. You can then make a note of them and quit the program. If you leave your Mac on for days at a time, no problem. Birthdays And Such... will update itself at midnight, displaying any reminders for the new day!
To personalize your own reminders, double-click the Reminders file. It will open with SimpleText (or TeachText on older systems), allowing you to edit it. There are instructions in Chapter 3 of the Birthdays And Such... Manual for creating and maintaining a Reminders file in other word processors, but I can’t think of any reason you would want to use anything other than SimpleText. Everyone has SimpleText. It comes with all Macs and some people have many copies! Nothing more sophisticated is required. The starter ‘Reminders’ file that come with the program contains some examples for you to follow.
On the right is an example of the Reminders file setup. Each ‘Reminder’ consists of four lines: The Date you want to be reminded about, how many Days in Advance you wish to be reminded, the Event to remind you about, and a line with a ‘-’ (dash) which is used as a separator. There are only two rules about the Reminders file: Do not change the name of the file, and leave no blank spaces before the ‘-’ (dash).
In the example, the first reminder will tell me from Sept. 17th through Oct 1st that my American Bowling Congress National Tournament entries are due. You will notice in the second example that my dad’s year of birth is enclosed in brackets . Birthdays And Such... will now not only remind me of my dad’s birthday seven days in advance, but will also compute his age for me! This also works for anniversaries.
Birthdays And Such... also has the capability of using international date formats. Instructions are in the complete and well-written manual. It also handles year-specific events by adding a line after the Reminder indicating in what year(s) you wish to be reminded. If, in the example above, I wanted to be reminded about my ABC entries only every 3 years, I would add a line after “ABC Entries Due” that read: “=1999, 2002, 2005.” The first character on the line must be ‘=’ (the equals sign). Or for a single year Reminder, the line would read “=1999,” for example.
Birthdays And Such... is so simple that it comes with only one menu option: “AutoQuit If No Reminders.” If you wish the program to quit if you have no Reminders for that day, when the list of Reminders is displayed, in the Reminders menu, you can choose “AutoQuit If No Reminders”. On your next start up, Birthdays And Such... will launch; and, if there are no Reminders, will conveniently, automatically quit and let you begin your day’s work!
The Birthdays And Such... Reminders Window
Birthdays And Such... is classified as Shareware, but is what the Author, Ron Lichty, calls “What’sItWorthWare.” You determine what a fair price would be for you to use it, and send that to him. I personally think that $15 is the minimum value for such a wonderful program, but you certainly may send more if you feel that it is worth it to you.
I said at the very beginning of this review that Birthdays And Such... was the most nearly perfect Macintosh program ever written. I do have one complaint, and I’m sure Ron has heard it from many people: There is currently no way to sort the Reminders by date. When adding or subtracting Reminders, you must scroll through the list until you find what you are looking for. Unless you have a huge list of Reminders, it is not really a hindrance. That said, I would urge everyone to download Birthdays And Such...; use it, and pay the Shareware fee. There are plenty of reminder programs out there, but none so simple, effective and useful. I have been a Birthdays And Such... user for two years now, and couldn’t be without it.