Making The Commitment To Software That Works

by Randy Murray on May 30, 2011

One of the great mysteries in life is why people use PCs and Microsoft Windows.

But perhaps it’s not that big a mystery after all. Just look around. I find myself frustrated and struggling with various bits of software and functions from time to time and rarely do anything about it. It often takes something serious to get me to move to software that really works.

Part of it is cost. Often really well thought out, well-maintained and supported software is expensive and that makes me hesitate. I spent most of my career in the software industry and I understand what goes into making first class products, but when you ask me to put my hand into my own pocket and shell out my hard-earned cash I typically hesitate. Sometimes I wait too long.

But my experience on the other side, once I’ve bit the bullet, paid the toll, and gone for really great tools is almost universally, “why did I wait?”

In the last year I’ve been through this experience three times. 1Password, OmniFocus, and Final Draft have all been expensive, totally worth it purchases.

You can look up reviews and tips from others, but here’s my bit on each:

  • 1Password: used on my Macs and my iPad and iPhone to manage my passwords. Before purchasing this software I’d been using just a handful of simple to remember passwords for everything. It was frighteningly unsafe. A few months back I got multiple alerts from various services I’d been using about breaches, so took the plunge and found out how easy it was to add a very high degree of security. I don’t know the passwords to most of my accounts, especially the financial ones. They’re all complex, long and convoluted, and easy to access from all of my devices because 1Password takes care of the syncing (an encrypted file on Dropbox). It wasn’t cheap, but I have a new degree of comfort that my accounts are safe AND I’ve given my wife my master 1Password password so in the event that I’m incapacitated, she can gain access to everything. Of these three pieces this is the package that you should immediately purchase and start using.
  • OmniFocus: This was a big decision. The price of the software was high and there were separate versions for the Mac, the iPad, and the iPhone. But I’ve been a serious productivity software user for years and I just wasn’t happy with the tools I’d been using. When I found that I was having increasing difficulty keeping track of my complex project steps I finally made the plunge and went for all three OmniFocus versions. It’s been great. The product is simple enough to get started easily, but there’s great depth and control. I’m digging the review and forecast views, too. And OmniGroup is incredible about slowly, regularly, adding terrific new features to these products.
  • Final Draft: Yes, you can write a play in any word processor. Screenplays, too. But Final Draft is the industry standard for a reason. It’s powerful, and after you master a few basics, it allows you to write and it takes care of the formatting. And formatting is critical. The dollars you’d save trying to write a screenplay or play script using some other software will easily be eaten up in the time and effort you’ll spend cleaning up the format later. And when it’s time to transfer the file for production, they expect it in Final Draft format.

It boils down to this: don’t waste time with software that you struggle with. Ask around. There’s probably something better, something that will do what you want to do and without the hassle. Pay the price and reap the benefits. It’s worth it.


The Making The Commitment To Software That Works by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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