Review of Sidekick 95

review-of-Sidekick-95-photoOriginally published on December 8, 1995. I still remember how cool it was having a swiss army knife of utilities running. While not as impressive as the original Sidekick, this version sure brings back memories.

Sidekick95 is one of the first personal information managers (PIM) for the new Windows95 and it is slick. It has everything a good PIM should have plus it’s fast, easy to use, and costs around forty bucks.

It has all the usual PIM-type features: calendars (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly); cardfiles (as many as you want); expense reports (pre formatted and automated); a phone dialer; appointment book; to-do list, and reminders; plus a contact manager, word processor (with fonts, search/replace, spell checking, merging, and more), a world clock, and total customization.

Everything in Sidekick runs like lightning. The six main views, Calendar, Earth Time, CardFile, Write, Expense, and Reminder, are accessed by clicking on the appropriate icon. I use the Calendar view as my “home view” because it shows four of the most useful screens all in one window. In the upper left quadrant of the Calendar view, today’s date is highlighted on a calendar of the month. You can view any other day, month, or year with a click of the mouse. Below this small calendar is the To-Do list; below the To-Do list is an area where you list the calls you need to make (by dragging the person’s name from the cardfile). To the right of the calendar, to-do list, and calls list is the appointments list. It is the largest area and shows the time of day on the left side in 30-minute increments. If you’ve got to be somewhere at 1:00pm, the appointment is clearly displayed in the font and color of your choice. Pressing the right mouse button over any list or appointment brings up a menu with all the necessary options at that point.

Selecting the Earth Time icon displays a map of the world and the current time in eight separate locations: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, San Francisco, London, Paris, Chicago, and the city nearest you. Handy feature if you’re an international traveler.

Click on the CardFile icon and the screen is filled with your address book, CD collection, list of great wines, or what ever cardfile you wish to show. All lists are easily searchable and can be sorted any way you choose.

The Write icon takes you to Sidekick’s word processor. Once there you can create and edit Write files, folders, and documents; use Write templates provided with Sidekick 95; send email or faxes using Microsoft Exchange (Windows95’s post office); and do quick mail merges on letters or labels using information from your cardfile of names and addresses.

The Expense view opens up a handy expense form you can fill out on the spot. Anything entered on this form is saved in an expense file for creating detailed expense reports later.

The Reminder icon takes you to a full-screen view of all the things you’re supposed to remember to do. It shows the date, the activity (meeting, phone call, trip, etc.), a description of the activity, and full details. It’s a clever summary of your responsibilities for the day, week, or month.

All information can be easily dragged and dropped or cut and pasted between and among all six views. Operation is intuitive enough for the new user to be quickly up and running right after installation. For example, I was zipping through the program in no time because of Sidekick’s excellent import feature. I simply went to my old PIM, saved my list of clients as a comma-delimited text file (.csv), and imported it directly into Sidekick. Faster than you can say Starfish Software (the makers of Sidekick95), I had my contacts in a Sidekick95 cardfile ready to use. It also imports .dbf, .db, .txt, and .crd files (Windows 3.1’s cardfile format).

In summary, if you’ve got Windows95 and you’re still using that awkward old Windows3.1 PIM, get Starfish Software’s Sidekick95 you’ll love the way it works.

Original Author: Dennis MacPhereson