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Handling information overload
At first glance, Info Select looks like an old-fashioned outlining program, intended for creating a document index. The main screen is divided into two parts. On the left sit all the headings of your entries; imagine something like Microsoft Outlook's Folder List. Any heading that is basically a one-line description is called a Topic; the ones that have any content, such as text, graphics, forms, database fields, or even Web sites, are called Notes. Highlight a Note's heading, and that content will display in the right-hand window. The software gives you a variety of ways to pull data into the program: you can type it in directly, import it, scan it in, or use the Transporter, a system-tray icon that, when clicked, copies any highlighted data on the screen into a new Note. This flexibility makes Info Select shine as an information-gathering product.
Because Topics and Notes are indented as in an outline format, it's fairly easy to organize your information alphabetically or by dragging and dropping Topics and Notes in the outline. However, the Search tool is by far Info Select's strongest feature. Hit the F5 key, and a pop-up dialog box displays a grid that uses small red squares to represent all of your entries. As you type in your search words, which can include data ranges, neural-network searches, and And/Or/Not tags, the squares start to disappear. Once you've narrowed the search to a small enough number of entries, hit OK, and those entries alone appear on your main screen--snazzy.
Although Info Select touts itself as a PIM, its calendar and contact-management features are almost afterthoughts. The calendar, which you can access either in a separate window or as an outline, includes a number of basic appointment and to-do functionalities, such as alarms and links to existing items. But Info Select's Calendar interface is not as slick as those of most other PIMs; it has an almost DOS-like look and doesn't offer the formatting and printing features that most other PIMs supply. In fact, there's no formal contact manager at all. Instead, you must use the program's database function to import RTF, TXT, or DBF files containing names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or other contact list data. You can also import the Windows Address Book or your Outlook address listing but only in order to address e-mail from within Info Select.
Basics aside, Info Select also contains a number of other interesting and useful features for the dedicated user, such as the ability to scan in images, receive and send e-mail, and view Web pages. A separate, $69.95 application, Info Select for Palm Organizer, lets you share information with Palm OS handhelds. It works very nicely at syncing Topics and Notes from your desktop to your PDA, and we had no trouble whatsoever installing and using it. However, you cannot sync database or Calendar information.
Micro Logic provides a goodly number of FAQs on its Web page for confused users, along with e-mail support. If you're desperate for immediate help, phone support costs an extra $35 per half hour, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT).
As an information manager, Info Select takes the prize; as a PIM, it's problematic. We don't recommend it for those who simply want to manage schedules and contact lists. For that, FranklinCovey has the goods. However, for information junkies who want to be able to find a word, a phrase, an address, or an article at the touch of a mouse, Info Select has a definite edge.