Back when I last paid the Apple operating system tariff in the spring of 2005, I asked one of Apple's best system engineers if I could expect some really great software to take advantage of this new operating system. He assured me that we would see those applications.
They have been few and far between. In fact I haven't seen any software to excite me in a long time until I ran into Backpack. The neat thing about Backpack is that being web driven, your platform does not matter.
I divide the world into those who believe their calendar must be integrated into their email, and the rest of us who have not been schooled in the world of Outlook email and appointments.
I like calendars, to-do lists, web pages, and sharing files and photos. Backpack lets me do all of that. It also makes me much more efficient when using multiple computers. I can create a project page and email files to the page. No matter what computer I am using, if I have Internet access I can get to my files. I can also create "write boards" which are ways to create content and have other comment on it. It seems to me that "write boards" are wikis without all the hassle.
I was a big fan of the Kiko calendar before it disappeared. Backpack has a much better calendar, and so far its text message alerts to my cell phone and email alerts have been very reliable, something that was never the case for the free Kiko. I do not mind paying for a calendar that really works.
In fact I could do some pretty serious blogging from Backpack. I created this page, "A grinder for the Bodum Coffee Pot" this morning.
What really excites me is that Backpack isn't from a huge company. It comes from 37signals which seems to have a great portfolio of products. It is nice to see innovation sprouting on the web.
I am also very impressed with the user interface of Backpack. Other than some of the quirks they have for text formatting, I have zero complaints about the software.
I will be testing it with IE7 and Firefox on Windows XP and using Firefox on Ubuntu. With a good IMAP webmail email client, my Flickr account, Typepad, and a text editor, I am good to go most of the time. I have three different websites with a tremendous amount of information on them, certainly Backpack is a better way to organize it, than my trying to create my own web pages to link various things.
Backback lets me do it without having to concentrate on the technology. It removes the need for your own website, a web editor and a FTP client.
Still, some of the things which I do require more sophistication than Backpack, so I will likely continue to use iPhoto, Photoshop, Nisus Writer, Dreamweaver, Shutterbug and Fetch for the heavier lifting, but I do not think it is too crazy to imagine what I discussed in the post, "How much longer will operating systems really matter, even to Apple?"
Just maybe with there will be enough photo and web tools with the next operating system releases, that I can live mostly on the web without knowing the technology behind what I am doing. When software achieves that , it makes my life just that much easier.
We are getting closer and closer. It would be nice to bet on Ubuntu Linux and not have to pay OS upgrades ever again. Of course there's always that Linux driver issue that has yet to be resolved.