John Harrison's famous chronometer
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Remember from the intro post, these are the primary requirements I have for a To Do app for my phone/computer/the cloud…

Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

  • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
    • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
    • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
    • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
  • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
  • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
  • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)
  • That seems pretty simple…

    First up is Checkmark ToDo List by GreenBeanSoft.

    Repeating Tasks

    Person with PDA handheld device.
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    This is the one that kicks out most of the To Do Lists for me.  There are several options, which may make this a great opportunity for some folks, but I felt a little limited.

    • Daily – You can set tasks to repeat daily, as well as set them to repeat after a certain number of days… (every third day or 19th day, whatever).  There are some other options… they are under the “Weekly” tag.
    • Weekly – Tasks can be set to repeat on a weekly basis, as well.  So, if you have a task that needs to be done every Tuesday, or one that needs to be dome every three weeks, this is the option you would use.  There is also the capability to set a task to be done on selected days of the week.
    • Monthly – The next option would be a monthly task.  This can be set a specific day (November 20th for example) or a trigger (like the 3rd Saturday of the month).
    • Yearly – This option allows longer range tasks (like birthdays) to be set up.  It can even be set up to remind about the task after a period of years.

    Tags

    Categories and Notes are the two options.  Different lists can also be set up.  This is a little more limiting that tags… but it isn’t terrible.  The Notes are going to primarily be notes about how to do the task (assignments, links, other info).  The Categories will likely be the way tasks are sorted.

    Prioritization

    We HAVE to be able to focus on the things that are most important.  Checkmark has four priority levels: none, low, medium and high.

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    There are a lot of other options available… ranging from Google Calendar sync to Lists that can be created.  Categories can be created, and the items can be sorted by due date, priority and title. Items can be backed up (and restored), as well as imported and exported.  There is also email sharing.   Let’s not forget there is a 3×3 widget that can be deployed on Android phones.  The checklists are VERY flexible, and can be used as anything from a vacation checklist of items that need to be taken care of, to a grocery list.  In effect, it is a nested to do list.

    The weakness I have with Google Calendar sync revolves around repeating tasks.  The tasks aren’t currently fully synchronized.

    This is an interesting option, and holds some promise.

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    Android  Google g1 Tmobile
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    I am a huge believer in To Do lists.  I have a lot of tasks, and building out lists is one of the best ways to make sure everything gets done on time.

    The direction I have been moving in, especially since getting my Android phone, is moving those lists to my phone.  I have been looking at numerous apps to handle my calendaring and to do list duties.

    Among the requirements I have for a to do list are:

    • Repeating Tasks… I write on 4 blogs and maintain a couple of dynamic websites that always need fresh content.  So, I need to remember where I need to write posts each day.  My repeating tasks include:
      • Same day each month (gathering statistics in my local MLS)
      • Same day each week (weekly posts like my 53 Cool Concept series each Sunday)
      • Every X number of days (for places I post every four or eight days, etc)
    • Ability to tag or note which tasks are for which purpose
    • Prioritization (so I don’t get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter… missing things that are more important)
    • Ability to sync between my mobile device and other devices (laptop, cloud, etc.)

    The tough one is repeating tasks… so far, the only thing I have found that really rocks repeating tasks is Microsoft Outlook.  And there isn’t a real good way to incorporate it with an Android phone.

    Over the next few weeks I am going to test and review as many ToDo List applications as I can find.  I’ll be looking at them through the prism above… how they fit my needs.  I will try to update this post with the links to each of those reviews… but feel free to subscribe to get the posts as fast as I write them.

    And don’t be shy about suggestions… I find most of my apps through AppBrain, but also try to keep an eye on the Android Marketplace and even Google searches.

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    Star Trek Props: Sickbay Desktop Computer Disp...
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    The desktop computer has suffered… and some think it has already died.  Who really wants a big computer that it tethered to the same place all of the time?  So, are they on the way out?

    Or are desktop computers about to surge?

    Crazy, you say?

    This morning, I sat at the kitchen table eating my breakfast, while reading my morning paper news on my phone.  I also checked through my email, looked over my tasks and calendar to see what was on tap for the day.  All on the phone.  The screen is a bit small for some of those tasks…  But it functions quite nicely.

    And now, my phone and my computer sync email… including sent messages.  The calendar  and task list are getting closer to syncing, too.  But, it is the perfect solution for being on the go.  But my laptop is too big, too.  I’m not dragging it everywhere I go.  So, it is at home most of the time.

    Behold the iPad in All Its Glory
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    Enter the slate… or tablet class computer.  By now everyone is familiar with the iPad, Apple’s tablet.  But there are a lot of limitations in Apple’s mobile operating system… primarily that it can only do one thing at a time, and secondarily, it doesn’t see flash.  That is why there are apps for many websites… they have to build a special gateway for iPhone, iTouch and iPad users.  Android doesn’t have the same issues…

    But it is NOT a replacement for a “real computer”.

    Now, because of “cloud apps”, is doesn’t have to be.  Syncing between an appliance, like a tablet or a phone and a desktop or a laptop has never been easier.  And that is making the desktop a more attractive choice.

    You can get a lot of horsepower for a lot less money than with a laptop.  At the same time, with a smartphone and/or a tablet, the capability to get more done away from the desk has never been greater.  Combined with the ability to sync the work between multiple machines, we might rethink technology.

    The change won’t be overnight, and it won’t be universal.  But I think we might see a bit more of an emphasis on desktop computers and enhanced mobility through more dedicated devices…

    Oddly, the emergence of the tablet, smartphones might decline in popularity, and phones might just be relegated to making phone calls again.  I don’t think it will be a huge movement, but why carry a smartphone AND a tablet?

    Honestly, I’ll probably keep both.  The tablet isn’t going to go everywhere with me, but the phone will.  But instead of a laptop, my next computer might be a less expensive, high horsepower desktop with a big monitor… or two.  And it will be connected to my other devices so that I can work with whatever is best for the situation… and have everything, everywhere.

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    A list can be a wonderful tool to help get things done.  It is a wonderful focus point to push our activities in the right direction.  But one problem with task lists is keeping them current across various platforms.

    The obvious choices are:

    • Outlook
    • Google
    • Thunderbird w/Lightning (Mozilla)
    • Phone based applications

    I’m sure that Apple has a suite with an integrated calendar and task list, too… but I’m not a Mac user, so I don’t know about their options.

    Mozilla Thunderbird
    Image via Wikipedia

    I recently changed from a BlackBerry Pearl Flip to an Android T-Mobile G2 (affiliate link) phone.  One of the first things I found out was that the G2 had MANY more applications, and that there were a lot of options for synchronizing calendars… especially with Google.

    I have been using Mozilla’s Thunderbird Email Client for a long time, but had dismissed Lightning, the calendaring/tasking component, because of a lack of features that worked for me.

    Outlook has been my Calendar/Task List Manager of choice because of the nice interface and flexibility of its platform.

    I’m getting ready to drop Outlook (I’m using a beta of Office 2010 that expires at the end of October) in favor of Google and Thunderbird/Lightning.  There are a variety of reasons that I am doing this…

    • cross-platform synchronization
    • cloud-based flexibility
    • free!
    Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
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    Cross-platform sync and cloud-based flexibility are related.  In essence, if I am mobile and complete a task (or think of a task), when I enter it on my mobile device it should go to my home computer.  Similarly, tasks and calendar entires from my home computer would be automatically on my phone… And regardless of which computer I am on, I’d have access to all of my tasks and appointments via my Google calendar.  Another benefit is that I can share my calendar (like with my wife) so that others I choose may see my availability.  I can also integrate shared calendars from others (our Cub Scout Pack and our Tiger Cub Den, for example) so that I can see group activities.  This allows me to have a better idea of what appointments and commitments I have as I schedule new items.  At the same time, others can see when I’m likely to be available.

    There is just one problem…  Google Calendar’s Task App doesn’t support sharing yet. This is supposed to be changing… and I will be very excited when it does… but I didn’t have the sharing capability with Outlook, so I can’t complain that I still don’t have it.  I’m also not thrilled with the Task function on Google.  There is no way to enter a recurring task.  Of course, until Google allows an API for the Task function on Google Calendars, it doesn’t matter because the tasks are stuck there and can’t sync with either the phone or the home computer.

    Still… at least there are future plans to allow the synchronization between the three platforms (mobile device, home computer, cloud) for tasks… and there is current support for calendar synchronization at all locations.  Outlook will do some of this, and through 3rd party applications (on Outlook 2010) can sync with Google… there is still a matter of cost, and Outlook isn’t doing it better, it just costs more.

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