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jeff.templon

Posted: May 06, 2012



Hi,

Yep, looked at LifeBalance too, problem with it (for me) is that there is no Android version.

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Apr 22, 2012



Hi

Thanks for the info on MLO. I looked at it too, it looked really nice, but I could never get it to work properly on a Mac. It was supposed to work OK under Crossover, but it didn't. The Crossover folk tried helping me out, they could not get it to work, and it did not seem to be a priority for the MLO folk. End of story for me.

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Mar 12, 2012



Hi *,

thanks for all the nice replies. I am still using Toodledo; GetItDone has a new version, but the native Android app is not yet out, Nirvana has released a couple new versions of the Android app that are almost as bad as the one I tested, and Thymer has not released any native apps at all.

I did switch from Ultimate To Do, to Pocket Informant. Mostly because the calendar display in UTD really rocks; the interface for tasks is only minutely better in PI than UTD, and I have had some minor stability issues (that seem to resolve themselves given an hour or so) but the calendar is simply so much better than the native android calendar, wow.

I have some stuff to digest, after looking at the posts, especially the one by chrisyeung! Thanks again. I promise to keep you guys posted!
jeff.templon

Posted: Jan 30, 2012



Hi Starless,

I liked DGT GTD, but ditched it because the sync was not perfect; I was losing tasks every once in a while.

I will post a link here below that details a search I did for a "good" cloud-based and android-compatible solution. I did not explicitly look at Mac apps, because in general they are really bad. I decided that cloud was ok when I was online, and if i had no net connection, it would be enough that I had an app on the smartphone that could deal with being disconnected.

Aside from the info on the link, both Pocket Informant and GetItDone.app are in beta right now with very interesting products. Pocket Informant syncs with Toodledo and the beta I have is just fine. Will be even more interesting to see what PocketInformant Online does.



the link


JT


This message was edited Jan 30, 2012.
jeff.templon

Posted: Jan 30, 2012



Hi Randy,

Take a look at Pocket Informant.

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Dec 05, 2011



@PeterW thanks. I had seen Nirvana, but the mobile web app put me off. I have played with two (GQueues and Thymer) and neither was really satisfactory.

@donramm thanks. Somebody else pointed something similar out. I may move my "project support" stuff over to Evernote. This might work particularly well if Nozbe's Android app becomes usable, or if GetItDone becomes more solid, as both have Evernote "integration".
jeff.templon

Posted: Dec 02, 2011



Hi

I met one of the owners of this system

http://www.digitalechecklisten.nl/?page=home

in the train a couple months ago. Unfortunately for most of you, it's only available in dutch AFAIK.
jeff.templon

Posted: Dec 02, 2011



I have spent the last few weeks doing the latest round of my quest for the "right" GTD system. Once again I come up empty-handed and arrive back at "good old" Toodledo. I guess before I even start, I should say why I end back at Toodledo: it is rock solid, the web app is accessible everywhere, and there is an excellent Android app (Ultimate ToDo List) which is also rock solid and works just fine in offline mode. I can put up with a lot of irritation in a GTD system, but I cannot put up with a system that cannot work well in an airplane nor can I trust a system that every so often just loses a task.

So why am I not happy with Toodledo? It is too complex. There is a large set of things you can set for a task: start date, due date, status, goal, priority, context, tags, folders ... and these things are all pretty much independent of each other. If I decide to move a project from one context to the next, it's not a given that I could just tell the project "now you are at work, no longer at home". A project has individual tasks and each of them has its own independent context. If you implement projects using the parent task / subtask system it's even worse. You can have subtasks of a parent that reside in completely different folders. Which in most cases is sheer nonsense, and results in tons of clicking to update the various fields of all subtasks to be the same as the parent task. Except of course the status field, because usually only one of the subtasks is the "Next Action".

Also : Toodledo has no concept of a defined order of tasks: order is the result of sorting. To get your tasks into some reasonable order, you wind up fudging, like adding a "start date" to the task and sorting on that. This date of course has to be frequently updated, because you probably don't finish things when you think you would, and then that low priority tasks you thought you might get to a month ago is riding at the top of your todo list for no good reason.

So I went looking. What was I looking for?

* A "cloud" based system. I regularly use four different computers (work desktop, home desktop, laptop, and android smartphone) and they should see the same view of my tasks. Either I can spend a lot of time manually synchronizing, or find a system that will work via Dropbox, or a system that is "cloud" based, which really means only that all your tasks are stored somewhere on the internet; the thing running on each of the computers knows where that "somewhere" is and keeps the view on your computer in sync with what is on the task server.
* Task import of some kind. I've found out the hard way that I can't really get an idea of how a system will work for me until I have a hundred or so real tasks in the system and actually try to use it. Entering 100 real tasks takes a long time. So unless the system looks otherwise perfect, I don't even bother if there is no good import method. Acceptable import methods are e.g. direct import from Toodledo, import of a CSV file (that I can export from Toodledo) or the ability to email tasks with metadata syntax, so that the tasks can be directly sent into the proper contexts, folders, get the right due dates and tags, etc. I have a script that zips through a CSV export from Toodledo and mails the tasks off. Not as nice as direct import but it still works.
* A good user interface, preferably one that lets me drag and drop stuff, one that minimizes the amount of clicks things take. And preferably one that lets me make my own ordering of tasks, independent of due dates or whatever.
* A solid android app on which sync works perfectly, which can be used in offline mode (meaning as well that tasks entered in offline mode will be synced once an internet connection is available again!). It should also have an excellent user interface allowing for quick capture of todos and quick viewing of (or marking "done"!) the most important tasks.
* A viewable archive or log of completed tasks, including the date completed.
* Even better is if one is able to record time spent on a task, and this information is also available in the archive. And the archive can be exported to e.g. a CSV file for processing outside the system.
* Documentation. It's amazing how many systems out there have no documentation whatsoever!
* Ability to email tasks to the cloud interface, including setting metadata like due date and project name via a special syntax.
* Ability to search the task list (including attached notes) and also filter the task list given some criteria. An optimal filter system allows boolean composition of filters, like "todo in (Folder A OR Folder B) AND (Context is Computer or Work) AND Status is NextAction".
* Task export of some kind. I've found out that sometimes I think a system is going to work and it doesn't; then I want to migrate to something else. In order to do so, I need to have some sort of task export, one which is complete enough that I can import it to another system and not have to manually sort things into folders, set due dates and tags, etc.

One more thing while I am at it (and no system I looked at had worked like this): actions (todo's) added to "Projects" should have a default focus or status of NOTHING. Should not even show up anywhere except in the list of actions for that project, until that time at which you give it a context, a "next action" status, a due date, whatever. Why? Think about it. Take "wallpaper Lisa's room" as a project. I need to:

1. get all the stuff together I need to remove the old wallpaper
2. remove the old wallpaper
3. set a date with Lisa to go look at new wallpaper
4. pick out the new wallpaper
5. buy the new wallpaper
6. buy other supplies like glue, brushes, cutting tools, etc
7. put down plastic sheeting to protect the floor
8. put on the wallpaper

When I enter these tasks, they surely do NOT belong in the inbox (which is where some GTD systems will put all new tasks, regardless of where you enter them). I know where they belong : they belong in the project folder as tasks in the project. Not all of the tasks are actionable, so they certainly do not all go in "next" focus area like some other GTD systems will do. At the start of the project above, steps 1, 3, and 6 might be "next actions", the rest are all "waiting for steps 1 or 3 or 6". That is not the same as "Someday"; what someday means in GTD is "I might want to do this someday". When I am ready to remove the old wallpaper, I put "remove the old wallpaper" task into the "next action" state, and at that moment it should show up in my next actions list. Not before.

Think about Allen's book, written back in the days of paper: you wrote a next actions list, that only contained the next action for each active project, along with some projectless "next" actions. You wrote the list in an order that made sense to you, you did not rely on some external sorting engine to do the ordering for you. Projects had their own folders with project plans in them. When you identified a new action associated with a project, you did not immediately put this action in your inbox. Also, you did not go through all your project folders once a week and collect all the not-yet-actionable items on those projects onto one giant massive "Someday" list. IMO, a good GTD software system should behave the same way.

Developers of GTD systems : you are hereby challenged to come up with a "complete" system. Like my old professor Joe Redish said: 0.8 is not equal to one. However, 0.96 is equal to one.

Now, I present the systems I looked at, and what was good and what was not, and why ultimately I could not use each of them.

The systems I looked at: GQueues, KOI Tasks, SmartyTask, ActionComplete, HiTask, GetItDone, Nozbe, Thymer, and Conqu.

Gqueues

Gqueues initially looked really nice. They have a nice video explaining one way to do GTD on their site. One of the things I liked most about Gqueues was that I could order tasks any way that made sense to me by dragging and dropping. Another thing I liked was their "smart queues" which is their term for a flexible filter system; you can give a filter a name and save it, then it becomes something you can click on in the home screen. However gqueues did not make it for several reasons

* no demonstrably working import and export of task data. There was a hack that I used to populate the system with a good number of tasks, but it required python scripting and was not complete.
* quick add did not work as documented
* tasks could not be moved from a smart queue somewhere else ... you'd have to navigate to a "normal view" first.
* no search feature
* the mobile app was not ready for prime time. Offline mode was a bit buggy.
* the system was pretty slow.

KOI Tasks

KOI tasks I did not really play with, because there was no way at all to import tasks into the system. Nor export. From what I could tell, it does archive completed tasks, the android app appears to be ok, and filtering and search are ok. No time tracking, no email entry.

SmartyTask

Another system that I really did not look at carefully, because there was no way to import tasks into the system. The interface looked really nice. Completed tasks are archived but you can't export them. No time tracking, documentation is very thin, as far as I can tell there is no native app for android. There is a web app for iphone that "may work" on Android.

ActionComplete

This was an interesting case, as it seemed to be really nice. It does have CSV import and export, as well as an android app that I did not get around to checking. I didn't, because the system just cannot function at a reasonable scale (for me). At 155 tasks in the system, firefox was warning me of an "unresponsive script", it was taking tens of seconds to do basic operations. I normally have twice that number of items in the system.

HiTask

Another interesting case. Import was reasonable, export is rather complete (including completed tasks if desired), time tracking included, can make reports of time spent. Email entry of tasks is ok, although it was not clear whether this entry was limited to a single email address (I normally use two, a work address and personal address). One annoyance was that a task contained no visual clue that a note was attached; you had to "open" the task in order to check if there was a note. However I did not get very far with HiTask because it has no Android app. One is coming "real soon now", I am watching.

Conqu

This is a new system. It looks really good and i will follow it, if they make the right choices the system has real potential. I have not given it a serious spin yet, as the Android app is not quite there yet. For example you can't filter by GTD Contexts on the android app. Also, the android app can use some serious streamlining, both in the number of clicks needed to accomplish something, and in the size of the app -- it's by far the largest app on my phone, and takes tens of seconds to load. Plus: it does have sync with Toodledo. Downside : no drag and drop, and this app is the one that by default puts all your project actions into the "Next" focus.

Nozbe

There's been plenty written about this system, and I got the impression that it would do just dandy as my GTD system, except: the Android app. The real app from Nozbe is (as of mid November 2011) simply shockingly bad. No polite way to put it. There were a couple of third-party apps for Nozbe that were less bad but too flaky for serious use.

Here are my notes on Nozbe (comparing what it can do to what I was looking for):

* Reasonable import via email with metadata, notes show up just fine.
* Can export all data to a text file, including metadata
* Completed tasks: can't export them, can view them project by project.
* Time management features : can enter time needed but cannot record time used, except perhaps in notes. However not so useful if you can't export completed.
* documentation : web page, looks decent.
* Email entry is fine, good syntax for setting metadata.
* Filtering : kind of primitive, no complex filters (boolean) and no real tag support; can filter either by project, context, or label, no combinations.
* Search: ok but does not search in notes, just in titles.

GetItDone

This one almost made the cut. It has a nice drag-and-drop interface that works in a way that works for me. Separates the concept of 'due' from 'scheduled' which is good. This was the app that put all new project steps into "Inbox", I hope they fix that. It was a real "drag" to drag all these tasks one by one into Someday. There were a number of features (see below) that were not quite there, but the real deal breaker is that the system was not solid, especially the sync between web version and the smartphone. I had several instances of tasks being entered on the phone and not showing up on the web, and vice versa, or deleted projects on the web that were still visible on the phone. And a few tasks that just "disappeared".

Areas for improvement:

* Import does not really work. Undocumented API and tasks added via it are not always visible from the phone.
* Export of uncompleted tasks exists. Tasks not visible on phone are often also not in this export.
* Completed tasks cannot be exported.
* Basic email entry, no syntax for adding metadata to email, or at least I could not find it.


* filtering is a bit primitive. No boolean syntax, just select by area, project, or combo of tags.
* Search exists, can search in notes, is really slow (tens of seconds).

Thymer

This is the other system I almost wound up using. They basically have everything I want (with the exception of the export to CSV not containing all the data). The only thing that was missing here was the Android app. They have a web app that "sort of" works, I really made a sincere try to use it ... I imported my entire Toodledo system into Thymer and used it as my primary system for about a week. The web app just doesn't cut it. If you try offline mode, then the android version gets out of sync from the web version for a short while. So no looking at your tasks when you're in an airplane or in another country.

A couple of outstanding features of thymer are the way notes are supported (more like a logbook), and the way time recording is handled. The filtering function in thymer is VERY powerful. There are a lot of features geared towards use in a product team, I did not try them but they looked awful nice.

Conclusion

I'm still waiting ... and still struggling to make Toodledo work for me in the meantime! I am following both Nozbe, Thymer, and HiTask closely to see what they are doing with Android. I may still give Conqu a serious test, and will probably check back on GetItDone at some point to see whether the robustness has improved. Any of the above systems could still make the cut if they make the right choices!
jeff.templon

Posted: Nov 13, 2011



Funny to read that some think TD needs more features for GTD. For me the only thing that would be really useful is some idea of task dependencies ... when task B is completed, task C auto goes to next action, something like that. Other than that, TD is *too* flexible for my needs; I have a special context "Project" for projects, and the relevant states are either "active" or "planning". However it's all to easy then to generate a task with state "planning" which gets lost in the system, since for me that is not a valid status for a task, it's only valid for a project.

If I have a project in state "planning" and create a subtask of it, it auto-inherits state "planning". Also you can get wacky things like a task that resides in a different folder than its parent task ... if you want to change folders for a project, you have to cook up some multi-edit search or else move the tasks one by one, rather a change in the parent task's folder being reflected in all sub-tasks.

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Nov 11, 2011



Hi *,

I found the script. I tried it on a recent things database (my license still works) and it does not really work correctly; it detects and writes out SOME of the Things tasks but not all of them.

If anyone wants a copy and wants to play with it, that's fine. You'll need a basic understanding of XML and Python. Let me know.

Sorry, don't have any spare cycles to figure out why it is no longer working! I only needed it to work once!

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Nov 10, 2011



Hi

Sorry guys i was away from home for several days, I will try to get to it ASAP!

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Nov 06, 2011



Hi,

wow, sorry to everyone who asked, I didn't see the replies here! I will try to mail everybody a copy this coming week, or perhaps I will just post the script here.

JT
jeff.templon

Posted: Nov 05, 2011
From Topic: JT's GTD system



Hi *,

I decided to share my system, especially after just having spent quite a bit of time tuning it. I had a Toodledo "crisis" a few weeks back, went off and tried a few other systems, then came back here but with some new ideas stolen from the other systems.

I have the following folders:

Personal
Work
Checklists
Tickler
NY.Personal
NY.Work
SM.Personal
SM.Work

NY stands for "not yet", these are projects that I know I want to do, but have not really started them yet. SM is for someday maybe. I split it like this because it makes the reviews easier and manageable.

Contexts, I have the standard ones, plus one called Project. I have the pro account, projects are top-level tasks and actions associated with projects are subtasks; the "project" context allows me to easily generate a project list (just filter on context = project).

Status : I reserve the statii "planning" and "active" for projects, although I may stop doing so since I now have the "Project" context (this is a new addition).

When at work, I go to the "work" folder and then view next actions by context, sorted by due date or by start date. Due date tells me when something HAS to be done, start date tells me when I want to start working on something, and also when some task has been started but not finished for a long time.

When stuff is done in the "Personal" or "Work" folders, I go visit "NY" version to see what I want to work on next, those projects migrate into the non-NY versions.

I have an android phone with Ultimate Todo List, there I have "my views" set up with a view for Work folder Next Actions, sorted by star/start date/due date (star is a way of indicating what I really want to do each day) and another identical one for the Personal folder. I used to use due date for trying to get "order" in the task list, but then I wound up missing some real due dates because I no longer took due dates that seriously.

One other neat thing I copied from another system : periodic tasks used to clutter my to-do list, like cleaning the coffee maker once every 2 months. Now I use "start date" with no due date, repeat every 2 months from completion date, and I set up my normal views not to show "future tasks". So I never see that stupid coffee maker tasks in my working views, until it's time to do it.

Hope this helps someone!

JT

ps : the other systems I tried were Todoist, Checkvist, Org-mode Emacs, and GQueues. None of them had the feature set I needed except Toodledo. Something that was commonly missing was a way to do a mass import of tasks, or to do a csv export.

I may still use org-mode if I can get the toodledo sync to work, as the org-mode app is less than optimal.

m


This message was edited Nov 06, 2011.
jeff.templon

Posted: Mar 05, 2011



Hi *,

I am moving from Cultured Code's "Things" to Toodledo and wanted to do a mass import. I wrote a very small and rather dumb python script that will read a "Database.xml" file from Things and convert into a CSV file that can be read by Toodledo. It only converts the title of a task and anything in the 'notes' field; doesn't deal with tags, contexts, locations, folders, projects, etc. It could, it just wasn't worth the effort for me. So all it does is to rip out title and notes, and dumps the entire list into a folder called "Things" on Toodledo.

Anybody want a copy, let me know!

JT