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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    Cloud-based chore managers help organize life




    BEST SOFTWARE

    Cloud-based chore managers help organize life


    By Lincoln Spector

    In a typically busy life, keeping track of everything you need to get done is a daunting task especially when priorities seem to change hour by hour.

    Personal computers, smartphones and now cloud-based services make the job of organizing life easier. You just have to pick the right app.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2011/03/03/07 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    2 Star Lounger
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    Soon after I got my iPhone I realized it could change the way I organized my online life. I didn't want everything in the iPhone, but did want everything accessible from it as well as from my Win7 and Ubuntu home and work computers. That meant many things had to be shifted to the "cloud".

    • Email: I kept my existing Yahoo and Google accounts but changed my desktop POP accounts for them to IMAP. This way when a message is read or deleted on any machine, its status is reflected on all others. Unfortunately the desktop email readers (MS Office 2007/2010 and Thunderbird) handle IMAP poorly, with slow updating, losing sync, hanging for minutes, etc.


    • Calendar, to-do lists, contacts: I finally decided on Google for these. Not the prettiest or most powerful interface on either desktop or iPhone, but the most universal supplier on the Internet. On the iPhone I use CalenGoo for the Google calendar, GeeTasks for Google tasks, and the basic iPhone contacts for Google contacts.


    • File, photo, notes, etc. sharing between devices: got free accounts for Dropbox and Evernote and their corresponding free iPhone apps.


    • Passwords: For some years I've used Passpack to safely create random passwords for every online account and store them in an encrypted pack on the Internet. The passwords are accessible through a web browser and they have a decent mobile webpage for the iPhone. Similar features may be had through LastPass or less conveniently through mSecure.

    That takes care of cloud-like apps. Others:

    • Google Mobile has a great voice-to-text search feature and more. A must.
    • GPS: GPS Drive from MotionX has great voice directions, including streets, for just $20/year. A free voice direction GPS is MapQuest. Beatthetraffic for good traffic congestion reports and displays. Google Maps app for easy lookup of public transit times.
    • Shopping: RedLaser for scanning bar codes in stores and getting online prices. Yelp and Urbanspoon for store/eatery recommendations on the fly. Newegg, eBay, Amazon, etc all have their own apps.
    • Tunes: TuneIn Radio for Internet radio stations. Pandora and Slacker for genre music. Shazam or SoundHound listens to a tune and tells you what it is.
    • Photos: Haven't done much extra on the iPhone...the latest IOS 4.x has HDR (multiple exposure) photos for a little more richness.
    • Communication: TeamViewer works surprisingly well on the iPhone (remote login). Skype and the various messenger apps work well. Speed Test will test the speed of your connection, wifi or 3G.
    • Reference: Wolfram|Alpha has an app. Howjsay for word pronunciation. Dictionary has definitions, thesaurus, rhyming. Wapedia and other apps for Wikipedia. Google Earth has an app. USPS and UPS have their apps or there are package tracking apps that combine several mail services.
    • Handwritten notes and sketches: Note Taker by Dan Bricklin is nice but Touchwriter works with Evernote.
    • Geek stuff: All-In Pedometer counts your steps and distance. Sheet2 for a powerful spreadsheet, Excel compatible. SPL Meter for sound levels. RTA Lite for sound frequency spectrum. Clinometer for a level. Word Lens for a nice idea that isn't yet mature.

    I deliberately left out weather apps, I have several but none are satisfactory.

    RF

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  4. #3
    New Lounger
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    What about WP7 app availability

    Windows Phone 7 is rapidly growing in use. Why don't you even mention it for apps?
    With the Nokia deal, in two years, it might have the most marketshare, or at least be close...
    And after using WM6.1/6.5, various flavors of Android, and played with an iPhone, WP7 has the easiest UI to use.
    The number of apps for it is growing quickly.
    So why ignore it?

  5. #4
    New Lounger
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    A couple of thoughts about RtM...

    1. Put the orgin date in the description line as the first element, that way you can sort on origin dates, easily. You can set up start dates for activities this way, and get a reminder when you should start something. Then, insert dated next steps to keep the process going.

    2. Google Gears allows offline access and resync capability for RtM, can also be useful.

    Thanks for the article, it is useful, and the Lounge commentary is also enlightening.

  6. #5
    New Lounger
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    Thanks Lincoln for writing about this topic. I have struggled with task / todo lists and calendars for quite some time. When I left the corporate world, I used outlook 2003 at home because that is what I was used to at the office. Now outlook is not available in the home version of MS office 2007 (or 2010) so I have back loaded just outlook 2003 so I can continue to manage my tasks and calendar items. I now have to be concerned with multiple versions of MS office (2007 and 2003) on my PC and in reality since I am no longer working in the corporate world I would really like to ditch MS office completely but I have not found anything that I can work with comfortably. In particular, I am referring to email, calendar and tasks - the three reasons I use outlook. I particularly like the ability to set variable reminders and to snooze for varying periods of time. Since I have archives dating back to outlook 98, I am also concerned with access to old emails since outlook used the unique PST file format. I have converted my wife to Windows live email and she hates it (but we're still married :->). I tried Thunderbird but it just doesn't have the functionality I use daily. I now have an android phone, so access with it is appealing as well. When it comes to suggestions on a viable desktop client that has outlook functionality, I'm all ears!

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