Things To-Do Manager for OS X

5 12 2008

thingsWhile there is no shortage of to-do lists for OS X,  many don’t fit the requirements that I need to have one that suits my needs. TaskPaper oversimplifies it, OmniFocus is fairly expensive and more complex than necessary and the built-in To-Do list for OS X doesn’t have enough features. This is where Things comes in.

Things, by the folks at Cultured Code, is a very simple and organized task manager that works with most users’ needs for a task manager. The Things sidebar is broken down into three main sections: Collect, Focus and Organize. Let’s start with Collect.

The Collect section in Things is where new to-dos that haven’t been sorted will be sent to. In short, it’s your dumping ground for to-dos. Once you’ve inputted all of your things that need to be done, it’s times to move into the second section, Focus.

The Focus section of Things is where you’ll be spending most of your time, and is also what makes Things so great to use. It’s divided into four main parts: Today, Next, Scheduled and Someday. Any tasks that you feel you should be able to complete that day, you can place in the Today section. The checkbox to the left of it will turn yellow indicating that it should be completed today. The Next area is where you will place items that you can complete once you’ve finished everything in your Today section. Scheduled is used if you want to repeat to-do items more than once on a regular basis or want a specific to-do to appear on a ceartain date. For example, you have to ask your boss something at work, but you aren’t able to do it because it’s the weekend and your boss is away, so you move it to the scheduled section and set it to appear on Monday in your Today section. Very handy. Finally, the Someday section is used for items that you don’t want to accomplish right now, but will want to eventually – such as re-doing the basement, but you don’t have the money right now so you file it under Someday.

Now for the final section: Organize. In here, you can create Projects and Areas. A project is basically a multi-step goal that you have that can be accomplished. An area on the other hand, is http://a5.s3.p.quickshareit.com/files/button5b9fa7.png that can not actually ever be finished. Taking the previous example of building a kitchen, lets say you finally have the money to do it. You would make a project  called “Redo Kitchen” and place all your to-dos for that inside there such as “Pick out backsplash” or “Find nice cupboards” etc. If you were to have a Work folder, you wouldn’t make it a project because it can’t actually be completed. This is what the Areas section is for. You can make a new area called “Work” and place all of your to-dos for it in there.

And that is the gist of how Things works as a to-do list manager. There are some other neat features that Things also has. First of all, you can invoke the Quick Entry panel using the hotkey of your choice (I use F5), which brings up a nice HUD for inputting all the things you need for a new to-do: title, tags, notes, due date and its location inside of Things. They also save your data in an open XML file format which means that third parties are able to communicate with Things and your to-do list is viewable using any modern browser, regardless of operating system. Cultured Code also has built a beautiful iPhone/iPod touch application that’s available through iTunes for $9.99 [iTunes link]. The app syncs over-the-air with your Mac as long as the application is open on both systems. The only issues I have dfound with the app would be the lack of support for Areas or tags for to-dos. To get around the Areas issue, I just use Projects section instead, which I haven’t found any issues with.

Overall, Things is a very solid application – and now with the ability to access it on your iPod/iPhone – quite versatile. My ONE complaint? No web-syncing.

Things is currently available as a free preview until 1.0 is released at the Macworld Expo ’09  on January 6. The price for version 1.0 will be $49, but if you sign up to their newsletter before it’s official release, you’ll gain a 20% discount bringing the cost down to $39.





Del.icio.us Now Delicious.com – Revamped and New Look

31 07 2008

Delicious, the very popular social bookmarking website has officially replaced their old site (Del.icio.us) to Delicious.com – an extremely attractive site that’s also much faster due to the new backend. I personally didn’t care very much for the original Delicious but I can’t say I ever gave it much of a try. With this new design and speed boost, I decided t give it a whirl. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to use and I never figured sharing bookmarks could be so handy. Within a couple of minutes I ended up with the picture you see above – 29 bookmarks and 19 tabs. Very little effort required. Below is the post from the Delicious.com Blog.

“Over the past few days we’ve been transitioning Delicious over to our new platform, quietly starting with RSS feeds and APIs. Today we’re taking the final step and flipping the switch on the new web site: delicious.com.
The new Delicious is just like the old del.icio.us, only faster, easier to learn, and hopefully more delightful to use and to look at.  Here are the main changes:
Speed: We’ve moved to a new infrastructure that makes every page faster. This new platform will enable us to keep up with traffic growth while ensuring Delicious is responsive and reliable. You may not have noticed, but the old back-end was getting creaky under the load of five million users.
Search: We’ve completely overhauled our search engine to make it faster and more powerful. Searches used to take ages to return results; now they’re very quick. The new search engine is also smarter, and more social: you can search within one of your tags, another user’s public bookmarks, or your social network. Now it’s easier to take advantage of the expertise and interests of your friends, not to mention the Delicious community at large.

Design: Finally, we’ve updated the user interface to improve usability and add a few often-requested features (such as selectable detail levels and alphabetical sorting of bookmarks). Our goal has been to keep the new design similar in spirit to the old one, so all of you veterans should be able to jump in without any confusion. At the same time, we’re hoping that newcomers to Delicious will find it easier to learn.  Check out the What’s New page for an overview of the changes, or watch this animation that sums it up nicely:

So why did we switch to delicious.com?  We’ve seen a zillion different confusions and misspellings of “del.icio.us” over the years (for example, “de.licio.us”, “del.icio.us.com”, and “del.licio.us”), so moving to delicious.com will make it easier for people to find the site and share it with their friends.  Of course the old del.icio.us domain and all its URLs will continue to work.  Also note that the domain change requires a new login cookie, which is why everyone has to log in again.
It has taken us a while to get here, and we really appreciate all the patience and support you’ve shown us. Now that our new platform is in place we expect to release new features more quickly. Please check out the new site and then head over to our new discussion forum to let us know what you think and what you’d like to see next.  We’ll be listening.

We’ll also be posting to the blog soon to share some details about decisions we made and lessons we learned during the development and design process.

The Delicious Team”

Happy bookmarking! 😀





Zenbe Review [Part One – iPhone & iPod touch]

24 07 2008

While browsing through the iPhone and iPod touch App Store, I found an application called “Zenbe”. Figuring I was just going to open it just to end up deleting it from my system minutes later, I didn’t give it much hope. Once the application finished downloading, I opened it up to find a beautifully clean interface that offers many more options than the other simple to-do applications. When you first start it up, you must create a free Zenbe account which you can input in the Zenbe Settings, under Settings.

The beautiful feature about this application is for one, because you now have a Zenbe account, you can sync anything you do on the Zenbe Lists in your iPhone or iPod touch to the web version, which is accessible on any computer with Internet access.

Another killer feature of Zenbe is that you can create multiple lists instead of a single To-Do list (e.g. Things to Buy, Places to Eat, Things to Blog On, To-Do, etc.) Also, once a list is created, you are able to share it with others so they can check off possibly completed items themselves and add more of their own. A great example of this would be having a shared grocery list between two people, so if one of them were to pick something up off  of the list, the other would see it and know not to buy it as well. Lists are also organizable by moving them up and down as you would with an On-The -Go playlist, and are just as easy to delete by swiping.

All of the information put on your Zenbe application is also accessible through their site here. I just wish that they would make some sort of widget or Adobe AIR application so I could see it on my desktop. Other than that, no problems whatsoever – flawless.

Stay tuned for part two of my Zenbe review, which will cover the web application portion.





CyberSearch – Search from Firefox Address Bar

3 07 2008

[Firefox only] I stumbled into this application the other day and decided to give it a whirl – and boy, is it ever handy. It places the power of Google Search services such as image, news and web search in the address bar of Firefox to allow for easy searching from any web site you please.

The coolest feature though, is the fact that you can restrict the results to a specific domain such as “en.wikipedia.org” which will only display google results for that web site. Also, you have the ability to place your favorite favicon in the results of the drop down menu. Check out the video below to see the add-on in action.





SketchBox – Sticky Notes on Steroids [Cool Mac App]

16 06 2008

Mac OS X Only: Here’s a neat little app that takes the simple of an idea of a sticky note, digitizes it and adds some really neat features.

SketchBox, by omz:software, allows you to first of all, type generic sticky notes that can be neatly organized in their sleek user interface and sorted into corresponding folders. They’ve also incorporated a drawing mechanism so that you can draw little doodles, take handwritten notes or make wacky shapes because you’re bored. Also included with this feature is tablet pressure sensitivity, line thickness variation and an eraser. If that wasn’t enough, wach sticky note has the ability to take a screenshot, which they implemented quite ingeniously. If you click the camera button in the bottom right of the sticky note, it transforms the entire note into a resizable frame where you can take your photo. Finally, the last feature (that I’m aware of) is a timer that you can set to go to a maximum of 30 days, 23 hours and 60 minutes.

Combine all of these features into one small package and you’ve got yourself one killer app, my friend. Also, as a final note, I programmed Quicksilver to invoke SketchBox when I press alt+cmd+z, that way I can call it up whenever I find anything interesting and take a quick screenshot and type up a few notes. Overall a fantastic tool for any mac user to have in their arsenal of productivity applications.

You can download SketchBox from omz:software here, and if you enjoy it, be sure to leave a donation.








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