Sunday, April 01, 2007

Freaky Tasks, GTD and other software

Just finished an interesting experiment. Did some research on web based task management/project management software built on PHP and MySQL and came across a package called TaskFreak! It looked pretty interesting, so I just finished spending some time getting it installed on my local server. I'm hoping this can perhaps fill a hole in my management of To Do's. When I have a big project to do, like a policy and procedure manual I recently completed, I was able to setup a project file using FastTrack Schedule (like Microsoft Project but not Microsoft). I like that for big projects.

The problem is with the many little and not so little things I need to do that are not part of major projects. I suppose I have some tools already available to me. A Palm T|X. The To Do module of Kontact. SugarCRM. It all seems so disjointed though and hard to keep them coordinated and up to date with each other. So, I decided to look for something that I could quickly and easily access via the web. This means I can use it pretty much anywhere (as I almost always have web access).

Anyway, installation was fairly simple. Well, the first go round. I initially downloaded and installed the single-user version. As I quickly discovered though, the few plug-ins available are all designed to work with the multi-user version. So, it was time to install that version. Unfortunately, I could not get connected to the database and it took me a while to figure it out. The problem? In the single-user version, the config.php file is located in the main directory. In the multi-user version, it is located in the /include subdirectory. Once I figured that out and could edit that file in order to put in the database settings, it worked fine. A little more work and I had a couple plugins working.

The big issue now is whether it will actually help me. The more I think about it, the more I feel like it probably will not. The first issue is going to be the lack of an ability to create sub-tasks. I really like being able to create tasks hierarchically and I think that will be a big limitation. The other problem probably comes down to discipline. Like I said, I have plenty of tools already available - just don't use them.

Interestingly enough, while reading The News and Observer this afternoon, they had an article about executives who engage in extreme sports (like triathlons, extreme marathons, etc.). One of the points of the article was that the same discipline that had made these folks successful in business was what helped them succeed in these sports activities. Given that I have been reasonably successful in my career/work AND I have completed a triathlon in the past, it seems like I should be able to summon up the discipline to get my To Do's in order.

From the TaskFreak! software, I did run across a reference to Getting Things Done which looks to be a method for, well...getting things done.  I think I'll have to dig into it some more.  I'm reading a book now about improving productivity.  Maybe this Getting Things Done will be next on the list.

An interesting tangent that developed in my setting up TaskFreak! is that I got some software installed on the server and my laptop that will let me log on to the desktop of my server.  That has been one of the nicer things I have discovered in using Linux.  From my Linux desktop, I could use a program called Krdc to connect to my server and work on the server using the GUI(desktop) as if I were sitting right there at the server looking at its screen.  Anyone who has used PCAnywhere or something similar for Windows probably knows what I mean.  Anyway, one of the limitations I've had is that Windows doesn't include a program like Krdc for connecting to a Linux computer, so I could not do the same thing from my laptop.  I did some research and found a set of programs called NX _________ from  It took a few downloads to install the server portion (done via rpm's - very simple) and the client portion.  It works great!  I can now log on to the Linux server and see the desktop from my Windows laptop. The big test will be to see if I can do it from a remote location that is not behind my firewall.

Speaking of firewalls, I'm supposed to help my neighbor secure his.  Gotta add that to the To Do list so I can get it done. :-)

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