Dec 12 2008

I want Sandy back!

For years I've been using an online task manager to keep on top of stuff at work, because let's face it, OutLook sucks. I can barely manage get the calendar and scheduling to function (something I'm forced to use by my company), so trying to manage multiple projects with it's wimpy tasks tool would result in a very short trip to the unemployment line.

Recently the online task manager I've come to rely on announced that it was closing down. Iwantsandy had a unique interface that allowed users to interact with it by e-mail (something that sits open at work all day long) and SMS using natural language as though exchanging messages with a real person. I loved it.

The guy who created Sandy was offered a job with Twitter (another of my favorite interactive cyber services), and while Twitter now owns iwantsandy, they are shuttering the service rather than supporting it, which is a HUGE disappointment for users, many of whom (including me) feel it's something worth paying for. Oh well. There's a group of developers working on replicating Sandy's functionality as Open Source, but that could take a while.

So I spent a lot of my personal online time this week searching for a replacement, which has turned out to be a lot more challenging than I expected.  Sure there are tons of services out on the internets to choose from, but very few of them offer the combination of features I consider critical. Basically, the system has to allow some method for getting information into and out of it whenever the thing I need to do/remember/track occurs to me. This means a simple and quick web interface for when I'm in front of an internet-connected computer and e-mail/SMS access for when I'm not.

After test-driving several services (and revisiting two I've used before), I really fell in love with ToDoist, but the options for connecting with it when away from a computer are very limited…even in the subscription version.  I was also very impressed with a new service (still in beta) called SpringPad , but at this point it's task management options are not really robust enough for work. (It's perfect for personal stuff though.)  I finally settled on HiveMinder, and spent a couple hours one evening earlier this week transferring all of my projects into it from iwantsandy.

But when I attempted to log in from my office the next morning, the site was blocked by my company's relatively new and incredibly annoying internet filtering system. The problem seems to be that HiveMinder has mistakenly been included in the banned site category "Personal Online Media Storage", so I zipped off a quick e-mail to the IT Dept. asking for it to be re-categorized. The local IT guy replied that he can unblock it for me, but that I'll need to run it by the head of IT for Europe first. Seriously? I would hope the Head of IT for Europe has far more important things to worry about, but whatever.

So I e-mail Belgium and explain that the task management site I want to use for work purposes and had taken my own time to research and set up was being blocked by the company's internet filtering system because it was wrongly categorized. (I also pointed out that a host of other online task managers were accessible from our office.) His response was, "Can we discuss this when I'm in Sweden next week?  (We do have a software for task management, you know.)"

To which I responded, "Happy to discuss it as long as you aren't going to try to convince me to use OutLook."

I'll let you know how it goes.

Feed my ego!

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