Monday, June 2, 2008

Why this blog.

1. Simple or single
2. uni-directional

1. The act of leaping, jumping, or dancing.
2. Discontinuous movement, transition, or development; advancement by leaps.

I ended up starting this blog as a clearing house/focal point for
ideas for a PIM (Personal Information Manager) I am writing.

Your reaction may be somewhat underwhelmed. I don't blame you. The net is littered with the bodies of half finished PIMs, each created by someone who wasn't satisfied with the current state-of-the-art.

The bottom line for me is that the current PIMs that I have looked at don't do what I want, and where I want and when I want. And I have looked. I spent 2 years looking and trying out demo versions, etc. No luck. It got to the point where my wife finally asked

When are you going to admit you are going to have to write it?

I did resist the temptation. Really, truly. I didn't want to be known as an engineer that succumbed to the "not invented here" syndrome.

But finally, I gave in.

So what are the things that I need that I have not found so far?

1. It has to run on multiple platforms. I use both Windows and Linux routinely and I don't see that changing anytime soon. This rules out a large number of Windows only applications.

2. It has to support multiple calendars but a single set of events. An
example of this is the eight schedules I maintain at home. I have a calendar for myself, a calendar for my wife, my kids calendar, my ex-wife's calendar, my work calendar, and several calendars for organizations that I donate my time to. If there is an event on my kids calendar that I plan to go to I would like to be able to simply put it on my calendar and then when I move the time of the event on one calendar it shows up correctly moved on the other.

3. It has to support scripting and template of events. I would like to be able to do something like schedule myself to lead an event that I have done several times before and automatically have items added to my task list and time scheduled in the weeks to come for preparation. In fact it's scheduling backwards from the point of the event.

4. It has to support the ability to both tag (assign ad hoc metadata to an object) as well as categorize things in hierarchical user-defined taxonomies.

5. The relationships between communities, events, notes, and tasks should be recordable and navigable. For example, I should be able to associate Projects with communities so that when I am working on a task in that project I have easy/instant access to the e-mail addresses of that associated community.

6. It has to be able to track conversations. For example, if I am heading up a team and I make a request I would like to be able to track and a glance and know how many people have responded, how many have accepted the request, how many have declined the request, and maybe even how many have come back with an alternative suggestion.

7. It has to be able to synch to mobile devices and web services (google, scheduleworld, etc..)

8. Free or low cost (< $150)

Last of all, the user interface should be fast and pertinent. It should be easy
to quickly capture information from a user so that it can be triaged later. Easy things should be trivial to do, difficult things should be easy.

So far, I have not found what I'm looking for. The Chandler project comes the closest. I think that the Chandler project has produced the quintessential domain data model for a PIM. Unfortunately, I find that personally, the user interface renders many tasks unusable or unintuitive. In addition I find that how I model the process of working with the data seems antithetical to the Chandler model.

That's all for now. Please feel free to respond with comments. I would love to hear about PIMs that you think meet these criteria. It is quite possible that I missed the PIM I am looking for.

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