ToDoList: Freeware And Open Source Task Management

ToDoList (version: 7.1) is a task or to do list freeware that can help organize and track tasks. The interface and features may be excessive for a to do list.

Upon installation the program displays several prompts asking where (registry or .ini file) to store settings, whether to prepare a network sharing set up, which columns or type of user interface to show. It will also offer to display its sample task list to give the user a start.

The program window is divided into several parts and can seem “busy” but each section can be hidden using View —> Task View Visibility or View —> Bar Visibility. The filter bar can be used to narrow down tasks down to the very specific. When tasks are created they can have all of title, start date, due date, priority (numbered and colored from 1 to 9), completion status, tag, category, allocated to, allocated by and many other attributes or columns including custom ones (View —> Custom Task Attributes) and displayed with their own icons or background colors. Each can be shown or hidden via right clicking on the task view heading. Tasks can have subtasks with their own attributes. Existing tasks can be subdivided into subtasks too. An item can be linked to a file and have a comment attached to it using rich or simple text and the comments will be visible to right side by default. The aforementioned attributed can be set or edited in the attributes section on the bottom of ToDoList’s window.

There are, of course, several methods for adding new tasks such as using the top menu, the toolbar, right clicking in the task views area. Each task can have a reminder with or without recurrence as well and like other features there are the same several methods of adding a reminder.

The main feature of ToDoList is the multiple views available and each user will probably see one as most intuitive. Task Tree displays tasks with subtasks clearly marked, Task List presents a linear list, Calendar is of course a calendar, Gantt Chart in a horizontal series spanning dates and Kanban (new in 7.1) in a white board style. The Burndown view is a visual representation of the number of tasks in the list, displayed per date, it is basically a simple but depressing graph of how much a user has to do!

The programs preferences are massive in number and detail. Each view has its own preferences too (look for the gear button). For example an option to choose a default view at program startup probably exists but is buried in the preferences – however ToDoList does remember the last view between sessions. Examples of options are the program’s behaviour when inactive, program theme, the position of the task comments, default priority color/number, which attributes are inherited by subtasks, backup and autosave.

The program can import and create tasks from .ics, .csv, .txt, outlook, .mm (Freemind), .gan (GanttProject), .ml (My Life Organized) file and export to the same plus .html.

The program’s wiki details all the features in more detail including more advanced features best suited for multi user environments like task dependency where a task’s status (for example its completion) is dependent on another task, reference task where a task watches another for changes and command line options which include working and interacting with external programs such as emailing tasks.

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My Calendar: Freeware Calendar And Date Utility

My Calendar

My Calendar is a small and lightweight program that shows a three month calendar and features other tools to set up and keep a schedule and birthday dates.

Upon launch My Calendar presents today’s date. One can add notes for each day, sort of like a diary, by clicking on the date on the calendar and start typing in the Note area. When done clicking Add/Replace will save the note for that day. The note area makes it easy to paste or copy text from and to the Windows clipboard. Categories can also be assigned to notes or entries. MyNote is the default but more can be added by clicking the small + button just under the category drop down. There are further buttons to delete or rename categories and a check box to make one the default or auto selected category for new notes.

The My Schedule tab is used for keeping a list of tasks. One chooses a time and day(s) and adds an event which is in turn added to a list. All events or schedules are shown in a simple list. Events can be removed by highlighting each and clicking the remove button.

The Birthday Manager is easy to use and perhaps easier to organize. Birthdays are added and shown in a list but each birthday can be assigned a group (family, friends and co-workers perhaps?) A group is created much the same way as a category is created in the My Note tab described above.

The Time Zone Converter is a simple tool to choose the current or other time zones and then get a list of times around the world. However in my test not all times were correct, specifically time differences between northern and southern hemisphere cities were off.

The Date Time Tools provides days in between and a handful of other information between two chosen dates.

The Digital Calendar tab lets the user switch to another view of My Calendar. This view is one that includes a digital clock and optionally a list of upcoming schedules and notes.

Even though there is no specific information on the program’s site My Calendar should run on most Windows versions and at less than half a Mega Byte and using little RAM it can prove to be a useful download.

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TyperTask: Tiny System Automation

TyperTask is a small freeware executable that automates many common tasks. The most notable and perhaps immediately useful feature of TyperTask is that in can expand text. Often typed or repeated phrases can be automated with fewer typed letters. As a simple example one can define the “~hth” abbreviation for “Hope this helps!” (see image) saving several key strokes. This is what the program calls a Trigger. Any number of triggers can be defined and saved one per line in the program interface. The other example in the image is a trigger for an email signature. Triggers can be used to correct common misspellings by adding a trigger like “recieve=receive” and also auto completing single words like “compl=completely”

TyperTask does more than just simple text triggers and can act as a launcher with such definitions or triggers as “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}G=RUN: http://www.google.com”, where special or non-alphanumeric keys are sorrounded by {}. TyperTask also supports delays like “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}N=RUN: notepad.exe{Delay=1000}Hello! {Delay=500}World!”, here notepad is opened and the text typed in it after the specified delay (in milliseconds). This can be useful when one wants to make sure an operation (a fully loaded notepad in this case) is completed before doing anything else. The WINDOW operator brings an already open window in front or into focus, for example “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}C=WINDOW: Calculator” brings the calculator into focus. Mouse clicks are also supported, this is perhaps most useful if one wants to use a program but make sure the mouse is clicked inside of it so that its Window is activated.

A more thorough explanation is given in TyperTask’s help file (accessed via the Help menu) which includes a list of special key codes and other features such as the support for environment variables (%TEMP% for system’s temporary files folder for example) and the Remove Clipboard Formatting feature.

One notable example from the help file is very interesting for those who write (HTML) code manually. “<b=<b></b>{left}{left}{left}{left}”,  here the bold tags are completed faster and automatically but furthermore the cursor returns to in between the HTML tags ready to type the bold to be text.

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Trix: Freeware Efficiency And Productivity Utility For Windows

Trix is a lightweight and no-install program that acts much like other hotkey managers. It makes certain task easier and faster. Trix assigns, and lets the user choose, combination of hotkeys for some typical and often-used PC tasks. Combinations of Ctrl, Shift, Win and other letters or keys are assigned to and are configurable for the following tasks:

  • Export copied text to (default) email client, Word, Excel or Notepad. The copied text is automatically inserted into the applications.
  • Open Files, folders, websites or the terminal. In this case it is probably easier to do it the old fashioned way especially since trying to open multiple items at the same time is seemingly not possible.
  • Unzip and zip chosen or highlighted files.
  • Show brief computer specs, quote of the day, a timestamp with the current date and more, or stats on any highlighted text such as the number of characters. All these are shown in tooltip style.
  • Access power management tools such as hibernation, rebooting, or locking the computer.
  • Generate passwords. Encrypt and decrypt copied text. In the latter Trix will prompt for a passkey and allow the encryption level to be chosen and then asks what to do with the encrypted text (copy encrypted text to the clipboard for example).
  • Speak the highlighted text.
  • Control system volume.
  • Convert units of measurement. This works on a highlighted number.
  • Calculate highlighted expression. Here if “44+44” is highlighted the tooltip will show “44+44=88”
  • Generate Lorem Ipsum text.
  • Translate highlighted text, either based on saved settings (one of the last items in Trix’s settings window) or by choosing languages on the fly.
  • Extract email, IP, links or file and folder paths from any copied text.
  • Transform text. Reverse case for example but perhaps most importantly strip formatting.
  • Adjust the focused window to fill the screen or maximize the focused window.
  • Open the system color picker.
  • Launch any one of web searches, from google to iconfinder and more.

The somewhat confusing nature of Trix is that some of the text tools seem to require a text highlight while in others the text needs to be copied. This along with the fact that to be really productive one must learn the assigned hotkeys makes Trix, or any other hotkey manager for that matter, useful for some and not for others.

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Signo: Freeware Hotkey Manager

Signo is described by its author as

…impressively complete hotkey manager…

Upon launch Signo slows the system (reviewed on a Windows XP computer) but then settles in the tray and provides a number of defaults hotkeys or what it calls actions to automate many tasks. Signo also provides the ability to add additional user defined actions. The hotkeys can alternatively be used and defined as the # key followed by a maximum of 10 letters, therefore it is possible to (for example) press Alt+Win+k to do an action or to set #awk to do the same.

The actions supported are Text, HTML, Open, Launch, MiniRAM, Windows, Grab and Auto. Text actions copy text into applications. It can be used to insert common snippets of text into focused applications without typing them every time. HTML is similar to text and also supports links and some other HTML elements.

Open and Launch are similar, both open files, websites or programs, but the latter supports DOS actions or command line parameters. In this case it is not really clear why they should be two separate categories.

Signo

MiniRAM optimizes RAM usage (see image) via user set priorities, a feature I did not attempt to use for this review as such tools are not always easy to manage.

Windows has a long list of pre-defined hotkeys with some applying to foreground windows and others to all open windows. These include quickly hiding a window (Ctrl+Win+H, toggle to hide and unhide foreground window) and sending it to the tray (Ctrl+Win+T). (Ctrl+Win+Up, down, left or right) snaps windows in the chosen position and (Ctrl+Win+S) makes the foreground window transparent are two of the other available actions.

Grab is screen capture tool, it can capture entire windows, specific areas and also provides options to choose where to send the resulting capture. A settings dialog box (to the right of eye (or execute) icon) lets the user change the target folder and other capture or grab settings.

Auto is somewhat more unique as it allows Signo to support abbreviations and to monitor typed words and correct their spelling. Abbreviations act as short forms so that one can type words faster. They are defined such that the desired entries are entered one per line with the abbreviated (or shortened) form being followed by a comma and the non-abbreviated (full) text. For the spelling feature Signo will look at user defined words (using the same format as abbreviations) and replaces misspelt ones with the correct version as defined in the ‘List of auto-corrections’.

Signo is powerful enough with its default set of tools and hotkeys but with user added entries it can be even more useful. It should run on all Windows from 2000 to Vista and requires the .NET framework 2.0 or later.

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