Lean GTD 2007 for Outlook 2010

Reader bgbuffalo was so kind to point out that my macro package for simplifying GTD with Outlook 2007, Lean GTD 2007, didn’t work with Outlook 2010. It’d be a bonus if it did, of course! So, although I don’t yet have Outlook 2010, we worked together to get a version that could execute in Outlook 2010. Thanks!

As a result, I’ve commented two lines in the code that should be removed in order to get it to work. The backside is that you won’t get email attachments to tasks and appointments, only the text itself in the notes. But those disappear in sync anyway, so that’s not such a big issue. So if you want to use the macros with Outlook 2010, remove those two lines. (Search for “Outlook 2010″ in the code.)

Please drop me a note if you know how to properly attach emails to tasks and appointments in Outlook 2010 VBA; then I’d be able to fix this properly.

LapLink PDASync Ditched, trying Chapura PocketMirror

Finally, I got enough of the instability of LapLink’s PDASync software, uninstalled it, and installed the trial version of Chapura‘s PocketMirror software. PocketMirror appears to use the synchronization mechanism of ActiveSync (or WMDC on Vista) itself, and adds the ability to sync different folders in Outlook to categories on your Windows Mobile PDA. Very stable so far, so I’ll probably buy it. Works very well on my work computer, too, where I can put my private stuff in a separate .pst file, and the work stuff on the Exchange Server. You can also choose not to put any private stuff at all on the work computer.

This prompted me to update my GTD macros for Outlook 2007. The previous version always created tasks in the default folder, but now, tasks are created in the same folder as the task you’re standing on. So you can create work tasks as easily as private tasks. Previously I had all tasks in one folder, setting a certain category on the work tasks, letting PDASync filter on it for the work computer. Download here!

Tasks in Google Calendar

This is promising; finally the Tasks that have previously appeared in Gmail as a Labs feature has appeared permanently in Google Calendar. What remains now for me to use that feature is that I can sync the tasks to my Windows Mobile phone. OggSync, are you doing anything about this? One challenge is of course that Google tasks are hierarchical, and Outlook tasks are not.

Gmail in Offline Mode

You can’t ignore that now, you can use Gmail in offline mode, with the help of Google Gears. I’m still using Outlook for offline email, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Google offering develops. With the recent introduction of tasks to Gmail, they’re close to being a complete productivity solution. If only those tasks could be synced to my phone, I believe I’d stop using Outlook.

Probably a Working PIM Syncing Solution

After using OggSync for ten days, as reported in my previous post, I believe I can say that my complete PIM syncing solution works pretty well. I haven’t had any problems with OggSync, actually, even though I’m using the beta version. It’s installed on home computer, work computer, and on my Windows Mobile 6 phone, and all of them sync to Google Calendar, using two different calendars; one for private and one for work. Both are synced to the home computer and the phone. Have a look at my previous post for the complete syncing solution, using LapLink PDAsync and Windows Mobile Device Center (the ActiveSync of Vista). As a bonus, I can sync my contact list with Gmail, too!

Next attempt at PIM syncing

Now I’m trying OggSync for syncing my calendar. The professional subscription wasn’t that expensive, and a colleague of mine was using it without problems, so I’m giving it a try. Works well after two days’ of use!

So, now I’m syncing my two Outlook calendars with Google Calendar using OggSync (different calendars for private and work), my mobile phone directly with Google Calendar using OggSync, my tasks and contacts for my work computer using LapLink PDAsync (contact sync in OggSync doesn’t support categories), and tasks, contacts and notes for my home computer using Windows Mobile Device Center (Vista’s ActiveSync). What a mess! I haven’t found a better (that is, working) combination, though.

I’ll be back with a review later of whether this works over a longer period of time or not. My feeling is that OggSync is very stable indeed.

Syncing Solution was Unstable

In a previous post, I suggested that I’ve found a syncing solution that works for syncing tasks, calendar and contacts involving a PDA, a work computer and a home computer, so that I can filter out what items are synced to my work computer, while all items exist on my PDA and home computer. Unfortunately, today I ran into the same problem that I had initially, when I tried to use LapLink PDAsync for syncing to both computers, although now I use it only between the work computer and the PDA (for the filtering functionality).

So unfortunately, I can’t recommend that solution anymore. I’ll be back when I find something better, or a manageable workaround.

A Software Development Q&A that Could Work

Joel Spolsky has set up a new Software Development Q&A, called Stack Overflow, together with Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror. If you’re used to the common kinds of web forums that turn up when you have a programming question, you’ll like this one. It’s content is completely user driven (digg-like), so that good answers get voted up by the users, and bad ones are voted down. No discussion is possible (because of this reordering), so the Q&A will only contain questions and answers. Sounds like a really good idea. Take a look!

Syncing Private and Work Tasks, Calendar and Contacts

When you’ve got a setup with a home computer, a work computer and a PDA, you’ve got a syncing challenge, at least if you’re using some GTD-like methodology for organizing your life. After fiddling around with various non-working solutions, I’ve finally arrived at one that works for me. My system setup is one home computer with Windows Vista SP1 and Outlook 2007, one work laptop with Windows XP SP3 and Outlook 2007 and Exchange, and a mobile phone with HTC Touch with Windows Mobile 6.0.

My basic requirement is that private tasks, calendar and contact entries shouldn’t appear on the work computer (or Exchange Server) at all. Marking them “private” isn’t good enough for me (I know what a computer administrator can do… :-) ). So now, I’m setting a category “Work” on all items that I want synced to my work laptop. In addition to those, I also make the category “@Office” sync to that computer. This way, I turn the security situation around too, by requiring things to be marked in order to exist on the work computer, insted of marking them private if the aren’t to be shown on the work computer.

So, what’s the technical solution? The basis is the well tested synchronization mechanism represented by Windows Mobile Device Center. It syncs between my home computer and my PDA (Windows Mobile 6.0). For syncing between the PDA and the work computer, I use the software PDAsync from Laplink. It didn’t work for syncing from two sources, despite many rounds with their very helpful support organization. Events and tasks weren’t synced correctly, and I had to do “full synchronization” now and then having to deal with lots of duplicate events (none were lost at least). From PDAsync I get the ability to sync based on a filter, such as on the category “Work” and “@Office”, so only those events, tasks and contacts get onto the work computer. Problem solved!

Making sure that work events, tasks and contacs are marked “Work” is of course a bit annoying, but it’s manageable: now and then, I visit the category view on the work computer, and check if something isn’t marked.

Using my Outlook 2007 macros for GTD helps a lot, too.

Update 2008-10-29: You can get into trouble using this solution, too. Now I did. I’ll be back when I’ve got something better!

Moved to WordPress

I’ve just moved my blog to WordPress from Typepad, since I haven’t been very active recently, and didn’t want the monthly cost. The export-import operation went swiftly, with just a few duplicates (despite guarantees, but that’s OK anyway), and a few links between posts needed to be updated. Also, I put an external resource file on Amazon S3 using the Amazon S3 Firefox Organizer, since not all files would be hosted by WordPress.

Everything looks great! Maybe I’ll start blogging again just because of the change… :-)

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