Just What I Needed

It is almost eerie how sometimes, you’ll spend a day or two, thinking about how you need X or Y, going over possible options and rejecting them as too expensive, too time-intensive to work out or simply too inefficient. Recently, my problem has been organising myself, especially the tasks and items needed for my plethora (great word, I know) of new classes (like an idiot, I’ve signed up for 15 credit hours this semester, all of which are computer-based design courses, most in programs I’ve never used). I’ve been really frustrated because, even though I’m normally pretty good at recalling assignments and whatnot, all my classes are taught by the same teacher, so everything seems to be mixing together… I’ll start wondering why I needed a storyboard for my DVD Studio Pro class, for instance (when I, in fact, needed it for my 3D animation class).

Sure, I could write it down, but I am horrid at keeping notes to myself, and carrying anything aroung with me, aside from my iPod and (just recently) my phone, is just abhorant. So a pad of paper is out. A fancy-schmancy Day Planner — or whatever it is Franklin-Covey calls them now — is out (I’ve never been able to keep one of those going). My antique PDA? Not only is that out, it doesn’t even work properly anyway. I had some pie-in-the-sky ideas for keeping track of my ideas, such as a new Treo “smartphone” (way too expensive for me) or getting my own web-based tasks package running.

It was this last one that held the greatest possibility of working. I already had a free version of tasks by Alex King up and running, served on my G5. It seemed like a really good idea, but there was a major problem: if I were to transfer this task program to my web server, I’d have to figure out a way of password protecting it. You see, this free version was really quite good, but unless you forked over 30 bucks (probably worth it, but not on my income), you couldn’t get the latest version, which included a log-in system. Granted, I’m not so important that anyone would want to read my to-do lists, but I still don’t like the idea of someone being able to do. Plus, my usage of tasks had been sporadic at best, seeing as unless I could figure out some password restriction scheme that didn’t break everything, the program was only available to me on my home computer. Not really helpful when you’re on campus, 20 miles from your house.

So, it was with this mindset that I found myself mulling over my options last night as I tried (as, usual, in vain) to sleep. Little did I know that when I first sat down at my computer today, the answer would hit me square in the face: TA-DA!

Well, Ta-Da Lists, to be precise.

I’ve been lusting over the awesome, web-based project manager Basecamp for sometime. I believe that one day, when my work schedule requires it, I’ll actually budget out the monthly fee to use it. However, Basecamp is sort of overkill for my problem, so the presence of Ta-Da is like a godsend. 37signals, the well-known design and usability experts, are offering Ta-Da as a sort of gateway drug to get people interested in Basecamp. Essentially, Ta-Da is a pared down version of the tasks portion of Basecamp, made freely available (and hosted, at that) to anyone. Thus, I am able to have my tasks list readily accessible to me anytime I’m in front of any internet connection. Since all my classes are in computer labs, I’m set. No set up to worry about, password-protection scheme to implement, and most importantly, no cost. Bravo, 37signals. Bravo.