Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Using OneNote to track your tasks

David Rasmussen, part of the Microsoft OneNote team has begun blogging.  His first two posts are really, really great.  He talks about his search for the perfect task/time management system and how he’s found the combination of Outlook and OneNote to be perfect.  He says:

With the combination of OneNote 2007 and Outlook 2007 I now have a system that works very well for me. Here's how I manage my task list and workflow now.

  1. I created a ToDo page in OneNote in my general section. This always contains my current to do list and grows and evolves as my tasks change.
  2. I have a direct keyboard shortcut to this page, Ctrl-Alt-T, so that I can instantly go to this page whether OneNote is running or not. This works from anywhere. See my post on Keyboard Shortcuts for Favorite OneNote Pages for how to do this.
  3. I write each task on a line.
  4. I hit Ctrl-Shift-1 to mark that item as an Outlook task for today (or Ctrl-Shift-2 is tomorrow, 3 is this week, 4 is next week, Ctrl-Shift-K pops up the Outlook task dialog for custom date and fields). This process gets the tasks roughly distributed on my calendar correctly.
  5. That line gets flagged as an "Outlook Task" in OneNote. It gets added to the task list in Outlook, and there is two way sync between them. If it gets marked done in Outlook it shows up as done in OneNote and vice versa.
  6. There's also cross linking. A link is created in the Outlook task that will jump you directly back to this item in OneNote. Or you can right click the flag in OneNote to open the matching task in Outlook.
  7. I add hierarchy to the task list and manage the structure and priorities of my tasks in OneNote by indenting lines. Or change order and priorities by moving things up and down. Alt-Shift + left arrow, right arrow, up arrow, or down arrow are great keyboard shortcuts for doing this easily and quickly.
  8. I manage my time on the Outlook calendar. The tasks show up in the "task well" below each day on the calendar. I can drag the task onto a slot on the calendar to schedule it. I can drag it out to a different day if I want to defer it. This is very quick time management.

Though I often add tasks in OneNote (which then sync to Outlook) I’ve not moved my task creation “center of gravity” to OneNote, nor did I ever think I might.  I’m going to give this some thought though.  I use OneNote for my “Getting Things Done” system, so all my project files are there.  It would be only a slight shift to do my task creation there as well.


Anyone else have any experience with doing this?  I picked up two other tips as well.  The first was that you can use “Alt-Shift+arrow” for moving items around on the page.  That’s pretty sweet and great for re-ordering lists, tasks or whatever.  The second was using the new hyper links in OneNote to create a keyboard shortcut.  I’m still trying to get my mind around the fact that OneNote uses “usable” hyper links.  I hadn’t mentally extended that to creating desktop shortcuts or keyboard Ctrl-Alt-shortcuts. 


I hope David keeps blogging!  If the first two posts are any indication, it’ll be worth reading.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Oh, for the difference a preposition makes

I’d seen this story in the different paper so I knew what the headline meant, but this is what I saw this morning:


What is missing is the “at.”  That is, “Two British tourists shot at in Kosovo”  It seems a couple of brits were wandering around western Kosovo in a car with Belgrade license plates on it.  Their car got shot at, but they were unhurt.

I too “condemn” the shooting, but somewhere there is a friend or tour guide that needs a good thrashing.  They sent these two out into the wild country with a big sign saying, “Shoot me first” plastered across their car.   Dumb.

It’s the little things in life that make the difference…like a missing preposition or the wrong license plate in the wrong place.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Doing it their way

Sometimes it’s challenging being an American.  We’re almost hard-wired to think we know the best way to do everything.

In a couple of weeks we’re going to  have some visitors, a group of 15 high-school students and their adult leaders.  While here they’re going to be doing a children’s program, an high-school cultural exchange thing and they’re going to be serving the community by helping to clean a stretch of trash-filled river.

I’ve never cleaned a river in my life, and I’ve never been a professional trash-picker-upper…but I’ve seen a lot of them on TV and hence my confidence about what kind of tools are necessary.  And so I issued forth instructions to my faithful friend and co-worker, Kadir, a very faithful, but very poor man from a village near-by.

I explained to Kadir exactly what I wanted…the classic wooden stick with a nail on one end whereby trash may be spike and bagged without bending over.  Kadir looked around town, but couldn’t find anything.  He suggested he find some re-bar, cut it to length and bend a hook on one end.  Then he’d put some hose over the hook to protect the sensitive American hands and grind a sharp point on the other end for the easy impalement of garbage.

I was skeptical about this design.  Re-bar?  A hook on one end?  But, after some thought I leaned back on my instincts and thought to myself, “I’ve delegated the job to him, he knows what we’re trying to do…let him do it his way.”

I’m really glad I did.  As he cranked out 15 of these pieces it occurred to me that the design is simple genius.  We’re going to be working in a river bank.  A hook is going to be perfect, not only as an aid to climbing in and out of said river, but also for grabbing trash, tires and junk just out of reach.

I’m a little embarrassed that I was resistant…and am glad I let him do it his way.  Quite often I discover that my national co-workers know far better than I do exactly what will work and what won’t. 


Thursday, June 15, 2006

My short article on

The great guys over at invited me to contribute an article on living in ink as missioanry.  If you’re interested, check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Picasa Web Album

Google project manager Adrian Graham wrote about yet another Google beta-product a couple of days ago.  Called Picasa Web Albums, it allows you to seemlessly upload and share your photos from your computer. 

Picasa is a great, free, desktop photo managemeant tool from Google but has long lacked the ability to upload to Flickr or other online social photo-sharing services.  Picasa Web Albums will give you 250 MB of storage for your photos, with additional upgrades available.  Sample albums are available here but there doesn’t seem much in the way of tagging or sharing available yet.  On the other hand, there aren’t any ads either.

This is an interesting offering, especially given what we’re reading about Google fatigue lately.  I think it actually answers a need in to the Google product line.  Of course, I’d much rather Picasa just plug into Flickr, but with Flickr owned by Yahoo, that’s probably not too likely.

Right now PWA is by invitation only (I don’t have one) but more news should be out soon.

More free ebooks

Since there isn’t a local English book retailer where I live, I read a fair amount of ebooks and I’m always on the lookout for free ones.  If that’s you, check on  These days most of the free ebook sites I see have the same collection of public domain titles.  This one has a lot I’ve never seen, or never noticed.  Of couse, with almost 14,000 titles, it’s hard to tell. 

Via GottaBeMobile


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

FootieFox...World Cup madness for FireFox

Yesterday I posted about Microsoft's Soccer Scoreboard, which is pretty slick.  Today I saw a Firefox extension called FootieFox.

It gives you up to the minute scores and results, and can be configured for your favorite team.  It also tracks the standings and scores of al the team who’s played up till now.

Honestly, I’m not that big of a soccer fan, but when everyone else is talking about it, a smart guy “incarnates” himself a little bit.

via DownloadSquad

...for those of us in, football countries

Probably every missionary I know is experiencing the periodic mass hysteria that is called the “World Cup.” No doubt you’ve also been experiencing shrinking attendance at functions, glassy-eyed ministry contacts and the random cheers emanating from every coffee-shop and restaurant. Isn’t it a blast?

If you’re spending more time stuck behind your desk these days than screaming with your friends in a smoke-filled cafĂ©, you may want to check out “Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard

Follow your favorite teams and players during the FIFA World Cup tournament with Microsoft Soccer Scoreboard. This fun program allows you to access all the latest tournament news and information with the click of a button! Live game data allow you to monitor your favorite teams progress in real-time. Want more? Check out your team’s fixture (schedule), standing, and news as they advance through the tournament.

Soccer Scoreboard is a widget-kind of app and allows you to set transparency and even act as a RSS feed reader. Pretty slick.

via JK

Monday, June 12, 2006

Microsoft puts in an appearance in Kosovo

This week I saw some interesting new billboards up in the capital of my adopted “country,” Kosovo.  They’re advertisements from Microsoft asking for people to use legally licensed software…something unheard of here in Kosovo.  The billboards say that discounts of up to 50% are available DSC00415on Microsoft products until the 15th of June.  I had to laugh a little bit because several months ago I went through significant hassles trying to buy licenses for the computers in our community center.

I called Redmond and was told that they couldn't help me…I’d have to call someone in the country where I lived.  Since there are no retailers here and since I work with a legitimate non-profit organization I called Microsoft in Germany, where our regional office is located.  They weren’t any help either.  They suggested I go to my local retailer.  When I suggested that there are no legal retailers in Kosovo, the man seemed a little offended and asked, “Have you looked?  I answered that I’d lived here for three years and had never seen a retailer selling software.  There is too much competition from the bootleggers on the streets.  In the end he suggested I drive to Zagreb, Croatia to a retailer there where I could buy MS products normally.

Since Zagreb is about 12 hours away, I decided that wasn’t a realistic alternative.  In all I spent a lot of time on the telephone before I finally found a solution that allowed us to buy our software legally.

I laughed when I saw these billboards wondering if I’m the guy that spilled the beans about Kosovo to the guys in Redmond.

This weeks interesting stuff

I’m a little slow to post stuff this week.  Here are some highlights:

Windows Vista Beta 2 Download Available. – If you want to play with the latest, and now public, version of Windows Vista, check out the links.  If it weren’t for the fact that I’m in the last 30 days of a major project, I’d probably download it myself.  Maybe this summer.

30Boxes offering “Webtop” –

Yahoo Photos – launched this week.  It’s still in beta, like everything else, but it’s supposed to have best features of Flickr and then some.  TechCrunch points to some screen shots.

Zoomr – is yet another social photo sharing site that’s just released their beta 2.  This was was started by a 17 year old, however, who’s incredibly bright.

I’m not going to say anything about Google spreadsheets … what can I say, it ads numbers.  But I will mention Google Browser Sync.  If you use a browser on multiple desktops Browser Sync keeps your extensions, history, cookies, etc., synced on multiple computers.  It does keep Firefox from loading as quickly as it otherwise might do, but it has some nice features if you need this functionality. 

Ed Bott rights a gives some helpful info on Office 2007