July 25, 2007

The New Backpack Is Live

I've been using Backpack for about four months now, and I'm not sure how I got along without it. It's now been updated with search and some cool new features - I'm thrilled!

My life is a jumbled mess of tasks, notes, appointments, and ideas. Some of it is on the computer at church, others at home, still more on my phone. I can synchronize my phone's calendar and tasks with Outlook, but that's not always convenient, doesn't work quite right, and Outlook (like all of Microsoft's products) is a bloated, slow, buggy mess that never quite does what I need it to do.

So, for the last couple of years, I have been gradually trying to free myself from all things Microsoft. Open Office can replace the Microsoft Office Suite on my desktop. Google Calendar, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and Gmail are great internet apps, and free you from having to move things from computer to computer.

But Backpack enables me to store task lists that are far more flexible than any of the other systems. You can type brief notes or long essays; collaborate on documents with Writeboard; and store and share key files. I've started to store sermon notes and ideas in Backpack, notes for my presentation at Higher Things next week, as well as daily tasks to do, books I want to read, Fantasy Football tips so I can defend my honor against the infidels, etc. Each on its own page.

I use the "Reminder" feature regularly - it sends me an email and/or SMS so I don't forget to make a hospital call, pick up a prescription, schedule that catechism session with the new visitor, or pay the mortgage.

The Calendar (paying plans only) is very elegant and simple to use - easier on the eye than Google Calendar. And through the magic of the iCal format, I can hook it up to Google Calendar and from there view it on my phone.

If you want to be more organized--or as in my case, less disorganized--give it a try. The five page plan is free.

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