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An Excellent Way to Setup the Pocket PC for GTD

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  • An Excellent Way to Setup the Pocket PC for GTD

    Like many of you, I have looked long and hard for the ultimate productivity setup. I’ve wasted hours reading websites, downloading junk, and fine-tuning software.

    David Allen even has a chapter on people who could be called “organizing groupies” in Ready for Anything. I must admit -- I am guilty as charged -- but I have fun doing it!

    However, I can say now say that I have achieved the ultimate setup for the pocket pc that works for me. I can say this because I have tested it for the last several weeks and it has greatly improved my productivity without annoying me. I can’t say that this setup will work for you, but I believe many of the criteria I use are universal and there is a good chance that you will have wanted something similar.

    What I wanted

    1. Be able to view my Next Actions/Calendar Items at a glance without having to bust out my stylus

    The pocket pc, the Iphone, index cards generally all lack the ability to allow you to look at your tasks and calendar events quickly and easily. I often commute on the subway or drive, and I only have one hand available when I need or have time to look at my next actions. I don’t want to have to use my stylus, shuffle cards, or press ten buttons just to see my tasks. I want to see them quickly and easily.

    Software used to accomplish this:

    Ftouchflo - http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...ight=FTouchFlo (free)

    This program is amazing and it is the core component of making the pocket pc useful and reducing its dork factor. In short, it allows you to scroll with your thumb and open up to 4 programs with special gestures. This is crucial is you are on the subway holding on to a bar and want to use your commute time to look through your actions and calendar events. If you are driving it also allows you to easily keep one hand on the wheel (If this is illegal, then I don’t advocate it!).

    Ftouchflo configurator - http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...o+configurator (free, but optional)

    Ftouchflo is an awesome program, but to tweak it, you need to edit some text files. I’d rather not, so this program provides a graphical user interface to ease the job.

    Calendar+ - http://www.mohairsofa.com/Default.aspx/document/10 (free)

    This nifty little program allows you to customize how you view your calendar events on your “home screen”. Again, I don’t want to have to click any buttons to see my calendar events, I just want to see them easily and quickly. This program works great and it’s free.

    TasksPlus+ - http://www.tasksplus.szm.com/index2.htm (free)

    This is a sister program to calendar program and it is absolutely essential. The pocket pc platform, by default, doesn’t allow you to view your tasks on your “home screen.” This means you would have to press some button or bust out your stylus. This program, like Calendar+, allows numerous ways to customize how you view your tasks.

    2. Be able to capture thoughts/tasks at a moments notice for input into my systems at a later time

    Often a thought comes to mind while I am walking or standing in line. I want to write it down quickly. The writing program that comes with the Pocket PC sucks. While one handed typing would be nice, there is something about writing than just feels better.

    Software used to accomplish this:

    Phatpad - http://www.phatware.com/phatpad/index.html ($40 - quite expensive but totally worth it!)

    This software is absolutely brilliant. It allows you to write as if you were writing on paper. It brings Onenote style inking to the pocket pc. In fact, I wish Microsoft would just buy this company and integrate their technology with Onenote mobile so that I could synchronize my notes….

    3. Be able to manage my time and set limits

    A cool time management technique I learned from 43 folders is this procrastination hack - http://www.43folders.com/2005/10/11/...tion-hack-1025. In addition to this technique there are often many things in life where I would like some quick to use timers. Examples include doing laundry, cooking, visiting friends and relatives, meetings etc… While these tasks could be done by keeping time - I find that activity often distracts me from doing my work because I’m always worried I’ll get sucked into whatever it is that I’m doing and forget to see how much time I have left.

    Software used to accomplish this:

    Spb Time - http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com/products/time/?en ($15)

    This program is solid and has more useful features that I could spend time mentioning. I guarantee you that you will find this program indispensable. However, the most important feature involves being able to have at your disposal several timers. You could use one for the laundry, another for time to focus, and another for making rice.

    4. Be able to view my tasks, calendar items, and contacts similar to how Microsoft Outlook for the Desktop does it

    Simply put - I think David Allen made Microsoft Outlook relevant again. So once you have mastered using Outlook and have purchased a pocket pc phone or pda, you become enamored with the idea of having your tasks, calendar entries, and contacts synchronized. However, you often find the way that the pocket pc presents data is ugly and doesn’t match how outlook does it. Additionally, while dialing your contacts from pocket outlook is cool, it usually requires using your stylus.

    Software used to accomplish this:

    Pocket Informant - http://www.pocketinformant.com/produ...ocketinformant ($30)

    This program accomplishes several important tasks. One, it allows me to view my tasks by category just like I can in outlook. Two, by changing the contacts screen to “picture view” I can, along with the help of Ftouchflo, dial contact by just using my thumb. I can’t tell you how wonderful this is.

    Pictures and Setup Notes

    1. The Home/Today Screen



    Above is just a portion of my Today screen. The beauty is that I can scroll through the entire thing without ever using my stylus or pressing a single button. All I do is move my thumb up and down the screen.

    A few other things I did is remove the margins and softkey signs to give myself more viewable room for my tasks and calendar items.

    Lastly, I also removed all of the Today plug-ins from my today screen except for Calendar+ and Tasksplus+. I did this because I want to maximize performance and reduce distractions.

    All essential programs can be accessed using either my hardware buttons or the gestures the FTouchflo enables.

    2. Phatpad

    To access Phatpad, I programmed one of my hardware buttons to launch it.



    As you can see, the inking is way superior to the built-in inking provided my Microsoft. Alternatively, I could use the today plug-in provided by Phatpad, it’s actually really good, but my reasoning is if I have to bust out my stylus I don’t mind pressing a few more buttons. Plus, as I mentioned before, I want the today screen to be uncluttered and super fast.

    3. Spb Time



    To access this program, I set a gesture in Ftouchflo. My top 5 timers are preset and I can easily change them if I need to. This little program has been indispensable for helping me focus longer while studying mathematics and at the same time making sure I don’t overcook my rice or forget my laundry.

    4. Pocket Informant



    While I use the today screen to see my next actions, I sometimes want to see my projects lists or other categories. This allows me to do this.

    Conclusion / Notes

    I hope y'all find this useful. I tried to post some more pictures, but I'm only limited to 4 on this forum. If you want to see a few more pics, you can check out this post on my blog - http://www.vesco.us/?p=113

    I've learned a lot over the years reading this forum and this is my first post to give a lil'back to the community.

    Have Fun!

  • #2
    Thanks a ton!

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow, amazing, thank you very much for writing this up and doing all the research!

      I have been trying to see how best to figure all this out myself (you can tell from my recent posts/threads)

      I already have pocket informant on my pocket pc but found it somewhat cumbersome to use (2.8" screen, typical in most pocket pc phones). However your setup seems to be able to do the trick.

      I tried using RTM and realized that it really wasn't very customizable for me, I couldn't even find a calendar view on there! ToodleDo seemed better, but it had no sync capabilities with my pocket pc.

      I think I am going to try to adapt your style and just use MS Outlook (which i haven't really used in like 6yrs) and my pocket pc.

      One downfall to the Pocket PC phone is the screen size, the only thing I have been able to find that is larger than 2.8" is the toshiba g900 (3.0") and the htc advantage (5"...but this one is a brick). I know iPAQ is coming out with a thin and sleek (and powerful) pocket pc w/ a 3.5" screen...however it won't have a phone in it! Do you have any suggestions for this?

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, the screens on the recent pocket pc phones suck. While PDAs have larger screens, I don't want to carry any more devices than I need to.

        Using Calendar+ and Tasksplus+ you can make the font size very large if want to. Those programs coupled with Ftouchflo and you'll never have to use your stylus or squint.

        I use pocket informant for two purposes. One, I occasionally want to view all my tasks and projects when I'm not on my computer, and two, with the "picture view" and ABC toolbar in the contact section of PI, I don't have to use my stylus to dial my contacts.

        Hope this helps.





        Originally posted by nanotech View Post
        Wow, amazing, thank you very much for writing this up and doing all the research!

        I have been trying to see how best to figure all this out myself (you can tell from my recent posts/threads)

        I already have pocket informant on my pocket pc but found it somewhat cumbersome to use (2.8" screen, typical in most pocket pc phones). However your setup seems to be able to do the trick.

        I tried using RTM and realized that it really wasn't very customizable for me, I couldn't even find a calendar view on there! ToodleDo seemed better, but it had no sync capabilities with my pocket pc.

        I think I am going to try to adapt your style and just use MS Outlook (which i haven't really used in like 6yrs) and my pocket pc.

        One downfall to the Pocket PC phone is the screen size, the only thing I have been able to find that is larger than 2.8" is the toshiba g900 (3.0") and the htc advantage (5"...but this one is a brick). I know iPAQ is coming out with a thin and sleek (and powerful) pocket pc w/ a 3.5" screen...however it won't have a phone in it! Do you have any suggestions for this?

        Comment


        • #5
          thanks!

          I am actually thinking about atleast trying the HTC Advantage now...the 5" screen pocket pc. It is big, but it does so much (and well according to reviews) that I think its worth to atleast give it a try.

          Do you know if there is any wm6 software out there that can utilize the high resolution that the HTC advantage has? with a 5" screen I will have huge icons...maybe that's a good thing so i can touch them easily, but I was wondering if I can get more info on the screen with a program that will somehow reorganize everything in higher resolution on the phone (wm6 itself can't do this)

          Comment


          • #6
            http://www.htcamerica.net/support/ad...ps-tricks.html

            suggests that it is a VGA screen which many windows mobile 6 apps support. So even though it is a larger screen it still is using the standard 640x480 resolution. From the programs I mentioned before, I know that PI and phatpad both support VGA screens... Also, I was looking at the specs of that beautiful phone and it looks like it has its own verision of ftouchflo. That's the program I mentioned before that really makes the pocket pc useful.

            And to answer your question, the icons will be larger and the text will be larger, but you won't necessarily see more data. So it should make it much easier for you if you want to touch icons.

            Let us know your experience with the HTC advantage -- it looks like a great device.

            Cheers.

            Comment


            • #7
              thanks again for the info!

              yeah I guess maybe for PI it will work well since it supports VGA

              as far as the touchflo is concerned it's not the same like you mentioned

              there are three versions of touchflo I know of:
              the first one is the original one that came with the HTC Touch (my current phone), you slide your finger across the screen from bottom to top and it brings up a touchflo menu on which you can slide your finger across the screen from left to right or right to left to flip the mneu around...it's really just a cool feature, not quite useful

              the second version is what you mention in which you slide your finger across the screen to activate various programs but the benefit you have is that your version is customizable (unlike the original one that came with the HTC touch) so your's can be much more useful

              the third version is the one that comes with this HTC advantage. It's not like the first two at all, this one simply let's you "tilt" the device up or down and it will scroll down a webpage for you....it has an accelerometer like the iphone basically....this technology is actually called vueflo

              the ultimate would be to get the htc advantage and have the vueflo...but also download the touchflo software you mentioned for the ultimate in customizability

              im trying to find a good price for the htc advantage, it retails for $900 and I saw some brand new ones end on ebay for as low as $600 shipped

              right now however none are going below $700

              Comment

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