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December 31, 2004

Roadmap Friday on a Friday

I’m releasing Fix 3 as I write this, which clears another 30 or so bugs you, my Beta Testers, have found.

Over the next few days, I plan to update/finish the help, code the last bits, fix the last bugs and release at the introductory price of $24.95 USD.

Here’s to the hope for a better 2005!

December 29, 2004

About Checklists

In MasterList Professional, you can find, create and assign a Checklist to a Task. Checklists are stored in Rich Text Format – a common format to nearly all word processors and many other types of programs. So, you can import a Microsoft Word document you saved in Word as an RTF document or even easier, copy and paste from Word into a Checklist.

Why bother? Well for simple, single one-step Tasks like “send in Timecard for this week” or “buy more Peet’s Coffee”, there’s no need for a checklist.

However, for every 3 or four simple tasks which don’t need Checklists, there’s going to be one that does, like:

  • “Prepare quarterly staff evaluations using HR-approved methodology”
  • “Shop for a new laptop and a new laptop vendor”
  • “Assemble and prepare my individual tax return”
  • “Review and comment on latest new product marketing rollout plan”
  • “Install, setup and deploy new web server”

What these tasks have in common is that they all require multiple steps, take hours or days to do, and aren’t done every day of every workweek. And they tend to be precisely the tasks which matter the most, benefit the most from an organized approach, an can best get done with Task Appointments too.

With Checklists in MasterList Professional you could for example:

  • Copy from HR’s document and then paste into a Checklist the do’s and don’ts to follow.
  • Put together what you want and don’t from your next laptop and vendor.
  • Start a checklist as you work through commenting on the market plan, then expand and improve the checklist with each marketing plan review.

When MasterList Professional releases, you’ll also be able to search www.safarisoftware.com for checklists posted by other MasterList Professional owners. Since you can assign keywords to checklists, you’ll be able to find checklists by keywords like “HR”, “review”, “web server”. Posting checklists from MasterList will be a one or two click matter. You can also export or import Checklist files.

By the way, that fast Checklist posting feature won’t be limited to www.safarisoftware.com. You will be able to pick whatever web server you want to that is set up as a Checklists repository.

So why use Checklists? The bottom line is that for complex tasks – especially if you can start with someone else’s Checklist – it’s a way to getting things done better. And that’s why I wrote MasterList Professional.

December 28, 2004

Aligning 2005 – Philosophy Tuesdays

One of my day-job clients – Genesys Solutions, LLC (http://www.genesysllc.com/index.html ) – has made a very productive business by helping businesses and large organizations see the gap between what they think they should be doing and what they are doing.

Call it the Alignment Gap – the distance between all those things that take up our time and all those things we want to do in life.

The Alignment Gap

I don’t think the Alignment Gap is inevitable feature in everyone’s personal landscape. But it will be if you don’t pay attention to the two sides of the Gap: Where your time goes and where you think it should be going.

So far, I’ve built MasterList Professional to do a pretty good job of getting your attention on where your time is going with Metrics, Recommendations and requiring that just like in real life, every task requires some portion of that 1,440 minutes you get each day. And I think MasterList Professional (as of Beta 6) does a pretty good job of helping you see where you think you should be spending your time with Productivity Points and the Project HUDs (Heads Up Displays).

But there’s more work to be done, so, once MasterList Professional is released and ahem, generating income, one of the first features I plan to add is GO: Goals and Objectives. The idea, which by the way I could use your thoughts on, is to be able to see how each and every task you plan aligns with your Goals and Objectives. Or doesn’t.

It a bit complicated, because there are things you’ve got to do that you just have to do, like dealing with your tax returns. And, when you can, its great when you can do one thing that serves multiple goals, but I think – with feedback – I can get this right for one of the post 1.0 releases.

Food for thought on a rainy Philosophy Tuesday.


Alternative Views – Best practices

Fundamental to MasterList Professional being worth your time is the idea that the more ways you can quickly organize your projects and tasks, the more control you have over them.

That’s why in the MasterList, Current, Checklists, Projects Overview and Projects views you see a View Button just below the title. Click it, and you can create a new view, save your currently arranged view as a new view, or go to view properties and rearrange your view even more than just dragging and resizing columns.

More views=more control is also why Beta 6’s Projects view has two ways of displaying the list of Projects to work with: alphabetically or by status. To switch between the two, scroll to the end of your list of tasks and click the button.

Once MasterList Professional releases, there are several new features planned to further enhance the more views, more control idea. Let me know what you’d like to see!

December 26, 2004

Beta 6 is done and out!

At long last MasterList Professional Beta 6 is done and out. I emailed my list of 245 active and not so active beta testers Christmas Day about 10 pm California time and sent the first update out this morning.

It has been a very long haul folks: more days started at 3 am to get some work done before sitting down and working on client projects that I care to think about.

If this is the first you’ve heard about B6, here’s a very brief list of what’s new:

-Reworked from the ground up Outlook integration, printing, Checklists.

-Non-U.S. date formats fully supported, in fact you can customize date formats in Settings to an almost unlimited degree.

-Lots of usability issues corrected, like the accidentally lose my new task issue.

-Scheduling and Auto Scheduling now fully work.

-Several small improvements, like a summary bar that makes it easy to see what your time requirements by project are, a click and its done button in all task grids and being able to sort projects in the projects list by their health.

-Many, many bug fixes.

Also new is the pace I’m taking on this project. I will be fixing bugs and sending out fast patch updates every two to three days max until this thing is ready to sell. I hope to start selling by New Years Day 2005. These patches will address the last 3 bits of functionality as well: new help pages, finding and uploading Checklists to our and other sites, and mirroring MasterList Professional Task Appointments to Outlook.

I’m really excited about getting MasterList Professional done and to market! Thanks for your help and keep those bug reports coming!

December 02, 2004

Still Working on B6...

Well, another estimated date to release B6 has come and gone. It is has been incredibly frustrating to almost be done, but still need to deal with bugs that really need to be fixed.

I’m working as many hours as I can each day on B6, and will continue to do so. But I am getting out of the business of saying when B6 will be done: it is extremely stressful.

One last thing to say: B6 will be out in a matter of days, not weeks. And it will be worth the wait!


  • Who?
    Bob Walsh, (Author, managing partner of Safari Software, Inc. a micro-ISV)
    Exploring the intersection between Getting Things Done and building a micro-ISV.
    Live from Sonoma, California USA.
    Once or so a workday.
    Because there's a way to get everything done, I just know there is!
    Micro Internet Software Vendor, a self-funded startup company: See mymicroisv.com for information and resources.


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