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Software that Schedules Your Appointments For You? 50

Posted by Cliff
from the your-own-time-mentor dept.
Lappie asks: "Say you've got a couple of things to do. Usually, you write them down in your diary, PDA or via some online calendaring solution. In every case YOU decide when to carry out a task based on it's priorities etc. That's not how I like to work. Having used a Psion Revo for a few years now, I got quite used to a program called Mentor which schedules my tasks for me. It may sound scary to some, but it actually works quite well. With my Psion dying on me, I'm trying to find an alternative to Mentor either as Windows, Linux , web-based or PDA based software. However, I haven't been able to find anything after several days of googling around, and I'm getting so desperate that I even considered closed source payware. To date, I can't find a comparable product in the market. Is Mentor and its capabilities a unique piece of software, or have I not looked carefully enough?"
"Based on three criteria, the program determines what tasks you have to do on a given day. The criteria are how committed you are to carrying out the task (committed / must do, fairly committed / upcoming 2-3 days, bonus), when the task should be completed (ASAP, soon / this week, sometime / this month) and how long you plan for the task to take (15m, hour, half a day or a day). Mentor knows how/where to plan tasks because for each, so called, role you play (e.g., Sysadmin, Webmaster, Home etc.) you can assign (repeating) time slots over a day. So Mentor places a task in a time slot when the duration fits the slot and when the 'urgency/priority' variables fit the distance between today and the date when a task has to be completed. Of course, Mentor automatically respects the appointments that you have, and after a quick reschedule every morning, you're all set to go for the day."
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Software that Schedules Your Appointments For You?

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  • by PaulBu (473180) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:13PM (#11498090) Homepage
    Hmm, putting my tin-foil hat on, maybe the Mentor guys DID solve it, but it invited too much heat from one or two of TLAs... ;-)

    Paul B.

    P.S. Good luck in your search though!
    • Actually, it's not NP, it's most certainly polynomial. Turns out that this "scheduling problem" can be arranged into a matroid [wolfram.com], and therefore a simple greedy algorithm [wolfram.com] will work. Basically, this will *always* just end up with the next "highest priority" item that fits into the current time slot.

      (For a final note, I'm not in any way affiliated with mathworld.wolfram.com, but it is a useful reference.) ;-)

  • by m_chan (95943) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:15PM (#11498105) Homepage
    It's called Wife1.0. You won't ever have to worry about not having tasks scheduled for you again. Whatever free time you had will be filled automatically with any number of tedious jobs. Unfortunately, v1.0 it turned out to be ridden with nagware.

    I've since gone back to bachelor 1.0 and don't really think about upgrading.
    • Huh... sorry about the downgrade.

      Maybe you'll upgrade to Wife 2.0 in the future?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Nah, that's the same old shit, repackaged, slower, and more bloated. What he needs to do is find himself a copy of Hot Fuck Buddy 1.0, the No Strings Attached edition. Unfortunately it was a very limited pressing, and clean copies are difficult to come by.
    • Honey, Wife 1.0 was going to expire on you anyway. Some guys know what it is to appreciate a fine piece of, um, software. And oooh, does that app ever perform. For them.
    • It's called Wife1.0. You won't ever have to worry about not having tasks scheduled for you again. Whatever free time you had will be filled automatically with any number of tedious jobs. Unfortunately, v1.0 it turned out to be ridden with nagware.

      Well, I've been running bachelor v4.0 for some years now (longterm customer), and I've considered upgrading to girlfriend v3.5 or higher (want a newer model) for a while.

      I've been reluctant to even condider wife v1.0 at all because I hear it has come incompatibi

  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vaevictis666 (680137) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:23PM (#11498208)
    Why don't you stick with mentor, and from their download page [wulisoft.com] on the right column download the version for the PC EPOC emulator - I presume this will run on windows and then you're set.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

    • Or you *could* purchase another PSION off of ebay http://search.ebay.com/psion [ebay.com]
      (I saw one going for about $80) if you really depend on it that much

      Wulisoft even has a link to an EPOC emulator that you could use to run mentor if you had to.
    • Yeah, you're totally right and I'm still considering that option. But it has two downsides IMHO: a) Lugging around a floppy disk with your Mentor data b) No access to your data if you don't have access to the emulator (which is probably very likely). So that seems to imply a PDA or web based solution.
  • Above and Beyond (Score:4, Informative)

    by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:38PM (#11498370)
    From http://www.1soft.com/ [1soft.com]. It's designed to work in exactly the way that you describe.

    Been using versions of it for many years, and can't fault it. The web site looks like a leftover from 1995, but don't hold that against them. Windows only, and doesn't run under Wine (at least not the last time I tried).

    It supports tasks, projects, statuses, alarms, all that sort of stuff. Notes against items are just text files - easy to search or edit externally if you want to. Tasks can be imported or exported too if you wish.

    • I will check it out, thnx! Must say, though, that from the demonstration on their website it seems as if the software takes the task scheduling really literally and that's one step to far for me. I'm satisfied with a piece of software that decides what I should do today (based on priority and deadlines, in essence) not so much when I should do them ... It is the logical extension nevertheless.
  • Psions and Mooks (Score:4, Informative)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:47PM (#11498472) Homepage Journal
    Mentor does sound interesting -- I've never heard of anything that did that kind of personal scheduling. If you can't find something similar for another platform, you might look into trying to get it running on a Symbian-based cell phone. Since Symbian is basically the current version of EPOC, that's probably easier than porting the software to PalmOS, which seems to be the author's current plans [wulisoft.com].

    Or you could just get another Psion off of eBay. They'll probably be available for a long time to come.

    I have to mention that overdependence on "Mook" software can lead to loss of actual identity, as described in Bruce Sterling's fiction.

    • Already tried a second hand Psion, but that one failed on me after only a week or so. Unfortunately I don't have so many (monetary) resources to get me a new Psion every month ...

      Indeed I'm finding out the hard way regarding software dependence although I'm unfamiliar with Sterling's work.
      • Should have occured to me you'd have tried to buy another Psion. I would have thought that old Psions would hold together better, but apparently not.

        Have you tried running this application on a Symbian device? There are a lot of those these days, though I guess they're usually more expensive than a plain PDA.

        Sterling has occasionally played with the idea of "fade". The idea is that in the future some busy/powerful people use fancy AI software to mediate their interactions with the rest of humanity. Whic

    • Current plans... Last update Mar02. Current Plans... Haha. Good one.
  • Lessee, 12:00: lunch with Mike, 13:00: complete TPS reports, 14:00: relinquish all world power to the cybernetic race...
  • Does PlanMyDay [sourceforge.net] sound like it will do the job for you?

    • I will consider it once I've decided on and free'd up money to buy a palm. Must say that I'm seriously considering this option.
      • You could also try the Palm emulator, POSE, to get a feel for the available software before you decide to lay out any cash.

  • Manna (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hab136 (30884) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @07:11PM (#11498725) Journal
    See also Manna [marshallbrain.com], a story about such software, and its logical extrapolation.
  • I read in some forums about the software Life Balance [llamagraphics.com], which sounds like you're describing. You tell it what percentage of time you want to spend on certain things, and it will schedule it for you.

    I've never used this, nor know much about it. I've been following the forums [gettingthingsdone.com] on the book Getting Things Done [amazon.com], and some people have liked it.

    After years of PDAs, I still like the simplicity of a pen on pencil. Flexable, too!

  • Admittedly this is a one-two punch, but if you're into organizing your life on Windows, you should already be here.

    Taskline [taskline.info] is a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook. One of the deficiencies, some users say, of Outlook is it's inability to properly express the time needed to complete tasks versus your actual scheduled appointments. So I'm guessing Taskline works just as your system works now, and that it's what you want.

    I love it. It helps me see if projects are actually feasible, and it helps me make better ed
    • By accident I found their website myself while waiting for this story to be published. I agree: looks impressive and seems to do what I want. At the moment, however, I use Mulberry [cyrusoft.com] to read my mail and are not yet ready to give up on that piece of software. I also would like to prevent to (again??) become attached/hooked on a specific piece of software (implies ... back to pen&paper?) although the windows aspect is probably not a problem.
  • by BladeMelbourne (518866) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @10:13PM (#11500017)
    Guy: Organiser, please schedule 10 minutes this afternoon so I can go to the bathroom and take a crap.

    Organiser: Acknowledged. This appointment is scheduled for.... 5:50PM.

    Guy: I was hoping for some time before 12 noon.

    Organiser: Sorry, you all booked up. [snikers... and all backed up too]

    Guy: But I already have a peeper!

    Organiser: I do not understand. [Yes, you have nice brown eye protruding from your read-end. For the rest of the day I hope I'm kept in the front pockets of your pants.]

    Guy: Right. So what am I scheduled to be doing now?

    Organiser: You have a meeting at the unemployment office. [Patethic carbon based life form]

  • my own project (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brw12 (763380)
    on the subject, i've been working on my own php/mysql app, "prioritexter", which is basically a glorified todo list, that sorts items by a combination of priority you set and proximity to their due date. I needed it because I keep dozens of items on my todo list at one time, and need them all to come up frequently so that I don't forget them, but don't want to have to look over my whole list every day.

    A demo is at http://www.mekhaye.net/webdev/prioritexter [mekhaye.net] and a .zip of the program (view README after unzi

    • Had a look - looks great! I had a problem entering "projects" and "dreams", though. Any time frame for adding those? And would you consider hosting it on sourceforge so others can use it?
      • You're right, "projects" and "dreams" are not really supported yet... but I'll do it soon, I swear!

        [heh heh... "I don't support your dreams!" etc.]

        Yes, I figure I'll tinker with it for another few weeks after work, then put it on sourceforge (so it's at least fully functional within its narrow parameters before I ask people to tinker with it too). In the meantime, please play with the source, and let me know your ideas or code changes.

        Also, please email me if this project interests you and I'll email

  • it is almost and _exact_ clone of this. Gotta run, otherwise I would look up the site.

    Palm and Windows, Windows CE I think is coming up.

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