Setting Contexts

Spanning Sync – v1.o Released!

Posted in Google, iCal, Online Productivity, Software, Spanning Sync by jquig99 on March 13, 2007

Spanning Sync, which connects Google Calendars to iCal, has released V1.0 and it’s pricing structure today.

I’ve been a part of the Spanning Sync beta team for the last four months and have really watched this product grow. The team is really responsive and I’m sure that support (as with any V1.0 product) will be focused and quick.

How this has impacted what I do each day: My schedule is basically full with appointments 2 (or even 3) weeks out. My team is unable to schedule project reviews, client meetings, etc., without checking with me and my availability first. This way I’m able to give them access to my Google calendars which update with Spanning Sync every 10 minutes. This has really allowed my team to schedule meetings, etc quickly, be responsive to our clients, all without needing immediate access to me and my computer.

Spanning Sync also has a discussion group and a development blog. Both have been helpful.

37Signals – Highrise Preview

Posted in 37signals, CMS, Highrise, Online Productivity by jquig99 on March 12, 2007

37Signals posted another preview of it’s soon-to-be-released Highrise service. This is their CRM app and it really looks great. Highrise looks like it was completely thought out – from the initial set-up to the day to day collaboration between people. All with a beautifully intuitive (a 37Signals trademark) interface. Sign up for a “Golden Ticket” – Beta Testing? – today.

“You can think of it as a company-wide, web-based, shared address book with a few twists.” – from the Website.

Preview 1, Preview 2, Preview 3, Preview 4, Preview 5, Preview 6 and Preview 7

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Posted in 37signals, Backpack, Basecamp, GTD, Online Productivity, Packrat by jquig99 on March 9, 2007

I’m a big fan of 37Signals. They have killer products, which include Basecamp (a collaborative project management system which I’ve used with my team for 2 years), Backpack (a space where you can create your to-do lists, gather ideas, notes, files… online. Also collaborative.) – I used this as my GTD system for awhile, Campfire (Instant group chat) which is great for remote teams and can integrate with Basecamp. Their next release is a CMS product named Highrise (coming soon!).

37Signals also has a very active blog, Signals vs Noise, which talks about their products and the industry at large. It’s one of my (endless) feeds that I read each day and one that always gives me something to add to my account.

I started using Basecamp at the urging of one of my Art Directors. My team was growing quickly and we needed to implement a more robust project management system. It fit our bill for a number of reasons:

> Functions as an Internal and/or Client Extranet
> Schedules Milestones and ToDos by Team member
> All interaction tracked by project and email
> Tracks time
> File sharing

It really gave order to chaos pretty quickly and as they have pretty flexible pricing plans, our Basecamp was able to grow as we did (during this time frame – 2 years – we grew from 2 people to 12). We’ve tried to implement other agency-wide systems with no success. Great flexibility, great price, great product.

The other product I’ve used from 37Signals for the last year is Backpack. To me is a more personalized productivity tool.

> Makes ToDo lists
> Adds Photos
> Set reminders
> Keep a calendar
> Send email to Backpack
> Tag Pages
> Keep it private or share!
> Plays well with email
> Send alerts to your cell phone

After I read Patrick Rhone’s great article (listed below) I started implementing GTD on my Backpack system. I made a page called “Inbox” where everything was dumped and then created pages for each of my actions (@calls, @email, @work, @mac, etc.) and then individual project pages. The project pages were shared between team members and I could also send items back to my computer to integrate with Basecamp.

While this has turned out to not be my GTD system of choice, I still like the product and still use it. Again, flexible payment plans, great flexibility, great price, great product.

Links I’ve found useful for Backpack GTD:
> What’s the Next Action
> GTBackpacked
> Backpack: New GTD Implementation Ideas by Patrick Rhone
> Packrat – a Mac Widget