RTM vs. Astrid

As a former Blackberry user who transitioned to Android this year, I really got used to having Remember The Milk as my  “getting things done” admin.  Relied on it so much, I actually spent money.  I do not spend money on apps as a rule, so if one makes me come out of my pocket…then trust me, it is something special.

Now that I’m on Android, there are other good GTD apps available.  My Remember The Milk subscription is due in October, so I am playing around with Astrid to see if I like it enough to drop the paid version of RTM.  It’s been over a month now, and my reactions have pingpong-ed.  After a week, I almost uninstalled RTM, because I knew Astrid would be my choice. I love their missed phone call options.  However, as of last week, I have gone back to RTM because I find Astrid to be too clingy.  And the RTM sync is simply the best out there. Who knows what will happen next week?

Once I decide for good, I will give you my pros and cons on both.

UPDATE:  I decided to renew the annual subscription for Remember The Milk.  You just can’t beat that sync!

No More Battery Pulls

I love my Blackberry, but the one thing that pales in comparison to the others is the hard drive space.   And if you network like me, your contact list is sizable and important.  Try operating your Blackberry with an address book of 4000 contacts.  Multiple battery pulls per day, right?  And yes, I have discussed it before.  It is a pet peeve of mine.

I have also discussed Dub aka DubMeNow.com.  I have a love/hate relationship with them since the summer of 2009.  Dub is a mobile app that sends your digital business card to anyone’s email address.  An extremely useful service if you run out of traditional biz cards or you want people to have access to information that is not on your biz card (or you just wanna go green).  At some point in 2010, whenever I would send my Dub card, it would not get received, it would just disappear into the ether. Customer support tried to help, but on their end everything looked normal.  So I stopped using it.

In mid-January, I received an email about new features and updates.  So I checked it out.  Big improvement.  Like Gist, Dub can take all of your email and social media contacts and spit it out as one comprehensive address book.  At the site, you can print it out as a spreadsheet.  On Blackberry, the app lets you access all of your contacts with extreme quickness.  I have almost 7K contacts on Dub, and searching through the list takes little time.  Another plus: I went to the website to see if a Dub card I sent a few days ago reached its intended audience.  It hadn’t, but it saved the email address.  When this was happening to me before,  the email address would not save.  This is a big change. And now Dub also offers the opportunity to resend the card.

Bottomline, if you want to have your entire contact list on your Blackberry, without crashing your phone, load the free app called Dub. Think about that.  No more waiting to get back to your office to find a number or email address.  Or no more printing out a contact list to stuff in your pocket or briefcase. Or no more battery pulling because searching for a phone number froze your Curve (especially when you’re on deadline to reach that particular person).

Serious networkers and folks with large contact lists need to load Dub.

It’s also available on iPhone/iPod (for those that like to play with toys).

Keep networking.

Foursquare As A Networking Tool

"Mayor" badge (IRL)
Many of my “serious minded” business colleagues  laugh at location-based services such as Foursquare. What they refuse to acknowledge is that there is more to Foursquare than checking in and becoming a mayor.  It’s a tremendous way to connect with someone.

With social media, we all have more friends now.  But some of these friends are only social media friends – you have never talked with these people, you don’t know their nicknames and if some of them walked into your office right now, you wouldn’t even recognize them. But you probably “friended” them or are following them for a good reason.

I had some  client news that I thought was appropriate for someone whose body of work I know via social media.  We don’t know each other, but we know of each other.  I didn’t have this person’s phone number or email address.  And I am not comfortable with @reply-ing a pitch on Twitter in order to get someone’s attention.  But as I was scrolling through Foursquare to see where some of my “friends” were hanging out, his avatar appeared.  I almost forgot that we are Foursquare friends. I clicked on his entry and scrolled down to his contact info.  Whaddya know – his email, text, and phone were listed.  So, I reached out.

If I was not goofing around on Foursquare, the  connection would have been harder to make.  Yes, there are valid arguments that some of  these new tools are distractions.  But if you understand what your business needs are and apply that as you  examine each tool, you can find reasons to sign up and give the tools a once-over.

So ask yourself, are you being stubborn or are Foursquare and similar programs really not helpful for your biz?


Shameless plug:  Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and I are featured in the same issue of Entrepreneur.
Hey, they put me on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine! @chelsa is psyched cause she gave me that haircut! Ha!

I Lost My Blackberry And Didn’t Panic

Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Eve Eve, I went to Newark’s Prudential Center with my six year old son to watch the Harlem Globetrotters play. Somewhere between the parking lot (one of the farther ones, since I was too cheap to pay top price for parking) and my seat, my phone tumbled out of my holster.

While it was a bummer that I couldn’t check in to Foursquare for the event or send pix of my son having a good time via Blackberry Messenger to my wife, I wasn’t devastated.

For one, I still had my previous Curve. One call to Verizon and they switched my number back to the older model.

Two, I just did a backup of my SD card, so my pictures and music are on my computer.

Three, I make and receive most of my cell calls via Google Voice. So, just about all of my contacts are saved via Gmail/Google Voice/Google Contacts and Google Mobile Apps makes it easy to search for contact info (especially now with the enhanced gmail plugin)

Four, Verizon Wireless has Backup Assistant, which regularly backs up the native Blackberry contact list to its site.

Five, YouMail handles the voicemail for people who call my cell phone number instead of the Google Voice number.  I get emails (with the audio link) when someone leaves a message.  I don’t need to have my phone at all times to get notified of new voicemails.

While I like the increased memory in the unit I lost, I can deal with my older model without losing a step (I was out of pocket for 3 hours) until the next Blackberry sale.

We all know how important it is to backup, but I think we are also seeing how key it is to go to the cloud as well.  Your data doesn’t have to be held hostage to a physical unit.

So will one of your New Year’s Resolutions be about spending more time in the cloud?

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk is one of the more popular GTD programs (getting things done).

Here’s the way I use it.  Once I have RTM’s Milk Sync loaded on my Blackberry, I will add the Remember The Milk gadget to my Gmail account.  Gmail is always an open tab on my browser, so having a to-do list visible at all times, keeps me on point.

When I enter a task on Blackberry’s native task app, RTM’s MilkSync will sync it to my Remember The Milk account and make visible on the left margin of my Gmail page via the gadget.  It also syncs to the smartphone’s native calendar app as well.

You can download MilkSync for a free 15 day trial, and then they suggest you go Pro, which is $25 yearly.  You don’t have to upgrade, but then you don’t get the sync capabilities, which is what makes this program special. But, I am not one to pay for apps.  It’s not really my thing…especially a task sync app.  I usually write my calendar and to-do items on my At-A-Glance appointment book.  I’m very old school when it comes to scheduling.  But let me tell you, once you get started on the free trial period, it is addictive.  It is so easy to whip out the smartphone and add a task.  If I’m in the NYC subway and I remember something important, I used to have to dig in my briefcase and grab my book and pen and write it in.  By the time I get all of that out of the bag, I might forget what I have to write down.

I know what you’re thinking, if you have Google Mobile Apps on your phone, then you can add to your Google Calendar by entering the items as tasks.  Boom, instant sync. True, but you are not always going to be connected to the Internet.  I often enter tasks when I’m in the subway and there is no wi-fi down there.  I have been using this for a few months now, and I find that I am getting alot more done.  Even little personal tasks get taken care of, because if my phone is in my hand (which is often), I will remember to add it to RTM.  So if it’s imperative that you remember to set up a Google Alert for a client as well as dropping by the store to pick up some EVOO for your wife, this is a program worth paying for.