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Software that Schedules Your Appointments For You?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the your-own-time-mentor dept.

Businesses 50

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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50 comments

Please (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11498016)

It's "its", not "it's".

Re:Please (-1, Offtopic)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498123)

No, it is "its". "It's" is a common contraction for "it is". Just try and put that into where "its" is and you'll see that it doesn't fit. "Its" is the possesive form of "it".

If you're going to critique someone else's grammar, at least do it correctly.

Re:Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11498177)

I think you need to reread the original post. Cheers!

Re:Please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499903)

You are one DUMB motherfucker, you know that?

Re:Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11503184)

"Try and" is not proper English.

If you're going to critique someone else's grammar, at least do it correctly.

Is not this scheduling problem NP-complete??? (2, Funny)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498090)

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!

Re:Is not this scheduling problem NP-complete??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11498390)

Being NP Complete doesn't mean it's insolvable, just that the larger the data set, the harder and harder to solve. Odds are that even this NP complete problem is solvable on modern machines (even the small ones) with reasonable data sets.

(And having written similar software, brute force was fast enough to get the job done.)

Re:Is not this scheduling problem NP-complete??? (3, Interesting)

chjones (610558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498826)

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.) ;-)

You are right, of course! (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498863)

(And yes, I did check my Cormen/Leiserson/Rivest algorithm book AFTER the fact!), but I was going more for Funny than Insightful in my post, you know... ;-)

Paul B.

I know the product you are looking for. (4, Funny)

m_chan (95943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498105)

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.

Re:I know the product you are looking for. (1)

anodos (183874) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498203)

Huh... sorry about the downgrade.

Maybe you'll upgrade to Wife 2.0 in the future?

Re:I know the product you are looking for. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11498549)

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.

Re:I know the product you are looking for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11595353)

I had a copy of that once.. it slowly turned into Wife 1.0!!

Re:I know the product you are looking for. (2, Funny)

zo219 (667409) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501679)

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.

Re:I know the product you are looking for. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11504289)

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 incompatibilities with beer v2.0, strippers v1.0 and higher, as well as most of the versions of football and almost all versions of pr0n after v0.1 (the beta).

Do either of stripper v1.0 and higher or girlfriend v3.5 or higher provide this scheduling component?

Well... (5, Informative)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Well... (1)

relyter (696205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498418)

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.

Re:Well... (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501172)

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.

Re:Well... (0)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11513273)

You "lug" a floppy disk around? What do you weigh? 50lbs?

In soviet russia... (-1)

shadwwulf (145057) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498237)

...your calendaring application schedules you!

oh, wait...

Above and Beyond (4, Informative)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Above and Beyond (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501210)

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.

Re:Above and Beyond (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11509263)

The bloke who wrote it is keen on "it organising it for you" but I don't use it like that - it's easier to work with a list based on priorites and deadlines.

Psions and Mooks (3, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498472)

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.

Re:Psions and Mooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499494)

Which of Bruce Sterling's fiction had "Mook" software and the loss of identity ? I've read some of his stuff and I'm curious.

Re:Psions and Mooks (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501187)

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.

Re:Psions and Mooks (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11506180)

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. Which gets interesting when the person gets old, because the software gradually assumes more and more of the person's responsibilities, until you have a totally senile individual who's delegated away his entire identity: he's "faded".

Fading is a minor element in some of Sterling's early space opera, but is only a central theme in one of his more recent stories: "Bicycle Repairman", collected in A Good Old-Fashioned Future [amazon.com] . In this story, the AIs are known as "Mooks". I've given away rather too much of the story, but I don't think it matters, since Sterling's fiction is not very plot-driven.

That's a good one... (1)

WyerByter (727074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11502092)

Current plans... Last update Mar02. Current Plans... Haha. Good one.

Latest schedule (1)

Piquan (49943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498526)

Lessee, 12:00: lunch with Mike, 13:00: complete TPS reports, 14:00: relinquish all world power to the cybernetic race...

Re:Latest schedule (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500694)

15:00 Welcome our new cybernetic overlords, 16:00 ???, 17:00 Profit!

Palm app (1)

altstadt (125250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498673)

Does PlanMyDay [sourceforge.net] sound like it will do the job for you?

Re:Palm app (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501223)

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.

Re:Palm app (1)

altstadt (125250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11503061)

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 (3, Interesting)

hab136 (30884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498725)

See also Manna [marshallbrain.com] , a story about such software, and its logical extrapolation.

Re:Manna - Evil Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11511736)

Double plus bad

Life Balance (1)

ChicoLance (318143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498914)

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!

Re:Life Balance (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501280)

Yeah, this one is also sometimes mentioned on the Mentor mailinglist. Already have a test-install running, but in essence requires deciding whether I can afford to buy a palm

Re:Life Balance (1)

samael (12612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501322)

I've used it. It works well. For PC and Mac and Palm.

Taskline Task Management for Microsoft Outlook (1)

Webz (210489) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498945)

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 educated guesses as to how much time a project will take. I know when to do certain things, and I can prioritize them, etc... It's great. Completely integrated between the Calendar and Tasks folders and completely removable too. Very neat. It's one of those... Gems of the Internet that I wish I had found years ago. So here it is. Enjoy.

Re:Taskline Task Management for Microsoft Outlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499320)

(looks at sig and laughs...)
So what is the signifigance of a square world, anyway?

Re:Taskline Task Management for Microsoft Outlook (1)

Lappie (214857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501259)

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.

Obligatory Mother Russia joke... (-1, Redundant)

thulsey (723471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499624)

You know, you could always move to Mother Russia.
I hear that the software there schedules your appointments fo...

Oh, forget it.

personally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499844)

I have the mental capacity to decide for myself what to do when.

Unless you have a million contacts and meetings, in which case you need a secretary, maybe you just need to train your brain a bit.

Mentor with Voice (3, Funny)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (2, Interesting)

brw12 (763380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500549)

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 unzip, no install necessary) is at http://www.mekhaye.net/webdev/prioritexter.zip [mekhaye.net] . I made it for *nix with php/mysql but I imagine other platforms would handle it ok.

It should be considered gamma, or delta, or something short of beta. please give me feedback.

Re:my own project (1)

mvdw (613057) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500996)

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?

Re:my own project (1)

brw12 (763380) | more than 9 years ago | (#11504813)

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 you when I put the beta on sourceforge.

LifeBalance (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11505527)

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.

WebCalendar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11508397)

I run this https with php and mysql. Works really nice. I even have it text message me 15 min for a schedule appt. Highly recommend it. Super easy to install and really fast.

http://www.k5n.us/webcalendar.php

What are you *actually* asking for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11519353)

"Having used a Psion Revo for a few years now ... it actually works quite well. With my Psion dying on me..."

Erm, maybe buy another Revo [expansys.com] ? If that's too much, grab one from eBay!

"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."

Erm (again), Mentor *is* closed-source payware!!!!

"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?"

Mentor [wulisoft.com] are still in business, you like the software and are prepared to pay for it and you could buy a replacement Revo if your existing one kicks the bucket... I don't see the problem here. If you really want an open-source solution, surely you could take the closest fit software and then customise it, failing that *pay* a programmer to do it for you!

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