Action Pad - Blue by Behance

Like a lot of tech folks, I’ve been struggling to find the perfect todo software for about 20 years now. And I’ve tried countless (50?) different tools over that time period.

I’ve obviously had successes along the way, but of course the perfect solution forever eludes me.

What I am doing right _now_ is:

  • When I arrive at the office in the morning, before checking email, I tear off a fresh Action Sheet and write down the important things I feel I need to do that day.
  • I do this off the top of my head and then I go to yesterday’s pad and re-write any unfinished things.
  • For lightweight reminders and notes I use Simplenote and the Windows client ResophNotes.
  • This method makes it hard to accumulate todo cruft that is the lead balloon of any task system. You fill up the list with things like “normalize log settings across web servers” which is probably a good idea, but an extremely low priority item. When I force myself to hand write the task out, I usually either do it right then or let it drift away into the recycle bin.
  • For RecordSetter related things that our whole team has to do, we’ve converted to Trello a Kanban based system that gives us a lot of flexibility.
  • I still like MS Project for bigger projects and for that I’m using Smartsheet.

They let me use the computer all day instead of going to class.

Scott’s post reminded me of a story that was critical to my computer education as well.

The year would have been 1986 and I was in 5th grade (same age as Scott!). We had moved from Southern California to New York City and I was attending PS 158. New York schools have improved tremendously since then and although we lived in a good neighborhood, the school was still not very good.

Towards the end of the semester I was missing school quite a bit. I was not learning at a pace that I could stay engaged and with around 33 kids per class and only one teacher, there was not a lot they could do for me.

One day my parents and I were called in to discuss the situation. I remember them taking it quite seriously, because I was bumping up against the limit to be considered delinquent and that would be a problem for everyone.

The school had just recently installed a computer lab and staffed it with a very young teacher who didn’t really know that much about them.

Details of the meeting are hazy, but someone suggested that I spend my school day in the lab rather than in the regular classroom. And that’s how I finished out the year.


Cloudfront SSL and IIS 7.5 issue

I mentioned in another post that we were using Cloudfront for our static assets. One gotcha I ran into and need to put out there on the ‘net was a problem with SSL.

The fix is to run regedit.exe and configure it thusly:



osx 10.7.3 and Active Directory

I have a Mac at the office that I use as my sit-down computer (see Pomodoro post, two posts down) and it was running 10.6 and I wanted to try a couple of apps that required 10.7 (Lion) so I went ahead and upgraded.

The problem was that the user account I was using was tied to Active Directory and 10.7 has broken Active Directory integration for tons of people out there and I was included.

I spent a long time trying various things to get it fixed, but I ended up having to download a free tool here: 

I needed to start a fresh user profile and I have no idea if there are unforeseen downsides of using this tool, but it is working again and I’m back up and running.

Also, let me say that nothing is quite as frustrating as troubleshooting problems on unfamiliar operating systems.