Sixteen years or so ago I was sitting in an office on the outskirts of Cambridge being shown an animated picture of a dog on a computer screen.
The dog ran around a visual representation of the web and found as much information as it possibly could, it was if you like, more ‘Dougal’ – the dog from ‘the Magic Roundabout’ – a children’s animation series from the 1960s, rather than Google, the grown up search engine.
The man showing me the technology was Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy, prophet of Bayesian mathematics and now – post the controversial sale of Autonomy to HP – one of the UK’s richest technillionairres.
The thing about the future, said Lynch, was that you had to be able to put all of the information that you want into one file where it can all be accessed no matter what format it is in.
Lynch was right. It was the principle that Automony was based on, and in stages, it has become adapted by just about everyone.
Oddly, though in one area, the todo list, it seems to be a principle that has slipped past everyone.
Try finding some software that can simply pull together everything that you want to do, that does not involve inputting endless amounts of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) fields and does not end up treating you like some brow beating, patronising and tyrannical oaf.
There are not many about.
One of the best is Swift To-Do List. It allows you to pull in everything that you want very quickly, you can easily set up todo list items and it has a refreshing and very simple interface.
Uncannily, an interface that seems to reflect the charm of Mike Lynch’s little dog, there is a touching naiveté about the icons that lacks the polished power dressing of other software graphical user interfaces (GUI) that want to impress upon you that they can do, because they look the part.
The Swift ToDo list is almost too honest, it looks simple and is simple and because of that it’s very powerful because it means you can actually do a lot with it.
Just dragging an email into the list creates a task, and you can drag supplemental files into that task from anywhere. Set up a few reminders to tell you when you need stuff done by, the thing is a joy.
Though one thing to watch for in the the future will have to be the ability to sync with other systems, at some point if this can be brought into Microsoft or Google so that Swift’s fields can be replicated in more conventional software then its power really becomes quite something.
Perhaps, they are waiting below the horizon.
Out of devilment I tried it out against some of the more sophisticated CRM systems made by by more established names and found it refreshingly more responsive, more fun to use and so much less of a chore.
Yes it’s a todo list and not a CRM system, although in reality that is really what a CRM system is – it is something that tells you what to do at a certain time and pulls in the relevant information when you need it, but that’s what the Swift system did for much less of a cost than some of the more magnificent CRM systems.
And as opposed to systems like Act, and Sugar CRM which, in my experience are often a hostage to operating system changes, Swift currently has a touching homeliness about its support.
If you have an issue Jiri Novotny, the man who wrote the program often replies to you and tells you whether he is going to sort it out, or that he does not think that it is something that needs doing.
He can also send you emails with chippy little exhortations whose logic is hard to fault , such as: “have a great day, Peter. There is no reason why you shouldn’t! ;)” which are fine so long as you are not having a very bad day, but can be annoying if you are.
Which brings me to my one other gripe about the system, Jiri, if I have not done something and I have not taken it off my list then I think that the system should start to ask me whether I am going to it or if it’s no longer important, but I do think it should pester me a bit more and not let me turn it off like an irritating alarm clock so that I can then go back to sleep
To download a trial of Swift ToDo List click on the link below.