Wunderlist

I’ve always been a list maker which, over the years, has developed into a fascination with productivity apps. Right now I have the Mac’s Reminders app which I use for personal reminders and shopping lists and Wunderlist [iOS, Android, Win, Mac and Web] for managing my writing, research, presentation and society projects. This app found the sweet spot between simplicity and functionality making it something I use regularly. And it’s free. And it’s installed on every computer and mobile device I own so it’s always with me.

There are a number of things that make Wunderlist especially useful. My favorite is the ability to forward an email to Wunderlist. I just forward it to me@wunderlist.com and Wunderlist takes care of the rest. I also find it useful for keeping up with research and writing ideas. It’s always handy when I get an idea for an article or think of a new place to look for information on an ancestor.

Wunderlist Desktop on Mac

The Wunderlist desktop on a Mac.

Here you see Wunderlist on a Mac desktop. The left sidebar contains my lists and, once I click/tap to select a list, the tasks associated with it appears in the main area. At the bottom of the task area are several function icons. The selected task is displayed on the right. In this case, it is an email message I forwarded to Wunderlist to become a task. The content of the message appears in the notes area.

The key to everything is my Wunderlist online account. When I add or update an item in whichever app I’m using at the time, it is synched with the online account. Not only does this make that information available to all my other systems/devices, I can also share a list with other Wunderlist users. Family members can’t escape me when it comes time to organize family events.

Wunderlist sub-tasks

Sub-tasks in Wunderlist

I’ve found the lists and sub-lists features very useful for writing and research ideas. Here you are looking at my list of topics ideas for the Gazette. The list contains broad categories (shown in the center panel) and each category has its own sub-list of more specific topics. Not only does it help me brainstorm ideas, it provides a quick look at what’s already been written. The options in the right sidebar let me set deadlines and reminders for each task, add more detailed notes about it and even attach files. The checkbox identifies the task as completed and the star shows it as a priority task. Lists and tasks can be printed, shared with other Wunderlist users or published publicly.

Wunderlist collaboration features.

Wunderlist collaboration features.

Combine the list-sharing functionality with free apps for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android devices and I have an impressive collaboration tool. The example above shows how a society could use it to better manage board meetings. Although this example sends board members to Evernote for read-ahead material, Wunderlist does support attaching files to list items. And, as you can see here, it’s easy to post comments in the list item.

Wunderlist offers free, premium and business accounts. The premium account is $4.99/month or $49.99/year and offers unlimited sub-tasks, task assignments and file attachments.

Wunderlist is an amazing app and it’s become a very important tool in my digital research toolbox. Want to learn more? Stop by the Wunderlist channel at YouTube to see it in action.

iCloud Drops Prices

WoooHooo! I just got notice that my iCloud subscription was increased from 15GB to 20GB and that the annual price dropped from $20/year to $10.99/year. Although as a current user I can stay with my annual plan, the iCloud service is moving to a monthly plan and the pricing looks quite affordable. For example, 200GB is going for $3.99/month.

The upcoming iOS8 release followed by OS X Yosemite’s release will increase the ways my desktop and devices work with each other. I’m sure the extra storage will come in handy.

From the Archives: Miss Kate’s Autograph Book

I created this little book to preserve and share Mary Katherine Link’s autograph book which I inherited from my grandmother. Miss Kate was her aunt – her father’s sister. My grandmother was only 5 years old when her mother died and Miss Kate stepped in to take on the task of surrogate mother to four young children. She did this while continuing to teach school. She was quite an amazing lady.

Miss Kate’s autographs date from the late 19th century, showing the affection and respect she she enjoyed in her community. The book’s binding is disintegrating and many of the pages are now loose. Before packing it away in an archival box to protect it from further deterioration, I scanned the book with plans to create a booklet from the images so any interested family members could have a copy of their own.

The book was created using OpenOffice.org’s Writer app and Photoshop Elements. My images were cropped and re-sized, then inserted into the booklet document. I added a short biography written by my cousin, Nancy Murphy, and the only photo I have of Miss Kate. After adding a cover and exporting everything to PDF, I uploaded the result to Lulu. Not only does Lulu offer both print and download options, they provide the storefront allowing family and friends to order/download their copies without having to go through me first. By offering the print version at cost, I could provide the download version for free.

Several people downloaded copies and I had a few printed to distribute to older family members and the historical society where Miss Kate lived, but after a few months there was no further activity for this booklet on the Lulu site. In 2009 I moved the document to the Scribd platform. While it doesn’t offer a print option (except to print on your local printer), it’s much easier for search engines to find – thanks to the ability to tag the document with keywords that facilitate searching.

We all have family ephemera in our collections. Consider using them to build e-pubs to share with family members and to publish online at platforms like Scribd which could help attract research cousins. Miss Kate’s autograph book won’t change the world, but to descendants of the Link family and the Tennessee community where they lived it helps bring their ancestors to life. If that’s not enough reason, you’ll also be creating an “off-site” archive of your family treasures should disaster strike at home.