REXwireless Must Have BlackBerry Applications

Stinsonddog's ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix Review



WOW, it's not often when I find a Wow program for the BB, but these two programs from REXwireless are just that. I have not seen a development team like this, and I have had enough interaction with them to understand that they are focused on the customer, you, yes you, and are listening to your concerns. With these programs, I am in shortcut heaven. These programs are so packed with shortcuts that they are down to one open Hot*Key, and well you just don't use them all up so I suspect they will hold on to that precious one for a quite a while. Even a shortcut from home screen was implemented for QWERTY units. "I" is for IdeaMatrix and "X" is for ToDoMatrix. Assigning a Blackberry convenience key is essential, as programs that can't be quickly accessed aren't used nearly as much. While the REXwireless guys are great, I did have three items that I felt slowed the program down or made it less user friendly. To show you how responsive they are, they have made adjustments for two of them already. You will need a little familiarity before you can see why so read on, but I will summarize them here. The two items added were the ability to jump to a drawer or folder, and an alpha sort. The remaining item is the lack of the ability to use ALT-scroll to edit from the detailed to-do screen. 

Let's first explore what these programs are and the top ten reasons people use the programs:

ToDoMatrix

We all know that the task management capabilities of the Blackberry are pretty limited. ToDoMatrix is a to-do / task management / project management application that can manage an unlimited number of personal and delegated tasks, organized by project drawers and folder, cross indexed by time and assigned delegate, enabling you to stay on top of deadlines with highly-flexible reminder and snooze alert functions, and sort tasks by a wide-variety of fields, priorities, and dates.. Note a few key terms here unlimited, delegated, and cross-indexed. That's a lot of power packed into this program since you can assign your todo's to anyone in your address book and you can sort and find all of your todo's with ease. ToDoMatrix is ideal for the professional who juggles multiple projects simultaneously, both at work and home. Centralize your to-do management on your BlackBerry, and whether you are in the office or not, your projects and priorities are always well organized and with you (until your spouse gives you the "look."). Note that both ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix are memory stay resident programs, meaning that it must be running otherwise all Always*Safe backups, synchronization, and alerts will cease working on the unit. There is a menu choice to stop the ToDoMatrix software. 

Top Features 

  1. Unlimited categories and unlimited project folders and individual to-do's.

  2. Screen aware Hot*Keys

  3. Quick and easy to use Super*Snooze system

  4. Three date in advance reminder alerts per task with recurrence options

  5. Inject tasks from BlackBerry standard applications like E-Mail, Phone Log, Browser, and four other points.

  6. Delegate task to team members

  7. Advanced priority and status fields - fits popular time-management systems

  8. Multiple, flexible sorting views / schemes

  9. Always*Safe backup to web with AES-256 encryption on the servers 

  10. REXdesktop.com worldwide access (optional but cheap at $24 / year - 46 cents a week)

  11. TAS Synchronization with the BlackBerry tasks applet, and therefore Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, PocketMac, and onboard programs that use task data such as PocketDay.

  12. Optimizations for Getting Things Done and Franklin Covey time management

IdeaMatrix

IdeaMatrix is an unlimited, free-form idea and notes management database and features REXwireless's quick free-form Indy*Search that allows you to find information quickly and efficiently, even years later.. Keeping track of years of many ideas, good and bad thoughts, and Blackberry pearls of wisdom requires much more flexibility and control than the 'MemoPad' applet that comes standard with the BlackBerry. One of the key distinctions between IdeaMatrix and ToDoMatrix is that you can keep large freeform notes in each record (ToDoMatrix using TAS sync winds up limited to approximately 4096 characters per task), and you can use a password to hide them from plain sight (a full note encryption option is being considered as a future enhancement). 

As with ToDoMatrix, you get unlimited categories, folders and notes, plus reminder alerts with snooze, and screen aware Hot*Keys. You have a variety of sort options too. With always*Safe backup to web with AES-256 encryption, and the REXdesktop.com worldwide access option, you can update your handheld from any internet PC or Mac and be sure that your data is safe. IdeaMatrix's user interface is similar to ToDoMatrix, REXwireless' to-do / task management product, but the underlying database is specially configured to accommodate large note sizes and enable efficient free form search of this dataset. 

IdeaMatrix or ToDoMatrix or both 

IdeaMatrix can handle really large fields. ToDoMatrix has an effective field limit of 4,000 characters while IdeaMatrix does not. The main differences are ToDoMatrix is preconfigured with certain capabilities not in IdeaMatrix. In ToDoMatrix, you can delegate as a task, set a delegation due date, and assign a status, priority and due date. You also have enhanced sorting by field, and three different alerts per item and recurring alerts. Thus there is more power to force your follow ups in ToDoMatrix. Each of these products is $59.95 each or $99.95 bundled. The REXdesktop below is an additional $24 per year (as of this writing (REXwireless grandfathers a person's price so you know what you are signing up for up front) which is quite reasonable. REXdesktop is essential if you want full keyboard and screen access to your data but REXwireless offers complimentary data backup over wireless with Always*Safe, even if you don't purchase the REXdesktop optional service. Does it make sense to try one before you try the other? Maybe so, just focus on the field size limitations and the follow up features of ToDoMatrix. 

REXdesktop Web Access System

REXdesktop is a web-based browser system that enables secure access to your REXwireless BlackBerry-resident databases and wireless synchronization using a broadband-connected Windows PC, Apple Mac, or Linux desktop. Data is first encrypted and then wirelessly backed-up to the REXdesktop.com customer portal. Data is safe and recoverable, even if the BlackBerry thrown out of the car by your angry spouse. Customers that opt for our web-desktop service can update their datasets from any internet PC (Microsoft IE, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome browser and broadband recommended - Safari is not supported at this time). One tip - I found out that the efficiency of browser code matters a lot - to my surprise, Google Chrome is easily 4 X (yes 4 times) faster than Microsoft IE on REXdesktop. When I asked the REXwireless guys about it, they said it is simply that Chrome was designed without a lot of processor intensive extras.

REXwireless is currently rewriting their first version of REXdesktop. It turns out that the platform that they chose the first time around is too limited in flexibility. They are targeted the second coming of REXdesktop for late 2009 or early 2010 and it will have a Google gmail feel to it with more speed and flexibility.

Here's the WOW

In 2007, they released a new version of these products called the "SI-1" release. SI stands for 'system integration" and SI-1 is the first of three defined SI projects that the REXwireless guys, as they call themselves have in store for us. SI-1's goal is to convert any blip that happens in one's life into a reference item, a task to accomplish, a goal to remember, without re-typing or cumbersome cut-navigate-paste. The REXwireless guys see the BlackBerry as a revolutionary and enabling tool for this approach because it is always with you, and when configured properly, all one's communications flow through it, making it the perfect collection point for this real-time-life-integration approach - PC's are deskbound and therefore, quite limiting. 

Specifically, the SI-1 release adds click-menu based injection of work, tasks, and reference information from wherever it is found on the BlackBerry into ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix. Seven data injection points from standard RIM BlackBerry applications / API's have been provided in the SI-1 releases of ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix:
1) E-Mail Inbox / Outbox
2) Phone / Phonelog
3) Address Book
4) BlackBerry browser
5) Tasks applet
6) Memopad
7) Calendar 

Starting with this release, a BlackBerry professional using ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix can schedule or save information for later follow-up with a couple of easy clicks, setting alerts and other elements, and then return instantly back to the point of origin.

The second important piece of the SI-1 release is that they enhanced ToDoMatrix's and IdeaMatrix's ability to trigger events such as instantly dialing a phone number, sending an email, or visiting a URL with a browser from the view-mode screens. View mode is when you are looking at an individual record. They also added a number of smaller enhancements, remapped the [D] Hot*Key to be an instant done/notstarted toggle in ToDoMatrix. I kind of twisted there arms pointing out that every current BlackBerry unit has a dedicated DEL key and our mapping of the D-Hot*Key as delete was redundant. 

So here is the SI-1 release in action:

1) Start in BlackBerry E-Mail inbox                         
2) Menu click and choose "Inject into IdeaMatrix" (or ToDoMatrix) -
3) Select what information you want to inject 
4) Select a destination folder, keeping yourself well-organized -


5) Add any alert option or simply save it 


6) Instantly return back to your BlackBerry E-Mail inbox

And notice the implementation of the phone and email live links. You can tell as they are underlined, and pop up in the menus.

 
 


2008 Major Enhancements

In 2008, ToDoMatrix introduced the concept of user-definable dimensions used to group tasks in different ways. Up to this point, tasks for the most part landed in project folders but could be also seen in a cross-reference that was either date-based or delegate-based. For example, ToDoMatrix has a view for items that were past due. You could also look at items that you had assigned to one of your direct reports, even if those items were on ten different projects and therefore resided in ten different folders. Time and delegate were alternate dimensions to view the data differently.

Four new user definable dimensions were added in 2008. A person can use these for anything they want. For example, a task might be related to a specific order number or customer number. Go to ToDoMatrix profile, activate one of the dimensions, and a drawer is presented on the main cabinet screen. Then, add folders to include your data set, in this case customer number and name. From that moment forward, when editting a to-do, you can click on the dimension field now titled customer number and select from the folder values you created. Later, it is simple to go to that folder to view all the tasks cross-referenced according to customer number.

Two of the most popular time management systems are Getting Things Done by David Allen (davidco.com) and Franklin Covey (franklincovey.com). To better accommodate those devoted to one or both of these systems, the REXwireless guys pre-configured dimensions 4, 5, and 6 to simplify using ToDoMatrix with them. You can rename and reuse the dimensions in different ways, or use them for the GTD and Covey methods if you want.

Sounding a little complicated? Well, task management is one of those topics that leads to many theories as to how to do it right. What I like about ToDoMatrix is that you can use it as simply or as extensively as you choose. The REXwireless guys even wrote a high-level white paper that lays out their recommendations. Its a PDF document that is well worth printing out and reading on your next flight - http://rexwireless.com/whitepaper


2009 Major Enhancements

In 2009, the second major phase of the SI project came out, TAS synchronization. TAS stands for "task applet synchronization" - what it does is integrate ToDoMatrix with the native BlackBerry tasks application. This opens up a broad world of syncing inside and beyond the BlackBerry. On the inside, other programs such as the popular "today view" programs can now access and display tasks that are from ToDoMatrix. On the beyond the BlackBerry side, many applications such as Microsoft Outlook / Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, and Novell Groupwise sync with BlackBerry tasks - so TAS now enables the syncing of ToDoMatrix with any of these programs.

TAS works very well. It is near real time on the BlackBerry. Syncing beyond the BlackBerry is determined by how a person syncs to their computer. Many will have syncing taken care of wirelessly by their company's BES server, while others must tether via the USB wire and Desktop Manager. REX adds a footer in the notes of each task which is how they maintain the extra information ToDoMatrix needs that is not accommodated by the BlackBerry tasks applet. What's cool about it is that it is human readable and editable if you are an adventurous type.

There is still one significant missing feature - namely syncing of categories. The current version of ToDoMatrix TAS does not sync categories, but the REXguys are actively working on a category mapping module which they promise will be flexible enough for people that use categories in a single dimension (for example, my categories are always projects) or in multiple dimensions (for example, a person that uses categories for projects and people). 

Without category syncing, new items added require one additional step. New items arrive into ToDoMatrix in the system unfiled folder. The user must them press the M hotkey to move them into the appropriate project folders. Not too bad but a small pain nonetheless.


ToDoMatrix Details 

ToDoMatrix is organized in a familiar file Cabinet / Drawer / Folder tree structure (see below). There is only one Cabinet, and it is always named "All." The All level can only contain Drawers. A user can view the All Cabinet icon by scrolling to the top of the Cabinet. Drawers are the next level down, depicted as one level to the right of the All level, and can only contain Folders. Drawers cannot contain individual notes and cannot contain another Drawer. Normal Folders are where ToDoMatrix users create / edit /and delete tasks. All tasks must be placed inside a Folder. Tasks cannot be placed at any other level of the Folder tree. The Cabinet can also contain a number of special "View" Folders and system Folders. Each task only has one home folder (as everyone should have a home), which is the normal folder it is assigned to. When a note appears in a View Folder (for e.g., Views /Due Today), this is, in essence, a cross-dimensional view across the entire database. The notes are not really resident in the View because they are home where they belong, but they can be seen in other Views. ToDoMatrix Drawers are designed to serve as a cross-folder view of the Folders contained within the Drawer. Position the cursor on a Drawer, and then select View To-Do's on the menu. All the tasks in all the Folders within the Drawer are displayed. Note that by selecting View To-Do's on the menu, while the cursor is on the All Cabinet level icon will result in a view with all of your wonderful to-do's displayed. A great shortcut is that you can hit "J" to bring up a pop and jump to a drawer or folder by typing the folder name from the main screen. If you have many more than 10 drawers or folders it gets hard to locate them, or time consuming at the least, so this new feature. Below is what it looks like when I start to type "Blackberry." Since I have only one folder that starts with "B" it jumps right to it.


First Things First - Sound Familiar

Create Drawers (e.g., "Work," "Family," "Shopping" etc), and Folders and then add Tasks. Easy enough, but then you should really spend some time leaning the Hot*Keys. While shortcuts abound in this program, many tasks must in fact be done with the Trackwheel or Pearl. So in addition to learning the Hot*Keys, you should check out each of the menu items. The menus are context sensitive so it will matter if you on the Cabinet, Drawer, Folder or Task. The shots below outline the menus for each of them. 

The Hot*Keys are easier to master as the most important ones are shown at the bottom of the screen. There are also context sensitive like the menus. If you can't remember a Hot Key, just push H and voila, you have a list of them all. 

QWERTY Hot*Keys

 

 


Suretype Hot*Keys

 


Basic Views

I always find it helpful to look at the basic views and menus to understand what a program is about. The screen shot above shows the All cabinet, the drawers, and folders. Below are the Summary of Tasks you see when you open a folder and then open a specific task. 

Summary of Tasks - list of tasks in a Folder

 Detailed Task View

Below are the menu choices for the various levels. Study these to get an idea of your options. Sorry for the busy-ness, please just focus on the menus.

Cabinet Level Menu Items

 
Drawer Level Menu Items

Folder Level Menu Items 


Summary View Menu Items


Detail View Menu Items

 
Creating a To-Do

A new to-do can be created from the Cabinet Tree View if your cursor is on top of a Folder, the Summary View of the contents of a Folder, or the Detailed View of a specific to-do. You cannot create a to-do if ToDoMatrix cannot determine what Folder it should be created within -therefore, the create to-do is unavailable if the cursor rests on All or on a Drawer. Of course the only creation method I would ever subscribe to the [C]reate Hot*Key. When you push it you will find yourself in the Edit View where all data elements can be modified. You can type in the task, then scroll up to each data elements in the upper "Elements" section to adjust elements of the task such as due date, delegate status and so forth. After completing data entry, the record must be saved when exiting the Edit View which means using the menu. 

Notice the light blue area in the detail view. As you scroll over various items the detail is provided in the light blue area.

 Due Date


Delegate 


Delegate's Due Date


Priority - normal


Alert 1


Status - Not Started


Editing and Deleting

Editing and deleting are a breeze with the Hot*Keys. You guessed it "E" for edit. Use the delete key for a deletion. There is no trashcan logic so be sure before you zap it. Maybe it is easier to use the "D" Hot*Key and mark it done, and then purge the deleted items later. Note one major gripe that I have is that you can't change the options from the Detailed To Do screen using ALT-scroll like most other applications. You have to hit E and then you get into the To-Do Edit screen and have various edit options. Once you get in Edit View, you can use the ALT to bring up the pop ups shown below, or use the menu will bring up a choice of Change Option. The only exception is for the Alert field where ALT brings up the Quick*Date below, or the Menu brings up the Speed*Date menu shown below in another section. In my opinion, this is too time consuming. Apparently this is a major code change so I don't expect this to change very soon. 

Detailed To Do View


Edit View


Due Date Pop Up


Priority Pop Up


Status Pop Up


Set Alert Pop Up


As an alternative to the Set Alert Pop up if you call up the menu you will see the choices described below under Speed*Date Menu.

Cool Features - Delegation

ToDoMatrix allows you to create and track tasks that are delegated to others. You can then easily remember who is working on which to-do's at any time. To be assigned as a delegate, a person must first be a) in your address book with an e-mail address for this person. Before you can email a task to a delegate, you must import their information from the address book, and this will add the contact's information is added to the ToDoMatrix database, and create a cross dimensional folder for tasks assigned to the contact in the Delegate's Drawer. To import a delegate, create a to-do or edit a to-do record. Scroll to the delegate field, and click to "Add from Contacts". Your contacts list will be displayed from your BlackBerry address book. Find the right person, and then click on "Email _PersonsName." Yes, it should say "import," but the BlackBerry contacts program does not let REXwireless rename this menu so you must select "Email." It will not email the person but rather retrieve the information for ToDoMatrix. Once a delegate has been imported, tasks can be assigned to them using the "Choose Delegate" menu choice available on the menu when the cursor is positioned on the delegate field in edit mode. Here is more WoW, as when the record is saved; a dialog box asks you if you would like to e-mail the task assignment to the delegate. If you select yes, you are given the opportunity to modify the task content or put a cover note on the task before sending it. After it is sent via e-mail, the outgoing mail can be found in the messages list. I hide my sent messages, but use a shortcut ALT-T to view them. In ToDoMatrix, you can view all the tasks assigned to any delegate by navigating in the Cabinet View to the delegate Drawer. These are a cross-folder "Views" as each task record belongs to its home Folder. Viewing tasks in the Delegates View is especially useful if you are on the telephone with the person. You can easily remember all the items a person is working on and ask them about progress. While you are talking on the BlackBerry, use a Bluetooth headset and use the ALT-ESC key move from the phone and into ToDoMatrix. As explained under the emailing section, the Delegate Folder Views allow you to email one or all tasks assigned to a delegate to anyone in their BlackBerry address book. There are different email formats including the "Delegate" Email format, that uses the Delegate Due field as the due date instead on the actual Due Date on the task. Each task record stores an assigned delegate and a delegate due date. Thus you can assign a date to the delegate that is different than the actual due date of the overall task, buying some time as a buffer in case things do not go as planned. Planning around Murphy's at its best.



Cool Features - Emailing To Do Lists

I just emailed to my wife and sister the list of things my kid rattled of for her birthday. Pretty cool feature. 

To-Do's can either be e-mailed individually or all the to-do's in a Folder (that's what I did) can be emailed as a group to any SINGLE contact with an e-mail address in your BlackBerry address book. Note that you can't send it to multiple contacts unless you have a group set up within your Blackberry address book. With your cursor positioned on a to-do, use the menu to select "Send to..." to e-mail the to-do to a recipient. If you select Email To-Do's, all the tasks in the Folder or View that you are within will be sent. You will have an opportunity to select the format to send and preview before a task is sent. Formats include just sending the text of the to-do "Just Text", "Simple," "For A Delegate," "Detailed," and "comma separated fields." Screenshots of these are shown below so you can become familiar with the various levels of detail and functionality of the various send options. You will have the ability to preview your email and the option to type a cover note or make changes to the email before sending it. Once a note is sent, you will find the sent record in your e-mail box on your handheld.

Email Format Choice Pop Up



Email Format Choice Pop Up (last item)


Email Just Text


Email Simple


Email For a Delegate


Email Detailed


Email Comma Delimited


Advanced Views

While each task has one normal home Folder that it belongs within, there are also cross dimensional views to let you see across multiple Folders. For example, from the menu when you have a Drawer selected, you can see all the todo's contained in all the Folders associated with the Drawer. The system also provides some predefined cross dimensional views, including: 

View / PastDue - Hot*Key [W]
Views / Due Today - Hot*Key [A]
View / Alerts
View / Last Viewed - Hot*Key [L]

Views / Last Viewed is one of the most powerful and useful alternate Views of task data within ToDoMatrix. Your probably are usually working with a certain set of tasks that can often be in a number of different Folders. ToDoMatrix stores a last-accessed data and saves it with each record. This allows for a sort the data based on the last notes you have viewed. The [L]ast Hot*Key is provided to allow you to zoom directly to the Last Viewed Folder. Once inside the Folder, pressing the [L]ast Hot*Key will cycle through a detailed view of the notes you have been working on in order starting from the most recent one. At any time, you can decide to edit a task or change its status. Views / Alerts offers a cross ToDoMatrix view of all tasks with upcoming alerts set. You can review and possibly change alert times to accommodate new events that they may have to attend. Views / Found stores the result of the last Find command. This view is cleared when a new find is executed. You can return to the Folder without having to execute the search again.


Setting Dates or (getting dates if this has become your little black book)

ToDoMatrix allows up to three individual Alerts to be associated with any one to-do item. You can set up multiple reminders for a given to-do, and that is powerful. If you have a to-do like this one "get Lauren to go to the dance ", you could set up the Alert 1 to remind you three weeks before the dance to ask her, Alert 2 to remind you 24 hours before, so you can remember to get flowers, and the final one on so that you are on time. ToDoMatrix also allows you to set Due Dates as well as Delegate Due Dates. All date fields share common routines for setting the date.

There are five ways to set alerts.  These include:
1. Quick*Date (all date fields + Super*Snooze)
2. Calendar*Date (all date fields)
3. Speed*Date Menu (all date fields)
4. Recurring Date (alerts only) 
5. Simple Date (Standard BlackBerry Date control method)

You must be in edit mode, and position the cursor on a date field and then click to access the menu. 

Quick*Date

The Quick*Date set function offers a matrix of commonly used times calculated in relation to current time on the BlackBerry. Simply scroll to a desired time and select it. The calculated time is displayed in the lower left section, so you has confirmation of the time and date the alert will be created. You have to save your record for the Alert to be properly registered. The Quick*Date routine is also shared by the Super*Snooze function.

Calendar*Date

The Calendar*Date function offers a dual calendar view that allows you to easily set an alert in the future by navigating. After positioning the cursor in edit mode on the date field that you want to set, click to bring up the menu. Then, select Set Date/Time. A dual calendar view appears on your screen. Scroll to the desired day. A regular scroll moves one day at a time. If the ALT key is held while scrolling, the cursor will move one week at a time, helping advance the cursor quickly. Click to select the desired day. The cursor will then jump down to the lower left-hand "hours" section. Scroll to the desired hour. Click to select it. At the bottom of the screen, you will see the date you are building as your select components of it. The cursor will jump to the "minutes" section. Scroll to the desired minutes and click to select it. The date field will now be populated with the desired time. You now have to save your changes. 
Speed*Date Menu

When the cursor is positioned on a date field in edit mode, use the menu to see a number of easy choices relative to the current day. Scroll to the choice you would like and select it. The date field will be populated. If a date or time that you want is not available, use one of the other date set methods.

 

Recurring Date

Recurring dates are supported for alerts. Choose the "set recurring" menu option while on an alert field in edit mode. Fields are provided to

set:

. the starting date (first alert),
. a repeat every X (1-24) field,
. a frequency field (minutes, hours, weeks, months, years) and
. an end date for the recurring alert.

A recurring alert date is signified with an [r] after the alert date in the edit view and a circle around the alarm icon in the summary view.

 

Alerts and SuperSnoozer

Another power features is the Super*Snoozer which enables you to delay and reset an alert after an alert has gone off. The snoozer is designed to allow you to reset an alert with numerous popular and flexible choices yet offer one-click speed. When an alert is triggered, a dialog is displayed. 


Choices include:

1. Dismiss, which clears the alert,
2. Snooze, which allows you to delay and reset the alert,
3. Open, which allows you to edit the to-do record in full edit mode, and
4. Change status, which enables a user to just change the status flag.

By choosing "Snooze," the familiar Quick*Date routine is accessed, allowing you to do a fast scroll and one click to set the desired snooze interval. If change status is selected, you can update the status quickly, and then the alert is dismissed by this action. If you want to change status and add a new alert, use the "open" button in the alert dialog box.

Completed Tasks

When a task is marked with a status of completed, ToDoMatrix repaints the item grey instead of the normal light blue so that, in the Summary View, it is easy to spot completed tasks. ToDoMatrix keeps track of whether or not you want to hide or display the completed tasks in each folder or Drawer individually. That's very helpful. There is a menu option available in the folder view that toggles this hide or show completed items functionality. If you don't have the memory, you will need to purge completed items after they are no longer required, so that the ToDoMatrix database does not use more BlackBerry resources than needed. ToDoMatrix allows you to e-mail reports of completed items to yourself or others. This action, in essence, archives off a record of completed items before purging completed items in the current folder or view. A number of e-mail formats are offered. After successful receiving the email with the completed items, it is then safe to purge the records in a view. You can purge all completed items in one command by working with the All Cabinet view.


Sorting Tasks

All Sorts Except Natural Sort

ToDoMatrix provides a number of sorts of any folder being viewed. These can be accessed using the menu or by using the[S]ort Hot*Key. Most of the sorts are self explanatory, and an alpha sort has been added, both ascending and descending. Remember that birthday list above. I had no reason to sort it other than by alpha. Same would probably be true of a grocery list, and various other very ordinary lists. The sort method on any folder is stored and when you access the folder, it will remember the previous sort until it is changed. A short indicator of the sort method is displayed in the Summary View of a folder in the upper right-hand corner. Screen shots below show you the choices. 

Sort Choices


Sort Choices


Sort Choices



Sort Choices


Natural Sort - Using Grab-Drag-Drop

ToDoMatrix offers the ability to use the [G]rab Hot*key to sort a Summary View manually when the sort method is set to Natural or "Nat" in the upper right-hand corner. While in Summary View, position your cursor over the task you want to move. Use the [G] Hot*Key to grab the task. It will turn pink while grabbed. Scroll to move it to the desired position. Press [G] to drop it into place. ToDoMatrix allows you to use the [T]op and B]ottom Hot*Keys while an item is pink and being dragged to zoom to the top or bottom on the folder's list. 


Sorting Folders and Drawers with Grab-Drag-Drop

The only method available to sort folders inside a Drawer, or to sort Drawers inside the All Cabinet, is manual grab-drag-drop using the [G]rab Hot*Key while the cursor is positioned over a folder or Drawer in the Cabinet View. While in Cabinet View, position your cursor over the Folder or Drawer that you want to move. Use the [G] Hot*Key to grab the folder or Drawer. The grabbed folder or Drawer turns pink. Scroll to move it to the desired position. Press [G] to drop it into place. The pink grab with the scroll to move is shown below.

 

Expanding and Collapsing the Folders in a Drawer

When you have a large ToDoMatrix database, it is easier to work with if you use the[X] Hot*Key toggle or related Expand and Collapse Menu choices to manage the complexity of the Cabinet View. While in Cabinet View, position your cursor over the Drawer that you want to expand or collapse. Use the [X] Hot*Key to toggle the view or use the menu. It becomes far easier to work with one Drawer open at a time. Certain functions such as Creating a Folder in a Drawer require that ToDoMatrix automatically toggles to the Expanded view. 

Moving Tasks from One Folder to Another

Tasks can be reassigned from one folder to another by using the "Move to Other Folder" menu choice or by using the [M]oveHot*Key while the cursor is positioned on a task. A popover box is displayed with all the Folders in your ToDoMatrix listed in an alphabetic sort. Scroll to the desired destination Folder and click the one you want.


Exporting Task Data

ToDoMatrix allows you to export task data by using the e-mail to-do's menu command. Tasks can be exported from nearly any view. If you wants to export the entire list, click on the All Cabinet Level icon to view all tasks. Then select e-mail to-do's on the menu. A comma-separated option is offered that simplifies the importing of the data into other programs. A common program used for manipulating comma separated file data is Microsoft Excel.

Using the Indy*Search Find Feature

ToDoMatrix offers the ability to free form search all the data in the task field. To access this capability, select Find on the menu or use the [F]ind Hot*Key. The display shows all your tasks as small nuggets. As you begin to type the search string, nuggets representing notes that do not contain the search string disappear, turning black while remaining matches remain blue. This search only looks at information that has been typed into the task field. Other data elements such as folder name are not included in the search. If the search narrows down to one record, the result is immediately displayed. At anytime, you can hit the <enter> key to display the remaining matching tasks in the Views / Found folder. Please note that hitting<enter> with a lot of remaining items may cause a momentary hesitation in the program as it builds the list. The search results that remain in the Views / Found Folder can be e-mailed using the Email To-Do's menu command, if desired. Shown below is the progression of the search as I type the word "Eric" until when the word is complete and no other records match it the record opens. 

 
 
 
 

Wish List for Future Changes 

My list here has changed over the last few years as REXwireless has delivered a number of items on my original wish list.
  • The ability to edit the data in the header of a task without having to open the task for editing. 
  • Add category syncing to the BlackBerry tasks applet / Outlook / Lotus notes TAS sync. (coming soon according to REX) 
  • Having a start date might be helpful for some in terms of scheduling. 
  • When emailing a task, a template would be nice, but it should automatically include the folder name and notice that it is a delegated task in the subject or the first line of the header; you can manually edit it but it would be nice to see it done automatically. 
  • The ability to toggle the yellow header info on and off in the summary view of tasks so you can see lists better.

Understanding Always*Safe Web Backup

REXwireless offers a complimentary automated wireless backup routine, designed to keep your data safe against the loss or damage of a BlackBerry unit. Always*Safe runs in the background. When a unit is idle (typically when it is inserted in a holster with a sleeper magnet), ToDoMatrix checks to see if an data has changed since the last time it backed-up. If there are changes, and there is good cellular signal, changes are synchronized to www.wwrex.com servers. The backed up data is encrypted to a level greater than U.S. Department of Defense standards and then stored on REXwireless' servers. If a unit is lost, stolen or damaged, the data can be recovered into a replacement BlackBerry unit. The backup routine can be manually initiated by using the "Backup to Web" menu choice. This is a good idea before upgrading software with a newer release. A backup status is offered on the same menu. Please note that the counts will not include help files in the System Drawer.

Understanding Restore from Web

The Restore from Web menu choice will delete all current data in ToDoMatrix on your BlackBerry and restore your last sync /backup. This function should not be used unless there is a good reason to do so, as it is important to know how recent your last good sync /backup was. 

REXdesktop Revisited

REXwireless offers a web browser computer desktop interface with ToDoMatrix. REXdesktop is included for a length of time with the purchase of the software. REXdesktop can be accessed after you have activated their BlackBerry-resident ToDoMatrix AND you have completed a "Backup to Web" command. This initializes the REXdesktop data, allowing you to logon to REXdesktop.com with a web browser. The single most important component to understand is the wireless synchronization between REXdesktop and the BlackBerry databases. Multiple items work in concert to synchronize your BlackBerry with REXdesktop. Synchronization is initiated by the BlackBerry end. The primary sync is the application knowing data elements have changed on your BlackBerry resident ToDoMatrix or IdeaMatrix. The application will initiate a sync with the server at first idle / holster of the device. Every sync is bi-directional, with BlackBerry changes going to the server and REXdesktop changes going to the BlackBerry. The next level of sync is the 90 minute "heartbeat" sync: While your BlackBerry is in a good communications online state, the unit will check in with the servers to see if there is anything to be synchronized from the server end, approximately every 90 minutes. You can speed up the process by requesting an immediate sync by using the "Sync Now" menu choice, found on the main menu on the BlackBerry resident ToDoMatrix or IdeaMatrix application menus. Syncs usually take less than 10 seconds and definitely less than a minute, so any Sync that is stuck more than 60 seconds should be aborted and retried. Aborting a sync or backup can take up to 120 seconds- so be patient. Another function called the e-mail trigger sync request (trigger sync) is also at work. When a person logs off their REXdesktop, the server sends messages to the BlackBerry via e-mail, requesting that ToDoMatrix or IdeaMatrix sync themselves the next time the unit is holstered / idle. If this trigger sync is working as designed, you will NOT see the e-mails in the BlackBerry inbox, because ToDoMatrix and IdeaMatrix will see the e-mails intended for them and delete them when they come in so that the BlackBerry owner is not disturbed by extra "e-mail inbox" alerts. However, these messages often do show up in a person's regular PC e-mail inbox so it is a good idea to filter these messages into a trash box if doing so has no effect on your BlackBerry receiving them. A trigger sync is also sent when a person clicks on the "Request Sync" button on REXdesktop. If you are seeing trigger sync messages on your BlackBerry inbox, then this component is not working properly on the unit. In short, if a BlackBerry is not synchronizing, the Sync Now menu choice on the BlackBerry offers the best positive confirmation of whether it is working properly.

Key notes about REXdesktop include the following:

  1. Changing the same record on both REXdesktop and your BlackBerry is not advised. If this occurs, duplicate records will be created due to the modification collision and you will have to resolve the issue manually.
  2. When you log on, the server application "checks out" your databases from secure storage and loads the data into memory.
  3. Every time you change the data, the server saves your data back to secure storage. Data is not stored on your local PC or Mac.
  4. When you log out of REXdesktop (or if your REXdesktop session times out from 90 minutes of inactivity, or if you select the "RequestSync" button on the desktop), an e-mail (trigger sync) is sent to your BlackBerry to trigger the synchronization with your BlackBerry resident databases, usually within a few minutes, but the timing is highly dependent on the cellular signal quality, other networking factors, and whether the BlackBerry is idle/holstered.
  5. When you change data on the BlackBerry, it is sent up to the server quickly, but is once again dependent on cellular signal quality, networking factors, and whether or not the unit is idle/holstered.
  6. The REXdesktop refreshes its data whenever you change folders; therefore, simply click on a folder to refresh and see changes received from the BlackBerry due to a sync.
  7. Just in case it is not obvious, your BlackBerry must be idle/holstered to be auto-synchronized from REXdesktop (with the only exception being the manual BlackBerry menu "Sync Now" command)!Please note that you may have to change screens on your BlackBerry to see recently synchronized data in the case of a background sync(not the Sync Now command).
  8. Whenever you upgrade your BlackBerry software level, it is HIGHLY recommended that you do a "Backup to Web" just before downloading the new version AND ONCE MORE right after the post-upgrade reboot once you have verified your data on the BlackBerry.
  9. Alerts will be misaligned with your Blackberry's time if you don't set the correct time zone upon first login.
IdeaMatrix differences from ToDoMatrix 

Private Notes

IdeaMatrix allows notes to be flagged as private. To mark as note as private, edit or create the note. When in the modify screen, scroll up to the private check box and use the space bar to toggle the privacy flag on. Save your note. The contents will not be displayed under normal viewing conditions. The note will be displayed as ***private***instead. However, the find routine will be able to find the note if a string inside the note is matched. To view the contents of a private note, you must navigate to the folder that contains the note or to the note itself in any alternate view (such as Views / Found). You can then use menu to pick the "Unlock Private Notes" menu choice. IdeaMatrix will ask for the password assigned by you. If the appropriate password is entered, the contents of the note will be displayed. Exiting IdeaMatrix back to the main BlackBerry menu or executing the Lock Private Notes menu command will reengage privacy cloaking. The password will once again be needed to view, edit, or e-mail the note. Privacy can be turned off by editing the note and toggling the privacy flag off, then saving the note.

Links to REXwireless

ToDoMatrix Video Demonstration - http://REXwireless.com/tmxvideo
ToDoMatrix Documentation - http://REXwireless.com/docs

IdeaMatrix Video Demonstration - http://REXwireless.com/imxvideo
IdeaMatrix Documentation - http://REXwireless.com/docs










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