I’ve been using ActiveCollab for years, but today I discovered something that might change that. Trello is free, and is super-easy to set up and customize for any kind of use. I signed up and created a board for a sample WordPress project in about 10 minutes.

Trello sample project

There is no built-in chat tool, but there is a ‘subscribe’ option for every task, or ‘cards’ in Trello speak. Subscribe notifies a member of the board whenever the chosen card gets updated.

Tasks or cards can be anything, and contain lots of info:

  • a color-coded label
  • a set of members assigned to the card
  • checklists
  • uploaded files and images
  • due dates

I like the simple interface – a board consists of a set of lists, each list has one or more cards (tasks) assigned to it. Cards and lists can be rearranged by dragging and dropping, and cards can be archived when the task is complete.

Here’s a sample board with a general web design process theme, and another that shows Trello’s own development flow

I’m going to try Trello for my next project; I think my clients will have an easier time with it than with ActiveCollab.

Oh – almost forgot. There are mobile apps for iPhone and Android too; the Android one looks pretty good. I don’t think you can upload files/images into a board on a mobile device, but that’s the only difference I see so far.

It’s been about a week since I decided to switch to Chrome. I’ve been very good about not automatically launching FF, though I noticed I still have it as the default browser. Here are my impressions so far.

The good:

  • It’s really fast. So much faster, it’s a pleasure to use – I’m not sitting here waiting on everything.
The not-so-good-but-I-found-a-way-around-it:
  • Searching in the address bar seems weird, so I got the Search Box extension that gives me a little box for searching on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Ebay and Amazon.
Still not-so-good-but-improving:
  • I find the built-in developer tools to be a little awkward but I’m getting used to it – I like the ability to look back through the cascade and see what CSS rules are impacting the element I’m looking at, but it’s not intuitive yet. The Web Developer Toolbar for Chrome is missing a couple of the tools it has in FF, and a few times this week I’ve found myself opening FF so I could quickly see what was happening with a site.

There isn’t really anything I don’t like about Chrome – it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I do miss FF but the speed difference is huge and has made work a lot easier this week.

I spent yesterday at WordCamp Boulder, a fun event for WordPress designers, developers and bloggers. That was my first WordCamp and well worth the very small entry fee.

They had a genius bar where people could ask questions of WP experts. I spent about 2 minutes there and learned a trick that will probably save me 1-2 hours each time I set up a new WP installation for a new client project from now on.

Over the last year I’ve gotten comfortable with a set of plugins that I use for just about every project. And recently I attended a WordPress security seminar and a one-on-one security consult from WPSecurityLock – I learned much about securing a WordPress install and as a result added a few more plugins to my must-have list.

The problem is that getting those plugins installed and configured takes some time. I went to the genius bar to see if there was a way to make the process more automatic.

Here’s what I plan to do as a result of that 2-minute conversation:

  • Create a dummy WordPress install on my production server
  • Add in my chosen framework (at this point I like WP-Framework a lot)
  • Install and adjust settings for my list of must-have plugins

Then when I start each new WP project, I can just export a copy of the dummy site’s database (after making sure everything is up to date) and use it for the new site.

This seems totally obvious to me now, but thanks to the genius bar I didn’t have to go through a lot of headaches to get here.

After my beloved Franklin Covey PlanPlus software put its foot down and declared that it would not play nicely with Windows 7, I was really at a loss. I’d been using it for years and didn’t realize how dependent I was on it…

I spent some time looking around at task management tools and even tried a few, including Remember the Milk, Todoist, and taskTome.

TaskTome is the one I’ve been using for the past two weeks, and it’s not at all bad, but it just wasn’t, well, right. Yesterday I opened it and saw all those tasks listed, and I was like, ‘what in the world am I supposed to do today?’ I couldn’t answer that immediately. So in desperation, I went Googling again.

Last night I found HiTask. So very happy!

HiTask is an online tool that quickly caught my attention because of one main thing – I can look at it and tell immediately what I need to do today vs. tomorrow vs. later this week (HiTask is shown at lower right, TaskTome at upper left).

HiTask has a clean, bright interface and it has a calendar right on the same page with your task list. Tasks can be grouped by Date, Color (priority for me), MyView (which is whatever you want it to be) and Project. My favorite is Date because of my aforementioned need to see exactly what needs to be done and not have to think about it too much.

A very neat feature is the ability to create Projects and then drag tasks into them, so you can see all the things that need to be done for that particular project or client.

HiTask also has a tagging feature so you can search by tag at any time, plus it has time tracking and reporting tools.

I’m using the free version and I’m very happy with it, but there is a business version available that will let you share HiTask among team members. The business account is $29.00 per month and includes 5 user accounts.

More Resources

Here are a few of the useful articles I used in my own research – maybe one of them will lead you to your own little Holy Grail:

I have a big list of ‘shoulds’ for my business right now. Unfortunately, things are getting in the way: the big problem I’m having with Windows 7 is the main one right now. I’m waiting for Microsoft tech support to call within the next hour for the third troubleshooting session of the week…

Anyway I thought it would help me get moving on some of my business ‘shoulds’ if I wrote about it. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Think about my new year’s resolutions for Red Kite Creative, and then write a post about them. I’m thinking, but I haven’t written anything down yet…
  • Send out thank-you’s for the referrals I’ve received so far this year (that would be three). I’ve actually acted on this one; I tried to think of something a little out of the ordinary to send as a thank you gift. I love going to the movies, so I bought movie gift cards – enough for a movie and snacks for the client and his/her significant other. And Cinemark lets you upload a custom image to use on your cards – so they’re logo items! They’re in the mail to me at this moment.
  • Write and send out the first email newsletter of 2010. Normally I send this out the first week of the month. I’m hoping to get to it this weekend.
  • Update my client address book and sync it with my Blackberry’s.
  • Send out an email to all current clients offering to update their website’s copyright (if it needs it) and check in to see if I can help them out with anything related to their site or hosting.
  • Redesign NOCO Hosting’s business card. I redesigned the website in November and should probably have cards to match.
  • Get QuickBooks up to date for 2009. This is probably the most urgent thing, because I need hard numbers to send to the city in a few days. I need to sit down for a few hours this weekend and get all the end-of-the-year payments in (and make sure it all reconciles). I really dislike accounting.

I think that’s enough, although I can probably come up with a few more. These are the most pressing items, however, and I’m hoping to tackle several of them this weekend.

That is, if I don’t have to spend it reinstalling Windows 7 or worse yet, going back to XP.  I really hope it doesn’t come to that.

So where is Microsoft? There’s only 45 minutes left in this two-hour support call window…

I started off the day planning to get some work done on three projects.

The first one – I got nothing done. I’m still waiting on an answer about the menu from the designer. I could have worked on the rest of the page, but I want to make sure I’m clear about that menu first.

The second one – I had a couple of emails from the client about little tweaks. I didn’t hear back from the last reply, and I really don’t want to move forward the remaining templates until those little things are worked out because I’ll be repeating work.

The third one – a big Joomla project – I was cruising along on that one until about 12:15 when I tried to save a change in a component and Firefox said ‘no.’ Actually what it said was ‘cannot connect to server.’

Puzzling. Looking around a bit I discovered that I suddenly had no access at all to any of my sites or my clients’ sites at HostGator.

I got into chat with HostGator tech support and discovered that he could see all those sites. I checked my laptop – again, ‘cannot connect to server.’

I went down into the Basement of Large Spiders and rebooted the modem. Back upstairs in the office, I rebooted my computers. Still not able to connect. So I called Comcast and was told they’d check it out but it could be 72 hours before I got a response.

You’re kidding me, right? That’s not very Comcastic.

I got on Twitter and mentioned my problem. Five minutes later a Comcast rep contacted me and had me email my problem details to her.

In the meantime I submitted a ticket at HostGator and heard back about 15 minutes later. The problem turned out to be on their end, not Comcast’s (very unusual) and involved an IP address in their firewall.

So anyway, by about 2:10 this problem was resolved and I could get back to work – only I had a doctor’s appointment. I wound up not getting home until around 3:45 and then got sidetracked again and wound up writing up a quote rather working on one of those projects.

Sigh. I hope tomorrow is less eventful, but I kind of doubt it will be. I have a 2-hour meeting in the morning at 7:30, then I have to train a client in New York on the use of Contribute. Busy busy.