TITLE: Looking for Tools to Manage Information Overload AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 16, 2005 3:51 PM DESC: I want to manage my burgeoning to-do lists and idea lists with a low-tech tool. A simple personal wiki may be my solution. ----- BODY: Now that I am taking on more and different sorts of administrative tasks, I'm beginning to feel the load of managing a large number of to-do items of various urgency, complexity, and duration. I know that there are "productivity apps" and "personal information managers" out there aimed at just this sort of problem, but I tend to be a low-overhead, plain-text kind of guy. So I'm exploring some lightweight tools that I can use to document, organize, and use all the information that is rushing over me these days. Right now, I'm looking at some simple wiki-like tools. One tool I like a lot after a little experimentation is VoodooPad, a notepad that acts like a wiki. As a text editor, it feels just like TextEdit or NotePad, except that wiki names automatically create new pages and link to them. But it also supports lots of other operations, such as export to HTML (to publish pages to a server) and scripting (to add functionality for common actions). VoodooPad costs $24.95, though I've been exploring with both free options: using full VoodooPad with a limit of 15 pages per document, and using VoodooPad Lite with unlimited pages but no scripting and limited export. Oh, sorry for you non-Mac folks. VoodooPad is an OS X-only app. I'm also looking at TiddlyWiki, a cool little wiki that comes as a single HTML page. It's written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and so runs everywhere. To start, you just save the TiddlyWiki home page to your disk. Load a copy into your web browser, and all of the content is editable right in the browser. It uses several formatting conventions common to other wikis for its text, but the result is immediately live content. At this point, I am perhaps more enamored of the idea of TiddlyWiki than its usefulness to me. I really want my productivity app to be as simple as a text editor and support plain-text operations as much as possible (if only via export). But what a neat idea this is! Finally, and lowest tech of all, I am finding many different ways to grow and use a Hipster PDA to meet my information management needs. However much I love and use my laptop, there are times when pen and paper are my preferred solution. With custom products like the do-it-yourself Hipster PDA planner, I can be up and running in minutes -- with no power adapter required. -----