Sharing Notes, Tasks, Todos

Keeping notes, reminders and tasks synchronized as I move from place to place has been a real dilemma for me.  Not surprisingly, I really need a place to take notes, add reminders when I am browsing the web or reading my email.  I also need these notes, reminders, todos to be available wherever I am and on whichever PC I use. Recently, I found what seems to me to be a good solution.  Perfect no, good, yes!  This solution involves the use of several free, open source tools:Genealogy-Ideas

  • ThunderBird (email system of choice)
  • FireFox (internet browser of choice)
  • ReminderFox (todo list and reminder system)

and one file synchronization (Cloud) toolset:

  • DropBox

The environment I am synchronizing across includes:

  1. Multiple PCs (all my laptops, I have a few)
  2. one Netbook (an eeePC)
  3. one iPad (which does not play into this, see my side comment below)
  4. my email system
  5. my internet browser(s)

If you are not able or willing to use ThunderBird and FireFox you should stop reading here… If you don’t have them but are willing to try them, please continue reading:

If you haven’t already done this, you will need to install and setup ThunderBird, FireFox and ReminderFox. So far as I know these will all run on Mac OS X, Linux, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 7, Windows Vista 64-bit. (Note: There is no cost for the ThunderBird, FireFox or ReminderFox software.)

Next, create a ReminderFox directory in DropBox. If you don’t have a DropBox account already, go to to DropBox to learn how to get & install one. Setup DropBox first! (A 2GB account is Free.  You may use another Cloud file server provider if you choose. I like DropBox for this sort of thing because it is very fast and easy.). Remember the name of the DropBox Directory you created! (If you use something else the same caution applies.)

Go to either your Thunderbird or FireFox account (this location will vary based upon your operating system, for help in finding this information out follow these links: FireFox user profilesThunderBird user profiles.).  Next, copy the file contained in either your Thunderbird or FireFox ReminderFox Directory into your newly created ReminderFox DropBox directory.  The file you want is called: reminderfox.ics. You do not need or want to copy two files; just one!

Start (Invoke) ThunderBird and FireFox (singly or together).

  1. Go to either Thunderbird or FireFox
  2. Look on the bottom right for the ReminderFox pink ribbon (Note: You will need to do these same steps in both FireFox and ThunderBird.)
  3. Click on the ReminderFox ribbon
  4. Select Options on the bottom right side of the ReminderFox window.
  5. Select the File tab.
  6. De-select  the Use Default Option. (click on the Green Check/Tick mark)
  7. Click on the File icon to the far right on that same line. This will allow you to browse to your ReminderFox DropBox location.  Do that and select the DropBox reminderfox.ics file.
  8. Add a Test Task/Todo or Reminder to ReminderFox… just to see that things work. Make sure you add something identifiable to both the FireFox and Thunderbird platforms for identification purposes later.
  9. Make certain you complete the preceeding 7 steps (2 through 8) for both FireFox and ThunderBird.
  10. Once steps 1-7 are completed for both FireFox and Thunderbird, Open ReminderFox in each.  You should see your test items from both tools in each window.  In other words they will be identical for both ThunderBird and FireFox.

If you want to share these data across systems, simply perform the identical steps on your other machines.  All of your similarly configured environments will now synchronize with each other, independent of location, platform type, or operating system– so long as you are able to run ReminderFox on each and access your DropBox account.

And there you have it… notes and todos across the universe! Oh, except not  all of the apple corner.

Side Comments:

iPad Comment: It is worth noting that because of Apple’s restrictions on various standards and tools FireFox is not available nor allowed to be available on iPads/iPods.  There are some ics readers but ics readers do not provide bi-directional interaction with tools like ReminderFox. So… as I noted in one of my earlier posts, I use my iPad as an Internet consumption device only.  Maybe someday… now back to the topic.

ReinderFox Developer Comment: It is possible to synch with Google Calendar, but it is a ‘1-way’ synch. That is, you will be able to pull in reminders from your google calendar, but ReminderFox cannot ‘push’ reminders back to your google calendar. […] We have wanted full-featured support for Google Calendar for a while now, and we are currently working on it. Stay patiently tuned! [Feb 2011]