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Where the heck are my notes ...

Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on December 22, 2000
(Issue 1851, Getting Organized)

Computers are great at something many (most?) of were mere mortals aren't so strong on: Keeping track of information.

Like many of you, my desk resembles the aftermath of a tornado: scraps of paper with e-mail addresses and phone numbers, sticky notes at odd angles off my monitor, business cards with important meeting times jotted down on the back.

Any week where I don't have at least one moment of pure panic in trying to find a missing phone number, meeting time or to-do list is a week I claim as a victory.

Yet I have personal organizers on my computer. Little alarm bells and flashing reminders, too. The trick is in training myself to enter all the info off those scraps and sticky and business cards.

If you don't have a personal organizer program, and don't want to buy one, there are still many online options, many free.

This is as complete a personal information manager as you'll find at the local software outlet. It is, of course, HTML-based, being online and all, so it's a bit clunkier than, say, Corel Central or Day-Timer. But it's still fairly easy to figure out, and is full of options. You can enter your entire daily calendar here, and then access it from anywhere you can access the Web.

There is a calendar (viewable by day, week, month and year), a contacts list, and an events list.

What really sets AnyDay apart is that you can create an Events Club, which means that you can add a meeting to your calendar and anyone else in that "club" (i.e., all your employees or fellow department members) will see it next time they log in.

The best part? It's all free. Banner ads on the site apparently pay for the whole shebang – at least for now.

The downside? If goes out of business or starts charging for access, you better have all your data backed up. And on something more reliable than the back of your drycleaning claim check.

Another free all-in-one service, Corel's may be even more comprehensive than In addition to a contacts list and calendar, CorelCity offers 50MB of free storage, 100,000 free clip art images, private online "conference" (i.e., chat) rooms, and free Web-based e-mail.

As wtih AnyDay, CorelCity also offers the ability to create groups for sharing contact lists and calendars. You can even join multiple groups, so if you need to coordinate meetings with several departments at work, you can quickly check both via a pull-down menu.

In addition to the free services (which seem to be supported by low-key advertising about Corel's numerous products, ranging from WordPerfect to Corel Draw to Corel Linux), there are subscription services, such as a low-cost upgrade to the clip art service (more than 1 million images) or getting and sending faxes via e-mail (through

It's a pretty comprehensive service – again, though, only as stable as Corel's next earnings report.

In addition to being the first and current standard by which online guides are measured, Yahoo also offers a pretty usable online organizer. It's not as well-integrated as the others (the calendar and contacts list are completely separated), but its sports-calendar tracking system (where you can select teams whose schedules you want added to your calendar) is positively brilliant. Not only does it list the games, but click on that listing and you'll get links to full coverage of your team.

Adding new events to your planner is easier here than on either CorelCity or AnyDay; the address book is similarly intuitive, and the Notepad feature is kind of handy, in a redundant sort of way.