The Zaurus Way
Daniel W. Rasmus
Pen Computing Magazine, Issue #10 May/June
Project management, Zaurus-style
The new Zaurus ZR-5700 and ZR-5800 are shipping and the Zaurus community
is abuzz about backlighting. Literally abuzz about the buzz generated when
external power is applied to the ZR-5800. To people with Motorola alphanumeric
pagers the buzz should not be a surprise since those pagers buzz on just
one AA battery. The buzz is a trade off between new technology and customer
desires. Backlighting is great, but you will have to decide for yourself
if the high pitched whine bothers you or causes the neighbors dog to come
looking for a snack.
You can read more about backlighting and the hefty new Zaurus ROM in my
review of the ZR-5800 elsewhere in this month's issue. For now lets take
a look at a technique for people trying to manage more than their personal
schedule with their Z.
Project management, Zaurus-style
The Zaurus does not ship with project management software. In fact it's
processor might be overwhelmed by the calculations required to perform critical
path analysis. But just between us, do you really use Microsoft Project
to manage projects or just to plan them? If you're like me, project management
really takes place on a hundred scraps of paper somewhat loosely associated
with a folder with the project's name scribbled somewhere near the tab.
Since I bought my Zaurus a year ago, I have moved almost all my project
management to the Zaurus. One of the nice things about this change is I
really don't have to change my relatively unorganized accumulation of stuff
about a project. I enter handwritten notes, type agendas for meetings, maintain
a project team list, and track tasks. I enter them in no particular order.
Now the magic of the Zaurus: links. I link every entry to some other entry
about the project.
Before I go any further, I'll share my one concession to order: a Data File
set-up as an anchor for my disparate info. I just enter major tasks, the
sponsor's name, expected completion date and any notes. Individual tasks
assigned to individuals or teams, are created in the TO-DO function. Each
TO-DO item is then linked to its major task in the Data File and any team
member records. As the project progresses, handwritten notes, documents,
outlines, spreadsheets and other items are linked to their appropriate task
in Data Files. Since no hierarchy is available in Data Files, I store all
the high level tasks together in a Filer project folder.
That's it. A complete environment for day-to-day task management. As the
project evolves, major tasks act as convenient anchors for new subtasks
and other information. The calendar view provides easy visibility into upcoming
commitments. For long projects I create a meeting task and attach all meetings
to that task. Overtime I accumulate a history of hours spent on the project
and a record of events that shaped the outcome of the project. If you're
a real stickler for detail, you can create individual tasks for each meeting,
and attach attendees and minutes for an even more detailed historical account.
I find the Zaurus more than adequate for managing the plethora of information
generated in a typical project. I even import rich text format (rtf) files,
text documents and small spreadsheets from my Macintosh to complete the
details. The Zaurus eliminates fumbling for notes during meetings, most
the time. I haven't figured out a good way to input large presentations
The 2 megabyte ZR-5800 certainly makes the Zaurus an even better information
repository than its 2 megabyte cousins. You'll have to decide how much information
you'll need in your pocket or purse and choose a model with enough memory
to include your project data with all the other nifty bits you'll collect
once you start living with your Zaurus.
Daniel W. Rasmus <email@example.com> is a technology writer.