Producteev Gets a Massive Upgrade: Android App, Windows Desktop App, and an All Around Makeover

Producteev Gets a Makeover | 40Tech

Producteev, one of our favourite  — and one of the best — to-do apps, has released a massive upgrade that includes some long-awaited features and platform updates. The web and iPhone apps have gotten a makeover, the much clamoured-for Android app has finally arrived, and there is now a Windows 7 desktop app to balance out the Mac version. Even the logo has been updated (bye bye Tasky the beaver)!

To top it all off, Producteev has added a few new features into the mix — and yes (drumroll), that does include sub-tasks…

Check out the video below for the overview of some of the new functionality in the multi-platform task manager.

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There have been usability and visual enhancements across all apps, improvements to some of the main Producteev feature-set (discussed in previous posts), and some brand new features such as integration with TaskRabbit (a service for crowdsourcing small tasks), the ability to print tasks and export them to CSV, as well as the aforementioned sub-tasks.

Now, I know many of you have been waiting patiently for sub-tasks, but don’t get too excited. At this time, sub-tasks are really nothing more than a checkable list added to the top of the main task’s detailed view. There is no way to interact with them outside of that view, or to add specific dates, labels, or anything else. Also, they don’t appear to work in the mobile apps yet, either. Hopefully, there will be improvements, and soon, especially in the case of the missing mobile integration.

The Android app is great. I can now use Producteev with my wife’s phone just as easily as my own, and with an interface that’s nearly identical to the iPhone’s. As Producteev mentions in this post, however, Android users should be aware that the new app is in beta. Don’t expect an error-free experience, just yet.

As always, Producteev is free to use for workspaces that have one or two people. If you want to collaborate with larger teams, unlimited people and storage space can be had for $20 USD per month (it gets cheaper the more workspaces you buy).

Update: Google Calendar integration has been temporarily disabled due to stability issues. It should be back up and running within the week — and it will be better than before. Two way task-sync with Gcal, folks!

How to enable Telnet on Windows 7

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Editor’s note: If you run a web server, or like to mess around with networking gear, then you might be familiar with Telnet and SSH. Only the truly geeky need apply. Today, 40Tech is pleased to present you with a guest post from James Sudbury of Netzen Solutions Ltd. James takes a look at how to get up and running with Telnet on Windows 7.

Telnet is an old outdated protocol that is used for remote command line administration on various devices such as Cisco routers. I would recommend the use of SSH over Telnet in any circumstance; however I still find the Telnet command useful for testing mail servers and for checking open TCP ports. The ability to use Telnet might not be obvious on Windows 7, but it can be done.

Follow these instructions to enable Telnet on Windows 7:
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Simplify Your Desktop for Peaceful Productivity

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This post continues our Personalize Your Windows 7 Experience series, but much of what’s in here can be applied to any PC operating system.

Lately, I’ve been upping my productivity game. I love GTD, and I’ve been pretty successful at making tech like Evernote, Springpad, and Producteev work for me, but I still find that I have a tendency to get bogged down by clutter and distraction. A cluttered desktop doesn’t support a creative or efficient mindset very well, so I spent a little time sorting hiding the clutter with a tool Evan introduced to me called Fences. That helped, but something was missing — and I had absolutely no idea what that was. I tweaked, I fiddled, and messed about with different settings, but nothing seemed ring that proverbial gong for me. Nothing, that is, until I discovered Minimal Wall.

Minimal Wall is the ultimate place to begin simplifying your desktop experience. It’s  more than just a collection of minimalist wallpapers, though. They actually help you to get set up for the optimal desktop in just a few steps. You start out by losing the clutter and icons on your desktop, and you end by choosing a very cool background, but the most intriguing thing about their set up process is the Grid Wallpaper.

Minimal Wall | Simplify Your Desktop

The Grid Wallpaper uses simple graphic design principles to help you set up your windows for a better — and uncluttered — user experience. All you do is set the Grid as your desktop background, and then align your most commonly used windows to the yellow borders. When I first did it, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was surprised at how looking at my new desktop made me feel. It resonated with me. I was more relaxed, and I found it much easier to focus, even with several windows open at once.

After your windows are aligned, start looking at Minimal Wall’s wallpapers. I have no doubt that you’ll find them very easy on the eyes. I chose some of the Mindful Words backgrounds; nice reminders to move on to my next action, and keep focused. I even created one of my own in Photoshop — my little girl’s name –using their work as a base. It reminds me why I am sitting at the computer in the first place, and why I need to get off it again as soon as I can.

Lifehacker has a great post featuring a Minimal Wall based desktop, combined with Rainmeter, Launchy, and Rocketdock with some nice icons. Personally, I find Rainmeter to be annoying to set up and modify, so I won’t put you all through that. I did use some of the other ideas, however, such as installing Launchy (which I find I rarely use) and Rocketdock. Rocketdock, especially with the nice iconset, provides an easy to look at quick-launch that fits the theme. I won’t go to far into customizing Rocketdock here, but if you try it out and have trouble getting it to do what you want, hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out.

So here’s the process so far:

  • I gathered all of my clutter into Fences — then I double-clicked the desktop to make the Fences hide themselves. Another double-click brings them back when you need them.
  • I used the Grid Wallpaper to line up and size my windows (and the Fences as well).
  • I selected the four wallpapers I wanted to use and put them in a folder to create a desktop slideshow (go to Control Panel, choose “Change desktop background” under Appearance and Personalization, then browse to the folder and select the images, configuring how they should change — I shuffle them every hour).
  • I installed and configured RocketDock with the new icons (add the folder of new icons into the Icons folder in Program Files (x86), then right-click on the dock and choose Icon Settings, then the icon set).

I also moved my Windows taskbar to the top of the screen and set it to auto-hide. I had originally used a tool called Taskbar Eliminator to make the taskbar vanish altogether, but I found that it was unreliable, and discovered that — since I was now rarely working in full screen — having the taskbar hidden at the top was actually quite useful for quick access to its functions.

Finally, I right clicked on the desktop and went to Personalize and saved my wallpapers as a custom theme. Doing this makes it so you can reclaim your desktop slideshow with a click, should you change it to something else and find you want it back again. To round everything out, I changed my logon screen to match the theme. Here’s how you do that:

Here’s a Few Shots of the End Result

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Since adopting this new look and feel for my desktop and workflow, I’ve found that I’m more focused, productive, and generally more relaxed while I work. The basic setup took me less than a half-hour to implement, and it’s paid that time back in spades. Hell, I was so inspired that I added a customized version of the wallpapers to my iPad, too, and then hunted down and killed my next big PC distraction: keeping Gmail open in my browser while I work. If you want a little more peace and productivity while you’re sitting in front of the multi-task machine, give this a try — I sincerely hope it helps you as much as it has me!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Personalize Your Windows 7 Experience: Hidden Themes

Personalize Your Windows 7 Experience: Hidden Themes | 40Tech

Windows 7 is likely the best operating system Microsoft has ever put out. Oh, I’m sure some of you die-hards out there will still swear up and down that it’s Windows 98, 2000, or even 3.1 — and you Mac folk can just go ahead and tamp down on those comments bubbling to the surface of your elitist brains right about now — but when you consider the mix of power, beauty, and function, Billy Gates and crew have finally hit the sweet-spot with their latest OS.

One of the greatest things about Windows 7 is the customizability; there are a lot of different things that you can do with it to improve your overall user experience. Some of those things are fairly obvious, and some are a bit of a surprise, but many can be done quickly and easily, even by the non-techie, sometimes with the help of a handy tool or two. This series focuses on some tweaks for personalizing your own Windows 7 setup with as little fuss as possible. Let’s start off with the hidden themes that are just hanging about in your Windows folder.

Hidden Themes

You probably already know that there are several theme-sets that you can apply in Windows 7 with little more than a click, but on the off-chance that you didn’t, head into the Control Panel, look for Appearance and Personalization, and select “Change the theme.” You can also right-click on the desktop and select Personalize from the context menu.

Once inside, you’ll find all of your pre-installed themes, and you can even create and save your own. What you may not have realized is that, depending on your Windows version, you could have anywhere from five to a dozen or more other themes hidden on your system, just waiting for you to find and install them!

Theme Personalization in Windows 7 | 40Tech

You may have noted that, in the pre-installed themes, one of the ones under Aero Themes is named for your country — I have one called Canada. What most don’t realize is that, skulking about in a hidden folder, are themes from other countries as well. Some of them are quite nice, too, containing wallpapers that have beautiful scenes from each respective country. Here’s how you find them:

  • Open up a folder and click on the white space in the address bar to select and delete the text there, and then copy and paste the following and hit enter: Windows\Globalization\MCT
  • If you find you can’t access the folder or its files, you may need to follow the steps below to unlock hidden files and folders (otherwise please skip to the next main point): 
    • Open your Control Panel and click on Appearance and Personalization.
    • Near the bottom of the list, you should see Folder Options, and just below it, the link “Show hidden files and folders” — click it.
    • In the little pop-up window, be sure that the the radio button for “Show hidden files, folder, and drives” is selected. If you don’t see it right away, double click the “Hidden files and folders” folder — it should expand and you will find the button.
    • Click Apply and OK to close the window. If you are given any warnings by Windows that you could severely screw up your system, acknowledge them — see the next point to learn how to not make such warnings a reality…
    • You will now be able to see files and folders that you couldn’t see before, and they will have a slightly translucent or “greyed-out” look to them. Leave them alone, where possible, and for the timeframe that you are able to access these files, for the love of all that keeps you sane, DO NOT DELETE ANY OF THEM!!! They are generally hidden for a reason — that reason being so that you don’t muck up your system.
    • To save yourself from accidents when you are done with the theme-getting, just repeat the above steps and re-select Don’t show hidden files, folders, and drives,” hit Apply, OK, etc.
  • You could also try to browse directly to the folder via the C: drive, but I found that I couldn’t find the folder that way, even with hidden files and folders available.
  • In MCT, you will find several other folders with the name format MCT-XX. Click on any one of these and you will find a folder with the name of a country, a folder called RSSFeed, sometimes one titled “Websites for X”, and one called Theme. For example, the folder MCT-AU contains the country of Australia.
  • In the folder named after the country, you will find six wallpapers, which you can use to get a feel for what the theme is about, and can do with as you will — but head over to the Theme folder for easy setup.

Hidden Country Themes, Australia, in Windows 7 | 40Tech

  • In the Theme folder you will see XX.theme. If you want to install that theme, click on it. At this point, you will get a chime from Windows, and your desktop will fade behind a Please Wait sign. After a moment, the sign will fade away and your new theme will be applied — rinse, lather, repeat as necessary!

As the theme is installed, your Control Panel will also open up to the Appearance and Personalization settings, and you will notice the new country theme under your My Themes section. If you want to change away from the new theme, simply click on a different one or install one for a different country. Once the theme you just installed is inactive, if you want to get rid of it, simply right-click on it and select delete. You can always reinstall it later.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting other simple tweaks and tricks for personalizing your Windows 7 installation, as well as looking at some of the tools out there that help you out in the process. If you have any you would like to suggest, leave a comment, catch me on Twitter (@bobby_travis), or send me an email from my 40Tech contact page.

What countries were in your hidden themes folder?

Restore Abandoned Windows Features With Classic Shell

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Do you miss the “up” button in Windows Explorer, now that you’ve moved on to Vista or Windows 7? Or maybe you just appreciate the look and feel of the Windows XP start menu? If you want to bring back a long-lost Windows feature, chances are that you can restore it with Classic Shell.

Classic Shell restores features that were present in older versions of Windows, but are missing from Vista and Windows 7. The two main components of Classic Shell are Classic Explorer and Classic Start Menu.

Classic Start Menu has a long list of features. For example, after installing it, you can drag and drop to organize your applications, display recently used documents, and right-click an item in the menu to delete, rename, sort, or perform other actions. You can select from several skins, download ore from the Internet, or, if you’re handy, make your own.

The Classic Explorer adds a toolbar to Explorer. This toolbar adds several operations, such as Go to parent folder, Cut, Copy, Paste, Properties, and Email. Classic Explorer also replaces Vista and Windows 7’s copy UI with a version similar to XP’s version. You also can restore the “Up” button to the toolbar.

For a full list of features of Classic Shell, check out the Classic Shell site. Classic Shell is free and open-source software.

Are there any classic Windows features that you miss in Vista or Windows 7?

Classic Shell [via Geek Tonic]


Extend Your Taskbar to Multiple Monitors With ZBar

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The Windows taskbar is a bit like the command center for your computing experience.  At its most basic level you can use it to quickly launch applications, and also to toggle between open programs with one click.  One shortcoming of the native Windows taskbar, though, is in its support for multiple monitors.  While there are some paid options available to remedy this, check out ZBar for a free solution. READ MORE

Tweak Everything with Windows 7 God Mode

god mode excerpt We tech geeks love to discover hidden features in our tech toys.  And we love it even more those hidden features are actually useful.  An Easter egg that has been making the rounds among Windows 7 users is Windows 7 "God Mode."  At its simplest level, what Windows 7 God Mode does is simple – it puts a myriad of configuration options at your fingertips, in one list.  Beyond that, users have discovered additional "god modes" that open up more Windows 7 configuration options.  Read on for more on God Mode.

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5 Needed Improvements in Windows 7

Windows 7 thumbs down Earlier, we discussed 5 compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 7.  Windows 7 is a big step up from Windows Vista, with several compelling features, but it isn’t perfect.  While there are no deal breakers, there are a few spots where Windows 7 could use some improvement.  Here are a few of them.  I’m sure there are more, so let us know in the comments if you have any ideas for how to improve Windows 7 (and no, "get a Mac" doesn’t count). 

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