Lotus makes it easy to get organized

by Alan Zisman (c) 1995. First published in Our Computer Player, May 1995

On the road, from home to office, to appointments... always on the run? Carry a portable computer with you at all times? Lotus has a tool to help you keep your life in order.

Organizer, recently enhanced with version 2.0, keeps the loose-leaf Day-Timer interface that made the original version popular. An easy-to-use personal-information-manager, it comes ready to use, with sections for dates and ongoing events, phone numbers and addresses, a to-do list, a planner, and so forth.

It's easy to add information, or even to create your own sections. You navigate through the information by clicking on tabs sticking out from the edges of the pages, or clicking on the dog-ear at the corner of a page to turn the page.

The modules share information, letting the calendar be used as a scheduler. And a new feature makes it easy to keep a pair of calendars in synch, sharing information between, say, your desktop and your notebook.

In fact, merging information is a strong new focus for this version. Like other products from Lotus, there's an addition to the needs of workgroups-- teams of people working on the same project. As Lotus Notes has become the groupware standard, Lotus has enhanced its other products to work well with Notes.

If you use Notes or Lotus cc:Mail, Organizer can be used for group scheduling. Multiple users can share a single calendar, with a variety of access rights. These programs can work together to send out invitations, monitor responses, and even allocate rooms and equipment.

Other enhancements beef up the to-do list. You can now view lists in a variety of ways-- by date or priority, by category or by status. You can attach alarms to events or create recurring events. And with the anchor tools, you can connect names in the address book to to-do tasks.

The calendar lets you view your time in a variety of ways-- two days at a time, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or by year. You can (as in real life), set conflicting or overlapping appointments, and if desired, the program will point out conflicts in red.

With the addition of multiple addresses for each entry, and a Calls section to track incoming and outgoing calls, the program has added some basic contact-management functions.

Inevitably, added features result in more hardware demands. While the original version took up under 3 megs of drive space, this one wants about 10 megs. It's a somewhat slow performer, and its easy to use interface relies on a lot of mouse clicking. Warp users will be pleased to see an OS2 Scheduling Agent.

With added features integrated in a way that doesn't compromise the program's ease-of-use, Lotus Organizer could prove useful to many users. Its new workgroup functionality will be especially welcomed by anyone connecting to others via Lotus Notes.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan