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CNET to the Rescue: Reminders and to-do lists

This week: How to keep track of everything with reminder and to-list apps. Also, we (try to) solve Synergy issues, explain DNS, and wake up your Mac from the Internet.

This time, Rafe and Josh's favorite apps for keeping track of stuff. Also, we answer questions on Synergy, domain names, waking up snoozing Macs, calendar apps for Thunderbird, and more.

Thanks to Tales (from the chat room) for saving our bacon!

Now playing: Watch this: CNET to the Rescue 3: Reminders and to-do list


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Episode 3: Reminders and to-do lists

Our favorite to-do list and reminder apps: 

Evernote and Onenote for "capturing your brain." 

To-do lists: 

For groceries: 

Listener recommendation:

Over the past several weeks, I have been using ToodleDo. It has an exhaustive list of features (like sorting, search, folders, tags, contexts, etc., but where it really shines is it's integration with other applications. While the web app is perfectly capable, utilizing it with Appigo's ToDo or the official ToodleDo app on the iPhone, as well as accessing all of my tasks in Google calendar and adding tasks via Gmail or quickly checking them through a Chrome extension, really makes it worthwhile. Similar to Evernote, it uses a freemium model. One of the coolest features of a paid subscription is the printable booklet that you can customize and slip in your wallet. Of course, nothing is perfect and my biggest complaint about the service is the complicated nature of editing multiple tasks at once (you must do a search, then click "multi-edit", then make your changes and manually check off each field you want to change.) Overall, I prefer ToodleDo over RTM, TaDaList, and Outlook. Anyway, thank you for doing an inspiring, fun show every week!

Michael from Chicago



Tom and Rafe got me clued in on using Synergy at work. I was hooked! It's fantastic! But now I've started having some trouble for some reason. Here's the setup:

I have a Mac (OS 10.6.3) and Windows (XP Professional SP2) machine side by side on my desk and use both all day long. I have the Mac set up as my primary host for keyboard and mouse but still have a keyboard and mouse plugged into the Windows machine for times when I do need to do prolonged work there. Most of the time I flip back and forth with the Mac. However, since our office got new iMacs a couple months ago I've started having trouble with copy and paste not always working across the machines. I'll go to copy text out of an Outlook email on Windows using the Mac mouse and try to bring it over to paste and nothing happens. My old setup had the Windows keyboard and mouse as host and I didn't have any problems. Is there a bug that you guys know of that could be causing this?

Holly in NYC (hollyhock on Twitter and in CNET chat)

Rafe: I use Synergy with a Windows laptop as host and Macbook as client, meaning that I'm using the Windows machine's keyboard to control both computers. Here's the thing with cut and paste between machines: You can only do it from the host keyboard, and the copy/paste commands are different between Mac and Win. So when I want to, say, copy text from my Mac to my PC on Synergy, I have to use Alt-C on the Windows keyboard to fake out the Mac to think I'm pressing Command-C, since the Win kb has no Command key. Then back on the Windows laptop, I have to shift my pinky over to the control key to press cntrl-v to paste. Inelegant, but you get used to it. Or use right-click!

BTW, Synergy rocks, even if it is a bear to set up. See also Synergy Plus, which I have not used:


I have another Mac question for you guys. I have a 2007 black MacBook and the hard drive died on me about a month or two ago. It was very upsetting, but I managed to replace it with a Western Digital Scorpio Black 320 GB 7200 RPM drive. It was painless and an excellent alternative to the Seagate Vibrator drives you and Tom installed in yours. I'm concerned about breaking this one as well, however. I'm very anal about my data and about protecting my privacy and such. Therefore, I often use password protected dmg's and I also use Secure Empty Trash every time I delete a file. This writes zeros over my deleted data, providing me with some level of protection against recovery, however, I'm afraid that all the extra data writing might cause undue wear and tear on the hard drive. Is this something I ought to be worried about, or do I still have a few years of being OCD about my MacBook? Thanks guys!

-Greg from Pennsylvania-

Rafe: Relax. Using encryption or other disk utils won't hasten your HD's demise. When it's time for it to go, it will just go.


I'm thinking of starting up a website. I listened to the real deal ep.198. I got a lot of great info, however i'm just a little confused on one aspect of the whole thing. I want my website to have a personal url, not a cookie cutter url like'm considering square space). Im wondering if I should buy a dns or should I go for the pro-package at square space which includes a custom url. I am also confused on what a dns is. Any help would be great.

Solid Schuyler (skyler)

Josh: If you don't know what you're doing, I'd say start out with a paid service that handles all that stuff for you. You can always move on with another host and move everything later on. The key thing is to just hold on to that domain name.


I am looking for some help with my Mac. I have a 13" MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard and I have recently started using it to stream music to my living room stereo and video to my Xbox 360 (using Airport Express and the app Playback, respectively). These are working very well, but I do find it a bit tedious to have to run to my laptop and wake it up before I can stream any data. I have read that there is an auto-wake feature if an Airport base station is being used, but my cable/internet provider has told me that they will not support that device and that I can only use their router equipment. Am I out of luck, or is there a way to wake my computer from afar? Thanks in advance.

Ross from Baltimore

Your mac has a built-in Wake On Lan feature, as do most all PCs. You just have to turn it on in the system preferences panel. To actually activate it, you send a special command to that Mac with a Python or Perl script. Or you can do the sensible thing and download Wake 550 ( or ReadPixel's Wake On Lan, both of which are a Mac apps. This means you have to use another computer to do this.

The big caveat here is that unless you do have that late-2008 to present Airport Express, Time Capsule, or Airport Extreme base station, you cannot do the wireless wake on LAN, which would be able to turn on your macs without them being plugged in with an ethernet cable.

You could also just set your machine to spin down the hard disks and put the display to sleep so that you never actually turn it off.

Tales adds: Check out Wake on Lan over the Internet.


Phone question: Calendar app for Thunderbird?

A: See Lightning



I have the most current iteration of the ipod touch and I sadly have the same issue -- with the headphone going one sided. MORE than likely the owner wrapped the headphones around the device for storage. I did the same thing and was told in apple speak that I was hosed. The headphone jack is hard wired to the logic board so if you wrap the headphones around it disengages (in my case) part of the headphone connection.

I lost the left side speaker. It's not a software thing -- it's a oops I broke my device issue. Patiently waiting for the next ones so I can get a deal on an old one.

jake - Fullerton, CA