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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Packing Lists

I love going away but I hate the process of making sure I've got everything I need. So I make lists, print them out and then cross out items as I add them to the car boot, rucksack, etc. I've learned several things:

  •            It doesn't work to try and work through the list from start to finish. Sometimes you can't immediately find the item that's at the top of the list. Even if you can find it, should you really pack the toothpaste the day before you leave?
  •          Best to work on the basis that if you see an item that you can sensibly pack right now, do so and check it off on the list. Later, scan the list for unchecked items.
  •          I used to rely on a paper list but it's pretty inconvenient and I kept on losing it
·        So, I started developing a little program to sit on my computer. To give you an idea, here's a  picture is based on the packing list  the America naturalist, Thoreau used for his expeditions. Computers hadn't been invented in 1854 but let's pretend he was ahead of his time!

·        I put in some neat features:

o   You can sort the items alphabetically, makes them easier to find.
o   Or, pop the unchecked items to the start of the list. Great towards the end of the packing process.
o   (For completeness, you can also pop the checked items to the start)
o   Option to make the program float on top of everything else (“Stay on top”)
o   Obvious stuff like saving lists as files, printing, editing, etc.
o   A function to clear all the checkboxes so I can use a list again and again

I realised that what had started as a personal project might be useful to other people so I tidied it up a bit, wrote a proper installer program and recruited a small team to test it out. Finally, I decided to release it as freeware – for non-commercial use and offered a commercial version for US$29.95

You can read a bit more here or dive in and download here.

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