Todo Lists

A while ago I read Steve Yegge’s rant about Agile development, though I’ve forgotten who linked to it. The thing that struck me as interesting was the bit about “work queues”:

With a priority queue, you have a dumping-ground for any and all ideas (and bugs) that people suggest as the project unfolds. No engineer is ever idle, unless the queue is empty, which by definition means the project has launched. Tasks can be suspended and resumed simply by putting them back in the queue with appropriate notes or documentation. You always know how much work is left, and if you like, you can make time estimates based on the remaining tasks. You can examine closed work items to infer anything from bug regression rates to (if you like) individual productivity. You can see which tasks are often passed over, which can help you discover root causes of pain in the organization. A work queue is completely transparent, so there is minimal risk of accidental duplication of work.

Sadly, googling for “work queue” doesn’t come up with any sort of todo list stuff, but rather a multiprocessing scheduling tool which is cool, but not immediately relevant for me. As far as I can see, whatever was actually being talked about either isn’t public, or is more of a concept than an actual tool.

The only Google Todo thing I could find was an applet thing for the personalised google homepage, which just lets you make todo items and set them as high/medium/low priority. And while that might be all that Steve Yegge was talking about, it doesn’t really feel terribly inspiring to me.

I guess what I’d really like is to have todo items get assigned to a project (so that I can ignore all the todos for projects I don’t want to worry about atm), and also to be able to give them a deadline (so I can treat them with a bit more urgency when necessary) and a priority (so that I can easily spot things I’m willing to defer or ignore completely when I find I don’t have time to do everything I’d like).

I suspect I’ll probably just stick with writing notes in vi to keep track of things, though, same as I have been for years.

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