As a gadget hound and productivity freak, I've tried just about everything over the past 10+ years, both hardware and software. My gadgets have included a Palm IIIe, two Handspring Visors, a Newton 2100, a Newton eMate and a Palm Tungsten E2. They were all nice (some more than others), but each shared deficits of one type or another. Graffiti and easily-lost styluses were two biggies.
As for software, I've used iGTD, Omnifocus, Tracks, Midnight Inbox, Things, MonkeyGTD and more. Again, they're nice but share a common issue. Namely, each solution is limited to the author's interpretation of how an organizational system works best. I don't want to learn a piece of software before I can begin managing my stuff. Nor do I want to be limited to the author's ideas, even the great ones. Basically, I want an electronic version of my favorite tool - paper.
I do nearly all of my capturing and organizing with pen and paper, as nothing is more useful, flexible or promising. A blank page is pure potential. You can create a grocery list or sketch a solution to world hunger on the back of a napkin. I was about to give up on software when I tried Backpack. It's exactly what I was looking for.
Backpack offers users a blank page. You can type anywhere, move objects around, add notes, lists, to-do items or photos and files. There's no toolbar, no drawers, nothing. Just a fresh, white surface ready for input. I love it, and today my Backpack account is my virtual right arm.
On Sundays, I move all of the week's to-do items to a notebook, which I update from Monday to Saturday. On the following Sunday, I "sync" my notebook with my Backpack and start again. Sometimes, when I'm stuffing my cargo pants with the notebook, iPhone, wallet and keys, I think, "Wouldn't it be nice to eliminate something here?" Since Backpack on the iPhone is a dismal experience, I never did. Until now.
FrontPocket is a native iPhone and iPod touch application for Backpack. I've been using it for the past week and it's growing on me. It won't replace my notebook just yet, but it's got real potential. Click below to read more.
Update: The folks who produce FrontPocket let us know that version 1.1 is pending in the App Store now, and should fix the startup crashes and read-only errors that some users are experiencing.