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August 8, 2008

I Want Sandy – Getting a Personal Assistant

ss-iwantsandy

With my morning cup of tea in hand, I sit down at my desk and power up my email. Sandy, my trusty assistant, has sent a message. “Guten Morgen!” she greets me, and she reminds me that I need to call the dry cleaners this morning. Despite her shiny disposition and quirky personality, Sandy isn’t actually a person. She’s a web application – an online program invented to work within your email inbox to remind you of the little things in life that are easy to forget. As you can see, Sandy may be a web ‘bot, but she’s definitely her own person. In fact, her creator, Rael Dornfest, named her after his own (real life) secretary.

What makes Sandy unique is the way she integrates with email. Once you’ve signed up for the service, there’s no need to visit Sandy’s website. You never need to leave your inbox – and communicating with Sandy is a lot like sending any other email to any other person. There’s no need to use computer-friendly language. “Remind me in an hour to put the laundry in the dryer” works fine. It’s also easy to use Sandy to remind friends, family, and coworkers. When sending an email to a friend, just –cc Sandy, and she’ll send a reminder to everyone, whether or not they’ve used Sandy before. The result is a reminder system so simple that it’s hard to mess up. “Organization ahoy!” as Sandy would say.

Practical Uses:

  • Remind yourself of small, forgettable tasks, like picking up a gallon of milk on the way home or getting to work early for that Monday morning meeting
  • Use Sandy to store phone numbers and other information to access later
  • Have Sandy remind you at regular intervals to stay on task and avoid distractions while working online

Insider Tips:

  • For examples of tasks and ways that others have used Sandy, check out Sandy’s guide in the help section
  • When you’re away from your computer, set Sandy’s reminders to come via SMS, so you don’t miss them
  • If your inbox is bursting at the seams, you can read Sandy’s reminders in your RSS news feed reader

What we liked:

  • Sandy works (and coordinates with your contacts) within email, so there is virtually no learning curve or special software
  • You can send items to Sandy using both Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) and Jott (http://www.jott.com)
  • You can get reminders from Sandy by email, SMS, or both
  • Sandy can add items your to Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendar. She can also work with any calendar that supports subscribing to remote calendars using the iCal standard

What we didn’t like:

  • Although Sandy recognizes most commands, it’s easy (especially when you’re first introduced to Sandy) to get your words mixed up and have reminders sent at the wrong time
  • Because Sandy’s RSS feed is password protected, it cannot be accessed in feed readers (like Google Reader) that don’t offer authentication

Alternatives:

Company Info:

  • Launched: June 11, 2007
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Portland, OR
  • Founded by Rael Dornfest
  • Web site: http://www.iwantsandy.com

Costs:

• Free

Rating:

• 5 out of 5 (wow)