I am trying out a new task management software package called MyLifeOrganized, or “MLO” for short. I have looked at MLO before, but only casually.  What got my attention this time is that there are some nice mobile apps available as well as a new “Cloud Sync” service.  I thought I would give the desktop app a serious try.  I’ll have more posts in the near future on how I am using it.  For now, I’ll just start with some tips for automating the sync feature.

After setting up your data file, go to File > Synchronization to create your sync profile.  Click the “Add” button to add a new profile.  Another dialog box will open to allow you to define the profile.  You can choose to sync via the MLO Cloud service, via FTP, via USB, or to another local file.  Just be sure to check the box at the bottom of the window that says “Add this sync profile to quick synchronization”.

Once your sync profile is defined, test it out by pressing the F9 key, or by selecting Tools > Synchronize on the menu bar.  Check the data in both locations, and sync back and forth a few times to make sure everything is working.

Once your sync profile is working, you are now ready to set & forget.  The automation is done by using the built-in Windows Scheduled Tasks feature, and MLO command-line functionality.  First you will need a script file to handle the command line calls.  I initially was using a DOS batch file, but it was not completely invisible and I didn’t want to be distracted by things popping up on the task bar every hour.  I switched to a VBS script file since this provides the option to run completely hidden.

Below is the necessary VBS code.  It is just three lines, although the word wrap makes it look like more than three.  Paste this into your favorite text editor (Notepad or Notepad++ will work).  Make sure it is still only three lines.  If extra carriage returns sneak in there it won’t execute properly.  You will need to edit the second line to point to the correct location of your mlo.exe executable.  You will also need to edit the second line to point to the correct location of your .ml file (MLO database file).

Set WinScriptHost = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
WinScriptHost.Run Chr(34) & "C:\Program Files\MyLifeOrganized.net\MLO\mlo.exe"  & Chr(34) & " " & Chr(34) & "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\My Documents\MyLifeOrganized\Carl_MLO_Database.ml" & Chr(34) & " -QuickSync -console", 0
Set WinScriptHost = Nothing

Once you have made your changes, save the file somewhere memorable. Use a .vbs extension when you save the file.  I chose to save mine as “MLO_Sync.vbs” and I put it in the “My Documents\MyLifeOrganized” directory.

After saving your VBS file, you should test it out.  Open the MLO main window and position it on the screen.  Open the folder where you saved your VBS file and make sure the Explorer window is not covering up the bottom left corner of the MLO window.  Double-click the VBS file.  When it runs, you should see the “Sync in progress” message in the MLO window, similar to the screenshot below.

Still with me?  Good.  Now it’s time to automate.  The instructions below assume you are using Windows XP.  The steps may vary slightly in Windows Vista and Windows 7, but the concept is still the same.  First, go to the Start Menu and open the Control Panel.  Double-Click “Scheduled Tasks” to open it.

Click “Add Scheduled Task” to launch the wizard. Click Next, and the wizard will ask you what program you want to run. Click the Browse button.

Go find your VBS script, select it, and click the Open button.

More than likely, you will want to schedule the sync hourly, or maybe every 4 hours.  Notice that there is no option for hourly?  The next few steps are a little tricky, and I based the instructions on some nice guidance I found on the Lonewolf Designs web site.

Select the “Daily” option and click Next.  We will convert this to hourly later, but for now be sure to pick “Daily”.

On the next screen, set the start time as 12:01AM, with a start date of today, and a selection to perform the task “Every Day”.

On the next screen enter your username and password (if set on your machine).  Click Next. Be sure to check the box that says “Open advanced properties for this task when I click Finish,” then click Finish.

After clicking Finish, a properties window will open for your new scheduled task.  Optional step: Switch to the Settings tab and uncheck the two boxes under Power Management that would prevent the sync from running while the computer is running on batteries.  Click the Apply button.

Switch to the Schedule tab and click on the “Advanced…” button.

An Advanced Schedule Options dialog box will open.  Check the “Repeat task” box, set it to repeat every 1 hour, until a time of 11:59PM.  Click “OK” on the Advanced Schedule Options dialog, then click “Apply” and “OK” back on the schedule task properties dialog.

Go back to the Scheduled Tasks control panel folder.  You should see an icon for the MLO Sync scheduled task which you just created.  Open the MLO application so that you can see the bottom left corner of the MLO window.  Right click on your scheduled task and click “Run”.

You should be able to see the “Sync in progress” message again in the bottom left of the MLO window just has you had seen when testing the VBS script directly.

That’s it!  MLO should sync automatically (and quietly) every hour.  You should repeat this setup on each computer where you are using MLO.  If you are worried about two PCs trying to sync simultaneously to the same Cloud or FTP file, you can simply offset the scheduled task start time on one PC by 15 minutes.

Also note that since the synchronization calls mlo.exe from the command line, you do not need to have MLO running for this to work.

The only snags I have seen are when the sync triggers a dialog box from the MLO app.  For example, if the MLO app is shut down, and you are using a trial version, the sync will trigger the dialog box stating that you have X days left in your trial period, and ask if you want to open the registration dialog.  Until you dismiss this question, the automatic sync will wait.  The solution for this is to always leave MLO running, or just register the app.

Another dialog box snag happens when your MLO Cloud subscription is about to expire (see screenshot below).  A reminder window pops up every time you attempt to sync and holds up the synchronization. When you get up in the morning, you will likely have 6 or 7 of these waiting for you, depending on how long you sleep ;-)    As you dismiss each one you will have to wait for the sync to complete.  It would be great if the Cloud subscription renewal reminders started popping up at maybe 3 days instead of 14 days.

I plan to post more on my MLO setup in the coming weeks.