Ascend to new scheduling heights!
Author: Brad Albee and Paul Lanzi
Date: April, 1994
Keywords: Franklin Quest software program review schedule PIM application organization
Text: Ascend 3.0 is one of those programs that you want to like because if you did and you used it, you would be on ''top of the world'' and unquestionably the most organized person at work. You would probably also have this summer planned, next year's Christmas shopping done, and know what you serving for dinner for the next three months. After all, Ascend 3.0 is the most complete ''PIM'' (personal information manager) or scheduling organizer you could ever imagine. Ascend does have some very good, useful attractions. One is the Journal. This is a separate module that keeps journal or diary entries for personal thoughts, logging work hours, or jotting ideas. Another attraction is called Red Tabs. This is a module that allows you to quickly enter, store, and print mis-cellaneous information with your computer-a miniature word processor, only faster. I found this very useful when looking at my calendar and realizing that I needed to get a quick memo to someone. No need to fire up Word; I didn't even have to leave my computerized date book. Finally, the Turbo File module is more useful than I thought it would be. It lets you store miscellaneous ''things.'' A ''thing'' can be a magazine article you once read and found interesting, a statement you heard and wanted to remember, or in my case, a quick lesson plan for my elementary students. There is also a Focus module. This tool is intended to help you do what is most important first. If you use a computer during the day, the Focus feature allows you to view and concentrate on the Highest Prioritized Task from your Daily Task List that has not yet been completed. Unfortunately, I spent a day trying to get this to work, so now I'm really behind! Fortunately, I didn't need this feature, so I quickly give it up. It has an interesting start up message when you first turn on the program. It says ''This Program Will Turn Off in 60 Days,'' and follows with something about sending in registration cards, asking for serial number, etc. I paid little attention to this and used the program for a while. I later called the company to see if they had possibly sent us a demonstration disk. The representative at Franklin said, ''Yes, it is a demo.'' After a few days (the software counted 6), I decided to put my name in the personalization field with the serial number and a key number. After I did this, my troubles were over. The software has stopped counting days till it quits. The manual is clear with many screen shots, nice charts, and some graphics. It tends to be a little wordy and spends plenty of time defining terms (such as beliefs, needs, productivity pyramids, values and the like). Reading this manual cover to cover would be essentially the same as taking a semester course on the Theory of Time Management. The first item to set up is the Daily Task List. Tasks are defined as ''any job that is assigned on any day.'' For example, ''write a review,'' ''lunch with Paul,'' and ''Presentation at HSU'' are all tasks. Tasks can be prioritized into 8 different levels (My favorite is ''Delegated & Completed''). You can also prioritize them again by ''ABC or D'' labeling. The actual line describing the task can only be 30 characters long, but notes containing multiple lines can also be included about your tasks. Ascend has an extensive name, address, and phone number feature. It begins with a ''HyperCardish'' picture of an address book. After you go to the Edit menu, you have lots of fields to enter about you contacts. If you have friends or associates that have 5 phones this is the program for you. Notes and categorization (Best Friend, Business Client, or just plain ''Fun at a Party...'') can be applied to each person. I had to do real research on even some of my best friends to attempt to fill in all the blanks in this section. This information can then be applied to the note section of the appointment scheduling. (Oh, how Newton-like...). This module will also print labels and envelopes using the information you put in. It supports all the major types of computer printer labels. If your printer can take envelopes, it will do that using a variety of sorts and filters. Ascend 3.0 is published by Franklin Quest Company. ''Franklin knows Time Management.'' These are the same guys that make the Franklin
Day Planners and produce books and tapes such as Gaining Control: Your Key to Freedom and Success, and ''Increasing Personal Productivity Through Effective Time Management.'' To run Ascend you will need to have the following system resources: a Macintosh Plus or higher, System software 6.0.x or System 7 (Ascend does not publish and subscribe), 2 megabytes of RAM, and a hard disk with at least 2 megabytes free for use. We had no problems with extensions, 32-bit access, or using it with virtual memory. Ascend uses the familiar installation method known as a SEA or self-extracting archive. There is a tutorial section in the manual, but no computer tutorial file. It does not use Apple's Help Balloons either. (What does?) This program looks like the ''Microsoft Word 5.1'' of the date book software arena. Below the menu bar is a series of buttons (12 in all) that when pressed, bring up modules that do various organizational tasks. For example, there is a Prioritized Daily Task List, a Daily Record of Events, an Appointment Schedule, an Address and Phone Listing, and others. As if those weren't the essentials, there is even a button for your Values and Goals (in case you have forgotten) and your Favorite Quotes (which you can program to display a random quote every morning if you wish). There is also a master task list which is a ''back burner'' for projects that you are unable to complete in the near future. A nice feature is that you can transfer projects or tasks from the master task list to the daily task list when you are ready to work on them. You can even categorize your master task items with labels such as Work, Home, Personal, etc. Appointment scheduling is pretty much like most scheduling programs. You type in what you want to do and at what time. Alarms are available and notes can be written about your entry. It also has a unique time block feature. Time blocks can be assigned for an appointment. For example, putting a 12 in the time blocks column of the appointment scheduler will schedule the next 12 fifteen minute periods for that activity. This helps you keep on schedule by ''graying'' the time on the scheduler for that area. In conclusion, the good thing about Ascend 3.0 is that it's so complete. The bad thing about Ascend 3.0 is also, it's so complete. I liked the program for all the organizational things it would do for me. It kept all my appointments and contacts, and even other items like daily journals, phone numbers, quotes, and more. Anything I threw into it, came out clear, formatted, and primed to fit into a Franklin Day Planner. I have never felt more organized. On the other hand, I was pouring a lot of time into this complete scheduler. I wasn't making an appointment, I was prioritizing and evaluating my communications in regards to my governed and long range goals. Whew... The program is good; complete but involved. If anyone would like further information about this program, I would love to hear from you. Just be sure to call early enough so that I can enter it in my date book... Ascend ($149.95 retail, $129.00 mailorder) is published by The Franklin Quest Company, 2550 South Decker Lake Blvd., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84119. 1-800-877-1814.
Copyright © april, 1994 by Brad Albee and Paul Lanzi