Sunday, November 30, 2008

Progress being made

Some of us have spent the long weekend discussing technical background details (we have folks involved from around the globe), and we even coded up a "proof of concept" prototype. We don't have any kind of timeframe for you yet, but we'll let you know here and at mysandy on twitter once we have an alpha for folks to test (don't expect it too soon - it's finals time for some of us).

If you are a fan of Sandy, let us know here or at mysandy on twitter what features are most important to you, highest priority for us to focus on implementing first. Note that we won't be able to recreate all of Sandy's full feature-set for a first release. So it's helpful to know from you what your priorities are. Please keep in mind we'll need to provide features based on what's available to us open source and free, for now, so that will be a constraint on what features are in the first release.

At some point, we may discuss how to "monetize" the project in some way in order to support features we can't provide for free (possibly offer both a free and a paid level of service? This is just brainstorming at this point!) We'll figure that bit out later and get community feedback on it before making any final decisions.

Thanks to all for your support and patience while we work to get something up and running. We miss Sandy and want to have her services back quickly too.

If you are a developer and want to contribute to the project, email one of us or post a comment here and we'll get you on the group.


Erasmus said...

please implement natural language parsing via email, todo list, timed reminders for appointments, and if possible, text message updating.

Those were the most vital pieces of Sandy. Having a return notification was nice, but if something must be scrapped, this is one piece of it that is not vital.

Unknown said...

Very happy you all are doing this. Most important to me are repeatable reminders (via email, sms, whatever); especially repeatable every work day (for example, Mon - Fri).

Zachary Hamed said...

Hey guys,
Thank you so much for trying to resurrect Sandy. If you need any help with graphics on the site or emails and such (I'm not sure if you're using the same logos, fonts, etc.), pop me an email.

In terms of features, please implement the repeatable reminders...they're a huge help.

Please keep up the great work!

Tim Haas said...

I third the request for repeatable reminders, and would also love to see the daily agenda e-mail make the cut.

Mrs. Micah said...

Ability to parse e-mails and schedule recurring events is what I think is critical. One of the things I love most about Sandy is her ability to understand if I popped an e-mail saying "Remind me to drop off my rent check on 11/30/08 at 15:00."

That's what really made her different.

To-do lists, return e-mails, daily digests...that's not as important as being able to schedule easily by e-mail.

Unknown said...

WOW! Thanks for bringing back Sandy ;-)

Shawnna said...

as awesome as a nifty website would be, the most important part to me is the function first. and this is coming from a graphic designer...
good luck!

Zach said...

I'd be glad to help out! It sounds like a good project.

I have experience in both Django & App Engine, so I'd be able to work either backend.

I don't know if my email will be posted. If not, I use gmail, and I'm zachary.banks0 ;-)

Jeff Ruday said...

Count me in. IWS's greatest feature, in my opinion, was the ability to create ticklers/reminder on the fly w/ e-mail and natural language. There are other services and work methods for all the other stuff, but the natural language, dead simple e-mail to ticker was the deal breaker for me. Closest thing I can find to that now is PingMe. Not a bad alternative, except you have to "learn" to use language PingMe understand. Jeff Ruday |

Anonymous said...

For natural language parsing in Python this is fantastic:

That with for a messaging interface, a server (Twisted?), Google Calendar as the backend, and you're most of the way there :-)

akinto said...

I used to use Jott to email Sandy. It meant that I could keep track of things while I was wandering around.

Jill said...

I'd really love to be able to send a text message to Sandy via my phone, without using something like Jott (now gone) or Dial-to-Do. I'm not sure something like this is actually possible, or maybe it's for the future.

Philip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip said...

I'm a college student who loves to program -- I'm experienced with server-side and client-side scripting, desktop applications, and Firefox extensions.

While I don't always have all the time in the world, I loved Sandy -- there was something Sandy gave me that no other web service can. So, I'd love to contribute as a developer :D. You can email me at philip AT ephysics dot org.

As for my favorite features... I'd love to be able to choose to have Daily Digests sent x days in advance (so that I can begin preparing for tomorrow before leaving work). Also, certain tags should be included in the Daily Digest a specified number of days in advance. For instance, I want to be notified about anything tagged with "birthday" well before the day-of so that I remember show up AND have a present to bring! I hacked my Sandy account to do this for me ;).

Nicole said...

I agree that the natural language is what really gave Sandy the edge. I *need* the SMS reminders and the ability to SMS Sandy my appointments. Twitter worked great for that.

Daily Digest can go, so can confirmation sms/emails.

The ability to change the notification time on certain tags, as the last comment said, that would be super cool... maybe an add-on in the future.

Thanks for bringing Sandy back!

sachax said...

I am totally with You, guys. Whatever You might need, rely on me too.

Christian Long said...

I'll throw my shoulder to the wheel, please add me to the dev list.

christianzlong gmail

Thanks for being the seed crystal.

Robert Bąk said...

I'm not sure of how much use a 'rich client' would be for the project, but I'm a flex / air developer, and was thinking about putting my skills to some open-source use.

Anonymous said...

tweets to set reminders are essential

Anonymous said...

Ability to tweet and email Sandy via natural language is her perfection. I loved being able to just put the whole reminder in the subject and never even had to fill out anything in the body of an email. To be able to tweet or email something like "r take dog to vet tomorrow at 11 am." was awesome. And of course being able to use @weekly, etc. was the cherry on top.

Soukyan said...

I'm with Erasmus. Natural language parsing via e-mail in particular was the feature I most used and found to be the best. I would also like the reminders at specific times, repeatable, etc.

Additionally, I'd like to contribute to the development of the open source project. Please contact me at soukyan [at] gmail. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I loved Sandy's realness--the way I could count on her to understand what I wanted, the charm with which she wished me well each morning, the reliable reminders of the minutiae of each day and week. I know that's not very technical, but it's what mattered most to me, and why Remember the Milk just isn't going to cut it for me. I really did want Sandy.

tanman said...

Thank you so much guys! I would love it if I could import my Google Calendar and have Sandy sent me reminders based on those events as well

Anonymous said...

I didn't use it, but please make the natural language parsing pluggable so it can work for german, norwegian, urdu and whatnot. :-)

Ah, and keep the information open -- the whole system could be distributed, but it isn't a social network so maybe it doesn't make sense.

And please work with evan from and laconica.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if I'm re-posting. My internet is acting up on me!

I'd love the natural language comprehension and definitely the ability to share it with people. I think Sandy's way of remembering was "Remind person X about event Y". Very good for shared meetings/appointments/etc.

Thanks guys, it would be great if you could pull it off!

Anonymous said...

#1 is the natural language parsing via email. The response possibility to edit a task which is due is also very important.

Unknown said...

Please make it DB neutral. i.e. While many people expect it to be running on a MySQL DB, I'd like to run it on SQLite.

Anonymous said...

Good to read about this project! I was a faithful user of Sandy's, and I'd be glad to have her back. I also enjoyed the natural language, but also valued the following: 1) the ability for tags differentiating calendars and todos, 2) the "portfolio" look and feel, as if an assistant was really briefing you.

Also have plenty of improvement ideas, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here :)

Thanks and best - hoping to read about updates soon.

- Brad

Anonymous said...


1. natural language
2. sms or twitter reminders
3. Daily Digest

Bookmom said...

The way I always used Sandy was to call her via Jott or now Dial2Do, and then when her email would arrive in my gmail, I had it set up to automatically get added to either Gcal or RTM, although as I got going with her I used RTM much less frequently. I switched to the Daily Agenda--love it.

I need Sandy to be as hands-free as possible. I'm not usually at my computer, so having the Dial2Do integration was crucial, as was the Daily Agenda.

Wish I could could help, but coding's not my thing. If you guys want some homemade cookies, though, let me know.

Anonymous said...

For me, what really set Sandy apart and ar the most important features are:
1) The ability to preload information and then retrieve it as needed via a Cell Phone query. (This was far and away the most used feature). Having said that, a less verbose reply would be greatly appreciated - just send what I need.
2) The ability to copy Sandy on an e-mail and have her parse the necessary information.
3) If it would work with Google Gears to be available / editable offline that would be perfect!

Lauren said...

Oh, what beautiful news!!!

The #1 thing I loved about Sandy was sending in reminders via email or sms. I loved the natural language and the relative times, such as "next Friday." Being able to text in "remind me to cut my hair in 8 weeks" was invaluable. But it's also necessary to be able to text "call mom on 1/24/2009" and have her understand (this is my one complaint with

And I personally like getting the confirmation emails, because I like to be sure she scheduled it for the right day/time -- otherwise I might miss the reminder, which is the whole point!

To me, tasks, lists, etc. aren't necessary -- there are other systems that did this better than Sandy.

Just a side note, perhaps importing ical file would be great, for the purpose of transferring all our Sandy reminders over!

THANKS!!!!! Can't wait to see where this goes :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for working on this open source project; I was only a light user of Sandy, but she was really helpful for the occasional reminder. For me, the most important part of Sandy was the quirkiness and personality. I hope open-source Sandy has the same style!

Unknown said...

The ability to send/receive tweets to/from Sandy (as opposed to an email) would be my #1 request. I loved interacting with Sandy that way.

Papa B. said...

I just stumbled into Sandy about 2 months ago and have found the service very valuable. Unfortunately I have no skills to help with the project, but would be willing to make a cash donation as I see something coming out of the ground.

My favorite service was the plain language email and text input and the recurring reminders... whether the reminder came as a group or individually would be fine.

At first I turned off the confirmation email, but found that it did make me feel better to know that the event, dates and recurring schedule were read correctly.

Sandy's ability to read various date formats or "next Friday" were extremely valuable.

I personally never used the to do list, while that is really what most of my appts were.

Merry Christmas!


Papa B. said...

Oops, as I was visiting Sandy to get a list of all my future events I realized that another part of the service that was valuable was the ability to go to Sandy's office (the website) and edit events that were already posted...


Papa B. said...

Oops, as I was visiting Sandy to get a list of all my future events I realized that another part of the service that was valuable was the ability to go to Sandy's office (the website) and edit events that were already posted...


Papa B. said...

Oops, as I was visiting Sandy to get a list of all my future events I realized that another part of the service that was valuable was the ability to go to Sandy's office (the website) and edit events that were already posted...


Unknown said...

So where is the forums where you discuss this?

Anonymous said...


I'm so happy this project is taking off - I use Sandy regularly and it's going to really mess up my organization when it goes down! The natural language input via twitter was the best bit for me.

I'm a JavaScript developer and if I can be of any help please get in touch - I'm on jnthnlstr at googlemail



Erasmus said...

I love to develop code, and had a passion for Sandy.

Please contact me: feprivate at gmail

I'd like to contribute to the project.

One feature that Sandy didn't have, that I'd like to develop, is a full integration with google calendar. With Google's Calendar API and Google's AuthSub (which allows up to 2 years for each login cert), I think it's doable. I'm working on a side project to simply implement a to-do list for google calendar (with reminders/etc.) but I'd like to be able to help out a project like this so that my work benefits the community, and not just me.

Caytula said...

Natural Language parsing in the email is number 1. I cc'd some people and the thought I had a real assistant! LOL

Pete Gilbert said...

Natural language processing and the reminders in email made it a must. The ability for me to say "Sandy remind me to call x in a week" and it will sort it out and add a reminder. That is the coolest thing ever. Please make Sandy's Back do this!

mkinsel said...

Thank you all SO MUCH for doing this!!! One thing I'd like to see, more as icing-on-the-cake, is being able to customize your assistant's name (not that I don't like Sandy, but just looking for even more personalization here).

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see this turned around or taken over. I found it so amazingly useful. I work outdoors for a good part of the year and can't log on to check my calendar. It is great to be able to set prompts for myself. It truly keeps me from missing appointments and keeps me on task.

hi1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hi1 said...

i'm a professional software tester available to help if you need any QA

helen.s.roper at gmail dot com

Nimrod Cohen said...

Great initiative, hope it'll land on time for people to actually wait for it...

Wanted to remind u that u may wanna look at the legal angle as some of it might be trade marked and belongs to twitter now...

Magnolia South said...

choing the thanks for doing this. I'm thrilled that someone is trying. :)

1. The ability to use more than one email address. I might be emailing from work or emailing via dial2do.
2. The ability to do it via SMS.
3. The ability to send a SMS query with a return result (like gcal).
4. Google gears offline would be fantastic! I'm often in the field and will need a way to retrieve everything.
5. Total Gcal integration would be great too.

I'd love to help, but I'm so NOT a programmer. I could do help files or tutorials if you like though.

Magnolia South said...

Oh... and to contact me my username is the same as it is here at gmail dot com. :)

Anonymous said...

Like many others, natural language parsing is invaluable! Also, Twitter integration and being able to get SMS reminders is great. Also being able to create and adjust reminders on the fly. And one thing I'd love to see eventually is full integration with Google Calendar!

Erasmus said...

I have some ideas on how to do a to-do list integration with google calendar, and google's api offers access to parsing via the natural language parser of their "quick add" feature, so perhaps building this as a Google Calendar add-on (so to speak) instead of a stand-alone application would speed things up considerably?

Google calendar already offers these features:
- Natural language processing of events for creation (Quick Add)
- SMS event creation and response with event creation information
- SMS/email/popup reminders
and many others.

Google calendar is missing only these pieces to be a Sandy replacement:
- Multiple/variable reminder times
- To-do list with start and end dates (with nag reminders after end dates)
- Integration with email
- remembering random facts

I'm about 80% done with integrating the first three with the Zend GData API PHP library, using Google Calendar, email, sms, and a very simple to-do list php script (though with email and SMS, I'll likely not use that interface to update my to-do list).

I'm using Google Calendar as my "database" for everything except my external to-do list tool (though the actual output of that tool is stored in google calendar as well, and I'm thinking of rewriting it to use the google calendar is it's "database"). The reason for this is that SMS is available in the US for free - would be an issue for non-US users though.

Perhaps it would be good to start with a quick google calendar "add-on" and then build out replacement pieces as you go? This would get something up ASAP, and let you take your time to build the stand-alone application right.

Contact me if you want an overview of the logic I'm using to use Google Calendar for practically everything.

Anonymous said...

I was at bay piggies the other night and heard the announcement that you needed developers.
While I never really used Sandy, I'm a python developer in the Bay area and would love to help out.
You can email me Doug at DougTabuchi dot com
Cheers and looking forward to helping out,

Beth Skwarecki said...

Thanks so much for taking on this project! Also count me in to develop, test, and/or document: beth at loxosceles .org (loxosceles on twitter)

Sandy's essential feature for me was that I could send her an item via email without remembering any syntax beyond the word "remember".

Most important to me:

* receive instructions via email

* reads any paragraph (including subject line) starting with "remember" or "remind me [to]"

* understands a variety of date/time formats ("tuesday", "12/23", "tomorrow")

* emails each reminder at the appropriate time (or at the beginning of the day if no time is specified)

Even if the new Sandy had ONLY the above features, that would be sufficient for me personally. Other nice things, in order of personal preference:

* web interface to quickly edit tasks without back-and-forth querying

* daily digest

* twitter interface

* repeatable reminders

* (new feature) configurability for how far in advance to remind you of something

* (new feature) IM interface

* address book

Ann said...

Besides natural language parsing and getting email updates, I'd love to be able to update and be updated by Sandy via IM. Twitter worked fairly well, but would prefer IM.

Thanks for this effort!