So I’m an obsessive information organizing freak. I’ve tried many programs over the years – Omni Focus, Outliner, (and many other outliners),, various desktop optimizers (Pathfinder, quicksilver) and while some have virtues that others do not, they all fall short of my insanely particular needs.

I want fast access to a large array of data. And while that is not exactly a unique request, it does expose the lack of a comprehensive application that can deliver. Specifically, I want to be able to:

1- invoke specific files with a keystroke, while all similar files (tagged, or in same folders, or behaviorally related) are available in an easily invokable (widget?) list nearby

2 – a variety of visual modes for mapping projects in relation to each other. spreadsheet form, outliner with easily collapsing nested layers, and diagram/3D visual forms

3 – the ability to selectively link documents across my desktop, and on the web without having to open other applications – previewing files, be they active websites, code under development, or open standards compliant publishing software files.

4 – the ability to assign contexts and priorities to todo lists across different projects, and be able to invoke them across all projects at will – the ability to configure and save these various configurations – high priority errands, medium priority research, etc. Did I say across multiple projects?

OK, so the closest I’ve gotten to this ideal is a combination of Open Office calc (for the sortable lists, and in *theory* programmable views using macros & buttons, although my attempts so far have been fruitless) along with OmniOutliner Pro, for the ability to handle larger amounts of text and a better row collapse function than Calc.

Today I’m going to document an attempt to create a sheet inside Calc that pulls to do items with a corresponding “ASAP” priority from another sheet, within the same workbook. I think this will involve the VLOOKUP function. Along with the idiot proof instructions on how to reference another sheet, I’m on my way…

So, I’ve gotten an error message, which is better than #N/A. it’s error 502. I still haven’t wrapped my head around what the last number means, either a 1 or a 0. I get that it’s about whether an exact match is desired, but the particulars are still hazy to me.

=VLOOKUP(“1.”; ‘mysheetname’.D1:D50; 2; 1)

“1.” is a string I am looking for

‘mysheetname’.    is, you guessed it, the name of the sheet

D1:D50 is the range I want the formula to look at

2 is the index number of the column of the corresponding row in a positive match for the desired value in the D column range, so that would be column “B”

1 – a partridge in a pear tree. No something to do with how precise the match needs to be.


So, what’s error 502? According to this, it’s when the range is blank. Hmm. OK, so removing the reference to the other sheet, and copying dummy data into the same sheet yields the same error. Maybe this is the issue – the data I have that I want to reference is selected from a pull down menu, created in tools->data validation (selecting the text option). Maybe this doesn’t actually input text the way the formula needs it to be? Testing… Nope. Copying the value into a blank cell, and then copying it back into the range I am doing the lookup on still yields a 502.

Hmm, still stumped, out of time to play with this. More soon, I guess sometime this weekend.

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