Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 9 / JANUARY 1989

Job Jar Database

By Jeffrey Summers, M.D.

Job Jar Atari is a simple, useful database that keeps track of your family household chores, prioritizing the task lists by deadlines or by comparative importance. This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers of any memory size, with disk drive.

Fix the roof, or shop for grandma's birthday?

So much to do and so little time to do it. Often it's difficult to get organized, so at my house we used a "job jar" containing little slips of paper on which are written jobs that need to be done. When you have some free time, you go to the jar and pick out a job at random. If you complete the job, you get to tear up the piece of paper and throw it out.

This works fine if all the jobs are of equal importance and none have special deadlines. But what if you have a job that must be completed by a certain date? What about the shed roof that's about to cave in if you don't repair it, yet you pull "write letter to Aunt Suzie" out of the jar? Aunt Suzie will be pleased to get the letter, but it might contain news about the shed roof collapsing and the cost of replacing the tools inside.

What if you only have an hour and want a short job? Of course you can fish around in the job jar to choose the higher priority job, the short job, or the job with the closest deadline. But that 8-bit computer sitting on your desk could make things a lot easier when you use it with Job Jar Atari. This program prioritizes your jobs and gives you lists of tasks in order of various criteria such as deadlines, comparative importance, or time allotted.


Type in Listing 1, JOBJAR.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. If you own this month's Antic Disk, transfer Job Jar Atari to a fresh disk that you will use lor your job jars.

The program first asks you the name of the person whose jar you want. Each family member can have a different jar. Type your name – as many as 8 letters, all CAPITALS. The program then checks to see if there is a job jar on the disk for the name entered. If Job Jar Atari doesn't find a jar matching the name, it creates one and informs you that this is for a new person. Then you are asked for today's date. Enter this in numeric format, MMDDYY For example, January 3, 1989 would be entered as 010389.

Next comes the main menu. The selections here are A to Add a job, D to Delete a job, L to List all the jobs, and E to Exit. Press A to add the first job to a new jar.

Job Jar screen image
Don't fish
around in a jar
for the right
your 8-bit find
them for you.

You are now asked for the job's "due date." Enter the date that you want the job to be completed, using the same MMDDYY format as above. Then you are asked for the job's starting priority – the priority this job has RIGHT NOW. Priorities can range from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest priority After this, you are asked for the job's ending priority – its priority at due date.

You now type the size (time requirement) of the job, using S for Small, M for Medium, or L for Large. Finally you are asked for a short description of the task – 37 characters maximum. Job Jar Atari asks you to confirm your entry If you type Y for Yes, the job is added to the jar. If you made an error, type N for No. In either case, you are returned to the main menu.

Make a few entries until you are comfortable with adding to the job jar, then type L to get a Listing of the jobs. You will be asked whether you want the jobs listed in order of entry date, due date, priority, or size. If you choose anything besides size, you will be asked if you want the listing restricted to one size of job.

Finally, you get to choose between having your list displayed onscreen or printed on paper. All printers are supported, if they can be accessed by OPEN and PRINT statements. The program then sorts the jobs according to the order you selected and prints a ranked list reflecting your choices.

When the program ranks by priority, it calculates a priority for the current date. The calculation is based on the starting and ending priorities, date of entry and due date. Priority rises in a straight line connecting the date of entry to the due date, and then levels off if you haven't completed the project by the due date. If a job isn't that high a priority now, but will be later – for example, Christmas shopping – you can structure the job priority to reflect this.

When you type D to Delete a job, you are asked for a "description" of the job you wish to delete. You don't need to type the whole job description, just enough for Job Jar Atari to determine a unique job. Suppose you have two jobs, CLEAN GARAGE and CLEAN BASEMENT. If you want to delete the latter, typing CLEAN B will do it. If the program can't find the job to delete, you will be so informed.

It is important that you use the F command to Exit from Job Jar Atari anytime you delete an entry. Pressing E at the main menu causes the revised file to be saved to the disk if changes have been made.

Jeffrey Summers is a Rochester NY physician whose useful application programs often appear in Antic.