Doors pretty much done

February 6, 2010

Agree with you there Ron — nice to have the smell of maple in the basement instead of coffee and computers. Must get to this stuff more.

The doors don’t seem so bad now that I have them assembled. Not ultra super precision work, but that is a topic for another post. There are the Norm types of the world that would go for laser precision for every step, and then there are the Roy Underhill types (more my kin) who have a good sense of the finished product and know how to adjust or just not stress out along the way. Probably the same with cooking.

At any rate, here are the doors:

Next step will be to sand them down, square them up and glue, then when ready fit to the case. That will give me a good excuse to sharpen my planes so that they are wicked enough to take on the maple end grain. Yowza.

Taking a break in the shop

February 6, 2010

Quite a month, with a lot of work with Unfuddle and more recently Assembla. My attitude toward running projects has changed considerably, and I don’t think I will ever go back to the land of Microsoft Project and those sorts of structures. I was in that realm for many years, and the project management was never tight to the work, but now I feel very much in control of my teams. But more on that later. Today saw some shop time.

Getting back to the linen tower — oh, just a few years in the making — was good, and I’m getting close now. I planed down the rails for the doors and got them sized, and today saw the fun of the router table out in the snow so I could route the grooves.

I can’t say I was thrilled with the routing, because the grooves turned out fine but the mortise ends were choppy. My stock was too thick for clean cuts, so I had to trim the ends after, and I guess there was a bit too much rolling across the bearings while routing the ends. So be it. I was cold and figured that I’d have to spruce up the doors anyhow once assembled, so there you go.

At one point I thought I should cut the mortises by hand, and maybe I should have because the maple wanted to split more than usual, but Wang … it is a bathroom linen tower. Time to get it out of the basement.

I remember how when I was building the base cabinet I watched episodes of “Dr. Who”, so maybe I’ll do that again and close the loop. Just trim up the doors at the detail level once I piece them together and get the joints really tight. The real trick will be to get any twist out of the doors since the main one is really long and could flex if I don’t mix and match the pieces right.

So there you go. Some work in the shop, and it was a good change from technology and projects.

Random thoughts

December 9, 2009

Very busy lately here at Data+Graphite, so some random thoughts to keep us all company while the snow starts to fall on Chicago. Right now it is rainy, wet snow, so no good there. We need the monster flakes like in the 70s. On we go.

How Stuff Works

A huge thanks to the crew at for one of the best forms of internet usage in recent years. Funny, informative, and just good. Even the kids love to listen, which I must say beats Junie B. Jones. They are out of Atlanta, and I’m working on two projects in Atlanta right now. Maybe fate will route me past their offices one day.


Ah, the CMS I wish I had married years ago. Installed it again today and tooled around the Zope framework, and it is grand. I can just feel it. Trouble is I’ve spent all my learning curve time on eZ Publish, and SharePoint, and I don’t know if I have the energy to slog through Zope and Plone. Love the idea though, and I’ll be watching as they continue to push for better releases.

Google Wave and Google Voice

I now have access to both. Voice is great but a bit chaotic as it rings numerous phones, including a direct number for Skype. The drawback of working in places where I can’t get a cell signal I guess. And what is going on with their translation? It seems that the folks in the southern U.S. have been forgotten, because messages from that part of the world come through in text looking like MadLibs.


Still can’t say enough about how useful Parallels is, particularly now that I’ve upgraded and the tools work for Microsoft as well as all the Linux distributions. FINALLY a solution to the wacky screen resolutions with Linux on laptops, albeit in a strange way.

The Mighty Battle

Working on a short list right now for a multi-tenant application and it has come down to EPiServer, eZ Publish, Kentico, and Plone. All good contenders, so we’ll see who wins. For those of you in the assessment world, I’ve taken to recording videos to show functionality for the most important use cases. Seems to be the way to go because it is a far better vehicle than text for showing how things really work (take that, huge grids on!). OK. Back to the coffee and the work.

So you are working on a project or running a project, and you need to keep tabs on progress. You have your project plans and timesheets and whatnot, and all of that is very important, but where do you look to see progress day to day? Well, over the past year I’ve been working with hosted Subversion solutions, and this time around I’m running a project using Unfuddle. It has all of the same features I’m used to, such as ease of setup and user management, but the reporting and messaging is far better than I’ve seen in other solutions.

For me the answer to any question of reporting and analytics is tied to the more gritty data, the stuff that you either ignore or don’t know about or dismiss. Really, though, by keeping things simple you can keep your projects from going off the rails. Have your developers commit code and write documentation (via the Notebook feature … very wiki like) and work tickets. Use the Unfuddle dashboard, or install the Mac desktop widget. Check your email to watch for notifications that come through on activity. The team is either working on code and checking it in or not, and they are either writing documentation or they are not.

And best of all, this communication goes on in a community space, by project, where you can put controls in place to make assignments or review progress and have a centralized audit trail. So, today I give props to Unfuddle. Nice work!

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Fully reloaded for OSS

October 23, 2009

Just finished up rebuilding an Ubuntu machine and it went surprisingly well. This time around I was after some integration of the LAMP stack with PostgreSQL, and while the config settings and whatnot differ a bit for that server, it was quite similar to MySQL. The biggest trick wasn’t with the server per se but with the connection to phppgadmin on Apache, because you have to set the enhanced security flag to false for phppgadmin or else you won’t be able to login from http://localhost/phppgadmin. Now it works like a charm:

phppgadmin working

phppgadmin working

Next I’ll be doing a clean install of eZ Publish 4.2 to see how Roland Bendetti and his product  crew have been doing since they adopted a more formalized roadmap. Not sure that it will matter with a manual install, since they seem to have put a lot of work into more polished installers for the masses (a good idea there), but maybe along the way they fixed the strange issue where you had to select the right combination of languages to get the demo template set in place.

After that it is back over to EPiServer to spend more time with their latest product. They have a lot going on too, and I’m curious about where they are headed with consolidation of various packages and bolt-on features.

So it has been a few months since I’ve been using the Day Grid Balancer, and I find it to be quite effective, and now I am tossing my old sheets up on the wall as a reminder of progress. The more marked up and filled in the better, the more I’ve done. It has become a unique blend of "Getting Things Done," both the Allen AND Black versions (for those of you who know that there are two good "Getting Things Done" books out there) with my Rhodia notepad and Day Grid Balancer sheets and an inbox.

In the past I’d gone to extremes, with weekly papers and notes all marked by week and year, and then I’d scan/fax them as a set and load them into a content management system. Interesting to be sure, but a big waste of time really. Life is a whole lot more loose than that, full of corrections and mistakes and an endless list of things that don’t matter and will never matter, so for me it is best to simplify. So far so good with the new system.

my daily grid balancer

Kicking off the day, and I tell you, nothing beats the world of virtual machines. I am using Parallels on OS X, which is only around $70 right now, and I can run pretty much anything I want, and the Coherence mode is amazing (if a bit manic at times). Nice way to start work, without firing up all sort of machines or going the dual boot route or any of that stuff.

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