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 HowStuffWorks.com 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.

Plone

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.

Parallels

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 cmsmatrix.org!). OK. Back to the coffee and the 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.

picture 3

Tell EPiServer I’m coming

October 20, 2009

Just started digging into EPiServer and I’m going after it in a big way. My hope is that somewhere between the heavy weight and cost of SharePoint and the weaknesses at the enterprise level for eZ Publish there is a middle ground where solutions can be built and deployed and integrated more effectively. I’m in the process of downloading almost all of their products now and will see how things go. Having the stability of the core Microsoft stack and the power and analytics of SQL Server are very attractive at this point after a couple of years with MySQL.

EPiServer also gets marks for going with "world" in its domain, putting http://world.episerver.com out there as advanced notice for domination. But then that didn’t quite work for JDE and OneWorld, which my friend Brian McHugh liked to call "the software that time forgot." More posts to come as I get into the EPi world.

Shift to mobile has started

October 20, 2009

I’ve always hated phones, at least in the past, maybe because I don’t like the interruptions or I have yet to find a mobile device I like. The Samsung Blackjack was one, a really durable phone all things considered, and as of late the Samsung Jetset through Cricket has been very good. So I guess I don’t like the phone much yet I really like phone technology. I’ve supported a PBX system, sourced a VoIP solution and managed the installation (Mitel), then run a bunch of analytics against said Mitel system. While doing that I switched the home phones to Vonage, and in all the new technology beats the old hands down.

So today I’ve fired up Google Voice — 708 406 9066 — after getting an invitation, and I’m looking forward to having a main number that I can manage behind the scenes. I’m also writing up a big SharePoint application assessment, and the more I’m in SharePoint the more I’m thinking about the mobile aspect of it. Much to look into on the mobile side, what with so many things headed that way, and functionality such as LED lights and, finally, the ability to project presentations so that you don’t need a computer. Help me, Obi-Wan. Sales in the west are terrible. Installing SharePoint is our only hope.

Whacked email

June 9, 2009

Pelted with allergies today and feeling sick and utterly annoyed by email and all the knowledge and effort and whatnot that goes into writing and reading and organizing. For the most part I stay organized, but eventually I hit days like today where I select hundreds — and yes, I said hundreds — of emails in various states, mostly read, and then push them off to an archive. Still there, just out of view.

This week I am experimenting with Dave Seah’s Day Grid Balancer, which is a nifty representation of what I’ve been doing for years with notecards. The big philosophical debate with things like the DGB center around people who perceive fielding emails to be an achievement versus people who try to center in on a handful of core tasks. Me? Oh, I am in the core task camp to be sure. On one level I’m impressed by those who fire back emails promptly, ping ping ping, and give the indication that they are utterly on the ball. Maybe they are. Who the hell knows. Maybe I think, somewhere in my vague thoughts, that the important stuff will circle back around like planets in orbit even if I miss an email.

Let’s leave off with a quote from Jackson Browne. I think this will sum it up for today:

Boy of mine
As your fortune comes to carry you down the line
And you watch as the changes unfold
And you sort among the stories you’ve been told
If some pieces of the picture are hard to find
And the answers to your questions are hard to hold
Take good care of your mother
When you’re making up your mind
Should one thing or another take you from behind
Though the world may make you hard and wild
And determine how your life is styled
When you’ve come to feel that you’re the only child
Take good care of your brother
Let the disappointments pass
Let the laughter fill your glass
Let your illusions last until they shatter
Whatever you might hope to find
Among the thoughts that crowd your mind
There won’t be many that ever really matter
But take good care of your mother
And remember to be kind
When the pain of another will serve you to remind
That there are those who feel themselves exiled
On whom the fortune never smiled
And upon whose life the heartache has been piled
They’re just looking for another
Lonely child