Migration to WordPress in Progress

MovableType was nice, but for several reasons (license, upkeep etc.) I’m moving to WordPress. Most entries from the old weblog should automatically redirect, and hopefully rss feeds should be updated as well.

In the meantime, pardon the default template and other errors you might encounter. It won’t be much longer before things are back in order.

etc. Family Software Technology

Getting Things Done The Last Two Months

Is it wrong to want to write a blog entry just because the software you write the entry in is so nice? I haven’t written for a couple months and every so often I’ll remember just how nice Ecto is and want to write again. Aside from that, a lot has happened.

I’ve finally started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. I got two other co-workers reading it at my recommendation (before I even started reading it) and when they they really liked it, I figured I had better have a taste of my own medicine. It lives up to the hype.

GTD has inspired me to find a better way to get everything out of my mind and on “paper.” I really feel his philosophy that you have to have it all out of your mind (which doesn’t know how to manage tasks based on the best time to do them) before you can really become productive and relaxed is right on.

I’ve looked at a few options for doing this and haven’t really ruled any out yet. These are the choices so far:

  • A Wiki – I’d probably just use my install of PmWiki which has been great (it’s moved now because of all the wiki spam).
  • Entourage X 2004 – Theoretically this would be nice, but it has been super buggy for me and I can’t stand the instability.
  • PlannerMode (planner.el) in Emacs. This looks like a powerful way to manage tasks/projects etc. but requires learning Emacs. That might not be such a bad thing, but I haven’t decided for sure if I’m up to it. This is an article with a screenshot of what to expect.
  • PocketInformant – Pocket PC software that does it all.
  • Tracks – a Ruby on Rails application that looks great. I, however, have not had much luck getting it installed.
  • A Paper planner
  • Text files
  • Something else.

I don’t think anything is going to be ideal. In order to do that, it would need to:

  1. Be accessible from work and home. At work they block every port but port 80 so I have no access to SSH or port 3000 (what Tracks seems to like to use) or anything else.
  2. Be accessible from both my Mac and my Pocket PC
  3. Be intuitive and quick. If I’m going to enter everything I need to do, it needs to be fast.
  4. and it should obviously allow for the basic GTD philosophy

So that’s where I am with that. I still haven’t even finished the book, but I’m sold on the idea.

I’ve also been working a lot more in Flash, programming in ActionScript. It goes in cycles, I program for a couple months then spend awhile in production. I definitely like the programming (and design) part of the cycles much better.

This time around I found TextMate and it also lives up to the hype. It’s a text editor with a very OS X feel and all the features I need to keep me happy while coding.

Since last time I wrote I’ve been to Florida to visit family, enjoyed a couple good snow storms (including one that’s going on at this very moment), redesigned Silverfish Longboarding, started work on a Masters in Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University and ordered an iPod shuffle (which unfortunately won’t be here for another month).

I’ve also gotten 4782 blogspams which were blocked by MT-Blacklist as well as 634 that were moderated. I’m seriously considering switching to WordPress which my wife uses and I get jealous of every so often. I need to check to see if image uploading is supported by Ecto for WordPress now.

Over the past few months I’ve read less on Bloglines (the best aggregator available IMO) have been unsubscribing to blogs at a rapid pace. I’m no less enthusiastic about weblogs, I’ve just become a little more picky about which ones I read. I continue to be amazed at how much Rui Carmo manages to post on the Tao of Mac.

That’s about it for now. Best Tool for the Job is back (again) from vacation.

etc. Software

Colors in Safari and Firefox

I spent the last week in Washington DC, New Jersey, New York City and Providence, more to come on that later possibly. Right now I’d just like to point out something I’m probably the last to notice.

Firefox vs. Safari

This is the same image in Firefox (on the left) and Safari. I had no idea that the browser affected how colors were displayed on the same computer. Interesting and I must say somewhat disturbing.

Also, I’d like to point out that my second least favorite instrument is the harpsichord. Second only to the bagpipes.


Free iPod?

Indexipod 20040719A

If Jeff Croft can do it, so can I. To get a free iPod you have to 1. accept one of the offers and 2. refer 5 friends who also accept one of the offers. I’ll probably go with the Columbia House CD’s or something… I’ve done it in the past and it hasn’t been so bad.

Anyway, here’s my link. If you decide to do it, just click there to get started 🙂

[update] If you’re not convinced it’s real, here’s a website that rates the offers and has some testimonials from people who’ve gotten theirs already. (from ForeverGeek)



Tomorrow morning I take the Miller Analogy Test (MAT). In preparation, and out of curiosity, I took this “Difficult Analogies Test” it was kind of fun. I got an 18 on it. What about you?


3 Free Songs

Enter these codes in the website for free songs. Windows Media format.

1. 45721ZMF6L86
2. 45353KHS568K
3. 4573362F6944

First come, first serve. If you get them, please post a comment saying so so others won’t try to download them to find they’ve already been used.


The Ideal Mower

As a first time lawn-mower buyer I have some advice to pass on. If you’re going to buy a mower, make sure it has two features:
1. Self propulsion
2. A motor bigger (much bigger if possible) than 5 horsepower.

I bought a Craftsman mower with a Honda engine. From my research, Honda engines are the best and craftsman bodies aren’t great but aren’t bad. The price was right ($250).

My new lawn tool has one of the two necessities – it’s self propelled. I’ve heard too many people skimp in that department, justifying it by the excercise they’ll get or the small size of their lawns. I’m of the opinion that when it’s 100 degrees outside, I don’t want to excercise, I just want to cut the grass and money I spent at the beginning of the summer (or a couple summers ago) becomes a much smaller concern.

I figured that my medium sized yard would pose no problems for a small engine. I was wrong. Five horsepower is not enough to let your lawn go for two weeks… at least not here in Virginia where it’s so humid that the lawn is almost never dry. Mowing every week it does fine, but let one weekend pass where I’m out of town or more inclined to read a novel on the front porch and I can count on stopping every row to clear out grass or restart the mower.

Take this bit of advice for what it’s worth. Get a mower that will last (a Honda), one that moves itself and one that has some guts. You won’t regret it.


Laptop Love

I’m in the car on the way home from a business meeting in Philadelphia. One of my friends (Mark) let me borrow his 12″ 867mhz Powerbook and I’m officially sold on it. I?ve only had it for 2 days so far, but I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it. The size is perfect. I’ve used it twice to watch movies with my wife in bed–the screen is great and the battery lasts through a full DVD with plenty left for browsing sites about the movie afterwards. In the morning I used it to do some studying (again from bed?notice that theme) before work. It has built in wireless which connected effortlessly to my LAN.

The keyboard is great. It has very good tactile feedback, it?s also very quiet. I’m not a huge fan of the tiny arrow keys, but since I?m not much of a gamer, it doesn?t bother me too much. The trackpad is alright I’m absolutely not a fan of the one button concept?especially on a laptop, where you can?t just unplug it nad replace it with a two button mouse, but it?s something I can deal with.

Probably the best thing about it though is the feel. It feels solid, well built and stable. With the screen up I can hold it at pretty much any angle (no, Mark, I didn?t try this 🙂 ) without it moving or jiggling at all. The metal case is nice.. it looks aharp (and has gotten quite a few comments). It does NOT have color coded ports all over the sides and back, instead there are a few ports on the left hand side that hardly are noticable. The fan is quiet, the slot loading DVD drive has worked perfectly. There?s even a little button on the battery on the bottom that has five lights that indicate the charge level before you even open the cover of the laptop. Once you do open it, there?s no waiting for it to boot up. To put it to sleep you close the screen, to wake it up you open it. It?s almost like having a PDA that comes on instantly. I just chedked the uptime ? 10 days. A laptop which has been carried around extensively with an uptime of 10 days.

One of the nicest things about the size is that it?s actually conducive to carrying around. I rarely ever took my previous laptop off the desk because it was such a production. By the time I?d unplugged everything and packed it up it took too long, was too big and heavy with too short a battery life to make it worth it. Not the case with this laptop.

Just as an example. In the time it?s taken me to write this entry I?ve been watching the Truman Show on DVD, had the laptop asleep for about 3 hours before I started using it, worked on a spreadsheet for about 15 minutes before starting to write this and the battery is still at 80%. Nice.


Back to Business – New and Improved

My weblog sabbatical is over. In the past few weeks I’ve done the following:

  • Started work on Maqx Software Awards which is still very much in development both conceptually and technically. I didn’t plan on linking to it yet, but it looks like it’s going to take awhile before it’s perfect. In the meantime, I figured there’s no harm in opening it now.
  • Started work on Queenthings–my wife Jenny’s weblog. Again, this one still has quite a way to go as far as design but she’s already writing on it and it’s some good stuff.
  • apple_powermac_g5.jpg
    Switched. Yes, I got a Mac. It is good. The difference in speed between my 1.6ghz G5 at work and the Dual 2 at home is incredible. The price wasn’t bad either. I did my homework, compared everything available and for the speed and quality, nothing in the PC world came close. I got mine refurbished so it was less expensive than the ones on their site now, and I’m feeling good about the whole thing.

    If you keep reading this site and there will definitely be more on the software I’m using and specifics on why I’m pleased with the switch.

Other stuff has happened as well, more to come. Many more good things to come.


Effective Management – Four Simple Rules

Work has been interesting lately. If I ever become a manager, I hope I remember the following things:

1. Don?t mention changes to employees unless you have a firm plan, and more importantly, a date for implementing them. No matter what the plans may be.

2. Talk to your employees. Especially if they have shown a desire or hinted at wanting to talk to you.

3. Offer incentives and a clear, reasonable path for advancement. Don?t always make your employees come to you for rewards; go to them.

4. Know your stuff. You don?t have to know how to do their job, but you do have to be able to tell the difference between an excellent, good, mediocre and poor job (and about how long it should take to do it).

That?s it. Managing 101 from a firsthand perspective. Speaking of managing…it?s time for me to go get managed.