Monthly Archives: June 2006

iCommit: PHP app for doing GTD

iCommit: PHP app for doing GTD.

Getting Things Done []

Rainer Bernhardt has put together a nifty little PHP app for doing GTD via a web interface. It lets you wrangle projects, next actions, calendar items, ad hoc lists, and all the other tactical building blocks of GTD all via your (non-IE) browser. The interface is pretty good and typical workflow is quite easy to navigate through. It has nice touches like attachments, per-item effort estimates, printable views, plus Rainer says he may soon offer email integration which would “eliminate use of a separate e-mail app” for workflow-related planning. Wow.

Although I haven’t spent a great deal of time with it, I’m very intrigued by the baked-in “weekly review” functionality, which walks you through most of what you need to look over each week from one interface. Since review gets short shrift from the many folks (like me) who use GTD primarily for task management, I think an addition like this is a terrific idea.

iCommit is, like so many of my favorite apps these days, a non-commercial, one-man operation, so there are a few rough edges, no documentation (yet! coming soon, says Rainer), and it is very much “first come, first served” in terms of seats he can handle on his personal server setup (I hope we don’t cream Rainer’s productivity boxen with this). But iCommit is worth a look if you’ve been craving a cross-platform, low-paper implementation of Getting Things Done.   [43 Folders]

Discovering a world of resources

Discovering a world of resources.

Over the past couple of months, my interest in HTTP, resources, and the effects of a CRUD-constrained approach to controllers have lead to a profound simplification in how I develop Rails applications.

I've been putting all of these thoughts to use in my work on Sunrise, the next application from 37signals, and its already proven a treasure trove of extractions.

As often is the case, these extractions see the light of day even before the originating application does. So at both RubyKaigi and RailsConf, I took the opportunity to explain where we are and the immediate future as I see it. Now that both those presentations have been delivered, the slides are available.

Interestingly enough, the most profound benefit I'm witnessing of this renaissance for HTTP has not been related to first-order glories of the protocol itself. But rather to the second-order impact it has on domain modeling. The birth of a new default assumption to design: “What if the whole world could be modeled under the constraints of CRUD?”.

That's where the biggest and most satisfying payoff has lied for me personally. It's somewhat similar to the notion that test-driven development is less about tests and more about design. There are two examples in the slides to exemplify the effects of such a transformation.

I believe that's also what gave some people the chills at RailsConf. “Is DHH trying to to tighten the belts on the straight jacket of design once more?”, seemed to be the worrying notion. Why yes, I am. But this time its an entirely voluntary committal. The brave new world of resources is accessible by choice, not mandate. And if you want to continue on with your life with a notion of HTTP as merely an inconsequential transfer protocol unworthy of your attention, you'll be more than free to do so.

But. If you choose to partake in the renaissance, be prepared to raise your game to a new level of delight. There's a rejuvenation awaiting you. One that'll simplify your controllers, bless your application with an almost-free REST API, and elevate your domain model even further away from the depths of anemic.

Can I get a hallelujah?

(Jim has a good walk-through of the specifics of the presentation that's worth reading while perusing the slides)  [Loud Thinking]

Check out (and add it to any politics/elections resources lists you have). I have heard reference to this site before, but this is the first time I've actually used it–and I'm impressed. Devoted to actually checking all the facts that politicians spout off in their speeches and addresses, it's pathetic how many mistakes (knowing or not) are made. The site, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at U Penn, highlight the mistakes that are made, often linking to the primary documents (video, audio, text) in which the mistakes were made. Nice work!

found via The Internet Scout Project 

Cubicle Culture: How brainstorming works best

Cubicle Culture: How brainstorming works best. “‘If you leave groups to their own devices, they’re going to do a very miserable job,’ says Prof. Paulus. But if people brainstorm alone after the group brainstorming session, it can be productive, he says, adding, ‘It’s ironic: You tap the benefits of groups alone. Everyone still presumes the best brainstorming is group brainstorming.’”
[xBlog: The visual thinking weblog | XPLANE]

Jolt Award: Considering Dynamic Categorization via Tagging

Jolt Award: Considering Dynamic Categorization via Tagging.

The Jolt Awards are the major industry award for software development tools (compilers,
libraries, etc.). One problem we face every year is proper classification of tools.
Traditionally, we try to refine / fine tune the previous year's categories (Development
Environments; Libraries, Frameworks, and Components; etc.). Problems arise frequently
balancing the number of products in a category (20 entries in one category, 3 in another),
when clearly competitive products end up in different categories (happens all the
time with categories “Web Development Tools” versus “Development Environments”), and
when a product cuts across categories.

Brainstorming yesterday, we wondered if it would not be better to generate the categories
dynamically. One idea was to use checkboxes for predefined activities (“defect tracking,”
“code generation,” “GIS mapping”) and use some form of entropy measure to divvy them
up into our 12-or-so categories. Easy enough mathematically. Another, more dramatic
idea, was to create a tagging system for software tools and see if we could come up
with a more dynamic view. The main challenge we see is that it seems like a small
world: there are only a few hundred tool releases every year and it's difficult to
imagine many people becoming engaged in the task of tagging them.

Do the Web 2.0 dynamics of distributed collaboration apply to small numbers? A
for software development tools?   [Knowing.NET]

Garden Point Ruby.NET: True Compiler Available for Download

Garden Point Ruby.NET: True Compiler Available for Download.

“[Wayne Kelly is] pleased to announce the preliminary Beta release of the Gardens
Point Ruby.NET compiler. Note: this is not just a Ruby/.NET bridge, nor a Ruby Interpreter
implemented on .NET, but a true .NET compiler. The compiler can be used to statically
compile a Ruby source file into a verifiable .NET v2.0 assembly or it can be used
to directly execute a Ruby source file (compile, load and execute). Our implementation
is not yet fully complete, but it is the only Ruby compiler that we know of for either
the .NET or JVM platforms that is able to pass all 871 tests in the samples/test.rb
installation test suite of Ruby 1.8.2.

Complete source code of our system can be downloaded from:  [Knowing.NET]

Is Now the Time to Dump Microsoft and Fire Your IT Manager?

Is Now the Time to Dump Microsoft and Fire Your IT Manager?. “A few weeks ago I was doing a research project for a nonprofit organization with thirty employees. I struck up a conversation with the full-time IT person while she set me up with an Outlook account, a tedious process that took almost an hour… Later that day, I started wondering how a thirty-person, grant-funded nonprofit can justify employing a full-time IT person. Shouldn’t this valuable salary slot be recaptured and used for a person who serves the organization’s actual mission?” 
[bBlog: The sales, marketing and business weblog | XPLANE]

Yet Another Risk for BigLaw?

Yet Another Risk for BigLaw?.

BigLaw manages risks of all kinds. Records retention and discovery are the new biggies, but let’s not forget conflicts and insider trading, among others. Now, firms can consider a new risk.

Common Spreadsheet Errors Can Be Found With More Testing, Some Double-Checking (6/13/05) in the Wall Street Journal reports that an academic researcher has found that there are “undetected errors in about 1% of all spreadsheet formulas… some of those errors are big – big enough to impact a decision.” For example, the researcher says that companies have had to restate earnings because of spreadsheet errors.

Law firms check written work carefully – a 1% error rate would not be acceptable. I’m not sure the same is true for spreadsheets. My sense is that, partially because spreadsheet skill is relatively rare in BigLaw, the QC is not as rigorous as for written work. Even where BigLaw relies on outside experts’ spreadsheets, the potential for error exists. Spreadsheet error can even affect law firm business decisions such as proposed client budgets or practice group profitability analysis.

This risk may not be particularly worrisome, but those lawyers and technology support staff who work on spreadsheets should at least be aware of the issue. 
[Strategic Legal Technology]