What I’m Up To

This is supposed to be my development blog, and I realized that I haven’t written about what I’m working on in a while. So here’s my various development goings-on.

Projects Galore

I have a bunch of interesting projects on my plate these days. When it rains, it pours. It’s keeping me busy and thrown a spotlight on my need to get organized (more on that later). The big, team, .NET project is as challenging as ever but is going really well. Industry leading stuff. I’ve also got a small website project coming up, and a larger web application which will feature a bit of ecommerce too. Exciting.

Busy != Stressed

For years I’ve thought that I had a lot of stress in my life. However, a recently read book made me realize that it’s actually a busyness problem. I’m not overly busy- ie, I have ample time for all that needs doing, I just feel overwhelmed and swamped. Mostly because, like so many other people I’m horribly disorganized and I procrastinate too much. So I’m making a new me. A better system. Getting crap done!

I started by clearing off my desk and coffee table of everything but the task at hand. Put stuff away, filed it for later, or just threw it out. I then pruned my wiki moving all my non-important tasks to a rainy day list that I will not feel that I have to do. Just those steps made me look and feel less busy. It’s great.

The second step of my new approach is to get things done as they come up. For example a piece of mail came to me that actually belongs to my sister. I normally would put that on my desk and call her ‘later’, which means it would sit there for days. Instead I didn’t even put the piece of mail down. I called her, left a message that she’s due for the dentist, then put the tooth-brush-holding-monkey postcard in the recycling. It’s a small example, but it’s indicative of my new approach.

Lastly, I made a big list of all the things that I really do need to do. I’m systematically knocking those out of the park. Things like: get my passport, renew my license plate sticker, etc. This giant list will take awhile, but I’m being aggressive in getting things done and not saving them for later. All in all, my new approach has already lifted some of the busyness weight off my shoulders. The key is to keep at it.

SourceForge Updates

Sourceforge is dropping some of their legacy features like the forums, document storage and the wiki, and replacing them with hosted OS apps like phpBB and mediaWiki. I think this is fantastic, so I’ve been working on migrating my project: AV Book Library over to these new features. In the process, I found a hosted apps bug that is making it nearly impossible for me to log out of them or log in as the correct user. So that is on hold till this bug gets resolved. The AV Book Library docs were migrated to mediaWiki successfully, but for the forum migration, I’m hoping SF will provide some kind of migrate tool. I don’t want to lose my existing forum posts.


I tried installing Ubuntu onto a Windows XP Acer laptop via the Windows installer Wubi. My first time using Ubuntu went well and I really liked it. However once it started trying to upgrade itself, I started getting bugs. Which got worse and eventually fubared the OS completely and I had to go back into Windows XP to remove it. I’ve decided to give it another go and create a partition for it this time, formatted to ext3 and try again. But that’ll have to wait.

Open Source PM Software

My search for a bug tracker was successful when I found FlySpray, but i’m still not happy with my project/task management software: PHP Collab. I looked at Task Freak but it wasn’t quite what I want. I need better grouping of tasks into projects, and a nicer completion progress than the 5 squares thing that they are using. I also don’t care for the interface. So, the search goes on. I may end up stuck with PHP Collab for a while.

French Characters and FTP

I discovered a major headache while working on my first French language website. If I FTP up the site to the server, my pages which are in ISO-8859-1, the French characters become gibberish. This doesn’t happen if I just copy the source out of my IDE and paste it into the file via the hosting control panel. I did some reading and discovered that FTP only supports ASCII and via some workarounds that FTP clients have created, UTF-8. Which doesn’t help me since I’m not using UTF-8. If I try transferring the files in FTP binary mode, I get random characters tacked onto the front of the file. I’m stumped on what to do. Converting everything to UTF-8 is not feasible for what is essentially a pro-bono project. *sigh* I contacted my hosting provider for any alternative methods of transferring files to the server. They said FTP and the control panel is it. They suggested zipping the whole site then FTP up the zip file and uncompress it via the control panel. Bleh. Instead I think I will use a language file and put all French strings in there. Then I only have to hand transfer (copy-paste) that one file.

Fun and Games

Tired of the endless disappointment of never having a video card that’s good enough, even as little as one year after buying it, I’ve decided to stop playing PC games. I’m sick of trying a new PC game only to have it fail miserably and I’m stuck with a non-returnable opened package. Ooo yippee- $60 down the drain. I’m also tired of DRM that messes up my computer. I have an Xbox 360 and lots of game options. Fallout 3 and Castle Crashers are currently entertaining me these days. My only regret is I will miss playing Half-Life on the PC. I hope it’s as good on the Xbox and I hope it continues to be released for this system. Seriously, why can’t game developers calm down: those water and fog effects are not worth it. My current PC is almost 4 years old, still fast, and I have no desire to update it.

So that’s what’s new. Busy, but I’m doing a lot of interesting things and learning a lot.