CuencaTravel.com

I’m starting work on a new site with my new partner, Patricio, a web developer.  He has his own business and web site, aplitec.net, which shows he has some design talent.  He’s experienced with PHP and Joomla.

The site is called CuencaTravel.com.  It aims to be a resource connecting visitors to Cuenca with local people and businesses.  The type of stuff you’d want to find on a travel website.

  • A directory of businesses travelers might be interested in:
    hotels, restaurants, travel agents, tour operations, shops and artisans, etc.
  •  Reviews and comparisons of businesses, attractions, sights, etc.
  • A map of the city and the ability to find businesses, attractions, sights, etc.
  • Blogs, galleries, comments, etc. by travelers and locals
  • Articles and advice for travelers
  • News and local events
  • Advertising, specials, package deals
  • Hotel & tour reservations and bookings
  • A marketplace for local products from shops, artisans, etc.

I hope to use this project to refine my process ideas and test drive a qa site.  In essence, CuencaTravel.com will be the first qa-site user (apart from bootstrapping.) One Shore is still looking for others willing to try out QA Site and give feedback.  It’s free for 3 months, and maybe more, if you’re a good customer.  That includes a free VPS server and support.

Of course I want Cuenca Travel to succeed as well.

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Masterblaster

“He has the knowin and the doin of a lot of things.”

That’s what made the short guy on Mad Max beyond thunderdome valuable.  Masterblaster was also the name of my parents’ Thanksgiving turkey.

But it’s the “knowin” and the “doin” that are valuable.  And since I’ve been evaluating a lot of project management applications for my business

ActiveCollab
ProjectPier
GoPlan
BaseCamp
Others

While the theme seems to be task lists, they all have one fata flaw.  They consider a task to be a line of text with a check box.  If only all my tasks were so easy. ActiveCollab, the only one listed above with time tracking capability, doesn’t consider the time spent on tasks worth tracking.  None of them consider that one task may be dependant upon (or block) another.

I understand that the idea of these web 2.0 tools is simplicity.  But a task list that doesn’t connect to anything else, is really not an improvement over a list on scratch paper (except it can be viewed over the internet.) A plain text file does as much, excepting the “milestones” feature — which can be approximated by scrawling “due on $x_date” at the top of the page, and then writing TODAY in big letters and circling it.

If document management were a serious feature, they’d at least work on organizing them.  What’s really needed is a way to tie documents to tasks.  Or at least discussions or messages.  Almost any task worth writing down is worth more than one line.  It could be as simple as providing a link from a task to a message|discussion|note.  And the ability to link messages|discussions|notes to one another — like a wiki, or what used to be called a “web site.”

If you have a wiki that can add attachments, a todo|task|check list is just a page.  If you’ve got the fancy strikethrough style and ordered lists, you’re a step ahead of these things.  Dependencies, importance (even if just limited to an important flag and a descope flag) are also important, and easily ignorable.

See, it’s not just the ability to do something that’s important, it’s the knowing how to do it.  You might forget what you did to accomplish task X and need to do it again — or undo it.  Or someone else needs to know how you did it, so they can duplicated it, or just satisfy Sarbanes-Oxley CYAbility.

Monk

Kelsey has been quilting and watching Monk on her computer.  It’s a show we both like.  I relate, of course to Adrian, because of my neuroses and admit to being “a little bit Monk.”  Kelsey said “alot.”  But I also realized, apart from being a germ freak, I share another neurosis with a fictional character.  I’m an organization freak.  Thankfully, I’m too lazy most of the time.  But I find when it comes to organizing my thoughts, that I obsess over details, and if the plan isn’t organized “just so” it distracts me.

I like to think that actually it is because of my limited ability to think clearly, that I need the organization to accomplish anything.  Whatever helps me sleep at night.  In truth, I’m often suffering from “analysis paralysis” and wish I could “just do it.”

del.icio.us and the web 2.0 me

I’ve gone web 2.0! I signed up for del.icio.us and intend to use it. Look for my exciting links under “fijiaaron”. My bookmarks have gotten out of control, and the firefox plugin should make it fairly painless. (I’ll just have to remember to browse with Firefox instead of Seamonkey.)

Along with a blog and basecamp, it’s official. Add in skype and a wiki, sprinkle in some Ajax, and you can stick a fork in me. All I need now is a flickr album and a social networking site. I’m even buying e-books and subscriptions.

Maybe I should get some ad sense or ad words? Nah.

I’m going to write a book, though, online, probably as a wiki, taking from the tools wiki. Tentatively titled Open Source QA Tools. And probably self-publish it on lulu.

I need some RSS feeds and a web service or two.

TODO

Yesterday Kelsey made a list of “101 things to do in 1001 days.” Apparently this is a phenomenon (fad) that is sweeping the blogosphere of ordinary folks (non-nerds, tech or political.)

I’m pretty excited about some things on her list, especially #9 and #18 because they involve me (I hope.)

In the process of coming up with things to do she looked up several other lists, and I was struck by how simply it can be done. While I’ve always known that a spreadsheet was enough, I never liked it (probably because I don’t like spreadsheets), seeing that a single blog post (which is really a text document) is being used to track such detailed and long-term projects is both frightening and relieving.

How much nicer would it be to have a page that linked from the list for each task, where progress could be updated. But it doesn’t need to be much more complex than that.

I’ve been evaluating alot of project management tools, currently favoring GoPlan, but they still don’t seem right. I actually miss the work breakdown spreadsheets we used at our last job. Other than the inherent problems of using Excel spreadsheets (not multiuser, brittle & limited formatting, ugly versioning, difficult to customize data without changing) the real problem is usually in coming up with accurate tasks, not in tracking them.

Every day I write a daily todo list on paper, that’s not much more complicated than a shopping list, and every day I end up writing more than I can possibly do and adding all sorts of notes (often irrelevant) that obscure the list. I try to keep 2 notepads (one for tasks and one for notes) and some scratch paper handy to combat this, but it invariably fails. My notes are either lost, or jumbled, important stuff written on the scratch paper never gets transferred, and 1/2 of the tasks from the previous day are written again for a few days before being dropped, incomplete as my work takes a different direction.

So simplicity needs to be the key. And persistence. Easy access to data is where online PM tools fall down, I think. Wikis are slightly too general, though I think a wiki based solution is a good idea.

Something that ties a wiki to a blog, but not a bliki.

I should have a WBS containing overarching goals for each project, tied to a project plan. And time allocation for projects. Each day I should identify which WBS tasks (and non WBS tasks) I need to perform. Then a summary at the end of the day of what I actually accomplishes (as well as updates to task lists. Tasks should have their own page with coments. Notes can exist in the ether as something to look up, but can also be linked to from tasks.

Dang it, I’m not supposed to be working on a new PM tool. It seems so easy, though.

bought new computer ebooks PHP in Action & Zend Framework

Based on the strength of a review on slashdot, I bought the book “PHP in Action” by Dagfinn Reiersøl with Marcus Baker and Chris Shiflett published by Manning.  I also bought (in a two-fer) “Zend Framework in Action” by Rob Allen, Nick Lo, Steven Brown from Manning.  I’ll let you know what I think of them.
So much for Safari saving money.

Find the city for you with google.

Kelsey filled out one of those silly lists. You know, if you were an animal, what would you be? (She had the only sensible answer I’ve ever heard to that one — a foxfish.) The cool part is the way she picked the city. Type in four words to describe yourself, the last one being “city” into google and find the city for you. Since she came up with either Katmandu or Milan, I thought I’d try it and see where I should be:

lazy water food city

Looks like I’m Mackinaw City Michigan, thanks to a water park:

Thunderfalls Family Water Park, Mackinaw City, features 12 slides and from the food court and lounge area, which overlooks the Wave Pool and Lazy River.