Google Docs, a cool collaboration tool

Google Docs is super cool. Currently, I am working with 5 different collaborators from all around the world, on a number of different projects. Google docs provides a framework for revision tracking, world wide access, and the ability for multiple users to work on a document concurrently.

Not only is a Word type format available, but also a spreadsheet. Both seem to work pretty flawlessly, and a little window pops up to let you know more than one person is editing a document at once.

Considering the magnitude of some of our projects, google docs is truely a life saver. I am totally awed. Now, if only they could add mechanical and electronics CAE tools. 😀
Google Docs, a cool collaboration tool · 2007/03/26 20:45

Webpages with Zero Meaningful Content

Webpages with zero meaningful content

This is a beef of mine. In the early days, one would often come across these “under construction” graphics, or links to pages with zero meaningful content. Now, it seems they have been replaced with zero meaningful content, but with advertising, or pages, primarily used to game the search engines.

I have always tried to stay away from such pages. Yet, when doing a top down design, it is often difficult, not to just put in header pages with zero content, for organizational purposes. This is one of the key reasons I chose a wiki format for this webpage. The architecture is dynamic, and thus there really is no need for zero meaningful content.

However, I am going to break my rule of thumb, and thus create one. The intent is not to lead people astray, nor game the search engines, but rather, serve as my scratch pad and web page todo list. I’m finding I need a wiki webspace, to keep track of ideas and concepts, rather than keeping it on the desktop, or in google docs. Ie, the intent being, that as an idea is developed, the subpage goes live, with the addition of wiki tags, rather than a cut and paste.

I think there is a way to set up my robots.txt page to disallow access, as I do not want robots indexing it, should some webizen happen to be searching for a term, and then be aggravated when they come up with a page with zero meaningful content. Until I figure this out, my apologies for anyone that comes across it.

Leadership Analysis

I always seems to find the challenges, or as open desktop mechanic states, doing things just this side of impossible. Well, now the fun begins.

I get to analyze an organization for operational and leadership effectiveness. Granted, years back I did industrial consulting on the tech side, and being exposed to a multitude of businesses, does give me a unique view. Its often said, that tech problems are easy, the tough part is how to appropriately manage them.

Thus, its time to get the books out, do some digging, and refresh my mind of how to go about this. Initially, I thought of 360 degree feedback, as that was sort of the buzzword years ago. Yet, finding appropriate forms, and the ability to interpret such data, when one is not totally up to speed, can give less than valid results.

As such, I’m going the old and simple way. Observation and reporting as a third party outsider. Since I won’t be privey to all the details, its a bit harder than if I were an insider. Yet, the lack of bias, is probably what this organization really wants, as contrasted with a rose colored glasses, or a half empty approach.

Thus, its leadership checklist time.

The Perils of Open Source

So PH went and built himself a CMS/blog. He wrote it from scratch, and I asked him about it, and what he had to say makes a lot of sence. Its the same issue I’ve had with open source, and it parallels a lot of issues in the embedded world as well.

Its not so much that the open source software lacks in quality, but more so, the issues with maintenance. Its a rare webmaster indeed who uses things without modification. Now, as long as the main code is stable, and the hooks and such are stable it tends to work pretty well. The problem is that when you end up making a lot of hacks to the core program, you run into update headaches later on. We ran into this with Mambo, where in everytime they did an update, it took 2-3 days to rewrite our custom hacks to comply with the changes.

Granted, as a product matures, the chances of major rewrites every few months diminishes. Certainly, in the case of Joomla, they are no longer fiddling with the SQL database, so at least thats rock solid. This was not the case years back with Mambo.

The other thing I’ve noticed, is vast differences in the styles of different groups. It seems within php, the tendency is to make everything global, and forget about declarations are variable passing. While I know there are provisions to do so, it seems it is a might bit of a rarity. Certainly, structure and the discpline it requires can be a headache, yet, when everything is out, and ready to be stepped on, it can be a real bugger to find what actually is going on. At least, in the embedded world, we can hook up an emulator, or at a minimum a logic analyzer to actually see what the code is doing. It is interesting for sure.

Yet, open source does give a wealth of ideas. There are new things brought to the table daily, and thus, it presents incredibly value. As it evolves, perhaps the maintenance tasks and hooks will be less and less of a hassle. I sure hope so, there are some cool open source programs out there.

Because analog is cool!