Monday, September 05, 2016

That's Neat Organizing Relaunch

Elizabeth and I recently decided to retire the website I lovingly hand-crafted when she started her organizing business over 10 years ago.  It was a good site: simple, easy to navigate, got the point across effectively; Elizabeth has received many compliments about it over the years.

However, the time had come to do something major with the site - it had grown over time to meet the needs of the business, and a number of major features had been tacked on (including a blog and a spot dedicated to videos and other media). I created the site in a time when mobile web browsing was not all that common, and the site was difficult to navigate on a tablet or a phone. I also have to admit that it was looking dated compared to other small-business sites that Elizabeth admired.

The first thing to consider was whether or not to code a completely new custom web site. Our discussions about this surfaced a number of problems which we had over the years:
  • The custom site was impossible for Elizabeth to update herself, making me the single point of failure. Any time I was making updates to the site, I was not doing something else, like paying bills or fixing plaster walls. Elizabeth didn't feel like she should have to learn how to use Visual Studio in order to make a minor site update.  Adding the blog helped, but she wanted to have some more control in the look, feel and content in the rest of the site. 
  • Maintaining a custom site means you have to worry about version control, backup, etc. These things have gotten easier in the 10+ years she has been in business, but it was another important task that she had little control over, and was my responsibility.
  • I also had to worry about breaking changes occurring in site code when the hosting company pushed upgrades to the server hosting I remember this happening on the site when the .NET framework was upgraded a couple of years back.
The main result of talking this out made us realize that Elizabeth wanted to take a much greater role in the maintenance and content of the site, which led us to consider a number of SAS Website hosting companies.

I was floored at the capabilities of some of these offerings; all of the major sites we looked at had web based WYSIWYG site creators with integrated responsive design templates, blogging capabilities, etc. A lot different than when she started her business.

We ended up selecting Squarespace as the new hosting company and couldn't be happier.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Kanban in the Wild

I went to a local upholsterer this weekend to pick up one chair he fixed and drop off another, and what did I see?  It might look familiar to those of us who practice Agile on a daily basis:

Apparently, the shop owner has used a system like this for decades.  It's a Kanban system, although he had never heard the term before. The "Waiting for" column is his backlog, things that are blocked for some reason (materials, payment, etc.).  "Ready to go" is his list of projects that he can work on next, and "Doing" represents his work in progress. Due to the size of  his shop, he can really only have 3 projects in progress at a time.

And true to his system, since I paid my deposit and he had the fabric in-stock, my sticky is in the "Ready to Go" column!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Heat your home with a Server?

Read about this recently: Nerdalize is a company who installs server racks in your home which look somewhat like a radiator. Servers shed so much heat that they figured someone could take advantage of this heat rather than the hosting company paying a huge monthly air conditioning bill.

What do you think about this? I think the idea could have legs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Best Lotus Notes Error Ever

Got this error today:
Apparently, this is common enough to have an entry on the IBM knowledgebase. In a nutshell, this error occurs when the user uses keyboard shortcuts. The answer?  "Currently the only known workaround is not to use shortcut keys ."
The entry was made in 2011. Wow, how is that acceptable.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Google Guice: Why does it not appear that the @Singleton Annotation is not being respected by the Injector?

This took me a little while to figure out, apparently the Singletons you're injecting are per instance of the Injector. So if you are doing what I was, (creating an Injector in each class I was trying to inject a singleton into), that is incorrect.

Thank you, StackOverflow!

Specify a Block of Code to NOT Run in the NetBeans Form Designer

Sometimes, you will have code in the constructor of a Swing form that you do not want to execute when opening the form in the NetBeans form designer. I recently had this problem when working with Dependency Injection using Google Guice. Opening the form in the designer resulted in an exception with a call stack about 80 levels deep.

To avoid this problem, do the following:

Add the following import to your form:

import java.beans.Beans;

Surround any code you do not want to execute when opening the form in the NetBeans form designer in the following block:

        // Don't execute the following code in the designer
        if (!Beans.isDesignTime()) {
            // unexecuted code goes here


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Activate Office 2013 with a Product Key from the Command Line

I was having some difficulty activating my copy of Office 2013 from behind our firewall, and Googled my way to discovering how to install the product key from a command prompt.

For the 32-bit version of Office 2013, cd to c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15 and run the following:

cscript OSPP.VBS /inpkey:<your product key>

You'll see some text indicating whether or not the product key installation was successful.  The next time you run one of the Office applications, the Activate dialog will appear.

Thanks to the following TechNet article for Office 2010 which pointed me in the right direction.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Modular Smartphone in the works from Google

I just read this article about Project Ara, Google's project tasked with creating a phone platform that is customizable with different plug in modules. For example, what if you never took pictures with your phone (hard to believe, I know)? You could use that space to plug in an extra battery, or an external speaker, a card reader, a better antenna, or anything else that module manufacturers can dream up. Imagine the possibilities!

I don't believe the carriers will embrace this vision of the future - this could open up the way for you to upgrade your processor, or easily replace broken screens or input jacks. If you could easily do this yourself, why would you pay for phone insurance, or upgrade to a new phone every two years - you could conceivably add new features to your phone whenever you wanted to.

Apparently, the base kit (without screens or any other modules) is scheduled to go on sale next year for $50. At that price, it's definitely worth a look.

More information on Project Ara: