Thursday, October 30, 2008

..we have a launch...

The new website is up and running!
The prior site was in I'm a Drupal fan, but I do have to admit that it was difficult to theme and even more difficult to work outside of the framework..I know you need to 'drink the cool-aid' when working with a given CMS framework (Drupal, Joomla, Sharepoint, etc.)...but I was getting tired of the cool-aid. The current site is in CodeIgniter, PHP/MySQL and jQuery. I did look into ExpressionEngine..but decided I wanted as much flexibility as possible...

2 days of not so intense coding.......using a free css theme as a base and building the final theme and code in a quick/iterative process.

Lessons Learned?
  • It's not so difficult developing a site QUICKLY without a CMS
  • The look is important (that's what the web is - more look then functional complexity)
  • Php within a MVC framework (CodeIgniter) is the way to go, keeps the code clean/maintainable and provides a base to work from
  • iterative steps reduce time to completion
  • jQuery makes web interactive functionality a breeze
  • Don't forget any links into the site from external sources (don't use any standard 404 page)
  • Don't forget Google Analytics
Next Steps?
  • build out the admin section
  • wait, review metrics, adjust

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New IT Project Guide Website!

Introducing the NEW IT Project Guide website! ETA - 2 days!
CodeIgniter, Jquery, MySQL, Php

demo link

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The problem with CMS's - the 'Jack of all Trades master of None' pattern

I've been using/trying different CMS's including Drupal, Joomla and Sharepoint (sort of a CMS) - and always run into the same problem....customization.   Customization in look and functionality - it reminds me very much of my experience with Crystal Reports when I first started to program in Visual Basic...I use to call it the most expensive free software around.

When developing a web site in a CMS, the initial setup is easy, the entry/use of the built in and add-on modules are good, but anything 'out of the box' causes some significant work and work-arounds.  As with most other projects, 80% of the cost is implementing 20% of the project.

I recently become a CodeIgniter convert - and have been looking into Expression Engine, a CMS from the same person/group that brought use Code Igniter - Ellis Lab  The interesting thing about this CMS is that it's not all-consuming.  Unlike the others that try to be the entire website, Expression Engine is being geared  towards (especially v2 which is being built with Code Igniter as the foundation) an, you can either have the cms manage the main site and utilize Code Igniter for those area requiring special coding OR have Code Igniter the main site and use the CMS for the static content areas (this is my interpretation).....WOW - keeping a tool to what it's good at and allowing integration with other tools...not a new concept, but one difficult to implement.

I'm looking forward to 'playing' around with Expression Engine more - getting ready for the 2.0 release - and seeing if the 'Jack of All Trades' pattern to disaster will take hold and bloat the Ellis Lab team's work out as it seems to have done with the other CMS's on the market.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Risk Management tool prototype

I have some time on my hands (aka unemployed) - so I started to play around with a Risk Management collection/prioritizing web interface: - take a look and let me know what you think.  It's a mock up (aka not working either - except for the usability aspect) - you can drag/drop the risks (left click on one of the risks) and drop it in a low/med/high or unassigned box or add a new one....all feedback is welcome

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The joy of simple

I was recently redoing a web site for a karate school and was reintroduced into what simple is.  I initially started with Drupal and spent about 3 days installing modules, modifying CCK (custom content kit or something like that), playing around with the theme, etc. and got nowhere but frustrated.  I rethought what I was trying to do and the type of site needed and realized that Drupal was an overkill and base PHP a little less then needed - so I went back to a PHP framework (Codeigniter) that I had an easy time picking up and using and found a simple them via CSS Zen Garden to base the look of the site on....and within 3 hours (not days) - I had the base site done and another day the site is up and complete: a simple site that links to external tools (Ning for social networking, ZenFolio for pics and Blogger for news)...never use a tool just to use it or because you think it's the right one, use the right tool, the simplest tool - all based on the current and near term need of the project.  Lesson relearned!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good article on performance reviews

VERY interesting ideas.....

Blowing my own horn...

IT Project Management - RM (risk management) #5
IT Project Management - PM (project management) #10
YES! both open source apps in the top 10 list - - search for 'project management'...both need work...but it seems some people are interested (which makes it more interesting for me)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

That's the way we've always done business.......

Comment regarding the recent $400k AIG resort visit and plans for another upcoming one (on our taxpayer dollars - post bailout)............
This sort of gathering has been standard practice in our industry for many years, Liddy wrote. Let me assure you that we are reevaluating the costs of all aspects of our operations in light of the new circumstances in which we are all operating.

If nothing else - hopefully this is another nail in the this is the way we've always done it...response. Change and improvement does not come about in project management through non-change and non-risk taking actions. Compared to AIG - most of the push back a PM receives is not immoral or unethical - just a combination of CYA and lack of incentive.