Musing on rambleville, book blog

There are a couple of things I’m thinking of lately.  Firstly, I want to upgrade the look of this site.  It’s been a while, and I think it’s time to make sure that the look is upgraded to reflect the seriousness of all the objections that I usually make in this place.  WordPress has premium themes all over the place, and I was shocked to discover that Movable Types doesn’t really have a comparable marketplace.  As I’ve said elsewhere (read: Twitter), if you don’t have people selling stuff on your platform, you’re pretty much toast.  I’ll still keep a look around, but not being incredibly optimistic.

The other thing is I’m thinking of starting a book blog – a site where I’ll chronicle my reading journey.  It’s not a high-falutin review site; it’s not like I’m a thoughtful and prolific reader.  The genesis of this site has more to do with the fact that I’m forgetting things at an alarming rate, particularly on the things that I’ve read, what I felt before, during and after I’ve read them.  The fact that I can only recall one or two scenes from the entire book of Raymond Feist’s Magician (which I did not enjoy), makes it very difficult for me to formulate coherent points to defend my position, not just on this book, or any other that I’ve read.  And no, I don’t think that forgetting the majority of the book is really a point in and of itself.

I dislike the fact that we spend so much time reading, and only a sliver of the knowledge contained from the effort is retained.  I recently read Daniel Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, which is a fabulous book about how we make decisions, why our supposedly random decisions are in effect pretty predictable after all.  The book is endlessly fascinating, but I can’t remember most of what I’ve read, and it’s distressing!  The same with Freakonomics, and will undoubtedly be the same when I read Outliers, or Lolita, or whatever.

So the book blog is primarily a personal journal of what I’ve read, along with stuff that has to do with my reading adventure.  It’s not going to be regularly updated, but that’s ok, since it’s primarily a tool for me to remember stuff.

We’ll see how it goes as the days roll along.  I’ve had this in my head a couple of weeks now, and the task of coming up with a name for the blog is messing with my sleep.  This is an itch I desperately need to scratch soon.

Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Infrastructure Makes Me Pull My Hair Out

Not a terribly interesting title, I know, but what can I say? I believe Microsoft mangled out an Enterprise Project Management ecosystem based on Project, and doing a fantastically bad job of it.  Project is a great tool, but whoever came up with the idea of using Project as a frontend to a time reporting infrastructure was really desperate to cobble things up together.  Doubtless it’s a move towards the adage “users are familiar with the interface, so that helps lower the learning curve”, but boy did they make a mistake with this one.

I think reuse is overrated, especially if you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  Creating projects in EPM is nothing like creating real activities and task for real projects that you need to show to clients.  Using EPM forces the PM to do the work twice – once for EPM, and the other for the one that you really use in your day-to-day.

This is, how do I put it, insane.

On paper it makes sense.  Truly.  An integrated approach to having the Project Manager’s plan be tied to billing and time reporting.  In fact, it’s the only clean way.  The problem lies in execution.  If Microsoft wanted to pursue this area, why can’t EPM read the project plans that *I* create, rather than forcing me to create an abstract plan just to fulfill the requirements of tying milestones to billing and invoicing, and to time reporting?

Did I mention that the interface is monstrously complex?  There are so many things to remember about creating project plans for EPM.  Part of the power of Project is its flexibility in allowing a PM to create a plan in the manner that best suits the project.  I create milestone tasks for EPM!

I understand that it’s possible that my organization may not be using EPM ‘properly’, in that there exists the possibility for EPM to do everything I’ve just complained that it should do.  Still, the mechanics of implementing a project in this interface seems too much liked a tacked-on approach. It’s like retrofitting a car with jet engines to make it fly, simply because the pilot ‘knows how to drive a car’,

Oh, and the web interface to enter clocking?  Let me just say that AJAX has existed since Gmail came on the scene in 2004. It’s 2009 now and EPM Web has no AJAX.  Why?