Going Further (A look back)

I have been away a few days. A lot has happened meanwhile:

  • I have shifted to Linux. Karan advised me to use Whitebox Linux. Since my only experience with Linux dates to ’99-’00 when I was managing a 27-node cybercafe with 24 machines running Caldera, and he’s not touched Windows in a *long* time, I didn’t think much and went with his advise. Got it running in the first go which was a nice feeling. I had anticipated booting into Windows a lot. Since my move about a fortnight ago, I’ve booted into Windows only twice. Karan has been an awesome help, a patient mentor and an excellent guide. I am confident about using Linux because I know that when anything goes wrong, I can look towards him and he’ll help me find a solution and once in a while when I’m really dense, even hand-hold me along the way. I’d like to think that I’ve not given him much reason to regret agreeing to help me out in this.
  • I have written an application in ColdFusion MX with a MySQL backend. I used an Excel spreadsheet to track work handled by my team, listing various things of importance to me in various columns. But this kept the Excel sheet contained to me and the rest of the team members were always in the dark about what tasks they had to perform next (the work in my team goes through quickly and the assignments shift rapidly). I needed to keep Excel running when I was on Windows and on Linux, it meant I had to to keep OpenOffice running all the time. This was an unnecessary waste of resources. Plus, there was a formula that highlighted stages of work that was not handled very well by Calc (Office Office counterpart of Excel) and meant I had to edit it or remove it since I didn’t really use it. After thinking about it for a day or so, I decided to make an web-based application counterpart to do this. This would enable all members of my team to stay current with assignments, status, priorities, etc. while I would also save some resources since I always have Firefox open all the time anyway. I planned to do it in PHP initially but a colleague at work inspired me to use ColdFusion MX (I succumbed to the dark word called RAD). I wrote the entire thing over 3 nights in office. I am feeling pretty proud of it since it works really well and I didn’t even know how to set up a MySQL table or how to write a single ColdFusion tag when I started. Plus, now that the team has started using it actively, it has actually proven itself as a good idea. Now I’m planning on enhancing it slightly and then coding a parallel version in PHP as an exercise.
  • Work has grown tremendously. I usually used to get some time in the day to do something new but these days, despite my better organisation and the team improving every single day, becoming an even better, tighter unit, I’ve had lesser time for myself. The little time I sometimes do manage to scrape out is taken up by trying something I’d like to do in Linux. The latest of such is running a mail server. In Windows, I had an old version of MDaemon. On WBEL, sendmail worked out of the box. Fetchmail is also pre-installed and I’m sure I’ll get the time to write the configuration file to set up mail retrieval sometime in the next 72 hours. My clients have been extremely patient with the small hiccups that came when I shifted from Windows to Linux. They are an awesome bunch in any case. Sometimes we Project Managers compare notes and I know for a fact that the best ones always land up with me. :) I’m really lucky in this.

Well, I guess time’s up and work calls. I’ll be posting more often like before now. :)

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