Getting Things Done


It’s no secret that I have a passion for productivity, and with that a constant quest for software that allows me to be focused and organised. Before moving to the Mac, I used to love a couple of Windows based programs, “Keep It Real” and “MLO”, the first was a system I designed back in 2005, which is still in use with the company I was working for, the latter is a great tool. The problem is, while I use Windows on my VM, it’s not always running, so I wanted an OS X interface. I’ve looked at online system, some good, some not so, and I’ve tried some ‘hybrid’ applications too, the latest was Todoist, which had a great way of helping you keep focused by using ‘Karma’ points, the more you used the system, the more points you got, attainable levels keep you aiming at becoming ‘Enlightened’.  I recently reached ‘Master’ which was an ego trip, but I still felt there was something lacking from the UI on the Mac app.

todoist

Smartsheet, Wrike & TeamworkPM are all worth a mention, but their primary interfaces are web based, and I’m sorry, (well not sorry), I am yet to find a web ui that is as rich and smooth as desktop, also some of these are designed for collaboration not so much an individual user. I’ve had varying success with some web interfaces, sometimes dragging or moving tasks around cause problems including data loss or things ending up in the wrong place.

My journey begins again, looking for the best tool.  I’m starting out by reviewing ‘Things’ and ‘OmniFocus’, both of which I have licences for. Having just finished reading some reviews and I’m still torn which I should start with.  Things certainly has a nice clean interface, but OmniFocus seems to have some extra features. One boasts better sync than the other, oh man.  Of course it is all daunting when starting from scratch, but then there is something refreshing about a clean page, things that have been hanging around and you really don’t think you will get to are able to be dropped, it’s like a spring clean for your mind and todo list.

… decision made … I will run OmniFocus for a minimum one month, along with the companion apps for iPhone and iPad. After that I’ll write a mini review (so there will be no bias towards Things.) After the month if there are any areas that I believe are weak, then a switch to Things for the same period will be made.

Who knows, maybe in that time Todoist will bring out a new slicker interface? or maybe MLO will announce a Mac version!

WPF is dead!


Thats what I was told when I announced my focus would be on WPF this year. It’s a sentiment shared by quite a few people it seems, but let’s take a look at some facts;

463ad4df-ab4c-457c-8b81-15dc98f9cebf

Some people feel that the demise of Silverlight means WPF is going the same way. I think it is important now more than ever that developers have a good grasp on the principles of WPF and a firm understanding of MVVM. Therefore I say “WPF is NOT dead”.

So what does that mean for the WinForms guy? and how do you get started with WPF? there are many questions that can be raised, and in some cases the answers raise more. But if you are anything like me, the minute you need a desktop application you reach for ‘old faithful’, the gun metal grey, proven event driven project we’ve come to love and trust.

Well friends, it’s time to move outside your and my comfort zone, it’s time to look at the next generation (yes, yes, I know it’s been around since 2006) of desktop development, it’s time to get started with WPF.

Over the next few months I’m going to be presenting a series of webinars on how to get started with WPF including; what are the benefits of using WPF?  what are the challenges?

Beginning this week with a two part primer explaining what it’s all about. Use this link to register and see what all the fuss is about!

a MUST for ASP.NET Devs…


JavaScriptIf there is one thing I have learnt in the last month, its how little I really understood about the use of JavaScript inside ASP.NET applications. Sure I could mash a <script> tag together and get something happening on the browser, but as far as best practices, lexical closures, correct use of the global stack, well, it left a lot to be desired. Thankfully I get to work with someone whom I think is a JS Guru… Mr Julian M Bucknall, esteemed CTO of DevExpress.

Next week, Julian will be presenting a short but thorough overview on what you should and should not be doing as an ASP.NET developer when it comes to JavaScript.  I would highly recommend anyone in this space to register and watch.

Julian’s blogs are available here and here.

Register / info here.

Oh Apple, I’m such a fool…


I am sorry message

Oh Apple, I’ve made such a fool of myself. Why? Why did I fall for the lure of the slim lines? the promise of the wearables? I was sure that Android was going to make me happy, to fill the gaps that had grown between us. I cannot believe I fell for it.

After a month of trying to fit in with the new crowd I just knew it was a hopeless task. Yes it was nice to parade around with wrist notifications and changeable faces, but that pretty much sums it up, a facade. Too many variables, too many inconsistencies. I miss our time together Apple, I even find I’m missing the ‘problems’ we had, the fights, the ‘Siri’ irriate moments.  Please can we go back to the way things were, please can you give me another chance. I’ll wait patiently for iWatch, I’ll even stop complaining about the quality of the beta, I know it won’t be easy to start with, but I’m sure together we can make it work.

Yours hopefully.

Paul x.

Building dxHotels from the ground up


webinar

Following a recent webinar on what went into the building of DXHotels a lot of people got in touch and asked if I could show how to actually *build* it. That sounded like a great idea since it is a good example of a real world scenario website and the hurdles faced would provide beneficial discussion points. The challenge of course is condensing weeks of work and demonstrating the core elements in only a couple of hours. Lets face it, no one really wants to see me typing code do they!?

During 2 x 1 hour live sessions I will be taking you through creating the DX Hotels WebForms application from scratch… you will see how;

– To create a new ASP.NET WebForms application with the DevExpress Wizard.
– Easy it is to build stunning looking pages with very little code behind.
– To embed the powerful DevExpress ASP.NET controls to save time and provide amazing results.
– Use CSS to extend the look, feel and functionality even further.

It’s going to be a fairly fast paced, technical presentation but as always recordings will be made available via YouTube on the DevExpress channel.

dxHotels

You can follow along even if you are not a DevExpress customer by downloading a FREE trial copy of the components here.

To register for the webinar click here.

If there are topics or technologies you would like to see me present on, please feel free to leave a comment below, email me or send a tweet.

A refreshing change…


Happy New Year everyone, some people are still in 2014 while this is being composed, but hour by hour each part of the world will join the wonder that will be 2015.

I was checking my email this morning and came across a note from the CEO of SmartSheet. They produce an amazing tool for business collaboration, powerful spreadsheet functionality, gantt charts along with a raft of cool tools.

LetterFromMark

What struck me with this letter was the fact that Mark was upfront, no sugar coating, just told it as it was, they had problems, took action and resolved it. The approach to tell their customers exactly what went down I feel was something other CEO’s should take on board. I hate not knowing what went wrong when tech doesn’t work, worse I hate being lied to and hoodwinked. There are so many services we are dependant on these days, glitches are going to occur. Of course I’m likely to be upset when it does, but I’ll get over it. It goes a long way to keeping my custom when letters like the one above are sent though.

The other thing that I noticed is the phrase … “Your passion and commentary exhibited on social, email, and via phone” – how often do we vent on Twitter or other social media outlets when something is wrong, and it got me wondering how healthy or fair that really is for a business. In the case above there was a problem, but a quick look at some accounts and you can see individuals ranting and publicly ridiculing products when in fact the issue was their lack of understanding or knowledge on how to do something.

Well, kudos to Mark for the letter and I hope as we usher in 2015 more companies will be transparent when dealing with the masses.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

Dear Apple, it’s over. ..


Dear Apple,  I’m sorry but it’s just not working out. It’s not you, it’s me.  Look, the last four years have been good. I’m not going to forget the memories we made. Yes,  we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s just not the same any more. I remember how excited I used to get when an update was announced,  or staying up all night just to see a keynote. But the passion is waning. Then there are all the health issues you’ve had, the constant rebooting, the lackluster battery, the fights with Xcode, the mediocre updates. You teased me with your promise of a wearable, but it seems to be just more of the same,  lack of care for developers and more media hype,  your dad would be horrified if he knew what you were up to.  I’m sorry it’s time I moved on.   In fact I’ve a confession to make,  you remember that skinny white phone that’s been hanging around my desk, well its become serious between us, in fact I’m now using it and the watch as my primary device. You see I no longer have to use propriety IDE’s and learn obscure languages, I can use cool tools like DevExtreme by DevExpress and target more than you offered. So this is it, this is goodbye.

Paul