Monthly Archives: July 2008

No more Windows Vista :)

I have fallen sick and have been at home for the past week or so. I took this opportunity to remove Windows Vista Home Premium that came with my laptop. I was thinking about this for sometime now and the only thing that was stopping me was time.

Now that I had the time, I removed Vista and made Ubuntu my primary Operating System. In the process I have freed close to 50GB of disk space 15 GB on which Vista was installed and the remaining which it did not allow me to move to a different partition.

Please note that this is a decision after about one year of using my laptop. I was able to do all that I wanted to do on Ubuntu. I found that I logged into Vista only to update it. And more recently stopped the updates as well. Even after SP1 Vista was not that great. Yes, it was usable though.

So I have decided to try out different flavors of Linux on a different partition. I will retain Ubuntu as my primary OS until the time where it behaves so badly so as to get kicked out. I am currently trying out OpenSUSE 11 KDE 4 and my once upon a time sweet heart – Mandriva Linux One Spring 2008 KDE. I am also planning to try the GNOME version of Mandriva.

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Nokia N81 – Opinion required

I have been looking for a new cell phone and noticed that the N81 is pretty good and balanced and also when it comes to price vs. features its great. Have any of you used this phone. I need to know how good is this phone. I know it has just a 2 MP camera and I am ok with it.

On the other hand, I have been to almost 12 Nokia dealers today, only to find that the 8 GB model is out of stock – they say Nokia does not supply these any more – and the 2 GB card version is available only in blue. The blue color looks plain ugly. The grey one looks pretty good but it is very difficult to get. One dealer even told me that Nokia is not supplying N81 due to the release of N96.

Is this phone so difficult to get because it is really good or is there a drawback? I saw this review on youtube and did try this at a couple of stores and found it to be unfortunately true. The phone makes a wierd noise when shaken and the slider is way too above so that pressing it makes noise as well.  So I need more opinion on this one as well.

I have still one more week to decide and if I am convinced that this model in fact has a defect I would start looking for another model. So I am waiting for your comments 🙂

Vythri

I had a fantastic break last week and we were headed to Vythri in Wayanad district of Kerala. It is one of the rainiest places I have ever been to. There is hardly a ten minute interval between the showers. No, this is not a travelogue but I am going to put up a few photos here 🙂

There are too many photos at hand, so here is a sample. I will upload more in the coming posts.

EasyProjects.NET

A few days ago, I got an invite to review EasyProjects.NET from Logic Software Inc. As you would have guessed it by now, EasyProjects.NET is an online project management software and also based on Microsoft.NET technology.

It falls in the league of Basecamp, Huddle, Zoho Projects and Liquid Planner. Of these Zoho Projects is the only online tool which I have used for personal project tracking. Let us not bring Microsoft Project into this discussion since it is not available online but the de-facto standard on the desktop.

Registration

Registration was a snap and I was logged in within five minutes. On logging in, I got a friendly pop up with useful information on how to rename the Admin user, how to create projects, how to view charts and how I can get a printed copy of the project. Basically, I got all the information required to create and manage a Project using EasyProjects.NET

Interface

Once I logged in, I was shown some a dashboard with links to Summary, Schedule/Gantt chart, Project List, Add New Request and custom reports. This layout can be customized using the drop down at the top which has four levels of authorizations by default, namely, Executive, Employee, Customer and Project Manager. There is also a nifty little quick panel to the left with links to commonly used tasks. However, this requires an additional click to open which dilutes its purpose to a certain degree. A list of icons with tool tips would have been better.

The interface is menu driven and quite similar to desktop software. Menus are available for Projects, Time logs, Reports, Options, Administration and Help. This menu is available right through all the pages and makes life easier to jump to any particular part of the project.

Creating a new Project

Creating a new project was simple. Click on the Create a new Project button and up comes a pop up where all the basic project information starting from project information and billing type can be entered. If you want to upload files that have to be shared with your team, that can be done as well. A printer friendly version of the project details is available just in case you need a printed copy.

There are a few minor quirks that I noticed. I logged in a couple of hours back, but created the project only now. I was told that the user has changed, but the project was still created. Also, when I tried to add a new user to the project the first time I encountered an error. I had to logout and login again. Another thing which I did not like, nor think many users would like is the number of pop up windows that open for simple tasks. The number of pop ups could have been kept down.

Clicking on the Activities button opens in a new tab below the current pop up. This is not exactly a great UI design. I was expecting a new popup when I clicked the button but I had a new tab open below the pop up window. Of course, I used Firefox 3.0 for testing. The other features include Notifications, Message Board, Workflow, Activities and a very handy Export to MS Project functionality. A built in calendar helps in scheduling tasks

Activities

Next I proceeded to create a couple of activities for my project. Again, clicking on Create New Activity opened a pop up window which was at the least what I expected. Activities can be created with Parent Activities which is nothing but Predecessors in Microsoft Project parlance. The status of an activity, its priority, category can all be set in addition to the time taken to complete the activity. An activity can also be marked as a Milestone.

Time Logs

Time logs helps team members record the amount of time they have spent on the project. Time tracking is an added advantage in a Project Management software.

Issue and Request Tracking

EasyProjects.NET also provides Issue and Request Tracking which adds strong value to the product.

Reports

EasyProjects.NET offers a variety of reports ranging from Summary, Billing, Resources, Milestones and Gantt charts. Custom reports can be created for Issues, Projects etc.

Options

The options page provides a way to setup user options, photo, change password, enable email notifications and setup the options for email notifications

Administration

The administration panel helps setup users for the project, define roles, make customer lists and define custom fields. Interestingly custom fields can be defined for projects, tasks, requests, issues, customers and users which I assume would prevent me from using the same field for tasks and requests. However, I have not checked this out.

Conclusion

After working with the product for a couple of days, here is my conclusion. The product is perfectly usable. But there are a few things which I had mentioned above, if corrected could make the product a joy to use. There are a lot of competing products competing in this space offering about 3 free projects to individuals. So if a person has to pay $15/month, the product has to be top notch in every count.

Screenshots

1. Dashboard

2. Create new Project

3. Time Logs

4. Reports

5. Gantt Chart