Developing a Process

January 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Computers, Internet, Online services, Software, Technology, Web Apps | 1 Comment

One of the challenges of bloging about a project underway is the inevitable changes. This makes for a more realistic process, but its not as polished as an output might be after the final build. Even here, I’ve left out the tests and hiccups, like how I managed to confuse the sync tool or annoy Google Calendar with tests.

When I started the project, I had a general intention to simply migrate from Eudora and Palm to Thunderbird and Sunbird, then clone Sunbird and use webmail for the Netbook. However, as I’ve gone into the project further, the advantages of Lightning integration became clear. And though I commented earlier that I didn’t think I wanted to go all web, some of the web tools may hold advantages as a repository over local file sync. We’ll see.

As usual, the industry changes fast enough that you have to:
1 – get clear on what you want, how you want to get the job done
2 – do your research to get current, test
3 – stay flexible, open to new options

For file sync, this is where you really have to be clear. If you choose a solution but use it differently than it was intended, you may get undesired results. For example, 2 way synchronization, if not implemented or used properly, can result in duplicates, overwritten data, and other headaches. (assuming the sync tool itself is competent) While paper can get misfiled, data can vanish entirely.  Even something simple like using webmail on the road can give you grief if you send an important message on-line and forget to copy your desktop.

For myself, an on-line schedule is great but I need to be able to see it offline, now. Cloning the calendar to the netbook didn’t work properly, probably because I have a different configuration on the netbook. Just testing that. And the sync tool wasn’t designed for so many exceptions. If it starts to be a kludge, it’s a time to go back to KISS. Get simple. Get clear.

At this point, I have everything fully migrated to the new apps on my desktop. One of the challenges of the next step is the range of options that have opened up. For example, just in terms of Google Calendar and Lightning, there is viewing Google in Lightning, Posting Lightning to Google, Or dual syncing of Lightning and Google with offline use. As there is 2 computers involved, there may be more than one choice. Or do I want it on-line at all? (laughs)

And that’s where it really gets funny. After you get clear on what you need, you do your research and discover there’s options you hadn’t considered. And thus, your ‘needs’ change. So that would be the 4th step:
4 – as you get clear, update your goals
5 – research further
6 – find what works and implement

Of course, this “flexibility” is what causes many tech projects to go late and over budget. The surprises – even when they’re good ones – require review. We might call this ‘discovery during implementation’. Of course, advance research and testing can avoid much of that. But this is a small ‘operation’ here. A successful test is the implementation. What I’ve focused on is making it all work easily and without, if possible, cost.

Have fun in the brave always renewing world.

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