September 30, 2003

Yeah, TaskZilla is getting better and better every day. So far I've managed to give it some more features:

  1. LDAP authentication: use our central user directory for authentication

  2. TWiki integration: link from TaskZilla to TWiki and vice versa with keywords

  3. Graphical dependencies: view the dependencies nice with color and graphs

  4. More user data: two additional whiteboards, for custom entries of every project

And it's coming nearer to be a quite usable tool for both project managers and developers.
I had to work around the back of some things ("Version" -> "Project") and have still to change some more fields (eg. "OS" -> "Developer Status") but these are not quite hard to accomplish.

The hardest thing will be to get it up and running on our workstation-cluster, which is not that easy without root-access.
But this is also on the way :)

September 20, 2003

TaskZilla modifications

Work on modifying TaskZilla for our company's needs is going well and I've also filed some fixes/addons in the mail Bugzilla. The most part which lies ahead consists of just renaming terms in Bugzilla, such as "Product" to "Team" and so on. Shouldn't be a hard task.

ATM there is just one not so easy wish: Cummulate all times (Worked hours, remaining hours, estimated hours, original estimated) of depended bugs/task into the parent. But there are a few things left to discuss about this, so I'll let this rest for now.

September 15, 2003

TaskZilla success

Being too excited last Friday, I forgot to post these news:
In my spare time at work (which is left from the 120% of workload I have) I've built an instance of Bugzilla (which I've called "TaskZilla" because I already struggled with another Bugzilla-introduction at office). This time there was a meeting to choose a proper change-request-management-tool for our whole company (well, only our office here) and my TaskZilla was disqualified in a pre-election just because I weren't at the meeting because of the no-mail-stuff. This time I didn't miss the date and re-introduced TaskZilla. The other candidates were homeBrewnSystem1, homeBrewnSystem2 and homeBrewnSystem3. All signs were pointing towards homeBrewnSystem2 ;) They debatted a bit about the pros and cons of HBS1-3 and then I showed them TaskZilla. I showed them the power of queries. I showed them the power of dependencies. I showed them the power of reports.
They were stunned.
Then they decided immediately to use TaskZilla because it had so many pros and only one con (the Look'n'Feel). And this con will be got rid of soon.

I managed it. I'm the survivor. YEAH!
I'm surprised how much things I can do in the spare time I'm not even supposed to have :)

September 11, 2003

Enlarging the desk

Yeah, yesterday I finally got my third computer for mail reading. Now my office space is more alike a cockpit than a desk.
Synergy everywhere and it's all fine.

September 10, 2003

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September 5, 2003

New job proposal

Today I got the ultimate job proposal from our "headquarter":

Duration: Up to 4 months
Level: Consultant - Manager
Location(s): Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra
Skillset/Responsibilities: Management oversight of detailed currency exchange, develop and implement exchange site distribution load plan, coordinate with headquarters project control team, and coordinate with convoy commander.

* Resources will be traveling to the different locations listed above and will be living in tents on military bases.
* XXX has hired a security agency that will assist employees and accompany then through their travels
* All employees are required to attend a 4 day security training session in El Paso, TX. There they will be briefed on current security and receive gas masks, jacket, etc, inoculations, etc.
* Employees will most likely fly from El Paso to Amman, Jordan and then connect to Baghdad.
* Danger Pay: 25% of employees salary starting from Day 1 (when they land overseas) to the day the leave back for the US
* For those employees staying 42 days or longer, they will also receive 25% post differential pay, treated as an extra allowance. Post Diff pay applies and begins on Day 42.

Feel free to call me with further questions as I have some additional information which may answer some further questions. Thanks!

For only 25% more salary I wouldn't even change office in-country... This mail has caused much laughter here :)

September 4, 2003

No absolute anonymity

Gheez, look what I stumbled over a few minutes ago: Danasoft

Anyone out there, who thought, surfing were absolutely anonymous? These are standard information every browser sends to the servers as referrer... Think about it.

September 2, 2003

Order is out for new computer

Last Thursday they have shut down my corporate IT-Services (Mail, Intranet, etc.) because I have no migrated computer which fits into the corporate LAN. I've called the american helpdesk (yeah, 1 1/2 hours in an AT&T line), then installed a corporate software (I call it spyware), and had my services re-enabled. I de-installed this crap again then.
Next day, my services were off again... Now an order for a third computer is on it's way as well as a statement, why none of my two computers can be converted into a uniform image for the corporate network. I need them for development and in the corporate environment, there is no development environment. And I can't fool around with network sniffing and so on which I need. Besides this I don't trust them. My current environment has all security updates, patches, etc., I don't browse with Microsoft tools and have a rather strict Intrusion Detection Tool (say firewall). Thus my computer should be one of the safest here. I don't need anybody to tell me how to avoid worms and viruses. They have no chance to infect my system. No Outlook, no mail virus/worm. Firewall, no RPC-Worms and network attacks. Nevertheless an up-to-date virus scanner is active all the time.

The solution will be that my third computer will stay connected to the corporate servers all the time to prevent further shutdown of the IT services and sit still somewhere under my desk. Mail and other services will (hopefully) be available on my current computers then again and work can continue without disruption.

(Yeah, another computer for THIS!)

September 1, 2003

The future of our energy sources

Strange thing, I've written this article during my vacation and what happened a short time after I were back?

  • Power outage in America

  • Blackout in Great Britain

I swear, I have nothing to do with that! But could it be that I have somehow received a subconscious message? Can I feel the future? Or am I just thinking of too many things at once?
But this confirms my general paranoia somewhat.

Let's go on with the stuff that comes out of the wall. Sorry, that it's a bit outdated, but this is the way I thought BEFORE the power shortages happened.

Energy and Power
Energy consumption is increasing. The modern world as we know it today is not able to survive a single day without electrical power. Computers, fridges, even vehicles could not work and the modern economy would sink into chaos within a few hours. People today don't think about, how they are addicted to electrical energy. In the year 2000 more than 50 percent of the produced electricity relied on prehistoric energy carriers as oil and coal (see IEA Fact Sheet). As we all (hopefully) know, these reources will be depleted within the next few decades. I think it doesn't matter if they last for 40 years or for 80 years, estimations vary, in the end the result will be the same. If we begin to plan new energy production techniques THEN, it'll be too late. Luckily, today many people and companies already have realized this and are researching in areas of alternate power production technologies.

One of the most promising inventions seems to be the fuel cell. But this is only part of the solution as this lessens the need of not-renewable energy-sources only on the consumer side. The hydrogen has also to be produced and this production also needs energy. It can be produced in several ways and for the most effective technique the only thing (besides water) is electrical power (which currently is produced using oil or coal). One may ask, where the sense behind converting electricity intro hydrogen just to make a bit less electricity out of it (because there are some leaks in the conversion processes). Well, electricity has one very important flaw: It can't be stored effectively.
Hydrogen can.

In the future, when fossil materials are depleted, alternate sources of electrical power for hydrogen production will have their peak time. This will be the era of solar power plants, wind parks and biomass-reactors. And the best of all is, that the resources which are needed for them are not available in only special parts of the world (as it is today) but evenly distributed all over the globe. Everyone can take advantage of them.
This opens the opportunity to an all-new world order, with more democracy than we can imagine today. Ever noticed how often the force of a country is tied to it's access to resources? Think of America. Cut the pipeline and say bye bye.

In the days to come everyone can sell the power he produces and the 'energy-sellers' of today have to fit more into the role of distributors than producers. This conversion has to be a global process because the main source of power in the future will be solar power and the sun only enlightens 50 percent of our globe. The other side will have to live from the hydrogen it has produced over the day.

The main beneficiaries of the change to alternate energy will be the poor countries. Many of them have large, unused surface which then can be used to build huge, cheap photovoltaic power plants for example. Today's large power companies will rely on many little electricity producers instead of fossil resources under their control. Today the countries with the most resources under their control play the big roles in world politics, countries with less resources (or the opportunity to use this resources) have small roles, even if in sum they overweight the big ones.

Perhaps, if political influence keeps tied to resource-access, the whole world will be politically re-ordered and can become more democratic in the future because, as said before, the access to alternate energy sources is largely evenly divided all across the world.

Some links:
How biomass works
How electricity grids work