Project management skills are not my strongest. I do pretty well but I am easily distracted by other projects that just seem more challenging or fun. I must be the artist in me saying, “this is boring now, what else can we figure out and make cool?” Unfortunately, this doesn’t fly when people need software yesterday.
So how do I prioritize? I tried just using straight up list but it got lost. So I tried an Excel list and it looks impressive, but it is still up to me to put things in the right order. Naturally, being a person who can make software, I figured I can make software that will prioritize for me.
I know there are packages that do this, like Microsoft’s Project, but I can only imagine how bloated it is and how much stuff it tracks that I really don’t need to track. Plus I’ve heard Project blows for software development.
First I thought about what determines priority and I came up with several criteria (in no particular order):
Who asked for the project? Unfortunately, who asks for a project usually trumps the actual need for the project. Politics and nepotism run rampant in my environment.
How does the project help move forward towards the Big Plan? The trick here is knowing what the Big Plan is. To me, this plan is made up of the goals YOU want to achieve overall.
How long do you expect the project will take to complete? Time is everything no matter what you do. If a project takes you a long time, maybe it should wait. If it is something you can do relatively quickly, do it and get it out of the way.
What is the deadline for this project? It doesn’t matter if it takes you a month to complete, if the right people need it by Friday, it needs to be done by Friday.
How many people will benefit from this project? This is another that often gets tossed by the way side in reality. While the greater good should come first, see the topic of politics.
Who will benefit from this project? This is a little different than how many will benefit. This is takes the angle of if the project benefits the end user, it’s good. If it is a project that benefits the developers (me) or something else, then it’s not as important.
Will the project directly help generate revenue or save spending? This is a biggie. Any thing that generates or saves money gets top billing.
What is the project’s current status? Because if you’re waiting for someone to continue, the project can’t be much of a priority. If you’re not in control, there’s not need to worry.
How many people have requested the project? This applies more so for little add-ons. If the project is in-demand, it’s probably smart to put it out soon.
What else is required for the project to be completed? And lastly, what has to be done before you can start on the project? If you’re building a house and you don’t have bricks, you’re not going to get far, thus this has far less priority than getting the supplies.
So you take all those criteria and give each possible option a value, the less important get a value of one, and got up for each option in any increment that you like. I used single increments.
After you make all your picks just calculate the score – just like one of those on-line quizzes. If the score of the project is high, so is the priority. If it’s low, it’s not that important. Of course, you have to consider the prerequisite projects too. Even if something has a higher score, it can’t go ahead of another project that must be completed first.
Of course this is logical priority, not reality. So even though I have a nice form that helps me keep a tight ship on where projects lie, I still have to use the day-by-day judgment of what to do and when. And you can’t forget the “oh shit” projects that pop-up, those will always mess up your day – and your list.
If you’re interested, take a test drive (link below) and play around with the same software I wrote for myself. And heck, if you want the source for your own use, I can make it available.
The actual wedding day went off without a hitch. Seriously. The weather held out to perfection. Yes, it was hot, but humidity was low enough that it wasn’t sticky. Given the little rehearsal we actually had, everything clicked when the time came. After more than a year of planning, the day had came and the deed was done within 10 minutes – not bad. The reception was also a good time had by all, especially the seniors. Everyone over 50 was cutting the rug while the under-30s sat by and quietly watched. And it was quite entertaining, I must admit, but it was very odd eating dinner while there are 50 people watching you.
Long ago we thunk of going to Hawaii for the honeymoon – a real honeymoon. Some things changes along the way and the time off we could take was cut in half, so Hawaii was out for the immediate honeymoon. But that’s OK because we’ll get to Hawaii sooner than later and Hawaii can’t suck. However, we weren’t about to head back home after getting married, we did need some sort of escape.
Our choice: Graceland
You know. Graceland, Elvis’ pad down south. When we were planning, we had about one day for vacation – two if we pressed it – so we needed some place close and some place where we could see all we needed to see within a day. When “Graceland” was suggested, I couldn’t argue it. So we made our plans.
Expedia.com was our booking agent, as always, and we booked a three-star Clarion hotel about a mile from Graceland. Being it was Memphis and relatively close, we chose to make this a road trip. From the center of Ohio, Memphis is about a eight hour drive south and then west to Mississippi River and Memphis.
We left the Sunday after the wedding before Noon so we could get in to Memphis before it got too late and too dark. The drive down went great. We were excited, flashing our new rings to each other while listening to our favorite tunes and watching people drive by. We got to Cincinnati seemingly quick and were going through Kentucky before we knew it.
Passing several road side wonders along the way, we got to our hotel in Memphis around 9:00p. Graceland is relatively close to the Memphis Airport and this airport neighborhood was no different than any other airport neighborhood. But considering how close it was to Graceland, we could deal with air planes.
We park and walk in to find an ass load of pimps. OK, so they really weren’t pimps (at least I don’t think so), but they sure were dressed like pimps. Feathered hats, wing tip shoes, rings, canes, the whole bit. And the women were in dressed and the likes. So we think, “OK, there’s a wedding reception or some other gathering going on,” which wasn’t a problem. We check-in and go to our room.
A big fat king-sized bed awaited us as well as a fridge and microwave. But this was all nothing more than a fancy fa?ade. Upon closer inspection we found the room to be less than satisfactory – actually, it was down right filthy.
Now, before I describe the level of filthiness, let me brace for some details. When I saw “the room was filthy,” I’m sure you have a picture in your head. Well, I’ll bet you right now this was much worse than what you might think.
The far corner of the room was pretty much lined up and down with bugs and cob webs. Little black dots with little twitchy legs and potato bugs behind the mirror didn’t settle well – strike one. We went to the bathroom to get some paper towels to clean them up a tad only to find a used shower cap hanging behind the door – eww – strike two. While making the move to the phone to call the front desk we got on the bed to find hairs on the pillow and within the sheets?and these were not our hairs – strike three.
We march on down to the front desk. By now one of us is severely pissed and the other entirely exhausted. I’ll let you pick out those roles.
We demand another room and we get one. We go in to find the room in what appears to be much better condition. The walls were bug free and the bathroom was soil free. Oh but wait, ants. Yup, ants. One crawling on the room desk. Amazed that a second room can be equally infested and dirty we again go to call the front desk – oh look, more hairs in the bed. Short hairs at that.
A return to the front desk finds our only other option is to check-out. Apparently the manager knew that there weren’t any rooms that were clean and simply offered to check us out. We also demanded a refund and they told us we would have to call Expedia. By now it was almost 10 o’clock, so we retreat to the room to regroup.
A lengthy call to Expedia says we can only get refunded after we check out. By now we were really hungry, so we thought food would be good and would keep us out of the hotel. We found a brochure for a Hard Rock Caf? and asked for directions.
“Six lights down and hang a right.”
So we drive through the wonderful ghetto that is Memphis down six lights and go right. And we keep going?and going?passing by the most interesting business establishments and people. We then reached our “we must have missed it point” and gave up. By now it wasn’t worth finding and getting lost in Memphis. We took Taco Bell to go and went back to the hotel.
At this point we knew driving around Memphis to find another hotel was not a safe option. We were completely pooped and needed some serious rest. We try to figure out some way to survive through the filth planning to only stay that night and do Graceland and then find another hotel the next day. Oh but then we find a small family of ants, on the desk and the floor – crunchy – and that was the last straw.
The “fuck it” hands went into the air and we grabbed our stuff and checked out, it now being about 1:30 in the morning (Monday). We were tired, a bit scared, and pissed – not a good combination, and we just wanted to leave and go home – so we did.
We grabbed our directions for Ohio and started going. Jen lead the charge while I quasi-dosed in the passenger seat. Getting out of Memphis was much easier than getting in, even in the middle of the night. Oh but wait – as if fleeing Memphis in the wee hours wasn?t enough – it’s now raining.
And not just any rain – hurricane Dennis rain – serious rain. Toss all this ran along with the fact that in the South the apparently don’t line their highways with lights and you’re in for some excitement. Rain that limited visibility to about four feet in front of the car mixed with semi-trucks every 30 seconds that splashed by reducing visibility to your front bumper – oh yeah, good stuff.
The rain only got worse and we knew we needed to stop and find a place to stay. The first exit we try has a Days Inn which turned out to be a Norman Bates special – doors on the outside with that slight feeling of hookers-next-door. We looked at each other and said “no” – even with our wasted state. Back on the freeway we go and try to the next exit. We turn in to this motel driveway – which was also a Bates approved motel – only to find it is next to the adult bookstore. Without even slowing we get back on the freeway. At the third exit we pass another horror motel to find a Holiday Inn high on a hill – and I almost want to say there was a slight ray of light shining down on this hill, but it might have been the glare from the rain. It’s not 3:15 in the morning.
We go past Loretta Lynn’s Country Kitchen and head up the hill. We stop and knock on the door. Large Marge lets us in and thankfully they have a room. At this point for some reason I can’t remember, I spilled Pepsi in my lap, but I didn’t care. We had a room that was clean, quiet, and safe. The Holiday Inn is a hotel, not a motel, and for a mere $67.00 we got two queen beds, fridge, and even more – frankly, it had better stuff than the Clarion boasted and for half the cost. Crash.
We wake up to some drizzle rain. We check out as late as possible to make up for the lost sleep. At Noon we leave the Holiday Inn – just outside Nashville – and make our way back to Ohio.
On the way back we stopped at Mammoth Cave and Abe Lincoln’s birth place in Kentucky. We didn’t spend too much time at the cave, but Abe’s cabin was really neat and the nice low key, under-tourist place we like. After that we come straight in and make home around 9:30p Monday evening.
So in a little over 24-hours we drove 1,235 miles in about 16 hours to see Abe Lincoln’s house. We didn’t even drive by Graceland.
Far from a honeymoon and by far the worst vacation I had ever been on. The only saving grace was that I was now gleefully married and stuck with the only person I would want to be stuck with given the situation. Home never looked, smelled, and felt so good in my life. It sucked hard but we were home and didn’t care.
After a long sleep in on Tuesday we did what anyone else might do to help forget such a nightmare – we shopped.
Gift cards in hand we tore ass around town and got ourselves a Dyson vacuum, a Martha Stewart sofa, wicker hampers, and a dog.
Once again we are faced with a movie based on book that follows an original movie based on the same book. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the story of book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Directed by Tim Burton, we knew going in the presentation would be a little askewed.
As with other book movies, I haven’t read the book. I’m a big fan of the 1971 Gene Wilder movie that most everybody else knows. It was a musical.
As a fan of the first film I can’t help but compare the two films, but as a critic I can make some separations and give the new film some fairness.
For one, the new film is far more detailed than the original movie, assumingly following the book more closely. But the Burton incarnation lacks the style of the 1970s classic, and the music.
Despite the title, the movie is about Willy Wonka, not Charile the poor boy that wins a dream prize of visiting a candy factory. This is made even more odd when you consider that the first film was titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and it was, in fact, about Charlie. But anyway?
The new film is really good up to the part when the kids actually make it to the factory. From here it is just disappointing, both in story and technically.
The special effects of this film look quite dated and rushed, and in an age of Lord of the Rings effects and all-CGI movies the sub-par quality of Wonka looks really bad. It just goes to show you that all the special effects and computers in the world are really no match for practical effects and real people – even orange midgets.
I’m sure Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka is more true to the character described in the book, but his performance is very lacking given Depp’s typical great acting. Wonka is a queer man with an annoying voice and lines that just aren’t delivered well. Wilder’s more adult Wonka and delivery made for a much more darker Wonka, even with the technicolor Oomp Loompas and their songs.
The next night I had to watch the first film to redeem myself. The new film just can’t touch the happy-yet-dark edge of the first film. Actually watching the opening credits, I find that Roald Dahl actually did the screenplay of the first film – which means the changes that were made from the book were more or less approved by the actual author. Burton didn’t have such a luxury and I think it shows.
All in all, you can shy away from the new Wonka film. It’s a renter for sure, if for nothing else but to avoid the Burton fans. Weirdos.
As a fan of Wonka, this film doesn’t hold up and ends up being a disappointment.
As a critic, the film lacks the polishing other current movies have and it is hard to not be distracted by it.
Honestly, the Wonka story was not one that needed to be made into another movie. I don’t think the general movie-going public wanted or needed a new take on the book. The first film was plenty and did the job well with humor and style. I bet Warner Bros. could have re-released the first film and made a good chunk of (pure profit) change. I know I would have liked that much better.
Colby is his name and he’s a German Shepard mix of about four years and a solid 55 pounds of hair.
We had gone to the animal shelter only to look at dogs. I never intended in actually buying a dog at that time, but Colby was a good salespooch. We took him on a walk and he behaved. His cute factor isn’t that of a puppy or other well-groomed dog, but Colby knew several commands – the all-important “sit” – and was also very calm and didn’t jump, chase, and didn’t bark but once. Ah, my kind of dog – chilled.
Before I knew it, we were filling out papers and out buying doggy supplies at Wal-Mart. The next day we returned to pay for the mut and take him home.
Colby himself is a very good, well-behaved dog. He’s not interested in much, not even cats, but if you ask Frankie you’ll get another story. She did not approve.
Neither one of us really knew how to take care of a dog. We didn’t know eating schedules, outside time, or play time, let alone how to integrate a dog with cat. What a chore.
Although to Frankie’s credit over a period of only four days she has gone from not coming out of hiding to being in the same room with the dog. She has seen that Colby just sits there licking himself not paying her much mind. But if she runs, he runs, so if we can get her to the point where she can be somewhat happy walking around while he’s out we will all be OK.
For now Colby has to be caged overnight and during the day. It will be a while until Frankie settles in with him and we can let him go on his own. This is unfortunate because Colby is already potty trained and doesn’t need a cage for any other reason besides his interaction with the cat.
Never did I think I would own a dog. I just didn’t see it. He’s growing on me though and I’m sure he’ll make his way into my heart as Frankie has.
If anyone has any experience with cats and dogs getting along, please post any tips. Actually, any good tips on caring for a dog would be good.
And as with Frankie, a Colby photo gallery has been put in place. Please stop by and check out our new son.