The Economist now available on Kindle

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I’d really like to see The Economist available on the Kindle. Well, now it is. But it’s $10.49 a month. Ouch. Newsweek is only $1.49 a month, and they’re both weeklies, with about the same amount of content. I was definitely ready to drop my Newsweek subscription in favor of The Economist, until I saw the price tag. They seem to have priced it so that it’s just about the same price as a print subscription. I understand the reason why they do this, whether it’s with Kindle books and magazines, or iTunes music and video downloads, but I really wish they’d give it up. It’s a lot cheaper to deliver a magazine or a newspaper electronically than it is to produce and deliver a physical copy. The price should reflect this.

David Allen books

I finally finished reading Ready for Anything today. I started reading it about two years ago. Since it’s just a book of essays, it was easy to put it down for weeks (or months) at a time, and then come back to it whenever I wanted to. I got through the last ten (or so) essays over the last couple of months. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. My pattern with this book was generally to just read one essay at a time, then spend some time thinking about it, using it as a starting point for a bit of self-examination. I’m going to keep it handy, near my copy of GTD. I suspect I’ll return to it occasionally.

I bought Making It All Work for the Kindle back in January; I’ll start reading that soon, I think. I’ve really got no idea what kind of book it is. The reviews on Amazon are mixed. I did notice one comment in there noting that the illustrations in the Kindle version are too small to be useful. That’s disappointing, if true. I’d hate to have to buy a hard copy of it now, after I’ve already shelled out for the Kindle version.

Windows 7

I went ahead and pre-ordered two copies of Windows 7 Professional today. The pre-order deal ($99) is supposedly half the price that they’ll normally charge for an upgrade ($200). Microsoft has been kind of vague about when the pre-order deal expires, so it may be safe to wait until a lot closer to October to order, but it can’t hurt to do it now. I’m pretty sure Amazon won’t charge my credit card until it ships.

My intention is to upgrade both my desktop machine and my laptop to Win 7, soon after the release. They’re both running Vista Ultimate right now. There’s no half-price deal on the Win 7 Ultimate upgrade, so that’s only available for the full price of $220, effectively more than twice the $99 Pro deal. I don’t think there’s enough extra stuff in Ultimate to justify that price, so I’m going to drop back to Pro when I go to 7. It’s all very confusing. I don’t know why Microsoft broke Vista into so many SKU’s, and I don’t know why they’re not simplifying it with 7. (Maybe they are simplifying it a bit, but the whole “Ultimate” thing is still dumb.)

Chandler and Lotus Notes

I had a few spare minutes today, so I installed Chandler on my PC at work. No major problems with the install, or with creating an account on Chandler Hub. I played around with it a bit, and so far, I like it. It’s reasonably fast to load and use. Since it’s a cross-platform app written in Python, I was concerned that it would be slow, and maybe have some user interface quirks. Not that a cross-platform Python app *can’t* be fast and have a good UI, but a lot of the time, that’s not the case.

The e-mail integration, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, is a little weird. Chandler uses IMAP to create three folders in your mail file, Chandler Events, Chandler Messages, and Chandler Starred. When you drop messages in these folders, they appear in Chandler. That part seemed to work OK with my Lotus Notes mailbox.

Chandler can also send e-mail. That, I thought, would be straightforward. It’s just attaching to an SMTP server. I have plenty of apps that use my Domino server to send SMTP mail, so I didn’t expect any difficulty there. I didn’t have any problems just connecting to the server. However, I’ve found that the e-mails sent from Chandler don’t render correctly in Notes. A bunch of XML, which is probably supposed to be hidden, shows up in the message. I did some testing, and the e-mails from Chandler look fine in GMail, and in Apple’s Mail.app. They look like a mess in Notes though. Oh, and I tried Notes 7, 8, and 8.5 clients, and it’s the same either way. I did find, though, that the e-mails in Notes look fine when I’m accessing my mailbox from my iPod or BlackBerry.

When things go wrong with e-mail rendering in Notes, it can be hard to figure out where things went wrong. First, the Domino server may screw something up before it gets to your mail file. If it’s not that, then it might be something related to your mail file template, or to the Notes client software. Since this problem occurs in Notes 7, 8, and 8.5, I’m guessing it’s not a simple client quirk. It could be something in my mail file template. That’s still on version 7, and I can’t really change that without upgrading my Domino server.

So, bottom line, if I can’t get the outgoing e-mail to look OK in Notes, Chandler is going to be mostly useless for me. If I can get that working, then it’s promising.

Oh, and one other interesting thing about Chandler. There’s a book called “Dreaming in Code” about the initial development process on Chandler. This book is frequently compared to Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine, which is a great book about the development of a minicomputer back in the 70’s. Chandler’s development process, apparently, was a bit rocky. At the time the book was written, the program had been in development for several years, and hadn’t produced a workable 1.0 release yet. I think that the author’s original intention was to document the development of a revolutionary open source app that would really be a killer app that would compete with Outlook and maybe Lotus Notes. In the end, he wound up with a book documenting a lot of things that could go wrong with a development project, which is maybe an even more interesting book than he would have gotten if the project had gone well. (I haven’t actually read this book yet, so I’m generalizing from the reviews I’ve read. I do want to pick up the book and read it at some point.)

PC Mag on Kindle

This is kind of interesting. PC Magazine is now available for the Kindle.

PC Magazine stopped publishing an actual magazine a while ago, and has just been maintaining their web site, and publishing a digital version (which I think is in a weird format, not a PDF or any normal e-book format) since then. And, just this week, it was announced that ExtremeTech, a related Ziff-Davis site, would be shutting down. Or at least almost shutting down. So, I’m wondering exactly what they’ll be publishing on the Kindle. I’m guessing it won’t look much like the old print PC Mag. It’s interesting that they’re trying to keep it going in some form, but I wonder if anybody cares at this point. Is anyone interesting writing for it? Do they have enough of a budget to do benchmark tests and stuff like that?

GTD

I haven’t spent much time thinking about GTD this year. I’ve got a system going that mostly works, so I have just been working it and not worrying about it. A few things have come up recently that have made me start thinking about it again though.

First, I have started offloading most of my programming-related task management into Jira. This has been working pretty well. I’ve got about 100 issues in Jira right now, over a variety of projects. I’ve got the other two developers in my department using it too. From a GTD perspective, I look at a Jira “issue” as a GTD “project”, though sometimes it’s a pretty small project. (Other times, it’s a pretty big one.) I don’t really have a great way of tracking next actions in Jira, but my basic goal is that any open, in-progress, issue in Jira should have a next action on it. I just add comments to the issue as I go, detailing what I’ve done, and what I still need to do. This has gotten most of the programming stuff out of my previous GTD system, which has basically been the Lotus Notes to-do list. (I’ve set up my to-do list based on the system set forth in this document.)

I just recently listened to a podcast from DavidCo on the eProductivity add-on for Notes. This appears to be a really great package that would take care of a bunch of issues I’m having now. It costs $400 though, and I know my company wouldn’t pay for it, so I don’t think I’ll be going that way.

I’ve also been looking at Chandler, an open-source program that looks pretty interesting. Chandler integrates with your e-mail in a bit of a weird way, using IMAP. It might be workable, or it might be too much of a kludge. I’m really not sure. One of the things I like about Chandler is that it’s multi-platform, and you can sync across multiple installs using Chandler Hub. I think I’m going to try it out, though I’m not sure when I’ll have to time to really sit down and mess with it, and see if it’s workable.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good description of the problems I’m having with my current system, but it’s hard to describe. To some extent, it’s really convenient to have all this stuff right in Notes, in my mail file. But, there’s really no intermixing of the mail and the to-dos, so I find myself copying & pasting a lot, both text and doclinks. Notes has some nice features for copying doclinks, but I run into trouble when I have old projects that I haven’t started yet, and I’m relying on doclinks to old mail messages that I may already have archived. It gets kind of confusing. Basically, I’d like to either move the GTD stuff out of my mail file (which Chandler would do), or just go nuts and integrate completely with my mail file, and just manage it really well, which eProductivity would do.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how I could access or manage any of this stuff on either my iPod Touch or my BlackBerry Storm. I don’t even come close to having a good solution for that!

too many games

For the purpose of convincing myself not to buy any new games, here’s a list of all the games I have sitting around that I haven’t played yet, but which I fully intend on playing through:

  • Final Fantasy IX (PS2)
  • Final Fantasy X (PS2)
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
  • Metal Gear Acid (PSP)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)
  • Force Unleashed (PS3)

Okay, that ought to be enough to keep me from buying FF X-2 or FF 12 for the PS2, or Metal Gear Acid 2 for the PSP, or, well, anything new for the PS3 or Wii. I need to keep reminding myself that it’s a lot easier to plunk down $20 for an old PS2 or PSP game than it is to find the 50 hours to play it through…

AnimeNEXT

So I went into work on Friday and found out that there was an anime convention going on at the Expo Center across the street from my office building. And more interestingly, they were using part of the first floor of our building too. So, we got to watch cosplayers wandering around in our lobby all day. Cool.

I had to work this weekend anyway, so I went to the con (AnimeNEXT) after work yesterday and today. There was a lot of stuff going on. They were using space at the Expo Center, the Doubletree hotel, and the Doubletree “training center” in our building. I picked up some random toys and candy in the dealers room, and the Samurai 7 box set. I paid $40 for the box, which seemed like a good deal at the time, until I got home and checked Amazon, where they have it for $26. Oh well. It usually turns out that Amazon is the best place to get anime or manga, though it’s more fun to come home from a con with a few things in my backpack, even if I overpaid for them!

The space in our building was being used for video rooms. They had 5 rooms going, and they were showing some good stuff. I didn’t catch anything new and great, though. (I remember discovering great stuff like Master Keaton in the video rooms at San Diego.) I kind of like the idea of having a bunch of anime video rooms running in my office building, so I can just go downstairs and watch some Eva any time I’m feeling stressed at work. Maybe I can just hide some DVDs in the server closet.

stupid boot camp

So I decided to mess around with Boot Camp tonight, and maybe install Win 7 on my Mac.
First problem: I figure out that Boot Camp Assistant isn’t installed on my Mac. So, I have to get the OS X install DVD, and figure out where the installer is, and run that. OK.
Next problem: When I set up my new 500 GB drive a couple of weeks ago, I used 400 GB for my Mac partition, and left 100 GB for a possible Windows partition. Thinking ahead is good, yes? Apparently, no. Boot Camp Assistant doesn’t recognize that. It cheerfully offers to subdivide my 400 GB partition, so I can use part of *that* for Windows, but it doesn’t even see that 100 GB unpartitioned space.
So, now I’ve re-sized my main partition to take up the whole drive. Maybe tomorrow night I’ll run BCA again and see about breaking it back up into two partitions.