Bricks Ain't Hard, Life Is

First few days back at work have, as always, been killer. Even though I dipped into my e-mail now and then while on vacation, it took me three whole days to clear my backlog (and even then I’ve only skimmed the massive amount of documents I got). And today, to boot, a colleague handed over a full portfolio of stuff I am now responsible for (and have to spend a couple of weeks at least getting into).

Add to that the need to ensure the mechanics of the business keep on ticking (at least where my own little cogs are concerned) in the blanks between at least three meetings a day, and it’s no wonder I have a splitting headache.

Organization, The OLE Way

So I started doing something I never really expected to be doing in 2007: I started compiling status reports of my projects as Word 2007 documents, and embedding e-mail messages and other documents into them.

Little tables like:

Issue/Event Highlights/Key Learnings Detail (attachments)
Autumn Photo Shoot Great light for morning photography
Need a fixed focus lens
(attached image)
(attached e-mail invitation to photo shoot)
(PDF file with map)

…only with better formatting. One document per project, listing the steps, main issues, and embedding the relevant documentation (within reason) inside the attachments column – I draw the line at three attachments per issue.

This is, of course, the worst possible thing you can do where it regards ensuring your documents last. But my point is that, like ordinary users, right now I don’t care about Open Formats.

I just want something that works, is easily maintainable with the tools I have at work (i.e., Office) and that I can hand over to whomever needs to pick up my work with the minimum of fuss and regardless of computing ideology (Linux weenies are as free to use Citrix as I am, so…).

These status summaries are very short-lived, so the issue of data lock-in doesn’t really arise. I hope.

I have yet to establish if I could open and manipulate one of these files using Office for the Mac, but I expect it would all mostly work, except opening embedded Outlook messages. I’ll let you know if I ever try it.

This also has some bearing on a few things I’ve been mulling regarding the bankruptcy of HTML as an universal, editable format, and the utter inability of Open Source Office alternatives to deliver anything that just works in this regard.

I hope to write more on that in the next few days (if I can).

Piping Nuisances

As a side note, I’ve also spent a few minutes trying to coax valid, workable, useful RSS from Yahoo Pipes to keep track of a few topics, and realized (again) that the JSON feeds are much better.

Worse, I realized that I can generate better RSS myself from those JSON rather than relying on Yahoo’s rather liberal interpretation of what should be an output RSS feed. Someone really ought to build an RSS Item pipe component that worked as a template for slotting in things like categories, fixed permalinks, etc.

Maybe it’s doable already or there’s some easy workaround to build “richer” RSS items, but I just rolled my own Python reformatter and left it at that for now.

Getting Your Own Glass Brick

Finally, regarding the current crop of news regarding the 1.1.1 update for the iPhone: I’m not feeling sorry at all for the folk griping about it.

Sorry, guys, that’s what comes from fooling around with firmware (which is why I stick to cheap routers and other inexpensive doodads like the NSLU2) – if you break it, you get to keep the pieces.

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