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I had it in mind that when I am ready to bring up Astraendo after preserving everything I can off of Scampo, the first things I will do include:

  1. Taking photographs of screens that come up before I can do screen captures
  2. Following Windows 7 initial setup,
    • Complete Internet connection setup to work with my Workgroup LAN and residential router/gateway to the Internet
    • Connect to Windows Home Server and establish the WHS Connector (critical)
    • Install a HyperSnap-DX Screen Capture version appropriate for Windows 7 64-bit so I can do captures of additional configuration, software installations, and setup procedures.

I tend to think that the next essential utility is WinZip, installed in a way where the built-in support for Zip files as Windows Explorer folders is not defeated.  I just can’t remember why I give it such priority, even though it is one of my stock utilities.

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Scampo has been my main desktop system since it solved an emergency for me in September 2005.  I don’t think of it as an old machine, since I have also kept machines (all from Dell, now that I think of it) operating successfully for over ten years.  That left me with some guilt over planning its replacement with the now-arrived, waiting-to-be-installed Astraendo desktop, a Dell XPS 9100.

I’m not ready to cut over to Astraendo just yet.  It is a Windows 7 system and there are a number of migration issues for me to resolve, especially for my web development procedures and practices.

Morning Sickness?

But Scampo is dying on me.   I don’t know if it is a cyberspace counterpart of sibling jealousy, but Scampo has been sickly since the carton with Astraendo arrived.  The problem occurs mostly in the form of morning sickness:  The system has difficulty responding to power on, it often fails to boot up completely and has to be force-restarted, and so on. 

One of these mornings, I may not be able to wake Scampo up for our daily work together.

So I shall not shut it off tonight until I have established the following safeguards:

Backup Preparations

I will have a current backup on the Windows Home Server before I shut down.

I will also migrate as much data as I can off of Scampo onto shared space on the Windows Home Server.  This will be available to all of my other systems, and to Astraendo once it is brought up.  The data will continue to be used from the shared directories, so that it is current whenever I start using it from another of my SOHO computers.

An important case for sharing consists of my Windows Live Writer Drafts and Recently Posted collections.  I will place those in a shared location so that I can switch to authoring on Quadro the moment Scampo becomes unavailable.  Some other shared materials will probably not be used on Quadro much, even though available there, but they will be immediately available when I have moved operations to Astraendo.

I will also perform an inventory to ensure that I have everything I need to move operations to another computer.

Bring On the Stand-In

My Tablet PC, Quadro, is still running Windows XP SP3.  Although the machine does not have the capacity or the performance of Scampo, it can easily take over my essential functions:

  • FrontPage 2002 for continuing web development without requiring Scampo.
  • VSS 6.0d client, also for web development.
  • Tortoise SVN for other coordinated versioning, particularly for SourceForge and OASIS projects.
  • Outlook 2007.  I have Office 2007 Ultimate on Quadro.  I need to move my Outlook PST files to Quadro and perform all e-mail functions there until I finally move to Astraendo.  I can continue to share contacts and calendars via Windows Live and Outlook Connector, but I need my collection of e-mail archives to be at my fingertips and available to desktop searching.
  • My latest password set brought from Scampo to the password vault on Quadro.
  • Zune PC so I can synchronize my Windows Phone from Quadro.
  • Microsoft Money, since I continue to use it in its off-line unregistered desktop form.
  • Other tools on Scampo that may be important to have on Quadro for interim operation, although I much prefer holding off until I can do more on Astraendo.

I won’t bring over anything that requires the higher performance of either Scampo or Astraendo.  No photographic and no audio software will be brought over.  I probably won’t be watching Netflix on Quadro either.  Nothing that really requires a larger screen than the Tablet PC 1024 by 758.

Preparing for Migration

To abandon Scampo successfully, I will also need to find upgraded software for operation on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.  That is particularly important for my E-MU devices and audio dock.  It will also matter for my printer and scanner.  The Scampo inventory will help me to plan the necessary staging of software and device connections.

Returning to Normal

I will continue retiring Compagno and moving Web Development to the Windows Home Server.  At some point down the road, this will include switching to Expression Web once I have determined how to operate with the IIS FrontPage extensions properly for web-page check-out/-in and how to work around the lack of direct support for design-time FrontPage functions that I rely on quite stubbornly.

 

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I did it.  I have placed an order for a SOHO desktop and developer system to be named Astraendo.  It is a Dell XPS 9100 and delivery is expected before New Year’s Eve.

Because it is not an Alienware Aurora, I thought of changing the name from Astraendo to Eo (or E0 for you old mainframe hackers).  But, I figure, a good category is silly to waste.  In addition, I realize that the desire to return my attention to abstractions and foundations of computing inspires me.  I’ll keep the name.

I must resist premature retirement of Scampo.  I can’t switch to a Windows 7 machine until I have figured out how to support my web site development using IIS, FrontPage Extensions, and Visual SourceSafe.  The problem is having Expression Web and Windows 7 be able to do check-outs and check-ins properly.  Until I have that resolved, I need a copy of Windows XP running Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003.  Beside rearranging the SOHO Layout and cabling, that is the critical-path prerequisite for the development-system upgrade.

There should be FrontPage Server extensions on WHS, my Windows Homer Server operating on a Windows Server 2003 base.  Assuming that there is a standard configuration of IIS 6.0 (which is already used for web functions of WHS on the HP MediaSmart Server), it is straightforward to install and enable FrontPage 2002 Server Extensions (and WebDAV for that matter), and I have done that.

If I need to revert to an IIS 7.0 Server on Windows 7 or Server 2008 at some point, I’ve just gone by the use-by date for IIS 7.0 FrontPage Server Extensions.  However, there is an independent source.

Once I have the extensions, I need to create a site in addition to the ones already there.  I then need to see if I can have the site, with FrontPage Server Extensions, integrate with Visual Source Safe.  After confirming that I can get check-in and check-out working properly from FrontPage 2003 on Windows XP, I need to see how to get it working from Expression Web from Windows 7.  At that point, serious migration of functions can proceed.

I remind myself of that here because I must stifle myself and not go overboard installing and cutting over to Astraendo until this is accomplished.

 

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I must declare bankruptcy for the timeline and work items of “Got SMRs?” and my 2011 nfoProjects Launch Sprint.  I have completely fallen off the cliff into the rapids and that timeline and its work items are DOA.  I will update the current spreadsheet timeline documents to reflect that sorry state.

All of the activities are relevant, but I have been completely distracted from them.  Furthermore, it is clear that I don’t have the capacity to forward them in parallel.  This may have to do with having too much work in progress as well as lacking a sustainable pace (a major discrepancy between my vision and my perfornance).

I shall tear down my planned structure and create a fresh one with an honest and workable critical path.  That means finding what there is that is essential and indeed critical.   One problem is that there is only one resource (me), so moving something off the critical path means putting it beyond the essential immediate.  The dependencies must work for that.  I suspect that means creating technical debt and I will have to risk-manage that too.

In particular, I am still shifting gears in 2011, and the support for that includes straightening out the blogs, web sites, and the development procedure for them.  Now to identify and work on the critical path for that, with the critical end point being whatever that much takes.

Onward …

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Got SMRs?

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Whenever I write “SMRs” I think of smores, the Graham cracker, Hershey bar, and toasted-marshmallow confection that my family learned on my sister Carol’s return from a Girl Scout Brownie outing.  I think our mother already knew of them, but my recollection is that’s when they entered my experience.

That is, perhaps, my playing with the notion of Specific Measurable Results, the outcomes in reality of defined, actionable tasks.  SMRs as tasty morsels.  I did not realize how much the term has been taken over by business-coaching lingo.  I confess to first hearing the expression in 1993, from Landmark Forum Leader Linda Zraik, and it was already a catch-phrase in that setting.

The combination came up for me today when I realized that my nfoProjects Launch Sprint is too airy and lacks SMRs for me to chew on.  Consequently, it is easy to let days go buy without measurable results.  That was happening here:

Noticing that everything slips with no SMRs to produce each step of the way.

I noticed this because there were no simple actionable work items that led to SMRs, even basic, produce-this-today ones. 

Looking more closely, the labels on the stages that the boxes represent are conceptual.  It made sense for envisioning and looking at opportunities in the available time, but that isn’t concrete enough.

Today, I have been stepping back to create SMRs for the stages themselves, and then for those individual results that I will produce on the path to the SMR of the stage.  

Although it would be wise to start at the end point of the Sprint and work backwards, I will fudge and start by looking closely at the stages that I am managing over the current fortnight.  I won’t go long without filling the gap from the objective back to what’s next right now, but I am forcing in some small immediate activities to ground my effort in the meantime.

The tracking spreadsheet is not going to include all of that detail.  I will use my Personal Kanban board to manage them in a fluid way and also ensure that I provide supplemental envisioning, planning, and reflection on a weekly basis.

I’ve been looking at all of the projects that I have and the number of burners there are for my efforts.

In the past week, I realized that I needed a consolidated plan with defensible, risk-managed timelines for getting to where I want to be on New Years Day, 2011: Launching a family of interoperability-centered tutorial, test-fixture, and reference-implementation projects around document formats and their processing.  (Hmm, short enough for an elavator speech but not something I would be able to recite at gunpoint.  Needs work.)

I have gathered my envisioning into a spreadsheet that keeps my commitment and my management of it in a structure that holds my vision in existence.  Here is the finish line and, at the bottom, where I am standing right now:

2011 nfoProjects Launch Crunch tracking-document extract

This is a high-level perspective.  I blocked out the calendar weeks and arranged more-or-less week-sized chunks in which to make headway along four tracks.  Since I am a solo developer, this is enough for me to follow and use as an instrument for keeping my eye on critical setbacks and interdependencies that I must keep my attention on.  There’s an opportunity for some Personal Kanban  and Personal Software Process.

The OpenDocument Format continuation work is related to my current involvement on the OASIS ODF and OIC Technical Committees, as well as the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 WG6 working-group for ODF maintenance.   As ODF 1.2 moves toward ratification as an OASIS Standard in early 2011, there is a hiatus that allows me to devote more attention to Interoperability and Conformance and the alignment of the ISO/IEC and OASIS efforts. 

The blog, web, and development system (Centrale) efforts have been identified here in a piece-meal fashion.  This three-track view provides my first projection of a coherent feasible structure on those activities.  There will be many opportunities for adjustment and course-correction as progress is made and details of further steps are reviewed.

In simply arranging these activities, I found how to avoid a situation in which I was retiring Compagno and in a sudden-death gap on being able to move everything I needed to the Windows Home Server.  This was definitely sky-diving without a parachute.  What I had not seen until I placed the activities in this form, is that Quadro, my Tablet PC, can mirror Compagno perfectly and also assist in verifying how migration from FrontPage to Expression Web can be accomplished while preserving practices that serve me too well for them to be abandoned without a fight.

I have also noticed, already, how having my eye on New Years Day gets me out of bed in the morning, excited to make further headway on these activities.

I will be reporting results and updates here on the week-by-week progress.  And, for those playing along from home, here’s the tracking document  on-line:

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I am in serious anticipation of an upgrade to the development systems on Centrale, the SOHO Network which is the local hub for all things nfoCentrale.

I am not ready to retire Scampo, the current workhorse desktop system.

Meanwhile, I need someplace to park my upgrade hunger.  So, I named the next system.

Astraendo Is Its Name

Photo by pennstatelive via Flickr
Astraendo is the the name I appropriate from Italian to stand for “abstraction” or “abstracting.”  What had me think of it here is that it comes from “astra,” which is about stars or the heavens.  Since abstraction is a key aspect of my examinations into fundamentals of computing, and Astraendo will be the equivalent of a digital spaceship for my computational explorations, I figure it is a keeper, even if no one can pronounce it (including myself).  [You can decide how much the sense of “taking away,” the origin of abstraction, applies here.  This computer exists entirely in my dreams at the moment.]

Having chosen a name for the computer, I now have a blog category for it too.  This is where I park my anticipation of this new system. 

The Search Space

I am, by habit and inclination, a frugal acquirer of digital toys.  I have one system, Compagno, still running that was acquired in 1998.  Centro, my 1999 Windows 98 box was retired in 2008 or thereabouts.  There are no smart phones here, and we drive a 1996-model vehicle.  I confess that I am on my second Tablet PC computer, Quadro, and being an early adopter there provided mixed results (with my first Tablet PC cratering unrecoverably within days of its warranty expiration, an experience I have never had apart from that single off-brand purchase).  Scampo was acquired in September 2005 as an emergency solution.  I handle computer emergencies at Office Depot, which is where I confirm street prices for consumer-grade computer systems.

So you will now see why this is daunting as I look at moving far out onto the bleeding edge:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit platform that will last to Windows 8 and beyond
  • Full hardware Virtual Machine support
  • Quad core performance if not Hex core
  • Memory performance and capacities to go with this (say 12GB DDR3 tri-channeled)
  • High-performance graphics adapter capable of supporting multi-monitors and 30” high-resolution combos
  • Expansion capability for my current PCI-adapted peripherals
  • Power supply and cooling that supports everything I can throw at it, with headroom to spare

Targets of Opportunity

I am watching price curves and the move toward commoditization at the current higher-end of home-/developer-system performance.  At the moment, I am watching two systems that tend to be best-of-breed but not at the sweet spot for consumer computer upgrades:  maxing out a Dell XPS 9100 or an Alienware Aurora.  I have essentially the same configurations of each, with the pricier Alienware box noted for its greater capacity, liquid cooling, and durability.

These plus high-performance graphics adapters such as the ATI Radeon HD5970 command premiums and I don’t like that so much. 

These are all borderline budget busters, but I have been careful in saving up for a new system and I hope to accomplish that before the end of 2010.

Speaking of budget busters, I have also been watching high-end monitors.  The common “large” is 27 inches (I have 24 now), but my eye is on 30-inch monitors.  It appears that products like the Dell U3011 with their Energy Star compliance and low wattage (e.g., not much over 100W) are coming within range of my net if not my pocketbook.  I have assumed that actual display upgrade will wait while I figure out what to do with the 24” monitor I have or whether I can go dual-monitor.

Setbacks and Prerequisites

I have a personal goal to ramping up a development project to create reference implementations, test suites, and impressive documentation in areas important to me.  The winding down of my extensive commitment during the development of OASIS ODF 1.2 specifications should provide the relief for turning this new page.

Meanwhile, there are significant prerequisites that I need to have dealt with in the time between now, the first of November 2010, and January 2011 when I will be laying out my work on reference implementations and accompanying collateral efforts, especially around testing, integration, and deployment lifecycle management.  I expect to have a great deal of fun and also have the hardware/software fixtures that I need to support me in that.

Because the nfoCentrale sites and blogs are instruments of this future effort, I am dedicated to finally completing the revival of the nfoCentrale sites and their related blogs.

Astraendo is the carrot, preparing the sites is the stick.  Wish me luck.

 

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