Monthly Archives: July 2006

Outlook and Project

I have been spending the past few days religiously searching for a missing piece to add to my lovely suite of office products: An integrator to link Microsoft Project and Outlook Calendar.

As usual, it met with dismal failure.

Now, why is it so difficult to find a simple add-on to import Microsoft Project to Outlook? Granted, there is an export utility to export the Project data in a variety of formats and an import facility to import to Outlook. However, the process is tedious and cumbersome to say the least.

Take this for example: I tried exporting a long Project schedule (going well into the third quarter of next year) to a comma separated value file. What I came up with is a mapping dialogue asking me to map all the fields with the fields I want. What on earth!!! There are literally tonnes and tonnes of fields in that project and its only been a measly two weeks since I touched Microsoft Project! Dont tell me am expected to know which field to select and which fields not to! Not to mention that its not even a schedule I drew up! Thats ridiculous! (Actually not really but I simply could’nt think of going through all the fuss just to import to Outlook :)). Additionally, I wanted to synchronise the two calendars and importing and exporting with all the mappings to do in between all the time was not something which appealed especially not if the schedule is bound to change on a weekly basis.

So, off I went to good ol’ google and transpired across just the document I need: Integrating Outlook with Microsoft Project 2003 by Technology Associates International Ltd. A nice word document with screenshots and simple explanations on how to carry out the whole process. With a catch:

This paper describes how the Outlook Integration add-in for Microsoft Office Project Web Access makes it easier for you to keep track of tasks that have been assigned to you in Microsoft Project.

Now, what on earth was Microsoft Office Project Web Access? To excerbate the matter further, there was a step which required you to choose the option of Work with Microsoft Outlook and its apparently only available in the Project Web Access. It sounded suspiciously like a repeat of my all to frequent search-for-something-and-end-up-with-nothing senario.

I still decided to give it a try and prepared myself for a long round of googling. To make the long story short, it turns out that to integrate Outlook and Project, you need the Project to be connected to a Project Server via a Web Portal which is the Microsoft Project Web Access. Meaning that there is no way you can integrate a stand-along Project 2003 with Outlook.

Oh why oh why oh why is it that what I need is something which no-one else seems to want?

Browser War

Came across this site which gives a good overview about the browsers hitting the market soon.

The line that caught my fancy was about this new browser called flock. Curious, I searched for the review on flock here and decided to try it out.

Flock is very different. For a person used to Firefox and Opera and the occasional reluctant use of IE6 for work-related purposes, Flock provided features which were welcome to say the least.

Take for example, automatic addition of favourites into del.icio.us. I spent one week (and am still unsuccessful) in adding my Firefox bookmarks to del.icio.us. Frustrated, I had even gotten myself an account in Furl, imported the bookmarks there and tried transferring to del.icio.us with no success. Thus resigned, I have resorted to adding new bookmarks there and still backing up my old bookmarks in html and good old gmail.

Adding a bookmark is also a pain most of the time. First there is the del.icio.us extension to download, and then configure. Then there are always two steps to do (if you want your bookmarks in local as well as on remote): Add to Firefox bookmarks, and then click on the extension tag tab on your toolbar (if you have put it there) to log into del.icio.us and then add the bookmark. Not that great, not that time consuming but something more integrated would have been nice.

Flock fulfills just that need. One has the option to always add to local, always add to remote (del.icio.us) or add in both places, justthe option I was looking for.

As the review pointed out, Flock also has an interesting approach to favourites. However, after a few minutes of bungling around, you will get the hang of it.

However, the one feature Firefox has which neither Opera nor Flock has is the orkut extension whereby one can reply to scraps without having to go to the other person’s scrapbook. Granted, I do not use orkut quite as much as some people I know but for the rare times I do use it, this particular feature has been indispensable. In fact, that’s about the only reason why I still stick to Firefox (Opera is better in my humble opinion). But then Flock is based on the gecko server, the same as FireFox and the review does mention that its not a big deal to change afirefox extension to be compatible with Flock. So I presume some kind soul out there will do just that 😀

Flock also has the cool feature of blog-posting, meaning that I do not need to log into my blog admin site, click on write and post.Thus one nifty link on the browser and voila! There is my write page. Neat. It also supports blogs hosted by a variety of blogging softwares including wordpress, typepad, movable type, blogger, LiveJournal and Drupal, softwares which most of us out there will be using.

I tried this feature. Basically right click and select BlogThis. This pops up a new window with a title and a textbox to type your post in. There is also a view source feature if your mort comfortable with html then WYSIWYG editors. The text box is comprehensive with the ability to add links and all the usual paraphernalia.

Blog Post

Clicking on publish button brings up the categories that you have. It does not have the specific ability to add pictures as the wordpress (which I use) admin site has, but that’s a minor detail easily accomplished by the http link feature. There are options to add tags, replace an existing post and even visit your blog after adding the post. You even have the option of saving your posts on your local (a useful feature if you want to edit the post from flock itself)

Blog Post Categories

Overall a nice little browser and one well worth giving a try 🙂

Blogged with Flock

Addendum: The only way to edit a post already posted (which in this case was this particular post where I found a spelling mistake :D) was to either change your saved post and replace the published post or edit it from your blog console. Since I did not save my post into local, I was forced to go to console. To my dismay I found out that the WYSIWYG editor in wordpress has put the ‘html’ code in. The quotes as its not pure html but the formatting etc are present, like this:


<p><br>
</p>

<p><br>
<img src=\"img/flock/blog_post.JPG\" alt=\"Blog Post\" />

<p><br>
</p>

<p>Clicking on <em>publish</em> button brings up the categories that you have. It does not have the specific ability to add pictures as the wordpress (which I use) admin site has, but that’s a minor detail easilyaccomplished by the http link feature. There are options to add tags, replace an existing post and even visit your blog after adding the post.</p>

<p><br>
<img src=\"img/flock/blog_categories.JPG\" alt=\"Blog Post Categories\" /></p>

<p><br>
</p>

Not nice. Not sure if its the wordpress or flock problem though.

Kalki

Came across this lovely site which translates Kalki’s Sivagamiyin Sabadham to English. For the uninitiated, Kalki was one of the most prolific of Tamil writers.

Kalki Krishnamurthy was a famous Tamil novelist who lived from 1899 to 1954. We was born in Tanjavur and studied in Truchi. During that time, Gandhi launched the non-coperation movement and Krishnamurthy left school which he was to graduate in three months and joined Gandhi. Krishnamurthy was imprisoned for a year for his involvement.

It was at this time that Krishnamurthy tried his hand at literary endevours. He also came into contact with two great literary people at that time: C. Rajagopalachari whose Ramayan and Mahabharat is still considered the de-facto book to have at homes and T. Sadasivam.

in 1939, Krishnamurthy joined Ananda Vikatan, a up-coming weekly which soon became a must-have in middle-class households. It was in this weekly that Krishnamurthy took up the pen name of Kalki.

Kalki specialised in the semi-historic genre, where he blended ancient tales, legends and historic facts with fictional escapades to produce epics. The following are his most famous in this category:

* Ponniyin Selvan (Son of Ponni – Ponni is anohter name for the river cauveri in southern India)
* Sivagamiyin Sabadham (The vow of Sivagami)
* Parthiban Kanavu (The dream of Parthiban)

It has often been my regret that my unability to read Tamil deprived my of such classics. I have tried to remedy this numerous times through self-learning but guess languages and me just dont blend. Its gratifying knowing that there are generous souls out there to cater to us unenlightened and provide us ways to read classics in a language we are versed in.

Death Penalty

I came across interesting statistics regarding death penalty recently. The entire statistic pertains to the USofA.

It appears that since 1977, one in 10 people executed have been ‘volunteers’. Meaning that they are people who either:

  • Gave up faith in the justice system
  • Want a last shot at bravado
  • Are mentally/physically ill and would rather not appeal rulings
  • Have some concocted religious beliefs
  • Dread the prospects of confinement in jail for long durations

Personally I am not against death penalty. However, I do believe that for heinous crimes, that is an easy way out.

Imagine a man injuring another to the point of mutilation. Imagine this same man enjoy the process or inflicting pain on another living being and actually loving it. Does not death sentence seem lenient for such a person? Shouldn’t this person be flogged repeatedly for as long as the flogger can? Or should this person be just exterminated from society which death sentence does.

However, death penalty is not the solution for all crimes, though it is preferable in certain situations. Crimes committed on a fit of rage, crimes committed for the good of society, crimes committed for self-defense. For these crimes, the accused would rather opt for a quick way out and death rather than live day in and day out with the thought of having done a horrible deed with they regret now. However, should this be allowed? Should society try to help this person overcome his trauma and live a decent life or help him in his escapism?

So when should it be applied? When is death penalty not a solution? What are the circumstances? Scenarios?

In the States at least, the capital punishment system is based more on the judge’s impression then on the crime actually committed. Yes, the crime committed plays a huge part but one judge may hand over a life sentence for a crime while another judge pass the death penalty for the came offence.

As the UN Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions concluded in 1998, “race, ethnic origin and economic status appear to be key determinants of who will, and who will not, receive a sentence of death” in the USA.

Amnesty international has an interesting view on capital punishment. It believes that capital punishment should be outlawed no matter the reason or the crime committed. It believes that…

Capital punishment means that the state is involved in a premeditated killing – part of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.

Whether or not prisoners who “ask” to be executed are deluding themselves about the level of control they have gained over their fate – after all, they are merely assisting their government in what it has set out to do anyway – the state is guilty of a far greater deception. It is peddling its own illusion of control: that, by killing a selection of those it convicts of murder, it can offer a constructive contribution to efforts to defeat violent crime. In reality, the state is taking to refined, calculated heights what it seeks to condemn – the deliberate taking of human life. While such executions are sometimes referred to as a form of state-assisted suicide, ”prisoner-assisted homicide” would be a more accurate label. For if a death row inmate seeks to commit actual suicide, the state will make every effort to prevent it. The phenomenon of prisoners “volunteering” for execution contributes to the lottery of the death penalty

Their arguments make sense and are applicable, but I strongly believe only in certain circumstances, more accurately, in the second scenario stated earlier.

Programming

Referring to the article here. Wow. I mean simply wow. I agree with the author, how many ppl running s/w companies out there really know anything about software? Or hardware? Or programming? Or anything IT-related? One can count the numbers in one hand. It also raises some interesting points to note. All the top ppl running IT companies who are also IT savvy are the older generation. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates….

I have never been a big fan of M$. Ever since I had to re-install win98 and win2k almost every other week just because I downloaded software and ‘played’ with the OS. But hats off to that man, he has single handedly (well almost) brought a company to be one of the player in the market at present. Whatever your animosity towards Microsoft, whatever the irate-ness towards the Windows OS, whatever the irk towards their behaviour, that man still deserves a kudos.

I just hope the bad press MS is getting and has been getting for some time now doesn’t make ppl forget that behind it is basically a person who can still be considered exemplary in his field.