Clocking IT

The last paragraph of my previous field report stated, "I've started looking into tools and procedures to improve the project management and timekeeping for the organization". In this search I (we) have settled on a tool written in Rails, called "Clocking IT". I guess the IT stands for information technology, however; the tool seems to me suitable for logging time on all kinds of tasks. The developer, one Erlend Simonsen, has generously made this code available to the public in two crucial ways. He offers the source code, and he also is running a public server where anyone can try out the tool before taking the effort to install and configure their own installation of it from the source. And indeed my org is already relying heavily on this tool and using it on the public server. I am now engaged in setting up our own installation so we shan't have to depend on the public one staying up. It is necessary to load the version corresponding to the data schema of our data (which, fortunately, we should be able to save from the public server; there is a pushbutton for that purpose).

On another subject, I attended a very interesting presentation, interesting, that is, to those who recommend a Content Management System (CMS) to their clients. A company called Browser something is coming out on February the 7th with a beta version of their new CMS to be open-sourced, Browser CMS, running on Rails. I have recommended to my org to take a good look at it to possibly replace the general-purpose CMS developed here. From the presentation it seems to me that the software architecture is good. I think there is hope that this product will nucleate a real community effort in maintaining in Rails a good CMS suitable for nontechnical editors; it should be easier to use than Drupal for example. I hope the community effort will make the effort less for each organization than would occur if each org maintained their own CMS.

Once or twice, my experience with Unix-like systems has come in handy for informing my colleague/boss here about the permission system as he has run into problems the solving of which depended on that kind of knowledge.

Let's see, the CTC VISTA web server says I submitted my last field retort 5 weeks 23 hours ago; what date does that make it? About Dec. 23? That can't be right, because I wasn't working that week. Must have been be more like the 16th.

I spent a few hours explaining things to a new volunteer who may become proficient in Rails. I also helped two other volunteers get started working on financial aspects for the org. I brought up a development environment on my home computer. I use Google spreadsheets to keep track of the steps involved in setting up servers as for development or production (the needs for development and production being similar).

Before settling on Clocking IT as the tool for time tracking, I wasted significant time investigating alternatives and even trying to develop one from scratch.

Baltimore, Md. Wed Jan 21 10:20:35 EST 2009