Category Archives: Consulting

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What do you use to track your time?

The first draft of this post was lamenting the changes to and my leaving of Hours. Except that’s premature, as I’m still using it. So I’ve re-written this as an open question to anyone who reads this. What do you use to track your time? Below are my criteria, and a few apps I’ve tried.

First and foremost. I don’t bill for my time, but track it so I can keep in the know on who much time I spend on projects, whether my own events, or client projects. Billing is a non issue.

Sync. Also a non issue. While it’d be handy to manage timers anywhere, the main device has always been my iPhone. So long as the app is mobile, I’m good. A Mac and/or iPad app are cool, but not required.

Reports. This is a big(ish) one. Hours really excelled at it’s reporting. Past tense. Now the free reports are pretty much shit, and based on updates and losses of data, I’m not willing to pay $8/mo. for reports. (there’s other things that $8 covers, see above as to why I don’t care). I want to be able to generate per client/project and over all reports. I’d love to see a high level annual report, or monthly or weekly reports, or what I spent time on. Exporting a PDF is idea..

 

I’ve looked at a few already.

Harvest is one of the most suggested. It’s very much aimed at tracking your time for the purpose of billing. Their pricing is evidence of that. I’ve no issue paying for software, however Harvest isn’t priced for someone in my (unique?) situation.

Harvest would be perfect if there was a level between free and $12/month. I (I assume I’m not the only one) don’t need more users, I don’t need any invoicing, and honestly unlimited clients is much, likewise unlimited projects. I assume they’ve looked into it, but for me going from 2 projects to unlimited is a big step and there’s a space in the middle for users like me.

I’ve looked at Toggl, which also has a ton of potential and is quite close to what I want. Except the UI is atrocious. Like confusing and sluggish on top of not overly attractive. Hours was simple and clean, which makes doing the thing it does great. Nothing gets in the way. I tried Toggl a few months ago, running concurrently with Hours. Hated it. The Mac app was nice, the syncing sucked. I’d start a timer, but it wouldn’t show up on my iPhone. I know sync is hard, and am happy without it. I might try Toggl again just on my phone and see what I think. I might have been too easily lured into the bells and whistles.

 

I’ve looks at Tsheets, which seems to need a login, so I’m guessing isn’t made for one offs, but larger things? Or just has a crappy on boarding experience.

I looked Chronomate, but it’s more aimed at tying into invoicing, which isn’t valuable to me.

I haven’t looked at it yet but OfficeTime might be promising, will see.

What’re you using/suggest?

 

GoCode CO 2015 (Year Two)

I just finished the AAR (After Action Report) Meeting, so now I figure it’s time to put my thoughts down, on this, my second year being a part of such a fun project.

tl;dr; GoCode CO 2015 was better than it’s predecessor, and a huge success. Both of which are kind of expected, you always want to improve, and we did.

I was much more involved this year over last. That was good, last year I felt under utilized, and never really involved beyond, “Show up and be put to work”, so it was nice to actually be involved. The team changed from last year to this, and while I enjoyed last years’ team, I think this year’s team really crushed it. We enjoyed working together, laughed a hell of a lot, and dealt with issues with style.

I was tasked not just with Challenge Weekend (I ran Ft. Collins again this year) but with all event logistics. Four events, two of which were weekend long events, two more party/reception/gala style, was a stretch and a fun challenge.

This year I’ve tried to branch out a bit and take on some event consulting work between my own events. Overall it’s been fun, but definitely a lesson in time and resource management.

I won’t go into granular details of each event, that’s not needed, they all went well, nothing went sideways, or at least overly sideways. My adopted city Ft. Collins took 2 out of the 3 winning spots, which is awesome. I’m sure my team is over hearing me crow about Ft. Collins, sorry all, can’t help it. :)

That said, this year every single team really brought their A game. The Apps were polished, the presentations (mostly) amazing.

It’s been very fulfilling to be a part of something like this, 5 cities around CO (Ft. Collins, Grand Junction, Durango, Co. Springs, Denver) sending 2 teams each to the final event. It’s awesome to see this kind of thing at the state level. Colorado is lucky to have such a cool project, striving to make CO even better than it is.

Oh and I will say, our current Sec. of State is a hoot! I got a chance to chat and hang out with him during Challenge Weekend (i think he hit 3-4 out of 5 cities, that’s impressive), and a little during the final event. Both times he was super cool to talk to. Hard to not like someone who laughs that much!

2014 in review.

I know, everyone does one, blah blah. This is mine. Read it or don’t :) But I think 2014 was a pretty big year personally and professionally. It saw me recover from a massive blunder in 2013 to the tune of about $80k. It saw me cancel my first event, and sign on to do event consulting on an event I’m excited about. It also saw lots of travel, and bonding with friends near and far.

Things that happened in 2014:

  • Once again helped organize Denver Startup Week
  • Helped organize and run GoCode CO 2014
  • Cancelled 360|intersect 2014
  • Recovered from 360|Stack 2013
  • Held what’s likely the last 360|Flex
  • Helped organize AltConf 2014
  • Brought 360|iDev back to downtown Denver. Sold out a month in advance
  • Held a successful and the first of many [360|iDev min] in beautiful Greenville SC.
  • Spent 10 days in Hong Kong with my Pal Tom.
  • Spent a week in Amsterdam with my amazing wife and friends (Mike, Judy and Samuel)
  • Took on my first event consulting gig
  • I found awesome people to take on Ignite Denver

All in all not a bad year, some ups, some downs.

Denver Startup Week, as always was a great pleasure to help organize. It’s a week long celebration of the entrepreneurial side of Denver, that’s growing each year. It’s an exciting time to be in Denver, and I’m thrilled and thankful to be a part of such an amazing community and City.

GoCode CO is the first of it’s kind, multi city, multi month civic hackathon. Organized by the CO Secretary of State, it was a big pleasure to be asked to be a part of the team that executed this event. On top of being involved in all the primary events I was part of the team that ran the Fort Collins hack weekend. It was great, I worked with a member of the Sec. State and got to spend a weekend in the basement of OtterBox. GoCode is back in 2015, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be involved. Oh and the winning team? From Ft. Collins… not that I had anything to do with it, but since I was on team FoCo, i get bragging rights :)

360|intersect 2014, was the biggest fail of my professional life. I had a line up of amazing people (some I knew, some I hadn’t yet met in person) ready to share their passions, but I couldn’t get people interested. Several things worked against me, so I learned and am excited for 360|intersect 2015.

360|Stack 2013 was a dud. It was 2013’s big fail. I didn’t make it clear what it was about, I moved my focus from Flex too soon, and as a result an event I had planned for hosting about 300, hosted 100 (40 of which where speakers). I started 2014, owing 80k to the hotel we hosted 360|Stack at. Not a great way to start the year. I also learned that community doesn’t always support.

360|Flex 2014, was not an experiment, but was exploratory. Was there enough interest in what was left of the Flex community to do a Flex focused event. While it didn’t lose money, it didn’t make any, and while my heart is with the first event I ever organized, and what was the flagship of 360|Conferences, i decided that 2014 was probably it for 360|Flex. We brought it back for a last hurrah and everyone enjoyed it, but I think that’s it.

AltConf 2014 is something I love. In 2013 I sponsored with money. In 2014 lacking much spendable cash, I sponsored with my time. I volunteered the entire week; helping set up, being the safety monitor, and generally making myself useful. AltConf started (IMO) as a thing that existed along with WWDC. Something you could come to if you didn’t have a WWDC ticket (or if you did) but wanted to be in San Francisco that week. AltConf is now it’s own thing, the team behind it has worked hard to bring in amazing speakers, and provide an amazing (free) event for folks and really while it still happens during WWDC week, that’s more of an “oh yeah WWDC is this week too”. I go to SF that week now, to be a part of AltConf.

360|iDev 2014 in Downtown Denver. This was a big deal. It’s not that we didn’t like downtown it’s that downtown is expensive. We had used the same venue that while great, wasn’t downtown, for a few years. The time came to make a change. Almost a leap of faith, would enough people come, to justify the much higher costs associated with being downtown? Turns out, yes. 360|iDev sold out a full month in advance. We’ve sold out the last 3-4 years, but usually only a week before, sometimes only a day or two before. This year we spent the last 30 days focused on making the event great, vs. selling tickets. It was a bit freeing.

[360|iDev min] have been a mixed bag for us. We went to Vegas a few years back, it was meh. Nothing specific was wrong, just not the place for us. This year we tried going someplace we’d never been. Greenville SC. It was great. We had an amazing line up of people who spoke at 360|iDev in Denver and folks who hadn’t so the content was fresh and meaningful. It went great. So great we’re working on the 2015 version. It’ll be better than 2014! Stay tuned!

Hong Kong is a long ass flight from Denver. That said the trip was worth all nearly 30 hours of travel. What an amazing place. You can read about my trip here, but suffice to say for this post, it was time/money well spent. Tom is one of my best friends and it was a great chance for us to re-connect and hang out.

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places. Helped by the fact that three people I adore live there. Nicole and I spent my birthday in Amsterdam. The upside of going in February, no tourists. It was amazing and not crowded with americans :). The downside, it’s cold. it’s winter, LOL. Sadly all we got was rain, no snow. It was worth packing the extra layers though. Any opportunity to hang out with Mike and Judy and Samuel I’ll take. Spending 10 days in a foreign place with my awesome traveling companion and wife Nicole was also pretty great. I can’t imagine us not traveling together.

RWDevCon is my first time doing event consulting. It’s gonna be a great event, i’d say grab a ticket, but it sold out already. Ray and the raywenderlich.com team are great, the content he’s got planned is amazing. I’m excited to run this event!

I started Ignite Denver in like… 2009? I honestly don’t know, we’ve done some 20 events so far. Ignite Denver was the first Ignite event in Colorado, and up until this year I’ve been the head of the organizing team (sometimes that team was just me and Nicole). I’m super stoked that folks like Terry Cabeen, Dan Stones et. al. are involved and want to take Ignite Denver to the next level. I’m excited to attend Ignite Denver and not be the sole driving force behind it continuing. I’m immensely proud of Ignite and the stuff we’ve done, it’s only gonna be more awesome in 2015.

All in all, a busy year. Not without it’s challenges, but a good year. I hope yours was good, or at least didn’t suck too bad. I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for us all. See you there!

I’m Helping Organize RWDevCon!

So for a while now I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some event consulting. I’m good at what I do (at least I like to think so) and so I’ve thought it’d be fun to do it for others.

I’m officially working with Ray Wenderlich on RWDevCon (get your tickets now!), set for early 2015. I’m really excited.

Ray is an awesome guy (and his wife Vickie rocks!) and they’re huge parts of the iOS community. When he approached me with the idea of doing a small event centered around his website and it’s amazing authors, i jumped at the chance. It fits with what i love doing, events that are focused on community, not just doing an event to do an event.

Part of my 2015 plan is to get more involved, and helping organize other stuff is part of it, attending other stuff is the other. No I won’t be attending events that compete with me and trying to poach speakers, that’s shady. There’s lots of awesome events out there and I haven’t experienced them.

The first part of my plan is RWDevCon. I’m excited to see this kinda once in a lifetime (or year) gathering of the folks that contribute to making raywenderlich.com such an awesome asset to the iOS developer community.

Go grab your ticket now, see you in DC!

Flex work in Denver

I don’t post stuff like this often, but a company my friend Devin works for, is looking to open a dev office in Denver, and won’t unless they find the talent to fill it. And since I miss our annual lunches :) I’m posting the details.

I know there’s Flex’ers in Denver so here’s a cool sounding gig for ya.

 

Solü Technology Partners currently has several positions open in Flex Development both contract and direct for a company we partnered  with in both the Rochester, NY (HQ) and Denver, CO offices. We are looking for strong flex developers with Java middle tier, object oriented design and custom framework experience. Denver employees are required to come to Rochester for 3 months to get acclimated to the project and the customized framework, afterwards they will  return to Colorado to work onsite in the Denver office.  This is a multi-year project and telecommuting is not an option with this position. Please email Andrew Spencer of Solü Technology Partners with your resume at: aspencer@solutechnology.com if you are interested in a challenging project and great work experience for a frequent Fortune 500 company. 

Getting itemRenderer position in an Advanced dataGrid

I was working on a project that required me to replicate MS Access type functionality, in Flex. One of those tasks was clicking into a cell in the datasheet view and knowing what column I selected, so that I could change that column’s datatype. I also have to know which cell specifically was clicked so that I can pass that data to the rest of the application.

Easier said than done. That is until Jonathan Branam came to my rescue on twitter.

@jwilker listData implement IDropInListItemRenderer – cast it to AdvancedDataGridListData how much do you need to know?

A little tweaking on my renderer, and what I had been struggling for the better part of a day, was solved, just like that.

My renderer implements IDropInListItemRenderer, and my listData() function translates listData into an adv dataGridListData

public function set listData(value:BaseListData):void
{
_listDataGrid = AdvancedDataGridListData(value);

cellText.text = _listDataGrid.label;

cellText.name = “DataSheet_Grid_Cell_” + _listDataGrid.columnIndex.toString() + “_” + _listDataGrid.rowIndex.toString();
}

Then inside my main component, my clickHandler can get the various values i need to do what I need to do (that sounds funny, I know)

private function handleClick( evt:MouseEvent ):void
{

var tmpColVo:ColumnVO = TableVO(_model.selectedDatabaseVO.selectedObjectVO).acColumns.getItemAt(evt.currentTarget.selectedCells[0].columnIndex) as ColumnVO;
_model.selectedDatabaseVO.dataSheetVO.selectedColumnVO = tmpColVo;
_model.selectedDatabaseVO.dataSheetVO.selectedColumnIndex = evt.currentTarget.selectedCells[0].columnIndex;
_model.selectedDatabaseVO.dataSheetVO.selectedRowIndex = evt.currentTarget.selectedCells[0].rowIndex;
_model.selectedDatabaseVO.dataSheetVO.selectedRowVo = evt.currentTarget.dataProvider.getItemAt(evt.currentTarget.selectedCells[0].rowIndex) as RowVO;

var selectionEvent:DataSheetSelectionEvent = new DataSheetSelectionEvent(true);

Access.instance.dispatchEvent(selectionEvent)

_model.selectedDatabaseVO.dataSheetVO.selectedColumnHeader = TableVO(_model.selectedDatabaseVO.selectedObjectVO).acColumns.getItemAt(evt.currentTarget.selectedCells[0].columnIndex).name;

}

The upside was that I was wrapping up my role in the project and was dreading not being able to walk away with no “I couldn’t finish” type things. Which was nice. My renderer is below. It was just a simple POC approach to help another developer with his task, and serve my immediate need, since I had a dependency on that functionality from the renderer.

Props to Jonathan for a solution under 140 characters that saved my day!

Timetracking challenge, complete!

And the winner is!

Harvest!

What brought Harvest in for the win? Namely the free acct, since I don’t do enough concurrent projects the price for the basic was bit steep at this time. But more than that, the iPhone/iNewton interface was nice, and the invoicing, superb.

Freshbooks invoicing was my biggest sticking point. Getting a PDF to attach was a PITA. I had to email myself the invoice as my client, which then presented a link to a PDF. Why I couldn’t just invoice and safe off as a PDF I dunno, but I couldn’t so that pushed Freshbooks out.

Apple Dashboard widgets are nice, I tried a few that were Freshbooks or Harvest friendly. Hated them all. I don’t hardly ever use my dashboard, so remembering to go in and stop a timer was a PITA.

The one thing I did like about Freshbooks, was a little pop up timer. Harvest has timers, but their in the site. Freshbooks allowed me to pop up a tiny window with the timer in it. that was I have to admit, very very handy.

So Harvest it is. NO regrest at this point, I’m very happy with it, I hope at some point to have enough reson to pay for it, because it is worth paying for if you’re a bigger player than I am, LOL.

Oh and the fact that Danny Wen, has commented here, and emailed me to help me with what I didn’t know about Harvest. That kind of thing goes a long way with me. It’s how I run 360Conferences, so I appreciate that level of dedication to the customer.