Who’s down with OPPM

I have struggled for some time now with an expanding workload.  I direct a lot of projects for a couple of different business entities.  Since I have yet to find a way to disrupt the time space continuum and add more hours to the day I am ever searching for ways to stay focused and cram more into a 24 hour day.

Enter the OPPM.

one page project manager for it projects

The OPPM (One Page Project Manager) is the most effective tool I have found yet for project tracking/communication.  The real genius of it is its simplicity.  It literally is a one page document that can be easily interpreted by the boss, the project stakeholders, the managers, or just about anyone.  All you need is about 2-5 minutes to explain it to them once.  Where can I get more information you ask?

The OPPM (One Page Project Manager) website is a good start.

Then buy the book and read it.¬† The one I read is the one specifically geared for IT projects.¬† It’s about 125 pages and you can read it (and more importantly digest it) over a weekend.¬† Actually, once you read the first two chapters of the book you’ll be up and running.¬† Although I recommend reading the whole thing to learn the finer points.¬† I found the analysis of team member personalities very interesting (I’m the one with lots of unfinished books on the nightstand).

“But dude”, you say.¬† “I just dropped a wad of cash on MS Project.”¬† Don’t fret my friend.¬† You probably still need it to manage the nitty gritty.¬† And don’t throw out your Outlook task lists.¬† You can still use them.¬† The OPPM is meant to augment standard project management tools and methods.¬† The power of OPPM shines in meetings when people actually UNDERSTAND what is going on with the project without having to be a PMP.

Get it.  Use it.  You will be glad.

Using Dreamweaver to work with .cfmail files

I had a BIG problem recently at a hosting company for a project I work on. They had “something go wrong” during an upgrade to ColdFusion 8 and they lost our site’s settings from ColdFusion 7. Rather than wasting valuable time trying to get them to restore a backup and redo the upgrade I forged on trying to set everything right.

One of the problems I came across was that the hosting company set the mail server to be a different one than what we had for CF7. Why did this matter? Well, there were about 300 messages sitting in the “Undelivr” folder that needed to go out. In each of those messages was the old (now incorrect) mail server info. Since I was under the gun to get the mail out I pulled them all down via FTP to parse through them with Dreamweaver.

I used this article to configure Dreamweaver to edit my extensions.txt file to be able to open and perform search and replace on .cfmail files:


Here is a what the extensions.txt file looks like:

Dreamweaver\'s extensions.txt file

Once I got all of the .cfmail files updated, I FTP’d them back into the spool folder for re-processing. No dice. ColdFusion moved it all back to the “Undelivr” folder with a cryptic error:

The ColdFusion Mail Spool Encountered An Invalid Spool File In The Spool Directory. The invalid file MailXXXXXX.cfmail was moved to the undeliverable directory.

The next step… Hot Fix. Read about it here.

After the Hot Fix I again dropped the .cfmail files back into the spool folder for re-processing. This time… Sweet Success.

Save, Format, View Dreamweaver Search Results

For as long as I can remember I have wanted a formatted, printable report of Dreamweaver search results. Since Dreamweaver’s “Save Report” of the results pane is an xml file I have always been too lazy to pursue it. I have finally put forth a little effort to generate one using XSLT. XSLT stands for XSL Transformations. XSLT “transforms” XML documents into other formats, like XHTML.

Download the search_results.xsl file here. Unzip it. It is the file that will perform the styling of your XML results file. Hang on to it for now.

Open Dreamweaver’s “Find and Replace” window (Command + F). Enter your search criteria and click “Find All”.

.DW Finder Window

In the “Results” pane click the save icon.
DW Results Pane

You can accept Dreamweaver’s default file name or give the file a name related to your search. I’ll call mine Post.xml. Save it in the same directory where you put search_results.xsl. Open Post.xml (or whatever you called it) with Dreamweaver and add the one line of code annotated below with the red arrow.

XSL code

Now open your Post.xml file with a web browser such as Safari. You should see your search report formatted as follows:


You now have a nice printable report complete with results total.

*** UPDATED 2/27/2015 ***

As a security measure Chrome blocks access to local files. You must open Chrome from the command line with a flag to allow access to local files.

Follow these steps to allow local file access in Chrome on the Mac:

  • If you have Chrome open, close it
  • Open a terminal window
  • Execute the command:
    open /Applications/Google\ Chrome.app --args --allow-file-access-from-files
  • Once Chrome opens select ‘File > Open File’ and browse to your local xml file
  • Voilà

Virtual hosts with MAMP on Leopard

Assumptions (Kind of major assumptions):

  • You are running Leopard (and therefore cannot use “Netinfo Manager” to edit your hosts).
  • You already have MAMP up and running and MAMP is using the Apache config file located here: /Applications/MAMP/conf/appache/httpd.conf
  1. Set up a directory for your dev website. I created: /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/csimmons
  2. Create a “host” for your site. In Leopard this will require you to edit the hosts file manually. Be sure to use sudo or you will not be able to save the file. Type the following and enter the root password when prompted:
    $ sudo pico /etc/hosts
    Add the following at the bottom

    # VIRTUAL HOST START csimmons.dev

    CTRL+O to write the file (then hit ENTER)
    CTRL+X to exit pico
  3. Flush the DNS cache
    $ dscacheutil -flushcache
  4. Edit the Apache config file:
    $ pico /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/httpd.confChange the following:
    ServerName localhost:8888

    Continue to the very bottom of the file (use CTRL+V to page down faster) and you will find “Section 3: Virtual Hosts”. Add the following at the very end:

    DocumentRoot /Applications/MAMP/htdocs
    ServerName localhost
    DocumentRoot /Users/username/Sites/csimmons
    ServerName csimmons.dev

    CTRL+O to write the file (then hit ENTER)
    CTRL+X to exit pico

  5. Restart the MAMP servers. I just click “Stop Servers” and then “Start Servers” on the MAMP widget.
  6. Try it out. Point your browser to the following (no www in the address and don’t forget the port[8888]): http://csimmons.dev:8888
  7. Rinse. Repeat for each of your dev sites. Multiple sites would look like this:

    hosts file:

    # VIRTUAL HOST START csimmons.dev site2.dev

    Apache config file:

    DocumentRoot /Users/username/Sites/site2
    ServerName csimmons.dev
    DocumentRoot /Users/username/Sites/site2
    ServerName site2.dev

Subversion backup of multiple repositories via DOS .bat file

I recently had to implement Subversion at work to manage our source code. Part of that implementation was coming up with a way to automate the backup process. Since developers could be accessing code repositories at any time there is a special command (called hotcopy) in Subversion for copying a repository to another location, which you can then backup to disk, tape, etc.

I started out just doing a simple DOS .bat file to run the hotcopy. My plan was to schedule this to run in the Windows scheduler prior to the nightly backup. As I started working on the script though I found myself trying to improve it to be as generic and hands off as possible. I also wanted to backup multiple repositories.

Here are some “features” of the script:

  • It will hotcopy multiple repositories in a specified directory.
  • It can be run attended or unattended
  • It has some basic log functionality

Here is a look at the actual hotcopy command in the .bat file:
ECHO Starting SVN backup for %%G... >> %repolog% & ^
svnadmin hotcopy %repodir%%%G %repodirhot%%%G --clean-logs >> %repolog% & ^

Download it here and rename it from svn_backup.txt to svn_backup.bat.

Prepend existing data in SQL

Disclaimer: This tip will probably be really basic for most SQL folks.

The task: The company I work for has a web application that does some basic tracking of grants. The system feeding information to this application just had an across the board change to the numbering scheme of the grants. All grants must have a prefix of “999-“. Therefore, any grant not beginning with “999-” must be updated. Example: a grant with the current number 8789966 needs to be 999-8789966.

The solution: The SQL below does two things. It updates all the grants to prepend the 999- prefix while also skipping any grants that are already correctly prefixed.

UPDATE tbl_grants
SET grant_no = '999-' + grant_no
WHERE grant_no NOT LIKE '999-%'

Subversion on Ubuntu (Feisty) with a Mac Client

Subversion gets my ducks in a row

As part of a continuous effort to improve my organization (a.k.a. not lose stuff) I have finally set up Subversion at home. If you are not familiar with Subversion it is an open source version control system used (mostly) by developers to keep up with changes to their codebase.

I’ve spent most of my career as kind of a “one man team” where I have been responsible for all phases of development and maintenance of code. However, I was exposed to Subversion when I contracted briefly last year in a multi-developer environment. I made a mental note at that time to revisit Subversion at a later date.

At last that date has come…

Subversion is now running at home on an old Gateway pc that I recently “upgraded” from XP to Ubuntu. I’m a total newbie with Linux, but I’ll be posting some on it in the future. Thanks to this tutorial the process was ridiculously easy (less than 5 minutes).

The next step was to get an SVN client. My previous exposure to Subversion was in the Windows world so we used TortoiseSVN. I have a PowerBook and an iMac at home though so I hunted down scplugin which integrates with Mac Finder the way TortoiseSVN integrates with Windows Explorer.

Now I just have to get all my code checked in.

Comment yer code with myRev Dreamweaver Extension

myRev logo

It’s March and amazingly I have stuck to one of my New Year’s Resolutions for work. What is that resolution you may or may not be asking? …Comment my frigging code.

Several years ago I fooled around with making a few little Dreamweaver Extensions. I pulled out an old one, dusted if off, pimped it up, and am providing it here for your benefit. It’s called myRev and it will insert a comment header for you (ideally you would insert it at the top of the page you are developing). Here is a sample of the output:

File: SomeFile.cfm
Author: Christopher C. Simmons (CCS)
Date: 3.4.2008
Purpose: To perform some calculations
History: 0.1 Initial Release

You can use it with Coldfusion, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, or HTML. The header knows what comment style to use based on your choice in the Extension’s UI.

Here’s the fine print…

csimmons.net, LLC supplies this software AS IS and makes no guarantees for your use of it. csimmons.net, LLC is not responsible for any damage or pain the use of this product may cause you.

GET IT HERE (or by clicking the myRev icon above). To install it just unzip it and double click the myRev.mxp file. The Dreamweaver Extension manager will then install it.