Hicks

You’re reading all articles on The Hickensian tagged 'webapp'

Pimp My Mint

You folks may remember (and still use) Shaun Inman’s Shortstats, and its original mission – short and sweet site statistics. Cut through the crap of all the over-burdened packages with more data than you need, and get to the nitty gritty. I loved it, it was just what I’d been missing. Sure I had Urchin to give me the minutae of everything that happened, but I find it far too cumbersome.

Mint logoBack in March, Shaun alluded to the fact that he wanted to start again from scratch, and thats just what he’s done. From next week, all you need to do is sit back, and have a Mint.

Other beta testers have revealed their favourite aspects of MInt: Jason Santa Maria, Kevin Cornell Rob Weychert, Jeff Croft, Mike Davidson, Matt Thomas and Keegan Jones. I have chosen to tell you about the interface sweetness of the Mint.

First of all, I truly despise Shaun for coming up with a better leaf logo than I have, but I’ll try not to hold that against him. He is one of those rare beasts, a combination of designer and developer, with neither skill lacking. I hate him for that too.

The main interface is comprised of a series of panels that resize with the browser window, but also wrap depending on space available. I so want to know how he does that – it’ll make a huge difference to creating fluid designs. Its possible that not everything will fit in your window in one go, so the fixed top navigation will slide you up or down to where you need it to be.

In true Ajax glory, there is no page reloading. For instance, looking at recent, repeat, or newest unique referrers is smooth.

Mint Screenshot

In preferences you can choose to have scrollbars and neat little panels, or to let it all hang loose. Don’t like the default order of the panels? While you’re in preferences, re-arrange them how you like, dammit. Those panels you couldn’t care less about can be disabled here too.

Blimey, I haven’t even mentioned just how well designed it is yet. Like I said, a designer and a developer – you don’t get that very often.

I’m loving the taste of this Mint, and I reckon you will too. Its the spirit of shortstats, but with a far superior execution.

Update “ : Its live! Go try Mint for yourself and see what you think.

Getting Hicks done

I’ve finally found the tool I want to use as my collection bucket, and like the geek I am, I feel the need to tell you about it.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been sucked in to the whole Getting Things Done cult, and all cult members need a ‘collection bucket’. The bucket is a place to put ‘open loops’ (all those tasks that are rolling around in your head, bothering the hell of you at times when you can do nothing about it), and into a place where they can be listed, reviewed regularly and actioned. For some this tool is a Hipster PDA, for others it could a PIM application like Entourage.

My dilemma was this – I love the organic ‘analog’ feeling of pencil on notebook, but prefer the ease of editing and reordering that a ‘digital’ application would give me.

Here are some of the solutions I’ve tried:

Everyone has to find the one that works best for them. You have to feel comfortable with it, but that doesn’t mean that there is one solution that works for everyone.

So what was the winner? I had the idea of setting up a ‘Getting things done’ project in Basecamp and suddenly everything fell into place.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Mainly using the to-do list section, I created lists for ‘Work’, ‘Home’ and ‘Long Term Goals’. I can view these lists individually, as well as all together on one page. The milestones section becomes a reminders section, for everything from small projects to remembering to do things like a find a plumber.
  • No issues syncing between macs – the information is always there – up to date and correct.
  • I really like the to-do list functionality (also used in Tada-lists and Backpack). Tick the checkbox and it drops down beneath, greyed out, but still there. This is great for projects that are ‘waiting’ but you’re not finished with yet. It also allows for lists to be reordered, to show task priorities.
  • By creating a distant milestone (which I call ‘Marker’), I can attach all my to-do lists to this, and have them show up in iCal’s to-do lists.
  • An ‘in the browser’ solution – I’m really keen on the idea of having as few apps around as possible, and doing as much as possible within a tabbed browser.
  • All my notes go into the ‘messages’ area, with categories such as ‘code snippets’.
  • I’ve already got a Basecamp account. There wasn’t a need to buy a Backpack account, as I didn’t need its unique features, such as sharing pages, or emailing information to a page. Backpack did come very close to being the one, but Basecamp won out.

The result of this organisation is that I now have a bucket that I can access from anywhere with a internet connection (and yes, I’m rarely without one!), When I do need a copy on my mac, I just save a pdf, but usually I’m connected, and just have my ‘bucket’ open in a tab. It works for me, and its helped me feel more relaxed about my workload.

I’d be interested to hear what ‘devices’ you use. What’s worked for you?

Basecamp Eureka

OK, a small admission to make. After months of wondering what the fuss and hype was all about, I finally ‘get’ Basecamp. The light bulb has finally gone on, and I’ve found the project management tool that I’ve been needing to get my shit together.

I think the key was Jez explaining to me it comes into its own when dealing with multiple contacts on a project. A majority of my jobs are direct with the client, but one came up recently where many people needed to be in the loop. I set up the free trial, starting entering details, and BOOM! There goes the light bulb. This is genius, and much faster to use than I expected. Speed is an important factor here – if it feels as if its bogging me down with procedure, I just won’t use it. Now I can see this being useful for single clients as well.

If you’re in the same boat as I was – stick with it.