JP Vossen on 13 Nov 2009 00:00:38 -0800

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[PLUG] PLUG N follow-ups

Just a few notes from the 2009-11-10 PLUG N meeting.  This got longer 
than I expected (who, me?), so:

Thanks to Brian
Q&A: Task management/Tools/GTD
UnxUtils for Windows
bash Resources
bash Cookbook Timeline

First, thanks to Brian for a really neat discussion of GIS & tools. 
Cool stuff!

As for the task management discussion, I second Kevin on David Allen's 
book _Getting Things Done_ (GTD).  That was a great help for me for 
paper filing, though I use only hanging folders instead of only regular 
ones.  For me that was a lot neater, and you can tweak the label 
location to make it easier to find common folders.

GTD's other ideas about task/project management were also very useful. 
My problem is my implementation rather than the ideas.  There is a fair 
amount of GTD software out there and I've taken brief looks but never 
found a killer (small, free, cross-platform). has a 
bunch of stuff.

I originally kludged together a system using flat ASCII text files with 
a specific header structure and a batch file (yes, a batch file, though 
I have a bash version too :) to tie things together.  That worked, but I 
found myself losing track of daily/weekly plans.  I added another file 
for that, but that became too much of an unorganized mess of a dumping 
ground.  Then I found Notecase in the Ubuntu repos.  It's a GTK 
cross-platform hierarchical "outliner" (unmaintained upstream, "portable 
Windows version available) that stores everything in a single
XML file.  That was helpful and still more-or-less grepable but lead to 
even more fragmentation.

I should also mention I added other grepable flat files for things like: 
change control, interesting packages/apps, clues, and bug reports I 
filed.  That part works great.  As long as you have grep and some other 
tools (see below) a tabbed editor and a dual-pane file browser (tabs 
help too) you are set.

So my main problem is the I end up with duplicated and fragmented items 
in Notecase and the flat files.  I can probably solve that by refining 
my process and being more disciplined.  I was just hoping the someone 
had found a nicer solution.

Related to tools, my klunky batch file relies on some Unix text utils. 
I use and love the UnxUtils, see my post for 

Central logging and 'logcheck' came up at dinner.  It's in the Debian 
and Ubuntu repos, and see for 
more details and my cheesy Windows port.  See also my article at 
  The context at dinner was FreeBSD and it looks like its in there too:

Finally, also at dinner we were talking about some bash resources, such 
as the excellent "Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide" and the official bash 
docs and examples, see my book site, especially "The Comprehensive List 
of bash Reference Documentation and Examples" at

Questions about the book timeline also came up and we never finished 
that conversation.  I thought I'd put the timeline in one of my PLUG 
presos (, but I didn't.  So, if 
anyone is interested:

Book Timeline
2004-11-30	JP sends email to O'Reilly and proposes "How about a Bash 
2005-03-24	Mike (editor) gets in touch
2005-04-01	Cameron (author of Learning the bash Shell) is added
2005-05-02	Submit second draft of ToC/outline
2005-0[89]*	More drafts of the ToC/outline
2005-09-13	Carl is added after suggesting the same book
2005-10-01	Start learning/writing in OR wiki
2005-10*	Submit first proposal, various revisions, contract discussion
2005-10-20	Get contract
	2005-11-30	3 chapters
	2006-01-31	1/2 chapters
	2006-05-31	First draft
2006-02-13	Got first advance check
[big gap due to some technical issues]
2006-07-13	Move to Writer and deployed server/SVN
2006-12-18	Submit real first draft (for technical reviewers)
2006-12-18	Ship PDF draft (450 pages) to technical reviewers
2007-01-15	Technical Reviews due, give or take
2007-01-12	Got second/third advance check
2007-02-01	Submit copyediting draft
2007-02*	Copyediting
2007-02-15	Got last advance check
2007-03-14	Draft from copyeditor to production
2007-03-27	Get PDFs for QC1
2007-03-29	Get FedEx of QC1 hardcopy (printouts of the QC1 PDFs)
2007-04-10	QC1 due back to O'Reilly
2007-04-25	Index (post QC1, pre QC2)
2007-05-03	QC2 review (PDF)
2007-05-11	Book goes to the printer!!!

This looks like a long time, but there are a few places where nothing 
much happed for various reasons.  I should also mention I loved working 
with Mike and O'Reilly and hope to do so again.

Hope some of this is useful,
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.
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