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March 10, 2010

Project 2010 to be released May 12, 2010

Latest news is that Office 2010 (and Project, Visio and Sharepoint 2010) are on track to release to manufacturing next month. Unless something unexpected happens, they are supposed to be released to businesses on May 12, 2010. Regular users who don't have enterprise agreements will have to wait until June for the software.

I'd expect that they would be on MSDN at the May 12 date as well if history is any guide.

To keep sales from completely stalling while people wait for the next version, Microsoft has also announced a "tech guarantee" which will give you a free copy of the 2010 version if you buy a 2007 version after March 4, 2010. Details are here:

February 28, 2010

PM Web #001 - Glen B. Alleman's Herding Cats


First in a series of reviews of Project Management web resources. For the full list click here

"Herding Cats"

Herding Cats is Glen Alleman's blog about Project Management. The sub-title "Ideas, Comments, and Resources about Project Management from field experiences" fits pretty well. Glen focuses heavily on the experiential side of things and likes to write about what is proven to work in his years of experience - primarily in large and expensive projects.

There are a few common themes to Glen's articles. First is setting clear scales of measurement. You aren't talking with Glen unless you hear "What does done look like?" a few times. For this reason, you will often finding him tilting with Agilistas who are a bit more flexible (if that is the right word) about what the end state might be.

A second constant is data. He likes what works and is sceptical of things with no strong track record. Data about the efficacy of Project Management methods and processes is hard to come by, but claims about them flow like water. Glen's background in science makes him critical of mis-applied statistics and bad math in general.

The final theme to mention is discipline. I think Glen's own words speak to this best:

"Project estimating, and project management is hard work. Software development is fun work. Still hard but fun. Project Management is hard work, with almost no fun."

What I like best about his blog is that there is always something for me to both agree with and disagree with. I haven't figured out how I'm going to map all of the sites I'm planning to review, but if I place myself at the center, Glen would be orbiting somewhere off near Mars. Not a gassy bloated planet. Not hot enough to melt lead. Firm and solid with a regular orbit. Interesting enough to send a probe to.

Here is my rating based on a number of statistics:

  • Constancy: Posts regularly and has for a long time
  • Spelling: Fair
  • Depth: Longer than twitter, shorter than War and Peace
  • Comments: Almost all reasonable comments get followed up by Glen - a good place for discussion.
  • Recommended for all ages.

Rebuilding the Project Management Web

I started this blog five years and a million visitors ago.

In that time a lot has changed. Blogs have come and gone. Twitter was invented. Communities have died and new ones have been born. So with the 5 year anniversary coming up in April I thought it would be good to explore and remap the landscape.

I'm approaching this in a random fashion. I'll review a site, then ask the owner which site they like best, and continue until I reach a barrier or run out of energy. I'll also inject a few of my favorites as I go along if no one else brings them up. This post will be updated with a list of all the posts.

If you would like to suggest an inclusion, please make a suggestion in the comments.

Here is this blog's monthly growth chart for the first 5 years. I didn't start measuring until it was about 6 months old.

February 11, 2010

February Flowers

Magnolia Blossom

People from colder climates come to the Bay Area and claim that we don't have seasons here. But that is not true. You can almost tell the day of the month from some of the trees around here. This Magnolia (I think it is Magnolia × soulangeana) in particular is like clockwork in the month of February. If I can remember to keep it up, I'll post something for each month.

This one lacks the delicate pink coloring because I dragged out my 64 year old 4x5 speed graphic to take the shot on black and white film. Click the image to go see a larger version.

February 1, 2010

New Fields in Microsoft Project 2010

To accomodate the new features in Project 2010 there have been some new fields introduced. Here they are with some idea of what they are used for:

  • Active - Used to designate if a task is active or inactive. A great new way to deal with conditional schedules, agile development, what-if analysis. I'm working up a post on this.
  • Task Mode - Used to determine if a task is to be manual scheduled or whether they should follow the built-in CPM scheduling algorithm.
  • Scheduled Start - Used for Manually scheduled tasks. Start, Finish and Duration are optional for manually scheduled tasks.
  • Scheduled Finish - as above
  • Scheduled Duration - as above
  • Warning - Used with manually scheduled tasks if the timing or sequencing of tasks would be considered an issue (ie: dependency issues, summary doesn't match subtasks etc.) - See my webcast in the previous post for an example of using this field.
  • Ignore Warnings - Pretty much what it says....
  • Baseline Estimated Start 0-10 - Estimated Baselines are how manually scheduled task information is stored in a baseline. Regular baselines are used for automatically scheduled tasks.
  • Baseline Estimated Finish 0-10 - as above
  • Baseline Estimated Duration 0-10 - as above.

    Note that the Active field is a Project Professional only feature, so if you have Project Standard you may not be able to do anything with it. I'm not sure how Project Standard will handle reading a file from Project Professional which uses this feature but I'm sure we will find out when it is released.

  • January 29, 2010

    Project 2010 Tips and Tricks Webcast

    In case you missed the live event, here is the link to the webcast I did earlier this month:

    It covers how you can best use some of the new functionality in Project 2010 including the new interface, the team planner view, the timeline view and using active tasks to do scenario-based planning. Active tasks fill a big hole in Project and allow you to do what-if analysis in a quick and intuitive way.

    Go take a look!

    January 9, 2010

    Microsoft Project 2010 Tips and Tricks Webcast

    I'm doing a free webcast on some of the new ways to work with MS Project 2010 on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:00 AM Pacific Time. You can register in advance at this link:

    I'll post the slides after the presentation.

    January 7, 2010

    Books to Consider – Decision Making

    I'm in the business of improving project management. That generally means there needs to be change in an organization. One of the most difficult things is getting people to decide to change. This book helps:

    Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions – Gary Klein

    This book covers the topic of what Klein calls “Naturalistic Decision Making” which is defined as making decisions in a “natural” setting – one with which departs from the ideal by being under time pressure, with high stakes, inadequate information, ill-defined goals, poorly defined procedures, context (Klein gives the example of conflicting goals and stress), dynamic conditions and team coordination. Klein uncovers what he calls sources of power – intuition, mental stimulation, metaphor and storytelling. It sounds pretty soft, but these often are the real factors behind how decisions are made. If you want to influence an organization and help them decide to change, you would do well to read this book.

    On the critical side, it is attractive to think of yourself as an experienced decision maker and this book justifies the use of your “intuition”. In the hands of the anti-analytical this could be dangerous, but on the other hand, it makes them no more dangerous than they already are.

    Check reviews at Amazon: Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

    January 5, 2010

    PMP Certification Exam Experience Requirements Spreadsheet

    One of the most tedious parts of applying for the PMP exam is filling out the application. It requests a bunch of information about each project you have worked on. The worst part is that it presents it one screen at a time, so it is difficult to figure out how many hours you have entered in what domain. On top of that, you may find yourself stuck in it trying to dig up a phone number or address for the contact person and finding your session timing out.

    To help with this I've put together a spreadsheet:


    It has two tabs. One for the project and contact information. Fill it out for each project to make sure you have the information at your fingertips.

    The second tab is for the experience hours. It breaks them down into the same domains that the on-line form uses and contains the descriptions. You can start using this even before your exam application to see how close you are. The spreadsheet then totals the hours and offers a sanity check of hours entered against the time that you spent on the project. For example, if you worked on a project for two and a half months, the spreadsheet will calculate the number of working hours and compares that against what you have entered as individual hours.

    You can download the spreadsheet here:

    Download PMP Application Experience Record

    December 30, 2009

    Between Solstice and Year End

    December 17, 2009

    Missing the bus...

    I see that the Project Management 3.0 bus has already left.

    But don't worry, I'll come up with something which is mine alone! Look for it the day the sun returns to work.

    December 16, 2009

    Death and Rebirth

    Look how long this blog has been dormant! With the Winter solstice approaching I am reminded that darkness can again turn to light so I'm making an early New Year's resolution to post weekly once again. This is the first of those posts.

    I've been digesting a lot of claims and ideas about the future. Things like cloud computing and Project Management 2.0 come to mind. One of those is a technology, a capability which may allow new practices. The other is a bit more foggy with a shifting definition. From Andrew Filev at Wrike software comes the Project 2.0 Definition 2.0:

    Project Management 2.0 is an approach to managing projects that is brought to life by the use of Web-based, emergent, collaborative project management software and that focuses on collective intelligence, productivity and project leadership as the basic factors of project success.

    Personally I think this definition misses at least one of the critical success factors that I've seen in projects. So I'm going to leap over 2.0 and start in with my derivation of Project Management 3.0. .

    If you are familiar with my blog, you know I that I use it to help solidify my thoughts. So don't expect a manifesto at first, just some apparently random thoughts. The first is to reveal that the one basic factor of project success which went unsaid in the 2.0 definition is Trust.

    October 20, 2009

    Cloud Computing on a Sunny Day

    Well, the sun must be out, because my cloud computing has gone away. I tried to upload a photo to illustrate my previous post at my usual photo-hosting site today, but it appears to have flickered out of existence for a while.

    Here I get to rant about two things. First, what is it with the whole name of cloud computing? Sure, it is easy to draw the cloud on a whiteboard, but it appears to be some sort of magic word these days and people are getting remarkably excited about something which has been around for a long long time (in tech-years).

    The second rant (or maybe it is a lesson) is that when the cloud evaporates there is nothing left. Just blue sky and the sun - or should that be SUN(TM).

    If you are running your business in the cloud you should certainly take backing up or otherwise arranging for that rare sunny day when the clouds disappear. Every cloud has a silver lining, so it would seem that there is a business opportunity for an on-the-premises system which backs up everything as it goes into the cloud so you can support yourself in sunny weather. Something sitting at the edge.


    Running Windows 7 on an old Dell Laptop + Blocking ads in Google Chrome

    With Windows 7 ready to release in two days, I thought I'd share my experience running it on an older laptop. The basic answer: Much better than Vista ever was. Here are the details:

    Dell Latitude 800 circa 2004
    2 GHz Pentium M processor
    Windows Experience level 1.0!
    2GB memory

    This machine was never much of a performer even when new (see review here) and when I installed Vista on it on a lark it became unusable even for web-browsing.

    So when Windows 7 was released to manufacturing (RTM) I installed it. Performance for everyday tasks like web browsing is acceptable. Applications work OK, but the more computation intensive they are, the slower they go. The main thing is that the operating system no longer chokes the machine to death. This has given the machine a new lease on life.

    As part of the slim down program on this machine, I also decided to use Google Chrome which is billed as a slimmer and faster browser than the others. I'm pretty happy with it, but to reduce the computation and networking load I wanted to block all those spinning, flashing, video-playing ad's that show up on almost every website. Of course, Google makes the bulk of their revenue from serving ads, so the browser has no ability to block advertisements. Chrome doesn't offer any of the wide variety of ad-blockers like firefox does either. So I went to the most basic solution possible and used a hosts file to control what the browser finds and pointed it to the local machine for most of the annoying ad providers.

    The way this works is that the URL for the ad which is embedded in the page has a domain name in it somewhere, for example is a domain name. When you want to access that url, the machine goes to a DNS (domain name server) to find out where that domain is. For example, currently the IP address for this site is If you query the DNS with "" that address is returned and the browser will go there. I won't go into details about DNS, except to say that for most operating systems there is what is called a "hosts" file which is looked at FIRST. It gives the IP address for domains, but because it is on your own machine you can edit it and specify what that address is.

    So if you edit the hosts file and add a line pointing to your local machine instead of the real address

    then the browser will not find that host and will move on to the next thing it is supposed to do. Nothing will be downloaded, no scripts will run, nothing will flash or scroll across your screen. The browser will just skip right over it which is exactly what we want.

    Editing the hosts file is simple and can be done with a text editor. The format is also simple, first the IP address you want it to use ( or will work for this) and then the host name. So if you want to block ads served by, then add a line like this:

    Of course this would be a tedious thing to do for all the things you would want to block, but someone has already done it for you. So just download the hosts file here and follow the instructions.

    Now on Chrome this will leave some blank holes in the page which is kind of ugly, but I just want this machine to work so I don't care that much. But if I look at the holes, I find that Chrome is trying to look at those URLS and suggest a different address for them. This means that it is sending a message to google's server somewhere and trying to find an alternative URL. I don't want another better URL here and I don't want my browser sending more requests or creating anymore network traffic on my little old machine's struggling hardware. Fortunately, you can turn this feature off in Chrome by:

    • Click on the wrench icon
    • Click on "Options"
    • Choose the "Under the Hood" tab
    • Uncheck the "Show suggestions for Navigation errors" option.

    There. That does it. The browser works much faster and reliably without loading and running all of that stuff that I don't care about.

    There is probably some debate out there somewhere about the ethics of blocking ads. My hosting costs for this site are paid for by advertising as is much of the "free" stuff on the internet so I am generally in favor of them and I hope you to investigate any of the ads here that you find enticing and relevant, but this machine just won't run well without blocking them so I feel no remorse in this instance. Maybe in some small way it will encourage advertisers to make their ads consume fewer of my computing and network resources and find their way back to 2004.

    September 29, 2009

    Ideas about Ideas

    An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe it.
    ~Don Marquis

    A half-baked idea is okay as long as it's in the oven.
    ~Author Unknown

    The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones
    ~Linus Pauling

    Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.
    ~Emile Chartier

    An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain
    cell it occupied.
    ~Arnold H. Glasgow

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