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Scott's Column
New Location, Palm III, New Briefing, and maybe a new computer

January 1, 1999
By Scott Lewis

New Location

Keep in mind I moved. I am now at http://sl.home.texas.net/. Be sure to update any links, bookmarks, or favorites. Also, spread the word. It is fun maintaining a web site, but it is much more satisfying knowing it is being read. Remember that you can subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of any of my columns. You can even subscribe someone else, so think of it like giving somebody a present

Palm III

I have enjoyed my new Palm III. I like it even more now that my company has reimbursed me for it. I am using it with Pocket Mirror. Pocket Mirror works with Outlook 97 & 98. It syncs up the To-Do List, Calendar, Notes, and Address book with the equivalents in Outlook. It also syncs up with your Outlook Inbox. I find it great.

I have found a lot of shareware/freeware/commercial software for the little computer. If you have a PalmPilot computer, or are thinking about getting one, check out these sites to get started: PalmCentral.Com, 3Com’s Palm Computing, PalmPilotSoftware.Com, and The PilotZone.

I am going to try and get into programming the little guy. I will let you know more about that in the future.

One application of note is AvantGo. AvantGo allows you to view web pages offline on a PalmPilot. It came on a CD-ROM with my Palm III, but you can download the software from their web site. There is a newer version than on the CD.

I made a Palm Edition of my columns. You can see them at Scott’s Site Palm Edition, or click here to download the AvantGo subscription file, and start reading my column on your PalmPilot. Let me know what you think. I really want to know.

New Briefing

My new client application is complete. At least for the moment. I have about 8 enhancements that I plan on working on during the next couple of months. I am still waiting for approval from my project sponsors to release the briefing to production.

I was on leave for the holidays, and they discovered a problem. I solved the problem when I returned. However, I also learned the problem was created by my partner. He changed the default hierarchy for one of our databases. This caused problems in the briefing, since it expects a particular hierarchy. I had to resave the default data views with the specific hierarchy.

Now I wait until we get word to move it to production. I have contacted four of our regional offices to let them know we are rolling out the new application. I did not include them until now, since I did think we would run into any difficulties. We have been running in 4 regional offices in 4 other states for over two years, and I have accounted for this in the past. I expect a smooth rollout to the regions.

I have already gotten some feedback on the loads. One of the regions already loaded a workstation and performed a successful test to the server here in he home office. Cool!

In January I will start building the web version of our briefing. This was supposed to be started by the end of the year, but problems arouse. We had a consultant on staff to help migrate our databases from version 5.01 to 6.2 of Express Server (Oracle’s Multidimensional Database Server). He was also supposed to help me build templates for Web Agent and Web Publisher.

Web Publisher is a tool that allows power users to build mini web sites containing data from and Express database. It has a GUI front end, and is similar in appearance to the company’s Express Analyzer tool. Web Publisher was going to be used by our sponsors to build supplementary data views to our standard briefing.

Web Agent is a code only way to build web sites using Express Server. I am going to use this tool to duplicate (as close as possible) our new briefing for the web environment.

The consultant was supposed to create templates for Web Publisher and Web Agent. The problem was he built the Web Publisher templates first, against my requirements. Then he compounded that error by forcing Web Agent to use the Web Publisher templates. This was mildly functional, but cause major problems. Needless to say, I was very disappointed with the consultant.

Part of it was my own fault. I was dealing with a printing problem with Express Objects, the tool used to develop my client application. This consumed too much of my time, and I was unable to provide the time to the consultant I should have. Also, I didn’t like him personally.

Now I have to build my own Web Agent templates. I was stalled on this a little because we were setting up our production server to Express Server 6.2. We used a development server to initially move our users to 6.2. However, the development server does not have enough drive space for us to keep two full copies of our databases. I was very weary of using our "temporary" production environment to do development.

Just as I wrote this column our production server was being finalized. Once we point all the users to it, I will start developing the Web Agent templates and the web version of our briefing. I’ll keep you posted.

Conclusion

That about covers it this month. With the holidays I haven’t had enough time to do much else. Next month I should have more on the PalmPilot. I will be able to tell you once and for all how the new briefing is working out in production, and tell you about working with Web Agent and Web Publisher.

Oh yea! I am getting (hopefully) a new computer. I got the green light to use my bonus to get a new computer. I get my bonus at the end of February. I have been looking around a little, but nothing makes me pull out the credit card yet. Next month I will tell you about the computers I am looking at, and what I expect. Basically a much better gaming machine than I have now. Dell is looking good. I priced a 400 MHz Pentium II with 128 MB RAM, 7200 RPM EIDE Hard Drive, 17" Trinitron monitor, RIVA TNT 2D/3D Video Card w/ 16 MB, and 3rd generation DVD Drive with decoder card. All for $2,110. I’ll keep you posted. My best friend from back in New York is also looking, and is relying on my advice. My partner may also be looking. Maybe I can get a bulk discount for all three.

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