• Adam Cogan on PerformancePoint 2010

    Last night the Adelaide SQL Server User Group had Adam Cogan visit us from Sydney to talk about Microsoft PerformancePoint 2010. Adam is Chief Architect of SSW, a Microsoft Regional Director and a Microsoft MVP (Visual Studio Team System).

    Usually the meetings are at lunchtime, but the group were asked to move to the evening timeslot this month (something about a Windows Phone 7 series talk). The other difference was that we got KFC supplied for supper.

    Adam stepped through the features of PerformancePoint 2010 and showed some of the new additions. Probably the most significant is that it ceases to be a separate (expensive) product and now will ship as part of SharePoint Server 2010.

    It was an entertaining evening, with a lively discussion between Adam and the audience. At the end of the night I think it’s fair to say we’d all learned a lot (even Adam!)

    Updated 30/3

    Adam thought readers might find these resources useful:

  • The consulting cycle

    How do you combine exercise, family and consulting work?

    I’m trying to figure out how I can squeeze in the occasional ride to work, whilst still retaining that degree of separation that is appropriate as a consultant (eg. not using client’s shower facilities!)

    My requirements are relatively simple. Somewhere to:

    • securely to store my bike
    • shower and change
    • leave bike clothes/towel to dry

    Rob had a good suggestion of checking out local gyms in the Adelaide CBD – maybe they might offer a cheap “change facilities only” membership deal. I read that Melbourne now have a dedicated “Bike Pod” for their cyclists to use. Wouldn’t it be great if Adelaide had something similar!

    I’d be interested to hear of other suggestions and/or solutions.

    Whilst I do like the idea of a “LobsterPot Solutions” branded bike top and knicks (the red claw would be very eye catching!) I’m not sure that our clients would be happy with me wearing that around the office all day :-)

  • Time tracking

    I’m part-way through my 3rd week at LobsterPot Solutions and one of the things Rob asked me to do was keep track of my time, so that he can bill clients appropriately. That’s how things work in the consulting business :-)

    Some people do this with the old fashioned but very reliable paper and pen. I tried that myself for a bit, but found a) my handwriting isn’t easy for even me to read and b) I wasn’t that good at consistently writing down new tasks etc.

    One interesting approach I have seen is to just block out time in your calendar (be it Outlook or Google). That works as a record, but it doesn’t do the ‘adding up’ bit to give you the end of week totals etc.

    Surely there must be a reasonable time tracking application that is free and does enough for me to record what I’m doing and give a reasonable I can forward to Rob? One criteria was that it should store data centrally. Being a consultant I could find myself working at a client’s premises in town, at home, or even interstate – so a ‘cloud’ solution is appealing.

    The first application I tried was Activity Tracker Plus. It is a Google gadget that you can add to your iGoogle page and cleverly stores data in a Google Docs spreadsheet. I used this for a week and a bit, but found the editing and reporting were a bit limited. Specifically there isn’t a way to edit a previously saved time period, and it just gives you a weekly report but no totals broken down by activity. To top it off when I was trying to correct the time allocated to a task it was messing up the end-time component (a bug I presume).

    Lifehacker reviewed Five Best Time-Tracking Applications late last year. Of those, two were web-based – RescueTime and SlimTimer.

    I’ve seen RescueTime used by Ben and I think he found it useful. The free version does have limits though, including keeping only the last 3 months worth of data.

    Because of that I thought I’d try SlimTimer. This is a simple web-based app that seems to have enough features to make it useable. I’ve only just started using it, so it will be interesting to see if it lives up to expectations. If not then I’ll give RescueTime a go.