Featured

How I Use Project Organizer Every Day

The Project Organizer app is available in the Apple App Store. I started this app in late 2012 and released it for the first time in 2013.

Advertisements

The Project Organizer app is available in the Apple App Store. I started this app in late 2012 and released it for the first time in 2013. The original inspiration for the app was based on my experience as a project manager with several client projects at a software vendor.

My manager would call me into his office once a week to ask me questions about my current projects. I would sit opposite his desk shuffling through piles of papers and folders trying to get the answers. As I sat there, I used to think, there has to be a better way to organize this information.

When I was relieved of my position, I began working on the app. The most important feature for me is the search. It is extremely fast and takes less than a second after each character is pressed. It uses multiple optimized sub queries over indexed tables to achieve the lightening fast results.

Agile Status

Typically at the end of each day, I record my agile status. This is the answers to the three questions:

What did I do today?

What will I do tomorrow?

What are my impediments?

The following day, I glance at it before the scrum to refresh my memory. When I have to create a weekly status, I glance through these short synopsis to produce a nice report that shows progress.

Defects

When I discover a defect, I immediately log a defect. When I am ready to submit to the App Store, I make sure I have tested all my known defects. This helps avoid a release followed by a quick sub release to fix forgotten defects.

Ideas

Sometimes ideas pop into your head at the most unexpected times. I have gotten into the habit of immediately pulling out my phone opening my project organiser and making a note. If I do not, I usually regret it later, as I cannot remember all the details. Sometimes the ideas will marinate there for a while and I go back later to refine them more as I do my research or gain more knowledge or insights.

Team Members

First thing I do on any project is write down the names of all the team members. I tend to group them as Core Team, External team, and business contacts or stake holders. Then if additional resources exist, such as shared resources, I sometimes list them separately depending on the project.

Meeting Notes

As each meeting starts, I make a note of all the participants. Then as the meeting progresses, I make a note of key points and decisions. This is useful if I have remind team members of past decisions or clarify points when I write stories or acceptance criteria. If I am responsible for sending minutes, I just hit the send button and nicely formatted, memo style minutes are sent out as an email attachment.

Promotion

If I getting a marketing idea, such as a new search keyword, I make a note of it under promotion. I also jot down any slogans to be used for future banner ads or slogans. Some times, I get strategic marketing ideas that I can implement when I get some time like an idea for a new YouTube video or blog post idea.

Backlog

Occasionally, I get new ideas for features to an app such as Spotlight Search, Reminders or Calendar event creation. These all started as stories in my back log. A typical story is worded in the format, “As a Developer, I want to add a reminder creation feature to add to do items that can alert me in the future to take action so that I do not miss deadlines”. The story includes the role, the feature or enhancement and the reason it is needed. It is important to me to capture the reason as this can be used later to promote the feature when I market it.

Project Organizer Pro is available as an in app purchase directly in the App Store.

post

UTF-8

When I first developed the Project Organizer app in 2013, I was only focused on building the best app for my personal needs.

I needed to move data from one device to another and the icloud did not exist. Email, and SMS were available so I decided to use a file attachment as the means to send data. I was more familiar with XML than JSON so I chose that format.

It became apparent that I needed to encode certain characters to avoid Parsing errors so I researched this and found a library written in C that I was able to rewrite into Objective C to handle escaping characters using ASCII encoding.

This was good for a while until I began localizing and internationalizing my app into different Latin based languages.

As I added each new language I had to add special encoding to my export file to handle the new special characters. It was like playing wack a mole, but I was not getting ahead of the curve and I knew I could only to continue to expand through Latin based languages. This character set could not handle Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or several other popular languages that were not Latin based languages.

Again I began researching this and after much reading I found that UTF-8 should be able to support almost all languages. Converting my app to use UTF-8 was not as easy as I had hoped but could have been easier if I had some guidelines up front.

This is what ultimately worked for me, it may or may not work for your needs.

Do not do any UTF-8 encoding or deciding while manipulating strings in your app. NSString has a convenience method to convert a string to UTF-8 encoding. Do not use it. NSString represents all strings internally as UTF-16. Use NSString to format, concatenate and parse strings as you need to in your app. This will avoid a lot of defects.

When you write your data to a file encode it to UTF-8 at this time. UTF-8 will handle all your international characters like úáéöü etc. It also can handle most of the special Unicode characters that Apple has added since 2013 like 🍎 🍏 ✅ 😐😀. Most importantly the libxml2 parser was able to handle these strings successfully.

The biggest challenge that this left for me was handle the 5 characters used in XML that when they occur in your data cause parsing errors. They are &”’< and >.

If I escaped them using ASCII escape sequences like &amp; &quot; &apos; &lt; and &gt; the parser was not able to handle them without adding DOCTYPE and ENTITY tags to the document. Then I was back to the game of wack a mole and defects. This was largely because my prior libraries encoded so many more characters than these 5 characters.

What I came up with and worked for me was to build this small NSString extension that escaped these characters directly into the numerical code escape sequences so the DOCTYPE and ENTITY tags were not required. The code is shown below.

LRNSString+UTF8.h

//

//  LRNSString+UTF8.h

//  Project Organizer

//

//  Created by Lawrence Ricker on 5/28/18.

//  Copyright © 2018 Mobile Developer. All rights reserved.

//

#ifndef LRNSString_UTF8_h

#define LRNSString_UTF8_h

@interface NSString (LRNSStringUTF8Additions)

– (NSString *)lr_stringByEscapingFromXML;

@end

#endif /* LRNSString_UTF8_h */

LRNSString+UTF8.m

//

//  LRNSString+UTF8.m

//  Project Organizer

//

//  Created by Lawrence Ricker on 5/28/18.

//  Copyright © 2018 Mobile Developer. All rights reserved.

//

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>

#import “LRNSString+UTF8.h”

@implementation NSString (LRNSStringUTF8Additions)

/*

*  Original CharacterXML entity replacementXML numeric replacement

*  &                              &amp;                               &

*  <                              &lt;                                    <

*  >                              &gt;                                   >

*  ”                               &quot;                               ”

*  ‘                               &apos;                               ‘

*/

– (NSString *)lr_stringByEscapingFromXML {

return [[[[[self stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”&” withString:@”&”] stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”<” withString:@”<“] stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”>” withString:@”>”] stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”‘” withString:@”‘”] stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@”\”” withString:@”””];

}

@end

Help For Confusion

Are you getting things mixed up?

This may terrify you because you think you are Pre-dementia or possibly getting altheimers.

While this is a possibility, take heart. There are plenty of people that get things mixed up in prominent, well paid positions leading productive lives. If you do not believe me, watch the news, and if you pay attention you will start seeing it. No one is perfect, and the mind is a strange thing. While I do not completely understand it, our society does have names for it like short circuiting, having a brain fart, wires crossed, or having a senior moment. As long as it is just sporadic you should be okay. Some people self diagnose and refer to their condition as ‘CRS’ which refers to ‘can’t remember stuff’. You can substitute ‘stuff’ with you favorite profanity, if you prefer.

Some recommendations, I would like to make, are get more sleep, feed your brain with ‘brain food’, reduce sugar in your diet and reduce alcohol intake. Verify that you are drinking clean water and breathing clean air. Make sure carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels are not too high in your living environment. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed near your home heating source. The mind gets slower when it is colder. Wear a hat in the winter to keep all your body heat from escaping out of the top of your head. Another suggestion, that has helped me a lot, is downloading the Project Organizer app for the iPhone and iPad. Download a copy today. Take notes about your “projects”. This can be projects at work, your hobbies or clubs and groups your volunteer with or are a member of. I personally use it for all these things. A project is defined as a short term effort with a definite beginning and end that you can determine when it is “done” or finished. There is no reason you can’t use the Project Organizer for other activities that are less definitive. Take notes. Write down anything you might get mixed up later. Names, dates, events, action items, responsibilities, minutes of meetings, decisions, and technical details that others might mix up later. Then you can use the super fast search or three tiered organization to retrieve the information in the future when you need to “refresh your memory”.

Remember others mix stuff up too. It is refreshing to check you notes before discussing something with someone that you remember correctly and they forgot the final decision. It happens all the time. Better to pick up where you left off than jump down a rabbit hole and re hashing something that is already resolved. Make sure you write down the reasons supporting a decision. That is often an area where confusion arises.

Take it slow. Think before you speak. Think carefully about what you are going to say. And definitely get Project Organizer. If you are anxious lean on your faith to get you through it. If you don’t have faith, go to church, read the Bible starting with the book of John, and develop a faith. It will help you with the anxiety when you can leave your concerns with Jesus or pray and talk to God about it.

I do have one other suggestion, which I invite you to try. I cannot completely explain it, but some people have been helped by this. I would say just try this for a week. if you are able to think clearer and if you get a better nights sleep and feel more rested, you can add this to your daily routine. If not forget about it. Put all your mobile phones in airplane mode or turn them off when you sleep. Unplug your router or turn off your WiFi if you know how. Unplug all your WiFi connected devices like printers and turn off your Bluetooth headsets. If this helps you please comment below.

Another idea I read about in Guerrilla Negotiating is adding cultured dairy products such as yogurt and 🧀 cheese and 🥚eggs to your diet. These were recommended before business meetings to make the mind sharper. But isn’t every day a negotiation?

If nothing else seems to help you may want to visit a doctor. This is not unreasonable. A simple blood test may uncover a deficiency that could be corrected by diet and exercise. Maybe one of your ‘levels’ is off. It is more likely they will give you a prescription. Depending on your convictions you may not want to jump down that rabbit hole. You could always go the supplements route. Millions of people do. I can’t make that decision for you.

Download a copy of Project Organizer today and be the person with the answers.

Job Hunt

After I was laid off from my project management position, in 2012, I began developing the Project Organizer App. After I had the initial app working, my current project became “getting a job”. I used the Project Organizer app to keep track of my job submissions, predominantly to test the app.

As I had more and more submissions, I began to realize that the search capabilities were really important. Most of the recruiters that were contacting me at the time had “confidential” positions. I didn’t want to work for a company named “confidential”, so I used to filter these out. I submitted on some of them, but they were generally a waste of time.

Over time I noticed that some of the “confidential” company postings looked similar with some words changed. There were definitely patterns, but not exact matches. I was told by one recruiter that it was my responsibility to verify each job submission. If I was submitted on one opportunity, with two different recruiters, I would automatically be disqualified for the position, and my resume would be thrown out. The Project Organizer application handled this process nicely, through this job search.https://z2ja.app.link/download

After a year and a half, my next contract position ended because a company enforced restriction that contractors could only work for 18 consecutive months, to prevent the appearance that they were actually employees and not contractors from a tax liability perspective. As I started this second job search in 2 years, I decided to create the Job Hunt application to meet the needs of managing this application submission process.

I developed and tested it in an actual job search. After a few months, I took a short term 5 weeks project implementing a custom system. At the end of this programming contract, I was picked up by another contracting company for a longer term contracting position as a developer. This completed my foray into project management and my return to professional software development.

https://z2ja.app.link/download

The Job Hunt App will help you with your job search. As you submit on a new position, create an opportunity in the Job Hunt app. When a recruiter sends you an email, create an opportunity in Job Hunt. Click ‘Reply’ in your email app and select ‘Select All’ and then ‘Copy’. Press the home key twice and switch back to the Job Hunt App and touch ‘Opportunity Notes’ and then ‘Description’ and ‘Paste’ the email in the big yellow box. Touch ‘Done’ to save the email. Now it is searchable by any keyword in the email.

Then reply to the email with your resume attached, or better yet call the recruiter on the phone. Interacting through the Linked In App is nice because it tracks conversations and provides background information and contact information for the recruiter. As your engagement on the opportunity progresses, cut and paste everything into the Job Hunt App. Record every name, every phone number, every email address, and every title. Copy and Paste the signature lines of emails from the recruiters, interviewers, and other contacts to facilitate following up on the career opportunity.

When the recruiter asks you your rate, record it in the Job Hunt App. When you negotiate terms take notes. This is a negotiation. You have to remember your past conversations. Recruiters talk to many candidates and you are talking to many recruiters. They mix up candidates, be ready for this and make sure you get what you want. Many times the terms are fluid and negotiable and can change as the process continues. If you remember your terms and past concessions you will be in a better place to negotiate well. Taking notes is important. Be prepared. Download Job Hunt or Job Hunt Pro today.

Where Did All My Apps Go? The

I have been working with Apple over the course of the last year to get new versions of my apps approved and offered for sale in the App Store. Apple has engaged in a campaign, over the last year, to reduce the clutter in the App Store. As part of this campaign they started rejecting new versions of similar apps as Spam. This has effected hundreds of thousands of apps, not just mine. I had to make some difficult decisions. I analyzed past sales of all my apps, the number of downloads, and future potential of in app purchases.

A number of apps were popular as Project Organizer, StatusReport 4 , Project Info, and Project Status. I simply picked the app with the most downloads and paid upgrade conversions. Project Organizer had about 100 more downloads than the competing apps so I deleted the other apps from the App Store and submitted another appeal to Apple for approval. Finally after a year and a half a new version of Project Organizer was finally approved by the Apple App Review Team. Project Organizer Pro app available in the App Store as an in app purchase. This version is available as an In App purchase in the free app. For devices running IOS11 the new App Store allows you to make in app purchases directly from the App Store. The process involves downloading a free version of the app and immediately launching an In App purchase in the freshly downloaded app. I deleted about 20 apps.

Other Apps such as Progress Report, PMIS, Good With Names and Bad With Names had hundred or so less downloads but still in the thousands. These apps were all deleted from the App Store as well as the corresponding Pro versions. Project Organizer was enhanced to incorporate all the functionality in all these apps and now accepts export / backup files from any of these apps, as imports. This was necessary to appease Apple’s App Review Panel and still deliver new features like Reminders, Events and Faster Search which I have been developing and using personally over the last year and a half.