Ecto is no more (for me)

Adriaan and I have decided to part ways. We started this great partnership nearly 4 years ago under very different circumstances than what we find ourselves in today. Since joining ThoughtWorks last August, my level of commitment as a developer has risen a lot. The weekly travels, working with open source project, involvement in recruitment within TW, etc. mean that I have not been able to devote the time to ecto that it deserves.

While it is sad to see the relationship end, I gained a great friendship and his daughter photos always brighten up my day!

Name
The project will continue under the “Ecto for Windows” name until a new one is found. The hope is to have a new name by the end of next week. If any one out there has suggestions, feel free to let me know! Once it is decided, a new version of the application will be released with updated name, links, etc.

Sales & Support
As of right now, Ecto for Windows is no longer on sale. I have not decided on the course for the project yet. One of the benefit the partnership with Adriaan had brought was the sale infrastructure that he had in place. With that gone, I am re-evaluating whether keeping ecto as a commercial product is a viable option.

Even though I have less time for the project, this by no mean I am less committed to support ecto as it stands now. Ecto 2.x will be fully supported by me, just like it has been for the last 4 years. The new support forum is located here: http://mineblogging.com/support/ The existing messages from old forum will be migrated to the new forum some time next week.

Future development
The development of the next version of ecto (e.g. version 3) remains to be decided. I have re-written almost all of the backend code but significant amount of work remains. One option would to open source the project for version 3 so hopefully more people can contribute to the development effort, instead of just little old me. (Open sourcing version 2.x is not possible currently as it contains a commercial component unless a replacement is found) Another option would be to find another developer to take over the project. But finding this some one may be difficult.

Ecto is no more (for me)

Adriaan and I have decided to part ways. We started this great partnership nearly 4 years ago under very different circumstances than what we find ourselves in today. Since joining ThoughtWorks last August, my level of commitment as a developer has risen a lot. The weekly travels, working with open source project, involvement in recruitment within TW, etc. mean that I have not been able to devote the time to ecto that it deserves.

While it is sad to see the relationship end, I gained a great friendship and his daughter photos always brighten up my day!

Name
The project will continue under the "Ecto for Windows" name until a new one is found. The hope is to have a new name by the end of next week. If any one out there has suggestions, feel free to let me know! Once it is decided, a new version of the application will be released with updated name, links, etc.
Sales & Support
As of right now, Ecto for Windows is no longer on sale. I have not decided on the course for the project yet. One of the benefit the partnership with Adriaan had brought was the sale infrastructure that he had in place. With that gone, I am re-evaluating whether keeping ecto as a commercial product is a viable option.
Even though I have less time for the project, this by no mean I am less committed to support ecto as it stands now. Ecto 2.x will be fully supported by me, just like it has been for the last 4 years. The new support forum is located here: http://mineblogging.com/support/ The existing messages from old forum will be migrated to the new forum some time next week.
Future development
The development of the next version of ecto (e.g. version 3) remains to be decided. I have re-written almost all of the backend code but significant amount of work remains. One option would to open source the project for version 3 so hopefully more people can contribute to the development effort, instead of just little old me. (Open sourcing version 2.x is not possible currently as it contains a commercial component unless a replacement is found) Another option would be to find another developer to take over the project. But finding this some one may be difficult.

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Come mingle with me

It has been a long time since I've worked on the ecto/Windows code in any serious manner. Sure, I've fixed a few bugs here and there as well as updating various libraries that ecto uses, but the last time a major feature was added to the code was at least 6 months ago, if not longer. That doesn't mean I have not given any thoughts to the development of ecto during that time. I had many ideas on and off on either new features or how I would code it now if I were to start from scratch.

Well, last week I officially started jolting down some of these ideas and tasks. I've tried recording my ideas down 'properly' and used it as project planning before but had never found a tool that worked well. I've tried the basic (text files) to complicate (bug tracking application like Mantis). This time I thought I would try Mingle, an Agile project planning tool developed by (yes, my employer) ThoughtWorks. *

So far, my experience is pretty positive. I've recorded my ideas on new features, improvements, and tasks down in Mingle. Each of these is stored as a 'story card' and Mingle allows me to tag it, set properties (which I can define my own), and add description. It is the description part that proves to be powerful to me. Mingle allows a kind of wiki style markup in the description so I can add URLs, format the text, or even link to another story card inside the description. This means I can record links that are relevant to the story (e.g. product page for new feature, API documentation for references, etc.) right there so I don't have to look for them in my bookmarks or google it every time I need them.

I can also record bugs or issues in Mingle and reference them back to ecto's support forum so I won't lose track of the bug as it gets push down the message board. It is not a full blown bug tracking application such as Trac or Bugzilla but I don't need those features anyway as I am working on my own.

The iteration planning aspect of Mingle is of less relevance to me since I won't be forcing myself into a strict weekly or bi-weekly schedule, likewise with the very nice and powerful graphing and reporting features of Mingle.

We'll see how well Mingle will hold up as a repository of ideas and knowledge when I slowly move into the actual coding phase.

* I've started using Mingle during their beta testing phase before I joined ThoughtWorks. But having the inside track on what's coming in the next few versions certainly helps me decide on trying it out!

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No longer scrambling

A few years back, no, even just a year ago I would be scrambling to find out what is going on when I saw blog post about ecto like this one on the net. I would be trying to figure out why ecto doesn't work for this particular user and dropped all plans so I could fix them ASAP. (To be fair, some of the issues are user error/configuration while
some are fundamental design/philosophy issue which can't be fixed
without a complete rewrite from the ground up.)

Now, it doesn't seem to bother me any more. Either I am secure in the knowledge that there are many more satisfy ecto users out there and I shouldn't carter only to the vocal ones, or I no longer care enough to change my life around this project. May be if somehow I were to become an independent software developer and work on ecto as my day job, I would have the inclination to response to every blog post/issue on the net. But somehow I don't see that happening and the ROI is way too low in my current situation.

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Sleepless in NYC

I've been trying to finish this book for about 4 months now. I even packed it in my bags when I flew back to the U.K. last Christmas, hoping I could get some traction on it as I travelled. Alas, life has been very busy what with being paid to blog, tennis, ecto, moving apartment in March, weekly magazines (New Scientist and Autosport) to read, podcasts to listen to, et al.

More hours of the day, or decrease the number of hours of sleep I need will be very welcomed.

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QotD: I Don’t Mean To Brag, But…

What's something that you're really proud of, which most people in your life don't know about?
Submitted by CosmicBabe.

ecto for Windows

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QotD: I’m Crafty

What's the last thing you crafted, constructed or created yourself?

I am not very good at crafting and since I live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, I don't really have space to craft much anyway. As for construction, I'll have to say it is the rebuilding of the wardrobe shelf about a month ago. For creating something from scratch; ecto for Windows, my software, is my most recent and proud creation. But this QotD reminded me of something I once assembled/created, and which I am very fond of and probably want to do it again.

Once upon a time when I was still a kid and lived in Hong Kong, radio controlled cars were all the rage and I wanted one because couple of the kids in school had them. After badging my mom for nearly a year, she finally relented and allowed me to get one. Not knowing what make was good I bought the one that was in my limited price range and that had a look I liked. The Boomerang from Tamiya was a 4WD electric radio controlled buggy. It was a model kit so assembly was required, and I must have spent a whole week during the summer meticulously putting each piece together. And every night I lie on my bed dreaming up the colour scheme that I would paint the shell. When it was finally finished, I was so excited. However, after having raced it against my friends' buggies the shortcomings of the design were very obvious. First, the battery was housed internally and was 7.2V (i.e. 6 x 1.2V rechargeable battery). Compared to the Kyosho which had a open bottom tray and could be easily modified to take an extra battery, making it 8.4V, and hence more electric power and slightly longer run. The other major issue was that because the whole chassis was molded plastic, in contrast with Kyosho which had a open two floors design, the Tamiya did not lent itself to customization. So very little adjustment of the wheelbase, camber, toe-in/toe-out, etc. And finally the Tamyia used a drive-shaft system to power the 4WD and this meant extra weight and less easy to change gear ratio.

So I more or less started saving again to get a Kyosho. I can't remember how long it took me but it must have been at least a year, if not two. This time I went for the Kyosho's mid range model (again, I couldn't afford the top of the range Pro model), Turbo Optima Mid SE. With the previous experience behind me, I was able to assemble this car within two days. This was so much more racing oriented. I could adjust almost every aspect of the suspension, gear ratios, etc. And there were tons of custom parts to 'pimp out' the car. The first thing I did was to replace the heavy metal base chassis plate with a carbon fibre one. Then I replaced the rear lower wishbones to lengthen the wheelbase so it would have more stable handling. Other things that I customized: lighter and longer rear drive shafts, form tyres and lowered suspensions and higher viscosity suspension fluid for indoor racing, and fine pitch gears for better and smoother power delivery. The most drastic customization turned out to be one that I performed all myself. In an extreme quest for weight saving, I started taking away part of the upper chassis floor. First I drilled holes to make it perforated. Then I slowly trimmed its shape to the slimmest possible with a heck saw without compromising the chassis rigidity.

My friends and I even went to a tournament and raced our cars against other, much older, racers. I did not win, of course, but it was a lot of fun finally putting the car through its paces.

Unfortunately by that time I had moved on to secondary school and lost touch with my friends in primary school. I carried on playing with in for another couple of years before I moved to the UK. I made one last effort to continue this hobby but as with most thing in the UK, radio controlled cars' parts were so expensive that there was no way I could afford it. Eventually the car was left gathering dust in the garden shed and never been seen again. 😦 I wished I had the foresight to take photos of these amazingly fun cars but alas I don't have any photos to show.

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Please ignore

This is a message for the person who has problem with ecto. There are many ways to get my attention to help you with your problem. But having a blog post that doesn’t allow comment or an email address for me to contact you make it really difficult to help you. Also, there is a forum for you to post your issue and get help. So in summary, please help me to help you.

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