Despite feeling a bit under the weather this past week, thank you amoxicillin, I did a small vBulletin job, integrating UserVoice with a private forum for Kickstarter project backers, as well as starting on a little Shopify cart design consulting job. I’ve also been doing a bit more brush up on the InDesign skills, as I think that’s going to be the big project this coming week. I’ve been taking it a little easier on the weights and the hiking, but I’m looking forward to getting back at it full steam shortly, now that I’ve mostly kicked this Summer cold.
I’ve recently enrolled in my first Coursera class, An Introduction to Operations Management, taught by Christian Terwiesch from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The six week class starts in September and I’m very much looking forward to the Coursera experience. This will not be my first online class, but I have heard very good things about the Coursera method and structure. I am already familiar with a lot of the subject matter, with training in Total Quality Management (TQM) from AT&T and other Business Process Management systems, and I am looking forward to getting some fresh perspectives on Operations Management, particularly as it relates to some of my Project Management training and background. Operations is sort of the flip-side to Project Management and it’s important to have a grasp of each of their issues, methods, and priorities.
Recently, one of my bigger projects has been the design and roll out of a collaborative blog post writer assignment system using Asana as it’s base. Asana has worked out to be a really great tool for coordinating project work among various remote team members, allowing a project manager to break tasks down to a work package level and either assign or tag tasks appropriately. We’ve been using the task tagging system to allocate work, rather than individual assignments to specific team members and the experience so far has been positive. The application allows fairly free form notes to be added to each work package, along with file uploads, deadline assignment, and easy prioritization. Asana is fairly open and free form, so we have found it necessary to produce a guide or manual outlining our own process and rules, as it relates to the goals of our overall projects. One item of note is that Asana does not have any sort of hierarchical authority built in, so anybody on the team has the power to assign, unassign, reprioritize, tag, and untag each work package, so it is important for the project manager to trust their team when it comes to their individual input. Asana certainly isn’t the most powerful collaborative Project Management tool out there, as it acts more like a well designed team based to-do list, but I have found it to be very useful so far for our needs.
I enjoyed this TED talk from Daphne Koller on the rapidly evolving possibilities of online educational opportunities. I wish that Coursera.com had a few more web development and/or prject management offerings, but I’m sure there will likely be more options in the near future.
I’ve been doing pretty well with the hiking and weights recently. Besides that, it’s still all about tutorials and online seminars these past few weeks. Lunch with old friends, no really big news.
The rhythms of product and technological upgrades have converged such that I am now buried in various tutorials and classes. I’ve spent a number of years behind the scenes, tending to a collection of websites with all sorts of back-end idiosyncrasies and needs. And now, it’s time to catch back up a bit on current front-end development skills and best practices.
I put a site in my portfolio and later realized that I hadn’t actually worked on the front-end design for that site in about eight years, at least! I’ve worked on it’s back-end technology for nearly a decade, making all sorts of upgrades and improvements, migrating from one software package set to other even more modern scripting solutions, but the simple front-end just never seemed like it needed attention. I am very proud of how the site functions for it’s clients and it’s success in achieving it’s goals as a service. Then I looked at the sort of front-end splash page code… ugh. This is embarrassing.
So, I’m working on giving the front-end a bit of an overhaul, along with taking some continuing education classes, to brush up on the latest and greatest skills and methodologies. Not that I don’t have experience with the latest codes and tools from working with a number of different sites, but I could use a refresher on putting it all together from scratch again.
This has unfortunately coincided with a large print media layout project that also requires a bit of a brush up on Adobe InDesign CS5. I’ll be honest, it’s been a product cycle or two since I’ve worked with InDesign, or QuarkXPress, or PageMaker for that matter. So, this could be fun. More tutorials and exercises.
Meanwhile I am also looking to get an additional new professional certification, so I have a pretty significant exam looming on the horizon for that too. Time to put on some coffee and, well I was going to say hit the books, but it’s more like sit and watch educational videos, webinars, Lynda.com, CreativeEdge.com, etc. MMmm… coffee.