So, for the last year or so, I’ve been tinkering around with a new client management system for naturalaxis, and even partially coded it at one point before losing the code. Anyway, I took another shot at it, and it’s currently coming along alright. I’m already using it in a production environment to track my active accounts for the company. The current features — which are limited to the consultant’s interface — include:

  • Support ticket functionality, including the capacity to add notes on ticket items
  • Streamlined timesheet review and posting
  • Contact management: each account can have multiple people associated with it

Percentage-wise, the code is probably about 40% complete, at least in terms of being able to use it for both clients and consultants without any bells and whistles. Some things I still need to finish to put this code completely into production:

  • Complete the coding for the billing interface, which I haven’t even started yet. This is the really important part of the program, since it sends the bills out and provides me with the up-to-date information on each account’s standing.
  • Add e-mail functionality, which I have a component for, but haven’t wired into anything yet. Ideally, the component will be wired into anything that generates output. I’m likely using PHPMailer to save myself a lot of work here.
  • Completing the code for account credits and charges.
  • Making the generation of some information more dependent on the configuration files to make generalizing the system easier.
  • Finish any code I haven’t finished (duh).

That’s the short list, but contains most of the major stuff. There are some things I’m holding off on until the software is initially released:

  • E-mail gatewayAbility to e-mail a support address and automatically add a ticket to the system, provided that the originating e-mail address has an account within the system itself. I expect that this article from evolt.org will help quite a lot.
  • Client management of multiple accountsOne user in the system should be able to manage multiple accounts within the same system on the client side. The way the code is currently implemented, a single user can only be assigned to a single account unless multiple user names are used.
  • System configuration wizardThe skeletal framework for this is there, but probably won’t make it into the initial release. I’d love to be able to change the system configuration without actually using the configuration file.
  • System installerThis is an involved component in and of itself. The installer would automatically set up the MySQL databases needed for Pixelary, create the configuration file, create initial users, and populate the databases accordingly.

The goal here is to get something that I can release via SourceForge — probably under the BSD license. We’ll see about that — for now, I just want a running system that I can be proud of.

J’lly Y’ar End Rawndawp

Hello, and welcome to the j’lly y’ar end rawndawp. I’m your host.

So, I suppose the biggest news of the last few days is my score at Ms. Pac-Man. Yes, I’m aware of the pitiful nature of this, but I managed to set a high score (after something like 10 tries) on a Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine at Little Caesar’s in south Bellingham (across from Fred Meyer). The previous high score was about 31,000, and I trumped it with a high score of 41,240. Yay.

Yes, it is pitiful that that’s all that’s really interesting in my life thus far.

I keep doing further research on M.F.A. programs in Creative Writing, though I have yet to really start doing this research seriously. I’m 85% sure that this is what I’d like to do after college, but I’ve got a little time left to make that decision before I have to go full-bore into an admissions process. My planning is sort of vague at the moment, but I do know that I’m remaining at Evergreen until the end of Spring 2006. By then, I’ll definitely be graduating. I’ll apply for (but may not get) the Assistant to the Director position that the Writing Center hires for yearly. We’ll see, but that’s where I’m headed.

If I don’t get that, then there may be a slight comic interlude between graduating college and going on to grad school. For that, I may be targeting schools not on the West Coast, but I don’t think I’ve even made that determination yet — I’m casting a wide net.

Amanda and me are both looking forward to going back to Olympia for Winter Quarter. Amanda’s in The Science of Fat with two faculty that I’ve had that are both top-notch: Sharon Anthony, from my first year program Trash, and Brian Walter, from last year’s program Data to Information. She should get a lot out of both faculty. I’m enrolled in The Novel: Life and Form with Thad Curtz, whom I’ve heard many positive things about. I’m not sure about the idea of reading 170 pages a day, but I’m sure I’ll cope.

Well, happy 2005, and I’ll see you then (maybe before, if I decide to keep typing)!

Business Review

Two interesting items in the Business pages of the Seattle Times today:

Foreign Exchange: Dollar Falls against Euro
The Associated Press reported that the U.S. dollar is now $1.3548 against the Euro ($1.35 = 1 Euro). Typically, since these used to be comparable currencies, the ratio was roughly 1 to 1, but now the gap is obviously increasing. Without being a professional economist, but with a pretty good background in basic economics, I’d say that this will spell trouble for the U.S. economy within the next year or so, especially if the U.S. dollar continues upward against the Euro. In broad strokes, this will affect foreign trade, and may force countries other than Cuba and Iraq to switch to a monetary standard that measures against the Euro. Both Cuba and Iraq have done this in the past — it will probably happen again.

Semi-related tangent: to my knowledge, any third world country that has switched to the Euro as a monetary standard has been targeted by the U.S. for terrorist actions.

Washington State Minimum Wage Rises
The Seattle Times reports that Washington State’s minimum wage goes up to $7.35 on January 1, making Washington the highest in the nation for minimum wages. Note: yes, that sentence is awkward, no, I don’t care.

This is important — though perhaps not positively important. The negative aspect is that companies will have to pay more to operate in this state, despite the clear positive benefit to Washington’s population. Ach, conundrums.

Reactions on the Gubernatorial Election

The Seattle Times ran an article today regarding the election, stating that Rossi intended to challenge the results. Figures, but here’s why it won’t affect this election:

First, state law only allows for three recounts via Chapter 29A.64.070 of the Revised Code of Washington. It explicitly states that "After the original count, canvass, and certification of results, the votes cast in any single precinct may not be recounted and the results recertified more than twice". Thus, no further recounts or checks are available; legally, Christine Gregoire is governor-elect of Washington State.

Second, from the standpoint of sheer popularity, Rossi campaigning for voter reform would likely only alienate him from the populace. This would be an extremely stupid undertaking on his part; far more effective would be a citizen action group committed to ensuring that the State of Washington reform its electoral procedures. This does, of course, assume that the blame lies with the State and not explicitly with King County, where several election mishaps occurred — a careful and thoughtful review of electoral procedure at this point is warranted, but not if it is spearheaded by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. That smacks of revenge, and is not the spirit in which such reviews should be held.

Not that Mrs. Gregoire is all that innocent either. The article quotes her as saying:

Finishing on top in a vote count had Gregoire putting a much rosier tint on things.

She said the state’s election system has proven itself a “model to the rest of the nation and to the world at large.”

“This is the biggest display of democracy I have ever seen,” she said.

This is so incredibly wrong that it’s almost funny that she dared to utter such a thing. This was shameful for the entire State; not only did we only elect a governor by 130 votes, we underwent several hand recounts in what essentially amounted to a pissing contest between Democratic and Republican parties. This was not a model, unless the model we want to set for the rest of the world is that, by complaining enough about the results, the party you want to win will.

Washington State was a farce in this electoral year. Perhaps we should take measures to ensure that nothing this idiotic happens again.

Weather Script

So I completely wasted my time the last few hours and wrote a command-line-based PHP script that fetches the weather from wunderground.com, parses the resulting HTML file, and outputs the results on the command line. This is a lot like what some Eggdrop scripts do (and they even get the output from the same site). The result looks like:

pellis@localhost(~): weather 98296

Forecast for Everett, Washington (98296; as of 4:53 PM PST on December 22, 2004):
Currently 39F | Humidity: 100% | Dew Point: 39F | Wind: North at 0 mph
Pressure: 30.52 in | Conditions: Clear | Visibility: 10.0 miles | Sunrise/Sunset: 07:55 AM (PST)/04:19 PM (PST)

A completely worthless use of my time, but an interesting exercise. I may end up using this.

WA’s Supreme Court orders Ballots Counted

From the Seattle Times Breaking News service:

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 1:56 PM

Supreme Court orders King County to count disputed ballots

The state Supreme Court ruled today that King County should count hundreds of recently discovered ballots in the hand recount of the still-undecided governor’s race.