Goodbye activeCollab, hello ProjectPier

The project management application I use extensively for some of my tasks has turned its back on the open source beginnings that attracted me and, I’m sure, many others to it during its initial versions.

ActiveCollab is a clone of the popular Basecamp project management application. The main difference is that while Basecamp is a hosted service with various account levels, activeCollab is something you install in your own server and on which you have full control.

ProjectPier PROJECTPIER. The ProjectPier installation that replaced activeCollab in my webserver. I’m using the goCollab monochrome theme that came it.

The project management application appealed to do-it-yourself type geeks who wanted to host the data on their own and deal with less restrictions on accounts. Plus, it was free.

When it was first released, activeCollab came with an open source license and that was what attracted me to the project. I thought it held promise of being a very powerful and useful project management application if developed by an active community of users.

But the developer has decided to stop open source development on the project. Development will now be closed source, at least on the core features. The next release, version 1.0 due out next week, will also not have a free version. Your only options for activeCollab 1.0 are SmallBiz ($199) and Corporate ($399).

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Manage your tasks with Accomplice

The recent Internet connectivity problem in the Philippines has allowed me to try several software packages in an attempt to replicate the task management that I do online. Before the connectivity problems, I managed all my tasks (personal, blog-related, work-related and other collaborative chores) using an installation of activeCollab.

accomplice EASY TASK MANAGEMENT. Accomplice helps you manage your tasks easily and collaborate with other users. Click on photo to view larger image.

With Internet connectivity deteriorating to the level of the days when flickr would have been dismissed as a wrongly-spelled word, I managed to download several personal information managers (PIM) and tasks managers through the only reliable connection I had left, the office PC, for use at home and in my laptop.

I initially thought of using Sunbird, Mozilla’s calendaring software, in conjunction with Google Calendar. But after searching for possible solutions, I still couldn’t find a way to synchronize Sunbird installations in multiple PCs using Google Calendar. I’m crossing my fingers that Sunbird’s coming version will be able to not only grab data from a Google Calendar account but also add entries to it.

I then tried Chandler, the open source PIM released by the Open Source Applications Foundation, but its hardware requirement is rather steep: a processor with a speed of at least 2 gigahertz and 512mb RAM.

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Re-installing my life: the perils of keeping everything online

For more than a year, I have been moving my data online as part of an experiment to make the network my computer. With the telecoms disruption caused by a recent earthquake in Taiwan, my world crashed.

As I write this, the Globelines Broadband connection I have at home is still horrendously slow. It is a 7.8 mbps line to nowhere. I was giddy upon seeing for the first time the notification that my connection to Globelines is 7.8 mbps (it used to say 2 mbps). Now, the notice feels like a taunt.

It takes about as much time to load pages with Globelines Broadband right now as it would take a Sinulog contingent to finish a dance. To say the connection is as slow as molasses would be to overstate the viscosity of the substance.

It was a good thing that I use Gmail for mobile application in my phone, a Sony Ericsson k750i using a Smart pre-paid subscription. I can open my GMail messages faster on my phone than I could using Globelines in my home PC. Half of the time, I couldn’t even get past the Gmail login screen when I use the Globelines connection.

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New screencast on using a TiddlyWiki

I’ve recreated my earlier video guide on using a TiddlyWiki, a single-page wiki you can use for your notes and task lists. Instead of Wink, I used CamStudio to capture screen activities this time.

Wink is an easy to use free software to capture videos of your screen activities and it’s great for creating tutorials. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t offer an option to capture screen activities in video format (i.e. mpeg or avi) so that it can easily be uploaded in video sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe, and Revver. Wink outputs the screen activities in .swf and .exe formats.

My previous screencasts– one is on how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme–are in .swf format and hosted in the Internet Archive. I’ve had complaints on its playback quality and how it can be slow at times so I decided to try hosting it other video services. These services, however, do not accept .swf files so I spent days trying one application after another to convert the files into .mpg or .avi formats to no avail.

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Use activeCollab to manage your projects online for free

I have long wanted to install a project management system in my web server. I have gone through a couple of open source project management scripts, from eGroupWare, more.Groupware to dotProject and yet somehow I never found a PHP/MySQL script that was easy to install and use but at the same time fit my needs.

I had wanted to manage my tasks using groupware applications hosted on my server. I don’t do a lot of projects and the bulk of my time is spent on newsroom tasks. But often, I have to deal with different groups of people or even a separate department for some of my personal and work-related projects. I wanted to simplify and centralize all these tasks in an online task manager.

I gave up on installing a script in my own server and instead used Basecamp’s free account and even PBWiki for projects that required me to work with other people.

In July, however, I read a post in TechCrunch about a Basecamp “clone” that was released as an open source project. I immediately checked the site out and fount that activeCollab required a PHP 5 server. Since I was on a web host that only had PHP 4, I just bookmarked activeCollab and made a note to try it in a local server.

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Down

I was downed by the flu for several days this week. The mercurial weather more than a week back took a toll on my out-of-shape body and for the first time in a long while, I had to go on sick leave.

I used to stave off fever by drinking liters (yes with an s) of calamansi juice and eating a ton of fruits. It didn’t work this week. For days I was too weak to work and to use the computer. I just lay in front of the TV and watched a marathon of documentaries on National Geographic and Discovery.

The first thing I did when I recovered enough to spend time in front of the computer was to attempt installing activeCollab, an online project management software that had been earlier described as a “clone” of the widely popular Basecamp service of 37 signals. I succeeded on my first attempt and installed Active Collab in my server without a hitch. I’ll be writing about the tool later.