Friday Again Already?

I just don’t understand where the time goes anymore. It only feels like yesterday that I wrote the last Friday article, when my Mac pinged me that I had to hit the keyboard again. So, what did this week have in store?

Merlin Project 4.1

Tweet by Gareth Watson

Naturally, the dominant topic was our new version 4.1. Even though it’s not my turn yet – thanks to our German depreciation laws – to get a new MacBook Pro, supporting the Touch Bar was very important to me.

In particular, many of our partners were really looking forward to the new version – and also got busy tweeting about it (for an example, see the tweet on the right). I’m really looking forward to seeing how great an impact the Touch Bar will have on day-to-day work. Maybe I should just pop into an Apple Store, where (hopefully) the first range of demo devices will be available.

Merlin Project vs. Merlin Server

The number 1 question on the phone this week was: “What’s the difference between Merlin Project and Merlin Server?” So I thought it would be a good idea to explain it again here, but in a different way. You use Merlin Project on your local Mac, where you create and update your projects. If you want to work with other people or use other devices simultaneously, you use Merlin Server. Merlin Server is a separate product, which you need to install on one of your Macs. As such, it isn’t a cloud service.

To use it, you publish a project on Merlin Server. Following that, other people or your other devices such as your iPhone or iPad can subscribe to the project. It is loaded onto the device and only edited there.

Our synchronization feature is the magical bit. Whenever this device is connected to the Internet, the local version of Merlin Project attempts to communicate with Merlin Server:

  • "Is there any new data for me?" or
  • "I’ve got new data for you!" followed by
  • "Let’s compare all the changes and synchronize what we find!"

But best of all, you don’t have to do a thing: All the magic happens in the background. And if you’re offline, Merlin Project will wait patiently until you’re online again.

You definitely need to buy Merlin Project; only Merlin Server is optional.

Living without email on the iPhone

Inspired by a blog post by Lars Bobach and one or the other discussions on the PM Camp in Dornbirn, Germany, I’m also trying to live life without email on my iPhone. Something that Lars Bobach said really struck a chord with me:

"Somehow my brain seems to have associated waiting time with email checking."

That’s so true. I associated every free minute with checking my emails – no matter where I was ;-)

I’ve been testing it since Tuesday and can at last simply switch off more often. I’m able to take more time to think about topics rather than just react to them. In return, I also read emails more carefully. Now I only wish that emails could be better thought through now and again before they’re sent ;-)

Now I must get back to doing what I need to do. Bye for now…

Posted by Frank Blome on November 25th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday

Und plötzlich war schon Freitag!

Frank Blome
Foto: @schlosi

In dieser Woche kommt die Freitagskolumne verspätet. Aber ich habe eine sehr gute Begründung für die Verzögerung.

Es ist allgemein bekannt, dass ich ein großer Freund des PM-Camps bin. Gleich, ob in Hamburg, in Frankfurt am Main oder bei der Mutter aller Unkonferenzen zum Thema Projekt-Management in Dornbirn. Ich würde liebend gerne (llink: text: text:jede verfügbare Konferenz target:_blank) besuchen. Nur leider habe ich nicht die Zeit dafür. Aber so zwei bis drei schaffe ich pro Jahr.


Posted by Frank Blome on November 19th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday

Friday Again Already?


Lately, I’ve regularly found myself asking the same question by midday every Friday... I think you know well enough now how the rest goes from previous Friday articles ;-)

Essentially: What did I have on this week?

The TouchBar comes to Merlin Project

I already announced it soon after the new MacBook Pro was presented: Merlin Project will of course support the TouchBar. After this, I was bombarded with emails, some of which contained very detailed ideas and requests. Many thanks for these!


Posted by Frank Blome on November 11th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday

Friday Again Already?


Lately, I’ve regularly found myself asking the same question by midday every Friday: “It’s midday Friday – how could this week have rushed past me yet again?” Yes, I really do ask myself this question just like that – and never like the often-said TGIF (thank god it’s Friday), because I like to work. My motto is “FAA” – “Friday again already” ;-)

So I’m taking some time again to review some of the topics that have caught my attention these past few weeks. Maybe I’ll even manage to throttle back a bit... Or as consultants say: “Decelerate”.

Microsoft Teams, Slack, and all the rest

The trend continues. Since this week, MS has also entered the chat-tools fray. Now dutifully integrated into Office 365 comes the next all-singing, all-dancing tool. While Microsoft Teams isn’t a big issue for us at ProjectWizards in particular, there does seem to be a trend towards companies integrating their own chat tools into their software. A prime example of this is Evernote with WorkChat. The problem I’m increasingly confronted with is that I find myself needing to rummage through loads of programs when searching for a specific discussion. Why don’t vendors simply support existing, compatible systems? In Merlin Project, I simply add a link to an info attachment, for instance, and hey presto I’m in the thick of the topic – and the discussion continues in the specialized system (here’s an example):

Addind a link inside your project plan

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing what you think, so tweet me or drop me an email with a short comment.

Tools we use

Talking about Evernote, I’ve been asked numerous times whether I’d be willing to tell you which tools we use – apart from Merlin Project of course. So I thought yes, why not.

First off, you need to know that we don’t have a centralized structure. This means, our staff can work wherever they want to get their job done. “Headquarters” in Melle is just my assistant (and combined wife) and me. That’s why there’s only one small common denominator concerning our must-have programs.

  • We develop using Xcode and manage the source code using Git.
  • User documentation is written in Asciidoc and managed in Git.
  • Internal documents are organized in a variety of ways using Evernote.
  • Support queries are answered via Kayako, but we’re working on changing the system.
  • Oh yes, and we organize projects – in case you’re wondering – using Merlin Project.

In addition to these, each member of staff has their own favorite tools. In my case, these are:

  • Keynote for presentations
  • Things for organizing all those little tasks that don’t need full-blown project management. For viewing in Merlin, we developed an Action Script many years ago now.
  • MS Excel for anything involving figures – I am the CEO after all – Chief Excel Officer ;-)
  • And of course, the usual suspects that come with macOS, like: Mail, Calender, etc.

Almost forgot: As Merlin Project supports Mind-Maps, I’ve never needed to open any other Mind-Map app ever since it has. Obvious, right? ;-) If not, the usual applies: If you’ve got any questions or comments, simply get in touch via Twitter or send me an email.

Now I must get back to work. Bye for now...

Posted by Frank Blome on November 4th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday home office

Friday Again Already?


Recently it happens regularly that I ask myself the question at the latest on Friday around noon; "Friday noon, where has this week gone again"? Yes, I really ask myself this question in this form. And not as the universally quoted TGIF - "Thank God is Friday"; because I like to work! So my motto is FAA - "Friday Again Already" ;-)

So now I take some time to review selected topics of the last week. Maybe I will succeed in slowing down this speed a little... or as the consultant's slang says: "deceleration".

New start page

Not only the software but also our website is regularly maintained. In the last weeks it was the turn of the homepage. Now it contains more than just a nice screenshot. Now you can find a general table of contents on the first page and immediately see what's new. You can now also find this column under "Latest News". What did one of the developers call it: "The mother of all start pages"? ;-)

New Macbooks

It was so overdue! We all sat in front of the computer and watched the live broadcast of the keynote. And when the TouchBar was shown, many of us experienced an initial spark: What is Merlin Project going to do with this TouchBar? Zoom in the Gantt, open and close groups? There are so many possibilities! One thing is certain; we will support the TouchBar as soon as possible. But we still need your help. What would you like to do with it? Write your wishes to our support.

Not a new Mac mini

Unfortunately Apple did not update all devices, so it was predictable: Shortly after the end of yesterday's keynote I received an email. "Unfortunately no new Mac mini has been released. Can I run Merlin Server with the old Mac mini without any problems", a worried user asked. Completely problem-free! Of course, we all want new hardware, but the requirements of Merlin Server are so small that any system running macOS Sierra or El Capitan can easily run Merlin Server. And for the beginning of next year we hope to have more hardware. The rumour mill is already boiling again...

Well, now I have to get back to work. Bye for now...

Posted by Frank Blome on October 28th, 2016 under Internal
Tags: friday

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