Explanation of intermittent downtime on Sunday, 10 Jan 2010

January 11th, 2010

Did you have trouble reaching Voo2do on Sunday evening? Here’s a quick explanation of what happened:

  • our hosting provider’s internet transit provider had some network problems
  • these problems made Voo2do inaccessible from much (but not all) of the world
  • no data was lost or corrupted
  • this issue was not specific to Voo2do and affected many of our provider’s customers
  • our hosting provider is investigating why this happened so it doesn’t happen again

We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused, and are assured by our hosting provider that they are tracking this down. They’re good, competent people, and these sorts of problems are exceedingly rare, so this is unlikely to reoccur. They’re publishing updates on their blog.

Welcome to a brand new version of Voo2do!

December 24th, 2009

Good news: our scheduled downtime is over, and the new version of Voo2do is now available for everyone to use. Go try it out!

New features include:

  • instant save – no more clicking the save button
  • expanding description column – more room for big screens
  • improved email handler – accepts most language encodings and HTML mail
  • new user interface elements – new calendar widget, notes dialog box, and context organizer
  • many little fixes and improvements – and, thanks to our beta testers, not too many bugs!

If you run into any trouble at all, please email me:
support@voo2do.com

Otherwise, have fun and let me know what you think!

Completed Successfully: Downtime Wednesday 12/23, 8pm-12am Eastern time

December 22nd, 2009

This maintenance period has concluded and Voo2do.com is back up. Thank you for your patience.

Follow Voo2do on twitter for updates.

On the evening of Wednesday, 23 Dec 2009, Voo2do will be down for up to four hours. During this period, a new version of Voo2do will be released.

The downtime will start at 8pm (20:00) US/Eastern time, or 5pm US/Pacific time, or 1:00am on Dec 24 UTC/GMT. This time period was selected to minimize impact on the global Voo2do user base.

The work will take between two and four hours, after which all users will get the features of the new Voo2do version that’s currently in beta. (Future updates won’t generally require downtime; this is just an unusually major update.)

As a user, no action is required on your part. If you were expecting to use Voo2do during that period, you may want to prepare by printing out your tasks. Otherwise, expect an improved Voo2do come December 24!

Happy Holidays!
Shimon Rura
support@voo2do.com

Open Invitation to Try the New Voo2do Beta

December 16th, 2009

Thank you for reading the Voo2do blog. I’m happy to announce that a new version of Voo2do is available for open beta testing.

A handful of people (including me) have been using the beta for about a week now, and I’ve been responding to their requests and fixing a few bugs. I’m now confident that the beta is working well and ready for wider use.

So– you’re invited to give the beta a try! Just login using your existing Voo2do email/password at:
http://beta.voo2do.com/

When you login, the beta will automatically copy your data from the main voo2do.com. You can also re-copy this data anytime, so you can experiment with the beta as much as you want. If you like it, feel free to switch to it permanently — just change your bookmarks and the address you use for submitting tasks by email. Once the beta test has concluded, this will become the main version of Voo2do.

New features in this beta include:

  • automatic saving of task changes as your edit (no more save button)
  • expanding description column – more room for big screens
  • improved email handler – accepts most language encodings and HTML mail
  • lots of little improvements and bug fixes

I’m hoping you’ll find many things to like about the new version. It represents a major rewrite of much of Voo2do, so if you run into any problems please email me and I’ll do my best to address them promptly.

And as always, your feedback (on this blog or to support@voo2do.com directly) is welcome and appreciated.

Thank you,

Shimon Rura, creator of Voo2do
support@voo2do.com

Voo2do Discussion: Sharing my story

July 23rd, 2009

I just posted the following message to the Voo2do Discussion Group; feel free to respond in the comments below or join the group.

Hi Everyone,

As the developer behind Voo2do, I’d like to welcome you to this new discussion group. My goal here is to listen and learn from users of Voo2do, in order to make Voo2do better.

I want to do this by better understanding what’s working and what isn’t. I don’t mean this in a strictly-software way; I’ve always thought that Voo2do is more about teaching and facilitating a process, and the web application is one way to do that. So I’m especially interested in learning about how you use Voo2do, and what brought you to it.

I’ll start with my own story. The event that started me toward Voo2do was a stern meeting at work. You know, the kind where two of your superiors sit you down and tell you how you’re screwing up. And this wasn’t some pointy-haired bozo at a throw-away job. These were two
senior engineers, smart guys I respect, telling me how my blithely missing a deadline had messed up a bigger plan.

“We know things sometimes take longer than you first expect”, they said, “but we count on you to tell us when things go off track. You need to pay more attention to your deadlines, and communicate any new information right away, not just when it’s already late.”

I felt like a failure. But I also knew there were a lot of people asking me to do different things, and I was losing track of what was due when and to whom. I started looking for a system to track all that, and found Joel Spolsky’s “Painless Software Scheduling” [1].

Joel lays out a very simple system — set up a spreadsheet with columns for the feature, task name, priority, original time estimate, current time estimate, along with time elapsed and remaining. I started using this system at work.

For the first time I had confidence that I wasn’t inadvertently slipping past deadlines. When someone came to ask me to do something, I’d stop and think about it, and I wouldn’t promise to do it until I could put it in my spreadsheet with a time estimate and deadline that felt honest and realistic.

The difference was dramatic, and I didn’t have to have another one of those talks.

After a few weeks, though, my spreadsheet was cluttered. I kept having to reorganize tasks so they’d show up the way I wanted — ordered by deadline and then priority, with completed tasks in a separate section. And I wanted the same system for projects I spent time on at home, although the spreadsheet file was at the office. I wanted a way to add notes, and maybe something that didn’t look as sterile and boring as a spreadsheet.

So I started working on Voo2do. I made it my mission to keep the system as easy and appealing to use as possible, which was challenge for my techie mind — I’d never though so hard about color schemes or help text. I launched it in August 2005, and it quickly exceeded my wildest expectations for popularity.

Since then, I’ve continued maintaining and using Voo2do. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t added any significant new features in a couple of years. I’ve been focusing on other projects, but now I’m drawn back to working on Voo2do and reconnecting with the other people who use it.

I’d love to hear the story of how you’re using Voo2do, and where you’d like to see it go in the future.

Thank you,
Shimon Rura

Footnote:
[1] See Joel Spolsky’s “Painless Software Scheduling”. Joel now says that Painless Software Scheduling is made obsolete by Evidence Based Scheduling, but that’s mainly a judgment on its power to predict a release date for software built by a multi-person team. On an individual level, the data each person needs to track is pretty similar.

Voo2do Tips, Tricks, and Ideas Discussion Group

July 21st, 2009

Want to share your tips, tricks, questions, and ideas about Voo2do? You’re invited to join a new Google Group for Voo2do discussion:

http://groups.google.com/group/voo2do/subscribe

I’m starting this group because I’ve decided to resume work on improving Voo2do, and need your feedback to figure out what to build and fix next. Plus, if you want to share some suggestions, questions, or even gripes, this will let other Voo2do users share in the discussion!

Now Open Source!

October 14th, 2008

I’m releasing the Voo2do software for the first time, under the open source GNU Affero GPL version 3. You can get this release, which is version 1.8 of Voo2do as running on voo2do.com, at:

http://blog.voo2do.com/wp-content/voo2do-dist/voo2do-1.8.tgz

Enjoy! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at support@voo2do.com.

Voo2do for Authors

July 2nd, 2008

Monica Valentinelli at the Words on the Water | Freelance Writing Blog has a thoughtful post on professional freelance writing. After a review of the financial benefits of fiction vs. nonfiction writing, she covers the process of working as a writer and managing the projects and various people involved. She suggests using a tool like Voo2do to track the many ongoing tasks a writer faces.

Though I’m not a writer, I recognize a lot of the same concerns from my work as a software developer. You have a variety of bosses expecting different deliverables at various deadlines. They all get angry if you run late, and even angrier if you don’t tell them you’re running late until after the deadline. It’s probably even harder for writers; I often feel like I need some hard-to-invoke inspiration to finish a software project, but the role of inspiration in writing a story has got to be much greater.

Still, it’s good to know that Voo2do can help writers with their work just as it helps me with mine.

Brief Downtime Tonight for New Server Transition

April 27th, 2008

Update: The transition was completed successfully. If you see anything broken, please email support@voo2do.com.

Hi everyone! Long time no post. I hope Voo2do has been treating you well.

I’m leaving my job with Renesys. They’ve been kind enough to host voo2do in their data center for about 405 days. (I know this because the server has run continually since installation.) Anyway, since I’m leaving, I’m moving Voo2do onto a new server. To make the move, Voo2do will be down briefly tonight. Total downtime should not exceed an hour.

This blog is already running from the new server, so please feel free to post any comments/questions here. Thank you for your patience.

well, that sucked.

March 24th, 2007

The server that previously hosted Voo2do crashed on Friday March 16, 2007 due to a hard disk failure, bringing down Voo2do and some related sites (like this blog) along with some of my personal web sites. Long story short: Voo2do came back on the 19th and I’m gradually reassembling the rest. Long story here.

I apologize for the inconvenience and thank everyone who wrote during the outage to offer encouragement and support. Thank you all for your kind words and continued interest in Voo2do.