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What's on Jason's Hard Drive
Pages: 1, 2

Step Four: Other Assets

Under Perforce I keep a lot more than just scans. Each employer or client I've had gets a subdirectory related to that employment and the work I've done there. By convention I give each employer or client an immediate biz subdirectory holding the electronic paystub or PO and invoice records along with scans of any agreements. This is one of those cases where maybe those things should go in misc-legal. When in doubt, soft link. Try that with paper!



These days electronic books are becoming popular, so I created a /perforce/ebooks area. In there I keep for example ebooks/pragprog/pragmatic-automation.pdf, a book from my friend Mike Clark.

I've long had a /perforce/hacks directory to hold little personal hack programs I don't want to lose. It holds the code from my freshman year poker-playing game (written in Pascal!), my senior year lread program (to read a Linux filesystem from DOS), and of course several recent handy XQuery utilities. It's also a good repository for hacks friends share with me that aren't public. By putting the files into Perforce, they easily move with me during machine upgrades, while other little-used files get left behind.

Ever since my first digital camera I've had a /perforce/photos area to hold any digipic I would be upset to lose. They take up space (raw space times three because of my replicated system) but that way I know I'll always have them. Too many people lose all their photos when a hard drive fails. Photos that don't make the Perforce cut get stored on an external drive hanging off the Mac server. It's a single point of failure, but oh well. I didn't like them much anyway.

Under the /perforce/photos directory I keep subdirectories oriented by date. For example, photos/20050506-hawaii holds images from a Hawaiian vacation in May. Sometimes when various people take pictures of an event, I put their copies in subdirectories of their name. I use ACDSee to view my photos. It makes is easy to view directories or groups of directories at a time. I wish iPhoto on my Mac would understand hard drive organizations more.

Last but not least, I keep a /perforce/writing subdirectory. It holds things like, well, this!

Here's a skeleton view of everything I've described. A quick check shows I presently have 28,000 files under Perforce with 1,500 of them under scans, so naturally what you see here is just a wee sample:

perforce/
    scans/
        financial/
            taxes/
                20030519-form5498.tif
            loans/
                20041111-acura-tl.tif
            fidelity/
                20060531-statement.pdf
            vanguard/
                20060531-statement.pdf
            receipts/
                personal/
                    2005/
                    2006/
                donations/
                    2005/
                    2006/
                reimbursed/
                    2005/
                    2006/
                selfempl/
                    2005/
                    2006/
                        20060224-cell.tif
        autos/
            2004-tl/
                20060511-15k.tif
        house/
        misc-legal/
        fun/
    ebooks/
        pragprog/
            pragmatic-automation.pdf
    hacks/
        lread/
        nedpoker/
    photos/
        20050506-hawaii/
            IMG_0447.jpg
    writing/
        javanet/
        javaworld/
        oracle/
    sgi/
        biz/
    marklogic/
        biz/

Last Tip

Last tip: I've had a great experience keeping a "work journal" file (stored under Perforce of course). My journal file consists of two parts, separated by an easy-to-search-for and appears-nowhere-else marker such as ----. Above the line I place past accomplishments in chronological order organized by day. Below the line I list my to do items, priority ranked so the more urgent ones are on top. To be future-proof and OS-resistant I keep the file as simple text.

I started the journal the day I met Tim O'Reilly and received the offer to write the book Java Servlet Programming. It helped me track my progress (I averaged one chapter every three weeks), record discoveries, and remember people I needed to talk with and their contact information (I can't put everyone in the Palm Pilot). After a hard day, the journal shows me exactly what I accomplished, and years later the record is still there. By keeping the record in the virtual world it seems more real to me. Go figure.

Sometimes I feel like my best job description is someone who moves things from below a line to above it, eternally changing "to do" items into "how I did it" entries. I do search back on the entries quite often to remember things. The steps to do a JDOM release, how to move funds to Fidelity, and the location where I found the cool tcsh shell for Windows are all things I look up. As of today it's over 440,000 words in a 2.6 MB text file. It seems that I average 250 "words of work" per workday.

I hope my habits and conventions can inspire you to dig out of the paper pile in your office. If you have ideas to share, I'd like to hear them. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and note in my work journal that I finished this article!

Jason Hunter is Principal Technologist with Mark Logic and the author of Java Servlet Programming.


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