Monday, October 29, 2012

Post#16 Done With Budget Set Up

I've completed the basic Budget Set Up and reviewing the performance against budgets. Currently, its completed with Reports, it still needs to be integrated with Dashboard Graphs. But I've decided to keep it aside for the time being.

I'm preparing myself for hosting. For that, I need to make some general pages, such as hmmm.... Home Page!

I'm really bad at visual design. I admit it. Hence, my attempts at creating a home page came a cropper. None the less I soldier on. There is no expert help available here. Its a one man show. So, it will embody all my shortcomings... That's just the way it is.

Once I'm done with these generic pages, I still have to work a little on consolidation, commenting the code and clean up before I go live.

The biggest nuisance will be making it compatible with IE8. Currently, IE8 breaks the application on most pages... This is going to be a headache.

I expect a bunch of defects to roll in as and when anyone other than myself tries to use it. Also, a flood of feedback. To track all that I think I need some system. I think I need to write a small usecase to track these.

Another disheartening thing struck me while I was writing the "How it works" section. It sounded like a lot of work to upload a statement. I always thought of it as a challenge but writing about it made me feel like it was a huge mountain to climb and most people will give up halfway. The value comes only if we get over the hump, and it sounded like crossing the Alps...  Sigh!

In the long term, I think I'll be the only one using it. But I'll use it anyway... I built it for myself, right?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Post#15 Managing Rules

When I tried uploading my actual statements, I realised I needed a way to edit the rules. You create rules based on your immediate needs and you try to make them generic. Unfortunately over time a different type of transaction comes along but gets caught in generic rule. One needs a way to analyse and correct this. Hence rules review is like a cleanup activity one needs to perform from time to time.

Interestingly, given the size and complexity involved it was completed surprisingly fast. Reuse and experience can improve productivity by a big factor.

Now for the big one. Creating custom reports. It's the same as creating your budget goals and tracking them over time. This is the one I've been moving towards all this while. It's now time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Running On...

I've decided to give up my Gold Gym membership. Not just because its expensive, which it is. Its because, a friend of mine got annual membership for Rs. 8500 at Andheri. I'm Rs14K. The difference is too huge. These days, I've stopped going there for weight training. I only use the tread mill. My Community Gym is well equipped. I do not do heavy weight training and hence no need for extra sophistication . I told this to the service guy, when he called up for renewal. I asked him for Rs.10K. I thought it was a fair offer, he reduced to 13K, I decided to give it up.

I'll miss the running sessions. I liked the treadmills there. Not because they have TVs. I never watch TV while running(even at home I don't)... But they are very stable and sturdy. They are broad and have nice cadence.

My gym has treadmills too. But they are a little unstable. Also, there is no AC. It gets a little stuffy...

My membership will end this month. From now and end of the month, I'll use it to the hilt... Even today, I did   the entire half marathon. In fact 21.3Kms and did it in my personal best time on treadmill :) 115 min. If only I could keep it up, I sorely want to finish this time in less than 2 hours.

From Nov, I'm hitting the road. Lets see how that. My biggest concern is my knees. Even today they hurt a bit...

Post# 14 Wrapping Up Reports / Dashboard

I'm on a High... I've used and I'm a subscriber to ICICI Money Manager. has a gorgeous interface and some awe inspiring graphics. I give it to them, it fetches all the transactions and categorizes them for you.

But then they fall short. Lets take a couple of situations...
- I made some big ticket purchase in March. I want to consider it for my annual expenses, but do not want to to screw up my monthly averages.
- I went out with friends. We split the bill. I paid using cc but my friend reimbursed me his share.
- There are some annual purchases I make. I want to Tag them. Not just categorize them per category.
- I withdrew cash and made some cash payments. Especially in India 40% of the payments are in cash. I want them squared off against my cash withdrawals.
- I have some recurring cash payments every month. I don't want to enter it every month
- My FD matured, I want to split that into principal and interest. Principal should be ignored from calculations, while the interest should be counted towards income

All of this is now possible in my site. And it has Google Visualization Graphics. Though not as stunning, they are pretty nifty..

The best part was the client side script I wrote. I get grouped amounts to the client side and then render the data in various views at client side itself. The graphics take time to load from Google along with the data. Once loaded the views are created in a jiffy... I love it.

Now to take it live...
I'm gunning for Diwali. Need some major clean up activities before that. Hope to close it out before that.
Mind you, even with all I've achieved, its only 20% of what I want. This will keep my busy into 2013...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Post#13 Dashboard and Graphs

Having done the reports I've moved to the dashboard. Conceptually these are similar but the dashboard will eventually have a lot more features. Especially when I implement goal setting etc.

For graphs I'm using google visualisation API. It's a great tool to use and I'm only beginning to learn it. I will not use much of its muscle power. I'll use bar chart and pie charts mostly.
Hope to use dashboard tools too to reflect trending.
I've already completed the barchart and working on the pie chart. I plan to host it once this piece is done. Probably close to Diwali.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Post#12 Incremental Continued...

Incremental has an amazingly long tail... While in Bhopal, I did make some progress, but nothing new to show. Just a bit of stuff here and there. Here is what I did
- Discovered spring API to handle exceptions. Much better than the interceptor I wrote. The problem was, the exceptions did not bubble upto the interceptor if I just let them keep going up... So here comes a little help from Spring org.springframework.web.servlet.handler.SimpleMappingExceptionResolver. Nifty little helper. All I did was to extend it and it did exactly what I wanted from my exception handler, which is if its a runtime exception, don't catch it till it reaches the top. I tied this up with AfterThrowing advice, which collated all the important information about method arguments and logged it all together in one place. It worked. I then went around removing try-catch from all the DAOs. At the end of it, I now have a custom 404 and error page along with some useful logging.

- Improving on jqgrid. Though I did get most of the information to look okay, there were some pieces, that did not look okay. So spent some time cleaning up JQ grid. For example, put the navbar on top as well as bottom. Putting "View x of y" etc.

- Changed the Tag Transaction Page to show actions only when you check on any of the loaded transactions.This proved tricky. It's true. If you have a page that does a lot of stuff, you will go crazy untangling the permutations. It seems to have stabilized for now. But I'm sure, it'll change again.

- I also introduced modal for loading. I used jqueryui dialog for the purpose. For the loading icon, I found a very useful site Truely useful. My need is simpler than what dialog offers. Let me see how I can strip it down.

Bhopal and its irresistible charm

I was away for about 4 days. I had gone to my native place. And it never ceases to surprise me. 4 days of decadence. Landed on Friday evening. I was handed a bottle of beer just as I entered the car. One for the road... or to kick start an extended weekend... I usually prefer the train but Friday was my nephew's birthday and so I decided to fly instead.
At the birthday party, I was welcomed with a round of neat Whisky(Chivas), just to set the tone. And thus the party continued. After wrapping up the party @midnight, I drove to another friend's.  Back to beer. But let me confess. This place had the best view of the city. Absolutely awesome. Its a residential house converted into a Service Apt. I was just blown away by the view. At night, you could see the entire shoreline lit by streetlights the interconnect road. It contours the shore for good 5 kms. Here are a couple of shots.

Day time and a night time scenery for posterity...