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Colours of Autumn

I would like to show you a few photos of the autumn countryside, taken by my old camera. All photos were taken in the West part of Czech Republic, close to town Manětín.

This beautiful tree grows close to a missing town Kalec.

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Project and Time Reporting with Freedcamp and Power BI

There are many project management applications which you can use. Probably the best known is Microsoft Project, the very sophisticated business application which is used by big corporations with many ongoing projects and employees. However, Microsoft Project has so many features that a user needs tens of hours to manage it fully. This means that the app is too complicated (and also too expensive) for small business or personal projects. In addition, it is a desktop app and it cannot be used on mobile devices. Most users nowadays prefer web apps which do not need to be installed and updated on their devices.

To make things easier, many overviews of these apps have been written. I did some research on these articles two years ago to find the best application for my personal projects (like blogging, tutoring, language studying etc.). First I tried Trello. Despite being the most recommended application on the market, I had missed some features there (especially a time tracking) so I decided to delete my account and to try something else. My second choice was Freedcamp and I have been using this app since then. (Just a small note here: I do not want to say that Trello is a bad app, on the contrary, I admit that it has a very nice and intuitive user interface. It just is, like any other app, not ideal for everybody.)

This Spring, developers on Freedcamp have released a beta version of API which allows you to connect Freedcamp to another application. This brings a huge amount of new possibilities of using Freedcamp. In this article, I would like to show you how to use API to get data from Freedcamp and present them in another app. I have selected Power BI, a popular analytics app. Of course, you can select any front-end app you want (such as Tableau, Qlik, Microsoft Excel etc.)

To present data in a Power BI report, I have developed a simple .NET app. The app loads data from Freedcamp and stores them in an SQL database (hosted in Azure). You can see an example of one report in a picture below.

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There are two charts in the picture. The one on the top shows time spent on different projects this year (the columns show months and colours projects). The left down picture presents how many tasks of the projects have been closed this year. The table contains a list of recently finished tasks with an information if the task was closed in time or not.

And one more example. I created a customized Eisenhower matrix with three fields: the Do First field, the Schedule field and the In Case of Free Time. I also added the pie chart with a count of open tasks by project. As you can see, this article is one of two Do First tasks.

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As you can see, I use both tasks and time in my projects so I need to load projects, tasks and time records data.

Let’s look at the app. I will share the code of the app with a brief explanation.

Though I have experience with T SQL language, I used Entity Framework in the code (mostly to gain more experience with it). Entity Framework creates database structures (mostly tables, but indexes as well) and arranges data loading and saving as the application loads and saves objects instances. (In my opinion, Entity Framework allows extensive usage of LINQ and makes the code shorter and easier to read. On the other hand, it can make debugging much more challenging.)

Freedcamp uses an API key and an API secret to secure your data. If a user wants to have the API key with no expiration date, the API key with a current timestamp hashed with API secret has to be provided. The timestamp is generated by the GetTimestamp function and then encoded by Encode function. Both key and secret are loaded from the app.config file.

Summer Trip to Scotland

I made a summer trip to Scotland last year with a group of people. We made about 9 bike trips across Scotland. Here you can see a map of all our trips. You can see all my photos in my Flickr album.

The first trip was from Tinwald through Ae Forrest to Beattock. This locality is known for a lot of winter power plants, which have been built there recently.

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Another beautiful place was Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

Scotland has a lot of very stylish stone churches. This one is in Kilmarnock.

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The Beginning of Spring on Chlum Mountain

We had very sunny (but a little cold) weather last weekend. Here you can see some photos from Chlum Mountain (651 meters) that I took. Maybe you will like it.

Here you can see Manětín Brook. You can also check my photos from The Valley of the Manětín Brook from last year.

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This used to be a nice log cabin. Unfortunately, it has been damaged. I do not know when or by whom.

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