How's your progress report coming along?

So you've begun building a robot... it's even making good progress toward your first... or maybe even the second main goals for the build and spirits are high. Life is good. Unfortunately these projects always seem to take longer than we think they will... but how do you determine how long a project will take?

I think Michael Shimniok, of Bot Thoughts has the right idea (see progress report above). A simple list of taks to complete with a rough estimate on the state of their respective completion is definitely a step in the right direction, but with 10 or 15 more minutes of your time, you could put the data in a spread sheet and have it nicely visualized for you.

If you're wondering if it's really worth it, I'm telling you; the benefits of data visualization are HUGE. Take this image from time magazine for example:

The data itself could be interesting to read over, but the way it' s presented in the image, you can understand and take in the data much, much, much, much faster. A chart of population vs region for the entire US would be daunting (see: US Census Bureau), but the visualization communicates the information effortlessly in less in 5 seconds. Not to mention, it also makes analyzing the data simply delightful!

There's also the fun of slowly working accomplishing the goal and watching your progress as you go along. Which is why I think Michael's Fire Fighting Robot, has got a fighting chance... even though it is his first robot build (The Computer Science background helps too *wink*).

We all know how I feel about it now... so how do you track your progress?

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