Monthly Archives: October 2005

Personal Development time, take 1

Hmm, I see I need to make time to do more entries here; my original goal of one a day proved unrealistic, but I need to do at least two a week.

Today we had our first Personal Development Time, instead of a staff meeting. It was interesting: I got to watch (and occasionally help with) a Solaris 10 installation, and got some reading done on Object-Oriented Perl, which i hope will help my scripting and make it easier for me to create programming tools usable by others.

UCS folks, please take a look at the Personal development Time wiki page (created by Mike Ross.) Feel free to add your own ideas, comments, suggestions, experiences, whatever you please! It’s a wiki, after all.

Personal development time

Travis had a good idea about a different way to spend the time we normally take in staff meetings.

I like the idea of personal development time; right now, I have to get up early and drive in to work without knowing whether there’ll be a meeting. I don’t mind it too much, because coming early means I get to leave earlier, but it can be a pain when I was here too late the night before. (Luckily that doesn’t happen too often, and when it does, it’s generally either my own fault or else totally outside anyone’s control.) Knowing I would have a chance to work on my own stuff would give me a better motivation to come in those mornings.

I’d probably spend the time learning stuff like advanced CSS coding, because that’s something I’ve fallen behind on but would really help me with web page design. It would also be nice to work on automating some of the more repetitive tasks I need to so, like feeding webserver logs into the Urchin log analyzer, and setting up web permissions, and stuff like that. I have a serious case of “programmer laziness”; I get frustrated having to do the same stuff over and over, and would rather build a tool to do it for me, even if it takes longer to build the tool! I’d love having time to do stuff like that.

Busy week

It’s been a busy week so far. I finally got to all those web permission requests I’ve been needing to do; if you’re still waiting on one, please let me know, because it means your request has fallen through the cracks somehow. I also got a bunch of public_html websites fixed; I know I didn’t get all of them, so if yours still isn’t working, please let me know.

I made a bit of progress on the event calendar, but not as much as I would have liked. I think I can still get at least a basic version of it done, but it’s going to be close, considering I have one and maybe two meetings tomorrow and need to get the weekly FAQ ready.

Events calendar

Well, I was hoping to have it done sooner than this, but the event submission form is live. It feeds into the existing database (with a couple of extra fields kindly added by Summer.) Next I need to get the actual calendar display working from the database so they don’t need to code it by hand anymore. Plus I still have a stack of web requests I have to get to. Sorry, folks! I should be able to get to most of your stuff tomorrow.

Future FAQ topics

Just so you know, next week’s FAQ will be about the Sophos Antivirus program we bought over the summer, including instructions for home use. (It’s free to members of the WOU community, just as Command Antivirus was.) The one after that will introduce the calendar that’s built into Communications Express. I’ll probably be on vacation the week after, so there won’t be a FAQ that week, but they should continue on a weekly basis after that.


OK, crunch time is starting to ease off, for me at least. I’ve still got a lot of random acount cleanup to do, including tracking down people whose V-numbers we can’t find.

Next week I get to work on the Public Relations event submission form and calendar display. That’s going to be interesting; I get to use the PHP scripting language, which I find a lot more fun to work with than the PL/SQL language that we’ve done a lot of our web development in. (My favorite programming language is still Perl… maybe I’ll talk about that sometime when I feel like really boring everybody. ;-} ) Another upside of PHP is that it’ll give the PR folks more control over the look and feel of the system without having to come to us for changes.

I have about a week’s window for that, and then I need to work on the Web migration. We’ve already got a new webserver running on a much faster box than the current one, and we need to get the website files moved over to it and its name changed so leads there instead of the current server. The new server will feature an all-new search engine, which will hopefully be an improvement on the current one.

A bit of advance warning for the people who are reading this: we’re probably going to have to reset all the editing permissions on the website. They’ve gotten entirely too tangled over the last three years. I’m going to need to go to each department and find out who has permission to edit what, and make sure they are still able to do that on the new webserver. At least once that’s done, we’ll be able to get rid of thiose little batch files everybody has to run now to connect to the W: drive.

Anyway, I’ve worked my ten hours today, time to go enjoy my three-day weekend!