Week Note 2

November 8, 2012 – 6:14 pm

Ok, so it’s been a while since my last week report. Sorry, habits are hard to form.

Family flew back from our Colorado trip, landing Sunday morning. The great thing about “computer work” is that one can do it anywhere, so I was able to work while I was away. The bad thing about “computer work” is that one can do it anywhere, so I was working while my family were on holiday. This is really hard to do in a satisfactory fashion: work outstrips available time, one is not with one’s family while THEY are holidaying, and the resulting conflict between what one must do and what one should do leads to stress. At least, it did for this one. (Bitterly amusing: was easier to take calls while on the road in Colorado than when 10m from my home in New Zealand; the Vodafone coverage at Goat Island was abysmal)

I listed Mandeville Marketing. JP has done right by us: he’s working fast, he’s helping us navigate the fraught territories of printing costs (“if you change this grey to black, you’ll be able to use the same screen here and here, which saves us the set-up cost there, which …”), and our just-in-time colour shirts will happen.

And I rattled up some more registrations. This conference has been my first where I get to see real-time counters for registrations, web site hits, and so on (normally I see every action in my mail queue, so I see transactions rather than counters). I’m addicted. It’s great to send out an email blast, or drop a line to someone influential, and see the results right away.

This week was challenging for time management: I’d set up a bunch of meetings that were queued from my time in Colorado, the band began rehearsing again (ahead of our Wellington Bluegrass Society gig on 8 Dec), I had school business to catch up on (I’m the chair of the local school board), and two friends from America came to visit during their NZ trip. Juggling all that, plus getting web sites tweaked and emails written and pixels perfect, was quite the stress.

I was happy today, when the stress came off and I could do some fun coding. I wrote GayNews for a lark. It prefaces all the nouns in the Radio New Zealand news stories with “gay”, in honour of our Prime Minister’s rather homophobic ladding around on the radio. Source on github.

From the “I get by with a little help from my friends” department: Rob Coup helped me with some mighty pesky details around Javascript placement, noscript areas, and gzipping via Apache. Earlier in the week, Matt’s help with the mega image on the devmob site (I had forgotten to compress it to reduce file size!). Thanks, guys–you’re saviours!

I was part of a panel interviewing candidates for a teaching position at our school. These kinds of decisions are never easy, and it was great to go through the process with our principal. A key part of it was picturing the way the school would function with each person in the job, and how we’d make the most of that situation (and then sleeping on it to make sure our analyses could withstand the cold scrutiny of daylight). We had three great candidates, each of whom brought great things to the position. I’m confident our kids will thrive in 2013 with our hire. (Can’t reveal more: candidates are being notified as I write)

We had our first school policy review session where things went as they should. Policies are a paperwork minefield for boards: until you see it done right, there are a million possible ways and all but one of them lead to needless wordsmithing and bureaucracy. We are reworking our policies to be on that one path, and finally got some benefits! In short: if the policy is written as simple, verifiable, statements (“the Principal shall report monthly on …”), then reviewing the policy consists of asking (a) did we do each of those things, (b) how do we know, and (c) is there anything in the policy that needs to be added/deleted/changed? Much easier than getting a doc and everyone putting their pencil into it with no idea of what the right way to go is.

Right. Next week is talks, board meetings, and getting Kiwi Foo invites out the door before Devmob happens on Saturday. Peace, out.

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