Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Busy day...

But what did I do, exactly? Let's see.
  • Biked to work 7.30-8.00.
  • Logged in and answered emails while I cooled down, then put coffee on and went for a wash and a change of shirt.
  • One email from IT about closing down an unwanted system brought a phone call from a senior manager looking for a Plan B; could our system do this, this, and this? Checked with our developers and sent him a "Yes, mostly, but why not do it another way, like this?" That took 30 minutes.
  • Follow up a job about two year-old essays a lecturer wanted Turnitin to give back - because she'd lost them and some kind of appeal was going on. I think TII will come through with the goods.
  • A magnitude 4 aftershock at 9.15, just to let us know who's boss. Apparently there were several other smaller ones today but I didn't notice them.
  • Started to work through a software testing plan for an order form that will be part of our delivery of course reader booklets this year. Most students will download them from Learn, but some have to be printed, and the order form has to work properly. After an hour we worked out what to do, and started plugging through the tests and recording the results.
  • In between testing, dealt with half a dozen routine emails and phone calls from various people; lecturers, help desk, senior managers.
  • Received an email from an IT Dept tech who has been asked by a lecturer to install a peer-marking package. Tech thought it was a web application, but he hadn't looked very deeply, he was just looking at a sample web site. We are expected to install the web application on our servers, with no quality control or testing, not even a clue about who'll pay for the web traffic or what the URL should be - before the 21st of February, please. Hmmm, this should be a major project; I parked that for later and went back to testing the order process.
  • Made lunch and couldn't help carrying on with work while I ate. (I did watch a couple of Youtube clips linked from an email.) I should go and sit somewhere else and take my allotted hour, but I end up back at the keyboard nearly every day. I compensate by taking an hour and a half lunch break, with lunch and a drink, or maybe even two, at the Staff Club on Fridays, with a regular group of 8-10 people from the IT server group.
  • After lunch a visit from a new analyst from IT who is looking at systems used by a pre-university preparatory programme (not officially UC, so not in our Jade system) to see if we can take over some of the functions of their despised old system. Maybe, but it will take some custom programming by our developers and it's not exactly core business. To be continued.
  • More testing. By this stage all our test students had ordered everything they could find so we had to keep asking Paul, one of our developers, to delete the database entries so we could have another go. I know I should do it myself, but I'd take ages and probably make mistakes, and he does it in seconds.
  • Discussion with one of our learning advisers about ways to clone parts of a template course to many courses at once.
  • Met with our team leader to discuss conference bookings for the year. We are going to be lucky if we get one conference each this year, while our counterparts in other universities and polytechs are going to several. I just don't understand how Canterbury can be so poor compared to the rest. Or is it just management being grumpy?
  • More testing, eyes falling out by 4pm so I stopped and sent the results to the test consultant. We should finish it tomorrow morning, with luck.
  • Answered some final emails, had a cup of tea, went and changed into bike gear to go home.
  • Slow ride home, mostly into a strong north-east wind.
  • Cooked dinner; lasagne and coleslaw. With 1/2 a bottle of a pretty ordinary cab sav - I bought a case because it was cheap, now I manfully plug through it out of a sense of duty. Or dipsomania.
And that's it - another day in the wonderful world of e-learning. No wonder it's a bit hard to explain my job to people.

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