01 January 2009

Happy effin new year indeed

I'm not really as grumpy as the subject line makes it sound, well, okay, maybe.

I have a first draft of a pub due out tomorrow.

Since it is based on an open source partnership type of affair the theory was that I could slice and dice the partner's documentation, do a little re-branding by eliminating what didn't apply and call it good.

There have been a few bumps along that way. First was the how we differ -- fairly radically as it turns out but finding ways to "just edit it" have been challenging. It isn't that I don't understand what the tool is trying to do -- essentially a fast track for queries based on data trends, etc. but the lingo is not my strong suit.

I've already found stuff in the interface that isn't documented in the original pubs and tracked some of it down to determine that it doesn't apply to our particular situation and otherwise been a PITA at finding gaps that need to be filled before we can release the product on a user but I can only really identify the gaps not fix them with words.

I can walk down the novice user path but there are screens that would appear to be for the power user and I have no idea how to 'splain what the heck the user might want to do in those tabs.

Anyhow, the plan was, armed with my killer flow diagram, I'd hack out a decent draft, deliver it ahead of schedule by Wednesday at the latest and spend the 31st through the 4th fighting the good fight with the stable muck out, server shift (still pondering whether I can just crib the xconfig info for the flat screen, plug it into my old server's xconfig so I can use the flat screen on the old box and at least eliminate the issue of the dying monitor), knitting (poor fish afghan) and maybe even some exercise.

Well sod that.

Monday I ran headlong into the Xmas break brain erase problem when I couldn't for the life of me figure out what snippet of info I might be missing between roll your own and use the advisor. So I decided to explore a different path that hadn't really been fleshed out because it was supposed to be a secondary focus of the product. Found the email specifying the URL, plugged it in and all I got were warnings and errors.

Okay, shift gears, document the stuff I know and work with the software to refresh my memory and hit screen shots at every turn. Walking down that path I discovered that there was a highly non-intuitive user interface gotcha. Suddenly my manual has to include an interface guide and a bit of tap dance 'round the fact that selecting and highlighting are different and do very different things.

Graphic artist is on vack-y and so I can't do the full tilt image map or even a serous mock up. Well, not without Framemaker imploding or so I found out late on Monday.

Tuesday morning I fired off an email to my main SME asking about whether I'd missed some config on my side that created the URL warnings and errors issues then I set about the business of trying to write the interface guide and clear up any other can write without supervision bits.

No email reply, no out of office. No nothing. Mind, I still have a draft due and I want to be as solid as I can make it especially since I know that there's a huge amount of rework coming as we deal with the schema source and algorithm issues and all of those changes are going to be slamming right into my master's programme.

Radio silence on Wednesday too so the plan for the draft out and weekend was devolving into putting out utter crap and looking like I couldn't be bothered to hang about to get updates or scrap the personal plans and even if I still put out crap at least be able to show that I was trying to fill the gaps.

I stayed in the office working several after the traditional holiday "all clear" and I might have stayed later but given the commute and the particular holiday, I rolled home round about 4pm with work on my mind.

So I got one day off for the new year and I spent it unloading, moving and reloading a bookcase and a secretary filled with rather precious bits of glass, china and such.

I also fired off a few emails, played some phone tag and spent some quality time being frustrated by the whole server shift story. Left to my own devices, I'd probably be picking at and tweaking at least the Xconfig monitor story so I could reliably send and receive emails through my familiar mutt and emacs environment while trying to figure out how to get myself where I need to be with all my network ducks in a row to start work on the master's by next Wednesday.

Why it is that KDE and emacs seem to not be able to talk is beyond me. Emacs installed, executable no where to be found so WTFO? I'm seeing mutt as even more fun but I really like how I do email and I don't want to change.

Good luck with that. Okay, so maybe I am that grumpy.

I'll roll into the office in the morning, I'll probably end up putting out crap as a draft and I won't much like it and might well get crap for it but at least I will have tried.

Sadly, I feel rather the same way about the server stuff. I want to embrace the new but it frustrates me in that it automates some things that I welcome being automated and others I'd really rather it left alone. As ever with Linux, I'm in mad grey world where what I want to do is somewhere between the accept the standard and the total tweak it and my skill set is neither nor.

Again, so maybe I am that grumpy.

Still, the furniture got moved and almost all of the books that were displaced found a new/old home. Shockingly, the don't really want to continue to own stack of books was much smaller than the no, no, I really will get 'round to reading that stack.

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