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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Phase 1 complete

Tremendous feeling of satisfaction tonight as, at the end of a long day at the office (8 hours + 7.5 hours overtime) I finally completed phase one of my project to digitise / automate as much of the teaching jobs admin process as possible.

For the past two months or so I've been working on my first ever MS Access database. It's not especially complex - for someone who's created databases before it would probably be very easy - it simply keeps a record of all our current jobs, and produces multiple reports detailing the status of the jobs in different ways for different staff.

For me it was a huge challenge. There's been countless times when I've come up against a brick wall, unable to come up with the code that would make it do what I wanted it to do. In those situations I found the best thing to do was to think intensively about the different possibilities ...then let go and sleep on it. I can recall several occasions whereby when I went back into the work the following day the answer was there, hanging in the air, waiting for me - PING! and it worked!

The past couple of weeks have been a little frustrating at times as other work has started to pile up, and I've been unable to put any time aside for making final tweaks to the database to get it from a sort-of-working state to a fully functional bugless thing worthy of putting real data into. Thus the overtime. It's my own choosing - I could not do any overtime and continue along the gradual progression route, but it's reached the stage now where I really want to make the switch.

For one thing, as of this week I'm responsible for managing certain aspects of jobs in progress. Thus, there's a bit of self-imposed pressure to get this up and running asap so I don't have to use the existing analogue recording techniques (paper and whiteboard). The switch has also necessitated the reorganising and renaming of a complex web of files too, something I started last week but was only able to finish tonight after a few hours on the job. ooooh you should see my hierarchical archives now, boy are they sexy!

So yes, tonight I feel good. Following a fair bit of testing I started using the database - and it works perfectly! I'll continue to extend it over the next few months in order that it can help simplify tasks for more people in the office. The hope is that within a few months or so everyone is benefiting from it, being able to immediately obtain whatever data they need to get on with their jobs.

And now it's time for bed.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Orchid64 said...

Congratulations. :-)

I bet you can really feel that you've acquired skill and learned a lot just in your first month or so. That's rather what it's all about.

11/12/08 08:00  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thank you!

It does feel good :-)

I started using the database today and couldn't quite get over the fact that it does what it was designed to do. I'm already thinking 'How on earth did we manage without it?! - The white board is no more!

11/12/08 23:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, matey.
I bet its a huge relief.

12/12/08 23:41  
Blogger lehcyfer said...

Many years ago I accidentally found a great way to find the answers faster than to sleep on it.

After I exost all the ways I can find and think of as an solution to the problem I face, I let it go, and instead I take an encyclopaedia (I've got an old one in 4 heavy volumes - I suppose one can use the random selection at Wikipedia instead) open it randomly and read one entry after another, fully immersing myself into understanding and visualizing the subject matter and its consequences.

It's hard to believe, but usually after 5 or 10 entries I suddenly got an "Idea!" experience - I know exactly what has to be done - I put the book away and work on the idea immediately.

Not only it's lightning fast in comparison to sleeping with it, but also you learn sth at the same time!

17/12/08 23:03  

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