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Monday, August 29, 2005

Work Isn't Sucking

So, after many months of boredom and feelings of major dead-ends at work, things started coming back to life here last week. Things got much busier because fall enrollment opened. This led to some entertaining HelpSU tickets. I think my personal favorite came from a Symbolic Systems student:
Axess's course search/browse feature is frankly atrocious. It is written in a bizarre and suboptimal manner.

From a search result list, the link to a Detail view is not a hyperlink, but rather a javascript action. However, this javascript action sets variables in a form, then posts the form! The variables transmitted in this form could easily have been GET variables instead. Furthermore, not that much information needs to be transmitted to view details for a particular course. in particular, all you need is its primary key in the database -- that's only ONE variable.

The javascript POST'ing breaks the most useful feature of the old axess: you could do a search to open a big list of many courses, then for courses you wanted to read more about, you could right-click and "Open in new window". Many, many students used this.

The current system performs so miserably that it is extremely difficult and frustrating to use.

Now, sure, there was no actual question there. And there's little or nothing we can do about his complaints since we're now using PeopleSoft delivered functionality. So I told him I'd pass on his comments, but that he should probably forward it to PeopleSoft/Oracle as well as it is their design.

Anyway, I also had another interesting ticket about the Law Lottery, so I asked, and it turns out this process has never been documented. So now I'm in charge of documenting it. Max and I sat down for an hour and a half and went over what he knew. Next I'm going to go talk to the Law School registrar and see what she can add and what questions she can answer. Then I get to document it all and present it to the team next week. Sounds like fun to me. (Yes, I'm weird.) Also, Anh is leaving the team, and she was previously scheduled to teach the Grad Admissions course on October 13th. Now that falls to me. We started going over the classroom materials and basically it turns out they're all painfully out of date and in desperate need of revision. So, next stop is to revise the manual, take out the excess flotsam, and get it reprinted before the class. This should be fun. Also, I'm teaching SA Basics again on Thursday, and after that I'll have gone through enough of the existing manuals to justify revising that course and getting those reprinted as well.

So basically I went from bored out of my skull to having lots and lots to do very suddenly. This makes me much happier at work. Add to that a potential coup I'm currently stirring (involving my finding a way to create a new team and place myself as the lead), and maybe, just maybe, I can grind my job back into something I want to have. I mean, leaving Stanford would have some pretty big down sides. Where else am I going to get 4 weeks of vacation a year, plus 3 days of PTO, plus 2 weeks of sick leave?


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