Wondering Where I Am

- - posted in Ancient Archives

Another summer disappearance comes to an end and I begin to live normal hours, and do normal things like watch TV, have a lie-in at the weekends, and not work every day. For the first few days there’s an edgy feeling and twinges of guilt: why am I not working? How many days left?

A notoriously workaholic colleague has described me as a fellow workaholic, but this isn’t accurate: I’m a seasonal workaholic. When I was interviewed for my current job I was warned that I should expect to be very busy in August and September. A code freeze in early August means the crunch occurs back across July too. I code, I test, I worry. Then each mid-September fifteen thousand new students arrive at once and get their IT account details. The dust settles, the code freeze thaws, the sleeping tablets are put away, and I go back to my usual work. This is my third year, and it’s gone very well.

Looking back, I’ve not got much to show for my work life so far. A few multimedia CD-ROMs on shelves in schools, a few pages buried in the Wayback machine, and a few scraps of config files from my sysadmin work (at most - upgrades and replacements soon wash away anything a sysadmin does). I am however very proud of my recent work: I’ve been able to do things properly - capacity planning, unit tests, automated acceptance testing, agile methods, clustering, documentation, accessibility, even watching and interviewing users. And it worked. It’s a very good application, possibly the best of its type in the world, with potential to be even better. I’ve had to put in a lot of extra hours to do this and still carry out my everyday work, but it was worth it. Even the sleepless nights worrying about what to do for 15,000 students if Bad Situation X occurred were worth it.

I left my previous job as a sysadmin with script-hacking skills, and I’ll leave this job as a sysadmin, identity management specialist, and successful developer.

Unfortunately the leaving might be sooner than I expected. The twist in this happy tale of development success is that higher management were seemingly unaware (or uninterested) in the account provisioning process (it was just something that happened) but now seem to be busy reorganising everything. Individual and team responsibility are out, procrustean micromanagement is in. The new way says that development should be centralised, and that a web developer can write complex identity management software better than an identity management specialist. I have been informed that a web site is just a web site, domain knowledge does not exist, and LDAP, SQL and encryption are technical trivialities.

It was good while it lasted. The past two years have been the best two working years of my life, but I’m going to look elsewhere if my role is dumbed down too far. Now that I’ve finally experienced job satisfaction I’m not going to give it up easily.