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Cow Thoughts

Ever have one of those days?

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Ever have one of those days where you actually accomplish a lot, but you don't feel like you've accomplished anything?

For example:
I've done nothing but change clothes, shower, and work on ADISC since getting home from work. That was two hours ago.
During that time, I've solved a ton of minor issues, like:

  • Proofread, edited, and sent the monthly newsletter.
  • Dealt with about 100 (automated) emails, such as bounces (each of which must be processed).
  • Investigated a half-dozen auto-blocks placed by our software on suspicious-looking activity.
  • Fixed outgoing mail (broken by the recent replacement of our mailserver software), so I can now reply to emails.
  • Investigated and ultimately disabled an inter-site linking system, since we had over 70 pages of useless links, dating back to 2008, awaiting approval.
  • Created a system to identify key differences between the versions of ADISC, to make future maintenance and version control easier.

I don't know about you, but I only really feel like I've accomplished something if I can take something off one of my main "TO-DO" lists.

For example, doing a reboot test of ADISC (where the server is powered off, powered on again, and we verify that everything comes up correctly) counts as a substantial task, because it has to be perfect - the server is in a datacenter, and I cannot access it physically should something go wrong. So, this is an operation that must be co-ordinated with their technicians, and I must take a complete backup of everything beforehand, just in case. This reboot has particularly great potential for problems because we recently did a complete OS/software upgrade, of everything from the kernel, to the webserver, the mailserver, the database server - basically all the import back-end parts of ADISC. This will be the first time the system will boot with the new OS (though the server software is already running fine).
That reboot test is on my list for later this week.

Another example of a substantial project would be generating a list of everyone who has gained/lost DC/TC status since the new system came into effect last year - identifying any incorrect cases, and tweaking the algorithm used to determine DC/TC status accordingly. That's tricky because there's no "do-over". Once someone changes status, you can't just say "oops" and revert them back to the old one. People would not be happy if that happened.

Another example of a substantial project would be recruiting a new staff member. A general-purpose moderator to help out with the requests forum. Or someone to help with my "updating ADISC's web presence to attract more people we want and no people we don't" project. Or any one of about a dozen positions I would, ideally, like to fill. (If you're reading this, and tempted to put yourself forward for one of these positions, please don't, unless you have highly relevant experience and an excellent reputation on ADISC) Adding staff is a big project because the new people will have to meet some pretty strict criteria, and will be dealing with a lot from day one, so they must be both smart and willing to work hard at making improvements.

Days like today, where I solve a dozen minor things, just don't feel as satisfying as days when I can announce a shiny new thing to the world.

Perhaps I'm just irritated because I lack blood sugar.
On that note:

  1. Today's lessons are:
    1. Don't get frustrated if you have to tackle lots of small problems rather than one big one. Over time, the small ones can add up to a big difference!
    2. Sometimes, tackling small problems can be a great way to make the best use of your time. For fun, see how many you can solve in an hour! Or a day. Try to beat your previous record!
    3. Shiny new things are not going to help you if you can't give them the maintenance they need.
    4. If you feel grouchy for no reason, ask yourself: "when was the last time I ate?". The answer may surprise you.

  2. I'm taking my own advice (#4), and getting my dinner. Right now!

Listening to: On days like these, I can change the world


  1. LeonSoryu117's Avatar
    I feel your pain, Moo. Today I cleaned my room, cleaned my brother's room (I still don't know why I even bothered) and vacuumed some stuff. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter because my brother trashed his room and people ran up the stairs with their shoes on. And my brother started fighting with me- which just put everyone in my house in a bad mood. Don't worry about it, shit like that just kind of happens. 1000 small things feel less worth-while than 5 big projects.
  2. whip's Avatar
    I often dislike the fact that I do a lot of work, I can list them out and go, that's going to take some time. But after it's all done, there is nothing to show for it. Such as announcing an important bit of news to everyone. But all this behind the scenes housework is needed.

    My Project at uni has not gone anywhere in the past 2 weeks, not had anything new to show in a while. I was mostly reading into how to get certain parts done. I can tell you a bucket load of how the project is going to work, but I haven't got it to work yet, with everything I tried. Only until yesterday did it show something. I managed to get some useful results. They look very similar to the results I had 4 weeks ago. But they are significantly different. Just got to pay closer attention to the detail, and realize how complicated I made the thing.

    But I do enjoy ToDo lists. I always feel like I have done something as I tick through it. I just don't know what shall go on my ToDo list for small projects go. I still have a lot of odds and ends I haven't done in my uni project because they should be easy. But I have other things on my mind, or the first solution didn't work and another one needs looking into.

    I have written down for my project stuff that I did every day over the past two weeks. You'll be surprised what you do, do when you look back days/weeks.
  3. Near's Avatar
    What I've gotten more often where days where I've worked really, really hard but haven't actually been able to accomplish anything substantial. It happened to me a week ago: from 11 until the end of my work day, the only real time off I had was my lunch break; the rest of the time I was running around trying to fix printer-related issues. I spent at least one hour trying to troubleshoot three different printers, and in each case I got stuck for various reasons. I mean, I ended up doing what I'm supposed to do as a level one when you get stuck, which is forward to others (forwarded one issue to someone from printing solutions, sent a printer to the tech shop for repair and got a more experience tech to deal with the third issue), but it's still profoundly depressing to work your tail off for a good 4-5 hours without being able to actually accomplish anything except filling out bits and pieces of paperwork.

    Those kind of days where more common at my last internship (since I was expected to administer a Windows Server network despite me having no experience in the matter), days where I was in the same place in the evening as in the morning despite spending the whole day working hard. At least there I had moments where shiny new pieces came into production. For example, I always enjoyed doing work on the email server, since it was the email server I had installed, configured and migrated user too, pretty much all by myself - being able to see the solutions I installed in action made all the bad days - even the ones caused by reading trough Symantec's dreadful documentation or trying to run four instances of Windows Server 2008 on one laptop (and it's four gigs or ram) - worth it.
  4. kevintje's Avatar
    It seems like you don't take enough pride for what you have accomplished. Presenting us new and shiny things are nice, but keeping the forums running smooth is worth a lot more then something new and exciting that later gets in trouble because of bad maintenance.

    We don't say it enough, but I (and a lot of other people I'm sure), consider this place as one of the most important places on the web, a 'home' if you will.
    The work you put in it are mostly done in the background, so many of the people visiting don't even have the slightest idea of what work is needed to keep this place running as smooth as it does, of course there are problems, and people will always find a reason to complain, but compared to other diaper forums, this one is the most dedicated I've come across.

    you probably can't do it much (with all the work and such), but try and take some time to 'visit' this community instead of running it, only then can you see it for what it really is.
  5. Gaius's Avatar
    As to #4, you can expand your question that you ask yourself to H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?)
  6. Descolada's Avatar
    Sounds to me like you keep yourself too busy. =P

    I consider a day wasted if I haven't watched at least an hour of TV and spent another hour doing absolutely nothing. - the Adult Baby / Diaper Lover / Incontinence Support Community. is designed to be viewed in Firefox, with a resolution of at least 1280 x 1024.