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Full Stop

The sidebar of this site proclaims that Oddball Update is home to “rants”, though precious few have appeared here in recent years. (As it happens, my last post — in which I complained about the direction Microsoft is taking with the Xbox One — may be the closest thing in a while.) Approximately five hours ago, I thought for certain that I was going to post a real, full-fledged rant here tonight. I’ve cooled off significantly in the intervening hours, which is probably for the best, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got officially Too Much Shit Going On™ at the office.

I’ve needed to come up for air and after the past month or so, this last week in particular. A couple months back, I was promoted to the head of the company’s Small Projects Team, which was then newly-formed as a unit which would handle smaller professional services contracts while our senior project manager deals with with the two multi-year corporate contracts we recently got. Since he’s got his hands more than full, my unit was to pick up the slack in case any further business came in the door.

And come it did; just since the Small Projects Team has existed, we’ve had three deals materialize and roll through to completion (or almost completion in the case of one of them), and a fourth is potentially on the docket right now. We brought on an intern to help out with development and although he’s inexperienced, he’s proven to be a very fast learner and in fact developed one of our small projects on his own (while being shadowed by his — and my — direct superiors, both of them seasoned developers).

Since he is the only other member of the Small Projects Team right now, I had to do the development of the other projects myself. That’s when I put myself in “crisis mode” as the deadline for every project that came my way was always right around the corner, and I was always learning things on-the-fly. That went on for about a month while I worked two contracts to completion, after which I had an even bigger task in front of me: the launch of our company’s new website, and our annual product refresh along with it.

We’ve been trying to get a new web presence launched for the last two (maybe three) years. Since I’m the only person in the company who can do 90% of the work that a website relaunch entails, from graphic design and front-end engineering to SEO and marketing, this was always getting put off as other projects arose that needed my immediate attention. The website was sidelined for almost the entirety of 2012 because of a product we were rushing to complete before it consumed all of us like a singularity. When that product finally went out the door around the first of this year, we decided it was time to make a full-court press with the new website.

Except that’s right when all these professional services contracts struck, necessitating the formation of an entirely new team and enough hiring to require that we actually move into a new office space large enough to house everyone (we expect to finish relocating by the end of the summer). The difference is that this time there could be no compromise on the website, as we had a lot of balls in the air that were dependent on it. So we started the big juggling game.

Our new intern was instrumental in getting the groundwork for the site put together so that I could come back and fill out everything, create the graphics and wire it all up. Due to all the emergent priorities I’ve had all year, none of this even started taking place until three weeks ago, which was three weeks before the site launch deadline.

The only way I kept myself from laughing out loud at how much work I actually had to do in three weeks was to not even think about it. I slaved over one task at a time, triaging the entire job with the singular goal of getting the damn site out the door by the first of June. It all came to a head this past week as launch weekend loomed large, and I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights working as late as 4 or 5 in the morning in order to get it done. But it did get done.

After the launch, of course, there were numerous issues discovered, particularly since the new design was riding along with a major architecture change that saw us getting rid of the abysmally awful CMS system (DotNetNuke) that we’ve been using for the last ten years and going to a lightweight, responsive static page site parsed by ASP.NET. So after the site launched in the wee hours of Monday morning, I got right back on the stick and started hammering out bug fixes, tweaks and additions of things that I’d deliberately held back to make the launch date. Last night I stayed up until 2 a.m. completing some server upgrades and writing up all of the release notes and launch PR for our new product refresh, which also rode along with the website.

As I sit here right now, my eyes feel like they’ve been soaked in acid, yet I’m running on so much nervous energy that I’m still wired as hell.

I’m taking Friday off to try and recuperate, which I would have done anyway even if my boss hadn’t repeatedly insisted upon it (which I certainly appreciate). I was originally going to take an additional half day or maybe even full day on Thursday too, but as it happens, I’ve been hit with not one, not two, but three additional “emergent projects” that need immediate fire-extinguishing, and two of them I am very behind on thanks to the website stuff and some dumb infrastructure problems that the client themselves instigated. In the end, this works out for the best because instead of this Thursday, I’m going to plan to take next Friday off — which also happens to be the release date for The Last Of Us, Naughty Dog’s latest PS3-exclusive game set in a post-apocalyptic world. (I played a little of the demo last week, and it was excellent.)

So I’m a little frustrated and a lot exhausted right now, but it’s great to have made such great strides — finally! — with our company website, and I’ve already gotten a lot of nice compliments on it. I’d also forgotten how much I love doing that kind of stuff; I wish I did not have so many damned continuous fires to put out, because I’d really enjoy about a week’s time to just nitpick the site to death and spend that time really fine-tuning and spit-polishing the thing to a high mirror shine. But I don’t even have time to respond to emails that aren’t strictly on subject with the emergency work I’m doing, so that’s off the table for now.

There have been plenty of good things happening in the past few weeks which I’ve neglected to mention on here. Over the Memorial Day weekend, for example, I built a new desktop computer for myself. It had been almost seven years since my last PC build, and although I didn’t put together the mother of all rigs or anything, I now have a very respectable Core i5-3570K (unlocked multiplier) in a freaking awesome Cooler Master HAF XM case. This is obviously quite a step up from the Core 2 Quad machine I had before, and with the 250 GB Samsung 840 series SSD drive I added, the improvement is even more noticeable.

I’m about ready to crash so I’m going to close the book on this post now, but next time I’m going to wax philosophical about the state of the video game industry and perhaps even unleash a rant or two about the increasingly mobile-centric nature that said industry seems to be taking. This is top of mind right now because of today’s announcement that the new Deus Ex game will be targeted at iPads, not next-gen consoles or PCs as some had speculated (E3 is next week, after all), which disappointed a lot of hardcore gamers, myself included, who have tried and learned to loathe action shooters on tablets where there is a conspicuous lack of physical controls. Anyway, it’s a topic that would be sure to incite a flamewar, if I actually had any commenters.

And now I’m off to see if I can recover some of the sleep I’ve lost over the last week…

3 thoughts to “Full Stop”

  1. Whew. I knew you’d been busy, but I had NO idea so much was going on.
    You must feel a huge sense of relief to have gotten so much done! (I can sort of relate 🙂
    Time to reward yourself with something fun and relaxing. Women refer to it as “self-care,” and it usually involves things like manicure and massages. For me it’s more like a trip to the bookstore – I’m sure you have your own version 🙂
    Whatever it entails, do it and enjoy it. You’ve earned it!

    1. I wish there was time for relief. I took today off as a mental health day, then I get a call about a client freaking out because I’m behind on work for their project. Almost every one of the high-value, long-term contracts we have outstanding require vast amounts of my time, everyone is pissed off and wants immediate satisfaction, and the resources to provide it (read: me) are not only insufficient to deliver on all necessary fronts even on the best of days, but are currently two months deep into a state of slow burn. It’s like the airline that double-books seats, except this time we’re triple-booking or worse.

      It’s not gonna end well for someone.

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