Warning:Big soppy whinge coming up!

On the corridor wall directly opposite my office door there hangs a large poster describing the pulsar catalogue now available on our website. The catalogue is a superb piece of work, Albert, George and Maryam did an excellent job putting together a very useful tool for our website. Astronomers around the world have used it and sent their compliments.

Over the last eight months I set up an internal tool which allows staff to apply for overseas travel funding. The convoluted approvals process is all done online. Initially everyone was more concerned with the visitors coming to Australia for the IAU General Assembly. Now I just get bug reports and requests to modify it due to management policy changes.

I didn’t even get a break once I released the travel form. It was straight into building a content management system from scratch and two new websites for IAU related activities (the IAU Virtual Press Room and the Astronomy Festival sites). My supervisor didn’t even know that I had done the Astronomy Festival site until after she complained about some information on there (not my fault!). Now that all the events are over she was quite disinterested in the technical side of it.

What irritates me is that I put a hell of a lot of technical development into the last few projects, more then for anything else I’ve done, yet nobody gives a damn. There is no paper to be published, no poster on the wall, and everyone prefers the old paper forms (except those who have to administer them). Even though I wrote the travel system, I’m one of those staff members who will probably never use it. I doubt if anybody overseas needs to hear about designing workflow solutions. There are plenty of big companies who do that and as an isolated developer I am probably not doing anything new.

It’s not just me. Many of the other computer staff don’t get enough recognition for their efforts either.

Undoubtedly, part of the problem is mine for not selling myself more (especially with the end of my contract coming up in less then six months – I hope if is renewed!). It would be nice just to have some sort of sense of completion at the end of a project, a day to stand back and at least admire my own work before taking the next step. I don’t know if it’s ever over with software. The next step is usually a bugfix.

That’s enough of me feeling sorry for myself. The next step is to find ways of being appreciated, if only for survival in my job. I’ve begun compiling a monthly newsletter full of webmasterly advice which I intend to make available to everyone. It’s a start, and the information should be useful to a wider audience then just my organisation. Let’s see what else can be done.

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