A bit temperamental

About three weeks ago we had our research system vendor deploy a patch that for all purposes looked to work perfectly. We should have known better.

Historically patch deployment to the server has always been hit and miss, sometimes we are lucky and a patch has no flow-on effects. Then, other times, despite our best efforts at testing a patch it will only reveal its hidden gems after deployed to production. Sometimes his has been linked to slight differences between the PROD and QA environments, but other times it has been linked to the patch affecting areas that were not associated to begin with.

Our most recent patch involved a patch to our batch communications functionality, we use this to generate documents that are then inserted into a record’s attachments. The latest patch was relatively minor, just correcting functionality that prevented our showing effort to 3 decimal places. The patch worked as expected, first time too, thus we happily requested it deployed. Oh how I wish we hadn’t as this had a flow-on effect to our schedule alerts functionality, these simply stopped running the next day.

Since then we’ve had our vendor and IT Service department working to try resolve the issue, they’ve argued between one another as to the cause, but still we’ve not resolved it. Thus, I am forced daily to run reports manually, sometimes taking up to several hours depending on the number to be run.

The start of July kicked in and I opened Outlook, checked the folder to which we have a rule redirect the scheduled alerts reports, my heart skipped a beat, the reports had run on the 1st. I did notice though that only 1 report had run on the 2nd which was unusual. It was now that my suggestion to our vendor for a daily digest of reports statuses would have been oh so useful, I had suggested an enhancement around 6 months ago whereby a daily digest would show the list of reports run, the number of results returned and whether a report had been generated; currently you are left guessing whether the report ran and whether there were any results.

As I later discovered my glee would be short lived, indeed the alerts had run, though their execution ceased at 10pm on 1 July as reports scheduled for 11pm onwards did not execute. My supervisor did try to console me by letting me know when he’d had to look after this task one time he’d had to manually run the reports for 8 months before the vendor and IT Services managed to resolve the issue, I didn’t feel terribly consoled.

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Day off, and what do I do?

Are you like me? You have a Monday booked off to enjoy a long weekend then promptly log into your workplace webmail to check what’s going on. Not once, not twice, but multiple times throughout the day.

It’s sad, really. But that’s exactly what I did today, and I answered one or two emails too. Ugh! Someone take my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro and lock them away, clearly I am incapable of just stepping away for even a day.

Why is it I do this? Nothing was critical and urgently requiring my attention, yet I felt compelled to do so. No pressure by my employer for me to do so I might add, all my end.

Perhaps I need an app to block my access to these sites / apps for specified dates that once I enter lock out dates and/or periods I cannot get around it. Do these even exist? I’d probably need to stop myself uninstalling said app too LOL

Small steps I guess.

NBN in

And we’re up and running, it was relatively painless all things considered. Thankfully dad had advised to unplug my old modem before my time slot, thus thereby avoiding device compatibility issues that would lock our port.

I was surprised at not having to enter any password information to setup the modem, just plug in, turn on, and after up to 15 minutes all was done. In reality it was far less than 15 minutes, more like 5, but the sticker did say it could take as much.

We’ve elected to go mid-tier at 50Mbps and have connected today slightly faster at 52Mbps, so very happy. We have gained 48Mbps overnight, just wonderful. The first thing I did was upgrade to Netflix Ultra HD given I’ve a 4K tv, Lost in Space looks stunning in all its glory.

Our netphone is yet to have a password supplied, so we’re not entirely set up just yet, but we rarely use this aspect of our connection so hardly worrying.

Nice when something just works.

Could hardly contain myself

I’ve worked that past few years with a bespoke designed app at work that just looks like geeks designed it, because they did. It looks plain awful.

They’ve been making tweaks to it recently, but for the most part it still looks like a mid-2000’s throw-up. Today we had a meeting to discuss an update to its core interface language api that would afford greatly expanded functionality and potential to enhance the interface, if they only had someone who knew what they were doing. I could barely contain my excitement at sinking my teeth into overhauling its terrible interface.

If I have my way the cluttered interface would give way to one that understands the need for white space, takes into account accessibility for those with impaired vision and reading impairment, as well as responsive. It was laughable they were only talking about whether buttons would move from text to icons in the meeting.

Hopefully their new api can support all I’d like to do, sometimes these things do tend to be more limited than you’d like.

Next stop: NBN

We have waited an eternity here in Perth’s northern suburbs for the arrival of improved broadband, having watched as the third world nations surpassed our laughable (lack of) speed.

Originally, under the Labor government that initiated the National Broadband Network years, no eons ago, we would have seen an optical fibre connection for all households, or satellite where that wasn’t possible. Then came the Liberal government who decided the might do things cheaper, it wasn’t, and now it’s a mix of technologies, but mostly a lot of copper still connects us, but less than before.

Finally, our house gets migrated to Fibre to the Node NBN in just over a week, moving us from the pathetic 4Mbps we’ve barely survived on for years to the 50Mbps we’ve chosen from a maximum 100Mbps. We elected not to go the 100 account due to cost and no great need at the moment, plus they often seem to have problems really delivering it from what I hear due to congestion.

I for one look forward to being able to update my devices quickly, being able to watch content in 4K, and not waiting an eternity for web pages to load on occasion.

I hear stories connection to the NBN can be potentially problematic to start with, fingers crossed no issues as my last need to call iiNet support saw my having to wait 1.5 hours just to talk to anyone – not happy Jan!

Exploring 365 apps

Recently at work the I.T department began releasing access to additional apps within Office 365, colour me surprised that there was actually something beyond Excel, Word and PowerPoint (oh and Outlook).

We became aware of these mainly because our primary Ethics application, now a dinosaur of an app, is to have the questionnaire side of things replaced using Microsoft Forms, Flow, Teams, PowerBI, and SharePoint. Sitting in the meeting where they were outlining the strategy for moving forward within things we were having a look at these new apps and instantly we could see how we might leverage these apps for our own purposes.

After the weekend had passed I decided to begin implementing one of our forms using Microsoft Forms and Flow before deploying using Teams. Microsoft Forms is particularly basic when you’re used to the likes of Qualtrics, it only has four question types:

  • Choice
  • Text
  • Date
  • Rating

Branching is supported and relatively easy to use, though I have to say it needs a bit of work. The interface doesn’t detect when the list dips below the display and adjust to bring it within view, you’re forced to scroll to bring into view to see the options in order to select.

Using Flow took a few goes to get it right, and this from a programmer, but eventually I got things where I wanted. A lot of templates exist for various tasks to help guide you along the way, or you can start from scratch. Flow supports over 100 different services allowing for extensive workflow support.

Never thought I might say I’d get excited about a Microsoft product, so I’ll just keep that under wraps shall I. Shh! I see this as a companion to the Automation Anywhere process automation software we’re using, together the two can solve problems we’re experiencing with software used in the office that users don’t like greatly.

 

Review: Targus VersaVu Classic Case for iPad Pro 10.5 inch w/pencil holder

I bought my iPad Pro 10.5 inch late 2017 with a view to taking up art once more, it was also a spur of the moment purchase so not much research had gone into finding myself a good case in which to house my new iPad.

The range of cases on offer as I was purchasing my iPad Pro at JB Hi-Fi was underwhelming to say the least, I didn’t like any on offer, I just bought something to ensure I had protection for my device and Apple Pencil would be stored. The eventual purchase was the Targus VersaVu Classic Case, utterly dull as dogshit to look at as you’ll see below.

This case does serve its intended purpose, but as time goes on the Apple Pencil holder is failing to hold and it keeps sliding on out with minimal effort. I wish case designers would have a thought that this pencil is smooth and needs tight, snap lock grip, or better still a pouch to prevent my current situation.

I do not recommend thus case if you have an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, do as I am now doing and order something from Etsy, it looks umpteen times better and my Apple Pencil will now stay in-place.

Can’t wait for my new leather iPad Pro case to arrive.