Around quarter one 2017 at work are were told automation would be explored at work, not from a position of saving on FTE (wages) but rather freeing up resources of staff to commit to other tasks. Naturally those who were at the presentation heard what they wanted to hear and gossip ensued that jobs might go.

Within our team we could see the benefits of automation as one of our systems is particularly distilled by staff, so if they didn’t need to interact with it (so much) we might get some wins on the board.

We began “botenizing” (I steal their team leader’s term here) the Expression of Interest process in October, and after some stakeholder testing in late November it launched in mid-December. The ‘bot’ hooks into our system by looking at emails sent for newly created EOIs, it then grabs all the necessary data from the system and a spreadsheet that tells it where to get approvals from. As all now gets done via email the School executive can more quickly approve or reject, saving them time, speeding things up and our coffee gets major wins on the board.

Of course this is just step one in our automation, and early days in our University’s ‘botenizing’. We are also looking at ways we can use this technology to standardise filenaming, something that is grossly inconsistent across all projects.

I look forward to seeing where this technology takes us in the future.


The fight for broadband

Last March overnight our internet connection went from 6Mbps to pretty much non-existent. Initially I’d thought the modem was experiencing issues as it was older than the dinosaurs, but then after borrowing a friend’s modem I soon discovered our Triassic modem was not the cause.

I cause the iiNet support line and waited, and waited, and waited some more. In fact it took so long for them to actually talk to me I think the may have discovered how to reincarnate those dinosaurs as per Jurassic Park. After finally getting through to someone and managing to maintain my cool I got agreement to get our line checked.

Two weeks later it was ascertained the line needed a more detailed check and a technician visited filing a report. I was so annoyed by the report I blew up and they knew I was not going to accept being blown off. Two weeks later another visit and they checked via a different test and found where a fault was likely located, around 650m away. After six weeks no internet we were eventually restored, however the service technician did suggest it may occur again.

I don’t know if development of vacant land nearby is to blame, or it is just as a result of time, but as the service technician suggested we are again in the shit hole with our internet connection. The past three days the speed has been dropping off but can be restored by restarting the modem. Given it took six weeks last time I am wondering if it is worth the effort as we are roughly that length of time from being migrated to the National Broadband Network (NBN), I am just hoping in migrating our woeful connection will finally be solved.

Thank the heavens for my 4G mobile and a 30GB quota.

Mapping processes

Last year I was given access to the central repository at work for diagramming processes. Unfortunately at the time I also got slightly busy and it was just before we went on leave for the year, several months later, that I would get time to again look at things. External consultants had prepared our original diagrams in 2015, prior to adopting a formal standard for process diagramming, thus all the original diagrams are now needing updating – just 140 diagrams that is.

Today I took a diagram that had been prepared by a member of our own team to reflect whether a category of output would be accepted, sent for review, or rejected. His process was simple and effective when not in the EPC standard as it was able to use decision shapes. When I went to re-diagram this process to the EPC standard it became more than twice its previous size as I was forced to rely upon XOR or AND logic and events. Whilst I am very much the EPC virgin, and am yet to see if my efforts on this one are correct, I think the resulting diagram is actually quite easy to read and follow (excluding knowledge of XOR for non-techies!).

I was particularly stoked with the updates applied today to Visio and Orbus iServer, previously when diagramming and trying to used connectors I don’t know what the heck they’d done but they just refused to play ball, but following today’s upgrade all is FINALLY going smoothly.

Learning art pains

I studied art back in high school and continued to explore through sketching occasionally for a few years before it was lost to me. Whilst art did feature in my work life through web and print design, it was not the same as that I had once explored.

Back in high school I had explored painting but had never really had much confidence in the area. I was not the Monet in the class, I had some ability but I’d not make a living from it; though most impressionists never did come to think of it. For me art was always about enjoyment, trying to capture or replicate something, to see if it could come close.

With the purchase of ProCreate app on my iPad Pro, winner of an Apple Design Award in 2017, I have once more been able to explore painting and sketching. I have been attempting replication of Monet and an Israeli artist, Leonid Afremov, whose art is stunning in its use of vibrant colour. Posting my attempts to Instagram (cgarnettlaw) I have been buoyed by the likes and comments received.

I was particularly chuffed by my replica of Monet’s Sunflowers:

With each painting it acts as a learning experience as I attempt to learn how I need to go about achieving the end result, having to think about layering so as to avoid edging.

Sadly, I am faced with limiting myself each day due to my arm injury otherwise the pain becomes real, another learning experience.

Burning candles at both ends

As we neared end of the work year I grew more anxious for it to end and holidays to begin. It has been a year marked with losing another three family members, after losing three in 2016; the final loss in 2017, that of my little brother to suicide was certainly the most difficult to deal with.

I think also working full-time and then providing out-of-hours support to one of the schools has led to my burning the candle at both ends. Come November I was really starting to feel exhausted, plus this month was also my brother’s birthday – it was hitting home the fact I couldn’t text, call or email to celebrate his birthday, nor would we have a get together.

Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted my end-of-year annual leave had finally arrived, three glorious weeks that would commence with our office Christmas party. It was great to have a nice sit down buffet meal at the nearby resort, we had a great time. Before leaving our Director handed out the staff awards, two joint awards nominated by Schools and then the award nominated by our staff, I was so surprised when my own name was called out.

Ironically this would be the only Christmas celebrations I’d get to partake in this year. The following afternoon I would get ill and not recover enough to attend our family’s early Christmas celebrations at Burswood’s Atrium restaurant. By mid-week I was starting to feel somewhat better and headed out to wrap up present buying.

I had been invited by my other brother to his place for Christmas and had purchased a few items to take on the day. One week after I’d gotten sick “WHAM!” I was struck with

stomach flu and Norovirus; I had never experienced diarrhoea as I did over this weekend, over 30 bouts causing me to get a little dehydrated despite trying to keep fluids up.

Sadly, I was again nowhere near well enough come Christmas Day to join, instead was sleeping or laying on the couch. I honestly wonder what part my being exhausted contributed to being ill and missing family events, or was it just bad luck? At least in 2018 the level of out-of-hours I’ll work will be reduced, so hopefully I will not find myself in the same boat. I look forward to a better 2018, preferably death free as I’ve had my fill of that frankly. Good riddance 2017!

AncestryDNA: Awaiting results

Growing up we’ve never known a great deal about either side of the family.

On my mother’s side of the family her paternal grandfather had been given away by his father at around one year old, not an adoption, but to a family known to his own, I believe that was the case. They changed his birth name and moved away from Port Pirie to Melbourne before finally settling in the western suburbs of Sydney.

At some point he discovered he’d been given up by his birth family, he would insist that his own family not seek out the birth family until he had passed away, which was respected. It would take quite some years for the family to discover anything about his birth family given little was known, but eventually my Aunt Lynne and her cousin would manage locate his sister and the pieces would come together.

Through Aunt Lynne’s tenacity we would discover Great-Grandpa’s birth name, where his parents had come from, Switzerland and the Croatian island of Lopud. More recently they discovered his father was an Italian-speaking Croatian, this via census records on Ancestry’s website.

My father has also spent some time tracing our own side of the family. We’re rather a small bunch, and as my grandparents had died by the time I was very young I never got to know much and Dad never spoke much or never knew much to be able to speak of it. I guess this is one of the reasons I have been somewhat fascinated by AncestryDNA.

Almost two years ago now I watched an AncestryDNA video and my interest was peaked about how you could learn about where your family came from. A friend at work completed this earlier this year originating from Malaysia, it was interesting to see she had quite a high European contribution to her DNA make-up.

I recently purchased my own AncestryDNA kit as it was at a decent discount. The kit arrived in the mail earlier this week and first involves activating the kit via the Ancestry website; then filling the test tube with saliva, then cap the tube which includes a stabilising solution which gets sharked for 5 seconds; then place in the postal kit and send. I sent on Thursday, so. now is a 6-8 week wait for results of my DNA to see where we come from, I look forward to seeing what comes back.

iPhone X arrives

My new silver 256GB iPhone X arrived today after a 5 week wait.

Collecting it from the post office this morning I headed off to Dôme for breakfast where their wifi network proved a blessing in disguise, my old iPhone needed this to receive text messages as I set up my new phone and Apple and other services checked was me. Initially I setup as a new iPhone rather than restore, a smart move as the iPhone was needing a software update at around 2.6GB.

Using 4G i downloaded 1Password which hooked into Face ID straight away. Same for Facebook. I have to credit Apple with Face ID just how easy it was to set up and use, it is really quite quick to recognise me and unlock or authenticate me within an app.

The OLED screen is just gorgeous, what is interesting however is if you angle it the colours take on a blue tinge. Thus far I have only found myself reaching for a home button once, I love that the phone is buttonless.

I got myself an Anker wireless charger, however it didn’t seem to charge the phone connecting via my car’s USB port. I’m hoping I did something wrong, or maybe it’s the case interfering. Really wanting this in the car for ease of drop and charge rather than having to plug something in as it plays around with music and directions playback. Fingers crossed.