Mar 9

Dec 2009 to Feb 2010 – A cumulative review

Category: today

So I used to do daily blogs but I got out of that habit, but I really need to work on doing it. Having a daily blog was a good way of me logging down what I was doing so that I could keep it in my mind or for reference later if I wanted to work out what I did. Good idea, poor consistency. I’m going to try to work on doing this again.

So for the last three months after I got back from my US trip I have started a new position within USQ. Instead of being an Analyst Programmer for the Division of ICT Services (or just “ICT”), I’m not a systems co-ordinator for the Division of Academic Information Services (or just “DAIS”). This is a new position for me which involves a whole heap more meetings that I was doing previously and I don’t have the ability to do as much coding any more and that portion of my ob has been unfortunately replaced with direction and meetings that I asn’t previously tasked with. I do still have a portion of coding and I also have an aspect of system administration in a sense more than I had previously. Some of the systems that I worked on as an analyst programmer were Library related so now I’m the owner of these systems a bit more than I was earlier.

So now within the Library I seem to be tasked with the following items:

  • ePrints – more management than development that I was previously involved with
  • Access All Databases – more development, this is a new system for me
  • Finding Information Tutorial – this is a custom CMS that was made that I am hoping I will be able to port to Joomla! instead
  • Library Catalogue Search – another new system, the unified search system for the Library which is pretty cool
  • Library Blog – various versions of WordPress, almost all of them out of date
  • Mobile Services – a new research project in general for the Library which is fun
  • Cleaning up all of the inconsistencies in the services
  • A few other things that I’m sure I’ll complain about when I get to them

In the short time I’ve been here, we’ve done a library management system upgrade and accordingly I’ve had to update the library catalogue search. Fortunately in this case most of the work was done so it was a matter of putting parts together to make it all work. I’ve also managed to replace four virtual servers off a legacy virtual machine box that was about to die (four RHEL5 VM’s rebuilt entirely and data transfered in a single day, yay!), recovered a system that was hacked and reconfigured it to meet the start of the semester. I’ve also rebuilt the internal library systems development support environment helpfully called “libtrac”. It is now running Subversion, Trac and a new JIRA instance that I’m using to bring everything together.

Throughout the period I’ve done the typical support tasks, diagnosed issues and in some cases been able to resolve systems. I’ve managed to fix some problems for people but some others I haven’t been able to resolve yet but I’m getting there. One step at a time. The new tracker and Subversion items will allow me to do more items and record things without having the chance to lose them. I’ve also started shifting operational systems into Subversion to allow control of them to ensure that we don’t lose something along the way and we have a consistent methodology for ensuring systems get migrated between one system to the next.

In February I managed to go to my first conference for the Library to VALA 2010 in Melbourne. Even then I managed to present a session for Joomla! which hopefully brought new people into the fold. I’ve also met with different people and learnt a whole heap of things which is pretty cool in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve also had a new staff member (I now supervise two people, scary!) start and they’re now working on the mobile services project primarily as a developer. My other staff member I’m hopefully going to work on skilling them up to be a better programmer than they are previously. I’ve got to get in line with the University’s “BUILD” system for goal setting and performance management. I do wonder if the data goes into a system somewhere or if it is just being dropped somewhere.

Coming up for me is a complete rebuild of some of the oldest of the library’s systems. This includes upgrading horribly vulnerable WordPress installs to better versions and keeping them up to date and upgraded in future. It also involves replacing ancient CentOS boxes and replacing them with newer RHEL5 boxes to get everything almost on a similar version to make everyone’s life easier. This means that the library catalogue system will be rebuilt from dev through test and prod. I’m also shifting “Access All Databases” the other way, creating a new production environment and cloning that back through to a test and dev environment as the production system has issues with availability and SAN presentation problems causing the file system to go read only. Lots of other little things, and small tasks but the world is slowly moving.

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