the vortex that is August

Anyone who has ever worked for a college, or lived close to one, or enrolled in one, knows that August is THE SINGULAR BUSIEST TIME of the year!  This year is no exception and in fact, my work has only increased.  Launching a new external website and a new internal website IN AUGUST is nuts, but for some reason we choose to do this .  Here is what this week has entailed for me (and it is only Tuesday). 

*Disclaimer: all names and departments have been removed/changed to protect people’s identities.

  1. I have to create 2 file up loads of new/returning students to give to 2 vendors who are on campus and need the information.  Usually a challenge because either a) our system has changed, b) their system has changed, or c) (my favorite) we changed our processes but they didn’t. Estimated time: 4 hours to create and troubleshoot any potential errors.
  2. With the change to the new internal website, faculty need to be trained on how to do certain tasks.  Estimated time: 3 hours.  (Granted that this is  *hopefully* a one time thing.)
  3. Fix all the course descriptions that are not showing up correctly on the new external website.  This problem is in fact self created because I insisted that all courses come from our student administrative system so that what we use internally is also what shows to the world externally (we’ve actually found quite a few discrepancies believe it or not).  With that said, this has already consumed about 40 hours of my time over the summer.  Estimated time for working on this problem this week: 10 hours.
  4. With the launch of the new intranet, some people who dream BIG are already seeing its potential and are requesting some customizations.  Estimated time to dispell any such notion that I actually have time to do customizations: 2 hours.
  5. Meetings.  4 hours. Need I say more?
  6. One of the best features of the new intranet system is that we can take our internal report writer (akin to Crystal Reports) and put them on the site, including parameters (things that you use to select people/things from in a database).  This sort of falls into 2 categories: items that need to be done immediately so that people can do their work and/or get their information (aka, how much a student need to pay for school) and those reports that are dreaming BIG kind of things that require customization.  The downfall to this method of publishing reports is that they are “produced” as PDF files and for some unknown reason the print spooler on the server is EXTREMELY sensitive and needs to be reset frequently.  When it doesn’t get reset nobody can print a report.  This is bad.  Estimated time it has taken me to troubleshoot all such printing issues: 2 hours.  The number of hours in the future that I will spend diagnosing printing issues completely forgetting that the solution is to reset the print spooler? Probably too many.
  7. Time spent answering questions from staff about why a process is not working and the answer is “because we have a new website?”: 1 hour.
  8. Estimated time trying to dispel the *panic* that some users have that their personal information is being leaked to the world wide web: 2 hours.  I kid you not.  (FYI for those of you who work here and read my blog: my.lakeforest is SECURE.  We have a security certificate. Your information is only being leaked if you have an office with windows, your screen is pointed to those windows and someone is using binoculars to look through your window and glean any “personal information” about you and then posting it somewhere on the world wide web.)
  9. The amount of time I have spent trying to coordinate the inputting of data between 2 offices that sit practically next to each other in the same building (and I’m, like 2 buildings down): 1 hour.
  10. I fixed a problem with email not working with SMTP on the new intranet last week.  But now that it is fixed, I have a ton of work to do to get some forms up for certain departments.  These are forms that people fill out and the “results” get emailed to a team of people.  Believe it or not we have a TON of these forms.  The real hassle is that the forms have to be using HTML forms tags.  Ugh.  Estimated time on 2 of the forms to test and get working: 4 hours.

This is only the top 10 of the things I’ve dealt with this week.  So far. Total number of hours:  32.  Most of this is work that I have already done, some of it is actually work that I will do this week (hopefully).  But the net result is the same: my brain is mush.

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