My time in eXplorance has given me a much greater opportunity to travel than I would have had during my time in UCC. So far I’ve been to Southern Ontario (twice), Calgary in Alberta, and West Virginia. And there may be other opportunities in the coming months. The possibility of seeing more of North America while being paid to do so is an intriguing one. But of course the reality rarely lives up to the expectation.
Certainly I have seen some more of Canada than I would normally have otherwise done in a more static job. And the trip to west virginia was all kinds of cool in it’s own right. But for the most part, it’s been a slew of cookie cutter hotel rooms in a variety of different places. The opportunity to really see a place doesn’t really enter in the equations as you go from client meeting and training to the hotel room and back again. Emails need to be answered and the work at the office doesn’t stop just cos you’re not there.
This is not specifically a complaint, mind you, just an observation on the reality of travelling for work. I have no illusions that I am the first person to ever make these observations, nor will I be the last. But y’know, I felt like blogging a little bit and it’s what’s on my mind as I sit in my hotel room in Oshawa after a days training and email tag. One cool thing about this trip is that I got to drive here. Only a short 4 and a half hour trip from Montréal! It was actually nice to be behind the wheel again though. I miss Daurice. Although I do like that rental cars have things like Bluetooth connectivity for podcasts and GPS and aircon and all those lovely bells and whistles that make a long journey that much smoother.
In absolutely unrelated news, myself and Seán went to La Ronde on Saturday. La Ronde is Six Flags Montréal, quite literally. An amusement park with a whole passle of rides and attractions (and even moreso when myself and Seán were there – wahey!), it’s a fine time to be had if you’re visiting Montréal. It was Seán’s first time on proper rollercoasters and it was a blast sharing that experience with him. Thrilling and terrifying, I think it’s fair to say we both enjoyed our time there. I’ve always been a fan of roller-coaster based amusements, but the nearest amusement park to us in Cork was Alton Towers or one of the other UK based parks. Having a full amusement park within a metro ride of our home is certainly another plus for Montréal. We even managed to pick ourselves up some 2016 season passes that allow us to attend for the rest of 2015 for free. Noelette, I hope you’re not averse to roller-coasters cos La Ronde just moved to the top of the list of things to do while you’re here.
And finally, I’ve been listening to Troye Sivan quite a bit lately. He’s a young fella off the youtubes who has an interesting sound. I like it anyway. Here’s his most recent video:
As always, here’s a selection of photos from the last while as well:
Well lookie here! If it isn’t my blog. Hello blogosphere. It has certainly been a while. I have considered putting fingers-to-keyboard every so often over the last few months but t’was not to be. It’s not like stuff hasn’t been happening but I kind of felt like I didn’t want to force out a blog post just for the sake of it. And there have certainly been a number of political and social changes in the last few months that were blogworthy. I held off on those too, not wanting to add to the noise; not wanting to go on about the negative and contributing to the ever-increasing spiral of ranty bollocks that pervades the web.
So instead I abstained from blogging for the last while. Now that’s not to say I will never engage in said ranty bollocks ever again in the future. But I’m gonna try not to do it too much. Anyway, lets talk about something positive instead. I’m sitting on the train as I type this, on my way to Dublin to attend the Irish Web Awards. You see, UCC’s website has made the finals of the Irish Web Awards in the Education and Third Level category. And I’m feckin’ delighted! Some of you will remember the last, I suppose, 2 years of my work life have been taken up with the latest revamp of www.ucc.ie. There’s still a bit to be done but it’s very gratifying to make the finals of these awards. Primarily because the judges are made up of ordinary folks and to have made it through the three previous rounds to get this far means we must be on the right track. It’s nice to know that the late evenings and stressful weeks coming up to Christmas last year were not for nothing.
I’ve no illusions, we’re up against some stiff competition, and in my heart of hearts I know we could be much better. I won’t be heartbroken if we walk away empty handed this evening. But fuck it, I wouldn’t mind winning!
If nothing else though, it’s another chance for UCC to be up there with the best. And tis a chance to represent UCC amongst the other fine folk of the Irish interwebs. Plus there are going to be dib dabs. And Refreshers. Can’t wait.
When people ask me what I do for a living I generally give them the stock line “I’m one of the people who looks after the UCC website.” It’s kind of a catch all answer that doesn’t really cover everything I do but it’s a start and people usually recognise the word website so that helps.
A lot of what I do involves talking to other people, be that discussing what a particular department in the university wants from their website or supporting people as they grapple with the Content Management System* or helping people get to grips with their facebook pages and other social media thingies. Meetings and phone calls take up a good portion of my week, but they can often hinder progress in other things. Like, for instance, if I’m trying to get the code for a new design into the CMS, it takes a lot of concentration and needs a good chunk of thinking time. A phone call in the middle of this thinking can throw my brain off track and it can take ages to get back into the coding mindset. Similarly, a half hour spent at a meeting can completely discombobulate my thinking, making it very difficult to get the coding neurons firing on all cylinders again.
To help with this I set myself a to do list every day. That way I have specific time set aside for the various projects I’m working on at any given time and I can devote a solid chunk of time to any one thing. It also means that if I’m not making progress with one thing, I know that I have other things on which I can be productive, or I can schedule myself some simpler tasks between the big guns. But sometimes there are days when nothing goes right and it gets hard to see the wood for the trees so to speak. Yesterday was one of those days. Hours spent digging around in code seemed to come to naught; things just weren’t working and I couldn’t figure out why. It’s like I’m banging my head against the computer screen for all the good I’m doing. It genuinely feels like I’m a waste of taxpayers money.
But then there are the good days, like today, when things start to pop into place. Those coding neurons are blazing away and things start to work that had me stumped for days. Those days are the days were I feel like the government are getting a bit of bang for their public sector pay buck. There’s still a mountain of work on my overall task list – the website needs serious improvement, we need to be doing more with our social media, and people still need to know how to wrangle the at-times unwieldy content management system – but a solid productive day makes it all seem very surmountable. I want our website to be the best. I know we’re a long way off it yet, but today made that goal that little bit more achievable.
*The content management system is the software we use to implement our website. There are tens of thousands of pages on the UCC website so it’s handy to have some sort of programme to help us keep track of it all, control the appearance of pages, store the content of each page and a whole bunch of other fancy technical stuff.
I’m tired. I went out on Saturday night with Fiach, Val and Sarah (it was Fiach’s first visit back from Scotland since he moved over in August), starting in the Oval, then moving on to the Everyman theatre where they had a class club night (the DJ played great music to dance to for the whole night. I think there were two songs that were not absolutely fantastic). Finally, I hit my bed at six in the morning after much shite talking and putting the world to rights in our kitchen. Good times.
So I’m heading off to tenerife tomorrow with Justin, Greg and Brian. I’ve never holidayed with these people before so it should be interesting. It’s really weird but I have every confidence in us having a laugh. I hope I’m not proved wrong. I don’t really know what to expect but as long as I get an afternoon or two lazing on the beach, reading my books I will be well happy. And hopefully I’ll get a tan as well.
…and gave me a lovely refund! I love the internet – a week after signing up for the revenue’s online services and applying for the rent relief tax credit thingy I now have more of those money things in my bank account. It makes me happy 🙂
Or not. I really just wanted to use that title because I was thinking about how I must persist with this blog so that I doesn’t become stale and useless.
I sometimes wish I could get a connection straight from my head to the internet or at least a computer. I have loads of stupid thoughts during the day that people may find entertaining, scary (more likely scary) but when it comes to articulating them later I come up all blank and stuff. And I think I used to be able to describe things much gooder when I was younger.
Although of late I’ve been mostly thinking about the huge amount of money I spent in America. It was worth it but I gotta jigger and poker my way around my various off shore bank accounts to make the next week and a half til payday work out. Which it will of course. Work out that is. Banks love me because they get lots of money from me. And that’s the way I like it. I’d much prefer to owe the banks money than owe family or friends. It makes life simpler and more clear cut.
I’m also chatting to Mick Barry while writing this. The more I try to multi-task the less I find I can actually do it. My sister edel is much better at this. I can’t think properly now cos I can see the orange tab that says he’s just sent another message. Damn it. Now I have to check it. I’m just going to publish this now so that may brain doesn’t over heat.
Today was the first really cold day we’ve had in a long time. It seems like the autumn is well and truly here. I have to say I actually love this weather. Reminds me of going back to school, something I always bizarelly enjoyed when I was a kid. It was always good to meet up with everybody after the summer, see who’d been doing what. There was always an air of excitement, potential, anything might happen. Of course after the first day, their always came the crushing inevitability of homework and boredom. Dreams of a bright new year, with cool teachers and mighty happenings dashed.
Its also thankfully dry at the moment, with lots of leaves on the sides of the roads and streets. Maybe its the big kid in me, but I will always kick my way through a bunch of dry dead leaves, even if it means crossing the road to do so. Autumn snow, and always guaranteed, unlike the white stuff. Much harder to make a dead leaves-man though.