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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Insane Week Coming Up!

I know . . . I usually don't talk about the upcoming week in these missives, focusing rather on the week that was. But the week that was is going to appear very tame compared to what is in store for me this coming week, so I feel compelled to talk about the upcoming week.

Before we get there, let us see what happened this past week. As I said, nothing earth-shattering happened really. My project is moving along slowly. I have no idea whether it is on track because I can't see the track to figure out how far off we are! Every week brings with it new challenges. The last week's challenge was proving some kind of benefit estimate for the project (yeah, I know, I have been working on it for about 9 months now, so I have no idea why a benefit estimate is needed now, not when the project was started. But bureaucrats have to be fed their pound of flesh at some point, and the fact that they were not fed 9 months back is not likely to serve as an excuse for not feeding them at all).

Like many other projects we work on, it is difficult to estimate benefits for this project. In many cases, once we implement a project, we can run the company in parallel with and without using the project to assess benefits. But in this case, even that is not possible. We are replacing a very labor-intensive process with an automated and highly optimized process, and we know it will likely result in lots of benefits. But, quantifying them in dollars and cents is pretty tough. I know that whatever numbers I throw out there are utter nonsense. But these bean-counters take them very seriously, so my manager and I brain-stormed long and hard about how to calculate some reasonably plausible numbers and how to present them.

Unfortunately, the best way we could come up with to calculate the numbers involved intensive use of Excel, basically locking up my work computer for hours at a time as our number-crunching proceeded. My entire last week was spent watching paint dry . . . er . . ., I mean, watching Excel crunch numbers endlessly. I did manage to get past the crashes, and slow-downs to finally produce numbers that are going to be presented this week to higher-ups in charge of purse-strings. If they want more numbers or "better" numbers, I will have to produce them this coming week.

I was counting on an insane week without having to rerun numbers again for my project. If I have to do that, then insane would be a very mild adjective for the week. But I will fill you in on the details when the time comes.

As for last week, as far as blogging was concerned, on Monday, I published a post on pre-filling forms in Access based on data input into the form for previous records. I published another post on auxiliary fractions on Wednesday. On Thursday, I published a post on hilarious history-related bloopers by students. Then on Friday, I put together a post on stealth USB flash drives. On Saturday, I wrote about how I have been informed that July 1st (just before I go on vacation) will most probably my last day with the census. That post also has details on my understanding of the Vacant/Delete Check (VDC) process of NRFU.

My blog was not visited by anybody from a new country this week either. It has been two weeks since my flag counter reached 136. Fiji is my last new country. Oh well, 136 is well beyond the number of countries I believed would be even mildly interested in reading anything I write in my blog, so I shouldn't be complaining! Maybe I will have better luck next week, and have a few new countries to report on in my next writing.

Which brings me to the topic of next week again. Well, I go on vacation at the end of next week for a full 10 days. So, my manager wants me to wrap up a bunch of loose ends before I leave. I have to hunt down all the loose ends, and either tie them up or hand them off to someone else to tie up before I leave. On top of that, my census office, after weeks of giving me 10 to 12 hours of work, wants me in for 25 hours next week. So, I have to put in 8 hours of work at my regular job, then rush off to do 5 or 6 more hours at the census office.

I am not completely sure what the census office will have me do for that long since the verification of the binders for the VDC process was almost completed today, and will almost certainly be done by tomorrow. I can't wait to show up tomorrow and find out what insanity they have in store for me!

And with all this going on, I have to prepare for this vacation too! I have to find time to do laundry, pack up, cut the grass, and do various other things I haven't even thought about before the week is over. And, no, I haven't had time to even think about what to write in my blog yet, leave alone preparing any material yet. Oh well, I might have to let the blog coast along in neutral for the next couple of weeks before picking it up again. After all, I take my vacation seriously, and I don't want even my blog intruding on my enjoyment of it! Maybe, if you are nice, I will share some details of my vacation with all of you after I come back!!

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