Sunday, 6 June 2010

Struggles of the Mental and Physical kind

What have I been doing this week at work? Well, I've been struggling with Google Documents for the last few weeks and I've finally accomplished what I had expected would take only a day.  I've finally converted 78 existing School Profile documents from MS Word format into Google Documents format.  All of these are now accessible through a web browser from anywhere with an Internet connection.  Our four Field Officers can log on and pick up one of their Profiles, or the Profile of another Field Officer without having to traipse back to the office to print it out or have it emailed to them.  And the managers can view the documents wherever they happen to be working - in the UK or Australia for example, and can collaborate in the work process.

What I discovered was that converting existing documents did not produce simple, clean, on-line Google Docs.  The code was buggy. You couldn't edit it easily and the layout was not optimal. On the other hand, if you produced documents from scratch the code was much cleaner.  What I had to do was make a template from scratch, download it into Word format, copy and paste from the existing documents into the new template, and then upload/convert.  Then I had to do some final titivating.  Seventy-eight times!

I finally managed to complete that on Friday afternoon, and the last few remaining hours were spent looking at ASL's website.  The existing maintainers are getting money for old rope with this site.  It's dreadful!  What I've proposed is that I take over the (expensive) maintenance for a few months.  Meanwhile, ASL can look into designing, structuring and populating a new design, one that they can maintain themselves.  My task was to find the master FTP username and password from sketchy information, so that we can connect to the web server, change all the passwords, and take it over.  After a few educated guesses (or more accurately, wild stabs in the dark) I finally got it right!

On Monday we took delivery of a table the local carpenter had made for us.  This is for putting some computers on so that teachers or students may visit the office and I can give them some training (Office apps, photo editing, email, web, etc).  I went down to help the guy bring the table up the stairs.  It looked light enough but boy, can looks be deceiving!  It was made from the wood of the Jack Fruit tree, and as I applied more and more effort I couldn't believe how much was needed to just get the thing off the ground.  Well I fairly struggled as the two of us heaved it up the stairs (the other end must have been the light end, that's all I can say ;-).

Next day I noticed a pain in my groin region and I thought I'd got a bug or a kidney infection or something.  I didn't connect the pain to the table until my back went into spasms - the kind where you feel that if you make any sudden moves you'll be paralysed forever.  Now, nearly a week later, the spasms have gone but I still feel the groin pain.  Hernia comes to mind!  I just hope it goes away on its own accord.  Walking is fine but you can imagine how torturous last Wednesday's cramped bus journey to and from Galle felt, how sitting at uncomfortable desks has felt, and how it feels to crouch over my laptop in the evenings.

Next time I'll get someone younger to do the lifting.  Either that or spend a couple of months in the gym first!

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