Hey, remember when your computer had a leetle teeny screen, and all your software used to run slower, and you just couldn’t get as much work done as you do now?
Yeah, so try doing your multifaceted, exciting twenty-first-century job on a 12″ laptop that, despite being totally loaded when you bought it three years ago, is somewhat poky and sluggish when you try to run InDesign and Acrobat Pro and Photoshop and Bridge and Word and Eudora and BBEdit and Linotype Font Explorer and Firefox with at least four windows and sixteen tabs open. It does not make you feel very efficient, let me tell you.
Now, mind you, some day very soon I will, I’m told, have the dreamy workstation I requested: 24″ 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 3GB RAM and a second 24″ monitor. But I’ve long ago stopped holding my breath waiting for that to actually arrive, and in the meantime I’ve been trying to get the job done on my own faithful little PowerBook, who rarely gets asked to multitask and prefers to be hooked up to a second monitor when she’s serving as a layout machine. She does what she can, but she’s not always quick about it. . . .
I was going to follow that up with a link to Rands in Repose’s old post about how we’d all get more work done if we had 30″ monitors (a theory supported here), but I had some trouble finding the right post, and in the process I landed on his latest entry, which begins,
When you accept a new job, you don’t know who you are going to work with, what you are going to be doing, and how much (or little) you’re going to like it. Call everyone you want. Ask their opinions. Trust the fact that a good friend referred you for the gig. Revel in the idea that the company has a good pedigree, but don’t delude yourself that in a smattering of interview hours that you’re going to have anything more than a vague hint of your new life.
Yeah, tell me about it.
Because of the rather casual way in which I got this job, and because I was already well aware of what Rands is talking about, I didn’t do a whole lot of research into it. I figured I’d figure it out when I got there, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last week and a half. At the same time, however, I’ve also been needing to get actual work done. Which is kind of unfortunate.
So, what am I working on?
- party invitation – design, some unexpected copywriting, and managing the printing. Should have taken a day, tops, but still hasn’t gone to the printer. The party is March 8; this needs to go out!
- semiannual magazine (16 pages) – preparing text, typesetting, getting it proofread, buying mailing lists, getting it printed and distributed. Dealing with the text should be maybe a two- or three-day job, but so far I’ve prepared exactly two articles for typesetting. It’s just as well, since it’d be a pain in the ass to work on a tabloid publication on a screen half that size. This needs to go to the printer around February 12 in order to land in readers’ hands before Passover. I should probably just get this out of the way over the weekend.
- everyday Web site content – finding and formatting art to go with new articles, which are posted at a rate of approximately one a day, ideally with about two weeks’ notice but sometimes with none. This blindsided me, and it’s my own fault. Somehow I failed to understand that the “Researching, selecting, getting permission for (or buying), and formatting images for features” line in the job description meant “Researching, selecting, getting permission for (or buying), and formatting images for features.” Reading comprehension is a bitch. I completely missed the first few dates for this, to the patent disappointment of the editor who is now shucking off this responsibility, and since then I have been leaning heavily on the patient, clever intern, who I gather is leaving soon. Shit. I have a deep concern that this responsibility will slay me, given my longstanding inability to remember what day it is, but we’ll see.
- hmm-hmm-hmm-ing Web site redesign – no idea what the correct verb here might be. There is a Web site. It is in the late stages of being redesigned. I had nothing to do with it until last week, so I don’t know where the process began or what goals were initially agreed upon. What I do know is that the site’s current code (from 2003, apparently) does not meet the browser compatibility and accessibility standards we attempted to comply with* the last time I managed a Web site, which was six years ago. Font tags and layout tables, woo! Party like it’s 1999! I asked the developer if these standards would be met in the new site and was told they would. Please pray for us. Maybe that is the verb I’m looking for: Praying for Web site redesign? Not sure yet.
And that’s it, so far. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Nope, not to me, either. But you try doing it on a 12″ laptop, checking your mail through Gmail (which is kind of lackadaisical in the frequency with which it pulls POP messages from the server) and managing content through a probably one-off CMS that is lousy with pop-up windows and bloody. fucking. alert sheets.
<rant>I hate gratuitously modal dialog boxes. I do not need a window sliding down from the top of my browser every time I hit “save” telling me that—miracle of miracles!—my page has been saved, and then requiring me to hit “OK.” What does it imply about your Web development skills that you feel it is so remarkable that a seemingly very basic function actually works? Why do you think I should be so excited about this? Web developers please note: Do Not Create a Modal Dialog Box Unless Omitting It Will Cause My Web Site to Blow Up. Thank You.</rant>
Let’s go back to Rands. He continues his latest post by saying it takes ninety days to settle into a new job. Or it takes ninety days for the new job to settle into you. He puts it better than I’m doing; go read what he says. But he also offers a list of things to do in those ninety days. Abbreviated, these are:
- Stay late. Show up early. – Ha. Well, I’ve got one part down—I’ve been the last person out almost every day. But everyone seems to keep different hours.
- Accept every lunch invitation you get. – Done that.
- Always ask about acronyms. – I’m usually the person trying not to pepper her communications with acronyms.
- Say something really stupid. – I’m sure I have already.
- Have a drink. – Not yet.
And then three more “advanced moves”:
- Tell someone what to do. – Not yet. Ish.
- Have an argument. – I kind of did this yesterday and today. Hardly an argument, but an exchange in which I was tempted to just say “never mind” and give up but decided to explain my suggested edit one more time.
- Find your inner circle. – Definitely not yet.
So that’s what’s up.
- I’m not saying our code validated against those standards, but we made a good faith effort.