Off topic

June 1, 2006

Next week sees a meeting of the ACCEPT SIG (that's the SITS:Vision Awards Ceremonies and Certificate Printing Special Interest Group to you), of which I am, by default, chair.

Consequently, I've spent a bit of time over the last few days and weeks worrying about setting up the meeting, formulating an agenda, trying to make sure everyone is informed etc, etc. It can eat up a lot of time, and also a lot of calories of nervous energy.

Today was no exception. One of the items on the agenda is adding the facility to accept online credit/debit card payments for ceremony-related items to web-based replies. (Students are invited to an awards ceremony and can reply using a "task" on their web portal page.) Problems is the developers were waiting on the users to tell them their requirements and we (the users) wanted to know what the developers were proposing so we could see how it would work. Deadlock detected!

So a good deal of the day was spent composing a discussion document for the meeting, setting out some possibilities to try and structure the discussion a bit. You know how things can get out of hand on committees when open-ended discussion is invited, and we're probably a bit short for time as it is. Anyway, got that done now, although I had to bring it home to post up to the discussion forums as I had run out of day by the time I'd got the necessary agreements.

Actually the process of constructing the document was interesting and rather typical. My inclination in situations like this is to sit in front of the word processor and start banging thoughts in, then gradually refine and organise them into something structured and sensible. Having bashed a lot of random thoughts in though, I started to get a bit overwhelmed, so I decided to go for a stroll in the inviting locale of Moulsecoomb (look it up) and ponder the issues from a different perspective. After ten minutes walk I had most of the thing straight in my head, and it was a lot less complicated than I thought. Still took an hour or so to write it coherently and put it all in context, but it was a lot better than version one.

I must say I like walking. I find it very conducive to thinking clearly. Perhaps it's something in the rhythmic nature of it, or perhaps it's because of the environment in which it has to be done (i.e. away from the desk), but it sorts my mind out no end. I must remember this for the future. If in doubt, get up and go out. A new motto.

The meeting is to be held at the University of York next week, which is a nice place to visit, and, on my mum's recommendation I am staying overnight the day before at the Bar Convent. Always game for a new experience! I'll report back how it goes; I know you can't wait.

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