Long Time No See!

In The Rain

Yes, folks, 2020 meant long time no see for you and me.
I have definitely planned to write a lot more, to get more stuff done, to be more responsive, and to push two very important projects further.
But I did not.

It Has Been a While

We have November, and my last post was in February this year, when I wrote about the elogind series v243 being published.

The sole reason for the unproductivity of this year is the pandemic. No, I did not catch SARS-CoV-2, and all my closer relatives have been safe from it, too. But the pandemic had some very unexpected impact on my day job, that killed pretty much all of my spare time. And the little time left, I needed desperately for recreation.

My Day Job in a Nutshell

We are a small company with less than 20 employees, that offers data migration services. I could lecture an hour long over what we are doing in detail, but the core is rather simple. When a company wants to change their document management system (DMS), they need someone who extracts all documents and their metadata from the old system, and prepares everything to import all the documents into the new DMS with the new metadata structure. That’s us doing it for over 25 years now.

Being so small, all of us have to do different jobs in multiple projects, which makes this work extremely diversified. So I am technical lead on some projects, on others I am merely an operator for our software, then I am responsible for QS or the lead programmer for the software used in that project.

Apart from that we have a small set of software we also sell for license fees. One of the more prominent software suites is the HAVI Storage Connector, which I co-invented. I also happen to be its lead developer, having invented and written the whole cross-platform software framework it is made of.

The Power of Many Projects

You might think, that what we do is such a niche, that there isn’t much to do there. Well, it is not. We have no big competition on this planet, and companies are switching their DMS more often than you think.

But a data migration project is a long and difficult project, which starts with many unknowns and us having to analyze the old system first. Often enough the old system is merely a blackbox for our customers.

Unfortunately our customers rarely dedicate people to such a project, no matter how extreme the impact on their company is. So we end up with project partners, who have to attend to the project on top of their regular work. We always have many questions, and they have many things to decide.

So often enough we end up waiting weeks for answers on even simple questions. You can surely imagine that such waits are difficult, when you have to reach milestones to get paid.
The solution: Doing many projects.

Believe it or not, but we have over 50 projects, from which about 30 are active. Yes, with under 20 people, but this is normally no problem and compensates for the long time we have to wait for decisions and answers.
The title keyphrase, long time no see, is something we regularly associate with our partners and customers.

Corona Turned Us Upside Down

The pandemic had a nasty impact on our work. Basically we should not complain, but the effects had their own demons they brought with them.

With business being reduced, the people being in charge of our projects suddenly had time to answer our questions and to work on deciding over the matters we normally could easily wait months for.

So every project gained pace and developed quite a momentum.

Plus, we are a small company, so most of us are in home office since March. Being in home office tends to make you work overtime much more likely than you would do when commuting to the office.

For me this is especially evil, as I did most of my FOSS work while sitting in public transport, giving me about 50 minutes every morning and evening to attend to almost everything FOSS world relative. But with being in home office, the phrase “long time no see” is absolutely fitting for public transportation and me, too.

It Got Worse, Now It Gets Better

Since August we saw a decline in “project frenzy”, as businesses began catching up. Even with the currently raising numbers and partial lock-downs in Germany, the companies have learned to do business despite the pandemic.

So it is constantly getting better, and since the end of October I have more and more spare time to get back on attending all my FOSS projects.

Another helpful detail is me having learned how to reduce the danger of self-exploitation of the home office.

The Plan of the Near Future

Currently I am working mainly on getting Gentoo Bugs closed that are assigned to me, and to get the elogind v246 release finished.

Once these two big things are off my shoulders, there are plenty other thing I have to attend to. Like getting this page finished, some parts are still a joke and not much more than placeholders. There are also two projects that are very important to me, which need attention badly. But both deserve their own articles, so more on them later.

I will try to keep you all updated, but please keep your fingers crossed that my day job doesn’t bog me down again like it did most of this year.
It is really frustrating seing all this stuff you want to do and simply can’t, although everything is right at your fingertips.

Hopefully I won’t have to phrase “long time no see” in such a manner ever again.
Take care, see y’all soon!

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