Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The frustrations of development and work

The last week or so has been an interesting love-hate relationship between me and all of my assorted projects and my regular job. I'll try to summarize:
  • The Purple/Pidgin Plugin Pack
    • I had wanted to push a release of this on June 21. This didn't happen for a couple of reasons. Stu Tomlinson wanted to test, which was a quite understandable request. For this reason I delayed until June 23 (my birthday, too!). On June 23, it was difficult to find the time to do anything code or computer related because of the family. Ok, no problem, let's delay one more day. Well, Sunday I realized I had no environment in which to compile our plugins for Windows. This is a no-go any time we release because literally within half an hour of release we get complaints about the lack of a Windows package. Well, long story short, thanks to VMWare 6 and its VNC server capabilities, I now have a Windows Pidgin Build Environment and I'll be using it to build the plugins whenever we do release.
  • Internet Banking
    • At work, we performed a migration on Wednesday, June 20. We used to host our internet banking system in our own datacenter/server room. As a way to potentially save money in the long term and also dramatically reduce the liability the bank shoulders for the security of the internet banking site, we outsourced the IBS to the datacenter run by the company that provides our IBS.
    • The actual site migration was trivial. Everything else, on the other hand, has been a royal pain. We've been on the phone with our conversion "experts" every day over the issues that just don't go away. The daily reports and end-of-day processing is generating tons of errors, flagging customers as overdrafting with their transfers when the customers in fact have more than sufficient funds, and for a time today the application that interfaces with the bank data for new account entry and password resets and whatnot refused to work at all. Our onsite person who enters new accounts into the IBS and does password resets and whatnot is frustrated enough that I wouldn't be surprised if she quit over it.
  • Bank conversion and consolidation
    • The bank I work for is owned by a holding company that the bank's board of directors formed in the early 80's as a way to buy other banks and run them as separate entities under one corporate umbrella. When the holding company was formed, it bought another bank that had a couple locations of its own. In 1998, a third bank was bought and added to the mix. In 1999, the bank I work for and the bank purchased in the 80's were consolidated into one larger, stronger, and more profitable institution. The third bank went along on its own quite happily. Last year, however, there were some massive losses at the third bank and their board of directors voted to allow my bank to take them over. Now, effective July 1, both banks will be divisions of the same bank in order to maintain their separate identities. Routing-transit numbers will be retained and everything. Processing will still be separate.
    • To facilitate what management wants, a contractor has been brought in to develop some conversion tools and some reports that can combine data from both banks, as well as some new replacement programs to work around some limitations of our current core processing system's security model. This contractor is actually very good and very efficient at what he does, which was quite a pleasant surprise. All of the development needed to satisfy management has caused tremendous headaches, and will only get worse as this weekend approaches--this end of month is the end of the quarter, and also a double processing night (the 1st of the month has to be seen as a business date for the vast majority of core processing systems, and it's generally easier to run two processing dates than to use the "combined" or "split" update features present). To top it off, the second processing date, July 1, is the start date for the merger. Fun, fun, fun.
At any rate, business as usual for the working guy--headaches, headaches, and more headaches!

Hopefully I'll be pushing a plugin pack release this week!