August 26, 2008

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Weekly review: August 16 to August 23

My second and last week in the Philippines was more relaxed, but it was just as enjoyable as the first week. I spent most of the time working, and I learned a lot about documentation. I helped kickstart the first BarCampManila. I also got to spend more time with my parents, have high tea with my godparents, and watch Blades of Glory with friends. Leaving the Philippines was difficult – it always is – and I found myself near tears as I walked through the airport with W-. But it was a very good trip, and I was happy to have gone.

Work: I put on my technical writer hat and rewrote most of the documentation for the administrator, bringing it up to date and adding plenty of screenshots. I still haven’t quite figured out if I should document the system as it currently is (which means revising it often) or as it will be (which means inconsistent documentation for work in progress). My project manager suggested this compromise: I’ll document the system assuming some critical bugs are fixed on the production server, but leave other enhancements out of the manual.

I’m learning how to use doxygen to extract source code comments, too. I’d prefer to keep low-level design documentation close to the source code so that I can keep it up to date, and I definitely don’t want to reboot to Windows and start both Lotus Notes and Microsoft Word every time I need to make a change. Doxygen looks like a good tool for documenting not only the functions but also the design of the system, and I’m looking forward to learning how to make it dance. Even with what I learned after half a day of study, I was already much more comfortable with it than with the idea of keeping our developer documentation in Word. I’ve gotten permission from my project manager to use it for our low-level documentation, and I’ve promised him an archive of HTML documents by Wednesday.

That wasn’t the only thing I did during the second week of my vacation, of course. I had a lot of fun at BarCampManila, a hastily-organized unconference that went really well. I gave a short speech on why geeks should blog, and I hope I convinced a few people to make it a habit. I’ve also posted other notes about the event. Check them out!

My parents spent a lot of time with us that week. My dad took us flying in an ultralight, and W- got this totally amazing shot of the blue sky and the volcano reflecting off the ricefields. We also snuck into a photo summit lecture on portrait photography, and we picked up lots of tips. We passed by the zoo to say hi to Maali, and we took some fun pictures with the zoo animals. Once we sort our vacation pictures, I’ll post the pics on my blog.

My goals for next week (well, this week, now) are:

  • get back into the swing of work by finishing the admin guide and the developer documentation
  • contact everyone I promised to get back to after the trip
  • write three more posts about Emacs
  • use my gadget budget for awesome (maybe get that Cintiq tablet; UPDATE: ordered!)

Just ordered a tablet

I’ve just ordered the Cintiq 12WX, a 12.1″ pressure-sensitive tablet that also includes a screen so that you can see what you’re working on. I think it’s brilliant. It will probably be even more useful than the Lenovo X61 Tablet PC–the other gadget I was considering getting with the gadget fund I’d saved up.

I hope it will arrive in time for the four-day weekend we’ve got coming up. I’d love to use it to sketch my presentations, and W- will certainly enjoy using it to retouch photos.

I like this feeling. I knew I’d be in the market for some kind of drawing thing, so I started saving a few months ago. After I gave my Nintendo DS to my mom, I needed another drawing tool, and it was nice to know what I wanted AND know that I could freely get it.

More sketches to come!