From delegation to automation

It had to happen. I’ve replaced my Timesvr assistants with a collection of Perl scripts. Delegation had been a good experiment, but I’d gotten frustrated by the number of duplicate calendar entries and the occasional library fine when people didn’t follow my instructions correctly, even with all the notes and clarifications I’d added. Also, my wake-up calls were no longer being done by happy, enthusiastic assistants, but by uncertain-sounding assistants who paused for approval all the time.

Being a resourceful programmer, I cancelled my monthly subscription and wrote code that did many of the routine tasks I’d asked them to do.

What worked well, and what can I improve?

  • Delegating tasks to more skilled professionals whom I’d picked myself actually worked quite well. I dropped several people who didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped, including an illustrator who submitted tracings of other people’s photos instead of drawing something original.
    It was good to think about which tasks I could delegate and what steps were involved.
  • Setting up one-time appointments worked well, but setting up recurring appointments was confusing because of Timesvr’s rotating pool of assistants. Next time, I’d probably go with having a single assistant if I want something like that.
  • Being able to call in with a request was a useful substitute for having a mobile data plan and looking things up myself, but a data plan is faster. ;)

Delegation was a good experiment, but automation is even more fun. I find myself thinking in Perl rather than Ruby because Perl’s archive of modules (CPAN) is much, much bigger than Ruby’s, so practically everything I want to do can take advantage of an existing library. =)