Cakes, Stars and Specifications

Posted on 4 January 2007 in Work (3 comments)

I'm currently sat at my desk at home staring at pictures of cakes and stars. There's a reason for this. And it's to do with work.

The stars and cakes themselves are the star and cake templates that form part of the BBCi CBeebies service. The cake is for doing birthdays - a less exciting interactive TV version of a presenter standing up and holding a homemade card with young Timothy in the middle of a Teletubby. The stars are for the "Star of the Week" - a celebration of kids who've been really good. Like Jack, who was a brilliant boy whilst waiting for Mummy to return from the hospital. One wonders how many of the kids know they're on the TV, but never mind.

BBCi Star of the Week BBCi Birthdays

I'm looking at the templates because I'm trying to write a specification document for the tech team, who, in a few weeks time, will be ripping apart part of the code that publishes the Stars and Birthdays and other parts of the CBeebies service, before re-assembling it all back together so that it looks exactly as it did before. This might sound rather pointless, but behind the scenes, some old code will have been changed to make it more reliable. In other words, instead of being stuck together with string and sticky tape, it will be stuck together with superglue instead.

Much of my work at the minute is working on replacing the sticky tape with superglue. The reason is how BBCi has grown up other the years. It's going through a kind of maturity exercise where attempts are made to iron out the mistakes and inconsistencies behind the scenes, with something more robust and futureproof.

It's an exercise that most software needs to go through at some point - BBCi is no different in that respect. What was written six years ago is often not appropiate for what is happening now. Requirements may have changed, or systems may be operating far beyond their design capacity. So you end up replacing bits and trying to make things better.

Which means sitting at home looking at pictures of cakes and stars, trying to work out how something that already exists, actually works, and where the sticky tape needs to be replaced by something a little more industrial.

It is however, a rather lonesome task. It's at this point in the day (3:30ish) that I begin to crave some human interaction after sitting at my desk alone for most of the day with no one but the engineer who came to fix my central heating to talk to. And he didn't say that.

That said, given I was at my desk at 8am, there isn't that long until home time. And the commute this evening is just bound to be terrible...

(Still at least the pilot light on the central heating boiler isn't going out every five minutes any more...)

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emma said:

happy Birthday mum hope you have a great day
:):) loads of love Emma and Matthew

Posted on 6 April 2008 at 6:05 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Yes. Happy birthday!

Posted on 6 April 2008 at 6:49 PM

Ashley said:

Welldone Amy!
For achieving a ten metre lane in her swimming lessons.


Posted on 14 April 2009 at 12:26 PM

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