It seems like a bit of an anticlimax to have got to the Friday after the two big long posts about ties (voting is still open on the ties!) and games the last two weeks and just have a few bits and bobs to share, but maybe that's a little metaphor for moving countries. We do the big things, and they feel good, but it's all the little things mounting up that end up getting the better of you.
To try and keep track of all these tasks, Mrs. Owl and I are trying out using Trello. I've used it a little for myself for various projects, but this is the first time that I've tried to use it in a team environment. I like Trello for the way that it allows and encourages you to use their simple idea for all sorts of different things, instead of boxing you into one idea, so I look forward to seeing how it goes.
So far, we have about a hundred items on there, but by separating the tasks between us each week and setting some goals, maybe we'll knock at least enough of these items off that by the time we fly the country in a month we'll have at least fulfilled all of our legal and financial requirements.
Some of the items on my list this week are going pretty well. I've made a good show of cleaning out the shed where we'll be storing all the furniture that we haven't found a home for. The next thing that we have to do here is actually decide how we want to store things in here before we move too many more of them, as some kind of sensible system is going to be needed if the shed isn't just going to become a smaller, colder version of the pigsty that our house can become on a slow housework week. We haven't decided if we're going to stack things this way, or that way, and leave a corridor against the wall, or down the middle...and of course, we're not quite sure what we're putting in there, as we'd like to be able to sell or give away some of the furniture, etc. That's probably fuel for another post some night when I'm feeling more organised.
You may have noticed that there was a bed up against the wall in the shed there. That's because one of the other items on our list has been to clear out our bedroom for use as a space to pack and organise, and also eventually as a second area for people in the occasion of us having some kind of going away party. So far...this hasn't really worked out. We got the bed out, and did some vacuuming that we've been putting off for years, but then we moved our desks down from upstairs. It's turned into a kind of quasi office for everything from dressmaking to CounterStrike, and the actually using it to do packing in is more of a potential thing than something that seems likely to happen in the near future. We're sleeping upstairs in the front room from this point, but it's still strange to walk into the room that we've lived in for the last three years and find it so empty.
So, there's a couple of things that have been qualified successes so far, but there's one thing that hasn't gone that well, and that's the applications for visas. It's been difficult to even get to this point what with all the hoops that have needed to be jumped through, but now that we're here, we find this dread notice up on the visa site...it's in beta. Let me tell you, if this is an improvement, the old system must have been an abomination unto Nuggan. I don't want to complain too much given that I want the nice fellows at the foreign office to let me into the UK, but there's a couple of things that I'd have thought would be part of a modern web-based system of this nature:
- Integrate the help documents (if they exist), so that all applicable definitions and requirements can be looked up in-line rather than having to refer to all the separate requirements documents (if you can find them)
- Use some kind of validation checking, so that text cannot be entered into fields where numeric results are expected, at least
- Indent or distinguish in some way between parent/child questions so that the user can determine which questions relate to each other
- Check your grammar ("Enter your the maintenance charges") and keep continuous formats for questions.
- Don't repeat the same questions.
- Provide information you already know about the user, calculate what you can and fill in any requirements rather than asking the user to have a perfect understanding of the eccentricities of your system.
- If you're running a beta, provide a feedback form so that the users you've shanghied into using your new untested system can actually give you some feedback on it.
So, Visas aren't going great. But they're a walk in the park considering some of the other nonsense that we're wading through at the moment. Don't even get me started on the bloody Oxford Real estate market...nevertheless, hope springs eternal, so here we go again...