Related Entries

Processing e-mail attachments properly
Building accessible tables
Inaccessible accessibility
Day 10 gets me stumped!
Using web widgets wisely

« Demoronizer
» Mozilla user CSS

The Cranky User

Could you repeat that?

An excellent article from IBM dW about the problems faced in automation:

One of the most common tasks computer users face is repetition -- performing the same task more than once. Computers are fairly good at this. So why do people spend so much time repeating tasks by hand? Often the interfaces they use are resistant to automation, and other interfaces are obscure or unavailable.

This is a very valid article. I was a sysadmin for Unix and Novell netware; and then part-time Oracle DBA, and the first thing I (and my colleagues) used to do was to automate as many routine tasks as possible. Even when GUIs where available, we used to look for any command line equivalents and then make complete automation scripts based on that.

These days, I see quite a few sysadmins who hate command line interfaces. Or in general, automation. I believe sysadmins should be the ones most concerned about automation. If they are not interested in automation, I fail to see how normal users will ever be :-)

Anyway, I’ve a small theory about why people are not interested in automating their work when they are paid by someone else. I believe it has to do with job security. Or contract billing. If a contracted DBA/Sysadmin gets to bill more for services outside regular office hours, why wouldn’t he or she login on weekends and run all these things manually? Smarter ones might login and watch scripts run and bill for the "watching" time.

  1. I've been a contract biller for a while but I have to say the first thing I always do on a new job is to try and automate whatever repetitive stuff has to be done (time cards, commenting, lots of use of template programming, etc.).

    I find myself getting very aggravated when I do the same thing over and over and repetitious work violates the DRY principle (Don't Repeat Yourself). Inevitably, the more repetitive the work, the more likely errors will show up as you copy and paste over and over.

    Posted by: Sanjay Sheth on November 4, 2002 09:15 AM