Up to No Good
Technology, Great when it Works

The Job, The Magic, The Headache

Saying your a web developer these days can mean just about anything. Any one with a computer and Front Page or Dreamweaver can slap together a website. I'm not one of those people. It's an interesting job because it encompasses so many different knowledge bases and specialties and requires you to have exactly none of those skills.

In order to put together a website you need to have some graphic skills. You need to be creative, have an eye for color and balance and flair for design. You must know how to use Photoshop, Fireworks, ImageReady and/or Illustrator. Many clients like the bells and whistles. You need to know Flash and how to create animations. You must have some knowledge of video and how to get that on a website. Almost every company these days is looking for more than just a pretty site, they want functionality. If they're not looking for a shopping cart to sell their goods and process their orders, then they want an online intranet system. Something their employees or contractors can login to from anywhere and input data. They want that data to interface with their internal databases and import and export the data from the web server to their internal network. They want to automate these imports and exports so they don't have to be run by hand. They want a company that answers the phone when they reach a crisis and they want their website updated yesterday. They want to update their website with no knowledge of html and you need to be able to explain to them in plain English how you're going to make all this happen. This task is particularly difficult when you have to explain what a domain name is and how to re-fresh a web page in their browser.

As you might well imagine the graphic, programming, networking and communications skills are not often found in one package. While I have at times had to do a little of all these things, I am by nature a programmer. I handle data. I specialize in programming in ColdFusion and build custom systems. I enjoy what I do. Most people eyes glaze over when I start to talk about it, but to have a huge application launch and start to run nationally is quite amazing. I love problem solving and de-bugging errors. I like to listen to the clients needs and feel my brain start to churn out ways that I can acheive what they want. I take what starts off as a mere wish, need or desire and make it a reality. On more than one occasion I've been referred to as a magician.

But today, my head hurts and I'm feeling overwhelmed. There is simply so much to know and I wish I knew more. My Photoshop skills could be more adept. I wish I had mastery of Javascript and SQL instead of needing to look stuff up all the time. I would love the opportunity to learn Oracle. I'm still getting accostommed to our new Plesk server and phpMyAdmin database interface. I'm hoping we purchase a copy of ColdFusion 8 soon, it seems to have some really cool new features. We have many clients requesting image options that are going to be built into this new version. But yet this will be a whole new realm of learning, questions, incompatibility and new features to learn. In the mean time I am so busy with the myriad of projects I am working on that range from sports and yoga, to automotive supplies and realty companies, marketing firms and hospitals that I am just trying to keep my head above water.



The Dol

I can relate, at least a little bit. It sounds like you have a knack for what you do. I, on the other hand, am working as a bookkeeper right now (for my brother, who started his own business). Let me tell you, if you were wondering if a Spanish major would come in handy in this line of work, it doesn't. Miracle no happen, as Polly says.

I am learning the hard (painfully so) way about tax law, payroll, and how different the language of numbers is from any other language. I'm good at language in general. I suck at math.

So why am I doing this job? To watch out for my little brother. I work really hard to do things right, but it doesn't come naturally to me in this arena. So, I understand about feeling stressed and also feeling like you don't have all the tools or knowledge you would like to have. I like being an expert, being the best, feeling on top of things. I'm treading on virgin territory these days.


I know my husband wouldn't mind me being his bookkeeper, but I want no part of it. Perhaps if I wasn't already a working mom, but there's no more time to squeeze out of my day.

Sure is nice for you to do that for your brother. Hope he appreciates it.

My field is odd, because there is so much to know that covers so many different areas and talents it's practically impossible to master them all. And what I've found over the years is that while many other developers and so-called "experts" in my field talk a good game, they're often less capable than I am when it comes to getting the job done.

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