April 29, 2009

Work Cranky

FINALLY finished up a big, painful report for work, last night around 11 pm. This boat anchor has been around my neck since before the enlightenment intensive (was trying to get it out before I left, and failed). I do these semi automated reports for one of my clients. Reports based on an old technology piece of test equipment (~5MB data file) take about an hour, those with a newer generation device (~500MB file size) take longer - the large file size in particular turns my desktop into a sluggard. I bill 2 hours for the latter (what the market will bear) even though the reports take a little longer. I have been hoping to improve efficiency (through purchasing a faster computer, and developing more task automation) but the volume (1-2 sites per month vs. 30-40 for the old technology) has not warranted so much attention.

I bill a fixed rate per report - some take a little less time, some a little more. It averages out. However, this particular report was extremely painful - a longer than usual monitoring period (3 weeks vs. 1 or 2), and the test equipment was hooked up at a troublesome location. Load side of a circuit breaker (where power was switched off daily, resulting in 20 captured "power outages" that were not really outages) and where the voltage probes were subject to mechanical vibration (my guess) so there were 100's of transient events, overvoltages, etc. that I needed to look at, assess, and decide if I needed to discard, discount, or report.

The report grew from typically 20 pages to over 50, and I had well over 8 hours of time in (possibly as many as 12). I can justify billing perhaps 4, twice the standard rate, because of the complications. Not going to press the issue - this is my best customer, I bill 30-40 hours a month, and it's generally pretty low maintenance work. Maybe 2-3 of these pull your hair out sort of sites per year.

Anyway, glad to be done with it. After I finished it up, I set about sorting through the incoming queue of reports (another 10 hours or so, none marked URGENT, so I can add another 5-6 hours to the April invoice without much trouble). I also have some fairly large and time consuming projects piled up for other clients that I would love to complete before Friday. Not sure how successful that all will be.....

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