In other job-related news, the UCLES interview went very well apart from the minor point that they don't have any jobs to give me at the moment. I had an interesting talk with the very pleasant gentleman who'd interviewed me before, and then he told me that he thought my skills were the sort of thing that would be very useful to them, but that in the current funding situation they couldn't offer me anything. In fact, he got a phone call while I was in there which confirmed that they'd just lost a bid for funding, & this meant that some existing jobs might be in danger, so I can see his problem. However, he said that he'd give me a call if anything did come up, and if I hadn't heard from him within a month or so I was welcome to give him a ring and ask again. So that's probably the most positive failure to get a job so far, she said, slightly bitterly.
I am worried about the interview on Thursday. There's four people on the interview panel, which is quite Big & Scary by my standards, and I know so little about web development really; I can use HTML but only really quite basic stuff, and I have no idea what kind of things they're going to ask me because I've never gone for anything like this before. :-( If anybody has any tips I'd be very grateful...
I have, however, seen a trainee web developer job that I'm thinking of applying for -- "some experience of HTML and databases would be an advantage" sounds more like my level. It's well paid; and it's for a county council, which fits my woolly wish to work for a Good Cause. The problem is that the council in question is Hertford. Can I really face commuting to Hertford? How much will it cost me?
Meanwhile, back in Temp Hell, I have finished the filing task that our supervisor thought would take over a month. <sigh> She's going to find some other work for me and my fellow clerk (who, being a student, has now started lectures so wasn't in today & won't be in much more this week) to do, but it sounds like it's going to be every bit as boring. I'm wondering about going back to the TES and saying "Please can you find me some work where the coffee-making isn't the most challenging thing I do all day?" I mean, I know temp work isn't supposed to be stunningly interesting, but I'm sure it can be better than this. Actually, the most challenging thing is not getting frustrated with my supervisor...
me: "Would it be okay if I used the computer [in the office where we're working] to check my email in my lunchbreak?"
her: "I don't ... er ... I don't know. I mean, I ... I don't think it's got internet on it. I mean ... it's got the icons, but I don't think they go anywhere. It might be ... I don't know."
me: [certain that it is networked because I've already tried telnetting out, but trying to look innocent] "Oh... I thought it was. Could I try?"
her: [looks blank] "I ... er ... well, we can't ... what would you need?"
me: "I only need telnet."
her: "No, er ... what sort of email is it?"
me: [my turn to look blank this time] "Sorry?"
her: "Is it hotmail, or yahoo...?"
me: "No. No, it's not web mail, I don't need a web browser, I just need telnet, which comes on all computers [well, come on, it does come on all WinPCs...].
her: "Oh ... we don't let people, you see ... some problems have come in with people using those emails ... they bring bugs in with them, you see ... so obviously after that we see the same things ... we stop them coming in."
me: "Oh, yes, absolutely, I understand. But it's not one of those; it's really quite secure. [okay, this is a white lie, but I'm not really likely to import any viruses by telnetting to a remote system...]
her: "I don't know if ... could you check it here?" [indicates her computer] "This has internet ... I think ..."
me: [realising that this was a terribly bad idea] "No, no, it's fine, I didn't want to trouble you, I just wondered since we had the computer in there whether it'd be okay for me to use it. I was just asking for permission really, I didn't want to cause any hassle."
her: "Well... I suppose you could check... I don't know if... You see, Steve, the IT man ... I don't know if ..."
me: [seeing a ray of hope] "Tell you what, shall I just have a quick word with Steve?"
her: "No, he's not in." [appears to think] "I suppose ... you could check... hang on ... yes, we'll check ... but I don't think it's ... I don't think it has internet on it ... it was somebody else's computer, you see ..."
[we adjourn to the office, where I quickly 'find out' that yes, it does have telnet, and yes, I can "get to my email", and $supervisor smiles in this kind of wide-eyed "that's nice, we made something work" way, and wanders off]
Now, obviously it's not fair picking on a librarian for not knowing about IT matters. After all, she's not a Computing Person, why should she need to know anything about computers? </flamebait> But it's not only in IT; it's just the same on her own home turf...
her: "Don't do the files in this drawer yet, because I ... there's a list ... I was going to print it out, but then ... it's on email somewhere, I'll find you the list. So don't do these files yet ... there's some that you don't need to do. I'll get you the list."
[Time passes. We carry on filing, but miss out that drawer.]
her: "I've ... here's the list." [produces a tiny slip of paper with some initials on it, designating certain categories of file, e.g. "DEV" for development, etc.] "These are the files ... there's some that you don't need to look at. The ones on here, are ... well, we've already done them. So you can skip them."
me & fellow clerk: "Huzzah."
[Time passes. We carry on filing. I discover that some of the categories on the list appear in other drawers as well, and decide to check.]
me: "Does that list apply to all the drawers, or only the one you told us to leave till later?"
her: "No... you can do them all ... I just meant until I'd found the list."
me: [trying to clarify] "No, I mean: does the list of categories to leave out apply to all the files in all the drawers, or just to that one drawer? Because there are some files in those categories in the other drawers as well."
her: [looks blank] "Well, if ... yes, if they go over ... into another drawer, then no."
me: [by now utterly confused] "Sorry, I think I'm getting confused. That list is a list of categories that we don't need to do, right?"
her: "Well... yes... and the ones you do need to do."
her: "I've put the ones you need to do ... and the ones you don't need to do... are at the side of them."
me: [despairing] "So that list is the categories we do need to do..."
her: "Yes ... the ones you don't need to do ... by the sides of them."
me: "And does that apply to all the drawers or just that one that you pointed out at first?"
her: "Yes... all of them. But that drawer ... there are some you don't need to do. In that drawer."
me: [giving up] "Right. Thanks."
[exit j4 just in time to avoid complete nervous breakdown and/or Extreme Violence Done To Librarians]
What really does my head in is that the questions she asks in response to my questions have so little connection to what I'm asking that I don't know how to reply to them without completely losing the thread of what I'm trying to ask, so I end up asking confused questions, and then she confuses me more. I don't feel that I can just restate the question louder/clearer/etc., though I think that's the only thing that would get through; it just seems rude to talk to one's supervisor as if they were somewhat hard of thinking.
I was hoping to get some useful experience in this job, even if it was only "in passing" as it were, but really it isn't looking likely. I've been trying hard to ask interested questions in quieter moments, because I genuinely do want to learn how their system works, but all I get is confused looks when I ask questions. Maybe she's just not used to people being interested...
On the positive side, though, today I met a cute girl called Helen who recognised me from the Calling. :-) (Bloody goffs, they're everywhere!) She's a Database Assistant, which sounds like all the shittiest bits of what I used to do at ProQuest -- trying to get people to use databases sensibly and consistently, trying to get people to validate data, trying to explain the concept of GIGO to people who will keep getting their data entered by monkeys on crack and then wonder why their queries come back with stuff that looks like it's been written by, well, monkeys on crack. To be honest, though, at the moment I'd gladly swap. But not back to ProQuest. The current job is depressing, but I don't feel so depressed about the job prospects, if you see what I mean. This job will last for a month or less, then I'll do something else. Simple. It may not be better, but frankly it couldn't be much worse, and at least it'll be different.