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One of the primary reasons that I have spent so much time developing JOTWeb is that, while I'm not a web developer, I do have a number of projects that I want to do that require some dynamic content on the web. That's just kind of the world we live in today. I developed my own system because I couldn't get comfortable with any other system and Python makes it “easy”.

Of course, “easy” is relative. I've been working on JOTWeb almost a year now, and it's in it's been totally re-written once. However, before that I spent an amazing amount of time over 2 years trying to find a system that I could feel comfortable with, and failed. The key point was that on the second day of development on JOTWeb I built my first web application in it. JOTWeb is mostly just gluing together a bunch of other code, so it was usable rather quickly. The remaining year was largely details.

This leads into my next topic, which is changing processes. One of the reasons I left big company America and started a small company was that in a large company it seemed like nothing I did really mattered. I was working with some people who were really sharp and would do tons of work, and more people who were just coming in to work waiting for their retirement check. In at least one case I was shocked to find their manager knew this and didn't care.

As they say, be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. In the case of running a small business, I am now in a position where everything hinges on how well I do my job. With the system administration we can be fairly proactive and often prevent problems. However, when we can't we like to at least put things in place to prevent them from happening again.

Often the worst problems for business aren't the most dramatic ones, but the small ones that happen over and over.

Today's problem was that I was catching up on a backlog of e-mail that had come in this last week, and found a message from a potential client asking me to call them back ASAP. The message was forwarded to me a week ago. It was off the senders plate, but didn't really make it onto mine until today. In the mean-time, it was in a kind of limbo, effectively.

I spent some time today thinking about this problem and what sort of solution would work. Kristen is really good at keeping on top of things like this, but this wasn't a task she had handed off to me. As I thought more about this problem, I finally decided that I might be able to quickly come up with a technological solution to it.

In a couple of hours I was able to whip up an e-mail agent that could handle incoming requests and put them into a simple database. Another process runs regularly and looks for tasks that need to have notifications sent out about them, and does the send. The final component is a web-based system for viewing, editing, and deleting these tasks.

An important part of our business is continually improving how we do things. In order to remain a viable company, we have to do that. Unfortunately, we also have to do about a million other things. ;-)

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