I hate being a consultant

Well, no, not really. Most of the time I find it interesting and rewarding to work with all kinds of people in different environments during different circumstances. But let’s put that perky attitude aside for now, and instead describe what’s going on for the moment.

I’m doing consultancy work for a fairly big company that makes a lot of money, and for the moment we’re in a very intensive state. I think, partly because of that, these things really trigger my nerves:

The environment

It’s a Windows 2000 environment, where everything is controlled from a central location. I’m the only one using Windows XP, since I need to see how buttons, scrollbars etc will look and behave. If I need a program, they push-install it on my machine. I have an Active Desktop theme forced that I can’t change in any way; the only option to alter is the resolution.

While I understand that this approach might be necessary for people in the company who aren’t very computer savvy, it really stifles creativity for a web developer.

Program usage

I constantly use TopStyle for handling my CSS, it’s especially handy for managing large files, and when I got here I asked for it. They couldn’t really see any need for it, and I had to fight for over a month to finally get it. The program costs $79.95. Imagine the extra time it took me to develop and nag before I got it, compared to the program’s low price and what I cost per hour…

The Mac

In September, I explained that I needed a Mac to test on too. Now it’s two weeks to release, and no Mac in sight. The last thing I heard was that no one in their 50 people big IT department dared to install OS X on the old Mac they had managed to dig up, so they outsourced it to some consultantcy firm. They, in turn, apparently have lost the CDs with OS X…

The mouse

When I started working, I thought it was really hard to move the mouse around and to get the pointer to shift place on the screen accurately. I turned it over, and lo and behold: a ball. I can’t even remember when I last had a mouse that wasn’t infra-red, when I had to open it up and clean it from dust (however, at least I’m one of the lucky ones that have a scroll wheel).

The chair

Don’t get me started on my chair. It’s the worst kind you can think of; it hisses when it hears the word ergonomics. And the seat seems to be loose in some way, so every time I sit down on it, the seat kind of falls down and slants forward, so I have to pull a lever while pushing back to get it level. I imagine that pilots go through less hassle when they sit down in their chairs in the plane.

The construction workers

During my whole time here, they have been performing construction work on the building we sit in. Try to picture big men drilling in the walls and floors around you just for the fun of it. Pretty hard to concentrate when it sounds like they’re in the middle of your head!

The power outage

A couple of weeks ago, this part of the town had a power outage. In the middle of work, everything turned pitch black and people scurried around. Luckily, no information got lost. It’s also one of those moments when you realize that one of the project managers is MacGyver: he was sporting several flashlights on him in different colors…


A while ago, the company decided that MP3 files weren’t allowed on the employees’ computers; it would only take focus off from work and they believe most MP3 files are illegal anyway. The effect, of course, is that everyone has bought MP3 players and is bringing them here…


So, that’s my situation. How’s your working day? :-)

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