It's work stuff, which means it is by definition pretty boring in the explaining. But it's a fun conclusion.
When I went to Melbourne in September, I dropped by my company's offices there, where a small group of developers work on a product that I document. Supposedly. You see, to provide more than a perfunctory description of the interface I need a lot more from the developers than they have time to provide. So it was meant to be a joke, my coming to the Melbourne office unannounced (except to the group manager), waving a draft document around, and insisting that I had flown all the way to Australia to get feedback. Ha ha. Except that before I had a chance to do this, the project manager arranged for all of the developers to give me their whole afternoon. We sat in a room and went through every aspect of the product and I took 27 pages of notes. We would have stayed into the evening except that I had plans, this being one of my only four days in Melbourne, presumably for my whole life. "Oh that's right, this is your holiday, isn't it?" said the manager. That was after he said, "Will you be coming back tomorrow?" and I looked at him funny and said, "I can."
I came home and wrote up an annotated document proposal with focused areas that required feedback and input. And then nothing. People using the product in the field require individual hand-holding at this point. Then there was a management change. Then we assigned documentation bits to developers who were continually called off to other things. Today the new project manager admitted that this model (developers providing me with written input) isn't working. He proposed weekly conference calls, and a test system set up remotely for me to work on.
But you know what would work? If I went to Australia for three weeks or so. I would be set up (non-remotely, which makes a difference in some things) with a full test system and continuous access to small bits of developer time, all day long. It is the most obvious thing in the world. In fact, it's been a running joke between me and my own manager since I returned from Australia in September, that I simply need to go back to work full time on this document for a bit.
We do not have the budget to do this. I would have to leave pretty much immediately, or as soon as possible, in the midst of high Morris and marching band season. It's not going to happen.
But as I wrote this, the marketing manager for the product just sent a note to all parties suggesting we send me to Australia until the documentation is finished, with some business justifications. Ok, I had already talked to her about this, so it didn't come out of the blue, but that was casually at the coffee machine where I simply noted that it's a shame we can't just send me to Australia. "But we have to!" she said, and apparently she went off to propose this.
Some mornings around here are more exciting than others.