Committee Spotlight: Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again committee
The HYTTIOAOAc (Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again committee) is up for some exposure this time! Answers were given by Jonathan Juursema, the SysAdmin & Full-Stack Developer of the committee.
What committee are you, and what do you do?
We are called the "Have You Tried Turning It Off And On Again committee", a homage to the British sitcom "The IT Crowd". Our goal is to automate the board of the association away as much as we can by creating an awesome IT system where people can sign in for activities, order their food and choose the music for the Protopolis, among other things. We also help the board by providing an e-mailing system and digitising part of the financial administration and most of the member administration. We do this with a (buzzword alert) multidisciplinary team of students from all cohorts. We have Android and iOS developers, web developers and system administrators, as well as designers and even a data analyst! Together, we are in the end responsible for a large and (in our humble opinion) rather professional and open-source IT system that supports our lovely association on many levels.
Your committee is structured in a different way than most, can you explain the tasks committee members are responsible for?
Within the committee we do have your traditional committee roles (we have a chairman, chairwoman, secretary and treasurer) but in practice the secretary has only the real responsibility of taking minutes at our meetings and the treasurer spends just a few moments per year on the financial aspects of the committee. In fact, the secretary and treasure are currently the same person. Our main work devision is in what we do for the IT systems. Most of us are developers, which means that we write, maintain and fix code. Some of us do this for the website, others for the mobile apps we're working on. In addition to that, we also have two system administrators, who take care of the more intricate technical details such as administering the servers and maintaining services that are not part of the website such as our e-mail system, DokuWiki and file storage. We are also dabbling in data analytics, for example by seeing if we can help the OmNomCom stock more efficiently based on sales data.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
I believe that our recent biggest accomplishment is the way in which we are working hard to put privacy first. In anticipation of the new EU laws regarding privacy (look up GDPR if you're interested) we worked hard to be as compliant with those laws as a small association can be - on time, better than and way before other (even larger) organisations were; even though our systems handle a lot of data. But overall I still think our biggest accomplishment is the time we save the association board. For example, generating the monthly direct withdrawal (charging you for the food you buy and activities you participate in) is something treasurers for some other associations can spend days working on. Via our website, the treasurer can generate it in seconds. Similarly in some other associations signing up for activities is done by e-mailing the board who then have to process it manually, whereas we made a system where most of the things can be done by you - the member - yourself. All in all, we save the association board a lot of time they can then spend making Proto even more awesome.
The newly designed website was released two weeks ago and it looks great! Do you have something you'd like to share about it?
Thanks! The design that older years have been familiar with was already two years old (and was introduced when we built an entirely new site from the ground up). This design was, however, never meant to be the "final" design of the site and was not thought about very well. We however never got around to actually fixing this. A few weeks ago I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands (I finished my degree and couldn't immediately start working), thought "what the heck" and just went on with it. After a few weeks of working almost full-time on the website it now has a better coded, technically updated, more mobile friendly and subjectively better look. Not only that, but also the pieces of software that we use in the background to help us with the design work have been updated and are ready for the next few years.
If you were to ever organize an activity, what would that be?
We might some day organise something like a digital treasure hunt. That is a treasure hunt where you complete (digital) puzzles and challenges that involve some IT knowledge in order to get from one hint to the next. However, we have been saying that for quite some years now. In the past there were also plans to organise a GitHub workshop, where CreaTe students can learn how to manage code in project groups more efficiently than via Google Drive (you really shouldn't), but this idea also never really took off. I guess we just like coding better than organising activities, which is why we're in this committee. However, if you have suggestions, we'd love to know!
Do you have a nice anecdote or fact about the committee?
We would love for it to be more widely known that you can not only make suggestions for the site if you have a good idea (which we all take in serious consideration), you can also contribute code to the site if you like without having to join the committee. If you know how to code and how git works, you can fork us on GitHub and just send us a pull request. You would not be the first one!
And for a little secret not many people know: we believe we have one of the best committee names. Not only does our name solve about half of the problems people come to us with, it also makes our e-mail address one of the most annoying to type (reducing the amount of e-mail we get). But especially for you, dear reader, who has made it all the way down this piece of proze: if you're lazy you can also just e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.