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Watching the e-garden grow

Roisin Woolnough
Gicela Morales has come a long way from lab head at a Mexican university to creating a gardening Web site

Gicela Morales has had what you could call a varied career, writes Roisin Woolnough. It began in her home country, Mexico, where she was head of the electronics laboratory at a Mexican university for three years, while teaching English at the same time. Then, five years ago, she married an Englishman and moved to the UK.

The Internet was still a bit of an unknown quantity then, and no one really realised quite how big it would get, but Morales had already decided that it was the field in which she wanted to work.

She says she found it easy to land her first job and, four years later, she has certainly jumped around a fair bit - UK program manager at Expedia UK, Web manager at Prince and Web developer at The Guardian New Media Lab.

Her latest appointment is as technical executive at Internet start-up e-garden, which created e-garden.co.uk last year. As the name suggests, it is a site for gardening fans, and includes commentary from the well-known (in gardening circles) writers Graham Rice and Judywhite.

Apparently, the latter has a peculiar claim on the Internet, "She says the Web must be her destiny, for she had an e-mail address as a name long before there was e-mail," according to e-garden's PR machine.

It took a team of six people - a mix of developers and designers - four weeks to build the site, including one week of testing.

Morales said the only real problems they ran into were the usual ones to do with stability. "We used Photoshop, Adobe Golive, Fireworks and Flash for building, and Microsoft development tools like Visual Interdev and SQL Server for the back-end development," she explains. "We had problems with installation and bugs because sometimes the environment they work on varies a lot, even though it's all the same software. So you find a bug and put a patch on it. It's very common."

Another area they have had problems with is their Web server. "At the moment our site runs on Unix, but we are looking at other platforms because of scalability issues," says Morales.

Despite all this, www.e-garden.co.uk launched on time and to budget.

Curriculum vitae

Name: Gicela Morales

Age: 30

Job title: technical executive at e-garden

Qualifications: electronics engineering degree

IT skills: VRML, UBScript, C, HTML, Javascript, SQL, SAP, AIS

Hobbies: travel, tennis

Favourite film: The Talented Mr Ripley

Favourite pub: Lupo, Soho, London

Morales on Morales: determined, passionate, Mexican

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