Archive for Work

大象物语

某一天,在某场地里出现了一头大象。大象的突然出现并不让人惊奇,甚至有的人还可若无其事的过日子。大象开始成了一个问题,是某天大象拉屎之后开始的。虽然清除大象的排泄对清洁工来说只是例常的工作而已,但是大象拉屎的次数频繁和其影响范围之巨让问题扩大。臭气熏天的场地开始令人无法容忍。随之而来的是清洁工的工作量开始升高,而原本若无其事过日子的人也开始投诉那 “臭” 的问题。

当然,”臭” 其实只是症状而已。真正的问题却是那头大象为什么出现在场地里。庞大的象,当然妨也碍了交通,甚至也对场地里的建筑构成了威胁。而这时负责交通舒畅和建筑管理的人却推卸责任和互相指责。建筑部认为,如果交通部门的路能好好的引导大象,建筑结构本身其实根本没有问题。而交通部门却认为,如果建筑没有阻挡着大象,那大象当然就不会故意去攻击建筑物。但双方似乎不觉得真正的问题是这头大象为什么会出现在场地里,而真正和最简单的解决的方法就是合力的把大象弄走!就算他们对大象无能为力,至少也应该找出可以把大象弄走的人吧?

就在这头大象已经把清洁工弄得焦头烂额的时候,又有另外一头大象出现了。这头大象给某建筑的人带来了很多不便,而主要的问题却是围墙阻挡了大象的去路。当有人建议开个洞让大象出去的时候,场地的保安政策却不允许围墙有任何的变动。

每个人或者部门,基本的方针就是自扫门前雪。完全不允许别人对自己的工作和范围有任何的建议和疑问。就算只是建议或者疑问就被认为别人在恶意攻击自己了!如果是批评的话,后果肯定不堪设想。

结果呢?场地里的大象越来越多,而拉的屎更是堆积如山!在场地里面的人无言忍受着痛苦,而清洁工们更苦不堪言。而领导的有什么解决的方法呢?别说了,唉!


The Elephant Story

One day, an elephant appear in a compound. The appearance of the elephant is not shocking, as some people can still go on with their lives as if it was never there. It start becoming a problem, after the elephant start shitting. Although clearing the elephant’s excretion is only part of the cleaner’s routine, the frequency of the elephant’s shitting and the area that it affected caused the problem to expand. The stench became intolerable. Following which, the workload of the cleaners start to increase, and even those people who would otherwise not notice the elephant starts complaining about the stench.

Of course, the stench is only a symptom. The real problem is why the elephant is even in the compound at all. A large elephant would naturally obstruct traffic, and pose a threat to structures in the compound. Yet at this time, those who are responsible for smooth traffic and structure maintenance refused to bear responsibility and blamed one another. The structure maintenance felt that if the traffic control department has guided the elephant properly, there is no issue with the structure’s integrity. But the traffic control department felt that if the structures were not in the way of the elephant, then the elephant will not deliberately attack the structures. Both sides seem incapable of understanding that the real issue is the elephant being in the compound, and the easiest way to resolve the issue is to get the elephant out! In fact, even if they cannot do anything about the elephant, shouldn’t they at the very least find out who can do so ?

While this one elephant has already put the cleaners in a terrible bind, another elephant appeared. This elephant caused a lot of inconvenience to the people of a particular structure, and the real cause is that the compound wall was in the way of the elephant. Someone suggested to open a hole to let the elephant out, but the security policy does not allow any changes to the compound perimeter.

It is clear that every person and department’s basic policy is to hoe one’s own row. They allow no suggestion or queries in their respective roles and responsibilities. And just merely suggesting or questioning would be considered as a malicious personal attack! I shudder to imagine the consequences if it had been criticisms.

The end result? More and more elephants are now in the compound, and their excretion pile up into little hills! People in the compound suffered in silence, and the hardship of the cleaners are beyond words. What about the leadership’s solution? It’s better not to say! *sigh*

Rant 05.12.2009

This photo was taken by the CIO and sent to my direct boss, when he was attending a meeting. He was unhappy that this rack-mounted switch which was set up for a meeting was simply left on the desk. To him it was an unsightly mess.

Why was this switch set up in the room and left on the table in the first place was because there weren’t sufficient ports in the room to support the number of laptops required. From the looks of the photo, I suspect that even if we had set up the switch on the floor, there is no avoiding the tangle of wires. Whether the complaint came from the CIO personally or he was upset because someone commented on our ‘shoddy work’ is irrelevant. What would be relevant would be a long term solution to the insufficient IT infrastructure in that particular meeting room. However, I do not pretend to know management and tell my CIO what actually requires to be done.

Our CIO does give us the feeling that he looks down on us, the very ‘grunts’ who would face the enemy (i.e. the users) on the front line. I have seen on one occasion he gave one of my seniors a dressing down over the matter of housekeeping in our department room. I do not know whether he had actually came all the way down from our data centre down at the armpit of Singapore (somewhere near Paya Lebar Airbase) to do that, or my senior was just unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I could only say I am fortunate not to be the one on the receiving end of his tongue lashing, but for sure I do find it ridiculous that ‘the CO [Commanding Officer] is doing the work of the CSM [Company Sergeant Major’. During our days in National Service, a good CO almost never give direct orders to us pertaining to matters of camp maintenance or area cleaning. That falls under the supervision of the CSM, who will order us to do all sorts of menial labor such as plucking weeds from the glass patch in front of the company line office, clearing mud from the drain ‘intersector’ (a term invented by a CSM), washing the vehicle bay and wiping dust from fan blades and florescent light covers in our bunks. In short, the CO only concerns himself with matters of the macro-management of the unit and such matters of micro-management is normally left to the CSM or the individual Platoon Sergeants. There’s always a good reason for a chain of command.

Anyway, other than the above, at times the CIO would override decisions our direct boss made, or even IT security protocols to satisfy ‘people in power’ who contact him directly over a certain matter. In one particular incident, after we and our boss have rejected a particular request to set up a laptop that is not built to the company’s standard, the CIO spoke to the same senior above and asked him to get it done. He claimed it to be a one off incident. (The reason for such a request is because the user’s secretary would not want to mix work with home and has an irrational fear that her personal stuff such as photos or videos may end up on the company’s network. How that would be possible when access to the company via VPN is through Citrix is beyond me! We suspected that the real reason for this request was that the security protocols on company compliant laptops would have prevented it from connecting to any network outside the company to access the Internet, since it is locked down to allow only IP addresses on the local subnet it is connected to, and then to the website that connects the VPN.)

Unfortunately, we end up manually installing another laptop for another user within a month. Even so, on the second occasion it was at least justified since the user was doing the company’s work – being a sales trader who would be introducing our company’s trading platform to potential customers. In the context of the army, what the CIO has done is the equivalent of the CO disregarding the TSR [Training Safety Regulations] and directly meddling in the execution of low level combat tactics. As we all know how often that leads to disastrous consequences.

Thus, in a certain way, when the CIO actually sent the photo to our direct boss and not to us directly, it is actually an improvement, though not by much. Perhaps he has been reading some ‘For Dummies’ book recently. Frankly, I personally do hope that there are other matters that would direct his attention to concentrate more on the macro-management aspect of the department.

Leave it to the ‘grunts’ like us and the field commanders to do the real fighting. I’ll definitely prefer he sits in the comfort of his command center and not bother about us. Alternatively, I hope the auditors have had enough of his disregard for IT security protocols and smack him on the arse for his endless meddling in daily operations.

I almost forgot… one of the field commanders is the ‘bway kan’ guy that I mentioned in an earlier rant. How tragic!

Rant 03.12.2009

Sometimes, some people should realize that simply because he is in a managerial position, doesn’t mean he can try and push everything to a subordinate – especially when the task doesn’t even belong. After all, there’s a good reason why there’s a segregation of roles and if someone goes on leave and there isn’t a backup, as a ‘manager’ it is his own responsibility to seek assistance to resolve the matter and not try to word it in such as way that it becomes the problem that is completely unrelated to another sub-section.

What makes it worse is that even after being explained to that the task has completely nothing to with my sub-section, he insists that I relay the message to the person responsible when this matter has nothing to do with us in the first place. Did I mention that the person responsible is ON COURSE for crying out loud?

I can understand that there are ‘people managers’ and there are ‘technical managers. However, the key in being a ‘people manager’ is knowing who is the best person to use for the task, and not simply ‘arrowing’ another person and expects him to so-call ‘take ownership’. If one doesn’t have the relevant technical skills, nor does he have a clue how to do the task, at least have the initiative and responsibility to find out how to do so himself, or refer to the right person to do it. If not, it is high time he admit he is an incompetent fxxk and quit his job

But clearly I can’t expect that from a certain person, since he can obviously sleep well at night even though he clearly does not deserve their pay. That’s not forgetting how he once tried to shirk from the responsibility of a mistake that he made – when records on the Door Access Card Scan showed without a doubt that he was the one who forgot to close the server room door. Nice try for attempting to have one of us own up and be your scapegoat. Did it occur to him that if it was a court of law, perjury is a crime?

But what can I expect from this unethical f**k? He asked 3 vendors for a quote, but he then helped another vendor who is his friend to outbid the rest of them. That’s also not mentioning that because of his own “Blackberry Bold Envy” he made a big fuss about the legality of ‘jailbreaking’ some Blackberry 8707h from Docomo which are no longer under contract, not to mention already written off by our Tokyo office. All that simply because he wanted a new Blackberry handset. In fact, when he has been such an unethical and despicable mofo, how dare he even breathe a word about legality?

Finally, I wanna say this to him, and it should have been said a long time ago, YOU ARE INCOMPETENT. WORST OF ALL, YOU ARE A DODGY ASSHOLE WHO DIDN’T HAVE THE BALLS TO BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF NOT ONLY YOUR MISTAKES, BUT ALSO THAT OF YOUR ROLE.

I wished he was a part of those people who resigned or took the retrenchment package because I actually liked working with those people who left. KNN!!!

Rants – Self Interest & Office Politics

Being on the desktop support team means at times I will form negative impression about some users or even dislike them. As time goes by I learn not to be angry with users and to provide support according to their computer proficiency – e.g. for some who do not understand certain computer terms, simply go to the desk and not try to guide them over the phone. When users ask over emails what seems to be dumb questions or write emails in a nasty or impolite manner, these days I generally just muttered some curses (or scream a little) at the mail, ignore the more ‘emotional’ parts of the mail and just get down to business.

The worst lot of users are those who simply throw everything at the IT department as long as it runs on electricity. Once, some guy held a electrical calculator on one hand with the plug on the other and asked my colleague, “What do I do with this?” In another occasion, the call-centre received a call from a user on National Day reporting that the air-conditioners are not working. There was even a case about the failure of the StarHub TV with MSNBC in the trading room! All of these examples showed exceptional laziness because they could either do something about it, or at least call the right department to handle it. Whenever we remember these examples, we can’t help but wonder how they deal with these problems at home. Perhaps they have a maid a housekeeper to do all these for them and with them in mind, I can empathise with crazy maids who make special soup with their menses or urine for their employers.

Some users also ceased thinking the moment they see some instructions about something that runs on computer. Once, a vendor sent a document (with some instructions on it) to a group of users to do some changes to the settings on their trading terminals. It was not long that a request for assistance was logged into the system, and the instructions sent by the vendor was attached to the case. To cut the long story short, the document talks about changes that is required as a result of the recent acquisition of my ex-company by the current one. To put it in an analogy: “It is something like adjusting the mirrors and the driver seat before starting the vehicle. The document speaks about the modifications being made to the vehicle which has changed some of its dynamics, and the users were advised to make adjustments to the mirrors and driver seat as a result of this. Basically, the mechanic shouldn’t be the one who making those adjustments because they are unique to each driver.”

Even so, there’s nothing unforgivable about these users even though I may dislike their actions, simply because at the end of the day everyone is just doing a job. Above which, there is something worse than ‘computer morons’, nasty / impolite users, or even lazy users describe above – The sickos from the same my own department* who create issues and play office politics because of their self interest. A recently incident has my blood boiling.

About 2 months ago, I wrote about ‘unlocking’ Blackberry 8707 handsets sent from the Tokyo office. The 15 sets are all locked down by the Japanese provider NTT Docomo and we intend to use them as spares, or at the very least keep them as loan sets for users with 2G Blackberry Smart Phones who are required to travel for short periods to regions with only CDMA networks. Since IT initiated the request to ship these sets to Singapore, I find it a waste to throw these 3G handsets away or give them to a recycling company. I took upon myself and on my own initiative found the method to ‘unlock’ them.

Someone in the my own department* then asked for a set to replace his allegedly faulty Blackberry after I ‘unlocked’ two sets, and all was well for the the last 2 months. Perhaps he intended that set to be simply a loaner until his contract runs out where the company will renew and obtain a new one. However, our colleagues from procurement start stock taking recently, and they assigned this set to him permanently. They informed him that since there is no fault with ‘the loan set’, along with the fact that 3G Blackberry 8707s are still on the company’s approved list and relatively advanced (as compared to his previous 2G one), it will not be replaced. At that point in time, I had unlocked ten sets (nine Blackberry 8707 + 1 Blackberry 9000 Bold), with fives sets (four Blackberry 8707 and 1 Blackberry Bold 9000) assigned and active.


[* Amendment: To avoid the confusion that "the" department was referring to the traders.]

Here’s where the whole hullabaloo started. He was upset that the procurement department will not obtain for him a new one – presumably the Blackberry 9000 Bold. He then informed me to put on hold and not unlock the six remaining ‘locked’ sets and went so far to justify his actions, saying that unlocking these sets may actually not be legal.

Legal, my farting ass! For the past two months when that set is in use, he said nothing about it not being ‘legal’. In my opinion, since these handsets are already out of warranty and written off by the Tokyo office, the company need not be concerned that ‘unlocking’ the set might render the warranty null and void under any existing end user agreements. Even if I break them in the process of unlocking, it makes no difference to the company. By suggesting that it may not be legal, it would suggest that I am acting without approval from higher management and I might be subjected to disciplinary action. While nothing would benefit me by making these sets usable, I certainly did not expect the someone to make a big fuss which would potentially put me into trouble. On top of which, I am now stuck with all these ‘locked’ handsets under my desk, because I cannot hand them over to the procurement department.

How do I feel about that? I felt like someone deliberately scored an own goal because he wasn’t given something and didn’t even realise he had! He further went on screaming to the referee that a foul may have been committed. Because of this, I might even get a yellow card for it.

Thank you very much, sir! All these shit just because you were indignant you weren’t given a new Blackberry Bold. How you can create such a big fuss over your very own penis “Blackberry Bold Envy” would probably be a legend that will be told again and again among the colleagues in the procurement and legal department in time to come. I hope someone from high management can see this idiocy in itself, then proceed to kick your ass and shut you up for a long time!



Political Video:

A different reality

I joined the workforce in January 1995, and it’s been almost 14 years since then, where I moved from the manufacturing sector into IT Support. I learn over the years, that some colleagues remained colleagues, some I choose to forget the moment either they or I leave the company, some are extremely good drinking and / or partying buddies yet terrible colleagues, and some become good friends where we share ideas and talk about almost everything under the sun. In my world, everybody is let all the way past my defenses until they have proven themselves to be scheming, self-centered or conniving little a**holes.

So it was not long ago, I had a discussion after work on the way to the Clarke Quay MRT station with one of my colleagues and a friend over the matter of two other colleagues who are at loggerheads with one another. He then told me that he wasn’t surprised that has happened since these two other colleagues stood at the opposite of the spectrum. One is friendly to almost everyone, while the other has on one occasion mentioned, “There are only colleagues, and friends.” Meaning, these two categories are mutually exclusive of one another.

It was sometime later when I did a recap on that conversation, when I suddenly remember not too long ago I had tried to add another colleague (not the same one who made that comment) to Facebook, and I received an interesting reply that goes like this:

Ey, sorry. Just have this weird policy of not adding current collegues to facebook. Nothing personal however. :)

And thus I am ‘inducted’ into the stark reality of some people’s worlds. A reality in which existing colleagues are never considered as friends, and colleagues and friends are mutually exclusive. A world in which they compartmentalise different sections of their lives and keep them from one another. While there is nothing wrong with such a view, it comes into conflict with mine. While I would not openly and actively object to people living by such principles – they are of course entitled to it – there is nothing to stop me from subjecting them to their ‘realities’ based on my definitions and understanding of it.

I may never know who else lived by these principles, but those who are known to live by them will now be subjected to my understanding of such a ‘reality’, where under my scope of work they are nothing more than a ‘client’ and nothing else.

A ‘client’ is less than even a colleague, since I defined colleagues as not a person working in the same company but only those in the same department. Since I am in IT Support, a ‘client’ would therefore refers to any user who calls us for support.

While their view may work to compartmentalise their lives and keeps them from getting hurt or backstabbed by other people, it also cuts the other way. After all, it is of no surprise why no one else would treat them better than a colleague (or in my case a ‘client’). They can blame no one but themselves for not making an effort for making it better.

I do not have to object to it, but only choose to subject them to the principles they swear by. Now, they can just die by it… quietly. Don’t complain if I treat them terribly along with the usual IT Morons I already despised.

Die, by the very sword you wield.


Recommended Reads:
ZDNet Blogs – Apple Faithful: Arrogance Is Not a Virtue, and Why I Will Never Buy a Mac
凉心栈: 为老人做得足够吗?