Monday, September 5, 2011

Perception Fiasco

After going live in Reno, a number of issues have cropped up. The problems were due to the environment and not the program installed. Someone in a back office mistakenly pulled a plug or a switch was not working or someone tripped over a cable. The week after going live was a nightmare with the support team struggling to get the warehouses running again. All hands on deck as people scrambled to get the problem fixed, calling the warehouses and doing the job for them in their cubicles at head office. With the wonders of technology, the needed reports and labels flowed to the warehouses from distant offices; a task these folks could do themselves before the event. But a day or two after the incident, things started to go back to normal. It was a disaster that could have turned worse if not for the efforts of the support team. It was a hair rising couple of days. But the damage was done even after the glitch was fixed. A perception of a fiasco in people’s minds.

The big boys did not think highly of the whole thing. It was a mess looking at the way the users in Reno were complaining. The program was unstable and not working correctly. But there were a lot of issues that involved other systems, the network and the server. But it all came into the application just installed. So the director in his great wisdom suspended the roll-out to other sites until all issues are fixed. Every small problem catalogued and reported even if trivial. Written down in e-mail reports, simple incidents are raised into staggering proportions. The warehouse head was not around in Reno when the program was installed. He came a week after from a business trip; just when the team left and when all these glitches occurred. So he started to write daily reports of these incidents – broken printer ribbons, program cannot connect to server, system delays and page errors and so on. It looked like a big mess from the perception of the director.

But keeping things in perspective, products were shipped without a single day suffering a shut down. There were some delays but products were loaded into trucks and driven out to feeder warehouses, into railroad trains, loaded into trucks again and finally delivered to the customer. The program held and system did not collapse. It was working despite the many problems. But once the incidents died down, it was looking good despite daily reports from Reno reporting trivial issues. But one should not take these reports lightly as the director is monitoring the exchange of emails. One should be respectful and consider the other’s point of view. One’s ally is time as it rushes forward without delay, until one is adapted to the new change and accepts the altered conditions as the new normal.  From a larger view, it’s a move towards the ‘cloud’ as formerly decentralized programs are moved to the ether. Cloud computing making its presence felt in distant warehouse at the edge of great cities.

Yesterday was a good day when the report from the warehouse was positive only to come back again in today’s mail with some minor glitches. It is the nature of the ‘cloud’ that one cannot battle. But one is glad that issues have subsided. It’s like the ebb and flow of a wave where one approaches the shore and eventually the water recedes back and one walks into dry sand. The issues have died down although there are still some nagging problems which our friends from the great IBM are trying to fix.  It is the network that is the problem, the highways and feeder roads of cyberspace. The veins of the ‘cloud’ - an ethereal entity that no one sees; the new God in the internet age. The main challenge is to allow the users’ to wrap their heads around the new concept (or religion).  It’s the new normal in life with ceaselessly onrushing work and new projects coming on stream. Amidst these weeks of stress and bewildering issues (which IBM seems to fix in the background), one starts a new project, attends several project meetings and joins a 2-day seminar on business analysis. One goes to the gym, swims and exercises and attends baseball games. Life goes on and one must try to seek normalcy as soon as possible; to go through the motions of a regular life even if the mind is swirling with thoughts.

One keeps active, reading books, participating in Toastmaster meetings, talking to new people and attending speech contests.  An old friend visited again from Canada and had friends over for dinner for three days. The dinners are always great with good conversation, jokes and laughter, looking at photographs in the Internet, listening to music, reminiscing about the past and having a fun time. One does not dwell on work but moves on. I had stopped bringing my laptop home but did so again since going live in Reno. Reno is three hours behind us (Pacific Time) so any problems that come up during their day close would be reported in Eastern Time at about 6 or 7 pm.  One must be ready at all times – so one brings his laptop using a back pack to avoid the shoulder stress of a normal computer bag.

Finally, this weekend is Labor Day and one must try to use the holiday to re-charge. Perhaps a hike in the hills or kayaking in a lake or maybe a visit to a mountain town somewhere in the Appalachians.  Baseball season has ended so one must look for the next diversion. A lot of DVDs borrowed from main library will keep one busy. Classic Japanese films on samurais and ninja’s and modern salary men learning to dance, Fellini’s ‘Amacord’, Ken Burns ‘The War’, a Middle East war film ‘Marooned in Iraq’  and the last film of a great Russian director. Numerous books to read - one about Google, the Civil War (a picture book), a book about life hacking, a cook book on Southern dishes, numerous magazines like Fortune, Business week, Time and Wired. Plus listening to Philip Roth’s excellent ‘Everyman’ in the car’s CD player.  A great writer that remind one of both Saul Bellow (for his Jewishness) and John Updike (for his suburban tales reeking of sex). No wonder that one cannot write. Being a writer requires a serenity of mind with no external stimulation that result in mental churning.

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