Tag: IT

Hi, this is Pooh joining…

To begin, I need to tell you mere mortals (yeah, all of you who don’t know what Agile methodology is) about Agile methodology. I would also like to clarify that I am not a dissident as far as it is concerned with Agile.

In fact, I love the Agile methodology, its charter and its principles. There are projects, which would so much fit in that methodology and ours too fits in that, even though many on my project would not buy that.

So, Agile/Scrum in simplest terms is an iterative and incremental development methodology in which teams start with a backlog of all identified tasks, groups the tasks into scrums and then start off, with weekly/bi-weekly deadlines, where the deliverable of scrum is tested/verified by designated personnel.

Well, enough of the technical mumbo-jumbo. This is not the intent of this post.

Once upon a time, when a project was being run under Agile/Scrum and there used to be a daily status call (as per the methodology) to track the work of developers -what happened the past day and what they have planned for the day after.

15 minutes into the call,  a beep..

Scrum Master: Hi, who just joined?

New Joinee: Hi, this is Pooh joining

Scrum Master: Oh hi Pooh, How are ya?

Pooh: Hey Scrum Master, am doing good. What bt you?

Scrum Master: Doing good enough. BTW, this is a show and tell meeting.

Scrum Master: So, Pooh, do you have anything to show today? Were you working on some story (tasks are organized as stories)?

Pooh: Yeah, I was working on Honey Extraction story. There are two tasks under it. Task 201: Extraction of honey from beehive Task 202: Import honey into jars

Scrum Master: Excellent! But I am not sure, I noticed this story and also the story seems a bit weird.

Senior Dev 1: Pooh, I’ve a question here. What story was that? And where have you placed the jars? – Common or core? Just asking coz I did not hear about this story and I want to check what has been uploaded onto the branch.

Pooh: This is the story I work on every day. Well, sometimes I work on some other things too. About the jars – Actually I have just put them on my desk as of now, since I was getting late for the call. Also, Senior Dev 1 , I have not hear of this Common or Core. Are they some new location, as in address where we are supposed to place our jars?

Senior Dev 1: What do you mean, you have not heard of Common and Core? And I did not get you, when you used the term “location”. Are you clear what are we talking about? And all that crap about story?

Pooh: I am talking about what I did today and then you asked me where do I keep my jars. I usually keep my jars on my shelf by the window in my kitchen

Senior Dev 1: What the beep that means?

Scrum Master: Guys, I think this is an aftercall (When you are going to talk about something apart from just giving the status, be it clarification of something or discussion on some issues, which need not involve the entire team)

Senior Dev 1: No, Scrum Mater, I think we should get it cleared right now with the entire team. I am not sure, I understand what Pooh is talking about. All of a sudden he’s talking like an idiot with that jar thing.

Beep Beep (The other end of the line, with people at onshore, the phone goes mute to discuss something)

Senior Dev 2: (Intervening) Guys, I think we have got the wrong Pooh.

Scrum Master: Oh yeah, all of a sudden, I also feel that. Wait, let’s just ask him.

Beep Beep (The line is open again)

Scrum Master: Hi Pooh, we’re back again, are you Pooh Sharma?

Pooh: No, I am Winnie-the-Pooh, the bear

(Everyone else on the call suddenly goes WTF! WTF!)

Scrum Master: What? Pooh Bear

Pooh: Yeah

Scrum Master: Pooh, you’re on the wrong call. This call is for a different project.

Pooh: Is it?

Scrum Master: Yes, you moron! You wasted our valuable time with your stupid honey and jars

Pooh: I am sorry guys! I will disconnect now and check whether Tigger, Piglet and my other friends are still waiting on the other bridge. Apologies once again. I’ll send some honey to you’all for this inconvenience.

Senior Dev 3: Poooh, just upload it on the branch and we’ll get it from there.

Pooh: Sure, I’ll pu.. I mean upload the jar on the branch of Maple tree.

Senior Dev 3: WTF! Leave it Pooh. You enjoy your honey. And please disconnect now.

Pooh: Thanks to you’ll for being patient and not hurling abuses at me.

(Everyone mumbles: Wait till you disconnect moron)

Beep Beep (Pooh disconnects)

Scrum Master: Guys, we had enough for today. We’ll reconvene tomorrow.

 

The Other Side of IT (as in Frustration)

When I look back, I recall that my first aim was to be an Air Force Fighter pilot. I was somehow very much hooked on to fighter planes and air force. That was way back in third grade. See, I had an aim long long back. My younger brother wanted to be in navy. Later as I was growing up, and IT was catching up with us, I started thinking of being a software engineer.

I was hell inquisitive from my early days and I knew about Microsoft when I was in 9th grade. I used to daydream about passing from IIT and then working for Microsoft. Another thing which almost sealed my fate that I was going to study Computer Science and Engineering, was when my mausi got married to a software engineer who was stationed in London and was going to States after marriage. Now, what bigger fantasy can a school going guy back in 1996/97 have about future job. And that’s how it was sealed.

A long time back I asked my dad, why he chose civil engineering during his engineering, when he could have got computers and electronics. He told me about his childhood days, when he used to see the engineers constructing roads and bridges near the village and that was how he fascinated himself as a civil engineer. More than that, there was no one actually to guide him, since he came from an agrarian family background. So, that is how he got his inspiration or aim for life.

Well, I never made it to the IITs and neither to Microsoft (at least so far). And anyways, I would prefer Google now (this time I am not daydreaming). By the way, I did try to get in Air Force after my 12th, passed NDA written (a lot of us do) and then was rejected at SSB. That was my first and last attempt at that. Skip all that happened in between and in my grad college, eventually I was a CSE graduate.

It will be 5 years on 19th June in IT industry and sadly, yes sadly the same company I joined as fresher. Seeing the title, you know I am going to talk about the frustration I have endured and keep on enduring in IT (at least with the services companies, I guess).

Many of us, who are outside IT will think that frustration is normal in any job when it becomes mundane and (yes please take a note of it) if you’re ambitious enough. Nevertheless, the story of frustration starts in first week (or second week), when the day of drafting comes. Drafting is the day when you are assigned a track – as in Databases, Java, Dot Net, Testing, C/C++. These stand at the basic categories as far as I know about IT industry. Figments of frustration starts in a lot of us that day. You were an expert at Java at college but you’re put in Database. Someone loved databases and was put on Java, Dot Net guy gets testing.  Are you getting a picture now? It hits you in the face on day 1. Remember always that this post has a pre-requisite – you have to be ambitious! I have seen people who have whatsoever no concerns about anything. And by saying that, I am not entering a debate of what is a cakewalk and what is a tightrope walk. I am talking about the ebbing of frustration.

You crib about it, discuss it with HR, with friends, trying to find some jack which you can use, but not everyone is lucky enough. The question I raise here is, is it ok for companies to randomly draft freshers in different trades? Why can’t they use a better interview process which can be used later for filtration? Why the IT companies can complain about the lack of adequate talent at graduate level, but show no concern in devising a process for bringing things to a better order? Is it asking for too much to spend some time and resources on restructuring the entire selection process?

The answer can be Yes or No. Some of you will feel that since the usual hirings are in large numbers (volume can be more suited here), a process for preference cannot be implemented. But, has someone really tried anything on that lines? A few companies have.  Many, I think don’t care ( I maybe wrong here though, and would like to see the points in comments)

Then, once you’re assimilated in the system, you start questioning things, finding problems with the processes, getting irked with what everyone else feels so comfortable. As for me, meetings used to make me irritable and still they have their charm. It’s not that I don’t like any meeting. I totally like the meeting in the current project. Brisk, to-the-point and end of the meeting. I used to be irritated when people started buttering managers by asking about their kids, about their vacation and blah blah blah. If a project status meeting or team meeting needs you and the team to waste more than 30 minutes at any time in the steady phase, it simply means everyone just loves to waste time and that frustrates me. A lot of times, the manager wasted 30 minutes telling that “we should keep meeting udner 30 minutes”. Well, you moron, if you would have resisted from saying that again and again, at least we would have saved 30 minutes!

Third, when you know that there is a price to pay for being very good. I learned it very hard way. As per written policies, you can change your project after 18 months. Nevertheless, that’s like the metaphor for white elephant. You wish that they would release you at that. If you were planning to talk to HR, better you save your efforts and most importantly time. Since you are performing well, your manager will not let you go. They will cite innumerable things, which make your stay with the team and project essential for company’s future and growth. They will show you everything which you would know then and there, that they have not an iota of truth in that, subject to application of reason by yourself. The same project will frustrate you, at times drive you crazy and you’ll start looking out for options.

So far, so good?

You will show the talent for a lot of things, but it all depends on the managers and their bosses on what they want to see. They might not want you to give what you want and still show you that they know what’s best for you! You will be shown how exciting your mundane job is. You will be given examples of what others could not but you have achieved (as if you achievements are alimony and not due to your talent, hard work, brilliance).

Wrapping it up with the biggest frustration which I faced. The superiors you’re working with in your team are good for nothing but they are there since they are good friends with the managers. Getting me, what I mean by Good Friends? I am not touching or referencing politics as that’s virtually everywhere. What I am pointing at it, when incapable and incompetent people are sitting above you and giving you directions. When a person is manager – managing a project, multiple projects and entire business unit – not due to his actual managerial skills but due to the reason that he has number of years with him. It does not matter whether he has any people skills or not, it does not matter whether he has technical skills or not.

In the end, it’s a pitiful job, at least what I felt. If you have potential and you know it in you, don’t stay back in the service industry as a developer or better say doing operations support

Disclaimer: The experiences here are my own with the service industry in IT sector. I can only guess that the scene is a lot better in product companies. You might be in service industry and you had a totally different experience. Depends on the outlook, depends on what you want, depends on interest and somewhat capability.

The Interview

Sometimes back I started thinking that it is the time to change my job and so I started looking for job. I was a bit apprehensive about the interviews and tests as it had been a long time since I faced an interview. Not that I was afraid of or was not confident about my technical skills, but the fact that you never know who the interviewer is going to be. Again, I am not looking for knowing an interviewer personally in advance but the fact that will he be actually testing my skills by asking relevant questions or will I have to answer some really absurd questions.

After appearing for 3 interviews in different companies, it turned out that my feeling about taking those weird questions was very much right and there are morons (no offense to everyone but to some guys, yes) in the industry who will ask weird questions to test I don’t know what. Maybe to test the weirdness factor of your mind.

Anyways, so recently I came across such a guy who worked at a really big company. The process started with this company by a telephonic technical interview, which I cleared with all success. The guy (let’s call him Mr X) gave me a brief overview of the technologies which I will be working on. I wanted to know the job profile apart from the technical skill sets and some details about the project I was being interviewed for. Now, this is something which one will obviously want to know before joining a company. I was told that, I will get another call from HR guy who will let me know of such details to which I was completely ok with. Nevertheless, that call never came and some days later (I guess a week later), I received by a call from Mr Y who was the HR guy with that company. Mr Y asked me to report to their office tomorrow for another round of interview. I asked him what this will be about and what about the job profile, project stuff. He said that he is not having any details at this moment but I will be told about everything tomorrow. I was a bit apprehensive but I agreed.

So, the next day I book a cab as the place was far off. I reported to the place 10 minutes in advance and after clearing the security staff was led to reception area by the Mr Y. I was told that I will be interviewed in 15 minutes. I waited for another 30 minutes before the interviewer, Mr Z came. Honestly, I do not expect such delays when I am not waiting in a line of interviews, where I know that a preceding interview can go beyond the time limits, which is perfectly ok. But, here I was the only guy and there was no sign of the interviewer for quite some time.

Anyways, Mr Z took me along to a conference room. I gave him my resume and he flipped pages and started with the very basic question as to describe your profile and technical skill sets, to which I gave me everything which was relevant. Now starts the funny part.

Mr Z: So, which college you are from?

Me: gave him the name of college and city

Mr Z: Where are you from?

Me: Patna

Mr Z: You’re from Patna, so how come you came to know of this college in a different city, so far?

(Seriously here I was pissed off and knew how “capable” this guy is and that I was not going to join this company. I was thinking that is this guy from stone-age? What kind of question is this? Is he is a wacko?Anyways leaving my thoughts aside)

Me: There was an advertisement in the newspapers. The college was having its entrance examination, then I checked the website and filled up the forms. I sat for the exam and made it to the college.

Z: So, is it affiliated to UPTU? (the state university)

Me: No, it’s a deemed university

Z: Deemed university (a long pause), but your exams must have been held with the UPTU exams?

(Again, he is proving that either he has made up his mind to ask only absurd questions or he is totally being idiotic)

Me: No, since our college was a deemed univ, it did not come under purview of the state university.

Z: No, but how can that happen? The exam has to be conducted by UPTU. Your college cannot take exams.

(My patience was being tested relentlessly and I guess if that was the intent, I was coming with flying colors)

Me: No, a deemed univ has the right to take its own examination. After all that is what the purpose and meaning of a deemed university is. It decides its syllabus and conducts examination and gives its degree.

Z: I don’t think so.

(I wanted to say WTF you mean by Deemed university then, but again I guess I showed my patience)

Me: You can check the UGC website for the objective and purpose of deemed universities and you can confirm that my college is indeed a deemed university

Z: Yes, I will do so

(What kind of an idiot he was. I wanted to leave the interview then and there but again sometimes, I can’t take impulsive decisions)

Z: Tell me about your current project you are working on

Me: I told him an overview of what the project is and what I do, blah blah that I am DB developer and there are front-end developers who look after that piece of system and all that. How there are feeds and servers. In short the basic architecture.

Z: what technologies are involved in the current project?

Me: Oracle 10g DB, Perl, Shell, Vignette CMS, Interwoven CMS, Java, Tcl/Tk

Z: What is the front-end language?

Me: Java (for one system) and Tcl/Tk (for another)

Z: What is this Tcl/Tk? Is it used for creating web-pages?

Me: Yes, it is. You can also write JS and Java code alongside.

Z: Not sure as I have never heard about it.

(Now, wait a minute. If you have never heard about it, is that my problem. And will ever a candidate give a fictitious name for a programming language/tool to an interviewer? People can falsely claim to have worked on something, which they never did, but a fictitious language??? Only Mr Z can think of that. And is this the way to put it forward?)

Me: Silence

Z: What is Vignette and Interwoven?

Me: They are Content Management system. Give a brief overview of what CMS is

Z: So, currently you are on an operation support project.

Me: Yes

Z: Before that?

Me: I was on dev projects.

Z: I can see from your resume that you have been working for the same client from the very start of your career

Me: Yes

Z: So, have you been to onsite?

Me: Yes, 3 times

Z: What was the duration?

Me: 3 months, 9 months and then 3.5 months

Z: Where was it?

Me: Told him the location in US

Z tries to lighten up by making a statement that it’s like a mini India there. He asks me if I liked it there? I replied in affirmative.

Z: The project you’re interviewed for is an operation support project and based here

(he wanted to tell me that the project is based out of this office which was in a different city than I was in.)

Me: Ok, I was not told about this

Z: No one said anything about this to you?

Me: No

Z: Are you ok with this?

(I was not at all, but replied in affirmative)

Z: So, how do you work in OPS?

Me: I am sorry but can you be more specific?

Z: I mean, how an issue reaches you?

Me: Tell him the process and clarify that I am not in L1/L2 support but rather L3 and more than that stuff

Z: So is there any priority assigned to tickets?

Me: Yes, and categories also. There are SLAs defined for all priorities

Z: What happens when you don’t meet an SLA?

Me: Nothing happens as such. We keep on working and close it ASAP. But the client generates a report of issues which missed SLA and our company also does the same and we keep a track of this data to see the performance of team over a time period.

Z: How do you capture the issues?

Me: We have a remedy system wherein tickets are created/closed/stored. Give the name of the system

Z: Is it a freeware?

Me: No, it’s a licensed tool. Specify the name of the company

Then he asks me other questions about project mgmt stuff going on like reporting structure, my hierarchy and related stuff.

At this, the interview concluded. I was very much pissed off for two reasons. One, this stuff could have been asked over the phone also as it was not technical. Companies always invite to their location for technical interview to make sure that the guy was not taking anyone’s help for telephonic round and all that. Second, Z’s questions triggered my hatred and dislike.

Anyways, I leave the conference room and walk out. X was sitting outside and asked me if interview was over and then walked inside conference room. I was thinking that the guy will come back to me and say that I am not selected coz Mr Z had doubts about my college, about technologies I said about. Nevertheless, he came to me and said that I have made it through. (more reasons for not joining this company) I ask him whether there will be any technical round to which he says no. He then asks me whether I am comfortable with OPS and I say that I am not and I was not told that this is an OPS project and based out of this city. He says that he thinks that he told me, but is not sure. I tell him that he did not.

He then asks me to wait for 10 minutes and he will get in touch with this manager and then come back.

45 minutes goes by and I have my eyes on the door for him but he did not show up. I call him to ask his whereabouts and he says that he is coming down in 10 minutes. I again wait for another 45 minutes after which he finally shows up. I was so much pissed off at this time about the management and sensitivity about the time lines that I decided that I am not going to join them what ever happens. He comes back with a simple sorry and tells me to give him the documents (a form to be filled, photographs) and says that salary negotiation will be held later!

I was like F*** you, but I ask him why it can’t be done today and now as I have already wasted so much time. He has no perfect answer and I was not in mood to listen to his worthless reasons. So, I decide to leave.

Well, you see how insensitive some interviewers can be to your time and how big a moron can be sitting high in some technical company here who knows nothing and asks completely idiotic questions!

On my way back, I decided that I am never gonna join them in my life. Such sloppy people.