Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life in big, stuffy corporate company

So it's already my second week working at Accenture and so far working here hasn't been all that bad, considering the field of work I'm in, Systems Integration and Technology, is completely uncharted territory for the true blue science geek that is yours truly. But let me start from the very first day, which is of course was the most exciting day of all... after all what's more nerve wrecking than my first day at work in a super huge multinational and extremely corporate company such as Accenture when all this time the toughest I've had to deal with so far is bratty primary school kids? Personally, I'd rather take the bratty kids over a stuffy corporate environment where I'd have to deal with difficult clients.... which eventually I will have to do, but thankfully has not happened yet.

Anyhow, the first day last Monday was just an orientation for me together with about 17 other newbies (that's about 3 times more people than the number of people at Mad Science. Yikes! And that's just in addition to the 750 over other Accenture employees in Malaysia alone...). That first day is the closest I've had to endure of stuffy corporate environment so far coz' everyone was in a business suit or office wear. I was the most 'casual' as I was wearing a long-sleeved cardigan over a matching spaghetti strap top with slacks, totally unaware that I was supposed to be dressed more formally as I failed to check my email until after that day. Fortunately, no one chided me for my dressing anyway. There was one other newbie girl with a Japanese-like dorky kind of hairdo (super thick bangs cut perfectly straight across her forehead, with the rest of her straight shoulder-length hair so stiff, it could've been a wig!) and wearing a black blazer with shoulder pads that made her look like a jock.... she looked pretty scary! And it didn't help that it turns out she was my junior from high school and she recognized me, even though I had no idea who she was. Fortunately, everyone else didn't pull off the super intimidating I-mean-business-so-don't-mess-with-me look quite as well as she did.

Anyhow, the bunch of us spent the whole day sitting in a big fancy meeting room, listening to the facilitator explain to us all the important things we need to know, like making time reports, using technical services, our benefits, what are our respective projects, etc, etc... In between, we were taken out to have a nice lunch at Madame Kwan's, a very expensive restaurant at KLCC selling local and western cuisine. Seeing how the company was treating all the newbies to lunch, I helped myself to a rather pricey meal of lamb chops and vanilla milkshake. Then I spent the rest of my lunch wondering if the company would keep an eye on those 'kiasu' people who ordered the more expensive meals. Haha, first day jitters! We also had a guy named Victor sitting at my table together with half of the newbies. Victor said he has been working at Accenture for over 10 years, during which he has travelled to a number of other countries for business. He also told us, very interestingly, that he was on leave that day and was on leave for a whole six months! This is because his family complained that he was spending too much time at work and not enough time at home, so the company, recognizing his contribution to Accenture, allowed him to take a break of 6 months! Wow, that's pretty cool. I don't think many companies would allow that! And the travelling to other countries part sounds nice too (yeah yeah, I know it's not really all that fun having to pack and run around to airports and there would be little time to actually sightsee with work, but still... I'm always up for a little adventure even if it IS mixed with some stuffy corporate meetings). Anyway, we were supposed to try and find out more about life at Accenture from Victor, but the newbies at my table were unfortunately mostly the silent type, save for one other guy and myself who kept bombarding Victor with whatever questions we could think of.

After lunch, we trooped back to the big meeting room where we continued with our long and boring orientation, which got even more boring towards the end when they subjected us to an hour of powerpoint presentations about what to do in case of technical or IT problems related to our laptops (yes, we got laptops!). Every now and then, that robotic sweet lady's voice would ask us "Do you understand this part of the presentation, at which all of us would groan "Yes..." in unison. This was after lunch at around 5 to 6pm, mind you. Then at the end of the day, all of us went of to collect our laptops, which was pretty exciting for me coz' it didn't even occur to me that we would be getting laptops! Unluckily for me though, I ended up with a old Dell Latitude 610, and from what I've heard since then, Dell is sucky compared to the newer models like HP. Plus the bag it came in made carrying it around a huge and heavy hassle, so I decided to ditch the bag and use my Compaq laptop bag at home, which is much sleeker and not so bulky. So now I carry around a Dell laptop in a Compaq bag. Just a couple of days ago, the 'R' button on my laptop came completely off, so I reported it to the IT department, and hopefully it'll be a good enough reason for me to change my laptop with a nicer and newer model!

Anyway, after Orientation Day, I was straight away thrown to my first project, in which the client is TM. I was rather blur on Tuesday though, coz' I was told the day before to contact my project manager but it was late so I decided to do it the next day, which I did only when I went all the way back to the KLCC office and I was wondering if there was anything else there to do before I flew off to my project site. Apparently there wasn't coz' there was no one there who was remotely interested in the newbies anymore (and I didn't even see most of the other newbies save for a few, including scary Japanese hairdo girl), so I handed in a few more forms before calling up my project manager who told me to get to the Cygal building, which is next to the TM building along the Federal Highway. And that is where I have ever since. And what exactly is my project all about? Well, here's the 411:

The project: Creating a customer care application for TM known as iCare that will integrate with their own system and enable them to further enhance their customer services.

Current stage: They have already created and launched three earlier versions of iCare and are currently working on their fourth release of the application which will have additional features to serve specific TM users. Right now, we are done building the application but it needs to be tested thoroughly for bugs. Which is where I come in!

My job: Create a list of test conditions on which to test the application against, and report and problems discovered to the fix team, who will then proceed to eliminate the problem. For those non-technical people who have no idea what a test condition is, don't worry, neither did I when I first went in. An example would be, say, the test condition is: Search for a customer by his login name. The expected result for that would be: Customer profile is located and his details are listed. So if I perform the search by login name and it did not appear as expected, then something is wrong with that function and I need to report it. As such, anything that has to do with what system's functions are can be made into a test condition. If the system is tested against a condition and the expected results are achieved, then hooray! If the results are not as expected, such as an error message pops up, then it's work for the Fix team. Comprende?

So basically, my job is not difficult in the sense that I don't actually need much IT skills or need to learn heaps of programming stuff before I can do anything (which was what I was worried about)... all I need to do is know what the system is supposed to do, and use a bit of common sense to create test conditions and then test the system against them. The difficult part is that the number of test conditions created are, well, a LOT. And to test against all of them is taking a LONG time. It's a tedious process, in which I do little else but sit and stare at my laptop all day, testing the functions until I come across a problem. In which case, I have a chance to get up and walk 8 steps away to my senior team member to ask her if this is actually a bug or not. And if it IS, then I have to create something called a SIR, which is a report of the problem which will be sent to the fix team. And another difficult part was, and still is, having to remember a gazillion and one new terms and jargon that are used at TM. There are a ton of TM applications with names like CASS, MCMB, eQuest, WebSTARS, TMBilly, WebBRAINS, and so on and so forth, and I have to remember what all the systems are for. And then there are another gazillion abbreviations used related to the project, like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), CSR (Customer Service Representative), ToS (Termination of Service), SR (Service Request), SIT (Systems Integration Test), UAT (User Acceptance Test), CRMKB (Customer Relationship Management Knowledge Base) , etc, etc..... By the end of the first day, my head was full of a jumble of letters! You can imagine how blur I am when my project team members start rambling on about the project and talking in abbreviations, while I'm blinking and trying to remember what they all stand for. The funniest thing is that, while I know my official position is as Analyst under Systems Integration and Technology (SI&T), I had no idea what is meant by workforce or operating group, let alone which one I am under coz' no one told me at Orientation. So when someone emailed me at work asking for my OG/WF (even that I didn't know it was, until later I found out), I emailed back asking what she meant. And her reply was something along the lines of "OG means either CHT, GHT, etc... and WF means SHT, GHF, etc... (I'm just making up those coz' I can't remember exactly what she wrote). Suffice to say, I was even more blur than before.

Sigh, I suppose over time I will gradually understand and speak the strange alien language that they use at Accenture. In addition to that, I also have to deal with less technical issues like how my eyes get blurry rather quickly now that I work all day in front of a comp, and also my butt hurts from sitting on the chair too long. One of my friends suggested shifting from one butt cheek to another at intervals. I never thought any suggestion related to butt cheeks would actually be a good idea.... The good thing now though is that I get internet access all day, unlike my previous job, and I get to enjoy free internet music...which is actually really cool coz' I get to listen to all sorts of weird stations you'd never hear on local radio, like Christian music stations, Rock & Alternative, New Age, and even stations playing recorded sermons. Tried listening to the sermon station once, but it kind of distracted me from my work so I decided it wasn't a good idea. Also, we get to enjoy free milo, coffee, tea and Maggi at office if we're feeling peckish. Unfortunately, this is one area where my office is still lacking, even compared to Mad Science. Over there, I could have all that and even enjoy a variety of sweet, biscuits and other goodies! Of course, most of this stuff is for party pinatas, so technically I wasn't supposed to eat them.... bygones!

As for now, it's time for bed and back to work tomorrow. TTFN!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The death of a pet

I started my new job at Accenture yesterday. As much as it has been an interesting past couple of days working in a completely new environment, unfortunately my story of my experiences so far are about to be put on hold until my next post, due to a recent sad event. One of my gerbils died on Saturday. The poor blighter was one of my brown male gerbils, named Peanut. He was the biggest and fattest among my gerbil family of eight (would have been ten, but I gave two away to an ex-colleague).

Now it would not have been so bad if the little fella had died of old age, or got sick, or just died of high cholesterol coz' it was too fat. I would have been sad, but I would've gotten over it quickly. But instead, not only am I sad, but I am also infuriated, pissed and downright ready to explode everytime I think about what happened to my gerbil. Because Peanut was a perfectly happy and healthy gerbil, and it would've lived up to a ripe old age.... if NOT for someone in my house who decided he was so smart and didn't listen to what I asked him to do so many time. This said person in my house completely disregarded what I told him NOT to do, even though it was related to MY pets, which HE never lifted a finger to feed, or give water to, or change their bedding or take care of them in any way. This said person in my house caused the death of my poor innocent gerbil for his own sadistic amusement!!!!

How did it happen? Well, let's see... this person in my house, or PIMH for short, because I do not want to refer to him in any other manner out of my little spattering of respect I think I have left of him simply because I am 'supposed' to respect him, had decided from the time I had begun taking care of my gerbils that it would be amusing to let the family dog a.k.a. Sassy the Shih Tzu 'play' with the gerbils by letting her loose on a few of the gerbils at once in a confined area. By confined, it usually meant on the top of a bed or a couch. The PIMH seemed to think it would good to do so because it would get the dog of the house all excited and give her some exercise chasing the gerbils around. But I myself having observed the dog when it chased the gerbils, saw that the dog would sometimes get too rough and try to grab them with a mouth (equivalent to a fatal bite for a little gerbil) or immobilize them by pouncing on them with her paw. As such, I informed this PIMH not to let the dog play with the gerbils, not once, but on several occasions, reminding him that the dog could hurt the gerbils, even though she may only be 'playing' with them and not want to hurt them intentionally. However, this said PIMH thought our dog to be so preciously innocent that it wouldn't hurt the gerbils at all, even though I once saw the dog catch one of my gerbils in her mouth and grip it tightly enough that it took both me and my mum to extricate it gently. Fortunately, my dog was smart enough that time to not bite hard enough to injure the gerbil, so it came out unscathed. But it still demonstrated that the dog would not hesitate to take a bite at them if she had the chance. But this said PIMH insisted that all she was doing was 'nudging the gerbils with her mouth'. Right.

So last weekend, I went to Malacca to visit my boyfriend for a few days from Friday to Sunday. And I had a great holiday, blissfully unaware of any unfortunate events happening back home... until I arrived home on Sunday. Then, after a little nap to recuperate from the journey home, I was informed my this said PIMH that something not-so-good had happened over the weekend. Now if he had just told me straight out what had happened instead of beating around the bush with a sheepish look on his face, maybe I wouldn't be so mad in hindsight. But that wasn't the case, coz' after a few more 'hints' about whatever it was that happened, it dawned on me. I asked him if anything had happened to my gerbils. Again, the sheepish look on the PIMH's face. And he asked me "Would you be mad of something bad had happened to your gerbils?". Confirming what I suspected, I answered a definite YES, and after some more questioning of this PIMH who annoyingly continued to beat around the bush, I discovered that he had let the dog 'play' with the gerbils and 'apparently' during this 'playtime', one of my gerbils 'died of a heart attack'.

At first, I didn't believe him. I couldn't believe him. I thought he was joking. But he said he wasn't. And when I went to count my gerbil family, I found 7 instead of 8. Peanut was missing. And when I asked him which gerbil was dead, he said the one that was brown in colour from the cage of males.

After I realised what had happened, I couldn't help myself. I cried for the next half an hour, completely speechless. I sat in front of my gerbil cages, cleaning out the stuff that they had chewed up over the weekend and replaced it with new things for them to chew. Then I went to eat my lunch, still crying silently. And all this time, this said PIMH didn't say anything. He didn't apologize, nothing. He just sat in front of his computer, staring at the screen as if nothing had happened. For more than half an hour. Then after a while, I got so mad, I asked him if he even felt sorry at all. Then, and ONLY then, did he say "Yeah, I'm sorry". And that was it. Just a sorry. Nothing along the lines of "I did something wrong and stupid and I shouldn't have" or anything else to indicate he regretted was he did. The only time he apologized was when I asked him to!!!!

And if that wasn't enough to make me cry, curse, swear under my breath and throw occasional angry fits at the idiocy of this PIMH allowing the dog to chase the gerbil around when I had told him repeatedly NOT to do so, today after even more prodding, I found out even MORE details of that horrible day that makes my blood boil even more. For one thing, the dog and the gerbils, were't just on the bed, they were on my floor of my bedroom. I've seen them on the bed before, and on that small space, the dog isn't usually chasing the gerbils so frantically as there is little space to chase them. But on the FLOOR, there is PLENTY of space for her to chase them, and there is where I have seem her pounce on them and try to bite them. I would have NEVER left her alone with them on the floor for a SECOND coz' I know she would do something to them. But this PIMH of amazingly low IQ told me that he NOT only left them alone, he left the dog with Peanut in the room alone for TEN minutes!!!!!! TEN MINUTES!!!!!! For crying out loud! The dog could have done anything to the gerbil in just 30 second, let alone ten minutes!!!!And what was he doing in that ten minutes? Well, he said he had been letting her play with a few of them at once, and he left the dog in the room with Peanut while he said he was putting the other gerbils back in their cage. WHAT??!!! It doesn't take ten minutes to walk from my room to the cage! What on earth was he thinking by leaving them alone for TEN minutes!!!!!!

After that, I realised not only was this said PIMH was sooooo stoooopid to leave the dog alone with my gerbil, so but he was also bullshitting me with pathetic excuses to try and cover up what had happened. For one thing, he told me that the gerbil 'died of a heart attack'. For goodness sake, there's not way it would've died of a heart attack! The dog wouldn't either bitten it or jumped on it so hard that it cracked it's skull or broke it's body. Either way, the dog did something to that killed it. And his lame excuse is that it died of a heart attack! And secondly, he told me that 'the dog was very quiet and sad' after that. Yeah right. The dog wouldn't have known it did anything wrong any better than a young lion cub who had killed its first rabbit. And I'm sure that this PIMH didn't even do anything to punish the dog or let it know what it did was wrong coz' he pampers the dumb pooch so much (though I also might add that it's my MUM who feeds it, bathes it, blowdries it, grooms it and does practically everything else for the dog while all this PIMH does is cuddle it call it his "LOVE"). And these excuses just infuriate me to bits! It's already bad enough he let this happen when I kept telling him not to do it! And he had the nerve to try and make it sound nicer than it was??? And the even MORE infuriating part is that when I scold him for it, he gets annoyed and just tells me that it's over now and I shouldn't be bringing it up so much. WHAT??? I raised this little gerbil everyday from the day it was born to become a perfectly healthy little fella... I bought the gerbils nice cages to stay in with wheels for them to exercise on and little funnels for them to play in.... I spend hours separating their poop and chewed up stuff from their bedding so I could make their cage cleaner (and not have to buy so much bedding)... I sat down next to their cages almost every night to feed them their favourite kuaci... I know each and every one of my gerbils by name.... and this insensitive PIMH who never lifted a finger to take care of them, doesn't even know their names, goes and does exactly what I told him NOT to do, gets one of my gerbils killed because of it, and when I scold him for it, he dares to get annoyed with me???? CAN YOU BLAME ME BEING SO ANGRY I WANT TO SCREAM MY HEAD OFF??? AAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Now everytime I clean out the cages or feed them kuaci, I keep thinking how there should be one more fat healthy brown gerbil running around in one of the cages, together with it's brothers and father. And I keep thinking how it's broken little body is rotting in some rubbish dump somewhere coz' that's where that PIMH unceremoniously dumped it before I even had the chance to see it. And he is still happily sitting in front of his computer everyday like life is just dandy. And he expects me to get over it. Right. I know most males are not as sensitive to other people's plights as females are.... but this PIMH... he has less sensitivity than that of a rotten prune. He's not truly sorry... and he never admitted he was wrong. To him, it's just one silly rat that died, and he probably thinks I'm overreacting. Which may be right, maybe I am overreacting. But it's the principle of the thing! Even though Peanut was just a little gerbil who cared more about getting it's daily kuaci than loving me back, I still loved it and it was MY pet. And if he doesn't have the decency to listen to me when I tell him NOT to endanger them, nor even apologize or admit he was wrong when something like this happens.... then I'm sure it will be a long time before I can ever get over this unfortunate incident. For now, all I can do is hope time will help me regain my severely depleted respect for this PIMH while also helping me to get through the tragic and unnecessary loss of an innocent pet.