Thursday, June 17, 2004

Quality !

What's the big deal made out of Quality and Process Managements anyway ? My mind wandered back to the days when I was working for a large software firm, which shall remain un-named ( for the simple reason that I don't wanna get my a$$ sued ! ). When we fresh, eager students joined the firm, straight out of college, we were told that we would have to attend a series of *important* training sessions. As it happens, the first and the longest one, turned out to that of Quality and tools used to "measure quality and improve the process" in the coporate environment !!!

Well, this long, winding, boring sessions later ( which lasted a whole day, and after which being in a train-wreck seemed like a sweet option ), we were informed by the lady who was the Quality Manager for our department ( she looked vaguely familiar...was she the one who was talking and interrupting my attempts at sleep during the whole session ? ) informed us that we had to send in any feedback or improvements to her, so that future generations of recuitees can benefit ( Could have said "scrap it entirely"...yeah right, like we were gonna let them get away that easily ! ) from such sessions.

Anyways...a month or so later, she comes by my neighbouring cubicle and chats with the gentleman who resides there. I happen to overhear a most interesting snippet : "Thanks K____n, you were the only one who sent me feedback. I have now changed the color of the button from blue to pink. I hope that this satisfies you" !!! Aaargh ! this was the "feedback"...and it "helped" him and future generations ??? And it took her and her "team" a MONTH to get down to doing it ? Well, judging by all the stress on "quality" and process management, maybe what would happened was:
* She assigned the task of investigating the feasibility of doing a background study on changing the color to a team-member.
* He took 2 days to figure out if documents existed that explain the concepts of "color" and "button" and the procedure to change the color of the button.
* The manager then assigned him and another team member the task of reading all the relevant documents and understanding what "color" and "button" really mean, and how such tasks were under-taken before and what are the possibilities for undertaking such a venture.
* They take a week to do all the "studies" and then hold a presentation for the entire team, as part of a "knowledge-building" exercise. Here, they explain what "button" and "color" really mean, and also provide insights into how "blue" is different from "pink" and how a "blue button" can also be a "pink button".
* The entire team has a brainstorming session on the various possible methods to perform the transformation.
* The original two members are entrusted the task of coming up with a design and possible alternatives.
* A week later, a high-level design is ready, which undergoes peer review which lasts 2 days, and the design is finalised.
* Appropriate versions of the web-page and interface are checked out of the CVS repository for use by the team-members, and the actual transformation work starts.
* Meanwhile, The manager creates an excel graph and a powerpoint on the "Action Item" being undertaken by the team, to present to upper management.
* After much effort, between period of checking mail and chatting on y*hoo messenger, the work gets done in a week.
* Regression testing is done, test cases are written and evaluated and executed. Latent Bugs are fixed.
* The code is checked into the repository at the distant office location on the other side of the world.
* The next "release" of the tool will have the fix incorporated into it.
* A week or so later, the Manager walks up to the guy who gave the feedback, and tells him "Thanks K____n, you were the only one who sent me feedback. I have now changed the color of the button from blue to pink. I hope that this satisfies you".
* The "action item" is closed and the work goes on the team's list of accomplishments.
* Another team-member is chosen to document the whole process, to make future situations easier to deal with....

Naming Conventions.

What does "Sibin" mean ? Good Question...somewhere along the line, if you do get to know the meaning, then please let me know. Send me a message and I will gratefully try hard not to forget your name. The number of times that I have been asked that, am being asked everyday, and will probably continue to be plagued by the very same question ! sigh ! If I only had a dollar for each time...I don't think the world economy can take that big a hit ! Even people who know me well enough, seem to get back to this very conversation topic..."tax-free" entertainment for them you see !

As one fellow malayalee put it : "Most mallu names are made of two syllables and they don't mean a damn thing !" Cheers ! Applause ! Sniff ! Revelation ! some people are masters at restating the obvious...the very fact has been painfully obvious to me throughout my entire existence ! ;-)

Ah ! why the smiley at the end of the last sentence ? Well, a true friend of mine was very disparaged at my frequent refusals to answer her questions on the origins of my name( how could I answer ? I didn't know ! But then again, one cannot admit that about one's own name, can one ? So, I used to try the enigmatic smile that Gautam Buddha had perfected...he in his nirvana, me in my stupor. The only problem was, any time I really tried that smile, I would creep out half the female population for entire city blocks... ). Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand...she took it upon herself to find a meaning for my name. After tedious searches on Google, which took all of 10 minutes, I should say ( phew ! that's more effort that I have ever put in to find a meaning to my name ), she came back with a revelation ! My name actually means something !

It means "EXISTENCE" in an archaic academic, planned language called Volapuk ! Don't believe me, here take a look at volapuk and the vocabulary where sibin means "existence" !

This opens new doors and greener name means something ! Now, when people ask me: "what the @#$% does Sibin mean ?", I take a laid-back approach, like I'm talking to someone who's from another planet and hasn't even heard of Volapuk, and say..." it means....existence....!"

Then comes the sniggering and the backslapping and all the crude jokes and how I made it, If I only had a dollar for every time I said " don't believe me ? Go look it up in Google"...

Practical Joke ?

Of late, I've been receiving these forwarded messages by email, from various people...with cryptic messages like "Hey, you thought you had a funny name..check this out", and the like ! Well, we mallus are the curious variety, if nothing else...( there's always a malayalee out there who wants to poke his nose into something that ain't his business...well, that's a long story for some other time ). "I've gotta get to the bottom of this, I said"..."what's this funny business with names", I said...went to the blogspot of this guy named sidin ! Whaddaya know ! I thought it must be a practical joke ! Someone ripping me off ! Change one alphabet in my name, and there you have it ! And his posts are popular as well ! Anyways, figured I might as well start a blogspot of my own...see where it leads me ! My talents must not be wasted you see ! :-) I mean, why not use a god-given talent of sarcasm ( dished out in liberal proportions to all malayalees ), and entertain the masses ?