Computers, why?

2017-Aug-03, Thursday 09:29
dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
The chronicle of woe: new database system continues.

The previous system was clunky and old, but one advantage it has is metrics. Every day I got an email with how efficient I was, letting me know how I was doing and giving me daily feedback. My boss had to manually run the reports and mail them to me, so they tapered off when we started gearing up to transition to the new system, but the capability was still there.

Well, the new system has many capabilities, but metrics apparently aren't one of them. The contractors didn't seem to understand why we would want to know how efficient any particular worker was, so while it's possible that they keep metrics on their end, we don't have any access to them. But we need them for yearly evaluations, because one of the good parts of my job is that I'm graded on concrete numbers rather than on generic feelings. And thus, I'm keeping track of my metrics using a free stopwatch program and a LibreOffice spreadsheet.

Isn't the progress of technology great? Emoji Psyduck Cylon

Heard from the next cubicle over in the process of writing this post: "When they built this, they knew nothing about our data."

Farmer's Market Dinner )

Been feeling down these last few days for a variety of reasons, and having moved Japanese tutoring to tomorrow instead of on Tuesday because Tuesday was Tisha b'Av doesn't help. Usually by this point in the week, I know I'm clear until the weekend, but now I have class. Hopefully after I come home on Friday I'll start to feel a bit better with the weekend ahead of me.

And I just saw that The Dark Tower is at 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't like what I saw of the trailer--it was too fast-paced, too much in our world, and too tonally strange (any movie about the Dark Tower series should be elegiac, at least in part)--so I'm not surprised that the movie is being savaged. But what a waste.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Came in this morning to an email from the vice president that there were changes afoot. Several people were being shuffled around, new opportunities, maintain and expand our place in the growing market of Blah blah blah you know how these things go. I read it because it's good to know what's going on--those who have not swords can still die upon them--and near the end was a notice that I was being directed affected by being moved to a different team.

It's not a major change, since my new boss sits in the same room as my old boss, I've worked with them before on another projectm and I don't talk or interact with my boss that much anyway, but it's a little disconcerting to not have any announcement made to me. Not an email from my old boss, not an email from my new one, neither of them mentioning anything to me... And coupled with the note at the end of the vice president's mailing that more people were being turfed out, though with "dignity and respect," well. It's hard to maintain a level head.

I remember not long after I was hired, my then-boss mentioned that the department I worked in was a good one because there weren't a lot of major upheavals. And then six months later the division manager and assistant division manager were suddenly fired, and then the biannual layoffs began and will probably continue until morale improves. It's like the best take on those millennial articles:
Pundits: "Why aren't millennials buying diamonds or houses?"
Us: "Economic precarity makes any long term planning impossible."
Pundits: "It must be because they're lazy and buying too much brunch."
I think I just heard my now-old boss mention that they were surprised by the changes too, which is a great mark of effective leadership and direction. Emoji Kawaii frog

I really wish I were better at Japanese so I could just turf all this out and do what I've discovered I really enjoy.

In-progress Addendum: My now-old boss came over to chat while I had this sitting open in the background. They weren't particularly impressed with how this was handled--they knew it was coming, but though it would be more direct rather than being stuffed in the bottom of a generic update email--but said they'd be meeting with my new boss to transition things over and work out how my annual review would work since we're on a new system now with different metrics. They also said they'd approve all of my pending time off. Kirby laughing So while I remain worried, I am no longer covered in a cloud of doom like I was when I started this post.

Maybe this is why I was stressed earlier? Displayed worry from the future?

Why computer?

2016-Sep-30, Friday 16:31
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Got a new computer at work as part of the upgrade process for our upcoming database overhaul. The computer itself is pretty neat. It's about as wide as my hands together and square, and then maybe 3 cm thick, and it works great. But.

(Of course there's a but)

There's a suite of applications I need to do my job that auto-loads with the computer, and then I log in. And for some reason, the new computers--all of them--can't log in to those applications. We get security errors and then get locked out.

IT has a solution, though. They're having us do remote login to the database, from our own work computers, because that's a different validation process and that lets us actually access the system. And it works. It's slow, the interface looks like it hasn't been updated since Windows XP, and it sometimes randomly logs me out and I have to restart the process, but it works.

Computers

Ah yes, "upgrades"

2016-Jun-14, Tuesday 10:13
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Over a year ago, we switched to JIRA at work. If you're not familiar, JIRA is a project-tracking software suite for assigning projects, marking progress, giving credit to different people who do different parts of said projects, and providing metrics for efficiency and accuracy.

It's the last bit that's why I'm annoyed. The old system that kept track of my work was intra-group emails and screenshots, which I suspect wasn't super efficient because people had to look at the screenshots and enter the data manually, but I got an email every day with a breakdown of my work from the previous day, how efficient I was, and how much work I got done. I still got those for a bit after we switched over, but they stopped because my supervisor is much busier now. Okay, that's fair.

But nothing has replaced them. Using JIRA takes (a little) extra time for me to enter in record counts and time taken, which means that all that data is in the system and I should theoretically be able to call up a progress tracking chart that's updated in real time. But for some inexplicable reason, I don't have access to that data. I brought it up in a meeting when the division manager mentioned that they wanted to install monitors near the printers showing real-time metrics for the group's progress, since I think it's only reasonable that I be able to see that data from my own computer if it's visible to passersby. And yesterday, I learned that at least part of what I want is currently managers only. I can get a list of all the tickets I processed, and a list of the time I took on each one and how many records they had, but if I want a simple analysis of records/hour, I need a spreadsheet or a calculator.

Hopefully this gets corrected soon, but it's always funny to me to hear how "data-driven" we are when under the old management team, I had far more data on my own performance than I have now.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
And it wasn't nearly as boring or terrible as I expected it to be.

Without being too boring myself, we're replacing a system at work that I use to do my job, so my boss and I went into the consultant's office and dialed in to the vendor who's working on the replacement. Half the conference call was the vendor demonstrating how the system is supposed to work, and the other half was me demonstrating how it currently doesn't work.

It looks like some of my concerns are related to the way that the current system works but will go away with the new system, so it's nice to have that allayed. But I felt kind of bad for the vendor as she asked me to demonstrate what I had done and then she got to see the system she was working on completely choke under the effects of a simple database search. It's one thing to not optimize until all the features are in place, but it's another thing to be so unoptimized that the user cannot effectively test it at all.

There's another call scheduled in a couple months. Hopefully I'll have more constructive feedback than, "I can't test it because it doesn't work" then.

Dodged the headsman

2015-Nov-19, Thursday 11:10
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
The Grim Reaper was stalking our halls, as my father puts it. We had a bit of warning, and it turned out to be almost a year to the day since the last time this happened, but I managed to avoid it and am still gainfully employed. And that after spending some time taking the recommendations of The Antidote into account and meditating on the possibility of being laid off.

Our division wasn't hugely impacted--no one I specifically work with on a daily basis--but almost everyone hit was a manager. Apparently that was deliberate, and it's some kindness I wasn't expecting from American businesses (if that term even applies when I work for a nonprofit). I mean, "kindness" is a relative term here since people still lost their jobs, and it's easy for me to make that declaration from my desk where I listen to podcasts all day and no one talks to me, but the 課長 did say that they were taking the amount of work we have to do into account in not reducing our number too much. Small favors.

From my perspective, the other benefit is now I can plan for the future again. I was stuck between wanting to go into austerity mode--stop buying anything extraneous, don't go out for any food, bread and water diet, etc.--and realizing that I had no news and there's no point in acting like I am already dead. I mostly fell on the latter end, but it was a struggle.

As a present for myself, I bought a horror-themed dice bag to put those new dice thing. Smooth is the hand which makes the world, and steady is the mind which grasps it.
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Yesterday was a team building day at work. As much as I complained about it, it was actually pretty well-run and inoffensive. No stupid trust fall exercises or silly games, the icebreaker was just "introduce yourself to a couple people you haven't met," and the majority of the day was talking about what it is exactly our department does--summary: we're the ones who make all the money--or discussing different communication styles through the lens of the DiSC, which I had never heard of before. You may be unsurprised to hear that I scored by far the highest on C, with S as the second-highest category.

And even with that low level of intrusiveness, by the end of the day I was still:


I love Introji.

And then tonight I have Japanese tutoring, which is also very well run and extremely helpful in providing a chance for me to actually speak Japanese instead of just reading it (which I'm pretty good at, though still not at newspaper level), but takes a lot of energy to deal with.

That's the eternal paradox of my mental state. Even things I am really looking forward to I often end up dreading at times, with my anticipation wildly careening around like a bat in a Castlevania level. I know it drives [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd crazy sometimes how I'll agree to go to an event, then a few days later act like going will literally lead to my death, then be excited again, all with unpredictable frequency and lengths of time.

I know a lot of people were annoyed about those introvert vs. extrovert articles going around last year and the year before since they painted all introverts as anxiety-ridden wrecks with a deep and fulfilling inner life ruined by those damn extroverts shitting their interactions all over everything, most memorably summed up in this tweet:


And reasonably so. I know plenty of introverts who love social interaction and just need a bit of alone time to recover from it. But not me.

I really am excited about your invitations and the vast majority of the time, when I arrive, I have a great time and I'm glad I came. But often my instinctual first response to any event is, "Uh, I have some forbidden alchemy to do that night..."

Sick day!

2015-Mar-19, Thursday 20:25
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Warning: this post is a little First World whiny, if that bothers you.

I took a sick day today, the first since I got the flu when I was working at Suzugamine and had to take three days off. I know that conjures up bafflement from anyone reading this who's familiar with Japan's work culture, but that was when swine flu hit Japan and they took every precaution necessary, including shutting down the school for a few days to isolate everyone from everyone else. That's how I was able to do it. Anyway, I've had a cold since Monday, and today I just felt awful when I woke up. As I was lying in bed, shivering and sweating with all the covers on me, I thought, "You know, I should take the day off."

And it worked! I feel much better, I still managed to get all my steps in (just walking is fine when you're sick, and I didn't have a terrible fever or anything later), I studied Japanese, I played more Planescape Torment, and I drank a truly enormous amount of tea. The first world whining part only comes in because I don't have separate sick days, so I had to dip into my personal days that I was mostly using for vacation in order to cover today. But it's not like I'll have to cancel any days off, because I was already carrying a week over into the new year! So really I'm just annoyed for no reason.

I'm glad I feel better, though. Hopefully I still feel better tomorrow!  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif
dorchadas: (Teh sex)
I originally got the iPhone 5S over the 5 because of the pedometer after I saw that LoseIt included step tracking and would automatically adjust your calorie thresholds based on distance walked. Even though I know that calorie counting is worthless, I still do it because of my mania for self-quantification. Originally, I'd just walk as much as I normally do and treat any day where I got over the threshold set by LoseIt to get extra calories off (7250 steps) as a bonus, which wasn't that often.

Then I downloaded Pedometer++. All of a sudden, I had color-coded feedback on how far I had walked, and for some reason, that kicked the RPG player in me into gear and I had to make the numbers go up! Must turn the bars green! Must beat arbitrary threshold!

So I started walking around in empty conference rooms on my breaks at work while reading books, because previously I just sat at my desk reading and I figured I might as well get the walking time in then, because walking back and forth in my apartment took forever and was pretty monotonous. The cleaning staff would occasionally see me, and they always said it was fine, so I kept doing it.

Yesterday while I was walking in a conference room on my floor near the end of the day, one of the cleaning staff came in to check that the room was empty. Unlike the other times that had happened, he mentioned that he had seen me earlier walking around and went to his boss to see what was going on, and his boss mentioned that yeah, I did that and maybe it was just a relaxing thing. So I mentioned reading, and we chatted a bit and he told me that seeing me walking in circles had inspired him to try the same thing around his apartment, and how relaxing he found it!

Well, he said that originally he literally copied me in the only way he could find and wandered in circles around some parked cars near his apartment, but that he pretty quickly realized that other people would not only find that weird, they might find that threatening or suspicious. So now he does it in his apartment, but it remains relaxing.

It's a nice feeling being inspiring. (^_^)
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Insert appropriate sound effect here.

We got our yearly bonus checks today and the notice of how much our raises would be for the next fiscal year. My yearly review back in December was really good--4.1/5, on a "no one ever gets a 5" scale--so I’ve been looking forward to seeing what the amounts would be for a while. Well, my raise was stereotypical, but my boss told me that was basically a mandate from on high to keep raises standardized and not a reflection on my performance.

My extra bonus on top of that, though, made up for it. The AMA did better than we had expected on our various metrics, so the bonus amount was correspondingly raised, and then my boss's boss put all the extra weighting of my performance review onto the bonus, so it's double what it was last year. It's even higher than the group rating percentage that dictates bonus calculations, which is apparently really rare. And since the bonus is expressed as a fraction of my salary, I can deal with having a lower raise than I was expecting in exchange for getting it up front and being able to do what I want with it.

And with my newfound riches, I...bought iOS Final Fantasy Tactics for $13.99, and I'm probably saving most of the rest. Some things never change. (^_^;)

Diabetes disconnect

2013-Nov-14, Thursday 17:43
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Spoilered for people who don't care due to discussion of eating habits and food: Clicky )

Code Monkeyization

2013-May-28, Tuesday 21:48
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
So, I've been thinking for a couple months that I should really learn to code. I actually originally got into Penn's School of Engineering for Computer Science after taking a programming class focusing on C++ in high school, and with visions of string.h and void main()[1] dancing in my head, I went off to Penn, where they proceeded to focus on OCaml, which I both hated and couldn't wrap my head around--the two concepts may be related, come to think of it. Anyway, I transfered over to the School of Arts and Sciences, got a degree in English, and went into journalism, bailed on that for teaching, and bailed on that for data entry.

Increasingly, though, it seems like programming is just one of those things people should be familiar with the same way computer literacy became a thing everyone had to have over the last two decades. I've written before on Facebook about Peak Employment, and it may or may not happen and may or may not be as bad as the apocalyptic projections, but I think it's undeniable that the trend is toward increasing mechanization, streamlining, and computerization. There's still plenty of space at the moment for people to fill in the cracks where computers are inadequate--hell, that is literally the function of my entire department at the AMA--but that space is going to get smaller and smaller as time goes on.

This is also kind of a problem with my desire to do translation work. Japanese is different enough that anything more complicated than simple phrases has about a 50/50 chance of being total gibberish if run through automated translation, but it does keep getting better and better, and I've seen it get much better even just in the past few years, even if my friends do sometimes have to come to me to translate things because Google Translate isn't cutting it.

On a more practical note, during my interview for my current job, my boss asked me specifically if I had any programming experience, and I said that I did not. I obviously still got the job, but I wonder what would have happened if I had said that I did know how to program? That seems like a pretty good hint that it's something I should look into.

And in a more personal goal, I'd love to make my own roguelike. Much like with RPGs, I prefer a classless, levelless, skill-based system in my roguelikes, and the field is really small. There's Cthangband, and...sCthangband, and...basically nothing else. TOME4 and Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup kind of have a level/skill hybrid, but it's nothing like the Cthangands.

I do have some resources already (for example), and since my father is a tech executive who used to be a particle physicist[2], I asked him for resources as well. It does add another task on to the pile of things I want to accomplish, both useful--study Japanese, read books and write reviews, finish my novel I'm already 100K words into--and less useful--beat the games in my Steam backlog, read books and write reviews[3], read the various forum threads I have saved in my Pocket account, catch up on my blogroll...

I never used to understand people who asked for more hours in the day, because I didn't have that many long-term goals I wanted to accomplish. Now, I'd gladly take a few extra hours.

[1]: Though checking on the internets, apparently "void main()" was nonstandard usage introduced by Microsoft's compiler and not anything inherent to C++ itself, and is now heresy like unto Monophysitism.
[2]: Or as he will clarify when asked, assistant particle physicist.
[3]: How useful this is is heavily dependent on the book I'm reading. Something like this is probably a waste of time, for example. :p

New apartment

2011-Aug-18, Thursday 22:43
dorchadas: (Slime)
So, the moving is done, the dust is vacuumed up, and we've successfully finished moving other than a few things. Mostly, hanging paintings. We were going to ask if it was okay to put nails in the walls, but on further inspection, the walls are made of concrete, which makes nailing anything to them somewhat difficult. :p Though apparently they make special nails for hanging things on concrete walls, so maybe we'll use those? We'll have to ask the landlord what his rules are.

It turns out the aforementioned doorman is only around during non-business hours. I am content to believe that for his 9 to 5 job, he's a superhero who fights crime. Probably white-collar crime, considering.

I'm looking for jobs. I applied to a job as a proofreader for the AMA, so we'll see if anything comes of that. In the meantime, I'm going to keep looking. I'm lucky in that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I managed to save an enormous amount of money while overseas, so we have a nice cushion to draw on while I'm looking. Hopefully we won't need to draw on too much of it, though. Never spend the principal. :p

All that stuff I mentioned being nearby is actually even more nearby than I thought, usually by a block or so. The Ethiopian restaurant I mentioned is tasty, there's a Thai place nearby as well, a liquor store, a pizza place that also has falafel and kebabs for some reason, a bus route that goes right down to the Loop, and a bunch of other stuff. This is an amazing location.

Birthday is coming up. I have little to no interest in actually planning something for it. Though I'm kind of a hermit, so that's nothing new.

Nothing else to report now.

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