The Last One

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Here we are again, just a couple of hours after my last deadline post. I like these ‘exams’ because I don’t really need to read. I mean, I could read about things I want to write about, I suppose.

It’s been a wild ride. This year is actively trying to kill us and we must keep on schooling and working. I’m not saying it’s the wrong thing to do, we have to keep going while scientists or whatever figure this one out. We can’t do anything else besides staying home and trying to be productive but, jeez, it sucks being stuck in the same chair for hours on end doing homework and/or working.

While I have not completely lost sanity due to being inside my house all the time, school and work definitely have made me lose it. I’ve cried, not slept, procrastinated and all that Gen-Z stuff you hear about online these days. Still, I did very well regarding grades, but I do see where the sacrifices were made.

I do feel stronger, and more resilient. Not saying that it was the healthiest thing. It is what it is, and I have to adjust. Everyday I try to be better: exercise a little bit, get more rest, stress less, ask for more help. I’m not getting ‘cured’ anytime soon, but I can see progress almost everyday. Of course, some days are just not great and hope that the next one is better.

What I learned from the course

Well, we had many resources:

The book is just so real with the themes it handles. Not the actual story itself, but its ‘academic material’. I can remember a couple of times I was reading a chapter and being all

Continue reading "The Last One"

The End: The Deadline Chapter 23

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Well, this is the last chapter of the book. I still remember all the chapters like I read them yesterday (basically).

Talk about rushed endings. Though, I always felt some chemistry between Lahksa and Webster. I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with their abductor? This is some Stockholm Syndrome type of stuff.

Despite the story being ‘just okay’ I think I got its point. The story is just a way of teaching a lesson, in this case, about management in software. I did learn and relate to tons of stuff. If they had layed out the topics like a highschool textbook, I probably wouldn’t be alive and writing about this right now. So, good for you, The Deadline!

While this chapter was a filler to end the story, we did see something referencing the last chapter which I didn’t cover in its respective blog post.

This is shown as Tompkins’ last entry (journal entry):

  • A project needs to have both goals and estimates
  • They should be different

When he mentioned it last chapter, I realized I didn’t get it but brushed it off. I mean, goals and estimates do mean different things, that’s for sure.

The questions come from the last statement, where it says they SHOULD be different. It could make sense (speaking through my mind’s perspective): an estimate could be the objective and real calculation while the goal is the dreamy date that motivates you and you hope is finished by that date. But just HOW different can they be?

The way I see it. Your estimate is your hard deadline (hopefully it doesn’t get pushed back, but it can, everything’s possible). Your goal should be aimed at an earlier date, don’t know the details, but it shouldn’t be an exorbitant Continue reading "The End: The Deadline Chapter 23"

Blistery Pecker: The Deadline Chapter 22

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Everything is going great so far, two projects done before Belok’s outrageous deadline. Of course, we’re talking about easy ones because the larger ones are nowhere near this date.

NNL is back and gives Tompkins very good news. They’re going public (related to the IPO thing in the title), and Tompkins is getting a really good share. They are both quite happy with the outcome.

Tompkins seems keen on moving on and leaving Melissa (who?) in charge. NNL, on the other hand, has more ambitious goals and needs a replacement for Minister Belok (who’s having a little trouble down there). Tompkins recommends General Gabriel and everyone’s happy!

Just when everything seems perfect, Belok rings Tompkins from the hospital he is staying. Outraged, he starts telling Tompkins to free a great portion of the buildings to sell it or something. Putting people together like sardins (worst than in prison, apparently). Lean and Mean, as Belok puts it.

According to various sources while googling ‘lean and mean meaning’, they talk about being very efficient by getting rid of all excess. They don’t mention anything intrinsically bad about it, but maybe as a business perspective it is. Because Tompkins definitely thinks it sucks as he wrote it on his notes.

According to this post, the author is not quite happy with the term, not because it has bad intentions, but because the word ‘mean’ does not have a positive connotation, detracting potentially interested people from joining a ‘Lean and Mean’ company. The author then proposes the term ‘lean and keen’. At the end, words do matter but it doesn’t solve my question of whether or not these types of companies are generally perceived as mediocre.

Anyway, I think Webster’s point is that these so called ‘lean and mean’ companies Continue reading "Blistery Pecker: The Deadline Chapter 22"

Herpes Powder: The Deadline Chapters 20 and 21

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Harry Winnipeg, another random guy that will save the day for an episode. Maybe they should’ve dropped this dynamic? It gets predictable after the first couple of times.

I just love that these people don’t care at all about being basically drugged and kidnapped, but hey, those where other times.

Patrick raising his hand.

Despite my initial statement, this was a very cool chapter (this is a repeated behavior of mine, bad for my blog-writing plot). Dr. Winnipeg is a consultant expert and helped Webster out with some problems at the office. From angry managers, to frustrating meetings, the Dr. handled those issues pretty well.

Let’s start with the ‘meeting problem’. It is not mandatory for everyone in a project to attend a meeting, unless they are required to. But, without an agenda, how are you supposed to know whether or not to attend? The problem with overcrowded meetings is that you make people who don’t need to be there lose precious time. On the other hand, the actual meeting has some significant dead weight that prevents it from being as efficient as possble, even frustrating! A project deservers a proper ceremony.

Now, regarding the angry manager, Dr. Winnipeg said he handled it quite easily. Turns out, the angry manager was more than happy to step down from his position. He felt stuck, he didn’t want to be there, and ‘needed permition’ to just leave that charge. Why was he angry? Because he was afraid. Afraid of letting his superiors down, his people, his country. Fear is apparently a forbidden feeling at the workplace, so they show it through anger.

As humans, we fear constantly. We fear of losing that which we care so much about, so we do things to prevent the bad thing from happening. Fear can

Continue reading "Herpes Powder: The Deadline Chapters 20 and 21"

Decent Planning: The Deadline Chapter 19

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Don’t you love it when random people just show up at your office and tell you how to solve your problems?

This time, it was about design. This guy (can’t remember his name) ranked all the teams from all the projects by whether or not they had a decent design. Turns out, the A teams where the ones with the worst ranks in this matter. What did they have in common? Overstaffing.

Just a lot of cats

According to the story (and real life), whenever you recruit a lot of people in a team you expect them to do something. But, what if they don’t need to be there right now? Do you send them home? I mean, you just assigned them here, how are they going to feel? Or you could just, entertain them with something that’s not really useful, giving you tons of dead weight on your team. It’s not that they aren’t going to be useful, just not right now. What if, we skip to the part where they are useful and just do what was supposed to be done before along the way?

That’s what happened to the A-Teams, they skipped design and went straight to implementation, which costs more time and effort at the end, because, no one knows what they’re doing. It’s a shitshow.

Why can’t people just follow the rules? Design then implement. But no, the deadline, the goddamn deadline. It’s always about that, don’t you want something right? Where’s the sense in asking for something immediately and complaining when it’s not up to standards?

This topic hits way too close to home. It’s happened to me that they give me an absurdly early deadline that goes completely against logic. You just ask yourself why. It’s always some sort of corporate business bullshit.

Continue reading "Decent Planning: The Deadline Chapter 19"

Wilson’s Modern Life

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

I know I said in the first “partial exam” that I would try to do these blogs one-per-week and here we are. Every activity on the second partial was done in two consecutive Saturdays, except for the exam.

And this is me writing the second exam less than a week away from having to deliver the final one. I never thought I’d become the kind of person that did everything at the end.

It’s not that I procrastinate, I mean I do, but I’m not not doing anything: work consumes a lot of time and energy (I actually need to fix that), so everything school-related is reserved for the weekends.

Tired Cat Sleeping On A Bookshelf

I am very tired, but I recognize it’s my fault: my crap time-management, my obsession with everything and not being able to let things go, and some quarantine sprinkled on top.

Though, I learned that I can use much less time for school and still do well. If I didn’t work, I’d have so much free time theoretically. I say theoretically, because I’d probably not use my time as well (relatively), but everything wouldn’t feel as tight, I’d get some proper rest, and have an actual life besides school and work.

I know I’m always complaining about this, but it has become the center of everything and I worry about it. I worry about my back (my actual spine), my sight, my weight, how I basically just brush-off every ounce of attention my parents try to give to me because, in my mind, there is no time for any of that and I don’t care enough about it. My outputs as a student and junior engineer (I guess?) are what make me a person and I am nothing without those.

I Continue reading "Wilson’s Modern Life"

Meditation: The Deadline Chapters 17, 18 and Interlude

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

Chapter 17

The main theme of chapter 17 was conflict. Oh, conflict! The core of everybody’s problems, why can’t we all just agree to something and avoid it? If it only were that easy.

Unfortunately, everybody’s circumstances are different, people need different things, and those things can interfere with what others want… and now you got yourself a pretty little conflict!

The fact that we only exist in our brains means that we’ll never truly get how the other person is feeling, we can only imagine (to a certain extent). Of course, empathizing is the starting point of conflict resolution and we may want to consider everybody’s perspective in a certain situation but there’s also life: we can’t do everything we want to, we get exhausted or some things are just too difficult.

There is no escaping conflict.

Just like the Doctor said in the chapter, it is not due to lack of professionalism, it’s just that our goals aren’t perfectly aligned (and that’s OKAY). Just because you are in the same company/organization, it doesn’t mean that your motivations are exactly the same, they will be similar, but not the same.

What the Doctor recommends Tompkins to help resolve conflicts is the use of a mediator (the first time I read the chapter, I read the whole thing thinking it said meditator, so I head to re-read to grasp the actual meaning of the chapter).

The mediator is a third party that helps the conflicting parties come to an agreement. The way I see it, it is an impartial point of view (with a fresh perspective) that is able to point out flaws and opportunities so the conflicting ones can negotiate accordingly and get the best out of the situation. Makes sense.

The intersing part about the

Continue reading "Meditation: The Deadline Chapters 17, 18 and Interlude"

More and More Problems: The Deadline Chapter 16

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

This chapter tackled two problems and also got a little bit philosphical with Belinda (again).

At the start of the chapter, we get a little bit of information about Lahksa, although, ambiguous. We learned some chapters ago that she was in the US but there was no specific reason. I personally thought she had been abducted so she didn’t interfere with the bad guys’ plans. We can’t know for sure, but she is allegedly taking care of some other business related to the Olympics preparations.

At the start of the day, Tompkins is greeted with a big pile of probably illegally obtained documents (by no other than Lahksa). With a nice hand-written note, Belok tells Tompkins that this is a head start, and there should not be any excuses to miss the deadline.

Aristotle was skimming through some of the documents, which were some sort of project documentation from the US which somehow could help them with the Olympics preparation. The thing is, they knew from the start that the quality could not be very good, due to them being litigated (whatever that means).

These poor souls already had enough on their plate with their original projects and now this! But that wasn’t all, there was some trouble in paradise with PMill-A’s manager Osmun Gradish. Apparently, he was going full Belok on his team.

This made Tompkins think about what makes managers act the way they do. Why do they choose anger as a response?

I think they didn’t quite answer this in the story (or I missed it). But I think the short answer is that they have someone to respond to as well. Just as workers respond to their managers, managers have someone above them, constantly poking them with a stick. The difference is that low-level Continue reading "More and More Problems: The Deadline Chapter 16"

Going Nuts: The Deadline Chapter 15

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

I was really invested in this chapter, as it talked about working under pressure, and terrible managers and stuff. So fun!

Even though the letter they sent to Minister Belok made him believe that everything was going as he ordered, this didn’t exempt Tompkins from dealing with him forever. Belok summons Tompkins and gives him a couple of more impossible tasks. For one, he wants to go from CMM Level 3 to 4 (by the end of the year). Tompkins isn’t even surprised at his behavior and just brushes it off. Belok also tells Tompkins to prepare the town for the 2000s Olympics.

Belok is piece of ass. The whole time he was talking to Tompkins he was yelling at him, telling him how he wasn’t putting enough pressure on the team. That’s the main theme of the chapter, pressure. Of course, Tompkins didn’t believe that pressure was the key to being productive, so him, Binda, Waldo, the General, and Aristotle began cracking everything down to metrics and charts.

I know that there are real people just like Belok. They ask for things in impossible time frames and don’t listen to reason (their people telling them why it’s impossible). Expect 100% quality even when they put a lot of pressure on the team, making them less productive.

With all of these analytics and charts and simulations people try to quantify something that is inherently not quantifiable. Sure, it gives useful insight and predictions, but there’s a reason why we can only get estimates from these things. Sometimes, we forget that people are just people with feelings and emotions that impact on their performance. There are things that are out of our control that affect us negatively and don’t allow us to give our 100% (do we ever, really? Continue reading "Going Nuts: The Deadline Chapter 15"

Rules are meant to be Broken: The Deadline Chapters 13 and 14

--Originally published at TI2011 – Luis Wilson

If things can get worse, they will get worse. On chapter 13 we got a vivid example of this happening. We knew things were in a hurry thanks to last chapter’s bad guy’s impossible deadline goal, and what happened now could set them back even more. Turns out, there’s this organization called the MSEI which audits your projects or something. Sounds like a real pain.

Apparently, Minister Belok wanted to improve the teams’ CMM (Capability Maturity Model) Level from 2 to 3 by the end of the year. From reading the chapter, it looks like some scale to determine your team’s productivity based on following standard practices.

Okay, so… it is real. It actually measures the formality of your procedures (hence ‘Maturity’ in the name). It tries to optimize processes to eventually increase productivity and is not only applicable to software. There are five stages: initial, repeatable, defined, managed, and optimizing.

It corresponds with what is being told in the story. I just had to look it up because I don’t know what is real and fiction with this book.

The model seems quite beneficial… in the long run. Doing the audit and attempting to increase CMM levels will definitely set the projects back.

Mr. Tompkins seems to appreciate the intentions of the process’ formality, but that there has to be an exception for them. Not only because they are in a hurry, but because they are building knock-offs of other products (that’s how I see it, sorry. I mean, ‘PShop’, really?). So, the documentation and manuals are there, why do it all over again? It’s a waste of time.

MSEI manager was of course against the idea. Tompkins and the manager agreed on the order that they Continue reading "Rules are meant to be Broken: The Deadline Chapters 13 and 14"