Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
Till many years back when I used to travel to my parents (from my grandparents or from parents to grandparents) we would get to see a few peacocks on the way when bus would pass from around Patiala. That was the only place I ever saw peacock in real life, and it was almost an annual affair. However, I have not seen them in last few years. Either they are shifted, or wiped off in the wave of extinction. The two-second snapshot of watching a real peacock (sometimes in bloom) was a joy.
It was almost during those years that one of my uncles happened to visit Mumbai. I lived in a small town and anybody going to Mumbai would become talk of the neighbourhood. He told me that he got to see Asrani (a famous comedian and character actor of yesteryears) there. Kids including me wondered for many days, “God, you saw a film actor? How did he look like?” That was the time (age?) before internet or KBC, and to see an actor in real life was a privilege for the few.
Today, my BSNL phone rang and a male voice (coarse though it was) was from BSNL. An engineer expressed his interest to visit my office (after my 10th complaint and 2 emails to their nodal officers, over last 8 days). In last 28 months of using this connection, I have registered similar complaint at least 60 times and an engineer has visited only twice. My fingers are crossed today, I may get to see the peacock today. Or Asrani?
This is a guest post. My associate Shena shares how she is at more peace now, post CAT 2011 .
CAT is as hyped as F1, Ra.1, Mayawati, or the Chinese camps in Ladhakh. The hype is not misplaced because IIMs create entrepreneurs. Professional aspirants from all over INDIA dream of a great learning experience at IIMs, and then a *paying* corporate life.
I too applied for CAT 2011. I got the admit card, followed the instructions, took my PAN card as ID proof, and reached the exam centre in time, on 06 November 2011 (Sunday this week).
My exam centre was handled by Prometric, at the location: Everonn Education Limited, SCO 217, Sector 14, Panchkula (Haryana). The coordinators there told me that my picture on my PAN card was not clear, and stopped me at the gate. I thought they were kidding since I had given the same exam CAT 2009 and CAT 2010, using the same PAN Card as ID proof, in last two years. So, I know the process inside out. And a PAN card is one of the most valid ID support card in India.
I know that the exam centre takes finger prints, and clicks a picture of candidates in real time just before the exam. I had all other relevant details/documents to support my identity.
It was a momentarily heartbreak, not because I missed a chance for IIM but for the *process* and the *attitude* of those representatives.
- It was clearly mentioned on *Admit Card* that the PAN Card is an acceptable ID proof. My picture may not be very clear on the card but I had used the same card for same exam in last two years, without any issue. And I use this card for dealing with banks, telecom companies and other departments/agencies, successfully.
- When I asked for an alternative or solution, Prometric coordinators kept saying that picture is not clear and they can’t help it. I told them I know the problem but I am asking about solution. So, I got to know that CAT is conducted by such people whose focus is not on providing the solution; because *there are some rules* and *humans are for rules*. Even if a potential IIM graduate misses the exam. Their loss nonetheless.
- I called up customer care at 1800 103 7383. I gave my phone number to confirm the identity and the CC executive asked me for another ID proof. I told them that I did not have any other proof with me since PAN card was sufficient. I had a voter card but my name was spelt differently on that card. The executive asked me for that incorrectly-spelt-named card and I was shocked. My PAN card that had my name, my father’s name, and DOB was not sufficient to confirm my identity due to unclear photo, but the Voter ID card with an incorrectly-spelt name could have worked.
- An instruction on Admit Card said *candidates can use the employee ID card as an ID proof*. By stroke of good-luck, I was carrying a company letter head (signed and stamped by Director) that confirmed my identity. The representative said that it was *not sufficient*. When asked (I had lost the respect for Promteric coordinators and for IIMs by that time), the executive nodded that *employee ID card* WORKS but * stamped-and-signed company letterhead* DOES NOT WORK. (Is it a rule, a policy, or an IIMs attitude?).
Further, sometimes it is not possible to recognize a person by having a look at someone’s picture that was captured 8 years back.
BY that time, the exam was about to start.
I had a quick reflection of what was happening. I had scores of 99.15 and 98.96 in my last two attempts; there was no call which is fine. At the attitude of IIMs and CAT 2011 Centre coordinators, I am rather happy at what happened yesterday.
I do not want to WASTE my time at such a place, where *humans are for rules* rather than *rules are for humans*. Unfortunate for them that such *policies* at such *centres (Prometric)* detached me from IIMs; it surely is their loss.
And coming back to the hype, media needs stars and stars need media. Unfortunately, media hype is misplaced many a times. Same way, candidates aspire for IIMs but IIMs too need candidates and by same token, the hype over IIMs is also misplaced, by same proportion.
I am at more peace now. Reading reviews of Ra.1 and the success of first F1 in India. And the world suddenly looks more beautiful now.
We are all part of food chain as I read 22 years back. And now when we talk about products and consumers, I can understand it better than merely that *lions eat dogs and dogs eat rats*.
IFB: For Washing Machine
I purchased IFB Washing Machine and was told to call Customer Care(less) to request for a demo. I called up and opted for *Hindi* language from IVR. It went on like this:
Call 1 (Executive name: Nikhil Vishwas):
NV: Sir, what is your name?
VG: Vinish Garg (spelt and explained each letter independently)
NV: Sir, phone number?
VG: 98550 63643 (nine eight double five zero six three four six three)
Address: Flat no 40 (four zero, forty), fourth floor, Tower B, Spangle Heights…
NV: PIN code sir?
[Vinish]: He did not ask for city and whatever address he was interested in, I had to say it 3-4 times
NV: Sir, PIN code?
VG: 1 (one) 4 (four) 0 (zero) 6 (six) 0 (zero) 3 (three)
NV: Ok, what is the model number?
VG: Can you tell me what PIN number you noted?
VG: Are you not able to understand me?
NV: Tell me sir, are you talking about washing machine or a microwave?
VG: Washing machine, as I already told you
NV: Sir, what is your name?
VG: Vinish Garg (spelt again)
NV: Sir, phone number?
VG: 98550 63643 (nine eight double five zero six three four six three)
Before NV could speak, VG: Why are you asking these details again?
NV: Sorry, system down, I lost the details so I am asking again
VG: ( )
NV: Sir, is it with warranty or without warranty?
VG: As I said I purchased it today, of course within warranty.
NV: Sir, it is in our process to ask.
VG: Ok, what all details that you need?
NV: Sir, what is the PIN code?
VG: Grrrr, 140603 (one four zero six zero three). Which place are you calling from?
NV: IFB Global
VG: Which city?
VG: Ok, what is the PIN code that you noted?
NV: Sir, what is the model number
VG: Grrrrr….I am 1976 borne and I am within warranty period.
NV: Sorry sir, our system is down, please call later…
Call 2 (Executive name: Sudeep)
If the above conversation was an act enacted on stage for a HIT TV program, the second call was almost a *copy*. The most hilarious part:
Sudeep (in the middle of call): Is it within warranty or without?
VG: I told you that I purchased a new one today.
Sudeep: Sir, it is part of our process to confirm it.
I called up 3rd time and opted for the language *English* in IVR. The call went reasonably well.
PS: I understand that both executives could have handled the *warranty question/response* like *Sir, we understand that you have got a new product, however, sometimes a few new models are sold under special promotional packages and hence without warranty*. I spent total of 50 minutes on three calls which should not have taken more than 10 minutes.
Airtel Dish TV
I respect Airtel products and services by heart, be it cell phone service or internet broadband. Yesterday, I thought of purchasing Airtel dish TV for my home and visited the site. Before I could locate the contact details for *new connections*, I landed at *customer support* and just dialled the number by mistake. It went on like this:
Executive (As far as I recall, it was Mandeep): *…..how may I help you..”
VG (Not sure how he started the call): I want to purchase the Airtel dish TV product and to subscribe to its services…
Exe: What is your customer ID?
VG: I don’t have any, I am calling for first time.
Exe: Sorry sir, I cannot help you. You need a customer ID to seek any information from me.
VG: How do new customers interact with customer support? Can you give me some number where I can call? (by now, I realised that I called up at wrong number.)
Exe: Ok, What exactly you want to know?
VG (surprised): I want to purchase a new Airtel dish tv connection…
VG (the hmmm was really irritating. This is not the way to listen to customers.)
And the executive winded up the call as if an Indian (who is over-trained may be? Arrogant?) sitting in New York. American accent. Fast. I don’t care. It was not his business.
PS: I completed the online form for requesting a new connection and next morning, I got a call from Manoj. He was polite, patient and professional. Manoj guided me through the process well. I was happy more because at least I got a call for completing on online form unlike some other *players* (see next section for details).
I wanted a water purifier for my home and while doing some research on some leading brands, I landed on the websites.
I landed on eurokefobes for Aquaguard and tried to locate a franchise in Chandigarh (or in Panchkula/Mohali) but could not. There is no option to select city of Chandigarh (neither in Punjab or Haryana though Chandigarh is capital of both these states), see at: http://www.eurekaforbes.com/franchiseelocator.aspx.
I completed an online form at: http://www.eurekaforbes.com///Demo_Request.aspx few days back. I have not received any email or text or call till date. (Airtel is miles ahead and the best in this regard.)
I landed at pureit website and requested a demo at: http://www.pureitwater.com/IN/home-demo. No text, email or call till date. (Again airtel is miles ahead and the best in this regard.)
Consumer Consumed. Process Processed. Food Chain?
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 41 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 808kb. That’s about a picture per month.
The busiest day of the year was April 8th with 132 views. The most popular post that day was Cricket: Traditionalists vc Moderns.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were blogs.cricinfo.com, in.yfittopostblog.com, facebook.com, woikr.com, and outsideedge.wordpress.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for vinish garg, memorable cricket moments, history of aryabhatta, ipl best batsman, and 3 idiots.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Cricket: Traditionalists vc Moderns December 2009
Tendulkarisation or Dravidisation of Cricket? November 2009
ODI Cricket in 2000 decade; and Dravid January 2010
Feeling Inspired by Cinema 🙂 January 2010
My Firsts… March 2009
A glimpse of my FB Year 2010 (Two shots from 2009 as well.) Thanks who all those in the community for likes and comments, for making it fun, memorable, for giving me food for thought, for all the energy, for throwing the challenge to be creative, and for everything.
Click on a picture and the move to next/previous by a click on the thumbnail, below the main picture.
How it is different from other jobs in IT (development or QA)
- There are no automated or pre-defined parameters to test your documentation. Developers can run their code and see if it is fine, test engineers can run scripts and map their test cases against the system functioning. However as a technical writer, you CANNOT verify your document against a pre-defined set of parameters’ to see if it is correct. You use your experience. Of course there are facilitators such as Style Guide, Templates and Process, but it all comes to your experience and writing skills. There is no way you can have a system that ensures that the language is correct and meets its objective. Does it mean that you are at a disadvantage? Certainly Not!
- In development, a software engineer who has developed many ecommerce sites and Facebook applications can feel frustrated or stagnated if one continues to get same kind of product development tasks, or to fix bugs in same or similar products (of course exceptions are there). In technical writing, you are constantly doing something new. Even if it is same product, you get to write fresh instructions. Some procedures are always new and at least you write new sentences. You do not have a for loop or a once-written login module that you can use in every document (like many developers do). You have the scope to be creative, within the parameters. And you get to learn and update yourself on new technologies just as other professionals.
- A technical writer works with astonishing attention to details. You cannot afford to miss a full-stop even in a 140 page manual; it is a crime. It is a huge satisfaction when you tell your documentation manager that the document is complete IN ALL RESPECTS.
- Research suggests that technical writers are generally more satisfied and enjoy greater job satisfaction as compared to professionals in development, QA or UI design.
Where it is REALLY DIFFERENT!
- Technical writing is quite an individualistic job, and every individual thinks differently. No two individuals can write a procedure or a paragraph in exactly the same manner. So while working in a team, one needs to agree somewhere that they are not doing documentation for themselves. Rather, they are doing it for the business, and then the organization whom they work for. When I compare it to development, there is a difference. To write code of a feature, there can be one particular way where different team members can agree that this is the best (most effective or optimal) way to do it. This is not always true in technical writing. You can think why not the way ‘I write it’ when there is nothing wrong in it? This is a dangerous sign if the individuals fails to realise that somewhere, they all need to agree on ‘how to write’.
- When a Documentation Manager reviews a document, the original writer who wrote instructions should:
- Understand that sometimes there is no reason or justification of ‘why this way’ because there are no definite answers. The most valid answer is ‘this is so’ because ‘this is how we do it here’.
- Understand that the comments are not to highlight writer’s mistakes. The comments are for the ‘document’ and not the ‘writer’, so writer should not take it personally. Many newbie’s find it difficult to accept comments because they think that they are right (or that they are not wrong). But when they revisit these situations after 2-3 years of experience, they laugh at themselves, they have learnt many valuable lessons the hard way.
The career graph is upwards for experienced as well as for newbie’s. The demand for good technical writers is increasing and is expected to increase in next few years. However, it also calls for diversified skills in tools and deliverables.
This is the sequel to my previous post on ‘Reliance woes’. I was wondering how many engineers one needs to change a bulb? One? Five? One Thousand?
I am not surprised that Reliance broadband connection is still not working in my office. I completed all documentation on 19 Feb, and it was setup in my office, in last week of Feb. I am surpirsed that:
- I have called about 60 times to FOUR DIFFERENT ENGINEERS; none of them ever picked my phone, no call back, no text back.
- I requested for a disconnection (termination of services and that they should take back their physical devices) to services 9 days back. Nobody has turned back so far.
- Today, I called them and told that THERE IS NO SPACE IN MY OFFICE FOR THEIR MODEM AND CABLES. They are really shameless guys, nobody turned up. No call. No text message. No visit.
- I wonder how my office facilitator will respond tomorrow morning when he cleans the office.
After all, how many engineer one needs to…. .