Saturday, 30 June 2007

Majority

Source: a forward mail from friend


I was in the car with my brother last Saturday, when I thought of asking him about his choice on the following story just to break the silence. I found this to be very meaningful. That is why I still remember this even though the email was forwarded to me some months ago. So I dug this from the email archive and posted this in my blog (obviously!)

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train came, and you were just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change its course to the disused track and saved most of the kids.

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make...

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. To save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

To make the proper decision is not try to change the course of the train because the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens.

If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe.

If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

"Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right."

Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.


Thursday, 28 June 2007

Great Tip for reading news

If you are not those who buy and read newspaper everyday, here is a great tip for you. It has been working very well for me so far.

Step 1:
Get and install a RSS Feed Reader in your workstation or notebook. One of the software I use is RSSReader.

Step 2:
Access your local newspaper online and subscribe to their feeds. Most major newspaper have online website and also RSS feeds subscription.

Step 3:
Make it a habit to browse through the feeds everyday. Be it local news, world news or business news. OK, I did not subscribe to sport. :)
Sort the feed by published date in descending so the latest published news are at the top.

Read each new titles and only open the articles or news in browser if the news interest you.

Outcome:

I only spend around an hour a day to read the news, but I never miss out any important news.

YOU HAVE TO CONSTANTLY KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU AND IN THE WORLD. It is important for your self-development and for you to socialize with other people.

Most technical person do not realize the importance of reading news. But it is VERY important. One of my friend who is in financial and loan consultancy told me he has to read the newspaper everyday in the morning because the customers he will be seeing later may mention some of the news and he needs to know.

I have to admit I am a bit shameful to just pick up this habit of constantly reading news recently. I have no luck with newspaper so far. I always leave them untouched or just barely reading few pages. :)

Also, by following this tip, I found that I manage to know much more news than most people. For e.g. I managed to catch some Google news too.

Most people who read newspaper will not read through all the news as it can be a great ordeal to flip through every pages. So, they may miss out some news. But using RSS reader, I can go through every title , but only drill down to those which I want to know more.

For e.g. below is the news title and summary that I can quickly skim through but still be able to know what are going on.

Police solve theft case in less than 24 hours
Police managed to solve a mobile phone robbery in less than 24 hours with the arrest of the “victim”.

Private sector invited to help unearth literary talents
The Education Ministry wants more private sector involvement in the quest for unearthing more literary talents in the country.

Move to weed out bogus docs
Bogus doctors beware. The Health Ministry will have more eyes to weed out the impostors and ensure that they do not cheat the public.

Pay on time to save cash
Credit card holders, who pay their bills on time for 12 consecutive months starting July 1, will be “rewarded” with a lower interest rate.



RSS Reader Screen


You can use RSSReader to subscribe to other feeds too like blogs.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

What if there is no second chance?

Let's imagine this, you get the news from your doctor that starting from tomorrow after your operation, you will not be able to eat any ice-cream at all. And this is going to be permanent. But today, you can have all you want. How will you react? Most probably, you will head out to the stores and buy tonnes of ice-cream with different flavors. You will also buy a lot of very expensive ice-cream that in normal circumstances you will not buy or you will not buy as much. You probably will forget how fat ice-cream can make you. After all, it is just one day, right?

What if the operation is rescheduled to next week and you have one week to devour all the ice-cream you want? Will you care about how fat ice-cream can make you? Probably not. You probably say, worry about the dieting and exercising later.


Let's see another scenario. What if you know you are going to die tomorrow or in a week? Will you decide to go to work as normal from 9 to 5? Will you decide to spend your last moments with those you love and care to tell them how much you love them? Will you call all your friends and people who you care to say goodbye? Will you do the things that you want to do all along but just do not have time to plan for it? Will you decide to pack some of your precious thing and give to others? Will you compile all your secret recipes of your special dishes which you keep to yourself all along and decide to pass along to others so they will not be lost? Will you blog ?

I probably will do all of the above except working from 9 to 5 and I do not think I have any secret recipes so far. :). I think I will still go to the office to bid all the people farewell and pass my last wisdom, but I will not do any works. I imagine I will get mad if someone ask me on my last day on earth about work - how to do this thing or where I put that file?
Don't get me wrong. I like my work and I am a responsible person. And I definitely want to advance in my career. But that is not my priority anymore if I only have 1 more day or week to live.


So, why people have different priorities when they know they do not have enough time? Will the workaholic and ambitious guy who spent most of his time working in the office but not enough times with his family and friends felt regret when he was suddenly hit by a bus and died?

One wise man told me I got my priorities wrong when I chose to go to my colleague farewell instead of finishing my work and meeting my deadline. After all, according to him, what difference did it make since the colleague was not going to be with us anymore.

I felt guilty because I could not meet my deadline. But it was not because I did not treat my deadline seriously. I did, but sometimes a lot of new and ad hoc things I need to work on keep me from meeting the original deadline. Things are changing everyday. As long as I am still very committed and dedicated in my work and focusing on result, I do not think missing a deadline for 1 or 2 days matter that much. Unless, the deadline has significant direct business impact (means a customer will be dissatisfied).

Anyhow, I chose to go to my colleague's farewell for different valid reasons, both emotionally and strategically. Emotionally, it was good to remember being able to celebrate his (the colleague who was leaving) last day together in a joyful moment. Strategically , other colleagues are going too, so that is good for building some relationship with them also. After all, it DOES matter who you know and not only what you know in order to be successful.
Believe me, this is not a selfish act, as I do not prefer to use strategic reason to determine my action. But this what I and my other friend debated the other day.

There was another emotional reason, which is the pact I made to myself that I would not like to miss out on any special occasions or moments, even if they matters to other people more than to me. After all, I told myself, the moment when I am dying, I think I can reflect on all those memories rather than the memory of me sitting at my cubicle and doing my work.

That's what most people say, when you are dying, flashes of images of your whole life will come to you. I think the images will be some special and beautiful places and faces of those who you have connection with. Those you dearly love and care and those whose their life are changed because of you. On the negative side, if you have hurt someone in the past, their images will come to you also with their look of contempt or grieve. On the other hand, a funeral or a graveyard (which you visited) can be a beautiful image to you because you been there to pay respect and share the moment with those who endure the pain of losing someone.

My mission in life is to increase the beautiful images in my database. :)

So, these are the things that I think everyone should do whenever there is a call cause most probably there will NOT be second chance. DO NOT WAIT. I learn these through some painful experiences myself.

1. Visit those who are sick, especially in hospital.

In my adolescence, I had a close cousin brother who contracted cancer. He was my peer and my playmate since we were small. Then he was admitted to the hospital . It was sometimes near Chinese New Year. It was a bad year for him and for my family as almost my whole family had fallen sick at that time.

Nevertheless, I was intending to visit my cousin brother in the hospital with my aunty. However, I did not manage to go because I got sick waiting for my aunty in the car while she dilly-dally and then my mom asked me not to go at the last moment. I complied. Was it my lack of persistence or was it the dilly dally of my aunty? How would I know I would regret this for my whole life? I never had chance to visit him again. My cousin died some days later.

And I missed out the chance. I never can imagine what was the condition of the hospital and his room. How he looked like with all the tubes. How he had suffered. Especially, how he would react when he see me. I never had that chance.
I heard he did ask his parents why I did not come. That sadden me more because though I could not do much for him, I might have been there for him to give him moral support.

But I was small at that time, I think around 10 . I really could not remember. But I was young and I was easily persuaded by elders who felt hospital is not good for young sick girl like me. Of course, they also would not have realized that can make me remorseful for my whole life.

I learnt another lesson when I was in Form 3. My mum was admitted to the hospital to perform a small operation when I was going through a big exam. As I needed to study for the exam on the next day, I decided to only go visit my mum after the exam was over. It turned out, my mum was back at home the very next day. My mum was not too happy with her only daughter seemingly not being caring enough to visit her in the hospital. I said to her that I had planned to visit her the next day.

However, looking back, it did not really make sense that I have WAITED to visit her. It did somehow seemed like I did not really care for her. But that was not the case. It was just I was ignorance. I took that as a lesson ever since. Fortunately, my mum had nothing untoward happen to her in the hospital. If not, I would not be able to forgive myself.

Do not make the mistakes I did. Do not put hospital visit as second priorities below your work or your study. You never know what will happen to the those hospitalized and you can never understand how glad for them to see you or how they appreciate your support by just being there for them. Even if you are not very close to the patients, showing you care at least will give them some warm feeling.

Ever since then, I have visited my friend who became new mother, sick colleague, ex-classmate who had accident, boyfriend's grandma, etc. And I never DELAY the visit to the next day.

2. Attend funeral


Not only I missed out seeing my cousin brother for the last time in his life, I also did not attend his funeral. Unfortunately, I was sick again at that time and was told not to go.

I could not remember how I took the news of his death. But I think it took sometimes to settle in my mind and heart. It was like a large part of me chose not to believe it and not to languish in sorrow.

It was easy to let go afterwards. After all, I have not seen him for quite some times and I could not imagine his sufferings and his funeral. I did not believe I had cried either.

What was funny was it took me another year later for me to understand and cry for him. I was in another funeral for my cousin sister, who was less close to me . She died because of cancer too and coincidentally she was also same age as me. Anyway, at one moment during her funeral , it suddenly dawned on me that I have not even pay my cousin brother the last respect. I could not imagine how his funeral looked like. Was there a lot of people paying him respect? Was there the usual funeral ceremony? He was so young. The images what I would most wanted to remember was blank. It is like you are reading a story book but you never ever get to read the ending and the book is lost forever.

I try not to repeat my mistake........

I found that by attending funerals, I have more empathy. I can understand more on how painful it was for people to go through the experience of losing someone they loved. They really have been very strong.

It also taught me life is very fragile and I have to cherish people around me.

Another important thing act of kindness is to chip in the money to pay "pak kam" (money to contribute to the funeral as in Chinese tradition). Whenever your friends, relatives or colleagues have someone important to them who passed away, it will be good to at least contribute some money as token of respect.

During somewhere around the year of 2000, my grandma passed away and I had to go back to hometown. I called up a close friend to tell her the news and that I was going to be away. Before I went away, my friend had collected some money from my several other friends for me (all in a very short time). I did not even expect that because I did not really know the Chinese tradition. But I felt warmth and grateful to them for their contribution. I remembered feeling proud when I gave the money to the collector - it was like "you see, my friend cared that I lost my grandma".

I encountered or heard some quite bad acts that was against what I am trying to tell here. Here are 2 of them:

1. My boyfriend's aunty passed away early this month and had her funeral in Seremban (1 hour drive from city). I could not understand why one of my boyfriend's brother did not bother to appear at all. It was from Thursday night until Saturday morning. I could not believe he had been so busy and did not even have few hours to spare. After all , she was his aunt. I have only seen her once. But I learned something from her also as she was telling me how hard of her ordeal after each chemotherapy. It was like you may be very normal although the cancer will attack you once in a while and make you really painful. Or, you can undergo chemotherapy and after each sessions, you will become a very sick person because not only it kills the cancer cells, it also kills many of the other cells and it is painful ordeal to recover from that also.

2. This is really really unconventional bad act- it was about my friends' infamous boss. A colleague recently lost the loved one and people was asking for the "pak kam" money. When he was asked, he replied , "Wait for next time." and avoided paying a single cent. That was the clear message he sent out to all the people that day why he did not manage to get any respect from all the people in his department and even those who barely know him. And such a people got to be a boss in a quite large corporate in Malaysia.

And next time???? "Oh, let's wait for the next people to die, then I will pay!!!" It was really awful!!!!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Forgiving? Of course not - Chinese woman breaks silence on sex slavery horror

An article from local newspaper featured a Chinese women who had served as sex slave during WWW 2 for the Japanese.

This harrowing experience has left a deep scar on Zhou's life. She cannot forget, and nor can she forgive.

They (the sex slaves) were repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers on a daily basis.

"OF COURSE I HATE THEM" , she said.

"If it were you, wouldn't you hate them? Of course I hate them. But after the war, all the Japanese went home. I'm already so old. I think they are all dead by now."

How much can we understand and feel the sufferings the other party has been through when we never experience that before?

No matter how empathized we are, we never will get the 100% hit if we have not been through the same experience. So, try to respect those who cannot or do not want to forgive and forget because not everything can be forgiven or forgotten.

Tribute to my colleague's mom

My colleague lost her mom this morning. So sad. I cannot come close to imagine her grief. I had known that her mother had some health issue before but I had not known it was such a dire situation.

Despite her family problem, she has been very dedicated in her work and did not really show she was having trauma. If I am in the same situation, I do not think I can hold up.

I guess behind one's calm and strong exterior, there are some different stories and problems hidden that only few others can know and understand.

Again, do cherish the one we love.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Mount KK - Peak

Following up my post on Mount KK , finally I managed to upload some photos here.

6 May 2007 - REACHED THE PEAK at around 6 a.m. after starting the journey at 3 a.m.

Here is the sunrise view.

Too bad we could not take the photo where the first glimpse of the sunlight was seen. Actually we were a little bit late because the guide was late and we could very well started without them! On top of that, me and my partner had not bring the camera and had to wait for the rest of the group to reach. At that time, the sun was already quite high.


Down view......







Up view......

You can see the actual highest peak when we took this photo. We were actually around half a km away when we snapped this photo. After that, we were too lazy to go out as it was very cold. So, we actually technically not really reach the peak but I got my full certificate anyway. :)...shhhhhhh

I guess this was one of the thing I regretted. But I guess I do not really mind as I intend to go there again. So, this may be something I can look forward too. To really reach the peak the next time.

Effort vs. Result

Have you ever spent a lot of effort or determination to achieve something and in the end you achieve nothing because you failed to execute the last part?

I have this experience of putting efforts to try to help people. Though, it is not a lot of contribution, but I try as much as I can to help. But in the end, I failed and the most frustrated part is I failed the person who I wanted to help.

Stories 1: Getting Good Discount for Dell Notebook Purchase for my Uncle.

My Effort included:
1. Checked the models and prices online and suggested appropriate models to my Uncle. Called him and SMS him several times to report progress and check with him on things.

2. Checked with my company CEO several times whether he could get me any great discounts. My CEO has been very helpful and in fact, a lot of times, he followed up with me throughout the process.

3. Checked with a contact passed to me by my CEO, a friend of my CEO whom his company had ordered a lot of Dell products and have a sales person contact that might be able to give me good discount.
I really appreciated his help as I did not know him at all and I was sure he was very busy. But he had helped as much as he could.

4. Managed to get the sales person contact and called her and checked quotations with her several times. Apparently, I could not contact her for a couple of weeks because she was hospitalized due of an accident. What a coincidence! After that, she sent a quotation to me and I tried to negotiate with her but to no avail.

Result and Conclusions:
1. The price that the Dell sales person sent to me is more expensive than the online price. She did not reply me after I tried to negotiate with her. After all, I am just one customer with purchase of one notebook.

2. My boss suggested me to help my uncle by chipping in some money so that he can get the "discount" instead of going through all the troubles. But my answer was "My uncle is quite well financially. I just wanted to help him by putting in the effort. Not the money. I think he would not want me to help him pay."

3. In the end, due to the failed attempt to get good discount, I had to advised my uncle to buy notebook at local store, so that he can send to the store for repair and ask for advices if any problem. After all, I found that he wants to use this notebook for some online football bet and on heavy stuffs. So, I suggested him to buy a cheap and lower-end notebook. Anyway, not much discount can be negotiated for a lower-end notebook.

Lesson Learnt:
1. Always weigh the efforts with the result. If the efforts are too much and the result is not going to be much or are too risky to achieve, you probably need to think of another way to get the result you want. Maybe you can change your target result too.

2. Throughout this process, I found out a lot of people, even those very senior and successful people like my CEO and his friend are willing to help small person like me. All you need to do is ASK. So, be daring to ask. Do not assume people will not or do not have the time to help you.

Usually, great and successful people are always willing to help and share their knowledge and experience.

Stories 2: Helping my subordinate to get register for a training.

Effort:
1. Checked all the information online and raised PR and explained to my boss in order to get his approval because I just received the training information so this was not in the training plan.

2. Checked with HR on whether the employment bond of 6 months are applicable . Apparently not, since the training cost was below the range.

3. Argued with HR, when they wanted to impose the bond because the training was RM5 short to reach the cost to apply the bond. I said RM5 short is still short , so should the rule should not apply. I even argue, in school, when 50 marks are the passing mark, even though we get 49 marks, it is still consider failed. No appeal, because if the teacher think the students deserve a pass, she will put the marks above 50.
That's the line we draw and we should stick to it.

If HR hate me for this, I do not what to say! In the end, the HR relented because they said I already told my subordinate no bond will apply and we need to stick to our words. Thank God!

4. On the last day for early bird discount entitlement (i kept the reminder), I checked with HR whether the PR has been approved. Have to called 2 persons and coincidentally one of them is on leave. Luckily can get hold and confirm.

5. After knowing it has been approved, verbally told my subordinate to register himself on the day itself as it was the last day to get early-bird discount. I told him in my seating place, not face to face cause he was sitting beside me and was separated by a tall divider between our cubicle.

Result and conclusions:
1. There was miscommunication in the last step. Ended up, my subordinate did not register and thought I would register for him. So, no early bird discount, and we have to start the process all over again (from raising PR to registering). And yes, the bond will apply this time and company has to pay more for the same course.

2 . I realized I should follow-up at the end of the day whether registration has been done. But, alas, I did not.

3. Miscommunication always happen. I should have realize this and emphasize like "YOU (no me!!!) need to go REGISTER ONLINE TODAY." But I think I was not so clear and what worse, it was not face-to-face communication.

Lesson Learnt:
1. Always follow through until the end. Do not underestimate small tasks or parts of the process. If you have done 90% of the process and you do not manage the get the last part done, the result is still 0% and it can be total waste of time and money.

2. Eliminate number of parties that need to be involved if possible. In the second round of the process, I told my subordinate that he should go and raise the PR and follow through as what I was the additional and redundant layer for more possibilities of miscommunication.

For e.g. when you have have 1 person to execute one task in 10 days. If you put another person in to do the task together maybe still need 10 days (because of the communication, integration needed)

BIG Conclusion:

100% effort does not mean 100% result!!


Measure your effort with the result before you even get started. Quit before you even get started if the effort is not going to lead you to the result you want or you know you cannot follow through.


Follow through the end and feel the satisfaction when you achieve the result ! :)

Monday, 18 June 2007

Great Leaders

Despite the entertainment, the movie “Hot Fuzz” made me think about leadership.

In the movie, sergeant "Angel" was transferred to a peaceful and seemingly crime-free village. The police officers there care more about food and drinks in the pub than anything else. Soon, capable and dedicated Angel found out there was a totally different story than what the village appeared to be.

A series of cold-blooded murders were happening, but were covered up as “accidents” and nobody every suspect anything except , of course, Angel. The truth was there was a group of “leaders” consisted of some prominent elders in the village that had gone around killing people who could threaten the good images of the village. Those people who committed vandalism, acted badly in a play, having affairs, or had a bad smiles were being killed for the reason for “Greater Good” and the intention to keep the village title "Village of the Year”. The leaders thought it was the best for the village to eliminate all these people and misled all the villagers to believe that their village is the best. What a bunch of old people with corrupted minds who think they were the wisest and know what are best for the people!

This plot may sounds a bit cheesy as it was intended to be an over-action comedy. But think about it, it was actually what are happening in the past and NOW and it will happen in the future.

Take, for example, Adolf Hitler, the Germany president which created the holocaust where approximately 6 millions Jews were killed because of the concept of racial hygiene or survival of the fittest, that is making it a requirement for racial purity and killing off "life unworthy of life." How corrupted were their minds! Same went to Japan rulers which in a very big ambition to take over world, led to enormous killings , torturing and raping of people in China and several other places in the world.

One of the Adolf Hitler's quote "How fortunate for leaders that men do not think" show that the term "Great Leaders" can be ambiguous. Adolf Hitler lead well, but he is leading people to evilness. Great Leaders are those who can lead people well and into doing more goods to this world.

Let's try to put the scenario what can correlate to us since we are not living in such village (or are we?) and Adolf Hitler was long gone from the world - that is, the corporate world. What if the your company leaders are doing what they think are right but may not , in fact, be the right things. What if you are being led to believe something that are not true?

That's why Jack Welch said candor is very important in an organization. People know what are actually happening and they can judge for themselves. I strongly believe a good company should have candor as part of the culture. I hope I can continue to do something along this line for my company.

Angel (the sergeant) : - 'I may not be a religious man, but I know the difference between right and wrong.'

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Google news - Partner vs. Competitor

Keeping up with Google news:

14/06/2007 -Google in spat with Microsoft


SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft is defending itself against charges by Google that it rigged its new Vista operating system to give its desktop search software an unfair edge over that of its rivals. In a freshly-revealed complaint lodged late last year with the US Department of Justice and state attorneys general Google accuses Microsoft's Vista of violating a 2002 antitrust decree. - AFP

12/06/2007 - Google ties up with Sina
SHANGHAI: Google Inc, which trails Baidu.com Inc in China's Internet search industry, will partner with Sina Corp to gain share in the world's second-largest online market. Google and Sina, owner of China's biggest Web portal, will cooperate in Internet search, advertising, and news in China, the two companies said in Beijing yesterday. The agreement helps Google access customers of Sina in a country where the online search market is forecast to grow to US$587 million (US$1=RM3.46) by the end of the decade. - Bloomberg

Sina website:



Baidu website:

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Four kinds of managers

Jack Welch categorized 4 types of managers:


TYPE#1(BEST):
Managers who deliver great results and adhere to good values are easy to cope up with.They should be rewarded at each and every opportunity.

TYPE#2:
Managers with poor results but good values deserve another chance, maybe in another position in the organization.

TYPE#3:

The third kind of manager,with great results and lousy is the kind that usually destroys the organizations.They deliver the numbers,but usually on the backs of their people.Companies very often keep these jerks around for way too long, destroying morale and trust as they do.

TYPE#4(JERKS):
This is poorest kind of manager.He's got poor performance as well as poor values.Here,even if the manager has good technical expertise but, he may be a threat to major projects since his management skills are poor.These kind of managers should not be kept in the organization and should not be given any second chance.



Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Skeptism about Agile

When you are starting something new, you can sure to expect some skeptism. Do not let these deter you though.

While just 2 weeks into starting Agile, I received some optimistic remarks like "I really believe in Agile. ", "Yes, we should go agile". A lot of people are showing great curiosity and asking all questions to get prepared.

Sadly though, there are people who showed skeptism......

"We started talking about Agile for two weeks already..and I still do not see anything and cannot even start to contribute in terms of product requirements. Yes, Agile may help us but ultimately, it is attention to details and preserverance that are required for us to have successful executions - just like a good race car may help but the driver is the most important."

My reply was:

"The problems highlighted in development actually boiled down to the planning, design and execution. These are which Agile is supposed to improve.

Anyhow, we will start agile asap. Start very small. I already gathered all the decided product backlog. It just that I am waiting for the resources to be free up from the current project that was in waterfall methodology and now it is somewhere in the QA stage . Also, I am working on some coding in part-time basis and it is hard for me to focus. You see, multitasking is never good. As much as we can admit, trying to load all things on the ppl is not sustainable anymore. So, I will call for meeting very soon. "

Yes, I did call for the meeting for 2 teams and we laid out what we need to do in SPRINT 1 despite the lack of the product backlogs. We then committed to the stakeholders on the release date and made everyone happy once again. Phew!!!

Sometimes, I know I have this designer attitude where I like to be left alone for sometimes while I work on my design and creativity. I actually met a designer that used to tell me about something that she could not tolerate because she has this designer attitude. My advice for her back then was to try to change that. In the end, she sticked to her principle and left. I must say, I agree with her sometimes. :)
But that attitude does not actually work very well with some bosses. Some will want you to update them very often. They won't look at your plan and they do not remember what you told them last week about what you are working on. So, you have to update your boss every now and then.

That's where the Agile is designed to help your boss remember and know what you are doing. You draw every user stories/features on the whiteboard, commit the time to come out with something in 2 weeks (each iteration) and hopefully your boss will be happy to leave you alone. And you have daily SCRUM meeting to check on the progress. What is cooler than this? It is like a boss's dream comes true!

SCRUM meeting does look fun , if you do not treat it as a pressure for you to show daily results. View the following video- it is funny. In the end, I guess being a boss or not, it is important to understand that your team are just human, i.e. they make mistakes , they proscrastinate, and they prioritize wrongly. It is your job to forgive them and point them to the right directions and most importantly learn and grow together. (I am sure boss is not the most perfect person in the team).
In the end, as I reflected on what was being said, I think the skeptism shown is more towards the people , rather than Agile - "just like a good race car may help but the driver is the most important."
I guess it is more right for me to say that driving a Proton car (do click on the link and you will see what I mean especially if you are not Malaysian..hehe) is different than driving a Mercedes. Both can get you to the same place but it is just different, especially on the safety level. Now, I am not just thinking about driving myself. We are together in the car and of course, we hope for a more comfortable, safer and more-quality car to get us to the destination. In the end, the experience during the journey counts as much as the end results.

Technology is Changing the World

Not only technology do not do evil (yeah, google mantra again. :) ), technology can stop evil.

Now we can help to monitor some parts in the world to prevent violence using the following URL:

http://www.eyesondarfur.org


Here is the link to the news:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/6/6/worldupdates/2007-06-06t102718z_01_nootr_rtrmdnc_0_india-301691-1&sec=worldupdates

Monday, 11 June 2007

Celebrate Agile Adoption?

Ryan blogged about when we should celebrate while in agile adoption.

Then you go agile and start shipping every six weeks or so. You deliver value on a regular cadence, respond quickly to your customers' needs and are suddenly nimble enough to leapfrog your competitors. But being agile has one Achilles' heel - it's hard to know when to celebrate.

When your team should celebrate its Agile success? I think every release, when it helps meet your corporate performance targets and when the market tells you. Don't miss an opportunity to celebrate. We're not. :)

And in my earlier post about Becoming a Good Leader , one of the rule is Leaders Celebrate!

Today, my CEO bought some cakes and called everybody in a stand-up meeting to tell them we are starting Agile adoption. Although more than half of the people in the room already knew that and half did not, it is still an small act of encouragement. And who can think about celebrating even before we achieve anything solid yet. My company leader did !!! :). And who would go around and call people pigs and chickens! (Okay, for those of you who do not know agile, it is not a rude gesture as pigs and chickens are the term used in Agile)

I think we are celebrating because we know we are heading somewhere good. We are celebrating because we are changing for the better.

Yes, we do celebrate!! And we will , with every success "stories" or "releases".




Google Master Plan

Google has been and continue to be a very great inspiration for me!

Google Master Plan in a whiteboard:


Click here Larger Picture.

Google Master Plan in a movie:

http://masterplanthemovie.com/


Life and Death

During my recent misfortune which I labelled "the event which change views on my life and career goal", I begin to open up and view things differently. I told almost all my close friends and family about my distressing experience. Thanks to all of them, I got all kinds of the supports and advices from them. I love u guys!

I had make it through, a changed (hopefully better) person. And, most importantly, I am given a second chance to start things over again. Although, I am still doing almost the same things everyday, but this time, I know what else I can focus and improve on. In long term, I hope to have more skills and knowledge to rely on.

Not all people have second chance. A lost can be gone forever, such as death. It made me feel very small, when I treat my misfortune like a very big thing to me. It is not! Death and physical suffering such as disease, are big things.

Here, I would like to pay tributes to all these great people.




1. Those who had gone through physical sufferings , endured them bravely and later succumbed to their illness.


All these have reminded me again and again to spend time with my loved ones as times can be very limited.

- my paternal cousin brother who died of cancer when I was like in Standard 4. We used to play a lot together and were very close.

- my maternal cousin sister who died of cancer when I was teenager.

- my maternal grandmother, whom everyone dearly loved, who passed away almost like 6 years ago. She had suffered for a long time before she succumbed.

- beloved father of my friend who died last few weeks in Hong Kong.
And also father of my ex-collegemate who died years ago. He recently just got married.

And also father of my ex-colleague who died last year. She is happily married and has a cute daughter.

- beloved mother of my boyfriend's cousins who died of cancer last Friday.


2. And to those who had gone through the lost of loved one with strong outlooks in life.

Instead of showing grief at all turns, they all faced their lost with the serenity that keep people in comfort. They showed me how to be strong myself. And that the unexpected misfortunes that I encountered are nothing close to what they were experiencing, so I should not fuss so much about them.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Agile Project

I think it was worth it to start blogging about Agile adoption at my company. Maybe one year from now, I can become an Agile consultant. :)


Product Backlog/User Stories:
1. Agile members can understand the agile benefits, practices and values. (7 points)

2. Agile members can provide feedbacks, concerns and receive further explanations. (1 point)

3. Agile members can have a room (called war room) to work on agile planning, review and estimation. (3 points)

4. Agile members can record and track user stories, projects, iterations, tasks. (3 points)

5. Agile members can understand their roles and what are expected of them. (5 points)

6. Deployment to QA is automated. (7 points)

7. Some testings are automated. (13 points)

8. Developers can start to develop unit testing code (8 points)


Sprint / Iteration 1 (Week 1-2) :
Story 1 & 2

Sprint /Iteration 2 (Week 3-4) :
Story 3 , 4 & 5

Sprint /Iteration 3 (Week 5-6) :
Story6


NOTES:

1. My velocity is 7-10 story points per weeks . So I can manage story 3, 4 and 5 in the second iteration.

2. As there is only one pig (me), there will be no daily scrum meeting. Seems like I am the product owner and scrum master for this project also. :)

3. After Sprint 2, we can actually start small pilot on small project (release Agile 1.0 to let users use the "product") .

4. We already have some new project requirements for some projects (small projects) and hope we can do Agile asap - think big, start small

5. We can make a small releases after each sprint or after multiple sprints. (release planning).

Challenges & Lesson Learnt:
1. It is hard to put in new resources to help out in between the sprints as it changes the velocity and the man hours per week. This make it hard to estimate and see whether we are on track.

2. Need to break user stories/product backlogs into small stories that can easily fit into one sprint/iteration.

3. It is hard to estimate the story points at the beginning. Usually, require to roughly know what tasks in the story to give a better estimate on the story points.

4. It is better to try to complete the users stories at each sprint, rather than do a little bit of each stories in each sprint, but in the end achieve nothing much.
For e.g., I would like to Design the "Deployment to QA" flow (Story #6) in Sprint 2 first and move "Brief agile members on how to use the Agile tool" (Story #4) to Sprint 3. But it becomes apparent that I can have more focus and can reap the benefit faster if I can finish the user stories in one sprint. It is not good to do a little bit of each stories and not closing it off asap.

Let us all commit to Change and Excellence!

Monday, 4 June 2007

Google Search Continues


I just read an interesting article about Google latest development in a local newspaper. I feel compelled to blog this. Yes, I am a Google fan!!!

Google's Search latest challenge and tweak included:


Better at reading the minds of users to interpret a very short query.
Are the users looking for a job, a purchase or a fact? The formulas can tell that people who type "apples" are likely to be thinking about fruit, while those who type "Apple" are mulling computers or iPods. They can even compensate for vaguely worded queries or outright mistakes.


Gave more weight to pages with phrases like "French Revolution" rather than pages that simply had both words.

Finding local businesses - Finding local stores without enough importance to links from other sites . I think this is working well as I was using Google successfully to find some companies in Malaysia and it showed up as first ranking or at least at the first page.


QDF, for "query deserves freshness."

Freshness describes how many recently created or changed pages are included in a search result, is at the centre of a constant debate in search: Is it better to provide new information or to display pages that have stood the test of time and are more likely to be of higher quality? Until now, Google has preferred pages old enough to attract others to link to them.

THE QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is "hot". If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information.

Here is the link to the full article in New Straits Times

Good and Evil


I heard from some people that as ones grow older, they tend to see things in gray, not white and black anymore. They are wiser. Only the young and brash person will see things in white and black. But I beg to differ. Sometimes, seeing things in white and black are not really bad. Maybe because I am still young. Or maybe not.

Seeing in white or black, right or wrong, gives us :
1. The spirit to fight against evil.
2. The spirit to fight for good things.

Do the "wise" people stop fighting against evil because they see things as gray? They let evil things happen to the organization and to the world, let people do evil things because they have done a lot of good things also?

If all the things you see is in gray, wouldn't it be a very solemn sight? I prefer to see things in black, white, all other vibrant colors and also gray, of course. I do agree, there are things which should be in gray, but not all of them.

There are only heaven for the good and hell for the evil. Earth is the only the transition. You can either choose to go to heaven or hell.

Why Employees Leave Organizations

Interesting articles posted by my colleague today......

Every company faces the problem of people leaving the company for better pay or profile.

Early this year, Mark, a senior software designer, got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India operations developing specialized software. He was thrilled by the offer. He had heard a lot about the CEO. The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office,and the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food. Twice Mark was sent abroad for training. "My learning curve is the sharpest it's ever been," he said soon after he joined.

Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Mark walked out of the job.

Why did this talented employee leave ?

Arun quit for the same reason that drives many good people away.

The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers and was published in a book called "First Break All The Rules". It came up with this surprising finding:

If you're losing good people, look to their immediate boss . Immediate boss is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he 's the reason why people leave. When people leave they take knowledge, experience and contacts with them, straight to the competition.

"People leave managers not companies," write the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. Mostly manager drives people away?

HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find humiliation the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may not leave, but a thought has been planted. The second time, that thought gets strengthened. The third time, he looks for another job.
When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing only what they are told to do and no more. By omitting to give the boss crucial information. Dev says: "If you work for a jerk, you basically want to get him into trouble. You don 't have your heart and soul in the job."

Different managers can stress out employees in different ways - by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, but they forget that workers are not fixed assets, they are free agents. When this goes on too long, an employee will quit - often over a trivial issue.

Talented men leave. Dead wood doesn't.


" Oh, I am the cute ape boss.
I prefer sitting here at the desk, shouting at people
than the jungle of where I came from, shouting at the trees.

The people here are funny. I give them banana as rewards, they are not happy.
I call them "monkey", they are not happy either.
I pull their hairs to help them find lice and they say they want to leave.

I simply do not know what to do. No idea.
"

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I spent my Friday night up to the wee hours of the morning to finish this book - “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”. This was the first time I read Mitch Albom’s book. So, basically, I did not know what to expect from the story.

It turned to be a very interesting experience reading the book. Getting used to motivation books that laid out the rules or values and explained them with stories, the stories presented flowed ever so nicely, bringing out a very compelling and touching story, but without being too emotional. The values are embedded inside this story and it is up to one to interpret the meaning.

The story is about Eddie, a very kind person, who was killed in a tragic accident and went to heaven. There, he learnt that he must first encounter five different persons from whom he would learn something about the meaning of his life.

It was a remarkably memorable story. I am still as intrigued as ever on trying to replay back the 5 people in the heaven. What are their purpose in making one understand his life.

Well, here are the few values that I want to remember from the story:



  • Balance in life.

    Just as in everyday, people die and people being born. This is the balance in life. Your colleague got sicked but you were as healthy as ever. Your friend won a lottery but you accidentally dropped our wallets yesterday and lost few hundred bucks.

    Most of you eat a good meal everyday and have some leftover. In fact, I ate a buffet lunch at a hotel yesterday and there were plenty of food to choose from. In the contrary, somewhere in Africa, people hope they have some leftover food to eat, far from being able to choose what they eat.

    Whatever we are having now, do remember someone might have lost it. This is the balance in life. A large object dropped from nowhere and hit a spot where you just left seconds ago and fatally hit on a boy. The boy died so that you got to live.

    So, on each day you are living and enjoying things, do be grateful. Also try to give out as much as possible, because whatever fortune you are getting , you are taking away from others .


  • Sacrifices

    In your life, there are a lot of people who have sacrificed for you to make you what you are today. Your parents put effort day and night to bring you up to be a good person. Your friend sacrifices times and financial fortune to help you.

    Even strangers may make small sacrifice for you. Those who waited for you at the lift, those who cleaned up the garbage you littered mindlessly, those who ran after you to return you the items you have dropped, waiters or waitresses that waited on your table. Sometimes, these are part of their jobs and they may be obliged to do it. But also, do believe they also put their heart to it and choose to do it for you and to make this world a better living place.

    Sometimes, the sacrifices can be very big, like someone dying for you. You might not realize it, but everyday, there may be people dying for you. For e.g., a rapist and murdered victim which the tragedy warned you to be more careful and also lead to the criminal to be caught so he could do no harm to other women.

    A friend’s parent passed away and reminded you to treat your own parents better while they are still with you.

    Make sacrifice for others if you can. Do small chores for others, wait for others, buy lunches for your friend, make donations, support community programs, and the list goes on.


  • Give others something to believe, make promises and keep them

    It means a lot of the people if you tell them you will take care of them or you will help them. It give them strength and faith to believe in hope. In the story, a war captain promised to his soldiers he would leave no one behind. It is a tremendous promise, one that the captain did not know if he really could do it. But he knew he need his soldiers to know that so that they have the strengh and courage to fight the battle! And he did everything , anything to keep to his promise and he did it successfully.

    So, make promises and try as hard as possible to keep to them. If bad things happened and you have broken your promises, people will understand if you have try your best.

    On the contrary, if you break your promise simply because you failed to do something you can do or did something you should not because of lack of control or discipline, it is better for you to evaluate yourself and not to make the promises.


  • Forgiveness
    Learning to forgive is a very beautiful act. But I must say, it is somethings that are very hard to do. Just like when I debate on this on my previous post about whether Lucifer should be forgiven?

    Some people do not forgive even until their last breathe. If we can forgive as early as possible, I daresay, it may be a better experience. To let go of grouses and blames and move on with life will make great difference. Anger is poison. The forgiveness may not save the relationship or the trust, but it make you not angry at things, able to accept the fact, and move on.

    If your partner cheated on you, dump him, of course, but try to forgive him as well. Let go of your anger. Do not ask why he did that to you. Accept that. You will be able to move on happily with your life, able to face him and even become friends with him. Sometimes later, you will find a better guy and you actually feel thankful that your ex has cheated on you. If not, you will never be able to experience true love.

    God have things in store for you. Sometimes, it is a better lesson to learn from mistakes. To feel the pain first for you to treasure the bliss much better. Believe that, and forgive people who have hurt you so that you will find a better things in life - better partner, better boss, better love.

    On the other hand, if it is your parents or family who hurt you, no matter how bad you feel, do try to carry out your duty as a daughter/son/sister/brother/parent until your last breathe. Family is a treasure. Do not give up so easily.


  • Love of your life.

    When you have found true love, nothing matter more, not even life and death. True love will never die.
    There will be arguments, worries, insecurities, jealousy - impediments that will make you question your love. But never waver and never stop loving!


  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
    If you want to have your children to yell at you, yell at your parents!
    If you want to be micro-managed by your manager, micro-manage your staffs.
    If you want your daughter to be harrassed by a jerk, be a jerk yourself and harrass other girls.

    It is as simple as that. What goes around comes around. But most often that not, you find people who break that rules. I am guilty myself.


  • Other side of the stories
    Every story you know, there are other side of story that you do not know. Do not assume you know all the things and treat people at face value. Do not jump to conclusions. Try to be empathy. Listen and try to understand.


  • Find meaning in your life and value yourself

    In the story, Eddie felt that he has not achieved anything in his life. He worked as a mere maintenance guy in a small carnival. His dream to become an engineer was dashed by war injuries and the responsibilities that befell him at the time of his father's final illness and death. His war experiences and leg injury darkened his view of life and sapped it of joy.
    But in the end, he realized that his daily hum-drum, tedious daily routine had in fact fulfilled his life's intended purpose of keeping workplace's rides safe, and a source of joy, for generations of children.

    Find meaning in whatever you are doing and DO NO EVIL (my most favourite motto from Google)! This is not apparent in the story but Eddie got to go to the heaven because he is a good guy to start with.