Sunday, June 7, 2009

Problem with my iPod Shuffle.

Recently I had this series of problem with my iPod Shuffle which nearly took three days to solve. The solution which was used to solve the problem didn’t take more than one minute to implement. So here is my experience with my iPod Shuffle which drive me crazy and took nearly 3 days to solve.


One day while I connected my iPod Shuffle and was transferring music using iTunes I got the following error, when I clicked the Autofill button at the lower right corner of iTunes.  The error is pasted below.

“The iPOd "XYZ" cannot be synced. You do not have enough access privileges for this operation.”

Also windows gave me the following error in a balloon tooltip in the taskbar.

Windos - Delayed Write Failed
”Windows was unable to save all the data for the file G: The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere.”

The screenshot of the above error is pasted below.


I was petrified, just now I was transfering music with iTunes, it was working perfectly fine and all of a sudden my laptop is saying I don’t have access privileges. What is happening? Is my laptop gone mad or is it a bug in iTunes? I was just pondering. Then I thought let me disconnect my iPod and see if that solves the problem. Ok, I disconnected my iPod and connected it back. Bang comes the next error message from iTunes. The error message is pasted below.

“iTunes has detected an iPod in recovery mode. You must restore this iPod before it can be used with iTunes.”

So next logical thing what I did was I clicked the restore button. Oh no, again one more error popped up. Error is pasted below.

“The iPod “iPod” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (1429).”

There was an “Ok” and “Help” button on the error message box as shown below.


Clicking the “Help” button took me to the Apple’ support page. The page can be accessed by clicking the link (“”).

The help page had the usual suggestion like disconnect iPod and reconnect it, if that doesn’t work restart the system, update the windows operating system and blah blah stuffs. The end result was nothing worked. Then as suggested in the help file I downloaded the iPod reset utility from the link  (

After downloading and running the iPod reset utility the following  message popped up.

“iPod reset utility cannot continue because there are other applications using iPod. Please close all iPod applications and try again.”

Clicking “Ok” button gave the next below message.

“You iPod needs to be reformatted for use with Windows. Would you like to run iTunes to restore your iPod now?”

Clicking “Ok” opened iTunes and following message error was thrown by iTunes.

“iTunes has detected an iPod that appears to be corrupted. You may need to restore this iPod before it can be used with iTunes. You may also try disconnection and reconnecting the iPod.”

Clicking restore gave the same errors as stated above. Closed my iTunes and then tried executing iPod reset utility but that was also in vain. The error thrown is as follows.

“Formatting failure. Disk write error.”

Screenshot of the above error thrown iPod Reset utility is as follows.


So I decided I will try transferring songs from my office system, just to confirm there is no problem with my iPod before giving it to the iPod service center.  So I took my iPod to my office and connected to my office system. Wow, here it is my shuffle is working fine in my office system. So I concluded that its not my iPod which is having problem, rather its my laptop at home which is having some problem.

Next I started thinking what changes did I do in my laptop that created this problem. Then all of a sudden, as a flash of light, I remembered what I did which could create this problem.


You won’t believe the solution to my problem was very simple. I have recently installed “Quick heal Total Security 2009” anti virus software and to increase the security of my system I clicked Options and from the pop up’ “Data Protection” section I checked the “Enable Data Protection” check box. The screenshot of the “Data Protection” section is pasted below.



For all the above problem the solution was to disable the “Data protection” feature of “Quick heal Total Security 2009” anti virus software. To disable the feature click Options from the main screen. The screenshot is pasted below.


From the pop up go to “Data Protection” section and uncheck “Enable Data Protection” check box. The screenshot is pasted below.


If you check the “Enable Data Protection” checkbox the anti virus software will not allow the system to write data on external storage devices like USB drives, Pen Drives, Memory Cards etc. This is to prevent virus from copying themselves to removable storage devices as well as preventing viruses in removable storage device from copying themselves to your system thereby preventing some lethal virus attacks.

Anyways, my advice to people who encounter the above errors should not panic instead check your anti virus software and disable the above mentioned feature. If I am not wrong every anti virus will have a feature to disable external device’ read and write, so find the feature and disable it. That will solve your iPod problem. I had to spend nearly 3 days to find this simple solution, I hope with this blog people will not spend that much time to solve such a small problem.

If you are the above feature just remember you are exposing yourselves to threat. So I would say before connecting your iPod or any external storage device which you trust disable the feature and once they disconnected enable the feature. If you suspect a device its always better to scan them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Work experience with Meril Lynch

Not so ago I was deputed as a Consultant in Meril Lynch India Technology Services (MLITS), Chennai branch. With this blog I just want to share my working experience with MLITS. Below are some of the key points from day of joining to my exit. Read on to know.

No formal induction.

When I went to join MLITS I was received by the HR, my finger prints were taken and one of my team mates was called to take me to the respective place of work. Then it was all by myself. I was not given any formal induction about the team in which I will be working, who will be my reporting authority, what is the office timing, what are the office policies and other nitty gritties. Does MLITS have a formal induction program?

People say, first impression is the best impression. The first impression which I had was the worst impression. If this is the joining formalities then there is no use of having an HR, an office boy can do all these. It was a “hi and bye” kind of interaction with the HR. Even the finger prints were taken by an office boy, who also took me to the cafeteria for lunch. The office boy was very courteous throughout the whole process. He made sure that I was comfortable in a new environment (cafeteria) and also briefed me about MLITS. Office boy doing the job of an HR, great.


The management should try to wake up the “Hi Bye” (HR) team and educate them on how a new joinee should be inducted. There should be formal induction program where they should be briefed about the company policies, which project they will be working, brief history of the team, what they are working on, the reporting structure.

Running here and there for the smooth conduct of my day to day affairs.

Once I finished my so called HR formalities (is there any?) I came and sat in a chair with only the wall of my cabinet facing me blunt on my face and me staring back. One of my colleague was given the responsibility to get me what I need like system, ID card etc. Is it a developers work to complete all these formalities? Poor guy he was busy with his work and he was not aware of how to proceed with these requirement as this is not his work. So he started the frantic search to get me the system, ID card etc. After going from room to room and floor to floor I got my system. Is it a government office to run from floor to floor to get something which should have been provided by default. The system was given and with a remote desktop access with no required softwares installed. Only the basic softwares were there. Then getting temporary ID, that nearly took 3 to 4 days as the person who is supposed to issue IDs was on leave. If someone goes on leave a replacement is not provided? Maybe it was there but we were not able to find one. At last when we found the replacement, here comes the other problem, I need to raise some ID request. The funniest part is that I cannot raise the request as I don't have an NT id. So my colleague raised it.

Getting ID.

After raising ID request I was called for the photo session. Photo was taken and I was informed that mail will be sent once the photo ID is ready. Even after 4 working days there was no mail. When enquired about the same the responsible person informs me that there was a problem in the photo previously taken so the id was not generated. For god sake don't you inform the person if something goes wrong, only when the affected person goes in person and asks you give the response? Is this professionalism?Again I went through the photo session and was again informed you will get a mail when the card is ready. God knows when that mail will land in my inbox. I wonder if our great Indian snail mail works faster than this. For more than 2 weeks no mail.

Getting System.

After the remote desktop was given I had to raise another request to get the required software. Since the provided system didn't had the required disk space to install the software the whole system was replaced with a new system. I was happy that at last I got a system to work. Here comes the next problem. I don't have an admin rights to perform my tasks.Come on man a developer doesn't have admin rights? Each developer should have admin rights to his system as over the course of time he may have to install various softwares/addons for the smooth conduct of his work.

Getting Admin rights.

Again I don’t know whom to approach for the admin rights. With the help of my colleague I was able to send a mail to get the admin rights. It took nearly 2 to 3 days to get my admin rights approved. Installation, admin rights what next? Huh…...

One thing to highlight here is the approval process. Admin rights was approved by at least 4 people, final approval came from the Director of MLITS India. A simple admin rights for a developer being approved by the Director of MLITS, oh this is the height of bureaucracy.

Temporary ID expired.

The dramatic day came when the temporary ID provided stopped working. The securities are not ready to allow me inside the office as my card is not working. What the heck? Am I a criminal or what? Then again I don't know whom to approach. Then some how found out and informed the concerned person and my card was activated. God knows when my temporary card is going to expire again?


Processes are meant to make life of people comfortable and not miserable. The processes in MLITS, where new joinees are left fending for themselves is pathetic. Atleast the process should be made in a way that new joinees are not left to run from pillar to post. The “Hi Bye” team which is supposed to coordinate with the different department and provide all the things required for a new joinee, is currently doing nothing other than, saying a Hi and then a Bye. The joining torture for a new joinee in MLITS should be made a smooth affair. The “Hi Bye” team should start working on smoothening the joining process by arranging everything needed for a new joinee. It should not be left to some poor developer, if that is the case then there is no need of having a HR team, oops sorry the “Hi Bye”, team. The problem here is not making the joining process smooth it is more than that. The “Hi Bye” team should formulate an induction program, understand the goals of a new joinee and provide the necessary environment for the same. They should be cordial and try to bring in a trust in new joinees, that for any problem they can approach the HR team. An “Hi and Bye” approach won’t bring faith in the HR team. Also there should be a checklist which sees whether all the required things are delivered to the new joinee. Software needs of different team should also be prepared and should come pre installed in the system with all the required rights. The red tapism should be cut down.

Is it an one off experience with me alone?

Totally disoriented by these joining experience I asked the existing employees whether they also had the same experience. The answer was a big yes. Also I asked some other new joinees about their experience with the joining process, they also said the same story. We all are sailing in the same boat. The joining experience with MLITS is simple, just say hi and bye to the HR. Isn’t it so simple?

After nearly about a months time I settled down with all the required things for the smooth conduct of my work. I think one month is too long a time to settle down. Its a criminal waste of time, money and resource. Hoping that the, first, worst impression of MLITS will give way for some great experience with respect to work environment and learning opportunities, didn’t last for long. We will first see the work environment related prob I faced. So here it is.

Cell phones always ring somewhere or the other.

The bay which was allotted for me had this problem, mobile phones use to ring somewhere or the other and that also throughout the day. The bay nearly had 100 people, so one can imagine the condition. I use to think, come on guys no one has told the employees of MLITS that mobiles have to be kept in silent mode. This is the basic ethics which everyone has to follow but in MLITS no one follows this. This basic norm is blatantly broken and people just flaunt their ringtones with no remorse of what so ever. Office is not the place to show off your funky ringtone. To my relief MLITS decided to bring in a norm wherein no multimedia mobile phones will be allowed in office premises. To be frank I was the most happiest person when I came to know that cam mobiles will not be allowed but my happiness was short lived. People replaced their high end mobiles with the primitive models which have horrible ringtones. When requested to one person to put the mob in silent mode, bang came the reply he can't because no one else does that. Most of the guys never bother to keep their mobiles in silent mode but ladies are just doing that.

People are always yapping over phones.

Ringtones are the only problem? No, once someone receives calls they just yap and have no concern that others are sitting nearby and working. Every desk is provided with a desk phone and some people go to the extend where as soon as they come and sit in their place even before switching on the system they make a call, using office phone, and start yapping for long hours. When it comes to talking over phone ladies are just outrageous. Most of the guys just mind their voice but ladies, they just make sure that the whole offices hears what they are talking. I have seen many a times some are always over phone talking to their loved ones and having nice time. If they are spending 8 hours in office most probably 6 hours are spent over phone. The romance which is done over phone is ridiculous. I would go to extend to say that MLITS is the best place to have romance over phone rather than a place to work. Its pathetic. Office phones are used to talk to near and dear ones and that also long hours at a stretch. May be this is one of the employee benefits provided by MLITS to its employees. MLITS employees will be the ones who spend very few in terms of their mob bill as they make all their calls through office phone.

Dialing phone numbers in speaker mode.

Another basic ethic which people never follow is that they don’t keep even the desk phone in silent mode. They keep the desk phone in speaker mode and dial the numbers. One can hear the dial tone and beep sound when a number is dialed. Its horrible. People make sure that the phone is in speaker mode as long as the person at the other end is picking it up.

Meetings over phone.

Weekly team meeting with onsite manager is taken from their respective places or from a team leads (TL) place on speaker phone. This is another most annoying thing, when there is a call guys/gals sit in their place and attend the meeting with their onsite managers and all of them will have their desk phones in speaker mode. If this is not the case then there is another team which will form a circle around their TL and take the call on speaker phone. Oh god don't these TLs have the basic courtesy or common sense that their call is at the expense of others. They just make sure that the whole office is hearing what they are working on. My basic question is who the hell wants to know what you are doing? Why the hell are there so many meeting rooms, aren't they meant for conducting these kind of calls? Don't these guys/gals know this? I have not seen a single team making use of the meeting rooms for their meeting conversation. Something which is very rare to see. MLITS has got lots of small and big meeting room with speaker phones in each and no one bothers to use them. Great use of the resources.

Shouting on top of their voice.

This is especially applicable to ladies, when two ladies talk they just talk so loud its really horrendous. An e.g. of this is two ladies just behind my bay, sitting at two ends, the moment they enter the office and see each other they shout on top of their voice and start their chat, they discuss about their kid’s school and other stuffs. Nothing productive. The so called ladies do more than that, just sitting in their place they shout to their team mates, this shouting is to get the team mate’s updates. Don't they have mChat, OfficeCommunicator or outlook installed in their system to do this? Is this to show off to others that they are doing their job?

Once, a mob, just one or two bays across my bay, started their group discussion. This discussion was all about some movie, making fun of team mates and other useless stuff. The whole group continued their ruckus for nearly 45 mins to one hour. Everyone in the floor were just staring at the group with scorn but no one bothered to tell them that they are taking the whole office for a ride. Even people sitting inside their respective rooms (I think they are higher officials) were only mock spectators of the event. Is everyone scared or what? Why there is a cafeteria in each floor? If a group wants to have some good time why can't they make use of these facility? Why everyone wants to enjoy their cup of tea at the expense of some benign souls? Another great use of available resources.

Sounds coming from keyboards.

Another annoying thing is the keyboards. Again here also ladies are extraordinary. They just type with such speed and strength, the noise can be heard for miles. Till two weeks back I had to bear with a lady', sitting just opposite to me, typing noise. Whenever she hits the enter key its like as if she is hitting something which should not survive the fatal blow and the sound which comes out is!!! Just two weeks back two ladies (X & Y) were allotted place near to my place and, boy oh boy, one among them, Y, is really outrageous in typing. When she types the speed and the noise she creates is annoying and disturbing to the core. The whole bay was flabbergasted. But did anyone raise any concern? No, not even a single soul did anything, they just looked at her in astonishment for 5 minutes and carried on with their work. The look was as if, oh, another disturbance added to the bunch of other nuisance already existing in MLITs and they carried on with their work. So here again I was not able to bear the nuisance, so I thought I will ask the lady, X, just sitting near to me (hoping to get some support from her so that I can request this Y to type with less noise), who sits near to this lady Y, whether this noise is disturbing? The expression which X gave, was really surprising to me, it was like how dare you say that this noise is disturbance. She replied, no it is not. Now my head started turning round and round, I started thinking is something wrong with me or these people are gone mad?


The inefficiency of the “Hi Bye” team shows in the environment issues. The “Hi Bye” team should educate the employees on what a professional environment is all about. The “Hi Bye” team should have regular interaction with the employees and understand their problems and try to find a solution for the same. The above problems highlighted are the basic ethics of a professional environment, which if the employees are not aware of then the HR team should make them aware of. The HR team is oblivious of these issues, so to bridge this gap they have to regularly interact with the different team members. Also the employees should be encouraged to make use of the meeting rooms and other facilities which are lying idle and thereby avoiding disturbance to others.

People are scared.

On seeing these not so pleasant things I asked some of my colleagues why no one raises any concern about these things. Bang came the reply from one of the female counterpart that if you raise anything against ladies they have a nice weapon in their kitty. If for e.g. anyone raises any complaint against the opposite sex, then, they will charge you against harassment and guys fear this a lot. I was even told that one guy was thrown out of MLITs like this. If I am not wrong, while joining MLITS I read somewhere that MLITS strives to provide a fair and biased free work environment. If what one of my colleague said is true, which according to my experience is to some extend true, then I don't think the management is any way closer to providing that.


The sole reason for why employees of MLITS are scared and which I found out by having discussion with the employees, is the existing harassment policies against women. According to MLITS employees MLITS has a big list of harassment policies which every employee signs at the time of joining which lists what is considered harassment according to USA norms. I hope the top management would have studied in their business education that one policy which may work in one country won’t work in another. The same policy which works great in one country may not work in another. It can back fire if implemented without understanding the cultural difference and other aspects of a country. That’ what exactly happened in MLITS Chennai. The harassment policy which is valid in USA may not work here. The simple reason is the cultural difference. In India women are respected more, they are revered. I think in India 99.9999 percent of men won’t even dare to do even a single think pointed out as harassment. So to provide a free and fair environment the management should rework the policy and it should be fair towards both the gender. The team leads and others who lead team should be given proper team/man management training. Trainings will not be successful without proper appraisal. So regular feedback should be taken based on the training.

One soldier, multiple general.

As I started my work I had to report to not one but 4 guys. When I asked one of my colleagues, what is this I had to give updates to so many, he said MLITS is a place where you have this unique experience where you will have one soldier and multiple generals to report to. Also he said in a funny way that, if there is war one thing is for sure the soldier will not survive the war. :) Here is the list of people to whom I was reporting. I had a local guy sitting just behind my cubicle to whom I need to report about my leaves and other things. Then I had a guy sitting in London who is the onsite manager to whom I need to do a scrum call daily. Then another guy who is the support manager again sitting in London to whom I should report weekly about support issues. And finally, another guy in London whose designation I don’t know but initially he was in India and took a transfer and left for London.

Most of the developers use to make fun of this last guy, saying when they came for the interview in MLITS this guy had told them that be prepared you will be sent onshore as soon as you join and make sure you have a proper passport and other stuffs. But in the end this guy left for London leaving the developers to rot in MLITS. Also I would like to point out a big blunder of this guy for which in another company he would have been sacked. On a fine day this guy sends a mail to most of the employees in MLITS with attachment containing sensitive data like what each consultant working in MLITS is being paid as salary. Did he think how it is going to affect the moral of the employees? Within one day of receiving the mail the employees of MLITS started cribbing, as usual, why the hell these consultants are paid such? Why we are not paid on par with these consultants? A mail demoralizing the employees.


First recommendation, MLITS is blatantly breaking one of the most important management rules that is “there should not be any dual subordination”. This principle proposes that subordinates should report to only one superior. This type of hierarchy should be implemented across the organization. Their should be a mechanism where the management guys are made accountable for their actions. They should not be allowed to give false promises.

How did I survive this trying environment?

To survive in this boisterous environment I found a solution with the help of my iPod. I started using my iPod and to some extend that helped me to keep the noise at bay. Long time listening to iPod showed its effect in the form of pain in the ears. When consulted with a doctor he advised me not to use iPod with a statutory warning: “If you continue the iPod usage it can lead to deafness”. This was very cruel advice, I thought. Now how will I survive in MLITS.

Domain training.

One thing which happens frequently in MLITS is domain training. At any point in a month there will be lots of domain training going on. The topics are based on various financial aspects. So how is the training conducted? Suppose you have a training scheduled for tomorrow which will last for say 2 or 3 hours you will get a meeting request for the same today. This will make us scrambling here and there as we are not given enough time to make amends for the lost time due to the sudden training. Because of this either we skip the training or we have to sit those 2 or 3 hours and work extra hours to meet our project deadlines. The most horrible part of the training is that there will be no break at all for 3 hours. An average person can concentrate for only max 40 to 50 minutes at a stretch and this point is nowhere taken into consideration while giving a presentation. Two or three days training is being squeezed in one day. You wont believe, there was this one training which I attended where the presenter tried to run us through a 72 page verbose slide in 2 and half hours. It was torture to the core. Reading the whole slide would have taken more than 4 or 5 hours, but the presenter had this belief that he can coerce everything in just 2 and half hour. End result many slides were skipped. After 2 or 3 days of the training I was discussing with some colleagues of MLITS and they were making fun the way trainings are conducted. They were saying that they have given feedback saying that it would be great if the training could be conducted in 2 days and instead they have extended the session time and completed the training in one day.

Coding horror.

I was assigned a project and I checked some 2 or 3 projects from the repository. I was totally taken aback by the way the project was coded. All the best practice of the industry was thrown to oblivion. No coding standards, no best practice etc. Few of the great horrors in coding which I found in all the checked out projects are as follows.

Datasets bluntly assigned to session variables. In yet some other places datasets are assigned to the viewstates. Sql queries are embedded into the html code. What else a hacker needs? No exception handling. No normalization in database. I think MLITS will ask what’s normalization?

The above points are only a few coding horrors. I was totally surprised to see such things like SQL statements embedded in HTML code. MLITS is working on sensitive data like managing the assets of millionaires and these so called coding horrors if fallen in wrong hands can create havoc. I couldn’t believe, such a big disregard to normalization when people are working with huge databases. I would suggest that the management should appoint some independent experts and ask them to look into these issues. I am sure they will be shocked by their findings. Another option which can save their nose would be to train the employees about these best practices.

There was this particular instance where people were brainstorming on how to improve the performance of the server. They found the solution by upgrading the RAM. I would say this solution will solve their problem not for long because the main problem lies in the code and not in the server. If the server hangs with 1o user now then in future it will hang for 20 users unless and until something is not done with the code.

I have sent these recommendation to one of the software architect, the reply which I got was ridiculous. The reply was something like this “I assume that people are aware of all these best practices”. How can you assume all these things? I just dumped my idea of making changes which was out of control. If I had to make changes then the whole project had to be refactored which I don’t think the management will allow me to do. Its sad that these best practices are ignored when people are working with huge database and with sensitive financial data.


There are lots of domain training going on but training on technical aspects is lacking. For god sake, MLITS is a technical organization and more importance should be given to the technical aspects as well. My interaction with many people in MLITS with nearly 4 + years of experience on an average helped me understand many of their technical weakness. People are not aware of design patterns, basic OOPS concept, concept of SQL injection, normalization, in depth knowledge of the technology etc. One guy went to the extend of saying that patterns make things complicated. In addition to domain training, stress should be given to technical training as well. Each team should do a technical brain storming which I have never seen happening. Only when you share what you have done with your team mates then only you can learn from one another what’ best and what’ not. Team discussion should be encouraged. Also trainings should be conducted in a more humane way.

Did I do anything to find a solution?

Thinking that I may get some solution by highlighting my plight with my superiors I told the pathetic situation I am in, to my local reporting authority. You wont believe the solution given to me, he told me to adjust with it. I asked him don’t you feel this as a disturbance? To this he said I am used to it and even if I raise this as an issue there will be no solution coming forth. I asked him why don’t you highlight this to the HR team? HR team, ahh the most useless department in MLITS. Was the reply. Also he asked me what kind of interaction you had with the HR team? I said its just a hi and bye kind of. So do you expect me to highlight these issues with such a “Hi Bye” team, was his reply. Even after getting these answers I repeatedly highlighted my plight 2 or 3 times. The same reply.

After my interaction with this dejected soul I interacted with some other colleagues about this, you believe it or not, ditto came the reply from all about the HR team (a good for nothing team which is not bothered about the welfare of the employees).

Next I wrote a mail to the director and keeping some of my onsite managers in loop, highlighting my plight. I was called to discuss why I have sent such a mail. I was happy at last I will be getting some solution to my problems. With positive frame of mind I went to the HR head of MLITS. We had a discussion for nearly 2 hours and the whole discussion was about how can you send such a mail. Not even a single point highlighted in the mail was discussed. After sometime I got the point, she was trying to put the blame on me and was not interested in finding any solution to my probs. The HR room had some 4 people sitting and there also the same things were prevailing like, no mobile was in silent mode, people yelling on top of their voice etc. Within few minutes I got the whole point, I have raised the issue to the wrong person. Actually, here, I was the odd man out and I was trying to change something which was prevalent as a culture of MLITS.

Then after 4 hours the Director of MLITS joins through call conferencing from Mumbai. The discussion again starts and came to square one. How can I send such a mail? Finding different ways of putting blame on me. It was real torture. These people didn’t allow me to go for my lunch and instead gave me some biscuits to munch on and that also when I asked permission to go and have my lunch. The torture continued for nearly 2 and half hour with not even a single point in my mail taken for discussion. The HR from her end said she normally walks through the aisle and she never found any probs. I would like to say one thing here, sitting at the comfort of her room and once in a while loitering around the office wont give you the real picture. You have to be there at the thick of the action to understand what are the real problems faced by people. Its similar to our politicians who once in a while visit their constituency and see what they want to see and make themselves believe that everything is fine and going great. But in reality the people of the constituency are suffering without even having access to basic amenities. I would say the same is the case with MLITS. Anyway the end result and conclusion of the discussion, I was at fault and I shouldn’t have raised such issues. They made me feel as if I had made a big mistake and nothing is wrong with MLITS environment.

What I finally concluded from all these is that no one wants to bring any change in the MLITS environment. People in the higher echelon of the management are in a trance and we know people who are in trance, its nearly impossible to wake them up and make them realize the ground realities. My advice to these kind of people is that please wake up and do a reality check. If they didn’t believe what I have highlighted, then, they have a great weapon in their kitty to check the authenticity of what I said. Cameras are installed all over in MLITS, they can go through the videos and see for themselves and wake themselves up from their slumber.

One cheap act of the HR head which I would like to highlight is that she forced me to write a mail which was fully doctored by her saying that the “Hi Bye” team was not aware of the happening and that I have not highlighted any of the issues highlighted in the mail to them. What a great way to save her position in the organization. A great e.g. of selfishism where the bigger aspect of the whole issue is scraped by a cheap act.


When you are at the top of the management a certain degree of dignity and patience is expected, which I didn’t find in either the HR head or the director of MLITS. They didn’t have the patience to listen to what I had to say instead they were holding on to their beliefs. They didn’t even bother to validate the authenticity of what I have raised. A normal man with common sense would have first validated my concerns and would have said I will look into your concerns and see what I can do. But the management in MLITS lacked that basic courtesy and never took any of the points raised as concerns for discussion and instead bullied the person who raised the concerns. So my humble recommendation is to have the patience to listen and understand what are employees concerns, then try to validate it and then if it is validated try to resolve the problem. Even if the concern is not valid try to make the person understand where he went wrong and his concerns are not well founded.

Also the “Hi Bye” team has got a big responsibility on their shoulders to change the mentality of the existing employees who thing the HR team is of no use. The whole HR team should be more pro active and work hard to change their present image. Its a tough task and the “Hi Bye” team may have to work overtime. Also the existing management team is in a trance and they should wake up and realize the ground reality.

Lucky to escape from MLITS.

I was lucky enough to get a call as soon as I came out of the fruitless discussion from my previous employer that they are starting the company all over again in a different name and will I be interested in joining back. Will I be? Of course I will be.

With that I left MLITS for good and joined my old company where I got back the professional environment which I was used to. Now I am not the odd man out and doing what I am great at, developing extensible application with the best practices in the industry.

Did I regret for what I did?

After the nearly 6 hours of long torture (meeting with head of “Hi Bye” team and Director of MLITS) I felt bad that, oh my god my concerns fell on deaf hears. But regret, no way. I didn’t do anything wrong by highlighting the pathetic environment prevailing in MLITS. But I have remorse for MLITS that people sitting at top are not aware of the ground realities. I did my best to put the spotlight where it should be but people who are capable of taking some action on these issues are not willing to do anything. The only regret which I have is I wasted my time and energy discussing with these incapable people.

Good things about MLITS.

It will not be good if I don’t say something positives about MLITS. Though there is not much to write about, but yeah I would like to commend my colleagues especially my team mates for being so nice and helping out in every stage of the chaos, that is MLITS. One advice to my colleagues, stop cribbing among yourselves about the pathetic environment. Raise issues and wake up the authorities from their slumber, rather trance, which will not be over until and unless you wake them. If not most of you will find yourselves as the odd man out in a very professional environment and will struggle badly to cope up with things. Other than that MLITS has got an excellent infrastructure, high speed internet, numerous well equipped meeting room, though no one is making good use of it, and spacious cafeteria. What’s the use of having great infrastructure without having able guys to make use of it. :(

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Handling a company under trouble?

Recently my company had gone bankrupt and sadly all the employees were out of job. Our great CEO screwed up things and absconded with millions of money and that's how our company was declared bankrupt. So how was the news broken in our office. Here it is, all of us were called into the meeting room on that fateful day and our VP of Indian operations was over Polycom from Delhi. Not even a single person had any idea what is gonna happen. And the news was broken that our CEO has absconded with millions of dollar and the company has been declared bankrupt. It was a blunt announcement. No feelings, no sympathy nothing. The way it was conveyed was really bad and blunt. When your in the top management there is some sort of expectation. When something of this magnitude happens please treat it as extraordinary and convey it with some sympathy and empathize with people. These things go a long way in making people think the company is caring about them and is fully empathizing with them. Ok the news is broken now what?

Everyone in the management started their own process to rescue the company. Come on man, where is the so called team work gone? Only when it comes to the work of the subordinates these people talk about team work and how a team should be. When a crisis is staring right in their face there is no team work. The ideal thing to do during these kind of situations is to form a team to face the crisis.

The team should comprise of the best in the business. A person to tackle the employee related problem. This person in turn can have his own team to come up with strategies on how to handle people related problem. Another person to interact with the media and outside world. We know the media can blow anything out of proportion, so an apt person should be appointed to act as the one point communication to the media and others outside the company. Care should be taken to keep the employees and their families out of media focus. During these crisis time employees and their families exposed to media can be very dangerous, for rumors can fly and can mentally affect the family.

Another group headed by someone to see the possibilities to revive the company. This group plays a vital role. This group should have the best from the company, like the best person who can give an excellent presentation. If he is a techie guy well and good if not the presenter should be backed by the best techies of the company. A presentation template and format must be prepared and should be reviewed and presented to the crisis team. The crisis team should evaluate and approve the presentation. When the presentation is given to prospective buyers, one or two members from the crisis team should oversee the presentation and come up with recommendation for improvement if any.

And finally there should be a person who should oversee all these. He should call up the meeting of the crisis team, preferably twice a week, track the progress, discuss and share with others what is happening. Once the meeting is done the information can be shared with the employees. I would say it should be. This can convey that the management is caring about the employee and they want to keep everyone into the loop on what is happening. If this doesn't happen, this can cause gossips and all shorts of rumors will fly. Giving updates to the employees can do wonders to an already ailing company.

That was about how the crisis team should be. Did this happen in my company? I don’t think so, may have happened but not to my knowledge.

Some of the positives which happened and which I would like to appreciate is that one of the top C level executive was sitting through the crisis and helping investigators and others to find solution. Also during these trying times he sent out mails to most of the employees personal mail ids apologizing with them for what had happened and also gave some sort of assurance that he is trying to save every job possible. That's a true management guy and gem of a person who even under such bad situation is thinking of the good of others. My salute to such a great soul. I don’t have words to explain my admiration to such a person.

I kept on thinking how come in the presence of such a able person the chaos ensued? The reason can be, that others were not supporting him. I am sure he may have tried hard but due to lack of support from others he would have been helpless.

Also our local office did many excellent things though there were many things which were not so great as well. The not so great stuffs dwarf away when compared to the extraordinary things. Following are the things which were positively taken care.

  • Employees were given one month salary in advance so that all of them get enough breathing space to find an alternative. With the provided salary employees were getting nearly 2 months to find a job.
  • The paper works and everything was done in a very effective and excellent way. There was no hassles what so ever.
  • Employees were allowed to use office premises for nearly one month. The intention was to make employees stick together and be supportive to each other. This way the tension can be relieved and shared.
  • Also the employees stuck together and supported each other which helped in taking out pressure. I would say many of us didn’t feel the pressure of not having a job. Each one of us jostled together as a team and were discussing what can be done next. Excellent piece of team work.
  • Also the local management supported us in every way possible, by providing us access to systems, networks, printers and every other possible help to find a suitable alternative. Kudos to them for being so considerate.

So that was my experience with my previous company where I met many great minds and people.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My interview experiences

This blog is about my experience with job hunt. I had to look out for job due to some unfortunate incident in my office. I started my search by December 5th 2008 and within 2 or 3 days I got this call from a consultant that there is an opening with Logica India' Chennai branch. On enquiring with the consultant whether it is a scheduled interview or is it a walk-in, the consultant confirmed that it is a scheduled one and it will not take more than 2 or 3 hours. So after getting confirmation I went ahead to attend the interview. When I reached Logica, to my surprise there were 100s of others waiting for the interview. Just to meet the numbers the consultant just puke anything which is pleasing. These consultant just want to pump numbers and get some hit out of huge numbers. My intention of asking whether it is a walk-in or scheduled is to plan for the whole day or only for few hours. All consultants out there please maintain some ethics.

I went ahead and submitted my resume and started waiting. An office boy came and gave coffee. Then I came to know from someone sitting near to me that, first, people who have come to take the interview need to go through an English test. OK, I thought that's good, at least someone is looking into the communication aspect of an interviewee. So my turn comes after waiting for nearly 2 hours for the English fluency test. I was taken to a room where this lady wearing a specs was staring at me suspiciously. She asked me to tell something about myself. So here I go. I have got this bad habit of talking too much. So I started talking and talking and talking. Finally the lady said I was given only 5 mins per person to test their English fluency and you have nearly eaten up 20 mins. I can see she was pretty much impressed on the way I was blabbering about myself. :) I was through with the English test. My wait for tech round started. While waiting I could see many finishing the interview and being asked to leave by some HR (I guess) guys.

After nearly 30mins of waiting I was called for the tech round. I was led to a room where in front of me a guy, around 30 or something, was sitting. He asked me about my last project and I started explaining about my project. While I was explaining about my last project the interviewer abruptly stops me and asks “what viewstate?”. I was taken aback with the lack of grammar in his sentence. I thought it may be one off instance. But as the interview proceeded further the guy sitting in front of me was not able to properly frame a sentence in English. I was thinking, what the hell is this?. Before sending me in for the interview I had to undergo an English test and the interviewer who was sitting in front of me, cannot even frame a sentence in English. What the #@$#@$ is happening in this company? I could relate my situation to a famous comedian, Vadivelu, in a Tamil film where he says "Enna vechu comedy keemadi onnum pannaliye" (I hope you are not making comedy out of me?). This company is doing exactly the same, making comedy out of me, not only me but out of everyone who has come for the interview. Pure mockery of the interview process. To top it all the interviewer was a team lead. The interviewer not even once allowed me speak completely. He didn't had the patience to listen to whatever I knew. If you are not interested in hearing the answers then why the hell you are conducting interview?

My recommendation to the HR team, do a review of the tech interview. The HR person can sit through the interview along with the technical person and once done could give feedback on the areas to improve. In this way there can be some control to the mockery happening in the name of interview.

I was done with the tech round and I was shortlisted for the next HR round. A guy comes and introduces himself. He takes me to another room and talks to me about the package and what is my expectation? He says he can give me max of 20% and that also because I am a special case. Come on man, me being a special case ahh, you would have said this to all the persons who would have come to the interview. Anyway after agreeing on 20% he explains me the hierarchy, to whom I will report, and that in addition to work related supervisor I will have a mentor. Also he explains to me what employee benefits Logica provides and other blah blah stuffs. After completing the HR round I was asked to provide a passport size photo of mine which unfortunately I didn't carry with me. So they used a digital camera to take my pics and told me we will get in touch with you. Out of the hundreds I was among the selected few who went through the HR round and people waiting for the interview were surprised to see the guys taking my photo. One guy came and congratulated.

After finishing the rituals, while coming out of the office entrance, another guy barges and asks me can I have a few mins of yours. I just went along with him to another room. There this guy asks me whether I am interested in working on contract basis. What the heck, how come this guy knows that I am through with the tech round? I saw his ID card and he was not from Logica. I was thinking is there any nexus between the HR and these guys from other company. I would recommend the management to have a look into these kind of unscrupulous activities. This is just a guess from me. This guy has the potential to take away some great resources at the expense of Logica which spends so much money to conduct interviews.

I waited for some reply from the HR of Logica but after 2 or 3 or even after weeks I am yet to get any response. Another great drama played by the HR team who took me through the whole HR interview and spend their energy to bargain with me on my pay and here I am without any news from them. Making the whole interview process a filthy process. I would like to plead with the HRs of logica, not only Logica HR but all other HRs out there, please don't make the interview process a drama and also please don't give hopes to persons if you are not capable of fulfilling the hopes. You are playing with the careers of innocent people. Luckily I was not affected badly by these unprofessional people. But who knows there may be many who would have been badly affected. HR work is the most difficult one, if proper resources are not recruited then the so called HRs can spoil the image of a company as the HRs in Logica are doing. Pathetic...

My worst Interview experience with CSC Chennai

After the experience with Logica I had another worst, more worst experience with another big MNC, CSC. The experience with CSC is far worst than that of Logica. The reason for my worst experience is the HR from CSC. The body language and other mannerism of this HR made me feel that he may be one of the worst HR I am gonna face and my fear was spot on. To know my worst experience with the HR of CSC, read on.

I had an scheduled interview with CSC and luckily this was a scheduled one. There was not much of rush. In that way I was happy. I was greeted by the HR. No smile nothing, the expression in his face says, oh another moron has come for the interview. I didn't take that seriously thinking this guy is busy with work and that could be the reason. Within few mins I was taken to the tech round. A techie greeted me. It seems he was 2 or max 3 yrs experienced guy. He asked few questions which was just a cake walk for me. But oh, boy this guy had nearly 4 or 5 calls in between the interview. And don't these people have the courtesy to keep the mobile in silent model? This guy excused me and went on to attend the call 4 or 5 times. Huhhh professional ethics at its best. I was through with the first round and I was asked to wait.

After few mins of waiting I was guided to another room where I was met with another techie guy. He seemed more matured than the previous guy. He asked me some tech questions. Again nothing of rocket science questions. I was through with the second round also. Again I was asked to wait.

Next I met a senior guy and the same, some tech questions. I was through with this also. Then I met another guy, he was not a techie, I think so, as there was no technical question. Just general discussion. The guy was pretty much happy with the discussion. After the discussion I was informed that I can now have the final and last discussion with the HR. It was around 4.30 in the evening. Almost 7 hours of interviews.

While waiting for the HR round I was gauging the environment. I saw the HR chatting with the second tech guy. He called him by snapping his fingers and was conveying something. I was thinking what the %#$&&%# is this HR doing. Is the tech guy a dog? He is calling a human being by snapping his fingers. I never expected this from an HR. Then the HR came to me and took me to a room for a discussion. He asked me if any of my previous companies is not functioning now? I said, yes, one of the company has closed down the shop. He asked me do you have the offer letter, relieving letter and salary slip of the company? Unfortunately I had only the relieving letter. On hearing this, HR said, oh then I cannot consider that as an experience. I was just literally shocked. How dare you can say that? I was thinking in my mind. Didn't I work there or what?

Then he saw my profile as if to find some other short coming. He saw that in the beginning of my career I was working as a trainee programmer. Here comes my second shock of the day. The HR says I cannot consider your experience as trainee programmer as well. I have question whether all the developers in this world directly became developers without being a trainee? With this he brought down my experience of 5 + years to 4 years. I was in a complete shock. This is really absurd, I was thinking why the HR, is behaving like an idiot. Then the HR says, I cannot give you even the current salary you are drawing, with 4 years of experience. He asks me “tell me what should I do?”. Now the picture is clear, to cut my package this retard is doing all this. I was furious and I said its up to you, you decide whatever you want to do and let me know. No news from then on till now.

I want to ask everyone one thing, is everyone born professional or what? Did guys like CSC HR didn't had any HR training in their initial stages of their career? I don't think there is any profession in this world which doesn't have a training included in it. The training is the time where you learn the trick of the trade. Even during your schooling days if you want to get admitted to class one you need to finish nursery, LKG (Lower Kinder Garden) and UKG (Upper Kinder Garden). You learn the basics, in a way your trained, in these initial days of schooling. Now if people like the HR’ of CSC are heading a school then he will not give admission to those who have gone to nursery, LKG and UKG.

My humble request to these kind of unprofessional and unethical HRs, who don't care for quality resource and come up with all crooked ways of bargaining, is to show some professionalism. This is not your normal fish market where you can bargain. Yes, in a fish market you can say all sorts of stupid things and personify your stupidity, but the end result is that you will end up with a rotten fish. Don't show off your filthy fish market bargaining prowess when you are dealing with professionals. We are not fish, but professionals with great skills which will definitely come at cost. If you are incapable of paying the price for quality, at least don't degrade our profession and capabilities. Just put yourself in others shoe and think before behaving in such unprofessional and unethical way. You are playing with the sentiments and career of people which I think is not a trivial thing. Don't treat professional like fish, give respect and take respect.

My recommendation to management, review is the most important part of any process. So review your HR process and see how they carry your company' reputation on their shoulders. HRs meet thousands of people and with their conduct they can make or break the reputation of a company. Word of mouth is a very powerful means of spreading news and it is the most trusted source. So if anyone asks me how is CSC? My answer would be if you respect your self esteem and consider your dignity very important, then CSC is not the place. The HR, who should teach how dignified one should be, doesn't know how to respect others dignity then how can you expect the environment will be a dignified one.

My Best Interview Experience with ThoughtWorks Chennai

The above two experience were the bad ones and this experience with ThoughtWorks is the good one. I had this interview scheduled for a Saturday. I was there bang on time. I had some difficulty in finding the office but not a big deal. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist and she gave a call to the HR. I was greeted warmly by the HR. I was briefed about the interview process, first an aptitude test, followed by a code pairing round, where a developer from ThoughtWorks will run through the code I had sent already, and then finally two guys will do the technical round. The whole interview went for the whole day, nearly 9 hours. First the aptitude test was for 30 mins. The questions in the aptitude were very good and needed lots of thinking. You believe it or not, for the first time in my life I had headache in 30 mins by solving an aptitude test. Huhhhhh….

After finishing the aptitude test I went for the code pairing round where I was greeted by one of the developers, don’t remember the guys name. He had a look at my code and asked me the logic behind the implementation. Then he gave me the second part of the problem and sat along with me and solved the problem. The way the code pairing went, it was great. After finishing the code pairing we were provided with Pizza and coke. Once the lunch was over, HR came and informed me that I will be having the next and final round shortly. After some waiting I was greeted by two developers and  they  had a discussion with me for another 1.5 hours.

Once the final round was over, HR came and sat along with me and asked me how was the interview process. Is there any scope for improvement and other stuffs. He gave me feedback on what the interview panel thought about me. After this he informed you will have discussion with the last round interview panel and they will tell you the plus and minuses. Once the discussion with the technical team was over on my plus and minus, HR came and told me you did very well in all the rounds but in the last round the two people are divided so you are not through in a slight margin. Since this is a special situation and case you need to reapply within a gap of one or three months.

So here I am after spending nearly 8 to 9 grueling hours of technical round I came out of the company very happy and cherishing each and every moment of the interview. Wow, what an experience! Interview should be conducted in the way they do it in ThoughtWorks. From the HR to the technical team everyone is so cordial it cannot be explained in words, it needs to be experienced. Though I was not selected I still cherish the experience. If someone asks me I would recommend everyone to just go and attend the interview at ThoughtWorks to know how best interviews can be conducted.


My recommendation to people like the HR’ of CSC is to learn from companies like ThoughtWorks, how to conduct interviews and how to interact with people. Even though there were many people for the interview, HR of Thoughtworks made sure that everyone was comfortable. Time and again he went and interacted with each candidate and asked them whether they are comfortable and even sometimes apologized if a candidate is waiting for long.  Though it is a small gesture but it goes a long way to make you comfortable and make you feel that here is a company which cares for its employees.

So you have seen my experience with both good and bad ways of HR behavior. If one wants to feel worst ways of an HR then please don’t think twice, just barge into CSC Chennai and meet the Chump at CSC and feel why the hell you went there and if you want to feel some good HR ways just drop into Thoughtworks and meet the HR and cherish the experience for long. Two extremes, ahhhh!