All’s well that ends well

My first work day started with a virtual trip to Australia. For one, at the train station I was surrounded by people pulling their trolley luggage around. Then I sat next to a couple on the train, who had just returned from a three week holiday to Australia. We exchanged travel stories and I was reminded of the wonderful things we had done on our trip in 2010.

 

Things even got better. Since I was too early, I decided to buy buns for breakfast at a supermarket close to the company. Strangely the single open cashier had a long queue of people with full shopping carts. After seeing that I had only one item, the lady standing in front of me in the queue let me overtake her. The same thing happened again and again and I was in front of the line in no time at all. Everyone has super friendly to me today.

 

I ended yesterday with terrible backaches and a nagging fear I would oversleep. After taking a bath and a pain killer, I went to bed feeling extremely tired. However my nagging fear did not leave me alone and I dreamt that I had overslept. I woke up all nervous and looked at the alarm clock. The time was 4:48 am – way too early for me to wake up. But I couldn’t fall asleep again being all revved up as I was. I took my time getting ready and before I knew it, it was time to leave the apartment and I had to skip my breakfast. 😦 Not a healthy way to start a working day. However given how the day proceeded, I have to admit I couldn’t have had a better first working day.

 

All’s well that ends well. Looking forward to work tomorrow. (Wow! Did I just say that?)

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The first day

Do you remember your first day in kindergarten? I do not have memories of my own of this day but my mother has told me hers. I am the eldest child and as a result my mother was apprehensive when the day came for her to leave me for the very first time in foreign care. Kindergarten in Singapore is not a playgroup but rather a pre-school. Children learn how to read and write in Kindergarten. I even attended Mandarin lessons as a second language. Unfortunately I was not allowed to continue it in primary school.

Where was I? Oh yes, kindergarten! My mother put me in my uniform, packed my school bag and walked me to the kindergarten. As we approached the building, she saw children freaking out to varying degrees. Some were hanging onto their family members refusing to enter the classroom. Others were crying their hearts out. Some even ran away and were caught and carried back to the classroom. My mom couldn’t bear the thought of seeing me crying. (Actually she admitted that she felt like crying herself.) However I surprised her by taking my school bag from her hands at the entrance and entered the classroom willingly. She still couldn’t bear leaving me alone and peeked through the window to see how I was coping. She said that when I saw that I waved at her; waved at her to go away that is. 🙂

Tomorrow I have another first day ahead of me. On the one hand, I am really excited and looking forward to starting a new job in a new company. I will pack my back tonight, pick out the clothes to wear tomorrow and check out the train schedule. Things I imagine little Irene might have done the day before she went to kindergarten for the first time too; except for checking for the train schedule. J

But there is a part of me that is feeling apprehensive, and afraid. So many ‘What Ifs’ fleet through my mind. I wonder if little Irene was afraid that day too? Did her joy to learn outweigh her fear being left alone, being with strangers or to fail? Maybe I am thinking too much about it. After all my instinct says that it was the right decision to take on this job and that it is exactly the kind of work I enjoyed.

What are your experiences on your first day at a new job?

The Cloud Beckons

This post is about Cloud Computing as understood by me, a nonspecialist in technology. A few days ago the CeBit, one of the world’s leading ICT trade fair, was held in Hanover, Germany. During this week, one of the trending topics was Cloud Computing. Then on the TED website, I came across a feature on a company called Akamai, which provides platforms for Cloud Computing. The signs were there, urging me on to write about it. Therefore here I am writing a post about this super-duper what-ever-it-is.

If Cloud Computing conjured an image of a computer in the clouds turning water into food, I have to disappoint you. No, it has nothing to do with resolving world hunger ala “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs”. That would have been pretty cool. However Akamai claims that Cloud Computing would help fight against global warming. How you ask? To find an answer to that we need to define Cloud Computing.

What is Cloud Computing?

There is no single definition of Cloud Computing and so the following explanation is my personal understanding of it. In essence Cloud Computing refers to sharing server capacity by numerous users and/or organisations around the world. A suitable metaphor I can think of is a safe. You can either store your valuables in a safe at home or you can store them in a bank vault or you can use both to satisfy your need to protect your valuables. Storing at a bank has the added advantage, that there is someone looking after your property all the time and they probably have more resources to protect your property than you might have at hand and you don’t have to buy an expensive safe.

However Cloud Computing is not restricted to sharing hardware only. There are services offering licensed software for the users in their clouds. Therefore instead of buying x number of licenses, which at times might be restricted to use in specific devices, you can make use of a software via the Cloud regardless of the device you are using.

How does Cloud Computing support sustainability?

Carbon footprint has become a household term. When you book a flight, you pay a fee to offset your carbon footprint. When you order a package to be delivered to your house, you pay a fee to offset the gases emitted by the delivery van. You cycle to work and walk to the grocery shop. Your conscience is clean. Maybe you should think again. Do you know how much electricity you consume each day? Laptops, iPads & co., mobile phones all need energy to operate. Do you have any idea what your personal carbon footprint in this area is like? I have to admit I don’t but it probably accumulates to a substantial amount in my lifetime.

Companies are all into sustainability nowadays. Cloud Computing helps you be green and at the same time reduce costs. Have you ever been inside the server room of your company? The rooms are usually cool to prevent the hardware from overheating and there are lots of blinking lights, even when no one is in the office working. Therefore there is energy consumption without corresponding productivity or in other words value creation. By joining the Cloud, you are basically outsourcing these servers. You no longer have hardware taking up valuable office space and consuming energy even when they are idle. You store all your information in the Cloud.

Now those offering Cloud Computing platforms do have hardware, with all the associated non-green aspects mentioned earlier. Is the concept really green? The key point is by serving a wider user base, the Cloud can effectively reduce idle time and utilise the server capacity available. Therefore instead of 500 000 thousand servers being used by various organisations, the Cloud only needs about 40 000 servers to do the same amount of work. (These numbers were cited by Akamai in a promotional video.)

How does Cloud Computing impact you?

Chances are you have already had contact with the Cloud in some form. You are simply not aware of it. Akamai alone has some reputable customers and there are so many other providers of Cloud Computing on the market.

Have you ever lost a work laptop? You lose more than the presentation you were working on. There are usually sensitive company data stored in the hard-drive. Data and information equals to money and competitive advantage in today’s world. If you were using the cloud, no data would be stored locally and ergo no data lost and no breach in security to fear.

Security leads me back to the metaphor of bank vaults. It is common knowledge that valuables are stored in bank vaults. Therefore they are often the target of criminals, who want to get rich quick by getting possession of these valuables. Likewise the Cloud might become a target for hackers and if you are unlucky, they might find a way to get hold of your data. By storing data in the Cloud, you are solely dependent on the Cloud to protect it for you.

My Conclusion

Every cloud has a silver lining. But clouds could cause floods too. As a private individual, I would probably buy an external hard drive to store my personal data; like photos. As it is Facebook and Google know way too much about me, I don’t need to add the Cloud to that list too. I shiver at the thought of what would happen, if they all joined forces. 🙂 That is my view on Cloud Computing.

Related Articles

  1. http://www.ted.com/pages/266
  2. http://www.akamai.com/html/misc/ted.html
  3. http://www.cebit.de/home
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_%28computing%29

A new start is on the horizon

In Confessions of a virgin, I wrote about how I have never been to a job interview before. I was anxious about how my very first job interview on the 16th of February would be. After a 4 hour interview and assessment centre, I was happy with my own performance. I knew that I had given my best. The week later the company contacted me to arrange a trial working day on the 28th of February. I was elated. They wanted to see me again! It meant that I had passed the interview round. I had faced the unknown monster under the bed and found out that it was not as frightening as my imagination made it out to be. Continue reading

Statistics cannot be trusted

I kind of feel guilt that I am blogging instead of preparing for tomorrow. What is on tomorrow you ask? Do you still remember that I had my first job interview ever on the 16th of February? I received a call last Wednesday that they want me to come back for another full day assessment. In German it is called “Probearbeitstag” – which translates into “Trail working day” and it is set for tomorrow.

I wonder how a trial working day would look like. I am applying for the position of IT Project Manager. Would they want me to execute a case study on project management? They are aware that I have no knowledge of their ERP system, which is not Oracle. So they cannot expect me to work on their system. Then I was reminded of a point they mentioned during the interview. Given the small size of the company, some controlling tasks would also fall under the role of the Project Manager as well.

I remembered the numerous reports and statistics I have gone through in my career life so far. I hated being presented with a number or value, which I had to explain. How do I know where the 1 Million Euro difference comes from? Before I could explain a difference, I had to first verify how the numbers were calculated. (I know it is a repetition of tasks but it is also a matter of doing my job well.) I tried to find out what formed the basis of calculations or which exchange rate was taken to convert the currencies. Even rounding differences could add up to a substantial amount when there are thousands of transactions. These points usually helped in clarifying a part of the difference and I knew what I was supposed to clarify.

I am registered as unemployed since we returned from our RTW trip last April. Between August and December, I attended courses to get certified as a Project Manager. But I was officially not part of the unemployed statistics during this period, although I was still looking for a job. Therefore when it was reported in the news that the unemployment rate has gone down in the last quarter of 2011, I wondered how much was attributed to job seekers attending training courses.

See what I mean? Why it is not good to trust any statistics? Especially those you did not create yourself. There are so many possibilities to manipulate data and the way they are presented. Therefore keep that in mind the next time you get worked up because of some numbers you have read in the newspapers.

How many cats live in Germany?

The 16th of February will be a special day in my personal history. I explained what was so special about this day in my blog Confessions of a virgin. After having had a few days to digest my experiences, I am ready to report them.

That wintry Thursday, I joined the club of nervous interviewees, who put their deodorant brands to the ultimate test. The cold winter day was not icy enough to cool down my heated nerves. I felt the excessive perspiration under my armpits soak through my blouse Continue reading