Saturday, October 28, 2006

Case Q41: Case of False Sense of Confidence (Part 1)

That is the case number logged for the problem, of which I think we have finally subdue last night (cross my finger hard). For almost two months since the problem surfaced, I stayed on the sideline, and offering only some limited advices from time to time.

It is the system that I went to Pakistan to deploy almost two months back. The problem surfaced on part of the system which is not within my direct scope and handled by another consultant. I have not much domain knowledge on that part of the system.

The service team was struggling with one after another crisis, and it almost got out of hand two weeks ago. The night before that eventful day (technically speaking it's almost 2 days), I was staying back in office until almost 4 am, coaching and helping another of my team member to get a prototype for a demo system up and ready for an event in red dot under.

On my way back home, got a SOS sms from the team in Pakistan. Upon reaching home, hooked up to the Net to find out the situation on the ground. The progress was slow, and in that unheavenly hours all my mental and bodily constitutions were already well on their way to dreamland. I was only aware about the minor issue for which the SOS was sent to me. I knew there was another issue which was being handled by the consultant at the site, but not aware about the grave situation of the problem. Thus the slow response to my recommendation for the minor issue.

After giving some recomendation for the minor problem, and wait to no avail for the result of my recomendation I decided to head for the sack at almost 6 am. I had to attend another meeting at 10 am, I need to grab little sleep or I will be in state of zombie in the meeting. Just when my back touched the comfy of my bed, my mobile started to buzz.

The service manager was on the other line. That was when I discovered that the consultant was struggling with another major problem. The service manager was asking if there is anything I can do to help avert the disaster, we both knew that the only thing that I can contribute toward finding solution for the problem is my knowledge of Java, which happened to be used to implement that part of the system. Programming platform aside, a certain domain knowledge of which I hardly had, is required to solve the problem. After some discussion, we decided that I will gave it a try anyway. Except that I didn't bring my notebook with me.

So I had to head back to office at that ungodly hour. I don't think I can attend the meeting anymore, so I wear casually and head back to office. Just in time to finally caught the bugger who always park his car at the disabled parking lot next to the elevator. Now I understand how he never fail to get that lot. Come to office at that unheavenly hour, don't tell me just because he want to have the disabled parking lot.

Back to subject matter. So I got up to office, but only after waiting for almost 30 mins for the service manager to come with the office key. Told him I don't think I will join him the the meeting at 10am. Came up with a workaround based on certain example codes and some guess work within 40 mins, and sent it over for testing. We were well aware that it doesn't completely solve the problem, but at least if it work, we can temporarily put it in and buy us more time to find better solution.

Now the problem is the consultant at the site is still lost in his troubleshooting and did not put much attention and priority in testing out my work around. I can understand how hard it must have been for him. Only after almost one hour of no response from the ground, the service manager and me decided that we have no choice but to force our decision down the throat of the consultant at the site. He had to leave for the meeting, and the charge is handed over to me. Made a few decisions, and 30 mins later, we had a good news that my workaround indeed work. Good enough to buy us more time and brought down the tension level of customer. The case was being handed back to the consultant.

After had the breakfast bought for me by a colleague, at lunch time, I head to a discussion room and trying to catch a little nap lying down on the couch. It was Friday, I was suppose to monitor my team member's work to ensure the demo system was ready in time for the event the next monday. Hope to do that after my little nap. For one hour trying to get into nap, I probably only sleep for 5 mins. I gave up. Decided to head back home to sleep, and plan to get back to office at around 5 pm.

At home, by 5 pm. I still can hardly sleep. Make a few calls back to office to check on status of two projects. Then communication through msn to engineer in Pakistan, and give a few recommendation and pointers on their next action plan. By 7 pm, got calls from the service manager and another colleagues, asking me out for a drink. Calsberg was having some sort of event at the pub where we always frequented. There were some drinking competitions. Got involved in one, and gulped down 2 mugs of beer and added to few mugs earlier already in my system - perfect recipe for drunkeness. From then on, only tooks sips and by the time we left for supper, got back my senses. Not too bad considering less than 2 hours of sleep in 48 hours.