Thursday, February 09, 2006

Thursday early cartoon response

I came in to work this morning at 4:30am – a little bit earlier than usual, ok, a heck of a lot earlier than usual. I’m a computer programmer, and support several systems here at the bank. One I am most recently involved in is the system that supports our collections floor. Part of the system goes through our list of overdue accounts and creates phone dialing lists. We have several hundred people on the floor in the collections area, they bring up the program and sign into a dialing list. The program interfaces with a special dialer system which actually places the calls, then routes them to available operators, who try to talk the customer into making some form of payment. There is another interface to a different computer system that records portions of the phone calls, both to be sure our operators are talking correctly and to record commitments by customers if they later complain.

The first shift of collections callers starts work at 5am. Some states on the east coast let us start calling people at 8am, so with Vegas in the Pacific time zone that means three hours earlier here. Yesterday morning things were not starting up correctly things were starting slowly, and people were getting assorted error messages; so I end up getting a call from the help desk at 5:10. By the time I can start up my computer and phone in (OK, internet in) to look everything is going fine. After taking all morning yesterday to try and figure out what was going on and finding nobody could remember quite what the error messages said, I decided to come in early and see for myself what was happening.

Of course, with my standing behind the group that had the most problems, everything worked fine today. The programs started slowly, but that might have something to do with several hundred computers being clicked on at the same time and everyone trying to hit the timekeeping and phone start systems at the same time. But that’s a network bottleneck, not program errors. (bored yet?)

Here’s what our building looks like as the sun is coming up

A typical concrete tilt up. We are in and industrial park just south of the airport, so there are dozens of buildings like this all around us. We have two big buildings, with the programmers (small group), transaction and customer services in this one and the collections group across the street in a similar one. The programmers are all in one room with Dilbert type cubicles

This is where I sit all day. Exciting place. On the wall behind the monitor I’ve got some photos of our trip to France a few years ago – so I can kind of drift off and daydream about being back there again.

This is on the deck of the Hotel Beynack in the Dorgogne Valley. Doesn’t it look like a nice quiet, calm place to sit? We were there one May, we were the only people in the hotel, the weather was warm, and it was my favorite place I’ve ever been. Well, Paris was great too. Not to mention (OK, I am mentioning it) the great food.

Back to this morning. I stood behind one of the collections groups for a half hour and everything worked fine. Back to my cube I read a few blogs before drifting back to creating a new testing program. I don’t know the path that I followed, but found some interesting responses to the European cartoons. Ended up at Michelle’s place, where she points to the Detroit Free Press with a good cartoon, and to Cagle where there is a bunch of them.

Sorry, I used to be offended by things, but as I get older my attitude has changed. Now it almost all looks funny. Come on, it started with editorial cartoons, and with the response you can’t say that the originals weren’t inaccurate.

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