Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Commuting Woes, Taxis and Uber

Yesterday when I was returning to the hotel there was a serious accident on the train system (RER B). They dumped everyone out in a small suburb and left us to fend for ourselves. The problem was that many passengers were on their way to CDG and were under a time crunch. It quickly became chaos. I checked my metro map and saw that if I could get a few miles up the road, I could connect to a metro station. I couldn't figure out the bus routes and there were long lines waiting for them anyway. So, I decided to get a taxi. Of course, there were none but I thought if I walked counter to the traffic and got out of the scrum, I would have a better chance. (Thank you Google Maps on my Android phone for directing me to a taxi stand) I finally got a taxi and, sharing it with two older ladies, was able to get to my metro stop and back to the hotel.

But here's the was common information that there was a problem and taxis should have been flocking to the area to get fares (These could have been airport trips, after all) but there seemed to be no sense of urgency. These guy,s who were protesting against Uber a few weeks ago, couldn't, or wouldn't, provide the response necessary.

Today I signed up for Uber.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Passive Aggressive Project Management III

Last week I got a meeting request from one of the younger engineers on the project. She wanted to meet for an "introduction" and to understand my "roles and responsibilities". (But, we both report to the same guy. He didn't tell you what I was here for?) I called her back and told her that unless they had started flying the Concorde again that I couldn't make it. So she decided to do a telephone conference. Now, you need to know that Big Oil Company has put technical professionals in 4 man offices and have done away with speaker phones because of the disruption to others. If you want a speaker phone you have to go to a conference room. Also, all phone calls are now VOIP.

To make the story short, I could not connect to the conference room phone on either the desk phone or my personal mobile (at international roaming rates!) and they could not call me so the whole plan went Tango Uniform. In order to try to salvage something I called her on her office phone (that worked). She blew a lot of smoke up my butt and asked for some help with a problem she had.

She sent me an email chain with the background. It was quickly obvious that there were two equally functional solutions being proposed by two different guys who got into a p***ing contest with each other and  each refused to give in. In no way was I getting in the middle of that Charlie Foxtrot so I called her and left her message telling her that her problem was not a technical one but of personalities.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Deja Vu

Wait....Obama is sending "advisors" to Iraq???? Where have I heard that before?????

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Head Count

Surprisingly, the KSA did not execute anybody last month. Count YTD is at 10.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thank the Military

Thank your military that the USA doesn't post memorials like these around your city.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uber Taxi?

There was a taxi strike in Paris yesterday. Except for more buses on the street, I didn't see much impact and it looked like cabs were still operating at the airports. It seems that Uber, a ride sharing operation, is undercutting the taxi industry and they want to have it regulated out of business.

My only response to them is that they may be making buggy whips in the era of the automobile. The technology and ability for entrepreneurs to provide rides to people is out of the barn and can't be put back. They either need to adjust or face a future of change.

And, oh....I bet the bus drivers appreciated the overtime.

Passive Agressive Project Management II

I noted earlier how the project manager had failed to order a laptop for me before I left for Paris. Instead I took one of my company's laptops. This same guy was also planning to be in Paris during my first week there. I showed up on Monday and no project manager. Turns out he thought that it was a French holiday and didn't come in to the office. (It wasn't. Pentecost was the next Monday). He arrived Tuesday with his Big Oil Company laptop which can't access the internet from this office due to the contractor's security. (I can because I could change the proxy settings on my laptop but Big Oil Company doesn't allow lowly workers to change it on their machines) Therefore, I am the only one who has email and can work from this office. They've known about this problem for several months but have yet to work out a solution or get Big Oil Company Info Tech to run a line into this place. So, everyday for the next three days he leaves early so he can "work from the hotel." Thankfully, he departed on Friday.

There used be an adage about the "6 P's".....Prior Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance, but I guess they don't teach that anymore.

Monday I arrive in the office to find an email from him. He sent me hyperlinks to documents on the Big Oil Company server which I can't access because I don't have a Big Oil Company computer and which wouldn't work here even if I had one.

It's a wonder that gas doesn't cast $10 per gallon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Typical Day

I rise at about 6:30, shower, and go down for breakfast at 7:00 AM. Breakfast is served in the cellar of the hotel building which dates from the 1400s. My 10 minute walk to the train is along Rue Saint Andre des Arts to the activity of a city just starting the work day – a woman polishes the brass nameplate on her store front, beer is being delivered and a garbage truck is picking up trash. My train station is in the shadow of the statue of St. Michel on the left bank. Notre Dame is across the bridge and to the right.  There is plaque on the wall of the Fountain of St Michel commemorating a member of the French Resistance, who died during the liberation of Paris in August, 1944.

I go underground and get on RER B. I have learned that it is best to walk down the station to the left and get near the end of the train as it makes for a shorter walk when I arrive 15 minutes later at Croix de Berny , south of Paris. Along the way the train passes Laplace and Gentilly which bear no resemblance to their namesakes in Louisiana.

From the station, it is a 5 minute walk to the office building where I am working for the next several months. More to follow later........

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review - Cheap Shot

This latest work by Ace Atkins writing for Robert Parker shows that Ace is getting better in cloning Parker's style. A famous patriots player claims he is being followed and hires Spenser for protection. A few days later his son is kidnapped and Spenser along with Hawk and Z try to recover the boy. There is enough action to keep the story satisfying and story twists to keep you turning pages. This book is recommended by PE.