Archive for the 'Work' Category

Programers, Learn your industry

Wow it’s been a long time since I have posted.  Been keeping busy at school and work.

So, being a CIS student while working outside of the computer industry, I came across something that I will take to hart later in my programing life: Programmers, learn the industry you are developing for!  I currently work as a Site Manager for a security company for a client that is in the shipping industry.  My site is a test site for this client for a security round system that my be rolled out to many of their sites nation wide.

Some back ground:  Most security officers have to make rounds or tours during their shift.  There have been many systems over the years to record this process to verify that the officer was where he said he was.  The system we are using is using new technology to bring this process into the 21st century.

The system we are testing uses RFID technology to record where the officer is, then transmits this data via cell phone network to the companies server, where it is then able to be viewed real time on the web by myself or my client.  With this system, you can use other RFID tags for different incidents that may happen while you are working (medical emergency, suspicious person, etc.).  This information can then be emailed by the host companies server to any number of recipients I choose.  This is where the problem comes in and the programmers didn’t know the security industry well.

1) The email is not sent out until the officer completes his round

2) If the officer isn’t currently on a round (sitting at a desk), these incidents are not recorded.

Now, the reason these are problems are that many of the incidents should be forwarded by email ASAP.  My client and myself both carry Blackberry’s and will receive the email within a minute, but because the system holds it until the officer completes the round, it could take a long time for the email to be sent.  If the officer takes 30 minutes to handle the email, and then 5 minuets to complete his round, the email won’t be sent out for 35 minutes.  If the situation is a true emergency, my officer could call me, then I could call every one that needs to know, like what happens now, but the technology is supposed to make my life easier.  Second, my officers spend 3/4 of their time at a desk, not on a round.  If they are not assigned to a round on this system, they can’t input incidents.  Because of this, I know have to program in a “dummy” round, so they can log into the dummy round, log the incident, and the log off the dummy round.  This is two extra steps that should not have to happen.  If the programmers who developed this system would have done some research on the security industry, they would have seen these needs ahead of time.  Now, I could only guess at how they have codded this program, but I think both solutions could have been avoided with less then 100 lines of code.  100 lines of code for two added features that MANY of your customers would use makes a lot of sense.  On the up side, I spoke to one of the VP’s of the company, and both features are being added to their feature want list for the next update.

The moral of the story, if you are working with another industry, do some research on the other industry so you can help them before they ask you to.

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Patriot Day

Patriot DayToday is Patriot Day in honor of all of the public safety personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, especially those on September 11th, 2001. Like everyone else in America, I remember the moment I found out like it was yesterday. I was away at collage at the time. During the beginning of the attack, I was in a Chemistry lecture, and when I arrived at my Art Appreciation class, the teacher made the announcement that planes had crashed into the twin towers and the Pentagon. She then had the audacity to state “While other teachers have chosen to cancel their class, I have chosen to go ahead as planed,” at which point almost 75% of the class, including myself, got up and left the lecture hall. For the first few hours, I kept thinking that it was all some sort of bad dream, that I would wake up and everything would go back to normal. I never did awake from that “dream” and finally came to the realization that the world had changed forever.

Every other blog I have looked at has asked where you were, but my question is how do you plan to remember that dreadful day. I will be taking part in my county’s annual ceremony today, in my dress uniform (oh, how I hate wearing the hat and tie!!), at the county’s Fire and Police Memorial.

The Case of the Missing Urn

As I believe I have mentioned before, I work contract security for one of the larger shipping companies in the world. Yesterday, I was approached by the cartage manager at my station. He stated there was a shipment going from a funeral home in our area to an address out of state. He said that the package had come up missing and he thought it may be in our station. I asked him what the package contained. He hesitated, and told me that it was an urn. “Was this urn empty or occupied?” I asked. He told me my worst fear, that it was occupied.

So, I thought, we are missing someone’s ashes, and the poor family is probably flipping out. The cartage manager did not have any of the information I needed to start looking for it on video, so, I just kind of looked around the station, but didn’t see anything that looked like it contained the urn.

Today, though, the station manager approached me and asked for my help. He said after I left, the cartage manager got the information he needed and started looking at the video, but was not able to find the box. I normally look at the video for theft investigations and have the best working knowledge of the system at our station, so he wanted me to take a look. He and I went into the video room and he told me when it went missing…August 10th. For those of you who didn’t do the quick math, that’s a day short of two weeks this poor man’s body has been missing. I quickly found the driver who had picked it up, and saw a box that matched the description go onto the belt. A short while later, I was able to track the package as it was removed from the belt because it didn’t have a shipping label on it. For some unknown reason, instead of the box going to the pile to be researched, some one on the dock tossed it into a corner. We went out onto the dock, and sure enough, Grandpa’s ashes were still there. I feel bad for the family, but the ironic part, is that the funeral home that shipped the package has been told before that the company I work for does not ship human remains. So, to try and hide it, it was the funeral home that waited almost a week and a half from when they knew there was a problem until the told us.

I feel horrible for the family. I could not even imagine finding out that one of my lovedone’s remains were sitting, collecting dust in the corner of a shipping warehouse for two weeks. Has anyone else ever had something like this happened to someone they know? How would you react if it did happen to you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Bean counters

Can someone please tell me why too many bean counters don’t look at the big picture.  I work contract security, and my client contact called and informed me an accountant was questioning why my staff had two guards when “one was watching the door and the other was just walking around the dock.”  (By the way, I am currently working for a shipping company).  Now, this bean counter never asked me what I do and only assumed that all a security officer must do is watch a door for a living.  I guess he doesn’t realize that security can also be used for loss prevention and emergency response and mitigation.  Now, with my current position, I don’t feel like I am being used to my full potential on the emergency response and mitigation, but I spend most of my day on loss prevention.  Now, if my second officer on my shift were to no longer be there, I would be stuck at a door preforming access control duties.  Losses for the station I am at have fallen dramatically since I was moved to that site, and I believe that I have earned my salary since I have been there.  But, as many of the employees who work for this shipping company say, they “save a penny today, to spend a dollar tomorrow,”  so who know, half of my staff my be gone in a few weeks.  Oh well, I’ll just have to spend more time on my CrackBerry, sitting at a door all day.

Salary vs. Hourly

I will be going salary in a few weeks.  I think this may end up being a double edged sward.  On one hand, I will get much better benefits (an extra week off, payed vacations, personal days, payed sick days, better insurance), but on the other hand, I won’t be getting overtime when I stay late.  Now, I don’t get much overtime now, but I know both my company and my client, and I see 50 hour weeks in my future.  I don’t mind working, but working 50+ hours and only getting paid for 40 is not my cup of tea.  What do you think, is going salary a blessing or curse?  Has anyone made the switch while stying in the same job title?  How did it go?

I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed today

I had one of those days where I should have just stayed in bed today. I woke up and felt a little more groggy than normal. That have should have been my first clue. I was on my way to work, driving behind a semi as we went to hit an exit ramp when I realized my brakes weren’t slowing me down at all. I quickly down shifted, and was able to slow down just in time not to rear end the semi. I pushed on to work (as I was almost there). The roads were empty (I start at 4:00 am), so I made sure just to leave plenty of room in front of me. I got about a mile away from work when the stop lights were all out. I got a few blocks closer when the entire street was shut down. I later found out that a microburst had hit the area. Power lines had went down like dominoes for almost a mile. I had to take a detour and ended up being late for work.

On the up side, Nick designed a new header for me. I should have it up shortly (if not later today).

Life of a peon

I want to apologize in advance for whinning about my job, but I would like to know if anyone else has similar problems to mine.

I supervise a team of contract security officers at a shipping facility. We were hired by the company’s loss prevention department to prevent unauthorized access to the building. I have been in my current role for approximately 5 months and no longer have time to do the work I was originally hired to do. The loss prevention department was is on a hiring freeze and just lost one of the investigators in my area. Because of that, I have now picked up much of her responsibilities at my station. I have no problem doing the work, and actually enjoy it, except for the fact that I am making at least 2-3 dollars an hour less then market value for some one doing the work that I am now doing. It just irritates me that because I am a contracted employee and not an employee of the company, that they feel they can dump all this work on me. I can’t say too much, because as a contracted employee, they could ask my employer to replace me. I am to the point now where I would like to leave and not fill anyone in with whats going on and watch them panic trying to tie up all the loose ends.

The best part about all of this is even though I have only been at this site for 5 months, I know more about the day to day operations that the loss prevention investigators. I want to know how some one is supposed to over see and protect assets when they don’t know the operational procedures of the facility. That would be like casino surveillance not know how to play blackjack, how would they catch all the card cheats??

Well, for now I will leave it up to God if I should stay and seek more money or start to look for something else. Like I said before, I don’t mind the work, I would just like to be compensated appropriately. Then again, in the life of a peon, do we ever get compensated what we are actually worth?