Thursday, 23 November 2006

Our Home

Some photos of the community in which we live. Basically, it is a few blocks of 'English' townhomes, where each floor is a separate apartment.

There is parking underground, with some storage lockers available, too. The big draw here is that they allow pets - in fact, some residents have some pretty large dogs! So early every morning and late every evening you will see people walking their dogs.

It's very central and relatively new - they are still building more units for Spring (April 2007) occupation.

We are currently renting on the middle floor, and the bonus here is that you get all the major appliances included in the rental (refrigerator, stove, washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher).

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Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Working Girl

So it's been four days on the job, and it's very similar to my (previous) job. Similar type of people that I work with, similar culture and similar work :-) The main difference is that it is more software support, rather than network/ WAN support. And just on a smaller scale, reminding me of how IS was when I first started there in 1999. The office here has about 68 people in Toronto, of which I have 11 support 'associates', 2 team leaders, one trainer and one documentation person reporting to me. I also have 4 staff members in New Delhi, India - 1 team leader and 3 support associates - to provide local support there.

[To my ex-colleagues: yes, I have a team of 14 and a dedicated trainer . On the flip side, we're also 24x7 with such a small team! The graveyard rotation is every 6 weeks. You will also be really glad to know that there are the same old issues to deal with - to name a few: motivating and retaining staff, sorting out graveyard shifts, training of newbies, lack of KB and process documentation, 'defending' support staff from Dev/Ops when they don't respond to escalations... So similar to IS it's freaky. As with the GSC, we are busy with investigating a new telephone system with Call Centre stats and reporting, and company-wide they want to implement a CRM system to get a single view of the customer. It gets even scarier - they don't have a proper document library that everyone uses, and their Ops (Infrastructure and Sys Admin teams) just unofficially launched an internal Wiki. Hell, we even use the same Cisco IP phones! Hehe it's almost like I never left my old job :-P ]

I have been taking it relatively easy so far - my boss is on leave until the end of the month, but at least I have my predecessor to work with until then. Quite a laidback culture, everyone is really friendly, and I still get to work flexi-time - generally getting to the office before 10h00, and leaving just after 18h00. The workforce here is *very* diverse - people from all different countries work here, many Chinese, Indian, European - oh yeah, and some Canadians haha. I'm the only South African though :-)

We also have an office near Pennsylvania in the US, and I was told I will probably need to go down there to meet everyone. The big catch of course, is that I have to get a US visa first. Because of September 11, the whole visa process was changed, and you first need to book an appointment to process your visa. Unbelievable - the waiting time for the Toronto consulate is.... 71 days, with 1 day processing time. What this means is that the earliest appointment I could get was 29 January 2007...! It would be faster for me to fly back to SA and get it there, since the waiting time in Joburg is 9 days, with 2 days for processing. And what a money-making exercise - it cost me $9.50 (and I'm not even sure if that's Canadian or US dollars!) to book the appointment, and I still need to pay US$100 for the actual visa.

The workload is a bit overwhelming at the moment - trying to get up-to-speed on many levels up and down from me: getting to know my staff and team leaders, getting to know the company and its products, and getting up-to-speed with projects that I need to be involved with as a manager.

I have my own office over looking Yonge street (this is the main street in Toronto which the main subway line runs under, and it is the longest street in the world ). The only disadvantage of the office is that all the windows makes it cold! On the flip side, at least I get some natural light, which I never did get at my previous desk.

It is getting bloody cold here. Mornings it's about 0C, reaching 5C at noon... brrr. Sunday night there were flurries (light snow that melts before it hits the ground). The forecast shows it should get a bit warmer (10C high) Thursday and Friday and the weekend, but after that.... we are looking at minus temperatures by next weekend :-( The homes, offices, malls, buses - everything - here are heated and it does make things easier. So it's just the short walks that I need to suffer through for now. It's actually kind of annoying because you bundle up like mad for the walk to the bus stop, and then when you get on the bus you are boiling hot 'cos it's heated so much Same thing with entering malls and offices - they blast you with heat as you enter the door - so you really do need to have one big heavy coat which you can take off once you get inside.

Theoretically (and by SA standards), I am really close to work - about 8 kms. By bus and subway, it takes about 40 minutes. 5 minutes walking from house to bus stop, 15 minutes on bus to subway, 10 mins on subway, then 5 mins walk to office. Hopefully hubby and I will get to drive together to work once we get our licences and a car. He works literally down the street, about 5 kms away.

Speaking of driving licences, we have booked our road tests for 7 (me) and 8 (hubby) December - these being the earliest dates we could get. Judging from weather forecasts, it will probably be snowing then... sigh. Anyway, apparently that makes the test 'easier' since you can drive as slowly as you want because of the weather conditions.

We have been looking at cars - there are so many options, and we are now considering a slightly 'bigger' car, since we'll only have one to share, and it is intimidating driving a 'small' car when all around you have huge mini-vans and SUV's!! We will probably only buy next month, when dealers - in year-end sales desperation - will give us a better deal ;) There are also a few new 2006 models left that will hopefully be a lot cheaper. It's weird here - they started selling 2007 model cars in August already!

Everything from our container arrived in perfect condition, nothing broken or damaged - it's good to have familiar stuff around us again. Our kitchen cupboards are now completely full!

On a lighter note, they are opening a Nando's near our house - right by the bus stop. It's being fitted at the moment and there are 'now hiring' signs up - not sure when they'll open for business though. LOL. Guess we'll just *have* to go see if it's the same as the SA ones ;)

That's all the news for now...

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Much Ado

A lot has happened since my last post - the main highlights being:

- Our stuff in the container has arrived! Everything is now pretty much moved and sorted, piano included
- I am finally gainfully employed... my first day is tomorrow (Thursday) as Technical Support Manager at Company A (the Domain Registry).

Finally... I can now hopefully settle in to some sort of a routine. After everything has been unpacked and put neatly away, I'll send some photos of the place.

Must get to bed now, as I start my new job in a few hours!!