Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Port Side of Telecom Operators

A few years ago in our little country named Belgium, the Mobile Number Portability was introduced. It enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.

I now use a mobile since over 10 years with still the same Proximus number as of day one. When joining my first employer, I had no problem to keep the same mobile number when they started paying the bills for me as it became a work tool. Back then I had only to fill a simple form and a couple hours later, the mobile bills were no more part of my concern - and of my budget. So far so good as this step did not involve any port-out/port-in operation.

So last month, I joined Aliaxis and would still get a mobile from the company. Unfortunately -- for me but not for them they say -- they use another mobile telecom operator named Mobistar.

As I used my number since over 10 years, I asked my company if I could keep it and have it transferred from Proximus to Mobistar, knowing the portability rule would apply and that it was technically possible . My company accepted immediately, which was a real relief to me.

And this is where the crusade began. We contacted Mobistar and requested the transfer. On the next day, they also requested -- god knows why -- a copy of the last invoice concerning my mobile number. So I had to contact one of my former colleague, kindly ask him to dig into the Proximus monthly invoices, find the pages involving my number, scan them along with the cover page, and email me back the resulting PDF. I could then forward it, hoping it would be solved within 2-3 days. After all, I had already initiated port-in of private numbers to the Proximus account of my previous company and it always transferred within hours. Therefore 2 to 3 days did not seem utterly optimistic to me.

Two to three days -- and rather three than two -- were indeed necessary to get notified by Mobistar that we needed to provide them a signed letter from my previous company stating their agreement to the transfer. So I contacted the new Telecom Manager of my previous company, asked him for such a letter, received it (and it was a very nicely letter, very professional), forwarded it to Mobistar, and prepared my minds to wait again for an additional two to three days.

After three days, the push-email service on my Blackberry stopped working. This was anticipated because it used a temporary SIM card and I had received a new SIM card for my own number. I plugged the new SIM card and quickly discovered a very nice message on my Blackberry screen:
SIM card rejected
Of course, this had to happen on a Friday afternoon while coming back from a business trip and with none to call. The idea of spending the weekend without my Blackberry services was not as frightening as the realization that it would surely still not work for my business trip planned on the next Monday.

On Tuesday, when back to my office, I learned that the transfer was not authorized by Proximus because the signature on the letter was not the same that the one in their database. Of course it was not, I was the previous Telecom manager and I left. At that point, I was extremely tempted to modify the letter and use my own signature to have this solved. I resisted to the dark side and decided instead to call the Proximus account manager as I had still her contact info.

From there, it took still four working days, several phone calls and emails to have the situation settled. But on Friday 13 of June 2008 around 6.00pm, my mobile number was finally ported to Mobistar and I could start using my Blackberry 8320 as email and telephone device while dismissing my old Nokia phone.

Now, I "just" have to re-customize my mobile with my own screen background, specific ring tones, and so on. Some say it is the funny side of the job...

Friday, June 13, 2008

We're Hiring !!!

We are urgently looking for a Software Development Engineer (junior or not) based in Brussels willing to become an AXAPTA guru. For more information, please visit the job description. If interested, please send your resume to Mr Elie Vulfs. Don't forget to mention the job description.

Great company, great opportunities.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Small Bag for a Man

With my new job, I’m much more on the road, spending a day here, a couple of days there or even a full week at yet another place. This is quite a welcome change from my previous comfortable position of ICT Director where travelling was rather the exception than the norm. During the last weeks, I have been quickly accustomed to trains, hotels, having lunch in a city and dinner in another.

Now, every married man would tell me that sooner or later I will have to be careful. Being away from home too often can potentially lead to disastrous family situations. Starting with an unhappy wife, it can quickly lead to hell.

However note that miracle do happen sometimes. Last weekend was father’s day here in Belgium and I got a nice surprise. My wife offered me one of these nice Samsonite boarding bags. The kind equipped with wheels, able to carry your laptop case, and authorized with you inside the plane without having to registering it. Needless to say that I was extremely and positively surprised while reinsured about my future business trips. I guess from now I can comfortably travel without worrying too much.

Isn’t life wonderful ?
At least mine is. :-)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Attack of the Mouses

A new job is always full of little surprises and when you work in an IT environment, you also receive a lot of shiny toys. There is of course the laptop (an IBM/Lenovo T61 with Win XP and 2GB RAM) considered as the must-have work tool. At the same time, I also received a Blackberry so that I could be harassed by emails 24 hours a day. Then of course, I got the full environment necessary around these two devices: a docking station with an extra screen, an external keyboard from the latest generation, and a wireless rechargeable optic mouse. Wow, a wireless mouse, the typical gadget you don't find in offices because they are expensive and don't last as long as wired mouses.

So far nothing unusual except that until today, I was used to deliver similar environments to users but this time, I was on the other side of the line. Everything was installed by a charming assistant who went as far as unpacking, placing, and plugging in the keyboard herself before cleaning the office from all extra plastics and garbage - and still smiling all the time. Definitively something has changed in my life. But don't think I was granted any extra treatment here; my colleague got the same only a few days beforehand. it is only the norm where I work now.

However after having contemplated all these toys, work had to start. After minutes I started complaining about the mouse. Movements were not so accurate and the left click-button did not always respond timely. I was about to curse and migrate back to a reliable wired old-fashion mouse when I noticed that my colleague next to me also had problems with his mouse. Being IT professionals (at least this is the official reason why we got hired), it only took us minutes before discovering that the mouses were in fact interfering with each other. Worse, some quick small shaking movements with once mouse could completely jam the other one. After checking the manufacturer's website, we found out that the mouse bases should be distant from at least 3 meters. Of course we tried by 3.20 meters and changing the bases' orientations but without any success. There was a permanent invisible war between our two mouses just in our office. And then we knew that our office was planned to hold five IT people with five cordless mouses ...

My colleague was faster to react by plugging in his wired mouse to fix this little annoyance. As such he eliminated himself from the list of wireless users. There are situations where being the fastest is not always recommended.

Until next time...