Wednesday, January 8, 2014

new situation at work

I haven't been feeling happy at work lately.

As you kow, I've only started at this job in September and everything looked alright at first. But in December I felt a little dejected. The work itself is still fun, I like writing specifications and doing mock-ups. But I felt like busywork, not really useful. Plus I felt really disconnected, our team sits scattered over three rooms and doesn't feel like a team at all, the people in my rooms usually don't go to the cafeteria for lunch and the others usually forget to ask me. I don't know, it just didn't feel right.

Now since I felt like writing specifications wouldn't really fill all of my time and since I'm really interested in it, I wanted to see if I could do more work concerning usability and user experience. I think it's really closely related to the work I'm doing anyway and the open position isn't filled yet. A co-worker is doing some work, but I know she's really busy with a lot of things. I just wasn't sure how to start... I didn't know who to tell about the idea and how and what to say and whether it was a good idea at all.

There's a lot of reorganisation going on and some time ago we were told that another departement would be joint with our team. We were also told that there wouldn't be much change for us, team e-commerce experts, but mainly for the others.
Now today we got a mind map from our boss and tomorrow there's a meeting concerning our reorganisation. Much to my surprise, I am transfered to another team, team "requirements management" - as the only one from our current team. ... I really didn't expect that at all.
First of all that will make it more difficult to do more usability-related work because that job will remain withing the other team. Secondly after just a few months in the company I'll have completely different team mates. Since I've not been feeling very connected with my current team mates, I'm thinking that this isn't necessarily - but it's not easy either. I hardly know these people, I've maybe seen them once for a few minutes (and they all know each other). And thirdly I'll have a new boss; well, my current boss will stay as my boss, but I'll have a team leader. I have heard rumours that he's not a very boss, though nothing precise, I am a little worried.
I feel insecure, I feel a little free falling, like there's no one/nothing to hold on to.

Since it quite suddenly got urgent I had a talk with my current boss about my idea of doing more usability-related work. It didn't go very well. I think... I'm not really sure. He disagreed with my worries of not having enough work to fill the day (apparently there's a long list of projects that all need a concept - but in my experience most projects from these long lists will never get done). He didn't want me to change into another position, said they needed me to write these specifications (I didn't mean to imply that I wanted another job). He did however say that he thinks it's a good thing that I give my ideas and my input and that I can work on usabilty stuff for maybe two days a week if I need to clear my head from writing specifications all the time (though it sounded a lot more like "two days" was just something he said at that moment and not actually an approval of spending exactly that time on it).
Unfortunately my boss is a very vague person, he doesn't give you precise input, he never tells me what to do. So now in a way I have an OK, but no starting point, nothing definite.

So tomorrow we'll have the meeting to talk about the changes, together with all the people from the two-became-one departement. I'm really a bit worried, and I don't know what to expect. I just had to get all these things off my chest, that's the reason for this hurried blog post. I hope I can sleep tonight. Read more on this article...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

short anime review - yokai special: Nurarihyon no Mago, Uchouten Kazoku, Mononoke, Tokyo Ravens

I've already written about Natsume's book of Friends, one of my favourite anime and manga and- much earlier on - Tactics. But like shinigami, yōkai are a common theme and setting for anime. Of course! The possibilities are endless. But there are a few yōkai you'll probably meet in nearly every series: kappa, tanuki or tengu for example.
I liked Kamisama Hajimemashita quite a lot, so I think it'll get its own blogpost. But here are short reviews of some other animes with a yōkai theme.

Nurarihyon no Mago
Rikuo is supposed to inherit the position of Supreme Commancer of Demons - but unfortunately he only sometimes turns into a demon at night and otherwise is a normal human school boy. He wants to live a normal mortal life with his friends, but he begins to realize that he has a duty towards his yōkai family and demon comrades.
Nurarihyon no Mago is in a way typical shōnen - it's about being weak and becoming stronger to protect others, the usual stuff - but without panty shots and boob socks and with suprisingly few fights. There are a few, but they always seem to be cut off early. However, long fights in each episode are boring anyway and there is a huge brawl at the end of the season. I really liked the wide range of different yōka, big and small, ugly and beautiful (some of them would even count as bishōnen). It reminds me a little of Gokusen, with the main character always torn between those two worlds, trying to hide their family background.

I've only seen the first season and the OVAs so far, but I'll definitely watch the second season, too.

Uchouten Kazoku
This one is a bit strange and even after having watched the whole season (in Fall 2013), I'm not quite sure what to think about it.
In Kyoto not only humans live, but also tanuki and tengu. Yasaburou is a tanuki who lives with his brothers and his mother at a temple. His father had been eaten in an annual tanuki hot pot a few years ago by a human secret society called the "Friday Fellows". His older brother Yaichirou wants to follow in their father's footsteps and become head of the tanuki society. The plot follows the dangers this brings to the family and the uncovering of their father's last hours.
Uchouten Kazoku is really creative, refreshing. I especially liked the flying tea room. But one character, Benten, really got on my nerves - she's an arrogant, selfish woman, but everyone still likes her - even though she (knowingly) ate their father! I mean: WTF?! But hey, she's good-looking, so murder is OK...

If Uchouten Kazoku is a little strange, Mononoke is totally weird. I guess it's mainly the artistic style, which is vastly different from the usual anime style. It's very colourful, but not always beautiful, more like a paper collage, a freakier version of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie.
Kusuriuri is a wandering medicine seller and exorcist and the anime shows episodes of him fighting yōkai.I haven't watched that many episodes yet, so I can't say much more.
Besides its arty looks, it's creepy and often ugly and gross. But it's also fascinating.

Tokyo Ravens

Harutora is born into a lesser branch of a famous Onmyōji family, but he himself isn't very good at magic and divination and he doesn't care much. After a serious magical incident however, he decides to keep true to his promise to a childhood friend and moves to Tokyo to attend a magic school together with his friend Touji.

Tokyo Ravens will have 24 episodes (still ongoing at the moment) and so it can take it's time for plot and character development, which I really appreciate.Touji was my favourite from the beginning, so I was quite happy when more of his past and the secret of his character was revealed.
Most episodes are entertaining on their own, a good mixture between action and comedy, but there's also hints at a greater plot overall. The only thing that annoys me is the cliché tsundere Loli girl.
The style incorporates a mixture of drawn and computer-generated images. It would have been really cool to have the yōkai computer-animated to give them an otherworldly feel, but unfortunately sometimes also other things a CG, so I think they've wasted a bit of a chance here.
Read more on this article...