As folks start heading off, I thought I’d post a quick message wishing everyone all the best for the holidays.
Our offices will be quiet over the next week or so as the majority of Latitude staff spend time with loved ones. A few of us will be holding down the fort, but we’ll all be back in earnest following the New Year.
On the personal side, my hope is for an uneventful Christmas at home this year... and a quiet birthday for Benjamin. Last year my wife went into labor unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, and we ended up having our first child two weeks early, in the wrong city, during a snowstorm… and on Christmas day. I even managed to get trapped in an elevator at one point.
In any case, on behalf of my colleagues and I, have a happy and peaceful holiday season.
Occasionally job seekers can get a little overzealous in their efforts to follow-up. After one too many “urgent” phone calls that pulled me out of a meeting, in 2002 we changed our employment page to request that applicants submit applications "Attn: Warren Burns", which people infer to mean that a person named Warren Burns is in charge of HR. Thereafter, when anyone declared they had an urgent call for or (unscheduled) meeting with Warren Burns, we knew the true nature of their request. And so we could factually declare “Sorry, he’s not available right now” to a caller, we assigned the name to a Betta fish that lives in our office.
However, after many years, Latitude Geographics has decided to retire Warren Burns, our human resources fish.
First, his cover was blown back in 2006 after he got subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a court case (we think the fact that the defendant’s lawyer subpoenaed a fish speaks volumes as to his relevance/connection to the case) and he got profiled in the local media. Thanks to Google, many candidates started making references to the fact they were applying to a fish in their cover letters. We once even had a candidate show up to their interview with fish food.
Second, we’ve had an actual human being dedicated to HR for about a year, and Warren Burns just adds unnecessary explanation and work to Brett’s world. When Brett gets “urgent” calls, he’s got a good hunch what they’re about. Brett has also pointed out that he, on paper anyway, reports to a fish. Funny, but stuff like this get stale after a while.
Warren Burns will remain on board in an advisory capacity on the bookshelf in my office.
More on the 2009 Geocortex User Conference... we had a planning meeting back in December, and the topic of mascots/motif came up (2006 was the Blue Heron, 2007 was the Orca, 2008 was the Glaucous Winged Gull ).
Someone joked about selecting Vancouver Island’s iconic Black Bear, and everyone quickly agreed that given the current state of the economy, it was probably about the worst motif for a conference happening in 2009. But then we all decided that to address the ‘elephant in the room’ head-on and in a humorous way would be very Geocortex.
So we picked it. Because no matter what happens in life, we don’t want to lose our sense of humor. Besides, we’re designing a 2009 Geocortex User Conference that’ll represent an even smarter investment given the prevailing economic winds.
Every time I’m being briefed on the latest report designs for Geocortex Optimizer, I can’t help but get a little thrill when I see a Popular Extents map amongst all the important tables, graphs, and charts.
We’ve mostly (and I think rightly) invested in aspects of the product that extract and present all kinds of metrics relevant to the ArcGIS Server stack. As CEO, I know this should get me most excited because these types of metrics represent the core value prop of the product. But as a geography geek, if you hooked me up to machines that measure my physiological level of interest, I’d undoubtedly get most excited when I see the map.
Speaking of the "Latitude Library", I just finished reading an interesting book recently added to our inventory, "The Monk and the Riddle". Written by Randy Komisar, self-described virtual-CEO and technology entrepeneur, the book is quick to reveal the roots of its unusual title (no clues here though!), but slow to reach its point: its the journey that matters, not the destination. Set within the context of new technology ventures, Randy presents the central premise of his book (and the driving force behind new arrivals to Silicon Valley and the so called SPDs at Bear Stearns) as the "Deferred Life Plan"; dedicate every waking hour to work today in order to enjoy life later with all the commensurate toys. Having lived the Silicon Valley lifestyle for several years, I could immediately relate.
Overall, I found the book largely readable due to its intriguing anecdotes about Randy's numerous technolgy ventures - I'm a sucker for business non-fiction. Dissecting the successes and failures for technology ventures is infinitely more interesting than anything fiction writers could come up with! Conversely, I felt the premise of the book missed its mark - the "Deferred Life Plan" is a well worn cliche. Or is it? For those reading the book, perhaps it will beg the question: "Am I doing what I'm truly passionate about?" Regardless, I recommend checking it out.
FYI, today is Victoria Day in Canada. For most Canadians, Victoria Day is just a day off that enables the "May Long Weekend" but here in Victoria I guess somebody decided to try to make a bigger deal out of it (complete with parade and fireworks). So... if your emails haven't been answered so far today (i.e. if someone here forgot to set their out-of-office response), now you know why.
For Canada-only holidays I generally come into the office (along with two or three other people, and then we take a corresponding US holiday off). Someone needs to be here since the phone keeps ringing, but an otherwise quiet office means we can get lots of work done. Answering some incoming phone calls means I get to chat with a random selection of customers (most of whom I don't get a chance to speak with day-to-day). I've already had some wonderful conversations with folks that've called in. So, if you want to catch-up or share some ideas with me, this afternoon is the perfect time.
We need to hire five or six computer programmers right now, and recruiting is constantly on my mind.
This morning I gave a presentation on mapping and GIS to a fourth grade class. They were a sharp group of kids, and during the Q&A section I found myself calculating the year in which they'll graduate from university so we can hire them.