Thursday, October 26, 2006


NEW: Some new reports added to Standard Reports

I've been busy working with several subscribers on some new reports. The new reports are numbers 18.1, 19.1. 20.1, 25.2, and 25.3.

In addition, we've reworked reports 18, 19, and 20 to be more consistent with the rest of the reports on the site.

Reports 18.1, 19.1, and 20.1 are sorted numerically by the Grade/Level field, so if you use grades/levels that are number based (without any letter characters) then you may want to check out these reports. Since we store the grade/level as a text value, sometimes the sorting is not what you would expect if you are using numerical grades/levels.

Reports 25. through 26. used to require that we run a backend process on the database server to populate the data in the report. Now you can populate the data in the report simply by updating the results table for the pay plan. This will automatically populate these "department" reports. The new reports 25.2 and 25.3 are formatted for annual salaries rather than hourly wages.

The list of reports continues to grow and we've been thinking of some new user-interface ideas for making the reports more accessible. Some of these ideas we've discussed in past user group meetings, some of the ideas we have are new. In any event, we will be working on updating the report user-interface after we finish the "My Jobs" table revisions and the "Search Surveys" revisions.

There's lots to do as always!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


In my spare time (really I do have some)

I thought it would be fun to share some of my personal photos.

In my spare time I'm an aspiring photographer. Not a professional by any means, but I do love photography. I've created a flickr account. There's a "flickr badge" in the right sidebar now. You can click the badge and view my photos. I'll add some more every week. Everyone needs an outlet outside of work and although I could work 24x7 with my business, that would be unhealthy. I do have my family to keep me busy and happy as well!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Crystal Report issue resolved

We resolved the issue with Crystal Reports.

We acquired a new license for our report server from Business Objects. The reports page is working after installing the new license and restarting the server.


Issue with Crystal Reports

It seems to be a week for issues. You know the old saying about "When it rains..."

We just started receiving a new "user name and password" dialog box when trying to view a Standard or Custom report.

We are working on troubleshooting the issue. It has to do with user rights on the reports page, but we haven't worked out why the issue suddenly appeared this afternoon.

I'll post more as soon as I know more about the situation.

In the mean time the Custom Query tool is working and so you can view reports in Excel without any issue.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


A few updates (and the rain is back)

The Autumn colors are in full glory and the rain is back. I'm actually kind of glad for the foggy mornings and drizzly afternoons. I guess I'm a true Seattlelite.

We made a few minor bug fixes on NextComp yesterday.

  • Link in My Jobs table for Config. Table is working

  • The Configuration tools are "remembering" the sorting order that you choose

  • The My Matches table is being automatically updated when you edit matches using the Match Edit form

  • The "Incentive Plan" drop down list is working on the My Job Details form

  • The "Update Results Table" was fixed to work faster

  • The Match Tools panel has been changed slightly to make is more obvious that there are additional tools available. See image below...

Before clicking on the More Match Tools...

After clicking on the More Match Tools...

Monday, October 16, 2006


Continuing on the "technology in education" theme

I heard a great story on NPR this morning about the concept of the high school of the future. This is a great story for two reasons. First, it is a great example of how technology can truly change the way we learn. Secondly, this is an inspirational story of change for a community that really needed a boost. Kudos to Microsoft for participating and lending time and planning resources to the endenvour.

The next story on NPR had to do with back-dating of stock options. Ugh! Why do some organizations feel that they can get away with this type of practice. It's in poor judgement and unethical at best and perhaps illegal as well.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Best laid plans...

Well, on Friday afternoon we had one change to make to the My Jobs table. The table column filters were only showing values for the currently visible rows.

For instance, even though demo pay plan has hundreds of rows with dozens of unique values for a job's location, we were only seeing the 10 values for the jobs in the 10 rows showing in the table. We thought, "This is something easy to fix!" and so we thought it would be ready to release over the weekend. We were being too optimistic. It turns out that this is much more difficult to implement than we thought. It turns out that we had to reconstruct the entire way that the table handles sorting, paging, and exporting to get the column filters to include all possible values. Plus throw in the complexity of searching and only showing values for search results and it became a bigger project that we anticipated.

So we worked over the weekend and reprogrammed the table. Here's a screenshot of the new filter feature. Notice that it shows all of the job titles, not just the tiles from the visible 10 rows.

And here's a close up of the drop down list for filtering.

But, we're still working out some issues with paging and sorting, and paging/sorting combined with searching.

I'm taking the advice of a good friend and longtime NextComp subscriber. She advised me to "wait until all the bugs are worked out before releasing it." Good, sound advice. It's tempting to rush something into production when it's almost there, it's 99% done, but it's that last 1% that will make it really beautiful to work with and use on a day to day basis. So we are working on that last 1% to make sure this release is solid.

Friday, October 13, 2006


UPDATE: My Jobs table screenshot

We've been busy testing the new My Jobs table. We're almost ready to release it. Our plans are to setup the new functionality over the weekend. Just to show you what we're working on, here's a screenshot.

Here are some of the highlights of the new table.

  1. New: Ability to show employees right in the table

  2. New: Ability to control the number of rows displayed

  3. New: Ability to filter on any column (see the little funnel images on each column, those are for filtering)

  4. New: Ability to duplicate a job (useful for geographic market pricing)

  5. New: Ability to sort the table by clicking on the column headers

  6. New: Ability to include/exclude employee pay from the overall employee average pay

  7. New: Greatly enhanced export to Excel

  8. Update: Faster loading and faster paging

In this example the Employees for the "Materials Handler II" job are filtered to only show the "Materials Salvage" location. Notice that the filter image is a white color, indicating that the column is filtered.

Also, you can unselect employees for a particular job and those employees will not be calculated in the overall employee average for the job. This is useful for excluding employees either by geography or because they have pay that you know is an outlier and you don't want to include it in the analysis.

We'll post a movie with narration in Quicktime format after we release the new table over the weekend.


Technology (and our dependence on it)

I wanted to post a link to a story that I found very inspirational. It has to do with innovated use of technology. I posted before about how much I love my MacBook Pro. I check the Apple website everyday for news about products and technology. Here's a story that was posted earlier this week about the use of iPods to assist kids with special needs in taking tests. I'm a softy and I get a little choked up when I read the article. I tend to personalize things. I think of what I would do if one of my kids had special needs. This is the type of "out of the box" thinking that I find very motivating. It's especially nice to read (for me) after yesterday (whew, the network is back up, yay!).

Thursday, October 12, 2006


So far so good...

All appears well with the internet connection this evening. Hopefully this connectivity issue is behind us!

I'll have a more exciting NextComp announcement on Friday related to a really cool new My Jobs table that we are releasing.


Network connectivity (update 2)

The network is back up. The telco made visit and the connectivity was restored shortly afterwards. I'm hoping that connectivity will stay up. I will post another update this afternoon.


Network connectivity update

We are experiencing network connectivity issues again this morning. I spoke with Speakeasy and it appears that sometime after midnight last night the connection went down. Speakeasy has been working with the telco to restore connectivity. It's up right now, but I'm not sure if it's completely fixed or still intermittent. I'll be on the phone with Speakeasy this morning getting this sorted out.

I apologize for this interruption of service. We are working with our ISP to get the service back at the full level.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Network connectivity restored

It appears that the network connectivity issue has been resolved.

We'll be observing the connectivity for the next few hours just to ensure that everything is back to normal.


Intermittent Connectivity This Morning

The NextComp server cluster is experiencing intermittent network connectivity this morning. It started about 9:00 AM PST. That is the same time that a construction crew began work on the street outside the server location. We've contacted SpeakEasy, our ISP, to report the issue. They confirmed that there was intermittent connectivity issues starting at around 9:00 AM. They have escalated the issue and we should know more in the next two hours. In the meantime, you may be receive an error message saying that the site cannot be found until the issue is resolved. Or you may not experience any issues.

We want to be as transparent as possible and keep you informed of these issues when and if they arise.

We'll make another post as soon as we know more about the situation.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Soccer Wrap-up

Soccer season is over. We still have our celebration get together tomorrow.

Thank you goes out to all the kids! Great job! Also, thank you to the parents for all your support and also for this awesome "cupcake" cake.

Yes, there are cupcakes under all that frosting.

We're handing out a little surprise goody bag and also this award to the kids.

This is our "Orange Crush Go Get Em' Award". Yes, I know, I over did it on the orange color, but come on, it's for the Orange Crush team! The grey box will be replaced with their picture and the xxxxx will be their name.

Each of the kids played extra hard to earn the award. They deserve some special recognition. It doesn't take much to get them to work a little harder. A few sticker stars on a chart and the promise of a special prize if they all try their best. They just want to have a chance to work hard, try hard, and be recognized for doing so. I think that's what we all want in the end.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Salmon Days

I had the fun opportunity to walk with my daughter in the Salmon Days parade on Saturday.

Her gymnastics team marched and did gymnastics along the parade route. It's fun to see here doing so well at a sport she loves. I heard a lot of "ohs" and "ahs" from the crowd as the team did back handsprings, cart wheels, forward rolls and other moves.

Salmon Days is an annual festival celebrating the return of the salmon to the hatchery. The salmon spawn in the creeks around Lake Sammamish and Issaquah. It's a fun weekend of celebrations and family fair activities.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


NEW FEATURE: Survey data import template - version 2007

There is a new survey data import process available starting today.

Each year we gather feedback on the survey data import template. We didn't make any change from the 2005 to 2006 template. We are planning to make some changes for 2007. Rather than just make a switch from one template to another, we've setup a new template and a seperate template import process.

Please note that the existing process will continue to work along side with the new process. If you've loaded your survey data into the existing template, then please continue using the current import process.

The image above shows the new button called "Version 2007 Template". The import process is exactly the same, but the template is different. What's different you ask? Good question!

Here are some of the major changes in the template:

  • Cleaned up the column names to make it clearer about what data should go into each column.
  • Eliminated the "Simple average" column and only show one column for the averages. If you're organization primarily uses the "weighted" average then you would copy that data into the template. If your organization uses the "simple" average then you would copy that data into the template.
  • Added a column for comments to many sections of the data, such as total cash, long term incentive, total direct compensation. This allows you to note any specific areas of the data that may cause questions later, such as what exactly does the LTI data represent as this could vary by survey.
  • Added some new fields for data that represents "receiving" and data that represents "all" data. So for instance, you can load data for Total Cash that represents only those employees that received some type of bonus/incentive.

The new template process is available now from the Start Page by clicking on the Import/Export Data button.

I'll post some more information about the specific changes in a blog post later this week.