Friday, January 23, 2009


User's Group Meeting, Market Pricing, Salary Planning and Twittering

It's been a busy week and I'm having difficulty believing it's Friday already. The week started off kind of slow with the kids home from school and then the excitement built as Tuesday morning approached. Wow! What an incredible day for America. I had to work that day, but I caught up on all the events later that night on cspan. It was also fun reading all the tweets and blog posts from around the world. So many people were excited for the new President to take office. I'm also very pleased that my kids were all able to watch the inauguration at school. They watched it online projected on the screens in their classes. Very cool! I know that Tuesday will be a day I remember for a long time to come.

Closer to home, it's been a busy week here at NextComp. Here's a summary of what we've been up to this week.

User's Group Meeting

I've been quietly planning a user's group meeting in the Seattle area, all the while working feverishly to implement Version 3 of NextComp before the meeting. Well it looks like I'll have Version 3 completed and ready by the end of February. So I'm working on the details to have the User's Group meeting in Issaquah sometime the first two weeks of March. I'm still nailing down the space availability. I'll have that finalized early next week, so the blog post next week will have more details.

Salary Planning

This past week I was working extensively on an update to the NextComp salary planning application. I re-wrote the database engine to enhance performance and scalability. This tool was originally designed to run on smaller networks and in smaller to medium sized companies. One client is running it on a larger network with over 500 managers having access the system. Of course, before the re-write, the database crumpled under the load. I think smoke might have been coming out of the server! :-) After a series of late night programming sessions, I was able to redesign the database to effectively scale up to over 10,000 employees and over 500 managers. Whew, that was some serious work. It's done now, and I'm moving on to create a cool Quicktime training video.

Here are some screenshots...

Of course that's not the only project that's going on. Never a dull moment here in Issaquah.

Version 3 Update

I've been working on NextComp Version 3 with the goal of having it completed by the end of February in time for several of our clients to transition to the new application before the WorldatWork Conference being held in Seattle in June. I've been getting really helpful feedback from a couple of larger subscribers that have volunteered to transition early to Version 3, while still using Version 2 primarily. Thank you to them! More updates next week on Version 3.

The Tweet In Review

Continuing on the post from last week, I've been trying to tweet on any interesting articles that I run across during my blog reading. I use NetNewsWire on the Mac to consolidate the blog posts into one list of updated information. I have over 100 blogs that I read on a regular basis, and the list keeps growing. I enjoy everything from compensation related blogs, to listserve type blogs, to art and photography blogs. Here are some highlights from this last week.

Sitting on top of my roof taking Xmas lights down Nice view from up here! 1:20 PM Jan 17th from twitterrific

AMD cutting 1,100 jobs and cutting salaries by 5% to 15%. 10:01 AM Jan 19th from TweetDeck

@annemareemoore Here's a blog with a copy of the President's speech in PDF format... 1:58 PM Jan 20th from web in reply to annemareemoore

Over 7 Million Workers to See Lowest Pay Raise in 30+ Years 9:44 AM Jan 21st from TweetDeck

iPhone development webinars, five total for $97 each. Good deal! 10:16 AM Jan 21st from TweetDeck

Just received an e-mail: There are just 130 days, 2 hours and 50 minutes until the 2009 WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition. 12:40 PM Jan 21st from TweetDeck

Check out the resolution of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II What an awesome place for skiing too! 10:44 AM yesterday from TweetDeck

Inauguration in Tweets: about 18 hours ago from TweetDeck

New ski related blog post about 16 hours ago from twitterrific

President Obama is a good Dad too... about 5 hours ago from TweetDeck

"Four sure fire ways to get laid off" about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

Links to information on the Leadbetter Fair Pay Act that looks to pass Congress soon. about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

"Washington’s three largest insurers were down a combined $194M in October" 43 minutes ago from TweetDeck

Thanks to "The Industry Radar" http://www.theindustryradar... for all the great links.
42 minutes ago from TweetDeck

Well that wraps up another week here in the cold, damp and foggy Northwest. We're supposed to get some snow over the weekend. Oh boy! Well at least that will help the ski resorts.

Until next week, have a great weekend!

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Friday, January 16, 2009


The Tweet In Review

I've been on Twitter a lot more lately. I've met some new people, including a singer from one of my favorite bands. It's weird to carry on a conversation with someone that you feel is famous! One of the other uses for Twitter is to send out a link to an interesting article, blog post, or photo. So I thought at the end of the week I would gather up those tweets and post them to the blog.

Great app design guide available (specifically for .NET but good general discussion) 3:26 PM Jan 10th from TweetDeck

At The Water's Edge: 12:35 AM Jan 13th from twitterrific

Interesting article relating psychology and organizational design 9:44 PM Jan 14th from TweetDeck

Employee engagement zingers by David Zinger 9:45 PM Jan 14th from TweetDeck

Foggy start to the day but a spectacular ending to it 11:19 PM Jan 14th from TweetDeck

Check out this great photographer: http://www.michaelcogliantr... 10:57 AM yesterday from TweetDeck

Slowing economy hits Google 11:16 AM yesterday from TweetDeck

Giving Evernote a spin on Max OS X and iPhone 3:41 PM yesterday from TweetDeck

Interesting blog post about performance review programs, or the lack of... about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Screen recording software

I've discovered a new screen recording software for Mac OS X.

It's called ScreenFlow and it looks really cool. There's a demo on the Telestream website.

I'm going to download this and give it a try for the "Import Survey" demo that I've been working on. I'll let you know how it goes after my tests today.

I hope finish that demo today or tomorrow!


So here's a sample movie. It has the ScreenFlow logo on it, but that's ok for the test. I think this will prove to be a good solution as it has some new features, like the red circle that appears when I click, and the ability to zoom in on parts of the screen.

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Monday, January 12, 2009


North Bend and Snoqualmie Flooding

You may have heard about the torrential rains and snow melt that we had in my neck of the woods last week. The Snoqualmie Valley was hit hard.

I spent a couple of hours volunteering at my kids' school to help with clean-up. Talk about GROSS stuff! It was all mud, slime, and garbage piled up along the fence lines of the playground and surrounding school areas. The district had about 100 volunteers last Friday and another 60 or so yesterday helping to clean and get the schools ready for today. And YES, the schools opened today! I'm so happy that the kids get to go back after having many extra days off due to snow and flooding over the last few weeks.

More importantly though, there are many families with homes and businesses in the area that are impacted by the flooding. Being out in the muck yesterday really brought that home to me. I hope they are all safe and warm with a place to be until they can return home.



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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Version 3 Help Desk Update

For the past few months I've been trying to integrate the Zendesk Help Desk with NextComp, but the solutions they offered were more complex that I wanted to wrestle with, so I pushed off this feature.

Just last week Zendesk released a new integrated "drop box" tool. Ah ha, I thought, this is the answer to the issue of an easy, integrated help desk. And sure enough, after some testing today, it really does work! So I spent some time today updating every page of Version 3 with this new functionality.

Here's how it works.

From any page in Version 3, click the Support link at the top of the page.

You may be warned that the page contains some unencrypted information. Click Yes or OK depending on your browser. The only unencrypted information on the support dialog is the Zendesk logo. You may not receive this warning depending on your browser settings.

The background of the page will dim, and a Help Desk dialog will pop-up.

Enter your help desk request, a subject line for the message, and your e-mail address.

Click "Submit Query" and you'll receive a confirmation that your request was sent.

You'll receive an e-mail confirmation as well.

You'll also receive an e-mail when we have a solution to your request.

The best news is that this is all handled in NextComp and with e-mail. You don't have to leave the application to submit a request and you don't have to sign into another website to review the status of the request.

Integrated help desk support in Version 3... Check!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Happy New Year & Survey Loading

Happy New Year!


So far, 2009 is off to a good start, except for the strange winter weather we're having in Seattle. All the snow caused a delayed start to school on Monday and now flood warnings as all the snow melts. Work continues to be busy. I'm working with several clients on salary planning process implementations, continuing to load survey data, and programming diligently on Version 3.

Speaking of Version 3, I'm working on a Flash demo of the new survey import process! It's very very cool and it's up and running on the production servers. I'll have that demo posted on the blog this week. Here are a couple of great new features:
  1. Load multiple surveys all at one time using one template, this equals a big time savings.
  2. Update survey data for a survey that is already loaded, this used to be a big pain to accomplish, now it's easy!
  3. Apply currency formatting to survey data
  4. Apply geographic differentials to survey data automatically when matching to a job in your organization
There are more features that I'll cover in the Flash demo.

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and I wish you the best of success in 2009!