We’ve been working out of the new building in the Westlake Business Park for quite some time now, but yesterday I was in for a nice surprise when I strolled out of the door for one of my “thinking strolls” that I frequently take around the office park, noting that at long last some much needed signage had gone up on the building. And whilst our Touchwork logo might be playing second fiddle to that of the Hypenica logo (also Rudi’s company that happens to operate in the same building), it certainly feels good to now be able to direct people to the Touchwork offices in what is a notoriously badly marked business park! Awesome. UPDATE: And now with a bit better lighting behind me…
I was meant to leave a little earlier on Friday so that I could get to Bellville to meet up with Chantelle and Jess and drive straight through to Jacobsbaai, thus saving us some travel time. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to leave the office early. If you look at these photos, then you might understand why – and just a note, this is the usual state of parking here at the Westlake office! (I’ve helpfully circled my car in red). As it turned out though, Cape Town was pretty much deserted on Friday thanks to the Thursday public holiday, and I breezed through to Bellville in something ridiculous like 25 minutes. And better still, we got to Jacobsbaai in a hour and a half, a full hour faster than what the GPS had predicted! Now if only Chantelle hadn’t been held up in Gordon’s Bay and we were able to leave at the time that we actually wanted to leave…
So I’m back at work after a relaxing two and a half week break, meaning that I’m raring to go. 2012 was a bit of a transition year for Touchwork I suppose, in that we lost our previous development manager, took on a new managing director in the form of Ignatius, and with it a new organisational chart, I took up the reigns of Software Development Manager, Touchwork adopted a new business strategy, grabbed new office space in a new building which we now share with Rudi’s latest business project, Hypenica, and we lost all the remaining developers to better opportunities elsewhere. In terms of the software front, major development on our legacy product TxtandTell finally came to a halt, allowing it to now join the ranks of our other unattended, running solutions like MAGRetail and SANParks Analysis, freeing up development resources in the process. Our Distell project continued to grow exponentially through Steve’s hard work during the year, and continues to be one of Touchwork SA’s bedrock products. Before he left, Tristan completed his work on the Routing Server project, which now allows us to finally sidestep our older, legacy message handling infrastructure. As for myself, 2012 was almost entirely devoted to work on SurveyThumb, now re-branded Kinetica, which will serve as Touchwork’s main feedback collection software solution for the foreseeable future, and will be pushed as Touchwork’s flagship platform. 2013 marks my fifth year at Touchwork now, and in the dual role Software Development Manager and Senior Developer [...]
Come to think of it, I haven’t really kept everyone here in blog land up to date with my movements over the last couple of weekends, though looking back I’m guessing that no one really missed all that much anyway. Three weekends ago, the weekend was pretty much a write off as I spent 90% of the entire weekend holed up in my study, furiously banging out PHP code for work (i.e. the infamous Project 161 incentivised project). Other than a delightful Saturday evening of braai and rugby with the Montgomery Clan in Bellville, I was pretty much tied to my house and my keyboard from Friday right through to the wee hours of Monday morning – In fact, I was so busy that I shipped Chantelle and Jessica off to go and sleep over at her folks’ place and spend Sunday with them so that I could be afforded the peace and quiet I needed for my work environment! (Still, the hard work paid off as it led to a very successful Monday afternoon final demo of a project that I’ve been working on for the last while, which in turn resulted in a decent little bonus that will allow me to purchase some new and much needed kitchen appliances now that Chantelle is going to be doing her Cookies & Cakes venture as a full time business starting December!) Moving on from that, two weekends ago I opted to lengthen the weekend every so slightly for myself by [...]
Chantelle and Jessica left with Retha to visit the Vorster folks and family of Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein, meaning that from Thursday afternoon to Monday evening, I was pretty much a bachelor again. Woo-hoo, untold freedom awaited! Which is of course exactly why on Thursday evening, instead of putting my feet up and relaxing in front of the television, I found myself spending the whole evening completely rearranging the study. Right. Obviously I’ve been married for far too long now. In-between all of the taking apart and putting back together again of my PC setups, I did however manage to conduct a braai for myself, a little weird the act of braaing for one person I must add, but the results of which were pretty damn tasty! Friday’s work day was split nicely in the middle by a company lunch, organised by Rudi to introduce the new new company organogram to Touchwork as well as bring everyone onboard with regards to all of the latest developments. The venue was once again the delightful Jake’s in Steenberg, and I have to say, as per usual their food was top notch! At the end of the work day I decided to stop and take a short stroll along Muizenberg beach, for no other reason that for a change I had the time, and because I’ve never actually walked alone Muizenberg beach before. It was all right I guess, but the weather was a little grey and the chill factor a little to high [...]
Well, it has been pretty much two and a half years since I originally applied for the position of Development Team Manager over at Touchwork. Of course, that never panned out and I continued in my existing role as senior developer and went on to create the very flexible feedback platform known as SurveyThumb/Utiviti/Asset Kinetica (depends on your usage really) for the company. Two and a half years down the line, and the company is embarking on quite a big turnaround strategy, one that sees it venturing down the road of a completely new business plan, namely that of consultancy in the world of Physical Asset Managment. Needless to say, such a big shift in focus has led to a necessary reshuffle at the company, and given that the development team has levelled down into a much sleeker, leaner programming team over the course of the last couple of years, the decision was made to take Simon out of his current role as Development Team manager and instead utilize him differently in the new business focus. What this means for me then is that I was approached to take over the leadership and management of the development team, something which I am pretty damn excited about. Of course, our resource crunch does mean that I’ll be in the dual role of both senior developer as well as development team manager (hey, I’m good at what I do!), but given the small size of the team I can’t see this as [...]
For the last two or so years I have been the lead architect and developer on one of Touchwork’s flagship products, SurveyThumb, an extremely flexible, fully customizable online survey management system which is geared in particular to mobile phone data capture, the goal of which is to replace any paper based capture systems currently in use in the workplace – no matter what that workplace might be! I’m extremely proud of the monumental amount of work that has gone into SurveyThumb and I’m pleased to see that Touchwork has now officially launched the latest usage of the Utiviti (a different name for SurveyThumb) platform in the form of Utiviti Alert Manager. From the official press release: Touchwork has launched a new and unique product that allows you to receive, track and manage alerts from the field in real-time. Utiviti Alert Manager is part of the Utiviti suite of smart, multi-platform solutions to make your workforce more productive, and your utility processes more efficient. Imagine if (without additional hardware) you could… Immediately know about field problems in real-time Make it easy for field teams to report problems Easily monitor progress to resolve the problem Empower all your staff to make meaningful suggestions Save money and improve service delivery/quality This breakthrough mobile service can immediately improve operational effectiveness in your municipality or company. It can also act as an electronic “suggestion box” – allowing staff to report a problem or issue when they see it, or make a suggestion they think could [...]
Last Friday (not this one just passed!) Touchwork took some time off around 13:00 to all head out to the enjoyable upper-market Jakes restaurant in Steenberg, just around the corner from our offices. It was year-end celebration time, and of course this means a return to the whole Secret Santa setup, courtesy of Kim who always seems to enjoy the process so! :) The 1st of December also marked the end of my third year as being a part of Touchwork, meaning I am now well and truly on my way to becoming a part of the furniture, being the longest serving full-time developer left on board, now that Dave has up and left us for greener pastures. The whole team (which has undergone a significant swelling and then retraction over the last year) joined in for the fun, apart from poor Zac who was stranded out in England on a sales trip, right in the middle of a chilly winter fast encroaching, and more importantly the big municipal strike they were experiencing over there! Anyway, we all squeezed in around a long table in the shaded outside court out back, and got to grips with plenty of small talk and jokes, before the whole Guess who Gave you What aspect of the Secret Santa fun. As it turned out, I was completely stumped by the gift that I received, a selection of exotic Camelthorn beers, and after running out of guesses, it was revealed that Zac had been my [...]
I was quite surprised to haul these out of the cupboard on Friday morning, in the midst of my desperate scrabbling around to try and find some half decent looking clothes which would fit the bill for the upcoming afternoon Touchwork lunch function. The dress code was smart casual, which should normally not be a problem for a man in his early 30′s, but which actually does happen to be a problem for Craig, who has long since become far too big for the paltry collection of work shirts who sullenly inhabit a dark corner of his little clothes cupboard, never mind the forlorn chinos sitting on the side of the aforementioned space. All of which means that thank goodness I do actually own a pair of jeans that currently fit me, and for now, if I close my eyes I can imagine a collared golf t-shirt as being sort of ‘smart’. And seeing as underwear and socks go hidden, it really was only the shoes that were bothering me, considering the fact that my de facto shoes that I have access to at the moment happen to be a pair of white running shoes or my old smelly slippers, i.e. not exactly smart casual stuff. So you can well imagine my sigh of relief and glimmer of joy when I made this discovery in the bottom of my clothing space, and then of course the grin when I had to promptly use my socks to take off a layer [...]
At last, I have a respite in my daily grind of that horrible commute that sucks up two hours of my life each and every day, with the hour to Westlake via Baden Powell drive in the morning and then the hour back to Gordon’s Bay via Baden Powell in the evening. I don’t enjoy the commute, despite the scenic route, and it was starting to get to me. I’m tired from the early morning starts, my fuel bill is too high, my poor car is clocking on the kilometers at a far faster rate than what I’m comfortable with, and my evenings are far shorter than what they should be! I brought this up with Rudi the other morning just as an aside as we were chatting downstairs during one of our regular, informal SurveyThumb meetings which happens before the rest of the horde arrives at work. Out of the blue, he suggested that I start working a couple of days from home during the week then, and after a little deliberation, I put forward that Tuesdays and Thursdays would be most fair and cause the least disruption in the office. From there it was straight onto the e-mail draft in order to highlight my motivations to Simon for the final go ahead, and seeing that there aren’t really any juniors left for me to mentor in the office any more, and the fact that I’m working completely isolated on a standalone project, the request was given the okay [...]
Whilst I’m still barred from blogging regarding my work here at Touchwork, I always enjoy mentioning the few times we get to let down our hair and enjoy ourselves, like last Friday’s first Touchwork team lunch since the sales and marketing division joined, coupled with a clever little team-building session thought up by Rory and Robyn who had been tasked with organizing the whole event. Having navigated through the morning’s various disasters (things always seem to go wrong on days when you plan not to be in the office!), the team eventually left around 12:00 and made their way through Constantia to the renowned Groot Constantia Wine Estate, where we successfully located our target of the Jonkershuis Constantia Eatery. We had booked out one of the entertainment/conference rooms in the old classic Cape Dutch style farm buildings, with a huge roaring fire to ensure it remained cosy and four tables arranged in a square so that we could all be seated facing one another. A seating plan had already been drawn up in order to split the divisions and the four at each table then automatically became a team for the upcoming team-build events. As it turned out, I was placed in a team with John (marketing manager), Disha (QA tester) and Theo (sales guy). After an introductory talk from Rory, the teams leapt straight into battle over 30 Seconds, with two teams featuring Sven and Rudi quickly proving to be the top dogs in that arena, whilst Rory’s troops [...]
Last Tuesday marked the start of the three month long stint where every week on a Tuesday I will be working from home in order to look after Jessica until the Day Care Centre we enrolled her in can eventually accommodate her come July.
Craig Lotter is an established web developer and application programmer, with strong creative urges (which keep bursting out at the most inopportune moments) and a seemingly insatiable need to love all things animated. Living in the beautiful coastal town of Gordon's Bay in South Africa, he games, develops, takes in animated fare, trains under whichever martial arts dojo is closest at the time, and for the most part, simply enjoys life with his amazing wife and daughter.
Oh, and he draws ever now and then too.
This is a collection of things that he has managed to find the time to scribble down since 2007.
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