Tag Archives: Touchwork

Boyes Drive and a Year-end Function at Outspan in Kalk Bay (2016-12-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2018

I’ve already mentioned that last year’s Touchwork and Hypenica year end function saw the teams go tropical and enjoy a colourful Hawaiian themed get together (complete with a belly dancing routine for some or other reason) at the Monkey Valley Resort in Noordhoek.

What I hadn’t realised (thanks to a forgotten folder now found on my laptop) is that I never actually got around to mentioning what we did to celebrate the year of work in 2016 – a small oversight which I’ll now quickly rectify in order to fulfill this site’s these days mandate as being somewhat of a photo diary for my life.

In a nutshell, we celebrated a prosperous year with a pirate themed lunch at Outspan in Kalk Bay. Entertainment came in the form of a pretty good (if slightly strange) improv comedy troupe (which surprisingly included YouTube comedienne Anne Hirsch as a member), and an even better reggae playing band, while lunch revolved very much around some exceptionally good yellow fin tuna steaks.

Entertaining, tasty and an opportunity to grab some photos along Boyes Drive.  Can’t really complain about that now can I? ;)

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the Shark Spotters hut up on Boyes Drive, it’s actually one of eight such shark lookout points (scattered along the False Bay coastline) operated by the team.

This pioneering shark safety and research organisation has been operating since 2004 (it was founded in response to a spate of shark attacks happening at the time), and does fantastic work in both shark research and keeping bathers safe by providing a well run early warning system.

Shark Spotters is now the primary shark safety strategy used in Cape Town, and their well built website (complete with stats) is well worth a proper browse!

Related Link: Outspan Kalk Bay | Shark Spotters | Muizenberg | Kalk Bay

Printing Badges with Kinetica at the KZN Construction Expo in Durban (2018-02-06) My Life | Photo Gallery 03 MAR 2018

I got to enjoy one of those rare occasions that Touchwork sends me out of the office at the start of February, sending me on a trip to Durban for a meeting with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (whose guest survey system runs atop our Kinetica platform) at their head office in Pietermaritzburg.

That part of the trip went pretty smoothly mind you. I slept over at my brother Ryan’s place in order to catch an early lift to Cape Town International, where the Mango flight to Durban went well, letting me touch down in the sweat inducing humidity of Durban right on scheduled time.

Kagiso from 3T Business Fusion joined me in my little hired Kia Picanto (which isn’t really that bad of a ride – much better than the little Honda Brio that I received the last time I needed to go to Pietermaritzburg), and following a non-eventful drive along the scenic N3, we made it just in time (literally) for the meeting, which pleasingly also went rather well.

However, that was just part one of my little business trip. As things worked out, Touchwork was once again deploying its Kinetica platform as Hypenica’s expo badge registration system for their 2017 edition of the KZN Construction Expo, and seeing as I was in the area, I was asked to join the team to make sure that everything ran smoothly in terms of the badge printing process on the day.

(Not a problem, especially if you consider that the team was to be based in the fabulous Hilton Hotel for the duration of the event! In case you are wondering why, it made logistical sense – literally next door to the Durban Exhibition Centre, where the expo was being held.)

Fancy hotel stay (and dinner arrangements) aside, the expo itself went very smoothly, my Kinetica system worked a charm (as per usual), and I of course made sure to saunter off every now and then to get some much desired sightseeing whenever I got a chance, resulting in strolls around the Gugu Dlamini Park, the Warrior’s Gate M.O.T.H. shrine and military museum, and the Old Fort grounds.

Oh, and for some reason I also slotted in a quick visit to Durban’s Mini Town, but only because there wasn’t any cricket scheduled at Kingsmead right next door.

So, a successful business trip then – though I would have felt a lot better had I not forgotten my long pants back in Cape Town…

(Oh, and not having a 2 hour delay on the flight back home would have been rather nice as well.)

Related Link: KZN Construction Expo | Touchwork | Durban

Touchwork and Hypenica Year End Function at Monkey Valley Resort in Noordhoek (2017-12-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 FEB 2018

At the end of 2016 Hypenica and Touchwork capped a good year off with a fun staff function at the Outspan seafood restaurant in Kalk Bay – complete with a reggae band and Anne Hirsch’s improv troupe in tow. However, given that the venue was a little on the cramped side, 2017 saw our annual year-end staff function moved to Noordhoek’s rather pleasant Monkey Valley Resort.

If you are not familiar with Monkey Valley Resort (which has been a staple of the Noordhoek tourism scene for years), in essence it is this sprawling, surrounded by trees, wood-built beach nature resort that lies above Noordhoek Beach, offering accommodation, conference facilities and a pretty nice restaurant – not to mention its role as a rather popular Capetonian wedding venue!

In terms of our strangely Hawaiian themed staff function, the beer was flowing, the braai on the go, marimba was played, belly dancing was watched (?), and the pool utilized – in other words, a pretty good way to spend a perfect Summer’s day celebrating the year’s successes.

Monkey Valley Resort is a particularly relaxing space, and if you haven’t visited it before, you should probably consider a visit to Thorfynns Restaurant as an excuse to dip your toe into its tranquil vibe.

P.S. The walk down to the beach is a lot longer than what it looks from the deck.

Related Link: Monkey Valley Resort | Noordhoek | Cape Town

USA 2016 – 12 Touchwork at NACUFS 2016 in the Anaheim Convention Center (2016-07-14) My Life | Photo Gallery 15 JAN 2018

Despite having started off my first ever trip to the USA with some serious Disneyland tourist action, I was of course in Anaheim, California for work purposes – specifically to help man the Touchwork booth at NACUFS IDEA ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS, otherwise known as the National Association of College & University Food Services.

In case you are wondering the connection, Touchwork’s main business focus is providing a platform and solutions in the CX (Customer Experience) space, something we’ve historically enjoyed great success in implementing in the USA university dining services sector. (Our biggest market by far).

Our USA office, led up by Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, routinely hits the dining services conference circuit in order to cement existing relationships and turn up a few more opportunities in the university space, with Touchwork SA occasionally sending someone (i.e. me this time around) up for the experience.

Of course, this then meant finding a shirt and ironing it first (as a mostly work from home software developer, shirts aren’t something I actually own), before making my way to the Anaheim Convention Center in order to help set up our booth, grab a coffee, and then spend the rest of the day standing around and speaking to anyone who shows even the slightest glimmer of interest in what we have to offer.

Surprisingly, it went pretty well, and I pulled in some nice leads for the team, so come close of day I ended up being rather chuffed with myself (I’m not known for being a people person).

This went on for two days, the length of the showcase/exhibition part of the NACUFS IDEA ’16 conference (which itself ran for about four days).

It wasn’t all work though. The first evening we attended the NACUFS event party, catching the finals of the NACUFS Culinary Challenge, essentially a live Chef food preparation battle as what you would see on DSTV’s Food Network channel or something like that.

Asking the question, it turns out that dining services are in fact big business for American universities. A lot of prestige can be found in this function, hence the focus on profession chefs, and quite often this service is used as a class differentiation between institutions!

(Who knew that someone might actually pick a university based entirely on what food it has on offer!)

We also ended up bumping into one of our very good clients at that same party, and as such decided to leave the bustle behind and head out for a quiet supper with them instead – ending up at a particularly brilliant/upmarket steak place (Ruth’s Chris Steak House) where I ate what was probably the best steak of my life. (Mind you, the wine and conversation were just as good!)

On that note, the second evening after work wasn’t bad either – Carl and Johann decided that catching a baseball game was very much something that I as a first time USA visitor needed to do, a sentiment which I (who played baseball as a kid) most heartily agreed with!

Pictures of that particular outing a little later, I assure you.

So. NACUFS IDEA ’16 appears to have been a decent success, but more specifically for me, was a great opportunity to see how Touchwork utilizes and sells my software on that side of the world, the end result being me given a much clearer idea of what software development our US office needs going forward.

Still, given the amount of tourist things I did along the way sure makes it difficult to think of #USA2016 as a pure business trip! ;)

Related Link: NACUFS IDEA ’16 | NACUFS | Touchwork | #USA2016

USA 2016: An Expo under the Hot Californian Sun My Life 22 NOV 2016

I lucked out a bit this year. Touchwork does a lot of its business in the United States in the University realm, and as such, tends to be quite visible on the relevant expo circuits. Occasionally the boss sends a team member up to join our American team for at least one of these expo appearances a year – basically whenever we get the funding from the DTI to do so.

Now normally this perk falls to our COO and customer liaison Rory Florence, but this year  (much to his chagrin) he couldn’t go – which then meant that as the next longest standing member of current Touchwork SA team, I got asked if I wanted to go.

Hell yes, USA here I come! :)

dav

So this all happened in July this year. I left for the USA on the 11th and arrived back in South Africa on the 22nd of July, making for a whirlwind trip of around 10 days.

Of course, technically this was a business trip, but in essence it was only business for about 2 of the days (and even those two days were peppered with touristy things) – the rest were all proper sightseeing days, made all the more enjoyable thanks to my brilliant Touchwork USA hosts Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, who literally went out of their way to show off their part of the magnificent piece of paradise that is California to this USA (and travel for that matter) newbie!

The expo that we were exhibiting at was NACUFS Idea ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services), held at the the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

bty

Anaheim, other than being the base of the Mighty Ducks, is of course most famous for being the home of Disneyland, Disney’s landmark first ever theme park that opened way back in 1955! Following that, I would then travel with Johann to his home base of San Diego (home of Comic Con and of the world famous San Diego Zoo!), for a couple of tourist days there, before heading back out the same way I came in – i.e. via Emirates through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, Los Angeles!

So, not a bad destination for only my second ever trip overseas eh? (The first being of course that amazing trip to Japan that my brother Ryan and I embarked on in 2014. At this rate, Chantelle is just about ready to murder me with jealousy! :P)

yclists-on-the-bicycle-path-at-venice-beach-in-los-angeles-california

Right. I’ve got an amazing 23 or so photo galleries to sort through, post and write about, so plenty of USA 2016 content coming up in the pages of An Exploring South African over the next little while then!

Kinetica at the Cape Construction Expo (2015-08-12) Photo Gallery 09 MAY 2016

August 2015 saw Touchwork’s sister company Hypenica run their successful Cape Construction Expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre(As you may have guessed by the date, this continues the trend of me finally getting around to publishing articles that have sat gathering dust in my Drafts folder for far too long now…)

IMG_20150812_130246 red human sculpture outside the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

By this stage the usage of Kinetica (my rather flexible feedback gathering solution) as a visitor, exhibitor and delegate registration and badge print system was quite well established, meaning that unlike the Sandton trip, I didn’t have to tag along to offer front line technical assistance for the show.

IMG_20150812_114330 hypenica cape construction expo at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Rudi suggested that I come through and have a look anyway, which I eagerly agreed to (the prospect of not spending the day behind the keyboard is always a nice one – plus, I hadn’t ever been to the CTICC before, so this was as good an opportunity as any).

IMG_20150812_125549 kinetica registration system at cape construction expo 2015 at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Pleasingly, my system was running smoothly, and badge registration/redemption was quick and efficient, drawing lots of compliments from all quarters. (It was particularly satisfying, because right next door, Spar was doing a trade show with their suppliers, and their registration/badge process was this horribly slow, paper-based solution).

IMG_20150812_123642 makerbot at cape construction expo 2015 at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Some of the exhibits on the floor was pretty interesting, particularly the varied 3D printing solutions on show. (Surprisingly, there was even a MakerBot exhibit of all things!)

Behind the scenes things seemed as hectic as always, meaning that I was more than pleased to just be wandering around as a visitor instead of doing actual work like the rest of my frantic Hypenica colleagues!

All in all though, the expo was a big success – which is probably why this year’s version is already penciled in to be an even bigger and better affair.

Related Link: Cape Construction Expo | Cape Town International Convention Centre

Construction Expos, Sandton and Hypenica (2015-05-11) My Life 08 MAY 2016

(NOTE: Oh dear. This post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a year now. I wrote it up at the end of May 2015, but never got around to finishing it off. Now, a year later, my birthday is literally around the corner again, and more importantly, the 2016 version of the Expo is about to kick off on Monday. And yes, Kinetica is again being used to manage the badge print process in case you’re wondering. Right, time to get it out of my Drafts folder then…)

Luckily Chantelle and I celebrated my birthday the weekend before with a fabulous weekend away of wine and activities in Franschhoek, because come the Monday of my birthday (11 May 2015), I was on the plane and off to Johannesburg for work!

walking to sandton convention centre

Hypenica, the sister company to which Touchwork (whom I work for) is a technology partner to, is an events and media (Concrete.tv, Cape Business News) company, focused in particular on the construction and infrastructure business sectors.

The week of the 10-16 May 2015 was a big one for them, with four distinct operations simultaneously taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre to make up their Concrete Week and African Construction Week events.

sandton convention centre signage

These four operations included:

  • The Coatings for Africa Symposium and Expo is the only dedicated coatings event focused on providing proactive strategies for improving the use and understanding of coatings technologies and emerging trends in the industry.
  • House for African Conference and Expo: With the continent now experiencing the world’s fastest economic growth and highest urbanisation rate, this much needed forum will highlight the latest technologies, thinking, approaches and strategies in construction to build and meet the demand for housing in Africa.
  • African Construction Expo is a one-stop-shop to showcase, experience and learn about the latest building and construction methods, products, tools and technologies in just three days.
  • The Totally Concrete Conference and Expo is the definitive African educational and networking platform for insights into the latest developments and technologies associated with the concrete and construction industry.

hypenica expo signage african construction week, coatings for africa

The reason that I got roped into all of this was because my boss Rudi Leitner thought it a good idea to test the waters and use Kinetica (formerly SurveyThumb), my multi-purpose, highly configurable feedback system as a exhibitor, visitor tracking and badge printing solution for the events – and so as first line system support and in order to get a better feel for what exactly was needed down on the ground for the expo environment going forward, I was plonked on a Kulula.com plane and sent off to Sandton, “the richest square mile in Africa”!

kulula.com boeing 737 from cape town to johannesburg

The flight was uneventful (bit of a bumpy landing though) and once safely back on the ground, luggage in hand and lost in O.R. Tambo International Airport, I followed the signs and made my way through the big space to at last locate the Gautrain ticket office/station.

gautrain high speed train 2

For R283 I bought a card with a Sandton return journey ticket loaded, and was almost immediately whisked away by a fast, clean and most importantly, efficient train (so, so much nicer than the general public trains that Metrorail employs back in Cape Town) – with the journey to Sandton Station taking literally only fifteen minutes to achieve!

No traffic, no waiting, no fuss. In other words, definitely worth the ticket price then!

gautrain high speed train 1

As for accommodation, I was booked a room in Tsogo Sun’s Garden Court Sandton City hotel, which is conveniently right next to the Convention Centre! (Meaning that for my short stay in Johannesburg I literally needed no transport other than the train between Sandton and the airport!)

Although the hotel passages are pretty dour and boring (as with any hotel I suppose), I was genuinely pleased with my room (216 for future reference) – it was spacious, comfortable and had a nice little work area too. The onsite restaurant, Riffs, is also pretty decent (I enjoyed a nice birthday steak there with the boss), as was the breakfast area (not that I got to use that very often mind you!).

So all good and efficient on that front then.

Garden Court Sandton City Tsogo Sun room 216

Now for the actual event itself. Hypenica pretty much had the run of the entire convention centre, taking up all the floors with the various functions and expos. I was of course involved with the registration/badge printing operations, which were situated on the 5th floor for the Coatings for Africa expo, and on the 1st floor for the Totally Concrete, African Construction Expo.

New to the game, I was amazed at the huge amount of behind the scenes work, logistics and client managing that has to happen in order to make these sort of events work, and to be quite honest a little out of my depth. However, my system worked brilliantly well, with us receiving a lot of positive comments around the speedy badge print and collection system.

In total, I was there for about three days, wandering around, assisting in setup/breakdown, manning badge stations, and tweaking the system on the fly.

On the whole, my system was a success, all of Hypenica’s events were a success, and I managed to navigate myself from Cape Town to Johannesburg, use the Gautrain and find the Sandton Convention Centre without getting lost – which in itself is a success. Plus, I also did that whole navigating thing in reverse to reach home all safe and sound.

So yeah, I kind of enjoyed the outing.

(I will however completely omit the fact that one evening I went out for a late night stroll and managed to get lost in one of Sandton’s trendy shopping malls – seriously, I could not find the exit. It literally took me an hour to try and find a way out and then find my hotel again. And this was literally just down the street…)

Related Link: African Construction Expo | Touchwork | Hypenica

Meeting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in Pietermaritzburg (2016-04-12) Photo Gallery 08 MAY 2016

We’re currently working on implementing my Kinetica feedback system for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (we’ve have been running SANParks on one of my systems for years now), and they needed a technical lead at the project initiation meeting – which naturally meant that I got to pack my laptop and join our sales lead Athi Myoli on a trip through to their Pietermaritzburg stronghold for the engagement.

Touchwork VERY seldom ever needs me to go out on business trips, in fact, up until April this year (seven and a half years in) I’ve only ever been to a handful of trips to Distell in Stellenbosch and two outside of the Western Cape (both to Johannesburg now that I think about it).

In other words, I genuinely was looking forward to the outing!

IMG_20160412_1 Cape Town International Airport early in the morning

The cheapest tickets are of course the earliest, which meant that just after 05:00 on Tuesday morning, I found myself milling about Cape Town International waiting on our Flysafair plane that would shortly be winging us to Durban.

Despite the relatively full airplane, I struck it lucky and got an aisle seat with no one directly next to me, meaning that I had ample amount of space on either side of me. Combine that with Flysafair’s slimline seats, and I enjoyed quite the comfortable flight.

(Though I do feel a little sorry for the lady and her baby sitting at the window seat of our three seat row – I still get quite excited by the prospect of flying, meaning that I’m forever straining to look out the window at all the sights!)

IMG_20160412_2 Landing at King Shaka International Airport in Durban via a pink and white Flysafair boeing

We landed at King Shaka International to a sunny and warm Durban without incident, where next we headed off to pick up our rented car – only to discover that Meghan hadn’t actually organised it yet! Luckily, sorting it out didn’t take long, and pretty soon we were taking possession of our good looking, blue Honda Brio.

As you might gather from the above sentence, I actually quite like the styling on the plucky little Honda, with the cabin being surprisingly spacious and the car pretty easy to drive. However, that said, the Brio is absolutely useless on the highway – it literally has no power whatsoever!

IMG_20160412_3 Hiring a Honda Brio car rental at King Shaka International airport durban

The drive through to Pietermaritzburg from Durban remains a beautiful, lush affair, and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenic trip – even without the ability to actually overtake anyone on the road. Google Maps handled all of the navigation, and outside of one small incident at the start where I changed lanes without spotting a Land Rover bearing down on me, the drive was pretty uneventful.

We did however hit a snag once we finally made it to the leafy entrance of Ezemvelo’s offices – we were a good two hours too early!

IMG_20160412_5 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife headquarters in pietermaritzburg

Luckily for us though, the nearby Victoria Country Club, usually only open to golf club members, took pity on these two unusually on time Capetonians and allowed us to sit and enjoy breakfast in the otherwise deserted restaurant – somewhat of a treat when you consider the jaw dropping scenic beauty that the 120+ year old country club’s balcony tables deliver!

IMG_20160412_9 View from the restaurant at Victoria Country Club in Pietermaritzburg

Plus, breakfast was particularly delicious.

IMG_20160412_10 Athi Myoli eating breakfast at the restaurant at Victoria Country Club in Pietermaritzburg

Now thoroughly sated and relaxed, we returned to the leafy gates of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (situated in the Queen Elizabeth Park nature reserve) where the meeting went well and the day therefore a success.

With time to kill before we needed to be back in Durban for our evening flight back home, I convinced Athi that we simply HAD to go to the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden, which she reluctantly agreed to despite her high heel shoes.

Following a brilliant stroll through some beautiful and exotic gardens (which I’ve already documented in the link above), we left the sadly slightly rundown Pietermaritzburg and made the long scenic drive back to Durban – though this time around it was a lot more excruciating thanks to the peak hour traffic we were caught up in!

IMG_20160412_15 Cattle sculpture Outside King Shaka International Airport in Durban

After some beer and ice cream at King Shaka Airport’s Spur franchise of all places, we accidentally nearly missed checking in for our flight, but following that everything ran smoothly as we returned safely to the arms of the Mother City.

(Pleasingly, my leg held up nicely for the full day of sitting, flying and walking about, though Athi did complain that it was like strolling around with an old man the entire day. I on the other hand complained non stop about the humidity and heat that is Durban/Pietermaritzburg.)

Sadly, due to misunderstanding how the Huawei P8 stores photos when launching the camera directly from the lock screen, I lost a lot of photos taken on the day, so there goes that. Luckily for me though, these few were posted to Facebook (thankfull, I’m pretty good with that), so something was at least salvaged for you to see:

(Note. All of this now reminds me that I still have a year old post regarding to last year’s trip to Sandton sitting in my Drafts folder! Guess I should actually get around to publishing that one day as well…)

Related Link: Touchwork | Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

In Need of Some Balance My Life 22 MAY 2015

The nice thing about living in Gordon’s Bay is that when you need to take a bit of a break and get some fresh air… well then this is pretty much on your doorstep:

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 1

I needed that little lunch time stroll along Gordon’s Bay’s main beach mind you – the last three weeks or so have been completely unbalanced in terms of work and life in general.

I’ve pretty much worked each and every evening for the past three weeks, the first week trying to wrap up everything required from my system for the then upcoming African Construction Week shows, followed by work from my hotel room in Sandton in support for the actual duration of the expos, and then this week working in the evenings to make up for time lost while babysitting a sick Emily at home.

And the days haven’t been much better.

That first week it was foot on the coding pedal (which as I just mentioned, continued well into the evenings), the second week was spent flying up to Johannesburg (on my birthday!) to work at the convention center as an IT support, badge printing, customer service guy behind the badge pickup counter (followed by evening coding work to tweak the system to better work the next day), and now this week much of the daylight has been spent helping look after a sick Emily (Rotavirus, no fun) who obviously couldn’t be sent to playschool.

The weekends in between have of course been a mixed bag, the first being a splendid birthday weekend away for Chantelle and myself in Franschhoek (with the kids staying over at Oupa and Ouma – where naturally, Emily decided to start officially walking whilst we weren’t looking!), while the next was spent looking after Jessica and shuttling to and from the hospital to visit Chantelle and Emily during Emily’s stay there.

a walk along gordon's bay main beach in May 3

So needless to say, my life is more than just a little out of balance at the moment. My eating is not great, my getting fresh air and doing some exercise non existent, and I’ve been working far too long hours and spending less time with my wife and kids than what I should be doing.

So yeah, you could say I’m kind of feeling the need for a little balance and sunlight right about now.

Luckily all the urgent work things appear to be handled for now, Emily and Jessica are both healthy (for now), and I have a private flight over Strand/Gordon’s Bay (weather permitting) to look forward (make that VERY forward) to tomorrow.

So maybe, just maybe, next week is going to be the start of life at a little slower pace…