The lasting legacy of my time at Bechtel are the many friends I made there. Unfortunately I don’t get to catch up with them very often but occasionally a chance crops up and I seize it. This week not one but two chances presented themselves. My first meeting was with Danny Jones. I worked with Danny in Kuwait in ’92. I can’t do justice to Danny’s resume and world-traveling escapades here (such as the time he was in Falujah when the bombs started dropping) but it was great to catch up with him over lunch.
My second encounter was with Tommy Bombon. I love the fact that although we have’t seen each other for a dozen years, we can pick up like it was yesterday. Tommy comes from the Philippines but has been in the Bay Area since he was 17. Back in the early 90’s Tommy spent five months at the Hammersmith office of Bechtel in London and we became good friends. Despite being separated by the Atlantic we kept in touch and saw each other regularly – usually on my business trips to San Francisco. In the mid 90’s Tommy went over to the UK with his family and I met his (then) wife and his young sons, Russel and Mike. That was (I think) the last time I saw him until this week when a chance discovery on Facebook reconnected us.
So what has this got to do with “Your New Secret”, and what is “Your New Secret”? Well…Tommy has always been interested in photography and recently formed AtomicBee Productions to showcase his work and (maybe) to start a second (or is it third?) career. Many of the videos he’s created are for the a couple of bands, the most recent being Your New Secret. The common element in those bands is the lead guitarist and lead vocalist – none other than Mike Bombon, Tommy’s son who has grown up quite a bit since I met him in London.
Putting all these things together led me last night to the pool patio of the Sofitel Redwood Shores to meet Tommy who was there filming YNS performing an acoustic set for a private party. Mike and the guys performed four songs (which I’m sure will be up on their and Tommy’s websites soon). If you can’t wait, check out my feeble attempt below (sorry for the terrible quality – this was my first attempt to use the QIK live streaming software in my iPhone).
A beautiful, warm evening under the setting California sun was finished off by a great thai meal with Tommy before I headed up to SFO for the red-eye back to Miami and home.
Thanks to Tommy, Mike and the rest of the band for a great evening. Hopefully my next trip to Santa Clara in a few weeks will give me the chance to meet Tommy’s wife Cat and daughter Sophie and to sample some wonderful Filipino home cooking.
Yesterday I managed to grab a couple of hours and headed up to San Francisco to meet the team at Xobni. Xobni (Inbox spelt backwards) is an add in for Microsoft Outlook and (according to the company web site) is “revolutionizing the way people manage email relationships.” Having used the software for nearly a year I have to agree.
I’ve been a user of Xobni since September of 2008 (version 1.4.3) when the software was – how shall we put it? – less than fully functional. The current version (1.8) is stable and feature rich, and has transformed my Outlook use.
At this point I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of a pack rat when it comes to Outlook. My general motto is “why delete it when you can file it?” This behaviour has led to a slight bloating of my PST files. When I say ‘slight’ I mean that I now have 11 PST files totalling 11.8GB containing 3,400 folders and 92,000 messages. You might think that finding messages had become somewhat of a problem; you’d be right.
Xobni installs into Outlook (2003 or 2007) and adds a new pane to the Outlook window. It indexes (in the background or at your command) all your messages and presents them instantly based on suggestions it makes or on searches you enter. It also connects to LinkedIn and Facebook to pull pictures and contact details for people you exchange emails with.
Over the last year I’ve moved from slight interest, to avid user, to beta tester to alpha tester. During that time I’ve seen the product mature rapidly, and an email relationship has blossomed with Tyler Newman. Tyler looks after QA at Xobni and is the mainstay behind the support forum. Because my usage profile is somewhat towards the outer end of the bell curve I’ve managed to push the software into areas that most people don’t and so have uncovered a few rogue bugs along the way. Tyler’s done a great job solving the problems and working back through the development team.
I won’t go through all the features and functions of Xobni in this post, but suffice to say I have instant access to all 92,000 emails. It is now trivially easy to find any message, conversation or file – literally in seconds. Many of us spend much, if not most, of our working days in Outlook. Xobni has had a huge positive impact on my productivity, eliminating hours and hours of time spent searching for those long, lost emails.
Thanks to all the folks I met at Xobni for making me welcome. Keep up the great work. Xobni Rules!!
Yesterday I took the Political Spectrum Quiz that popped up in my Facebook feed from a friend. After answering fifty or so questions the app puts you on a two-by-two matrix with left-right and authoritarian-libertarian axes. This is where I came out:
I wasn’t surprised by where I ended up on the matrix. What did surprise me was that the average of all the people who have taken the quiz was almost identical to my score. The results are probably highly skewed since the population answering the quiz is (I think) quite skewed, but the results reflect the population none the less.
What I found really interesting were the two graphs below. As part of the quiz people can self identify as Democrats or Republicans. My score puts me firmly in the Democrat camp and again wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was the wide scatter in the Republican chart. Thinking back to the Presidential Election I do remember some very divergent views from Republicans, and the graph below bears that out. Clearly a right-of-center message is going to resonate, but the wide left-right and up-down scatter suggests that finding a ‘message’ that resonates with the different wings of the party will continue to be very challenging, and that it is highly likely that alienation of large numbers of voters will happen if ‘hard line’ stances continue to be taken. In the UK, Tony Blair’s New Labour project redefined the Labour Party for a new era and a new set of voters. Maybe the Republicans need to do something similar? Just my 2c.
TimeScrolleris a niche app for those of us that attend conference calls across multiple timezones. It would also be useful if you need to call you granny in Australia or your friend in India and don’t want to wake them in the middle of the night.
Select as many cities as you wish and TimeScroller shows you whether it is a good time to call based on a red, yellow, green scale. You can select any local time and TimeScroller will show you the time in all the other locations.
Finally, TimeScroller can create an email with the times and locations listed. $1.99.
Tide Graph is a great app for those of us with boats in tidal waters. The single page UI is well laid out, let’s you select your location from an online database an shows tides on any date and time you want. The current version also remembers the most recent data for offline viewing. $1.99