Blog

2012 March

Knowing When to Quit

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It’s an ongoing tradition at Volano to throw a quick game of 301 when everybody gets back from lunch. While even a rank amateur can enjoy a rousing game of darts it can become somewhat discouraging to see the trophy residing on everyone’s desk but your own. Since manual dexterity isn’t one of my prominent attributes I decided to try and find a creative way to improve my game.

Most beginners (myself included) yearn to hit the fabled Triple 20. This mark will land you more points than any other spot on the board. However, because of its relative size and position it is somewhat difficult to hit. Often I found myself missing the Triple 20 and instead landing on either 1 or 5. Those of us who can’t consistently snipe Triple 20 run the risk of hitting some of the absolute lowest possible marks on the board. Sometimes at the end of one of my more tragic games I would have an average dart score of 7-10 points. I decided to do some quick napkin math and determined that a dart thrown randomly at the board should average roughly 12-13 points. This means that aiming was actually hindering my performance.

In conclusion, I found that in order to give myself the best chance of success I needed to put forth the least amount of effort possible. While this strategy isn’t for everybody I found that it fits my mantra perfectly. I’m glad to have finally found a game that caterers to my unique outlook on sports and gaming: If at first you don’t succeed… quit.

Code, trophies, and Scott – not the toilet paper.

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code camp trophyVolano sponsored the Nebraska Code Camp Challenge this year.  I’d include a link, but you won’t find us on the sponsor page.

Nah – we’re not bitter.

With your mad coding skillz you could have earned a sweet trophy like this (and cash to boot.)  Heck, I’d say you could even include a picture of it in your list of references when looking for a new job.  You could apply at Volano!

Scott Hanselman (from Microsoft) was the keynote speaker, he was great.  Definately worth the trip just to see the keynote.  Scott did personally request that we link to him.  He’s trying to outrank Scott toilet paper.  What a valiant effort; goals are important.  I felt obliged to help him with his endeavour.  With the traffic this blog gets I’m certain he’ll attain glory very, very soon.

He had many fun quotes, here are a couple of good ones:

  • Only put energy into things that you want more of.
  • If it is not valuable, throw it out.

Grandpa Vernon said the same things when cleaning the garage.  Huh.

 

Getting Pumped

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With Memorial Day quickly approaching the Volano boys wanted to start sculpting out their pool side pecs. With the help of hundredpushups.com we have begun a six week workout regiment that will, without question, result in a team of well toned and muscular employees.

We have two basic rules during our workout: No shirts, and no complaining, although nobody seems to be paying heed to rule one.

After our first official workout we realized that we needed to break off into separate groups. The margin of fitness between most of the employees was pretty significant, in short, everybody got tired of waiting for Rod to finish his pushups.

Here’s a breakdown of what our groups look like:

Group AFitness King 

• Brandon

Group BThe Cronies 

• Shane

• David

• Derek

Group CJust Here for Show 

• Don

• Rod

I’ll be posting the results of our little foray into the world of fitness in 6 weeks at the culmination of the challenge. Feel free to place bets on who comes out on top, although with a little discretion you should already know who that will be.

I Want You to Want Volano

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I want our employees to want to come to work.

I believe you should go to work to do something you like to do. For me, coding is my hobby, is my job, is my pastime. Of course not everyone is built this way, but if you’re going to work not liking what you do – you’re not doing it right. So whether your a developer here or a receptionist, we want people that want to do what they came here to do.

I don’t want employees that show up in the morning:

  • for a paycheck
  • to punch the clock
  • because they have nothing else to do

Volano has some fundamentals that will make our company fulfilling to the right people:

  • Good Work (New Technologies, Variety of Tasks/Business Verticals)
  • Minimal Barriers (Direct Interaction with Clients, No Politics, Rod and my Full Support)
  • Fun Environment (Music, Darts, Drinks)

This all plays into our Core Values that we’ll finally be coming up with and posting. I guess after five years, we’re ready to formalize and publish what Rod and I have always believed with Volano.

I was asked to introduce myself, so here it goes…

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My name is Derek and I have been looking forward to the opportunity to come and work with the Volano team.  Although it has been just a few very short weeks since I started, I already know I am in for a challenging but rewarding journey here at Volano.  It is great to be working with a passionate team where each individual brings a strong skill set to the table.  I am definitely looking forward to strengthening my current knowledge base and diving into the new opportunities that await.

I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Peter Kiewit Institute, in December of 2008.  During the time I was finishing my undergraduate degree I had the opportunity to intern at The Gallup Organization as an applications developer.  After graduation I continued as a full time developer and is where I gained most of my application development skill set.  I have found over the course of my professional career I enjoy developing applications, however, my true passion is working with clients to understand their needs and come up with solutions that make a positive impact to their business.

In the spare time I do I have, I enjoy spending it outdoors.  Whether it is on a four wheeler, fishing, hunting, or playing ultimate Frisbee in Elmwood Park, if I can I would prefer to be
outdoors.

Microsoft Access is a like a dirt bike

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Volano is a pragmatic development group.  We are a Microsoft shop, but we are not religious about software or hardware choices. Wise technologists know that different groups have different needs at different times and have different preferences.

That being said, I recently had a client ask about the efficacy of using Microsoft Access to run a new business division for 18 months.  Here are my thoughts:

Microsoft Access has its place.  Refer to Microsoft for their thoughts.  You will note that this marketing material does not mention running your business or using Access as your software development platform. Rather, Access is for data manipulation, visualizing data on your desktop, and perhaps for sharing data with very small teams; but not much more.  Hey, I fully understand many businesses, states, and federal agencies have run 10+ years on Access.  However, it is time to relegate Access to its rightful place, and here is why…

It is better for one person than a team.

  • No intrinsic technique for deploying new versions to multiple users.
  • Source code is manifest as a single file.  It is hard to revision and share as a development team.

Not positioned for the future.

  • Access isn’t engineered for the web or the cloud.
  • From a data access technology standpoint, Access’s Jet is considered a deprecated technology.

It is not less expensive and the upgrade path is not simple.

  • Developers can use FREE enterprise toolsets:  Microsoft SQL Express and Visual Studio Express.
  • You will re-write the Access application later.  Paying twice is not less expensive.
  • The performance of Access upgraded to SQL is often worse because of the mixed database engines.

KTM 530

Bottom line – Microsoft Access is like a dirt bike; it can fun for one person that is out zipping around.  But if you’re running a business get something practical.