Week #421

Friday, March 8th, 02019 at 11:11 UTC

It is the start of March, so that means a bunch of surveys ending and a bunch more starting. This time of year we are sending out surveys for kindergarten and compulsory school parents and staff (one each month in feb and March.) in February we sent out around 7000+ SMS messages to get parents to participate. As always, it is stressful to hit send and wait for people to start taking the surveys. Unlike our email reminders, SMSes are much more of an immediate interruption. People check email when they want to, SMSes arrived when they are sent. March will be no different. We will send a first round email, then in a week or so, a follow-up SMS. In the meantime, we’ll calculate all the results from feb and get them to their rightful owners. 

We are also starting a brand new type of survey. For many, many years we’ve offered staff surveys for compulsory schools and kindergartens. We’ve taken all that knowledge and some additional research and created a more general staff survey. This is our first trial year and we have 3 municipalities on board. So this week has been mostly fixing all the edge-case bugs.

We take anonymity very seriously, and in this survey we know what department you are in. We need this to create departmental reports. Small departments all get rolled together as to not undermine any anonymity. But we continue to find other issues. Since we are asking you about your next inline boss, people in departments could be deanonymized with those two pieces of informations. (If you’re the boss of the department, you are the only one with a different boss than everyone else.) So we continue to take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen. Which means more code to check group-sizes and erase some data which could be contentious. Things are looking good and as we import participant lists, we’ll continue to check.

In the midst of all the craziness of finishing surveys, starting new ones and creating a whole new survey type, we continue to get random requests from other clients. They certainly mean well, but when they ask, “Can it be done by Monday”, what can you say? We’ve always been helpful when a customer needs something and we try to accommodate, but all that helpfulness burns you sometimes when you are busy and can’t help when they expect it. So we explained the situation and said it wouldn’t be possible. (Truthfully, the amount of work needed probably wouldn’t be able to be finished even if we had nothing else todo). But customers being customers are desperate to get it done, with or without you. So they ask if they can do the data-entry themselves. It all reminds me of the old adage about pricing:

$100 an hour for me to build it
$150 an hour for you to watch
$300 an hour for you to help

We did get some amazing news this week. We managed to get a spot later this year for one team member on a new project. So that frees-up a bunch of resources for the end of 02019 and going forward.


We have started a new iOS project, currently codenamed BWR. It isn’t top secret. We all read a lot of newsletters and we looked around for some newsletter reading apps. There are several, but they all hinge around using their email address to capture your newsletters. They sell it as a way to stop spam and the selling of your personal email. Both are valid points, but you can just see in their apps the thin veneer of their business plans “If you like this newsletter, you’ll love this one”. Where they spam you and try to upset, (maybe literally charge you) on other newsletters.

Email is great! It is one of the long lasting technologies that is federated. We wanted an app that could create nested email groups, like an RSS reader, but for newsletters. So we set out to build one! This is to scratch our own itch, but we’ll eventually release it to the world. There are a lot of things to consider and we’ll go more into detail on those at a later time. Needless to say, we cobbled together a really good working prototype this week from a lot of old code from other iOS projects.

BWR is the codename based on the old joke, “What’s Black, White and Red all over?” Give up? “Newspapers”. (It really only works when spoken because of Red and Read being homophones).