1530 Dekalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA
Let’s end the spring with some food, drinks and conversation at Radial Café.
Ample parking, easy access to MARTA from Edgewood-Candler Park station, and half-price bottles of wine on Thursday.
See you there!
As the readers know – I do vent from time to time up here.
Business is a tricky thing. I’m not that great at it. For a while I ran the business with less worry on income and more on “doing good things”. As in money wasn’t the primary motivation. That changed two years ago through one particularly nasty stint where I found I needed to “eat” and do things like “sleep”. So I took a bit more of a smarter thought process to work and wrote some business practices down, stabilized my hourly rate, and got incredible consistent with estimates. I can’t do good things if I’m broke.
It’s helped. Immensely. Plus I felt at that point I was becoming more reliable as an entity. If you need something I can do THIS THING HERE and NOT THIS THING OVER HERE. That’s why I have business associates. I will pass you along if I can’t do the work.
Yesterday I spent half the day invoicing people. I have a time sheet – and somehow I had managed to delete one column of data from it. I spent a great deal of time fixing that column yesterday so I could get paid. Truth be told the client came out on the better end of things. I sent the invoice and we discussed a few charges. I shuffled time around and ended up dropping one charge I couldn’t adequately figure out what had happened. I had written it down – then deleted it in the “great Timesheet Debacle of May”. Yeah I know – One man company. How much was the charge? $50. I know. I know.
Earlier this week I ended up sending what amounted to a third invoice to some folks who had taken a class from me. They promptly informed me since they were unhappy with the class they weren’t paying for it. That didn’t stop them from taking it. Just from paying. I developed an inner voice after starting business. I’ve called it everything from “Voice in my head” to “my business associate”. It can smell BS a mile off. I detected it with this group but let them take a class. Heated emails have been flying. I’m almost at the point of saying “Forget it”. Almost. Maybe we will all get calmed down and fix it. Maybe not.
I fired a client one time. We had reached an impasse and the relationship was getting toxic. Neither of us were happy so I walked away and wished them the best and made suggestions as to who could fix their problems. I had one client propose a job – I bid on it – and found out the client pulled some shenanigans with the bid and quickly found with the work. I completed it and I probably should have went “this wasn’t what I said I’d do”. Once again – bidding them a fond farewell and suggestions for moving forward.
I probably shouldn’t have done it but I told the “training folk” from above they were about to get fired as we’ve had other interactions through the years. Nothing profitable but it went back to the “Do good things” thought from above. Ultimately I’ll probably get paid BUT my interaction will cease as soon as I send that 0 balance email. The relationship is getting toxic. As I always do they will get pointed to other resources and I will wish them well. They do good things – but life is short and I have a business to run.
Wow you have a lot of unhappy clients! You must suck. Actually I have a lot of happy clients. Forestry, Utility, Planning, etc…….The majority of people I work with actually have a good experience. I would say great but I am not one to go “I AM AWESOME”. I’m not – I’m just good at what I do or at least I try to be. How do I know I’m good? Because I know when I haven’t been and that isn’t something I attempt to repeat. Ever. The bad experiences do stick with you.
Anyway the client that has taken the QGIS workshop class and won’t pay has changed the basic way I’m doing classes. I knew at some point it would happen – someone would take a class and go “I’m not paying”. All my good GIS Friends said “Dude make them pay up front”. This was the one thing I was running loose with because I still think it’s more of an outreach than a money maker. So from here forward you’re going to have to pre-pay to take it. I’m also going to do a quick mental health check on the student. You may be thinking “what sort of person takes a class then refuses to pay”. Highly Educated ones. So if you start discussing this class going “This is beneath me but I’ll take it anyway” – guess what – No. I will forward you to some other online offerings from different people. I don’t want your money…and I like having money as it helps me eat and sleep.
I like all my clients past and present. Granted I may not understand what they do at first: “Oh that’s an Oak tree…No A Hickory….Wait….Winged Elm?!!? No….well…..you know what it is? A point on the ground right here”. The focus on data issues has helped vs “I LIKE SOFTWARE”. I like software – but it’s not something I try to force on anyone. I would prefer to spend that one extra hour discussing data and processes vs “Welp you need to buy new equipment”. Maybe they will have to – but with my current tool set anything will work for a bit – but it can be a longer conversation than “OMG you need 8 gigglebits of Ram with an upgraded zorp card for processing all the things” that we have to have before work starts.
Anyway – rambling for your Friday. Some of you may be going “OMG I’ve got Long term Gov’t contracts and million dollar things”. I know – I try. Maybe at some point. Until then – bring me your tired and your poor (but not too poor) huddled masses yearning for GIS and I will set you free….but not for free – because I need to eat and sleep.
Good People – Knock off early today. Life is short.
The too long didn’t read: North River Geographic Systems is now business partners with Fulcrum. I’m happy. Yeah – I know – that’s weird too.
So I started business something like 10 years ago as a part time “I wanna see if this can work” endeavor. I had a plan more or less – “All of my knowledge from working with the Federal Government is going to catapult me to fame and fortune”. I’ll wait here until you stop laughing. Granted there were parts that did help – but it was small bits and pieces. The first day I had left my comfy Government Job was the day I started learning.
The first thing I did was fill out all the paperwork and pay ESRI some money and I was a Business Partner. So I did everything I could do in my one man shop capacity to make that work. Just my opinion, because I’m probably breaking some sort of NDA , It didn’t work for me. It works for some – but for me not so much. So I stayed around a year longer than I should have and dropped the partnership. It’s a scary thing – you drop what is the largest commercial software firm in the universe as a partner. I don’t think anyone noticed as I kept getting emails 2 years later.
During that time period the number of companies I’m thinking “partner” start springing up. As a small business I want to expand. I want to partner. So I partner with a company and it wasn’t a good fit. I partner with another company and it almost ends up with me not being in business. I find a company and think “Maybe” only to realize I bring nothing to the table and they don’t want me. I’m learning a lot. I ended up at the point where someone would say ‘Partner’ and I would almost go NOPE before they pronounced the r. I turned into an island. I read an article a while back that pretty much put me back into the partnering mode. Your partners say a lot about your business. What makes sense for NRGS and the Partner? Where do I fit and where would they fit? Would I actually enjoy being a partner or is it a logo to stick on the website?
I became a fulcrum client a few years ago when working in the USVI . A job that was failing because of two different horrible attempts at data collection ended with Fulcrum fixing the problem we were having. Over the last three years it’s been my go to tool for mobile data collection. I enjoy using it. I like the good people at Fulcrum. For me that’s 60% of the problem on partnering. They have an awesome Product so there’s your other 40%.
My focus these days are services. I take bad data and I make it better. I help people with processes. My desktop tools of choice right now are QGIS, GDAL, GRASS, and PostGIS. I still use ESRI’s Toolset although I will try to get you to switch it up a bit. I’ve not had anything “solid” for data collection although I scream Fulcrum every chance I get. So I asked Fulcrum “what about partnering”. Yesterday I signed the paperwork and I’m a business partner with Fulcrum. They are happy – and I’m happy. We talked at length on where I can fit in…and I asked if I don’t fit please don’t do this. It’s a high point for NRGS. So:
- If you want to know more about Fulcrum and how it can work – contact me.
- If you want to leverage your existing data – Please yell..
- If you want pointers on data collection with fulcrum – I’m here.
- If you want to buy fulcrum -> http://www.fulcrumapp.com/plans/
It’s the first time I think partnering (i.e. signing paperwork) hasn’t made me sweat. I’m not being asked to push software at every breath which means I’m not a salesman. I’m still concentrating on data. I get a chance to talk to some very smart people on mobile data collection and other things. I can’t see any negatives for me at all. They may be going “if he tells the Penguin Joke one more time that’s it….”. I’m operating in less of a vacuum than before. Maybe I work Fulcrum into the QGIS Class just a bit. There will be more blog posts on Fulcrum moving forward.
It’s a good thing – and that’s a rare thing I say these days…..and – it’s not the only thing I’m about to announce either. More on that later.
I am seriously slacking on my 2016 FOSS4GNA report. Perhaps today I will get caught up.
I’ve been on conference committees before – but nothing quite this large and complicated. To be completely 100% honest I don’t deal with committee work well. Committees work at a slow steady pace and I’m more sporadic. It’s something I came to realize a few years ago and after finally “seeing the light” as it were I removed myself off every committee/board I was on. Since I was part of the group attempting to get this conference South – I was asked and I served on it. You can go the website and read about all the board members. Andrea Ross served as the producer and Rob Emanuele served as the program committee chair and Sarah Cordivano was the community chair. If you had to point at three people and go “how did this happen?” – there are your three. They did an excellent job. You can always look back and go “What would I have done differently?” and probably that answer would have been “Don’t put Randy on the committee”.
It’s a lot of work. Especially when you fight hard to get the conference into North Carolina and then the Transgender Bathroom Bill becomes a thing. If you had told me a year ago I would be concerned about who pees where I would have said you were insane. I even had to have a sit down talk with my mom who was horrified men would be in women’s bathrooms (as she put it) and So I had to paint the issue with my very wide gray brush. At the end it was “I never thought about it like that so yeah this is pretty mean spirited”.
Everyone did well – there were discussions ranging from “How do we get people there that need scholarships?” to “What do we do for Socials?” to “Do we really have to discard all these submissions – they are good submissions”.
Anyway – A summary is making the rounds on several listserves and since I said I would discuss the conference more:
- The conference ran from May 2-5, at the Raleigh Convention Center, in Raleigh North Carolina. The code sprint & unconference ran May 6 & 7 at Red Hat’s headquarters, a few blocks from the convention center. A Tour of the NCSU OSGeo Research and Education lab took place on May 6th.
- The conference featured 1 day of workshops, 3 days of sessions, a code sprint, an unconference, and social events every night. There were 93 full length (35 minute) sessions, 36 short length (15 minute) sessions, 10 workshops, and 3 keynotes. This represented an increase in full length. The rooms were generally always near full or slightly overflowing for particularly popular talks, despite them being big rooms.
- The conference grew by 33% . There were 558 attendees. This level of increase is very positive, when so many other conferences are in decline.
- Like 2015’s team, 50% of the 2016 committee were women. Also like 2015, a significant proportion of speakers and attendees were women (in the 30% range), which is great to see.
- 23 people were at the conference who wouldn’t have otherwise been without the financial support we gave them.
- From the attendee survey, people were clearly thrilled about the conference… 99% positive feedback. (n=102). The one negative response said they were disappointed there was no lunch served. We’re not sure how they missed it! The venue, the strong program, and the positive & supportive atmosphere were the things people commented (positively) on most.
- People loved the keynotes, and especially Tamar Cohen’s entitled Extreme Mapping.
- The video recordings of sessions are being uploaded to Youtube, with dozens up, and more each day.
- 90% of sponsors rated the value excellent. 10% rated it very good. The layout of the conference was especially appreciated as it meant plenty of traffic for sponsors at all times.
So there you have it – a summary by the numbers. That should gear you up for 2017 Boston .
From the firstname.lastname@example.org email list – GRASS News:
The June GRASS GIS Raleigh meetup is this Saturday, June 4. We will meet at the Hunt library at NC State Centennial Campus at 1:30 PM. You are welcome to join any time during the afternoon in the room 4502 Fishbowl. See details at
We got some work on GRASS GIS done during the two-day FOSS4G Code Sprint at the beginning of May, so we hope to continue that with your contribution. There is several things going on in GRASS GIS internationally including a new release, GRASS GIS 7.2, and Google Summer Code. We hope to contribute to this and you can do that as well, for example by testing and providing feedback. Usually, people bring to the meeting also some specific things they currently work on.
Email Vaclav Petras for more information (email@example.com)