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Friday, May 30, 2008

Seattle Mass Transit Blackhole

I am a Seattle newbie, via Washington DC for five years, from Wisconsin originally. Over the past two months I've both experience and received various opinions about the Seattle mass transit "system" or lack there of. I emphasize "system" for a reason. From wikipedia a system is "is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole." I have yet to see any indication of this in the greater Seattle area aside from buses; which I want to point out, I don't consider a viable mass transit system since:

1. Routes are limited and transferring is a timely pain.
2. They share and add to traffic congestion.
3. Have a limited capacity load much smaller than other mass transit systems

The Seattle Streetcar, SLUT as its known locally, around the South Union lake area isn't an suitable mass transit system as its confined to a relatively small area and if expanded would again add to street level congestion and headaches.

What I'm talking about is suitable rail system similar to those in D.C., NY, and Boston among other large cities. The need here in Seattle is arguably even greater for such a rail system given the bottleneck bridges crossing Lake Washington and that growth is limited in the downtown area and will continue to spread to the other side of the lake.

Ideal solution: An underground metro rail from Seatac airport up through downtown Seattle with east/west routes popping up to cross Lake Washington along the 520 and I-90 briges and connecting again North to South on the Bellevue side. You'll see a crude white path here.

Seattle is not the only West Coast city facing this challenge. Recently, Steve Hymon of the Los Angles times wrote an article about similar traffic and transit problems there. He even cited Seattle resident, Edward Martin's Youtube video and commentary on the Seattle Transit's inability to time traffic lights correctly adding to increased congestion.

I'm not saying that planning and funding a project of this scale is easy or inexpensive but with oil hitting all time highs, congestion a constant problem for commuters, and the green environment movement taking center stage again, I was/am disappointed that the greater Seattle area has not taken real positive steps solving these problems for the generations who want to live and work here for decades to come not to downplay the environment as well.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Applicant Tracking Solution

I put together a crude demo of some of Catch the Best's on demand applicant tracking solution's features and functionalities. Applicant Tracking System and Resume Management

Friday, May 16, 2008

Applicant Tracking Tool for Hiring Managers

Problem: You're a hiring manager, not a professional recruiter, who needs hire the best candidate quickly while still doing your day job. Quickly, your email inbox fills with resumes, you forward them on to other decision team members for feedback. Some respond quickly, others more slowly. Meanwhile, you are trying to keep track of peoples thoughts on each candidate while still more resumes and follow-ups are filling your inbox. All you need is a thumbs up or thumbs down from your team on each candidate and some rational as to why. Now, some additional supporting documents have arrived from a number of candidates so you forward them on as well. These docs change some team member's opinions but you're beginning to lose track of who said what and about who, after all, this is not your day job but hiring the right person is critical to your teams future.

It was this problem the founder of CatchTheBest had as a development team lead trying to hire the best candidates for his team. Obviously not his primary responsibility but a critical component none the less. His solution was to develop an easy, one-stop web application where he and his team could share candidate information, documents, and feedback efficiently without filing up their inboxes. Essentially a lightweight, on demand applicant tracking system. They needed to go about their day jobs but feel confident they were communicating effectively about hiring the right person.

The value is time, the savings are immeasurable once you've found the right person. The lesson is don't let them slip through the cracks because of collaboration difficulties because now you don't need to. CatchTheBest has four subscription plans with a Free subscription as one of them so why not try it if you can relate.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Docverse and Collaboration

There is always a need for greater collaboration within businesses. Today, that need is greater than ever as older standard software tools such as Microsoft Office meet the newer user-driven, social collaboration trends we've all experienced with the web 2.0 paradigm shift. Our jobs increasingly on this collaboration with others only now, the tools which have become standard in our lives weren't developed to meet the sharing ease experienced in newer social platforms in our personal lives.

There are a lot of good ideas in the world, but the ones that succeed in creating a business around solve real, practical problems. This is when I came across DocVerse and had a chance to speak with one of the founders Shan Sinha. DocVerse is in private beta but aims to solve these collaboration problems between Office products by enabling the storing and exchanging all types of documents painless and easy.

We can't keep clogging our email inboxes with version 1,2,3,4...... of a document. Hopefully DocVerse will change this.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ontela, The Last Mobile Mile?

I met Mike Arcuri, VP Product Management, of Ontela the other day which convinced me they are really on to something there. Take a use case from my own book. I have a Blackberry Pearl which I love. I bought it because I can do everything I need to do all wrapped up in little package I can fit in my pocket. My sister and I were taking a ferry ride the other day and she asked if I wanted a picture of me with the Seattle skyline in the background. I said sure and handed her my Blackberry which, with its decent camera, doubles as my only camera.

This is the world we live in. The only quirk I've found in the past is that I 'dislike' Blackberry's software. To transfer my pics to my pc I have to go through a variety of multiple steps. It is this "last mile" of photo transfer and organization where Ontela PicDeck technology comes in for me a consumer. There are a plethora of business opportunities for carries that opens up a world of new revenue generating opportunities with its robust and reliable technology that seamlessly brings together a user’s mobile device, PC, and favorite online image services.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Forrester: Enterprise Mashups to Hit $700 Million by 2013

Even though I left JackBe awhile back, I still follow the Mashup space. I was pleased to read this report from Forrester on the state of the Enterprise Mashup market. This market is fundamentally different from the Google Map mashups many think of when they hear the term. At a basic level, Enterprise Mashups provide a new, more user-driven integration capabilities of enterprise services behind the firewall. From a business perspective, this has great potential to optimize internal processes and work flow while leveraging and realizing greater returns investments in SOA and other web services. They provide enterprise business units to create governed situational applications to react more quickly to changing needs without having to rely on IT to do the heavy lifting.

I still believe true enterprise adoption will take some time, but if this report is any validation, there is a bright future for enterprise mashups and companies like JackBe.

From ReadWriteWeb:

"A new report from Forrester Research predicts that mashups will be coming to the enterprise in a big way -- to the tune of a $700 million market by 2013. Mashup platforms that make it easier for consumer to create mashup applications, such as Yahoo! Pipes, Dapper, or Microsoft Popfly, are beginning to have analogues in the enterprise space. "Mashup platforms are in the pole position and ready to grab the lion's share of the market -- and an entire ecosystem of mashup technology and data providers is emerging to complement those platforms," says Forrester analyst G. Oliver Young.

Forrester defines mashups as "custom applications that combine multiple, disparate data sources into something new and unique." Starting in 2005, says the report, with the proliferation of free APIs, mashups came to the web in a big way, combining data and visualization tools from multiple services in meaningful and useful ways. More recently, mashup platforms have emerged that have allowed consumers with little or no development experience to create their own mashups......"

Friday, May 02, 2008


I met Ksenia, the CEO and founder of Lilipip, tonight at the DEMO Cocktail party in Seattle. I took some time to look through the beta site and have to say, I'm impressed. Lilipip sets out find the finest short kids videos from all over the planet to enjoy at home or out on-the-go. Think of it like a youtube tailored for various age bracketed kids. Its always great meeting passionate entrepreneurs and Ksenia is definitely one of them.

Interviewing Differences

I've noticed that I need to adjust my interviewing techniques to Seattle. I've been used to a more traditional interview format where a hard-nose, high-energy attitude or composure was looked on as a positive trait. Getting to know 'who you are' and whether the cultural fit is right comes later. First and foremost your ability to do the job and ability to articulate that comes first. Needless to say, I've found that to be more successful here in Seattle, I have to tone down dramatically as to not 'frighten' whoever is sitting across from me. The good part is, the result is not a fictional character but really who I am on a daily basis in and out of the work environment.

Dress: No tie, maybe a suit but a nice button-down shirt and pants are usually fine
Conversation: Relaxed, more about getting to know one another and assessing a cultural fit.

Dress: Suit, Tie
Conversation: High energy, down to business, sell yourself.

This type of information would have been useful before the fact but I found that there wasn't a good resource to compare specifics like this between two entities. I did met the founders of a company who's vision is to change this though. Diffen is a wiki powered collection of comparisons that people all over the world help write and maintain. The underlying data is user-generated to please feel free to add your own comparisons and build a much needed information source.