February 15, 2007

thursday thirteen (#6)

Thirteen Cool Projects I've Worked On
  1. The B-1B Bomber
  2. The B-2 Bomber
    My first job out of college was at Boeing, running paperwork in an engineering group on the B-2 (I spent three months on the B-1B waiting for my security clearance). What a great job: I got to see everything that went into making such a complex piece of machinery from design to test to materiel to manufacturing to flight test. I never actually saw a completed B-2 in person, though I was on site when Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, visited the facility. Gotta admit he's not one of my favorite people these days.
    I was the first technical writer Geoworks hired, employee #45. There was another writer/pubs guy on staff, but he was user manuals. I was in charge of the software development kit. With a small fiefdom of tech writers at my disposal, we created over 5,000 pages of technical description and reference in about three years, across five volumes. I still have a copy of the behemoth that resulted. I actually think it was quite good for a team of college kids led by a 23-year-old.
  4. Geoworks Bindery
    My first real project as a Product Manager. This was a great idea when the World Wide Web was still wearing diapers. Back in the days before anyone realized it was possible to charge money to register domain names. Back in the days when Internet Explorer did not exist. People actually used Lynx to access world wide web sites. Back when "Cool Site of the Day" had only a few thousand to choose from. We built a content authoring tool for handheld devices. That was really fun to show off.
  5. MyTurn.com's GlobalPC
    Again, I was involved in the development kit and documentation. This was a good idea, but the execution was two years too late. If they had shipped two years earlier, or if they had switched to Linux two years earlier, they would have had a world-beater. Still, it was fun while it lasted. My favorite moment from this company was when they held a meeting after market close one day and said, "We can pay you through yesterday." They were good about letting everyone do job searches out of the offices for a couple of weeks, but it was tough on a lot of people having the funding just disappear like that.
  6. PledgePage
    This was one of the coolest things I ever worked on. It was a startup with four friends, before the internet bubble burst. We actually were featured as Red Herring's Catch of the Day on August 17, 2000. In the end, we donated the entire thing to CharityFocus. It's still going strong.
  7. The Nokia 9000 Communicator
    The first ever smart phone, I worked on (again) the development kit and documentation. I got to go to the launch at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany as my first ever overseas business trip. United lost my luggage, which meant I landed in Hannover without a coat in a snowstorm. But I got it the next day. It was an adventure trying to figure out how to dial the German hotel phone and get in touch with United. Oh, the N9000: What a cool thing. I still have one (the 9000i, which was the American version).
  8. The HP OmniGo
    This was pretty cool, too, though HP never really figured out what they were trying to do. They had their very popular handheld PC which ran DOS, and their first foray into graphical handhelds was sort of a mishmash of requirements if I recall correctly. Still, it had some very cool and innovative features.
  9. The Casio Zoomer (Z-PDA)
    This one launched Palm Computing. It was a direct competitor to Apple's Newton, and though it didn't have the "cool" factor, I think it compared favorably. The operating system was Geoworks' GEOS, and Jeff Hawkins started Palm Computing in order to create a few applications for the Zoomer. After that experience, he got the brilliant idea to make a simpler operating system to run his applications on. Thus was born what became the company that came out with the first Palm PDA, then was sold to some modem company, then was spun off again and is now the Palm we know and love today.
  10. RapidControl for Web
    I helped rebrand Rapid Logic leading up to the sale of the company to Wind River. This was another small company (I was employee #12), and I think I helped a lot. It was fun, though there were difficult times. It was a good product and, as I think back on it, a lot of good people.
  11. Vouchsafe, Inc.
    My buddy Chris and I decided to enter the Haas School of Business' inaugural Business Plan Contest in 1999. Our plan, for cross-media gift certificates (on-line and print), was a finalist in the competition. We had meetings with at least seven different venture capitalists, but again, we were slightly late to the party. Two competitors got big-time VC rounds as we were beginning to flesh out the plan, and we both decided we didn't want to play catch-up. We did have a very strong response from Nike when we met with them, but we realized we just couldn't deliver what they wanted in the time they wanted it. Ha! We had to be honest. Most real entrepreneurs would have promised anything Nike wanted and then used that to get the real venture money. What can I say? We were young and had integrity.
  12. Three novels, a buncha short stories, a one-act play, and oodles of poems
    The third novel, "Forced Air," is what I'm working on now. I actually have high hopes for it. If I ever get time away from my day job to finish the revisions, I think I have a shot at selling it.
  13. The internal pledge capture and reporting tools for Wells Fargo's charitable giving campaigns. (Sorry, no link; it's an intranet site.) This is something I'm very proud of. When I signed on in 2001, the online pledge tool served about 15,000 people. The tool I built now serves over 70,000 in the 4-week campaign period and captures over $15 million in pledges each year. That's a lot of money going to charity, and I am helping facilitate it.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Amy's Blah, Blah, Blogging said...

Those are cool projects!

Unknown said...

I wouldnt know where to even go to learn those projects..very cool list

writtenwyrdd said...

Sounds like you and my dad have worked for the same companies, doing similar work. He's a bit before your time, though, seeing as he was working on moon landers and such along with aircraft!