Archive for the ‘office’ Category

Endgame 2006

Well it’s been a crazy few weeks; the general chaos of running a startup, travel and organising STIRR Sydney. But one thing I haven’t been able to talk about was the biggest of all, Endgame 2006.

Endgame is an end of year party thrown for all the staff (both Dot and Tangler) – it’s called Endgame because I thought it deserved a better name than “The Christmas Party”.

Last year’s event was a monstrous affair: a treasure hunt style Survivor meets Amazing Race up through the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Choppers, 300m high flying fox, boats, hidden gnomes, rock walls, puzzles and tricks galore. If was a great day (and overnight stay), but left us with a tall task to beat this year.

Endgame 2006 started with yet another trick – last year we pretended to send them into the bush to play “Blue Mountains Survivor” for two days – this year I had moved on to be CEO of Tangler, and Rory had stepped in as CEO of Dot, there was some speculation from staff as to whether I would be organising the event at all. Playing on this we announced 6 months or so ago that Rory would take over organisation. Since I wasn’t involved it was to be a boring conference-style event. We knew this had gone a little far when people started talking about not attending because it sounded so boring. We had to back off a bit and hype it a little.

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So everything starts pretty normal; all the staff (excluding me, because I’ve been ‘mysteriously delayed’) were coached up to Rafferty’s Resort in Lake Macquarie about 1.5 hours north of Sydney. After eating a lovely Thai lunch they were bustled into a conference room to hear Rory give a special “announcement”. Tangler and Dot were merging, Dot was buying another company and the whole new group was being listed on the stock exchange. Oh, and the combined companies would now be known as “Big Tree”.

A shocked audience didn’t get much of a chance to take it all in. As Rory was taking questions the lights in the room suddenly went out (we’d rigged the room to be almost pitch dark) and three guys wearing balaclavas and headlights burst from the store room (we’d been hiding for an hour). Running through screams and confusion, the masked men then bagged the Rory and bustled him from the room.

As the kidnappers left, a video started playing showing a Saw-like character known as The Cloak. To get Rory back the staff needed to “play a game”. They were given 3 minutes to solve a puzzle (it’s a coded message on their conference maps) and a 3 minute timer. Ultimately though the solution leads nowhere. 30 seconds before the time is up the whole thing grinds to a halt and the FBI and I bust in to rescue everybody and explain what we really need to do to rescue Rory, and beat Cloak at his own game. And things sort of go on from there… for the whole day and into the night.

In the end we had a huge day adventuring in and around Lake Macquarie and the Wallarah National Park. Belaying people up trees, searching the coastline for clues, mountain bikes, building boats, you name it. Only dampener was (yet, again) it rained, sometimes pretty hard, but the enthusiasm as usual was amazing.

After we successfully rescued Rory we had a giant pool party (I was the first thrown in) and dinner. Cloak made a return and set everyone a final challenge and Peter Gibson ultimately won the day, for a second year running.

A pool, great food, a foosball table and copious amounts of alcohol made for a fantastic night for everybody. Towards the end I also played a Christmas video (see below) I had compiled the day before (and edited at 3am the previous night). I think I could have played just about anything and gotten a laugh, but this seemed to go down very well.

This was a tough one to organise, especially since no one could know I was involved. Couldn’t have done it without the help of my co-conspirators Ed, Rhandy, Conrad (the FBI agent) and Rory. Thanks guys. Amazing effort.

I was asked again during the night why we put so much effort into these events. The answer is always the same: cause we think people work incredibly hard, so they deserve an incredible party. And having a boring “Christmas lunch” is out of the question for such remarkable people. Now all we have to do is top it next year.

Plenty of photos up on Flickr.

[UPDATE: Chris Saad liked it enough to digg it. Feel free to add your vote. Thanks Chris]

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10 Reasons Why One Note 2007 rocks

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007Whilst I’m no Microsoft evangelist, I’ll give them credit where it’s due. Office 2007 has some issues (especially Outlook 2007 and speed) but generally it’s a major leap. What I really like though is OneNote. Here’s 10 fast reasons why:

  1. It’s fast. Really fast. You can load, create a page and be writing in a few seconds.
  2. Tags, with searchable organisation. I can throw all sorts of stuff in there and just tag something with “Blog”, “todo”, “personal”. I can then see a structured search showing me only the selected items I want.
  3. Follow-up flags are simple to add and serve as automated reminders.
  4. Its an office app, so it plays nicely with everybody and integrates beautifully with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and best of all, Outlook.
  5. Keyboard shortcuts for anything, including a system-wide Windows-N to create a quick note from within any other application.
  6. You can take a photo of a business card and it’ll let you extract the details as text (cool).
  7. You can record audio of your meetings (I use my Pocket PC) and it’ll let you search the contents (cooler).
  8. Editing almost as good as word — tables, drawing, spell checker.
  9. You can just type in simple calcs (like 100*25=), and One Note will complete it for you.
  10. You can download and run it for free as a part of the 2007 beta.
  11. It syncs perfectly withmy Pocket PC. (OK, so that’s 11 things… sue me)

I wonder when they’ll add blogging support directly from a OneNote page.