The Dovetail Blog

We're on slack, but we're not slacking off

We've started using slack. Do we really need another way to communicate besides email, im, sms, fogbugz? Apparently.

I had seen Slack over a year ago, and thought, nah, surely we've enough ways to communicate already. But it has actually proved quite useful so far. Yes, it's another realtime chat app.

Where we have found real value is in the different channels (rooms). We have created channels for each of our clients, so relevant discussions about client projects can be kept. Context matters when it comes to adhoc information, so this keeps the right stuff in the right place. It's searchable, which is really handy to find old conversations.

We have places for our structured data like: specs (Google Docs), support cases (FogBugz), and project management (Teamwork). Slack fills the gap for unstructured ahoc conversations. Conversations that might come in handy in the future.

What we're up to this week

Dovetail office GEC

Martin is working with CIS this week. He's been tasked with migrating their server infrastructure from a dedicated physical server to an Azure virtual machine. Cloud rocks!! He was also specifiying some salesforce and sharepoint integration as the guys in CIS are evaluating both tools to improve their workflow. Martin has also been working on an eTender for the Transport industry.

John is working on the final tweaks to the GVS voucher system before we go live with a new version very soon. As mentioned before, the new version takes advantage of responsive web design, which will make the user experience much better for clients on mobile and desktop browsers.

While Trevor is away on Holidays (The south of France mind you, swit swoo!) I am taking over the project management of IKEA Family Kiosk project. Tomás is working on this with me and we are creating lots of new functionality for an upcoming release of the IKEA Family Kiosk system for the UK and Ireland.


An office portrait

Google+ just found a picture on my camera and did something to it. If the content wasn't so odd I think I'd have ignored it, but now I think it belongs here...Dovetail office oddness


Sub-sea sex-change shocker!

We're still sad, missing über-intern Greg, but we've been cheered up by playing darts on the board he left as a parting gift. Mossy and Martin have been struck down by Darter's Elbow already, much to the delight of the rest of us. Thanks again Greg - it was a really well chosen present and is much appreciated.

Dartboard in action

This week Mossy and I rolled out an upgrade to IKEA's FAMILY system. We're utilising Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager to provide geo-redundancy across datacentres, and I've been very impressed with how the Azure platform makes features such as this so straightforward. I did get caught out by the fact that Internet Explorer caches DNS records, but everything is working great now.

Azure Traffic Manager

John has rolled out fixes and new features for a number of clients, including PerfectCard and IKEA. He's really found his feet now and doing great work. Meanwhile Martin has turned the first sod on a new project for CIS so it's all go. When Tomas gets back from holiday next week there'll be no easing back in to it - sorry Tomas!

The big surprise of the week was discovering that Pinchy the Crayfish is a lady - she's carrying eggs under her tail to prove the point. Hooray! It's about time we got a bit of gender balance in the office!


Builders' holidays, a visit to IKEA and a Tender completed

The title would suggest we've had a very busy week this week, and you would be right. We've done it, however, with only half the work force.

John & Tomás have gone on holidays (not together ... we think), and Greg has bid farewell to Dovetail for some time off before returning to college. As a result, it's been quiet in the office.

Martin has been burning the midnight oil on a tender for a new line of business application (bespoke software) for a major player in the Utilities sector. It was submitted today, and he can now breathe a sigh of relief after a solid effort of writing (nobody likes writing THAT much).

Crayfish party in Dovetail
Mossy and Trevor partying like it's 1999

Trevor visited IKEA Southampton earlier this week. He was attending a project kick off meeting to build on the success of the Swipe a Surprise pilot. He also brought back some hats and songbooks from an upcoming Crayfish party. Better not show them to Pinchy.

I have been continuing to work with Dawn, Tanya and Julie in GVS on an upcoming version of the Gift Voucher Solutions application.


Consulting, IKEA Kiosks, Ektron upgrade and Gift Vouchers

TL;DR We've been working hard with a lot of our existing clients (CIS, IKEA, FSAI & Gift Voucher Solutions). The summer has kicked off and so have a lot of new projects.

Martin has been working with CIS over the past few weeks, he's been consulting on a technology strategy for their product platform (CISOnline). We plan to integrate cloud-based SAAS platforms with CISOnline which will result in a more efficient business process for CIS, allowing them to manage their ever-growing customer base.

A new Gift Voucher Solutions project has started, with John taking on his first end-to-end project here in Dovetail. He has been working closely with Dawn in GVS. They are doing a total overhaul of the existing system, with an emphasis on improving the Customer Experience (UX) and changing to a responsive design which will work much better on both mobile and desktop browsers.

UML Diagram for IKEA Family Kiosk Platform

Trevor and Tomás have been working on a new IKEA Project. This is Phase 2 of the IKEA FAMILY Kiosk project. After two years live with the current implementation, we have analysed, measured and learned. We are now applying this learning to "Phase 2". We are focusing on customer experience for the IKEA FAMILY member, trying to improve the customer journeys as they use the kiosks. We want to make these journeys more enjoyable, faster and clearer than before.

Greg was working separately on a small IKEA project which will be going live at the end of the month. Greg was also doing a lot of internal work, adding functionality to our customer support portal, and improving our internal reporting system "Hawkeye". Today is his last day, as he's taking some time off before heading back to college in September.

I have been floating around a bit, working with John on the User Experience design for Gift Voucher Solutions. I have also started an Ektron upgrade project for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. We are upgrading their website Content Management System from version 8.0.2 to version 9.1.

This afternoon we'll be kicking off our summer office party and BBQ. It also doubles as a farewell to Greg and welcome drinks for John. We're fully stocked with beer and cider, so it should be a fun one.

Dovetail Beer delivery
Craft beer delivery aided by Trev's sweet bike rack.

Create a cloned SQL Server Azure Database

Today, I wanted to create a clone of a SQL Server Azure database. I was looking at various ways of doing this, including exporting and re-importing the database, but thankfully, there is a much easier way.

I ran the following SQL command against the master database on the SQL Azure server:

CREATE DATABASE New_database
AS COPY OF Old_Database

 For more details, check out the official documentation and this Idera blog post.


The 'new' John

Hello, I’m the ‘new’ John last name Doyle and I’m here to introduce myself. Over the past few weeks I’ve been settling in and getting to know some of the projects currently being undertaken here at Dovetail. I’ve also managed to somehow sneak a cheeky holiday to Malaga in those weeks but this was only for a few days.

As mentioned in a previous post I have come from City Wonders where I was working as a Web Developer for their Front End websites.

I have joined Dovetail as a Software developer and have already began working on my Microsoft Certified Professional Certificate. It has been a great few weeks at Dovetail and the entire office has been very welcoming and patient as I try to get up to speed on the projects and workflow.

Over the coming weeks I hope to post some more blog posts and maybe some more pictures like the one below.

PalmTree


Dublin Bikes are now closer

We like to think of Dovetail as a pro-bicycle company, and there are many card carrying subscribers to the Dublin Bikes scheme within the office. When the expansion of the Dublin bikes scheme was announced, we were eagerly anticpating a much shorter journey to our nearest bike station.

Last week, as part of this expansion, the station beside the Guinness Storehouse opened, which means that we now have a two minute walk to our nearest station. Hopefully, with the Guinness Storehouse station such a popular destination for tourists, this station will be stocked with spare bicycles thoughout the working day so we can make our cross city meetings on time.

Dublin Bikes at the Guinness Storehouse


Launch: Irish Champions Weekend

We recently won the tender to develop a new website for Horse Racing Ireland on their Ektron CMS platform.

Irish Champions Weekend creates one of the richest weekends on the international racing calendar with over €3 million prize money across 16 races including 10 Group Races (5 Group 1s) over two fantastic days at Leopardstown and the Curragh on Saturday and Sunday, September 13th and 14th. 

After a few weeks work with HRI Marketing and IT, we have put the site live and we're delighted with it. Ektron as a platform was a breeze to work with and the client can now update the website using a tool with which they are already familiar.

Irish Champions Weekend

We took advantage of SmartForms within Ektron to allow the customer granular control of the content and making available on the website in a structured way. The site is built with Foundation and works well across all devices (Desktop, Tablet & Mobile).

Irish Champions Weekend.


Another John, World Cup Fever & The Dovetail Office Olympics

After a little break from #birdseye posts, here is the usual roundup from Dovetail HQ in the Guinness Enterprise Centre.

Welcome to John Doyle, our newest Software Developer who has joined us from City Wonders. We hope you'll welcome as much as we have (we even gave him a computer, we're nice like that).

World Cup fever has truly hit in here. We started a pool, with each employee getting a few teams each. The levels of satisfaction of the picks from each employee are mixed to say the Least. I've got Holland and Argentina, so I'm still happy out and I don't even follow the footy-ball. We also started a little prediction league for each game, and I've been doing quite well, surprisingly. My new nickname is "The oracle". I think my lack of knowledge has helped me.

Inspired by all the summer sporting events, we've started a few little competitions on the office, which we are dubbing "The Dovetail Office Olympics". The popular game at the moment is the Sneezing Championship. Trevor won the June Sneezing Championship, stating wasabi as his secret formula for sneeze generation. Martin has really upped his game this month so who knows who will take the prize for July. Wasabi use has been banned for all future competitions.

June sneezing ChampionshipJune Sneezing Champship winner, Trevor Jobling, recieving his prize. 

Other sports include Guess the "percentage cocoa" competition, distance bin toss, rubber band precision shoot-out and paper plane construction.