The Dovetail Blog

Open-source for fun and profit. And a t-shirt.

We recently did some performance optimisation work for SUSI. It was a fascinating problem which had apparently stumped several companies over the years. Well we got very into it and eventually found a bug in the .Net drivers for MySQL.

We patched the bug and massively improved the stability and performance of the system. We submitted the fix back to MySQL to help the project.

SUSI were delighted with the results, and apparently Oracle were too because they sent us this t-shirt to say thanks! Thanks Larry!

MySQL freebie tshirt


Twas the week before Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas and not a creature was stirring, not even a crayfish who hasn't made another attempt to escape yet

We have new face in the Office Robin has joined our team for a couple of weeks and is here to gain some work experience for school.

Mossy has moved into his new house over the weekend and took a few days to settle in and Ger was down in lovely Kerry for the weekend.

With Christmas coming up we have been building and supporting our current projects while at the same time looking at the new year and the beginning of some new projects. 

I forgot to mention that a few weeks back I graduated Griffith College DublinMartin also attend to give a prize to a fellow alumni of GCD. 

undefined


A day of Christmas beer!

We are having our Christmas party today, so there is a festive mood in our office in the GEC as we put up decorations while enjoying some office beers. There's nothing as refreshing as an office beer, that's a fact!

Ger, our new intern, has been taking up the slack on a few of our smaller projects and helping John triage support cases. This takes the pressure off our other developers and also doesn't throw Ger in too deep. Ger is also improving some of our internal management systems.

John has started working on some additional features for the RPA web apps. He also put some new features live for Blue Portal. Blue portal is run by Bandwidth and allows local councils to analyse foot and vehicle traffic using CCTV. Blue Portal is another one of our successful Intelligent Transport projects.

I have been continuing to work with the FSAI on 2 projects. We recently upgraded the FSAI website with a new version of Ektron. Website users wouldn't have noticed any changes, but the underlying Content Management System was long overdue an upgrade and the process went very smoothly. We are also working on a new iteration of the MenuCal system which will be launched early next year.

Most of Tomas' time over the past few weeks has been spent working with IKEA. We are preparing for a new version of the Kiosk system and he has been putting additional tracking into the system so we can measure performance and the user journey better. He has also been doing some smaller pieces of work with Acquirer Systems.

Sales and business development have taken up a lot of Martin and Trevor's time of late, as they prepare for 2015 and we line up new projects and clients. There is lots good news coming from them, but that will have to will remain hush-hush for now.

In other news, our beloved Pinchy has not been returning the love for us, as she's been trying to escape. Here is some footage of one of her attempts.


Fresh Face

Greetings loyal blog followers. My name is Ger O'Keeffe and I'm the newest addition to the team (and the second Waterford representative - we're taking over). I started just a few weeks ago and have since been happily acclimatising to the Dovetail office environment.

In my life before Dovetail (such a faint, distant memory), I had been based in Edinburgh for a number of years working in the area of international development. Last year, I moved to Dublin to study computer science at Dublin Business School. This is what brings me here, as the new intern.

The start has been great and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into a few more projects (and of course the Christmas party).

I'll keep you all posted on life at Dovetail with regular blog posts.


Scary sensors and spooky awards ceremonies. Oooooh!

Happy Halloween! Winter is kicking in (kind of) this week, but programming is programming regardless of the weather, so onwards!

John has started working on a new project for a new customer. We can't give away too many details, but it involves physical sensors and tablet dashboards both of which excite us greatly. We're slowly morphing into Dovetail hardware services.

Last week myself and Martin attended the Web Awards with some of the FSAI MenuCal team (Frankie, Mary & Sharon). The MenuCal app was a finalist in 2 categories, so we were very excited about our chances. We had a great night, despite not taking a prize home. You know what they say, it's all about the taking part (they're lying, it's about winning!). There were also plenty of group selfies, which seem to be in vogue at the moment.

FSAI, Dovetail and MenuCal at the WebAwards 2014

Trevor & Tomás are conducting user acceptance testing with IKEA this week. Our team have been making a lot of changes to the systems over the summer months. The main goal is to iterate the product resulting in an improved performance & better usability for the end user. This will allow IKEA FAMILY members achieve tasks quicker at the kiosks. 

IcarusCloud has been getting some new attention recently. IcarusCloud is Client Management Software for Irish Addiction Services. It is used by a number of local and national agencies, we hope to grow our customer base and create a more consistent standard of service across the industry.

IcarusCloud helps you to deliver the best possible service to your clients, at the same time helping you secure your funding.

Until next time, have a happy and safe Halloween weekend.


We're now running umbraco version 7

It took me a bit of time to upgrade certain part of the site (mostly the blog), but it was worth it as we're finally running our own website on the latest version of umbraco.

I posted about the release of version 7 almost a year ago. The main upgrade is to the backend UI which has been given an overhaul. There is new functionality we still need to take advantage here, but I'm liking what I've seen so far.

Umbraco version 7


Dovetail are in the Web Awards Finals

We're excited to have made the finals of the 2014 Irish Web Awards in the Best Agency category. And we're very pleased that MenuCal, the restaurant calorie calculator application we developed with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, is in the running in two categories - Best Web App and Best Government Site.

Web Awards 2014 - Finalist 

Read more about the system in our MenuCal Case Study here.  

If you're in the industry, we recommend going along to the awards night, it's always great fun, win or lose.  For details and booking, check the Web Awards site.


How to make real dough in the software business

Trevor and Martin are playing tag at the moment. I just got back from holidays in San Sebastián, while Martin has now headed off to Portugal for some well earned sunshine. I want to plug San Sebastián Food for providing some fantastic guides to the local wine and food. And of course the flag came for a photo op...

Trevor in San Sebastian

 

This week John and Mossy delivered a fantastic upgrade for Gift Voucher Solutions.

Giftvouchersolutions

The system is now fully responsive, mobile friendly, and integrates with more payment providers. Dawn in GVS tells us she is head of heels with delight!

Tomas has been working on our current IKEA project, developing some data import features and learing about some arcane features of Microsoft Excel in the process. He says it's reminding him how custom software development is a constant journey into the unknown.

 

I had a great visit to Dublin's finest purveyors of artisan bread, the Bretzel Bakery.

Bretzel Bakery

I was there to talk software with my friend William Despard, but I grabbed the opportunity to get hands on with some potential pastries (I presume they threw this lot out after I left!)

Trev In Bakery

 


Your mostly Mossy technology update, week 36

I've started collecting links that go past my Twitter feed, Facebook stream, Slack channels and many other news sources (read: distractions). These are my notable saves from this week. P.S. this won't be weekly, I'm not a machine!

Designing for Website accessibility. A nice checklist of, mostly obvious, but often overlooked details on designing for visual impairments and other disabilities. The internet is is like any other public space. It should be open and accessible to all who wish to use it.

IBM's new smart chip. We still haven't figured out why our brain is so powerful. Okay, we (not me, scientists) have a fair idea why it's powerful. I find it interesting that the faster chips are the ones trying to mimic a neural network.

The feature guy. You don't always make software better by adding features. Sometimes, taking away features or polishing existing functionality is a better use of time.

Balancing bike stations. A discussion cropping up here a lot is the difficulty in keeping the Dublin Bikes stations with bikes and also with spaces. Turns out it's a lot more complicated than we thought, and it's not quite been solved yet.


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.