Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...


New job

I've been at my new job for just on a month now, so it would make sense to tell you what I do and who I do it for.

I work for the imaginatively-named Software Innovation, who develop software for the engineering industry. The suite is called Coreworx and it is a web-based project collaboration system targeted at what is called EPC - engineering, procurement & construction. (Feel free to rewrite the crap Wikipedia article. In fact, because anything you write on the Internet is archived forever, if the article is good when you read this, assume that it was my request that caused someone to make it good.) It handles document management and workflow, and automates what previously was the time-consuming process of managing reams of paper from suppliers, consultants, designers, engineers, and people who just like wasting paper.

Our website has a cute elevator pitch which explains things in just the right amount of detail.

The recruiter who told me about the job had me hooked when he said they were looking for "a developer with a personality". My role is in the Professional Services team, so I'll be going out to our customers, all around the world, consulting on requirements, planning, installing, configuring, documenting and troubleshooting our software. To date it's mostly been learning, but I've already thrown myself in the deep end with some programming and am starting to look at planning a new deployment.

It's great working at a company that not only has a pool ladder, but often has the CEO at the top of it. He's got his own cue in a case. That's bad-ass.

New city

Software Innovation are based in Kitchener, which as you can see, isn't Toronto. It's a 60 minute highway drive in light traffic to get to the edge of Toronto, and then it's another 20 mins on the subway to get there.

Kitchener was known as Berlin until that pesky First World War thing. There's still a lot of German influence, from the yearly Oktoberfest and the schnitzel houses to New Hamburg just down the road.

The city is often referred to as Kitchener/Waterloo, because the city of Waterloo, literally 5 mins up the road, grew into Kitchener, and reciprocally Kitchener grew into Waterloo.  It's one big area with two local governments.  Kitchener had lots of factories and now has lots of homeless ex-factory workers.  Waterloo has two universities and RIM, the people who make Crackberries.

It has snowed twice since I got here, but only small flurries. It's going to get cold. Bring it on!

New apartment

When Fern and I moved out here, we stayed in a hotel for a couple of weeks and looked for an apartment. A lot of people didn't have room for a couple, or weren't interested in living with one - their loss, we're great roommates!

As life often goes, we went from a week of nothing to two great choices. We ended up moving into an apartment block called the Conestoga Towers, living with a guy named Chris. He has the Wii, we have the TV (see below). It's a good combination. He's finishing a PhD in urban planning and is here till April.

As the job will take me on the road a lot, it's possible that I could work from home for the rest of the time. Depending on what happens with Fern's job search, we're thinking of moving back to Toronto when that option becomes available. (She's currently temping while waiting to hear back on a bunch of PR and marketing jobs.)

New hobbies

I've been going to weekly improv classes at the Bad Dog Theatre in Toronto. It's been a bit harder since moving to Kitchener, which makes a 3 hour class into a 7 hour round trip, but the classes are great fun.  More to come.

New toys

I bought a 37" LCD TV. 1080p, oh, yeah.  To fuel it, we upgraded cable to Rogers HDTV and rented a PVR.  It's nice to not have to download TV to catch up on Prison Break and House that I miss by going to improv.

I also bought a guitar. I was going to buy a cheap guitar and then buy a nice Maton acoustic when I'm in the Southern Hemisphere next, but this one is nice enough that I might not bother. Not only does it have XLR and 1/4" output, it has a built-in digital tuner.  How cool is that?

We haven't named it yet.


4 Responses to “New/Nouveau”

  1. Jack says:

    Hi, I came across this blog when I searched for "conestoga towers". It is one of several buildings I am considering moving into and I was just wondering what your thoughts are about it. Good place to live or no?

  2. Craig says:

    Hi Jack. If you'd left a real e-mail address I could have returned this to you directly.

    Our apartment is OK, because our roommate Chris and his girlfriend Jen (who moved back to Winnipeg when we moved in) painted it earlier in the year - not sure if they were supposed to!

    Dealing with the building manager has been less than pleasant. We wanted an extra fob to get in the front door. The woman in charge of the building told us we couldn't deal directly with her, because we were not her tenants, and thus she would only deal with Chris. Then, through him, she demanded lots of personal information for us, and rung a manager at my work, asking (among other things) how much I earn - things that are none of her business if we are, as she says, not her tenants. We eventually got a second-hand fob which cost a (non-refundable - the cheek!) $20.

    The hallways smell of stale smoke, and the garage isn't looking like it will completed in a hurry. Apparently the tenants were told that it would all be done with a water drill and so there would be no jackhammers, and that was in May. Then, they were told that parking would be unavailable for the construction period and there was nothing they could do. The tenants complained, and were assigned parks elsewhere. Chris was given a park he could only use after business hours, which didn't suit his seasonal teaching requirements and regular cycling, and had to complain again to get a park he could use 24/7 if required.

    I'm happy here because people and environment make an apartment, not the building manager. I haven't had the pleasure of talking to her myself, but I felt that we didn't exactly have much leverage in dealing with her, and perhaps if potential tenants knew about the situation, they might be able to make a more informed decision, which might make her reconsider her methods.

    There are plenty of other newer, nicer looking buildings around. I don't know what the prices or people are like. We wanted somewhere shared, and needed it right then. Personally I'm happy with our decision!

  3. Jack says:

    Thanks a lot for the reply. Unfortunately, bureaucracy is something you're going to have to deal with in any larger apartment building. The building managers probably have a protocol dictated to them from some central office in Toronto or somewhere and they were only following it. At least that is the impression I get from my friends who live in high rise apartment buildings, I myself have only ever lived in small apartment buildings where the owner lives onsite, so I don't speak from personal experience. In any case, I'm more concerned with the lack of parking, I hope that is resolved soon. I can only afford the minimum car insurance which does not cover theft or vandalism, so it would really suck having to park in some unguarded parking lot overnight.

    Another thing that concerns me, I noticed on the front door a sign which warned that no bikes are allowed in the building. Is that actually enforced? Because I own an $1800 mountain bike and would definitely not want to leave it locked outside.

    Again, thanks for the reply, I'm glad I found someone with first hand information. Some cities have "community messageboards" where people can easily find this type of information, but Kitchener unfortunately doesn't.

  4. Craig says:

    There is a bike in my room, and I think there's another one in storage on the balcony outside. It can't be enforced that much 🙂

    I didn't deal with the manager myself, but I was given the impression from the person who did, it wasn't so much a "dictated policy" thing, it was "this woman likes having power".

    Craigslist isn't the kind of board you're thinking of?

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