Friday, November 17, 2006

A meeting of the minds

Shift website homepage. It's not often I experience a meeting of the minds with a new person. Mine is the classic story - I'm single with a circle of close friends who are all long-term couples/married/with kids. We have very few new people entering our little group. But today after work I met a very interesting new person and spent a lovely few hours discussing Life, the Universe and American Politics... here's the story...

Yesterday we finished the new Shift website. A-woo-hoo!!!!! It's gorgeous! It's been a bit of a mission, and I'm so proud of it. It's been in the making for three years (much longer than I've been at Shift) but because it's an internal project, it's regularly been set aside when our customers needed work doing (which is pretty much always).

A whole bunch of Shifties past and present have worked on it over the past three years - and I'm so happy that we were able to bring all that work together, finish it off and get it out there and online. The team for this stage has been me, Thomas, Brian, Tom and April, with a whole lot of bits and pieces from a whole bunch of other Shifties - it's been a huge team effort.

We've fought like family and grumped at each other on a fairly regular basis - but mostly it's been a totally fun experience, with Brian coming up with heaps of new ideas - me, Thomas and Tom making it happen - and April trying her hardest to break it!

It's been a real meeting of the minds and personalities in the office, and it's so great working in such a close-knit team.

Shift website - Beechnest project page. Thomas is lovely - he's our German intern, here for 6 months and working at Shift to get experience and learn heaps of new techniques - and he's doing such a great job. He's incredibly polite and helpful, and always willing to try figuring out new things. He's also a perfectionist, which in my book is a Very Good Thing. He's very kind and very sweet and I'm very glad his desk is next to mine.

It's always awesome working with Brian - he's incredibly talented, and hugely inspiring. He's a big reason why I wanted to work at Shift (in addition to it being the best web design company in the country!). I find I always want to do my absolute best work for Brian, and for the last week or so he's been sitting with me at my desk, "tweaking" the site and refining the design as we go. We've had so much fun together.

Tom can be very focused on other stuff at times, and a lovely smiley friend at others, and he's super-bright, which I love. He's been programming like a demon, and I think it's been quite stressful for him because we've demanded so much of his time when he's supposed to be doing other things. Together with Thomas he's solved many of our trickiest technical issues, and he's made the site work incredibly well inside our CMS, Expression Engine. He was off work today and missed the celebration, so I hope he's really proud of what we've all created together.

April is our genius website tester. There's never been a website she can't break, and she's an integral part of the team, showing us where we can improve and spotting impossible bugs for us to fix. She's also added most of the content to the site, and she's been brilliant at keeping up with our endless demands for yet another round of browser testing, and our constant requests for more bits of missing content to be added. She's also the happiest, smiliest, most cheerful person I know, which is always a good thing, especially when the going gets tough and the team gets stressed out.

Shift website - Travel Planner project page. We put the new Shift site online yesterday afternoon, and tweaked it for the last time (I hope) today - and so we had an extra special Friday drinks after work to celebrate.

Jon invited an American friend (I have no idea how he knows him) and this friend brought another American friend along too.

At some point during the evening I asked friend of friend where he was from - and when he told me "Montana", we were off and running! Because if you've read my blog recently you'll know I know a little bit about Jon Tester, Conrad Burns and Montana politics, and that I have been somewhat obsessed with US politics and the mid-term elections in general. Brilliant!

We talked about the Democrats, the political awareness of The People, life in Montana, and the "tipping point" that was Mark Foley. We discussed the irony of an illegal war which has so far killed 600,000 Iraquis and nearly 3,000 Americans vs a politician with a predeliction for younger boys (and an administration that knew about it and covered it up) - and which one had the most effect on which voters.

We talked about science and drug legislation and Big Pharma, health care and health insurance, biology and birds, mountains and flat landscapes, dance parties and House music. It was so great! You know what it's like when you meet someone with whom you have heaps in common - and you're all like "Yeah yeah me too!" to all sorts of things? Well it was just like that.

Jon's friend was reeeally hungry and wanted to disappear to Calzone, but friend of friend stayed and stayed and we talked and talked. It was brilliant! We had a Pink Floyd soundtrack courtesy of my iPod (in honour of our upcoming Roger Waters concert), pink champagne, chocolate and strawberries (in honour of the new Shift website), and I had the nicest evening I've had in ages.

It's funny, I don't even know his name, but I do know that he's off to Christchurch tomorrow and that he voted Democrat. So thank you friend of Jon's friend for a BRILLIANT conversation, and a most unexpected meeting of the minds. A great end to a great week, for sure.

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