Archive for March, 2012

Two Down, One To Go

March 30th, 2012 | Mike

Lighting finished in the explore room of Oddyssea Half Moon Bay

Yesterday was all about track lighting. I can say with some certainty that this is the first (and last) time I will ever install track lighting. Talk about a product set in need of some improvement!

In any case, the front or “explore” room is now trackified (though I’m not certain the fixtures on the track are the final answer – it was cheaper to buy kits that included lamps than 4′ sections of track. Go figure.) We’ve got 2 circuits going in that room and I’ll likely put a dimmer on one so we can use it after hours to keep things somewhat lit after dark.

Still waiting on phone/internet – should happen any time. The alarm guys are coming out next week. And today/tomorrow will be about lighting in the “create” room. There are 8 drop fixtures to run conduit for, wire up, and add the lamp fixtures to. We’ve been all over the place on what those fixtures should be (have an artist do it, scavenge different fixtures to make each distinct, make our own fixtures, or go with something uniform, but industrial.) We finally decided on the latter and they should arrive tomorrow. I’d like to be able to install them before the weekend is complete.

Meanwhile, we’ve got display fixtures arriving next Wednesday which should be exciting. A couple of 1920’s era apothecary counters and some associated accessories. We’ve got vertical bulk bins and the work table being built as we speak, and the pods/shelves are still undergoing some design work. I’ll look forward to the time we can just focus on product!

Our logo is also underway and we’re having a spirited discussion about how it should finally look. Should resolve that one today. That’s the update from Oddyssea Half Moon Bay! Back to the physical world for some more work.

How Not to Delight Your Customers

March 29th, 2012 | Mike

Here’s the general mindset I had before getting Intuit’s missive this morning: I have only 1 employee and the service has been working well for me. I enjoyed this service even back when it was PayCycle, pre-acquisition. However, the Intuit version has always felt expensive to me and not aligned with the small business value that PayCycle had as a standalone business.

The letter below was waiting for me in my inbox this morning from Intuit Payroll Services:

Letter from Intuit Payroll Services announcing a price incease of 7.5%.

My first reaction is that the letter is facetious in that it’s really a communication of a price increase to customers like me of 7.5%. There is anticipation of customer drop out as they invite customers to “chat” with them online (doesn’t work in a Safari browser) or to waste 15-30 minutes of their day calling customer support at Intuit.

I’ll say this, I don’t feel like a valued customer when I read this letter and given my mindset before receiving the letter, I think I’ll look for alternatives. Having recently been a GM of a business in a large company, I can also say that it’s in poor form to sign one’s name to something that goes to a customer community and not have a direct means of communicating with the executive who signed the letter (I’m talking to you Ms. Lee.)

$1.50/month isn’t that steep of increase in the grand scheme of things, but the way it’s being approached, the way it’s being communicated and supported, and the already high pricing lead me to believe I’m better off to take my small business payroll needs elsewhere.

Anyone out there have a great, cost-effective recommendation for payroll services that work and value you as a customer? If so, please leave a comment.

Light in Storeroom

March 28th, 2012 | Mike

Finally, after fussing over it for a few days, the light I built was installed in the storeroom yesterday.

Light in Oddyssea Storeroom

A View of the Explore Room

March 20th, 2012 | Mike

Explore room of the Oddyssea shop in Half Moon Bay, California

You can see both the floors and the final color of the “explore” room in our forthcoming shop Oddyssea. Working on one wall left to finish in the “create” room, which will take a couple of weeks to nail down. Starting on the lighting today (I’ll do the easy bit, the storage room ;-))

We picked the colors to reflect the coastal/ocean feeling in front which is oriented on the west side aka the ocean side of the store. The colors in back reflect the hill feeling as it is oriented on the east or hill side of the store. The new colors along with the refinished floors make the physical space feel very different from where things started.

The todo list is still long. There is still a bit of plumbing infrastructure to deal with. The whole technology infrastructure yet to be put in place. Lighting is now down to implementation in the explore room and storage room. The create room has the concept, but the materials have not yet been acquired. If everything goes to plan, we will be moving from improvement of the physical space to product/project focus in April.

Painting in Progress

March 17th, 2012 | Mike

Create room with it's color in place

It’s been a bit since I posted a progress update on Oddyssea. We’re getting toward the end of the improvement of the physical space with painting happening now. The back room aka the “create” room is nearly completed with the roof rafter area finished and the color going on the walls.

There is one wall that consists of planks we haven’t quite decided what to do with yet. The ideas are: a) paint it the same color as the rest of the walls in that room b) make it a mosaic using the different colors from all over the shop painting each plank a different color c) sanding down the planks to bare wood and staining each one a different wood based hue mosaic d) covering the wall with a material like a galvanized barn metal or fabric or e) painting a mural with trees and wild life. We will need to decide this soon…

The front room aka the “explore” room is ready for painting and will go fast once started. A significantly smaller surface area to cover and easier angles etc to deal with. So we’re looking forward to that.

Once the painting is completed, we’ll move to lighting, technical infrastructure, and fixtures. Then we start building out the inventory and moving toward a “soft opening.” It would be great to be able to do that in May, but we’re planning for June at this point knowing the lead time on a number of the products we intend to stock. Once we get a little experience with the store, we will then host a grand opening of some sort in the June/July timeframe.

Exciting times! Things are progressing and well. Stay tuned.

Mmm. Raspberry Pi.

March 9th, 2012 | Mike

Image of Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer

If you follow computing at all, you might be familiar with the Raspberry Pi project. It’s a simple ARM processor mini computer. That is a computer that can run Linux on a board the size of a credit card and is power efficient enough to run on battery, yet is powerful enough to stream full 1080p video or allow one to play high resolution 1st person shooter games.

What’s my interest you might ask (after all, I am a software guy, not a hardware guy.) I have two reasons to be interested both related to the store. First, I think this compute platform may allow for a set of interactive displays in the store that previously were too expensive to contemplate on a capital and power expense basis. Secondly, I believe there could be an infinite number of projects/kits that could be assembled centered on the Raspberry Pi computer that we can offer in the store.

The downside of this is, it seems the whole tech world is waiting for these things and it’s going to take some time for the supply to even out relative to the demand. Good news for the project, bad news for people who want to get their hands on physical boards to do stuff with (like me.)

Back into the workshop later this morning after a week filled with paperwork. I love the tangible aspect of this project!

The Saga of the Register

March 6th, 2012 | Mike

National Cash Register model #367 pre-restoration

If you’ve been following our store journey, Oddyssea you might say ;-) you’ll know that we acquired a 1909 model #367 solid brass cash register. I thought that I would take on the restoration process until I got into a bit and it turns out not only to take time, but very specialized knowledge. While it would be fun to acquire that knowledge, we simply don’t have the time to invest in that single item.

We located the one, and I mean the one and only company (HBAC Group) that specializes in the repair and restoration of these machines and set about shipping the register out to have them get it back into shape. Here’s the catch, to have any reasonable shipping cost, the weight of the package cannot exceed 150 lbs (68 kg for you non-imperial measurement types.) It turns out the register on its own is 132 lbs. I managed to build a package around it that weighed 32 lbs on its own. For those of you keeping score out there, that’s a 164 lb package.

So I found myself back in the shipping store yesterday and removed my packaging to try to get the total weight under the limit while re-packaging the register in high-tech, lightweight materials and re-packaging securely enough that it won’t be destroyed during the shipping process. I think we managed to get that done and the thing is finally on its way east to Jasper, New York where it will get the love and attention it so badly needs before embarking on its new life at Oddyssea.

Floors are Finished

March 5th, 2012 | Mike

20120305-095206.jpg

Dropped by the store this morning on my way to appointments in the South Bay and saw the finished floors, they look great! We’ve got one more drywall step today and then off to painting.

Yesterday we met with the folks from Terra Amico who build custom items from salvaged materials. Joe & Lisa have some fantastic things they’ve created, it’s well worthwhile to check out their Photobucket stream of completed projects. We’re very happy to have a chance to work with them on some of the fixtures for Oddyssea.

We’re getting really excited!

Teaser Sign at the Store Site

March 3rd, 2012 | Mike

We posted this in the store window today…


Oddyssea Teaser Sign

Guess we’ve come out of the closet with the name. We still have much more to do. We don’t have any of the real creative work done yet; we’ll be embarking on that shortly.

On to flooring!

March 3rd, 2012 | Mike

Pre-finished floors at Oddyssea

Well, the drywall stage is now completed and work has started on the floors in earnest. The front room had some sort of tile over the hardwood floor and is meticulously being scraped off leaving a black, gummy residue. It’s worth it though because this is the same sort of wood that is in the shop next door where they also refinished the floors and they are gorgeous.

The floor in the back room has been painted and appears to be a different wood composition, much broader planks and perhaps a softer wood of some sort. Regardless, it will take some effort to get both rooms sanded down and refinished though the result will be worth it we think.

On a side note, despite me feeling somewhat old and feeble, it turns out I’ve got a little physical strength left after all. That 1909 model 367 National Cash Register apparently weighs more than 150lbs. I’ve been moving this around my wood shop at home and finally carted it in to be shipped to NY where it will get a little TLC. The restoration job unfortunately is beyond my capabilities and available time. So the experts are going to help out.

The bummer is that the scale at the shipping place only indicates up to 150lbs and the register was over that in mass. No wonder I felt sore moving that thing hither and yon! It took 3 guys at the shipping office to wrestle it on to the scale. Even though it’s going to cost a mint to ship, I left feeling strong!