T.T.F.N LEVEL, I Still ♥ You

It’s true. Today is my last day with LEVEL Studios. It’s hard to say goodbye to a place like this, especially when you do love her and her people. It’s been a fun year, but it’s time for me to move on.


That’s the hard part to explain, because I really do love this company. It’s full of smart, energetic, people. It has a great company culture and fantastic leadership. The “problem” falls squarely with me.

They're bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun...Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the native client experience. I’ve had the honor to work with a team that created a new segment in Windows drawing applications and I’ve worked on native iOS applications and I LOVE that experience. I think User Experience, or UX, is so important and I believe the best way to provide that important experience is through native API’s provided by the platform vendor. So, yes, I’m going back to writing desktop software. No, it’s not on the Mac, or iOS, even though I’d love to do that. I’m going back to writing Windows software. That’s right, back to C++ and Windows! I can see my fellow LEVEL’ites rolling their eyes. That’s ok, I likes me some native clients. It’s in my blood.


Where is a great question. We’re staying in San Luis Obispo, we don’t plan on leaving this place. I’m going to work for a company called CygNet. They’re a product company. From the CygNet website.

CygNet Software provides enterprise software and industry solutions that collect, manage and distribute essential operations data. Robust, proven and evergreen, CygNet extends customer horizons with improved operational efficiency and increased market responsiveness

I’ll be working on products used to collect and analyze data from Oil and Gas Pipelines, and I get to work on UI again! Yes, I’m pretty stoked about it!

On the LEVEL

LEVEL is a definite powerhouse when it comes to the web. In fact I’d encourage young up-and-coming web developers or designers to consider LEVEL as a place to start your career. You’ll learn loads. LEVEL is chock full of great web developers, not to mention fantastic designers.

A wonderful boquet of flowers.Oh, yeah, and there’s this great group of folks, they keep in a dark room, that develop great, high performance, highly scalable, web services. One of our web services is serving near four million users worldwide, and growing every day. Yes, LEVEL can build these things. Shhhhhh, keep that under your hat, it’s a secret!

Would I work here again? Absolutely. That’s what made this decision so tough.


I don’t believe in saying Goodbye, goodbye is forever. I’ll just say TTFN *Le Publetta.

*Le Publetta is a combination of LEVEL, Publicis, and Rosetta. I think it’s a strong name, don’t you?


Publicis Acquisition

PublicisIt’s true, LEVEL was acquired by Rosetta who has now been acquired by Publicis. I joined LEVEL Studios in June 2010, in September 2010 we became a part of Rosetta, and now, in May 2011 we’re a part of Publicis. One location, three different companies, it’s been a crazy year.

The bottom line is we’re still LEVEL. I’ve had some folks ask what changed with the Rosetta acquisition, the answer for me is nothing. Not a single thing changed. We continued to work on the same things, with the same delivery dates, in the manner we’d worked on them prior to the acquisition. The LEVEL culture, which is absolutely fantastic by the way, hasn’t changed. Our leadership, hasn’t changed. Basically it’s the same place I joined in June 2010.

I do want to make one thing clear about the Publicis, I was the first to break the news. I was, you just didn’t pick it up. The audio wasn’t great for our conference call, so most of us had ZERO idea what the actual name of our parent company really was.

What's a puba seat?

And later I continued to let the cat out of the bag with this gem, I’m surprised nobody picked up on it.


Wasn’t that an obvious clue we were acquired? Come on! Oh, and I wasn’t alone in my confusion about our new parent company’s name.



Leaving the LEVEL Nest

Kathleen Lee: “I am stepping out of my comfort zone to follow a dream, working with the San Francisco Giants. Follow me if you love the Giants, want to know where the best eateries and hangouts in SF exist, or if you really enjoy reading my random meandering thoughts. “

Kathleen came fresh out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last summer and joined our team as a Project Coordinator. She did a great job here at LEVEL and will definitely be missed, but how can someone so young pass up the opportunity to work for the San Francisco Giants? You can’t.

Good luck Kathleen, maybe we’ll see you at a game some time.


Great Design Tips

AHHHHHH!Mike Rundle: “The main light source comes from the top but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce a secondary light source for emphasis. Below I’ve created a custom navigation bar for an iPhone application that uses a subtle radial highlight for added dimension and detail. The Blend Mode has been set to Overlay to brighten and saturate the overall color and the transparency has been knocked way down to keep it realistic. Also note the edge highlights to make it look more like a raised surface.”

My advice to any budding software developer, work with a great designer and UX person. It’ll make you look like a million bucks. I know from experience, having worked with a few GREAT DESIGNERS.

Mike is the author of Design then Code.


LEVEL’ing Up

Kim and I are becoming empty nesters. Yes, it’s true, our little girls are all grown up. Haileigh is just about to graduate culinary school, and Taylor has just finished her first year in college. When the reality of it all set in Kim and I started thinking what’s next?

Question is, where?

It wasn’t so much what’s next as it was where? We’d been discussing a move out of the great San Joaquin Valley. Lots and lots of places came up; Boulder, Ft. Collins, Seattle, Austin, just to name a few. Yeah, we were open to a big move. In the end we settled on San Luis Obispo as a destination.

Finding a way

How do we get there? Well, you gotta find a great place to work, right? Yes, of course you do. I started looking for work about a year ago. I spoke with four different companies, one I thought I had, the other three were small and didn’t work. So I started looking around the Twitterverse for folks in San Luis Obispo I could connect with and found a great design community, much like Fresno’s. I reached out and found the folks to be quite friendly and helpful. I shared my skill set and asked who in San Luis Obispo might be a good fit. I was given a name.


LEVEL Studios. That was the recommendation. So I decided to check out their web site, and found they’re a bit mysterious. It was hard to tell what they were up to. I found that they work with folks like Apple, HP, and RIM. They also ship a CMS, Switch. Given that, I thought I might find something that fit, so I applied. Lo and behold, I got a call! After a couple of phone interviews I traveled to San Luis Obispo to meet them in person. I went into the interview not knowing what to expect, and was extremely excited about what I heard. These guys do some very serious work, no I’m not going to say what, suffice it to say I was sold, and hoped I’d get an offer. I did.

Tomorrow, Friday, May 28, is my last day with Pelco. It’s been an interesting five years. I’ve see a lot of change during that time; acquisition, layoffs, and re-orgs. Pelco is on the right track. They have strong technical leadership in place and are making bold moves to become an IP company rather that a metal bending company. I have no doubt they’ll be quite successful. I’ll miss the people I worked with on a daily basis, but isn’t it always like that? Onward!

Monday, June 7, is my first day with LEVEL Studios. I’m really looking forward to it. The folks I’ve interacted with are super bright and friendly. The company has that old Visio-family feel I’ve been missing, I can’t wait to experience it first hand. Oh, yeah, and I also get to work on cool stuff, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Hello LEVEL, it’s very nice to meet you.