Category Archives: Our Company & Staff

Meet the people on the other end of the phone (or the email).

Life as a software tester for Ilium Software


This picture illustrates two things. One is that I have terrible handwriting, especially on a white board. It also gives a glimpse into what software testing is like here at Ilium Software.

I’ve been meaning to talk about testing, but between testing eWallet 5.0, InScribe 2.0 and just finishing up on a Keep Track update, not to mention supporting our existing and new software… there just wasn’t time. If you have some time, read on!

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Tag – I’m It Too!

Blog Tag!Ellen walked into my office this morning and told me I’d been tagged, and I had no idea what she was talking about. It sounded like a bad thing at first, but I’ve found out that it’s just my turn in an online game of tag that’s been going on for a few weeks now. Doug over at Just Another Mobile Monday chose me. The rules are pretty simple, I have to tell everyone five things about myself, and then I get to choose five unsuspecting bloggers to tag next. It’s like a big ol’ chain letter. So here are my five things; I’ll try to make it as fascinating as possible:

  1. This June, I will finally get my Bachelor’s Degree in web development, after eight years of going to college full-time. That’s right: I’ve changed my major four times, and dropped a heck of a lot of money in the process, but it’s almost over, and I can’t wait. I actually want to take a year off and then start working on a Master’s, but I haven’t found a program yet that interests me.
  2. I love to read. I don’t get a chance to do it while I have classes, but I read three books while I was on my winter break. I read Lamb and Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore, and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
  3. I have two cats. Seuss weighs 22 pounds likes people food, including lettuce and pasta. Campbell weighs 14 pounds and does not like people food. Unfortunately, he eats everything else, inlcuding duct tape, wood, and plastic. (Don’t call the Humane Society – he has a chewing addiction. I’ve tried several methods to stop him, but none work. He was never weaned right. If anyone has ideas, I’m not kidding, I’d love to hear them.)
  4. I had my dad make me a wooden Christmas tree this year, so Campbell wouldn’t eat the branches. It was pretty darn cool, too, but the cat still chewed through three of the limbs. That’s determination!
  5. I collect Converse hightops. Right now I have eleven pairs. I’m trying to pick a favorite pair as I’m typing, but that’s too hard. I think it’s a tie between the red plaid, the ones with comics printed on them, or the black ones with little skull and crossbones on them.

So, there you have it. That’s me, in a nutshell. So now I get to tag five more people. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy trying to think of five people – this game has been going on for a few weeks now, and a lot of bloggers have already been tagged! I chose:

  1. Jimmie Geddes (GadgetsontheGo)
  2. Sammy McLoughlin (PalmAddict)
  3. Todd Ogasawara (MobileViews Blog)
  4. Warner Crocker (GottaBeMobile)
  5. Doug Miller (Daily Gadget)

Tag, guys, you’re it now! 

Tag, I’m It

So apparently there’s this new game among bloggers where someone “tags” another blogger. If you’re tagged, you have to post 5 facts about yourself that most people don’t know, and then tag 5 other bloggers. I just got tagged by spmwinkel at who had been tagged by Patrick from JustAnotherMobileMonday.

OK, this is going to be pretty easy, and fun. First, the interesting people I tag are:

Dan Hanttula a hugely interesting person who has more credentials than I’ll even try to list.

Hal Goldstein, editor-in-chief of Pocket PC and Smartphone Magazine.

Jen Edwards, the Pocket Goddess, which title I wish I could have.

My good buddy and sometime competitor Alex Kac (I hope this counts; he calls it a blog though it’s a blog in a forum format).

Howard Tomlinson, founder and CEO of Astraware.

And 5 things about me, in no particular order, are:

One, I’m in the small group of people who are huge fans of musicals. Oddly enough, both Dan and Hal, above, are also in that group, so when I write them that I’m going on vacation to watch people kill people while singing, they know just what I’m talking about.

Two, I am one of the original founders of Ilium Software, which, to a large extent, I started because I didn’t want to work for anyone any more. It’s managed to keep me out of a “real” job for over 9 years, which I’m pretty happy about.

Three, I got interested in mobile computing when I worked at what’s now AT+T, and they handed me a Newton and sent me to the first (and, I think, only) Newton Developers’ Conference. I think I still have the t-shirt, though the Newton was stolen in a break-in at our “headquarters” at the time. (Working at AT+T was a big factor in convincing me that I never wanted to work for anyone again.)

Four, I am also involved with Bits du Jour, a one-deal-a-day site for Windows and PDA software.

And five, I consider the name “Ilium Software” as my biggest business mistake. Here’s what I learned: never, never, never start a company or a website with the letters i L i. Or even i L, or L i unless it’s a really well-known word. Nobody can distinguish ili from illi from lli from lil in those little tiny fonts without serifs. Ilium is Greek for Troy – I was working in Troy, Michigan at the time, and liked the sound of the name Ilium, but never thought about the readability issue until it was way, way too late. It’s not my biggest life mistake, but definitely a candidate for the bad company name awards.

Congratulations to Marc!

Marc Tassin, our Product Manager (who introduced himself here a while ago) has just had a story published in a real book! The book is called Furry Fantastic, and Marc’s contribution is a very entertaining and well-written story about … well, I’m not going to say what it’s about. If you want to read it, you’ll have to pick up the book yourself. And if you do, be sure to read Marc’s description of himself at the end.

Again, congratulations Marc!

Getting Picked Up in L.A.

Not, as you might think, that some guy in the street tried to strike up a conversation, but that Randy Eisenmen, Handango’s CEO, for some reason decided to lift me up about 2 feet when he gave me the Handango Champion Award we won for eWallet. To say I was shocked doesn’t even begin to cover it – no one has tried that in many years. Apparently I looked so freaked out that he had to send someone over to ask if I was OK (I was fine. I was worried about him – I was having visions of him falling over, and seeing headlines like “Ilium Software Exec Kills Handango CEO”. I’m short, but I’m really not all that small). Anyway, it was lots of fun. Someone asked Randy why he’d picked me up (everyone else just got hugs or handshakes) and he was blaming Ken Landau from LandWare, who won the award before ours (congratulations, Ken), but I’m pretty sure that was just an excuse. If companies get their personalities from their CEOs, I can certainly see why Handango is so high-energy.

Of course I was delighted that eWallet was again recognized by the judges as one of the top mobile apps (and by the user community as being worth the nomination). And of course I was overjoyed that InScribe (which we’ll be releasing this month) was picked by the judges of the UMPC contest as one of the 3 best programs submitted for the UMPC. Both Marc and I are really excited by the UMPCs, and very happy that InScribe was recognized. And now that we’ve won another UMPC (courtesy of Microsoft, thank you to them), I might actually get a chance to use it.

The whole Summit was lots of fun – thanks, everyone at Handango. I got to meet some very interesting people, catch up with some old friends, and even listen to a few presentations. As well as eat and drink too much. Everything made it back, including the new hardware, all the swag (what was that thing from Verizon?) and of course the Champion Award, which is now in its place of honor on our awards bookcase. It’s a good thing my suitcase expands, but not so good that I do.

Once again, many thanks to Handango, the sponsors and the judges.

CTIA, Handango Summit, and a Long Weekend

Hi everyone! The blog has been a bit slow lately because we’ve been working feverishly on that UMPC product we talked about before (along with the updates to eWallet and ListPro that we’ve got in the works!) But the UMPC work is done, the beta is complete, and the final version should be out soon! We’ll be sure to let everyone know when it goes out.

A week from now I’m heading to California for the Handango Summit and the CTIA Wireless show. If you’re a blog watcher here and plan to attend either of those, let me know. I’d love to meet you and say “hi!”

And for all of our non-US readers, this coming Monday is Labor Day here so Ilium Software will be closed as we all take a nice 3-day weekend to kick back and recover from the big UMPC push! (And for all of our US readers, have a great Labor Day!)

Meet Marc, Ilium Software’s Product Manager

The Glorious Magnavox Odyssey 2Hi everyone! I’m Marc Tassin, the Product Manager here at Ilium Software. I’ve been with Ilium Software since 2000 and I am “Employee #0001”. That is to say, I’m the first person to start working at Ilium Software who wasn’t one of the three founders.

So….want to know more about me? Then read on!

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Who Are Those Guys?

No prizes for recognizing the reference in the title here – it’s much too obvious (please don’t tell me if it isn’t).

Here’s the current staff of Ilium Software (click for the big version):

Standing, left to right: Ken, Julie, Dan, Sheri, Matt, Ellen, Marc
Kneeling: Kevin, Lee

OK, we’ll have a prize (one of our programs, or, if you have all of them already, a handful of excellent stylus pens) for anyone who comes up with a good caption. Put any entries into the comments.

Meet (yet another one of) the staff!

I’m Lee, part of the support team, and if you call or email for tech support you will probably get Kevin before you get me, unless you are a bulk-purchaser or one of a select bunch of resellers.

I have been doing tech support of one variety or another for about 15 years, nearly five of those here at Ilium Software.  It truly is a great place to work; it’s nice to be around people who are caring and honest, and really believe in what they are doing.

I, too, am a big fan of our software, especially ListPro and eWallet.  I use them every day, both at work and home, and wonder how I ever managed without them.  Both travel everywhere with me on my Treo 650; it’s so nice to have my information at my fingertips!  I save a ton of time by filtering my grocery list to only show the items I need, and then sort it by aisle.  Then I print it out and check it off in the store (I really don’t have enough hands to wrangle two active kids, a grocery cart, *and* my Palm — and besides my kids will ask endlessly “Mom, can I play a game on your Palm now?”  Out of sight, out of mind).  One trip through the store and I’m done.  No backtracking to a missed item (this is a really good thing — see previous statement about two active kids…).

Also, since I am calendar-challenged (write it on the calendar and promptly forget it), I use a running list of appointments, events, reminders, etc. in ListPro.  Since I am constantly referring to it for one reason or another, I don’t miss appointments anymore.  When an event is past, I check it off to make it hidden, but I can easily look back and say “When was that?”.

Did someone encourage me to write about our software?  No.  Do I recommend it to friends, and even people I don’t know?  Yup.  It’s good stuff, and it just works.

Meet (another) Member of the Staff

Hi, I’m Julie. I’ve been working at Ilium Software since last September, and I help work on the website and marketing end of things. I also help answer the phones when everyone in support gets swamped. So, if any out there ever calls and gets me, you might not get technical help right away, but I am great at taking messages!

Besides working on the web site here, I am still going to school, online, for a degree in web development, so I am pretty much in front of a computer screen either here or at home, about 12 hours a day. Of course, I’m not complaining, really – I’m glad that there is such a thing as online school. I don’t know if I would be able to work here and attend a traditional college – there just isn’t much flexibility in on-site schools, but the Internet is always open.

I have to admit, before I started working at Ilium Software, I didn’t know much at all about PDAs. I mean, I’d heard about them, seen commercials and ads, but I couldn’t have told you the difference between a Pocket PC and a Palm handheld to save my life. Of course, it’s not like they always make it easy out there, as in the new Palm Treo 700w Smartphone, which actually runs a Pocket PC operating system. I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s ever been confused by handheld devices. So I’m really glad that I’m starting to understand more about mobile devices and that I am able to use them when I need to around here – the world is definitely becoming more mobile, and wireless, and all those other technological-type adjectives.

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