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    July 20th, 2009

    For a high-tech company like Canoo, the presence of young talent is an essential ingredient for maintaining innovative momentum. Canoo is supporting young computer science talent in various ways. We offer internships for computer science students and we cooperate in bacherlor- and master-thesis projects with universities and colleges. Some of our senior engineers perform teaching roles at the Universities of Basel and Zurich. And last but not least, Canoo has recently begun directly sponsoring especially promising students at the newly founded Kalrsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), which is a joint venture between the former University of Karlsruhe and the Karlsruhe Research Centre (Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe). The similarities to MIT are intentional.

    Prof. Dr. Umbach, KIT's designated co-chairman, is opening the foundation supporting talented computer science students

    Prof. Dr. Umbach, KIT's designated co-chairman, is opening the foundation supporting talented computer science students

    The program Canoo is supporting is unique in a number of ways. For example, Students do not qualify for funding merely by attaining excellent grades, but instead by proposing personal software projects. The program therefore not only supports the students, but also innovation. Two projects are already under way (http://www.informatik.kit.edu/begabtenstiftung_informatik_karlsruhe.php?PHPSESSID=3acaa8b13db475402a9569d9fd48d78b): Student Benjamin Klatt is in the process of setting up a project for high-schools. Teams of pupils are implementing a small CRM solution using an open source content management system as platform. A web-site is due to be set up, on which all the project teams will publish the results of their work. Benjamin will be providing the software framework that students take as starting point for the project, as well as the documentation and guidelines, which enable teachers to undertake such projects at schools. This project addresses a very important issue: How to motivate young people to study CS.

    Christian Vetter is developing an open source navigation system. He claims that his routing algorithms are faster than those that can be found in other commercial and other open source solutions. Both projects are terrific examples of how theoretical studies can be combined with practical work, and how students can be encouraged to come up with projects that go beyond the university’s curriculum. I personally believe Swiss universities should take a close look at the KIT model for supporting students with innovative ideas.


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    Firmenlauf '09: Part II/II

    July 16th, 2009

    And we’re off!!! Oh, wait a minute… it takes up five minutes to reach the start line due to the throng. But once we do… we’re REALLY off! Even if the pace is really slow due to all the other activity on the trail, which is exactly why projects in large corporations seem to take ten times longer than in agile companies like Canoo: Everyone is getting in the way of everyone else.

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    The whole team

    So we use our agility to dodge the throng, occasionally struggling to keep track of one another in the mayhem. And the for the first fifteen minutes of what is envisaged to be a thirty minute effort, we remain within sight of each other.

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    Mike Mannion

    Suddenly, however, the terrain changes from asphalt to soil, from cycle-track and side-road to wooded riverside. The track has narrowed allowing just two, maximum three runners to stay abreast of one another. In the presence of this bottleneck, the distance between the ten begins to grow. Surrounded by a dense pack of sweaty strangers, we lose sight of each other. Those ahead are faced with a choice:

    • Slow down, potentially impeding other runners
    • Retain speed, flow with the masses
    • Speed up and overtake whenever possible i.e. when the track widens sufficiently

    In any case it is perfectly clear that the rate at which participants complete this course is being determined by this bottleneck, which one might describe as the constraint in the system.

    Firmenlauf Basel

    Sibylle Peter and Guenter Losert


    Finally, the three up ahead clear the narrow section. We can’t now guess the distance between the team members be we can assume it’s pretty big. Turns out it’s bigger than our assumption because one of the Canooies has been reduced to walking due to some debilitating stomach cramps.

    The Canooies in her immediate vicinity take the motto “Leave no Canooy behind” to heart and accompany their colleague until the cramps subside. What a team!

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    Guenter Losert and Christian Ribeaud

    Meanwhile the front runners (three) give it all they’ve got for the final 500m and cross the line more or less simultaneously. It’s a personal best for at least one of them! They waste no time in cheering their colleagues through the final 100m until – in no time at all – every member of the team has crossed the finish line.

    Firmenlauf Basel

    Sibylle Peter and Leis Gemperle

    Another project completed with all features delivered… Drinks everybody!? More photos on Flickr!

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    Firmenlauf '09: Part I/II

    July 16th, 2009

    And lo, it came to pass that Canooy Mike had a dream and in that dream no less than eight Canooies would cross the finishing line of Firmenlauf ’09 (loosely translated: the Swiss Company Dash) – more or less simultaneously, which at the very least would make for a great photo op, and might even promote team bonding… or something like that.

    Alas, it was just a dream and the actual 6km Firmenlauf ‘09 was just three weeks away and Mike had no team.

    So he used Email to try to put a team together and after approximately forty-eight hours of waiting had volunteer count of one, which was at least six short of the dream’s requirements.

    So he went to talk to his colleagues to seek out the reason for the lack of response. And the reasons were wide ranging, from a supposed lack of fitness to Firmenlauf ‘09 taking place on the day before he or she was due to go on vacation.

    Reasonable excuses, but surely not showstoppers, Mike thought. And so he persisted and to cut a long story short he managed to ramp up the total number of volunteers to ten – thus exceeding the dream’s requirement by two. Personal engagement clearly works when it comes to selling a vision (or in this case a dream.)

    Things were suddenly looking good. And things got even better when CFO Dirk decreed that Canoo would cover the costs of participation – a bonus the participants hadn’t counted on, and a clear demonstration that management was not only prepared to run the “risk” of supporting a dream, but was prepared to commit resources to the dream’s realisation. CEOs everywhere: Take note.

    And then things took a slight downturn when two volunteers pulled out due to client project commitments (the client comes first at Canoo, obviously.) But due to the in-built resource buffer, which consisted of two persons, the dream was still safe and good to go. As Tom de Marco once noted: every project needs slack.

    But as luck would have it another two volunteers showed up (now that never happens in a project!) and so we were back to ten Canooies – consisting of seven guys and three girls, none of whom disagree with Mike’s proposed team Motto “Leave no Canooy Behind.” There’s no stopping us now!

    And so the big day came and we arrived at the venue of Firmenlauf ’09. So far the only thing the dream had wrong was that it didn’t involve another 1300 runners showing up. This was obviously going to make the goal crossing the finishing line simultaneously rather challenging; especially given that the trail is very narrow at some points, not even allowing for three runners to run abreast, let alone ten!

    TO BE CONTINUED…

    Firmenlauf Basel

    Top (left > right): Nicolai Kilian, Thomas Ernst, Alberto Mijares, Guenter Losert, Christian Ribeaud;
    Bottom (left > right): Sibylle Peter, Susanne Batz, Lais Gemperle, Andrei Socaciu, Mike Mannion

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    Maintenance Release UltraLightClient ‘08 Update 3

    July 2nd, 2009

    We are pleased to announce that the maintenance release UltraLightClient ‘08 Update 3 is now available for download.

    This is a maintenance release for UltraLightClient ‘08. Please see the release notes for a list of implemented feature requests and fixed problem reports.

    Please note: the UltraLightClient ‘08 license key is valid for all software releases labeled UltraLightClient ‘08. If you already have a UltraLightClient ‘08 license key, a new license key is not required.

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    RIA Newsletter Summer Issue 2009

    July 1st, 2009

     

    The Summer ’09 issue of our RIA Newsletter is available. Be informed about the following topics:

     

    • JavaOne 2009: Sun’s Open Cloud Platform and Java Store, JavaFX 1.2
    • Larry Ellison (CEO Oracle) on the future of Java 
    • Dierk König (Canoo Fellow) on “Beauty and Code”
    • Jazoon 2009: James Gosling, Jazoon Rookies
    • User Interface evolution: The Age of RIA

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