Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 Ceil Silver Ambassador Announced

Geek Gathering is pleased to announce that the 2011 Ceil Silver Ambassador is Borislav Borissov. Thanks to the many contributors to the Ambassador Fund for once again showing your generosity!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Southwest Fox 2011 Deadline Approaching

Just a reminder that anyone registering for Southwest Fox by Monday, July 25, is eligible for the Super Saver discount rate of $645. Registering includes entrance to all conference sessions, two lunches, one dinner, access to whitepapers for all regular conference sessions, and much more.

Check out the list of speakers and sessions at Full registration information and access to our registration application at

Friday, July 08, 2011

Mixed Feelings

Later today, my business partner Mickey and I are signing the papers to complete the sale of Stonefield Systems Group Inc. to a group of employees.

In case you weren’t aware, there are actually two Stonefields: Stonefield Systems Group Inc. (SSG) and Stonefield Software Inc. (SSI). (Actually, there are three: Stonefield Software USA is our U.S. operation.) SSG was created in 1991 (yes, that means the 20th anniversary is this year) by another business partner, and Mickey and I joined a few months later. SSG did all kinds of stuff: custom software development, Accpac (a popular accounting system now owned by Sage) sales and consulting, pharmacy software development and sales, IT stuff … basically, anything for a buck. Over the years, the business structure changed: Mickey and I bought out the other partners in 1995 and we refocused the business to just Accpac and software development. In 2000, we split off the software development side to Stonefield Software so SSG could focus exclusively on Accpac.

As a result, I’ve had very little to do with the day-to-day operations of SSG for over a decade. Several years ago, Mickey also decided to focus almost entirely on SSI so we handed the management reins to a general manager. So while we owned SSG and oversaw its general operation, neither of us was closely involved for quite some time.

A few years ago, a couple of long-time employees approached us with the idea of buying SSG from us. It took a while to make it happen, but later today it becomes a reality. Note that we are NOT selling SSI; it’s the business we’ve been focused on for a long time and will continue to do so. I’ve been working on Stonefield Query for more than a decade and will do so for (hopefully) another decade. I still write code every day and get grumpy when I don’t.

I have mixed feelings about selling SSG. Although it wasn’t my first company (I had a one-man company in the late 80s), it certainly was the one I was associated with the longest. So, there’s a bit of nostalgia at leaving something I spent so much time and effort building. However, I’m also very excited for the new owners, Connie, Bernie, and Rene. They’re young, have a lot of talent, and tons of new ideas about directions to take SSG in. The company is in great hands and the future is very bright. I’ll be watching happily to see how they make my old baby and their new one grow.

Southwest Fox 2011 Pricing

We tried something new for pricing Southwest Fox this year. Instead of using calendar deadlines, we divided the number of attendees we expect into a set of "buckets," with an increased price for each bucket. We even put the number of seats left in each bucket on the conference home page.

The reason for the change was to get people to register sooner, which helps us in many different areas of planning. We put 20 seats in the first bucket and they all sold in the first few days after we opened registration. We were thrilled.

After that, we blew it. We put 60 seats into the second bucket, which failed to create any kind of urgency; as we write this, only 21 of those seats have sold. Even the July 1 deadline for getting a pre-conference session for free didn't light a fire under many people. The result is that registrations are running considerably behind last year's; we're pretty sure it's the pricing mechanism causing the slow registrations, not a lack of interest.

Since we really do need to know how many people are coming, we're going to adjust the bucket sizes. But before we do, we want to give everyone a chance to get in on the current price of $645 (a discount of $125 off the regular price).

After Monday, July 25, we're going to reduce the size of the second bucket to a total of 30 seats (or the number of people who've already received the Super Saver price by that date, if that's more than 30), and add a new bucket called just "Saver," with a price of $690, which is still $80 less than full price, for the other 30. However, anyone who registers on or before July 25 will get the Super Saver price, even if that means we have more than 60 Super Savers.

So, if you've been waiting for the Super Saver bucket to get close to empty before registering, that time is now. (If company bureaucracy or other factors make this deadline a problem for you, please contact us at

Thanks for understanding our need to tweak this new approach. We look forward to seeing you in Gilbert in October.