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5 minutes interview #19 – Nathan Lalonde

Nathan’s been with us for several years now. I’ve had the pleasure of having him in two AppFrame Trainings (R2 and R3) and we’ve been talking a lot on MSN, especially around build updates 🙂

How is it being American, working for a Norwegian company?
It’s been an interesting experience. I think there’s a fair amount of different views within Omega that you wouldn’t see in a typical American company. Some are good, some are just different. Working for an international company has given me a couple of chances to travel, so that’s been a good experience as well. My Norwegian coworkers have been great, and I’ve developed some really good relationships. Now, if I could just learn to read and partially speak in Norwegian, I’d feel totally assimilated. 🙂

What have you been doing in Omega PS? Your current position?
My current position in Omega PS is the Lead Systems Engineer in ConocoPhillips. I oversee the PIMS infrastructure in Conoco, am responsible for all upgrades, and have been supporting a group of about 10 projects in the Gasification, Regas, & Pipelines group. I also support the Shah Gas Development project, in Abu Dhabi, with their bidding phase. I’ve mostly been working on developing and updating the Bid Management System over the last year for the Shah project and the Yanbu Export Refinery Project, but have also spent a lot of time working on the Change Management System for the CORE Wood River Refinery project. The majority of my work has been done on the web using the web 2 templates, but I’ve recently been involved in heading up a rewrite of the Bid Management System within the CR3 and Web3 environment.

Last time we met you said you’re writing a book. What’s it about, and when can we get it in the stores?
My book is a science fiction novel with a good mixture of theological themes in it. Its a tale of the struggle of good versus evil, and how mankind plays into that spiritual struggle in physical ways. I’ve stalled out on it lately because work has been busy, and family and other responsibilities have been taking a good amount of my time. However, I’m still working on it, and I hope I can get it finished by next summer. I’ve got around 50-60 pages written. After I’m finished, I would imagine it will take some time to get it before a publisher and out into stores. Look for it on the shelves in 2011.  😉

Do you have any other hobbies, except computers?
I actually have TOO many hobbies.  I’m actively involved in my church. I teach a Bible study on Wednesday nights for an age range of 20-40. I also lead the worship on Sunday mornings, and play either the acoustic guitar or the bass for the services. I’m a HUGE fan of American football, and cheer on the Houston Texans every Sunday afternoon. I’m an avid reader (hence the novel I’m working on), enjoy playing a good video game, and like to stay physically active by going to the gym. I’m also involved in a conservative political action group in my community. I have two young daughters, and enjoy spending time with them and my wife. So, all that makes for a pretty busy schedule.

5 minutes interview #18 – Thomas Buffon

First time I talked to Thomas Buffon was when I was on my way to Qatar a couple of years ago. I remember I called him from the airport in Amsterdam. For some weird reason I was convinced that he didn’t speak Norwegian, so I started with "Hi there. It’s Vidar here…". He answered me in Norwegian, but I kept going on English. After a minute or so he said "Hei, du kan snakke norsk til meg" (Hey, you can speak Norwegian to me). Of course, this was embarrassing, but I’m used to embarrass myself, so I didn’t think much of it.

What was your position in Qatar?
In Qatar, my position was PIMS development lead. We did mainly web development.

Do you remember your first day in Omega?
My first official day in Omega January 4th 2003, I was sitting on a plane heading to Houston. We were going to have one week preparation before going to South Korea running Mechanical Completion on a fast track FPSO project.

What is your current position?
My current position is System engineer in Karl Inge’s department in Oslo.

How was it working in an exotic country for all these years?
I was actually in 3 different locations from 2003 until march 2008. First Korea, then Houston and finally 2 years in Qatar. I must say I have a lot of fun memories from these years, and I really learned a lot from all the interesting people I met on various projects. However I must say it’s nice to be home for a while now.

Do you got any hobbies, except computer stuff?
Too many to mention, but I am a collector junkie and my room is filled with comics, trading cards, stamps and various other collectables. I also love Sci-Fi/Fantasy art, and have been drawing for years. Lately I also started using 3D programs for this. And as all programmers I like to spend time in the gym. I regularly work out 3-4 times a week. Not really a hobby, but an interest none the less 🙂

5 minutes interview #17 – Morten Emil Sørenes

My first meeting with Morten was at School. He was a substitute teacher for us in 4th or 5th grade. The first he did was sitting on his chair and put his legs up on the desk. This might explain why I always do this… When I started in Omega I heard his name, and after seeing his face, which hadn’t change much in 15 years, I recognized him. We’ve had a lot of fun about him being my teacher. Now he’s the head of all system departments.

What where your first position in Omega? Do you remember your first day?
I started as a trainee, and in fact I had never logged on a network before. In my interview I had a major fight with this dude they had hired to perform the interviews. So I can truly say I was really nervous!

What other positions have you had in Omega? Any programming?
Once upon a time, a looong, looong time ago I was actually able to program. Never a star, but I survived. After this period as a system engineer, I think I have had almost any and all positions possible: Project Manager, Department Manager, Business Development Manager and Head of Project Systems.

What are your responsibilities as chief of system departments?
My responsibilities today are many, but I think the most important is to try to make our division an exciting and good place to work by bringing new clients and challenges to the table and increase our professionalism. Of course, at the end of the day everything cooks down to money, but I try not to focus too much on this.

Do you have any hobbies?
Hobbies? Who’s got time for hobbies? When you get family and house, life changes quite some, and time for yourself is sometimes hard to get. Therefore I started bringing my daughter on hunting and fishing when she was 3 years old, and now we make a good team. Besides this I’ve bought diving equipment and been certified to dive, I’ll try it out this summer!

5 minutes interview #16 – Øyvind Vik

Øyvind has been working from Houston as long as I’ve been in Omega. I’ve meet him a couple of times. We (me, him and his brother Johnny) also had a typing contest a couple of years ago. I didn’t have a chance! But, at least I’ve beaten Johnny a couple of times, so I’m hoping to beat Øyvind when he’s visiting us the next time.

Do you remember your first day in Omega? What was it like?
I’ve had many first days in Omega…The first working experience with Omega was about twenty years ago when, as part of a two-week school-sponsored practical work program, I was assigned to Omega. The first task was to write some code on what I believe to remember was SuperBase on Atari, to scan through all names in a database and convert them to Sentence Case (instead of all UPPER CASE).
In 1997 I did some work for them in Stavanger while working for my own company, and in January 1998 they wondered if I was interested in going to Venezuela to implement PIMS. This sounded exciting, I didn’t know anything about the country back then, but I said yes and went scrambling for summer clothes in Stavanger in January 1998. After searching in the store’s back-rooms, I ended up with a few short sleeved shirts with screaming colors, like orange and glowing green and yellow, and went off. This was my first major international assignment, and I haven’t stopped since!

How long have you been in the states? What’s your role there?
I moved to Houston in June 2002, and been here since, interrupted by another project in Venezuela 2003-2005. Here I am responsible for all market activities, business development, client and personnel activities related to PIMS and consultants in the US. I also get involved in advisory roles and project management as required by clients.

Is there any new projects coming over there?
We just reached agreement with a multi-billion dollar project in Malaysia to implement PIMS R3 as their Project Information and Cost Management system. This is an exciting opportunity for the fortunate people from Omega that will go – not only because it is an extremely important PIMS R3 Cost implementation for a major project, but also because they will be able to brag about having worked in the famous Petronas Towers (once the tallest building in the world)!

You’ve just started using wave. What do you think about it?
After having seen the demo, I got sandbox access to Google Wave back in August, and have played just a little bit with it so far. I think it is a promising tool, and merges ideas from mail, TeamDocuments, Messenger and other apps into an interesting mix. The Robot features, a path Microsoft was following for a while with Messenger and later scrapped, hold a lot of potential for creating some clever applications. But for years to come, it is going to be a novelty with limited use for enterprises, and will not pose any threat to established players. I think we will see some cool apps for consumers, though, and long-term the Wave will likely little by little find its way into the enterprise as well. If anyone needs an invitation to the preview, drop me a note. I still got 7 left.

Besides computers, what do you do on your spare time?
In my spare time I spend a lot of time teaching my daughter (3 ½ years) computers; currently teaching her how to move windows around! Apart from that I read a lot, walk, eat & drink, and smoke an occasional cigar while dreaming about getting time to play golf. I have a genuine interest in all sorts of technology – the latest gadget I am waiting for is the Tacx Fortius Multiplayer bike system, which I am going to use to beat Johnny real-time in cycling!

5 minutes interview #15 – Nils Arne Ramsvik

Nils Arne started a couple of months before me. The first thing I can remember was that he was working with a handheld computer for a customer. This was back when I thought that PHP and MySQL was the only way you could do anything. Of course, I was wrong. Nils Arne is from Etne (about 10 minutes from Ølen). He’s also the first AppFrame Certified Developer, including the Microsoft certifications! He’s also written several good blog posts. You can visit his blog here.

Do you remember your first day in Omega?
I remember I started part time alongside my studies in Stavanger and were given a bunch of AppFrame / PIMS manuals and an old laptop – so it was up to me to get myself a backup database and install PIMS to teach me what it was. There was no training, unlike now, and I learned probably the most when I came out to the customers after I started full time.

What have you been doing these years?
I have worked with a lot of customers like R&M, Baker, Sørco, Prosafe and IKM. I have been traveling a lot for Omega. Singapore, Germany, USA, and last but not least Egersund. The last year I have mainly worked on CMS-related (Completion Management System) things in Ølensvåg.

What’s your current position? Working on anything fun?
Now I am in Svein Tore’s CMS department. Here we have just released a new build where we are trying to focus on user-friendliness by for example implementing the three structures in the forms, so that users can more easily be able to navigate their way in PIMS.

Do you have any tips for those of us that still haven’t got to take all the certifications?
You need to read a lot for these exams. There have been many long days reading books before I took the exams. But it’s worth it, especially when one climb up on the salary ladder – which was my motivation. Now I have taken the certification that Omega covers, so now I’m just waiting for a new "carrot" from Omega before I start reading again.

Any hobbies? Except computer stuff, of course.
In the summer I am often out in my boat, but now that the autumn is here I’m in the mountains hunting  for grouse. Trying to get up to the mountains 3-4 times a week to see if there is anything I can shoot to fill up the freezer. It has been a lot of grouse in the beginning of the hunting season, but now it’s time for wood grouse. We rarely go for a walk without seeing / shooting for any 🙂 I’m not really into skiing, but I like after-skiing, so in the winter there’s after-skiing and recharging so that I’m ready for the first boat ride in the summer.

5 minutes interview #14 – Ronny Stange

You might have seen Ronny driving around in his wheelchair at Omega HQ. He’s one of the most silent guys I know, but he’s always in a good mood and likes to talk tech-stuff. A couple of years ago he started in the Technology department. It was back when we were located at "teknisk etat" in Ølen Centrum. After a little while we got him to join us out on the balcony for a little break in between code-sessions so we had the possibility of getting to know him and his staff.

Do you remember your first day in Omega?
I remember it very well. This was way before any training sessions had made its way in Omega, so things was fairly unorganized. I was basically told to install Visual Studio and read up on how to use the grid until Peter got back from vacation. I remember thinking that things was fairly chaotic, so good thing that we’ve started with training session for new employees. 🙂

What did you do before Omega?
Before Omega there was school. I took my bachelor degree at NITH Stavanger, and then I went on and took my masters at Brunel University.

You are the "go to guy" on AppFrame Web. Can you tell us a bit about web3?
The goal with web3 was to make it a lot simpler to use than the old web2 framework. Johnny even wanted it to be so simple that no JavaScript coding was needed. With that goal in mind we started creating the framework based on DevExpress’ web controls. However, we quickly found out that these web controls was not as solid as their win controls. Long story short, a brand new framework based on Telerik was released with build3. And in build4 we expanded that framework with the new client side framework that even impressed Vidar!

Except web-programming, do you have any hobbies?
Well I am a big music fan, metal is the preferred genre. So I like going to concerts when I’m able to. Other than that I am a big movie geek and I usually blow off about 80% of my salary on new DVDs.

5 minutes interview #13 – Werner Simonsen Waage

I first met Werner online, at IRC (Internet Relay Chat) about 10-12 years ago. After chatting for a couple of years, we had a mini data party. The only thing I remember from this is that we played Action Quake, him against 6-7 of us. He was only allowed to use knives, we used all available weapons. He won 9 of 10 rounds! After that we’ve always been connected either via IRC or MSN. About two years ago I started pushing Werner to start learn VB so I could recruit him for a position in Omega. June last year I recommended him for an open position in Trygve’s department. Now he sits right next to me 🙂 He’s just started a blog which will be available after his first post!

What were your first days in Omega like?
My first days were a bit long; I started with the AppFrame developer course the same week as I had my last exam. After the course was over I had to drive back to Stord where I was studying, and read up on what I had missed. So, I didn’t understand much about CR3, winforms or whatever, and I really didn’t think I was going to be employed.

What did you do before you started in Omega? Any cool computer projects?
Before I started in Omega I had to finish my teacher’s studies, I worked part time as a security guard and was just hanging around waiting for my life to begin. I have only had one project outside of Omega that is somewhat worth mentioning, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) I did in PHP. Some day I might upgrade it 😉 You can visit the game here.

You are responsible for the Robotics Challenge. Could you tell us a bit about what this is?
When I was over at the Stavanger office for a day, I noticed that they had a much better non-work relationship than I’m used to. I pondered a bit on this, and after a while I thought maybe I could do something fun for the people in my department. Then I remembered that Olav had enthusiastically talked about some robotics when he was at school, and one leap of the mind to the next; the Lego robot.
I talked to the people in my department and they agreed to try this stuff out, and a few other departments joined also. There are a lot of intelligent people in our company with different hobbies and interests, I thought the robotics challenge would be a nice way for us to meet, do something that we are good at (coding) and talk together without any clients demanding our attention.

Do you have any hobbies?
In my spare time I’m trying to compensate for sitting on my ass all day by hiking, biking or jogging. I also like fishing. Some of my time I spend reading fantasy literature and playing computer games.

5 minutes interview #12 – Arild Røksund

My first meeting with Arild was in Stavanger a couple of weeks/months after I started in Omega. I was "responsible" for CR1 and CR2, although I still didn’t have the full picture of how it worked. Arild and a couple of other guys in Stavanger started asking me questions I didn’t know how to answer. After a couple of trips to Stavanger I managed to get on Arild’s "good side" and started learning tips and tricks from him in SQL Server, and of course other things. Since Arild is having a session named “SQL tuning for dummies” at the NNUG meeting Tuesday September 29th, I thought it would be a good idea to publish this interview today.

How was your start in Omega?
When I started fulltime in Omega, worked 6 months part time when I was finished school, I was a "Cost Engineer" on Heidrun Water Injection project in Tananger. Completely new to PIMS and thrown into a real project right away, quite scary but the best way to learn. After some time in Tananger I traveled to Houston and from there to Singapore, working with ConocoPhillips as "cost engineer" there. REAL good experience!!

What’s your current position at Omega and how do you like it?
I’m technical responsible for the PIMS solutions in StatoilHydro and "head" of the development team in Stavanger. I really like this job. It’s challenging, mostly because of the number of developers working on their own modules. Another example each quarter, with new builds are arriving there is a lot of planning to do, to make all run as smooth as it usually do. With four separate databases that should be running CR1, CR2, R3 and web, internally and externally in StatoilHydro, there is almost only room for errors here 🙂

Do you have any hobbies, except SQL Server?
Hehe, well maybe one or two… I play football two times a week, like traveling, skiing and "friluftsliv" (not so much of the "friluftsliv" part dough) and have tried some other activities to (diving, climbing etc). This fall we are going to start building a house here, so I guess my spare time from that moment will disappear. We are planning to do quite much stuff ourselves, so there will be more than enough work to do.

You have any tips or tricks you want to share with us?
Get rid of overcomplicated, complex, should-not-be-on-web-in-the-first place web applications and welcome R3 info your hearts (and hands)! When we can stop "fire fighting" and clean up bugs, we can start developing rich\intuitive\user-friendly\stable applications. Our customers are going to love us even more, and really be aware of what the applications can do for them.

5 minutes interview #11 – Jan Christian Brataas

Me and JanCB are like SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008. We’re a great team, mostly agreeing about almost anything. He started in Omega back in 2004, and he’s been in the IT-department all the way till about 6 months ago when he moved to technology. He’s been the main IT-guy since Eiolf started in Ølen Betong a couple of years ago. Together, we’ve built the new server room, and have had the responsibility of "running" all Omega’s servers. Sometimes he calls me at 23:00 just to chat about a new feature he found somewhere. I LOVE people with enthusiasm and I guess that’s one of the reasons why I like working with this guy! You can visit his blog here.

How did you start at Omega?
I had taken the exam to get my Service Electrician diploma and wanted to get into the university but needed to take some classes first so I moved to Ølen from Moss 6 years ago to take math and physics on Ølen VGS. I got an interview with Omega and a job for E134 through Omega. E134 was a firm that was created by all the main Firms in Ølen and had in mind to get everyone in Ølen on Broadband because Telenor did not want to use money to build out ADSL. After a year with this it was servers and network with Eiolf Berge.

What do you prefer working with? Servers or coding?
Before I tried .NET and T-SQL I was always saying that coding was for sissies, the real deal is servers, but after doing some T-SQL I understood that this was interesting and after touching VB I got it. Coding isn’t for sissies! 🙂 I love servers of course, but after getting to work with CR3 and doing tasks for MarketMaker I’m now 70/30 for coding. There are things in the server world that I haven’t touched but want to try, but Omega’s server and network infrastructure is more or less as it should be to suite Omega and we don’t need BIG changes as we did two years ago. So for me now to have time to learn coding in a real world scenario is just perfect!

Do you have any other hobbies except computer stuff?
Right now I’m training to Technology Iron Man. If I manage I’ll get someone to film the last competition, the Triathlon, and post it out. I don’t have any hobbies actually other then the PC and electric stuff, but when we got the time we try to fish and hiking at our mountain cabin. It’s maybe not a hobby, but it will take some years to get my two girls at home addicted to computer stuff 🙂 By the way, it’s not always fun to be Ken!

5 minutes interview #10 – Kenneth Steinsvik

Before I started at Omega I worked at Clas Ohlson. Kenneth also had a summer job there and we talked a lot about computer stuff. Mostly Linux, but also some other things. Kenneth was in technology and he’s actually the one who "recommended" me for Johnny, so thanks again Kenneth 😉 NB! Remember to visit the CMS blog by Kenneth here.

How did you start at Omega?
About 5 years ago I was finishing up school and I saw an ad in the local news paper. I put in my application for the job and got an interview with Sigmund, Torgeir and Arne Gunnar. I was lucky and they offered me a job the same night. Since then I have learned a lot and it has been some great years working for Omega.

You only were in technology for a couple of months? What else have you been doing?
I started working in Omega as a part of the technology group, mostly focusing on the CR2 framework and developing internal applications. I was there for about 6 months, before one day Sigmund asked me to go and help out the Mechanical Completion group at the KEP 2005 project at Kårstø. This was my first experience working with PIMS CMS. I really liked it and since then I have been working for various clients around the world. When I have not been travelling, I have worked closely with Svein Tore developing our product. Right now I am located in Canada and I spend my days either working for clients, developing PIMS CMS or doing sales.

You’ve been traveling a lot. What’s your favorite destination?
For work, my favorite place is Perth, Australia. This was my first international assignment setting up PIMS CMS for Clough Oil and Gas. I worked there for about 3 months and had a great time! For holiday, it is a pretty close race between Tuscany (Italy) and the Greek Islands. They are both great destinations and I would love to go back.

Do you have any hobbies except computer stuff?
I like to stay in shape and try to go to the gym, play squash or go for a hike. In the winter time I like snowboarding and skiing. I can recommend the Rocky Mountains in Canada for everyone that enjoys the snow. The skiing there is awesome! Besides that, I also enjoy travelling. When we got the chance, my girlfriend and I try to travel to somewhere new.

What’s happening in CMS nowadays?
PIMS CMS has become a really strong product over the last couple of years competing head to head with the other top completion management systems. As a result of this we have a lot of exciting international opportunities. I just came home from a week in Rio de Janeiro and earlier this year I spent a couple of months in China. Product wise, we are constantly working on making our product stronger, more flexible and as user friendly as possible for the end users.