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Archive for the ‘Company Insights’ Category

Laridian Logo Apparel Available at our Lands’ End Store

Posted on: August 21st, 2009 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

Laridian LogoOne of our PocketBible beta testers spotted a picture of Jeff in a Laridian pullover with me in a Laridian polo and asked if he could purchase Laridian apparel anywhere.

We have a long-standing relationship with Lands’ End going back to our days at Parsons Technology. I have a picture on my wall of the entire Church Software Division staff at Parsons in our purple Parsons polos from 1995, and for a couple of years I gave out Lands’ End gift certificates to them as Christmas gifts.

Lands’ End normally password-protects logos so that they won’t be used without permission. So I went fishing for a way that you can use our logos on your purchases there. Turns out they have a way for us to create our own store. We don’t get a commission, which is dumb, but you get to use our logos.

So here’s a link to Laridian at Lands’ End. There are two versions of the Laridian logo. One is the one you see here. The other has LARIDIAN in large type with a very small version of the flying book logo below it. That version is in black and looks good on most colors.

Note that you don’t automatically get the Laridian logo on everything you buy. You have to add it. Once you select your item, there’s an option to choose a logo and a location on the item to put the logo.

Like I said we don’t make a dime from these sales, but the quality is very good and customer service is excellent. We hope you’ll enjoy your Laridian apparel from Lands’ End!

PocketBible for iPhone Update

Posted on: March 18th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin

If you’ve been a Laridian customer for a while you know that our policy has always been to avoid talking about products that we are working on until they’re actually available. Starting with the Web-based version of our iPhone product (iPocketBible.com) we made an exception to that rule and openly talked about our development activities for iPhone. We continued that with the native PocketBible for iPhone. We did this as an experiment to see how it would work out.

It’s been an interesting experience. We’ve received many positive comments and suggestions on the blog and by email. Several emails, though, attacked both our products and our personal character, and criticized our programming and management skills. Needless to say, these both consume our time as we try to address the criticisms and drain us of enthusiasm for the project. Even the positive comments often result in lengthy email exchanges.

We’re at the point, especially with the upcoming version 3 of the iPhone OS, that we need to return to the old way of doing things and allow ourselves to work undistracted by both incoming emails and the pressure to release information to the PocketBibleiPhone email list. I’ve removed a few articles from our blog and disabled comments on others. We will return to a “no comment” policy with respect to products which may or may not be under development, and reserve the right to read but not reply to your emails.

We do appreciate your interest but hope you’ll understand our need to focus.

Laridian’s Jim VanDuzer: First Responder

Posted on: February 11th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 38 Comments

So we’re at Jim’s place in Pennsylvania this week, having our annual board of directors meeting and doing a little skiing at Blue Mountain. Jim’s on ski patrol there, which requires that he receive training as an Emergency Medical Service: First Responder. We’re on our way to the local Panera Bread to drink some coffee, tap their WiFi, and have our second session of meetings.

As we’re approaching the mall we come across a very fresh accident. The driver of a mini SUV has apparently run a red light and been clipped by a semi, causing the SUV to spin and the driver’s head to break out the driver’s-side window. Jim pulls over, grabs his med kit and heads to the scene to offer assistance. There he finds that the driver is covered with broken glass and is bleeding from a cut on her ear. Pictures after the break…

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How Our Blog Came to the Rescue

Posted on: February 10th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 1 Comment

If you’ve ever needed to contact us at Laridian for assistance, you’ve probably been fortunate to have been helped by Patty. If you go way back, you may have even talked with Patty on the phone. Patty has been our front-line provider of customer support for several years, is knowledgeable about our products, and genuinely interested in helping you resolve any problem that you might be having. (Well, maybe not any problem… but for sure any problem with a Laridian product :) ).

However, as competent as Patty might be, she’s still just one person. So, we recently began a search to find her some help.

As we were seeking a new person to help on a part-time basis with technical support and customer service, we knew we were looking for some one with a special set of talents:

  • Knowledge about our products,
  • Knowledge about our subject field (the Bible, mobile computing, etc.),
  • Excellent written communication skills,
  • Ability to follow instructions,
  • Desire to help our customers,
  • And, finally, patience, because (as difficult as it might be to believe) sometimes the frustrations of an unexpected problem can bring additional challenges to a support situation.

Knowing that we were looking for some one special, we chose to advertise for our part-time position in three venues:

  1. craigslist
  2. our local newspaper
  3. here at this blog

Additionally, in order to test written communication skills and the ability to follow instructions, the application process included some very specific instructions.

For some (as yet unknown) reason, the ad never appeared on craigslist. So, we didn’t receive any applicants from that source.

The ad in our local newspaper did generate some responses. However, none of these applicants followed the specific instructions that we provided. As a result, these applicants didn’t receive any of our attention. After all, if one cannot follow the application details, how will one perform at a detail-oriented job? (Hint: if you ever apply for a position with Laridian, or even as a beta tester, make sure you follow all of the provided instructions. That’s always our first filter, and it is surprisingly effective.)

Fortunately, the article here in our blog did generate interest from several interested and qualified persons. Many, but not all, followed the instructions, and thus made it past the first step. The remaining applicants were all strong candidates. Plus, most were also customers, and therefore already had knowledge of our products.

The second step was a brief questionnaire, sent to each remaining applicant. The questionnaire was designed to further explore written communication skills as well as to obtain more information than what had been originally asked for.

The third step was to further filter our qualified applicants. Craig and I independently reviewed the resumes and responses, then independently ranked the applicants based upon our own individual criteria. When we compared our results, we found that while our rankings weren’t exactly the same, we did seem to be in general agreement.

For the fourth step, I then conducted telephone interviews with the top few applicants. During a 60 to 90 minute conversation, we discussed the company, the position, and the candidate.

The result? If you need to contact us for assistance, you might still be fortunate to be assisted by Patty. But if not, you’ll probably be fortunate to be assisted by Brett. Brett has been an ardent Laridian customer for several years and is excited about the future of mobile computing and its impact on Bible study.

Plus, we learned that “advertising” here in our blog is an effective way to seek candidates for job openings. You all are a remarkably qualified and diverse group!

ESV Study Bible Clarification

Posted on: February 2nd, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

There has been some confusion about the status of the ESV Study Bible for PocketBible/MyBible. We frequently get asked when it will be done. The answer is we don’t know, because we’re not doing the development work for it.

As you know, Laridian is the only mobile Bible software company that offers a complete publishing solution that allows the owners of Bibles and Bible reference materials to self-publish in our format, and we’re one of very few non-mobile Bible software companies to do so. When we were approached by Crossway to publish the ESV Study Bible notes, one of the options we presented to them was self-publishing using BookBuilder. This was the option they chose.

In order to save the time and effort of learning our system, Crossway is actually using a third-party to create this product. The company doing the work is one that we also use. They know our system inside and out and have tools that make it easier for them to publish books for us than it would be for Crossway to do it on their own.

The result of all this is that we aren’t in control of the schedule for this product. We hear it’s coming soon. Unfortunately not everyone at Crossway (and maybe not even everyone at Laridian) understands how this project is being done, so there’s been some confusion when customers contact them (or us) and ask about the status. So this is the official word: This is a Crossway project, not a Laridian project. We hear it will be done “soon” but don’t know the exact schedule. When it is done, we’ll post a message here on the blog and send out an email to all our customers to let them know. You’ll be able to purchase it right here at the Laridian Web site.

Happy Anniversary to Us

Posted on: October 21st, 2008 by Craig Rairdin 17 Comments

It was ten years ago today that Laridian was incorporated. Time flies!

I started working on Bible software for Windows CE in April of 1998 while I was still at Parsons Technology. Parsons had decided it wasn’t interested in software for PDAs. That didn’t really matter since the sale of Parsons to Broderbund in 1997 had accidentally left me under no non-compete nor any intellectual property agreement of any kind. So I was free to launch a Bible software company even though it looked a little questionable.

(Interestingly, this would get tested in 2002 when the stockholders of Mattel sued Mattel and its executives over the lack of due diligence in the purchase of The Learning Company, which at the time was the owner of Parsons Technology. I was a witness for the plaintiffs (the shareholders) and was deposed for a day and a half. A team of lawyers went through my notebooks and phone logs covering the last couple years I was at Parsons. When they discovered I had started Laridian before leaving Parsons they really dug in — looking for a way to discredit my testimony. They were unable to find any evidence of any wrong-doing on my part, and eventually the shareholders won the suit and received several million dollars from Mattel.)

We incorporated on October 21, 1998 and our first sale was on November 28, 1998. I resigned from Parsons on December 11. Jeff Wheeler and Jim VanDuzer followed me in January.

The product now known as PocketBible for Windows Mobile was our first product. At the time it was called PalmBible and Windows Mobile was called Windows CE. Sometime in 1999 or 2000 some idiot at the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Palm, Inc. a trademark on the word “Palm” pretty much in any imaginable context. Palm started flexing its newly found power and threatened everyone using the word “Palm” in the title of their software. We received a letter saying we needed to change the name of our product. Microsoft had just come out with a new type of device it was calling “Pocket PC” and promised not to trademark the word “Pocket”, so PalmBible became PocketBible.

We didn’t know anything about electronic commerce at the time. Parsons sold a lot of products through its Web site but none of us were involved in the technical implementation of online sales so we didn’t know where to start. Fortunately Bob Parsons had started a Web hosting company in Phoenix by then so we called him up and had his company implement our Web store. As is normal with such things they did about 90% of it and called it good. We had to finish up a number of things, but that ended up being a good thing because it forced me to learn how the site worked and how to write VBScript and SQL.

Laridian was then and has remained a virtual company. We’ve never had office space; we all work from home. For a long time we sold our products only through the Web site, and only by download. So there wasn’t any inventory. We even provided our own computers for the first couple years (and worked without a salary), so the company didn’t even have any physical assets.

Over time that has changed a little bit. For a long time we distributed our physical products through distribution partners but we got burned three times by three different companies. So now that’s all handled in-house. Our “warehouse” is a storage garage, and we make trips there as necessary to replenish the stock of products one of us keeps at home for direct orders, or to put together larger orders for stores. (We sell our iPocketBible audio Bibles through Christian bookstores. Right now those are our only physical products.)

We’ve all had to make adjustments in our homes to work full-time from home. I had a small 9′ x 12′ office off our family room when the company first started, but I quickly outgrew it and needed more storage and work space. We ended up building an addition on the house so I could have a bigger space (and better sound-proofing). Now I have about a 14′ x 20′ office with a small storage room attached. This works great as I’m completely isolated from the rest of the house. This is important because we taught our five kids at home so there was always a lot of activity during the day. The kids were good about letting me work, but they still made a lot of noise. (My oldest three are married and out of the house now; the youngest two go to the Christian school run by our church.)

I worked ten years and two months for Parsons Technology, and that was my longest time at one job. In March I’ll have been working full-time for Laridian for that long. I think we’ve accomplished a lot and hope to keep doing it for another ten or more. We all appreciate those of you who have made us your PDA Bible software source over the years. You’re a big part of what makes it fun to do this job. Thanks for ten great years!

The Great Flood of 2008

Posted on: June 13th, 2008 by Craig Rairdin 5 Comments

A few of you have written to ask how we’re doing given all the flooding going on here in Cedar Rapids. We appreciate your concern. We’re all doing well.

A couple of interesting points. First is the media. Someone reported hearing one of the cable news channels refer to Cedar Rapids as “the city they said would never flood”. We don’t know who said that; the Cedar River overflows its banks fairly regularly in some areas of town. Normal level of the river is around 4′ at the point they measure it. Water begins affecting low-lying roads in some areas at 9.5′. The long-term prediction last month said there was as much as a 50-50 chance that we’d see water as high as 9.6′ this week based on just normal forecasted precipitation.

On the other hand, this is quite an event. Our last big flood was in 1993. 12′ is considered flood stage, with 16′ considered a major flood. In 1993 we hit 19.27′, which was just short of “the big one” which was 20′ in 1851. The river as I type is at 31.12′. That’s a lot of water.

Good Morning America was here this morning and reported that the entire city was under water. This came from a reporter (Sam Champion) who got in a fight with police because he wanted to stand waste-deep in the water to do his report. So clearly he could see dry land from where he was at, and that’s where the police wanted him to stand.

All this to say that you shouldn’t take the media seriously on anything they report.

My second point is political. After Katrina (clearly a more massive disaster than what we face here) there was a lot of complaining about the response of government. It was clear that the local and state government were completely unprepared for the scale of disaster they faced. Here in Cedar Rapids it is very clear that the local government, medical facilities, and utility companies are calmly executing their disaster plans. While a few idiots have had to be “rescued” from their houses after ignoring the mandatory evacuation orders, there is adequate shelter (including pets), transportation, and food to meet the need. I think it emphasizes the importance of handling local problems locally and not depending on the federal government to come in with their sledgehammer to fix problems better addressed with thumb tacks.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s happening, check out www.kcrg.com. Jeff has posted some pictures at www.accordingtojeff.com. I have posted some aerial views at my personal Web site.

Thanks again for your concern and prayers. While we’ve had extensive loss of property there has been no loss of life of which I’m aware, not even any major injuries.

Laridian and Native iPhone Apps Redux

Posted on: January 18th, 2008 by Craig Rairdin 29 Comments

Please note the date on this post. Read our more recent posts on the iPhone for more up-to-date information.

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Progress Report

Posted on: November 20th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

Wow it’s been a month since my last article. Time flies. (more…)

iPhone and Web 2.0 Apps

Posted on: June 19th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 17 Comments

Please note the date on this post. Read our more recent posts on the iPhone for more up-to-date information.

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