September 18, 20141 Comment

A Working Adventure: Coding in Brazil

RubyConf - Plataformatec

I recently returned to Chicago after spending three weeks in Brazil. While I did get to spend some time relaxing on the beach, it certainly wasn’t all vacation.

Here at Table XI, we’ve been developing an International Exchange Program where developers can travel abroad to work with and learn from software experts all over the globe.  For our people, this is a really unique opportunity to learn about other cultures, pair with amazing people,  and connect to the broader software community outside of Chicago. While visiting, we always try to engage in the local community, actively participating in regional conferences and other community outreach programs.

Read more

January 27, 2014No Comments

Coding in Costa Rica: The Developer Exchange Experiment

costa-rica_58Every year, wherever you are on December 13th, there's probably a code retreat happening someplace near you. That's because it's the Global Day of Code Retreat, and this past December, I traveled to San José, Costa Rica, for it. Part of the reason I trekked so far to participate was because Costa Rican software shop Pernix Solutions invited me to be a guest facilitator. On top of that, Table XI and Pernix wanted to try out a Developer Exchange, so this was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Read more

March 28, 2012No Comments

10 Things We Learned in Costa Rica

We swam, we surfed, we SQL queried. Between the beach and the tiki hut office, there was lots to glean from our time in Costa Rica:

  1. Contrary to popular belief, developers are not allergic to sunlight.
  2. Hammocks make good desks.
  3. A day iterating on Facebook's API is a day well spent.
  4. When you want a good photo, ask a Schwartz.
  5. Jason Pearl builds cloud-based games and Imperial pyramids with equal levels of dedication and ingenuity.
  6. Chef Aram has ninja knife skills. And now we all know how to chop an onion properly.
  7. Just say no to traveling on the day two major airlines merge.
  8. Just say yes when someone asks you if you have a phone in your pocket before they throw you in the water.
  9. Meetings are more fun when they happen in pools.
  10. The two rarest things to see in the wild: sloths and a John Gore smile.

 

Check out some other highlights from our trip:

[portfolio_slideshow]

Want access to more articles like this?  Subscribe now to stay up to date on the latest from Table XI 

March 7, 2012No Comments

Costa Rica Is Pura Vida

Before our trip, I found myself in conversations with clients and friends, trying to articulate why we were bringing all our employees, their significant others, and their children to Costa Rica for a weeklong corporate retreat. Most were congratulatory at being able to provide such an experience; many requested jobs; a handful, I suspect, if even for a moment, thought this might be a junket.

The reality, however, is that the trip is an extension of who we are as a company. It’s a progression of our flexible hours, catered lunches, and ability to work abroad—perks that allow us to compete for talent in our industry and find employees who are more than just employees. We endeavor to provide an environment that elevates an individual from trusted colleague to friend.

Our recent growth—including 11 employees last year—as well as the departure of two long-time staffers necessitated a renewed focus on our team and where we're headed as an organization. In much the same way we encourage clients to meet at our office and step outside the day-to-day of their existence, we wanted to do the same.

[portfolio_slideshow]

We used this time to review development best practices and testing strategies. We intermingled teams exploring the depths of the Facebook API, cut our teeth on mobile platforms, exposed developers to new languages, and leveraged unfamiliar tools like mailgun and Refinery CMS, which will have immediate utility for our clients.

Read more

February 28, 2012No Comments

The Pacific Beckons

The time: 6am, Saturday morning. The place: O'Hare. The destination: Costa Rica.

50 of us, including TXI staffers, significant others, kids, and a few friends all arrived in Playa Grande, Costa Rica this past Saturday. Following a company welcome dinner that night and boat ride on Sunday, we've buckled down for the past two days working on new techniques, new projects, and new tans.

But this trip isn't just about fun in the sun. It’s easy for big picture items to get lost in day-to-day minutia, so we leverage this chance to take time, take a step back, and take stock of where we can make improvements company-wide.

Primarily, we’ll be looking at ways to run and deliver projects with greater efficiency and transparency. We’ll be talking about engineering best practices like automated testing and continuous integration, as well as the latest project management tools that will give our clients more insight and control around their projects and budgets. These advances will have a huge impact on our clients, allowing us to work more efficiently and cycle talent onto projects faster. They will also give clients more flexibility to change or add features along the way, without fear of upset apple carts or blooming budgets.

We'll also be examining how we communicate what we do to the marketplace. We've done good work for a lot of people, but thus far have remained mostly under the radar. Our marketing team has some great ideas about how to elevate the profile of our organization, and we're looking forward to putting that plan into action.

There will be a lot more to report once we return in early March. We’re so grateful that we as a company have the ability to take retreats like this, and ultimately we think our clients will be, too.

We’ll be uploading photos to Facebook throughout the week, so check in for some vicarious sunshine.

Want access to more articles like this?  Subscribe now to stay up to date on the latest from Table XI 

June 11, 2010No Comments

Work and Fun in the Costa Rican Sun


A benefit of running a Web consultancy is that you can ostensibly do it anywhere there's an Internet connection. In the spirit of Table XI's "work hard, play hard" mentality, we recently took our twelve staffers (plus five significant others) to Costa Rica for a week of rejuvenation, strategic planning, team building, and corporate reflection.

February 27-March 6 saw us zip-lining through rainforests, surfing, and hooking fish in the deep sea (well, attempting to, anyway). But the week wasn't all sunset cruises and spa treatments: We also used the time to have those conversations that never seem to materialize amid ringing phones and nonstop emails.

We spent two full days on strategic planning and development, reviewing projects, assessing new technology and infrastructure needs, and discussing ways to improve processes. We took the time to thoroughly examine and make transparent the company's financials, allowing every employee to see where dollars were coming in and going out, how their time contributed to our continued growth, and how unconventional programs like our in-house meals are actually making us money.

Our trip was also the perfect opportunity to launch an activity we're calling "Pet Projects." One of our company's greatest assets is its collection of big brains, and it is a future goal to produce our own content in addition to the work we do with our clients. To that end, we developed and vetted staffer-generated concepts that included everything from Web sites to iPhone games and applications. This exercise in rapid prototyping and evaluation resulted in some pretty fun work that we're excited to explore further, and which you may be hearing more about in the months to come.

Of course, no week would be complete without an excellent meal concocted by our very own Ellen Brast, who cooked a delicious red snapper dinner on our final night. As if all that weren't enough, we also found our new mascot, Bert, an eight-year-old green parrot that loves to eat, goof off, and play with computers. Appropriate, no?

We recognize that not every company has the means to take its employees on such a trip, and we count ourselves lucky that we were able to do so. It may seem like an unconventional--some might say crazy--expenditure, but our Costa Rican adventure gave us opportunities to focus on Table XI's long-term goals, prove our company culture, and grow closer as coworkers and team members. We came back refreshed and excited to dive into 2010.

Want access to more articles like this?  Subscribe now to stay up to date on the latest from Table XI 

GoodFirms Badge