Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003, 12:53 AM

Job Description

There have been several inquires as to the exact nature of my job. So I will tell you what it is that I do. I will begin with my job title. I am the COO, or Chief Operating Officer. Before that I was the Vice President and before that I was the Information Technology Manager and before that I was the Information Systems Manager and before that I was a Database Specialist and I have always been a Lackey. In the four and a half years at this company I have had many titles and only one desk and one office. I have worked for a market research company, an information distribution company and a software development and consulting company without ever having the view from my office window change, aside from the seasons.

I won't bore you with the details of how all this came to pass. I will tell you that the company has evolved and I have too. Darwin would have had a field day watching my company morph and change and adapt to survive, and over the years only three things have remained constant with the company-me, my boss, and my office. My company develops and sells software for the distribution and printing of variable content PDF files. Huh? It's also known as variable data, one-to-one marketing, direct mail, etc. Huh? Okay, listen, you know when you get a piece of mail that says "Bob Smith, you may have won a million dollars!" or "Thanks for shopping at the Megalo Food Mart. Enclosed are some coupons for garlic humus and tampons as we are tracking your purchasing habits." Well those mailing pieces begin as a graphic arts file (Quark, Pagemaker, Freehand, InDesign, Word) and a database/spreadsheet/list of names (SQL, Excel, FileMaker, Access, Paradox, Oracle, Word) and these two components get merged to create a file with unique information (names, address, bra size, bank account number, shoe size, spam preference) for each piece to be distributed. *pant* Are you still with me?

Our software performs the merge of the data and the graphic arts file in a PDF format, so that the end result is that one or more PDF files with graphic content (pictures, coupons, advertisements) get merged with the stream of data to create a multi-page PDF file or multiple single-page PDF files as output. That's the short version. There is also the bit about the preparation of the graphic arts files, the validation of the data, the postal processing if the piece is to distributed via automated or presorted mail, the creation of high and low resolution content if it is to be distributed or viewed or approved via the internet. There's also the managing of the whole project and hand-holding of the customers to make sure the projects succeeds despite their best self-defeating efforts.

Oh, then there's the whole bit about dealing with the large traditional printing presses, digital presses, and other output devices with propriety input formats for the DFE (digital from ends) that sit is front of these half-million dollar to multi-million boxes of ink, toner, and paper. We need to support all of that crap for each of the major manufactures like Hewlett Packard (HP), International Business Machines (IBM), Xerox, Indigo, and others. That's why I travel. I have to go to these conferences and techie geek meetings to learn all the of the languages that these presses speak and understand so that I can program the jobs to run optimally on whichever device the customers wish to use. My company is very good at this.

I have my own group of lackeys who toil beneath me and do my bidding. Programmers, designers, accountants, consultants, bookkeepers, and production personnel all working toward the greater good of the company under my direction.I manage the finances, I approve the travel, I manage all of the programming projects, I attend and speak at industry trade shows and conferences and I provide customer support. Among other things I conduct market research satisfactions surveys, analyze the results and manufacture reports from the returned data.

So, that's what I do every day. Any questions?

And yet I still manage to find time to update this damn diary.