Nicom Builds Enhanced Container Tracking Web App

Earlier in the year, Nicom put into production for the Port of Halifax an “Enhanced Container Tracking” web application, which answers the question definitively, “Where is my container?”. That seems to be a simple enough question, but if the answer is “over there, see, under that stack of other containers,” then that doesn’t do you much good.

Or if the answer is “right here, see, but it’s being held up by customs,” that’s no good either.

What’s needed is a place where people can see not only where their containers are, but also when they’ll be ready for pickup, and what’s their status in terms of held and released.

That is what the system—part of the Halifax Gets it There portal, also built by Nicom—will do. After a container has arrived in Halifax, every phase of its journey is tracked—it’s been taken off the vessel, it’s now on a rail car, it’s left the terminal, etc. See

In order to be able to do its job, the portal takes feeds from many sources and generates a schedule. Users can register to the system and get notices via text or email whenever the status of a container they are interested in changes.

What’s next? Nicom is now doing a design for an “Operational Dashboard”, which will make other logistics information more visible. Stay tuned.

We have an Author Among Us!

After many months of work, our own Mike  Hatfield is a published author. His technology book, “CoffeeScript Application Development Cookbook” has been published and is now available on the Packt and Amazon websites.

Mike has a  LinkedIn post on the subject, at

Congratulations to Mike on this significant achievement!

Being Productive in Spite of the Weather

In the middle of our last winter storm, one of our customers called in a panic that they could not get in the office and wanted to know if we could do an important update for them. Which of course we did. But here’s the interesting part: our office was also empty on account of the storm. Their call was redirected to Leanne’s cell phone, and she got online and emailed Ryan, also stranded at his home, who logged into the server remotely and did the required update. At Nicom, we have a policy of providing free high-speed home Internet to our employees, but the trade-off is we expect them to still be productive in a storm. All it takes is a little preparation (and for the power to stay on).


“thenextphase” Raising Capital Workshop was Intense

I just finished an all-weekend workshop in Halifax on raising capital to fuel growth for companies. It was sponsored by ACOA and what an intense thing it was. At its core was a methodology and an online tool for defining at a very deep level what your company is all about, who its customers are, and what customer pain it solves. From there, you get into growth plans and what you need capital for, as well as what returns that capital will generate.

Raising capital is not something I ever looked at before, but it’s good to know how it all works. There is a lot more to it than first meets the eye.

There’s a Lot to an Exchange Server Upgrade

One of our employees is off to Meteghan River this weekend in the beautiful (full disclosure: I’m from there) Acadian district of Nova Scotia. He is doing an Exchange Server upgrade for a client who is moving from Exchange Server 2003 to Exchange Server 2013. Simple, n’est-ce pas? Copy files from A to B and Bob’s your N’Oncle.

Well as it turns out, you can’t get to there from here quite that easily. There is no direct route from 2003 to 2013, and you must go via an interim install of Exchange 2010 running on a Windows Server 2008, which you do in a virtualized environment. Then you have to migrate all the user mailboxes, then decommission the old Exchange 2003 server, then install the new Exchange 2013 server (which needs a new version of Windows Server, by the way), then migrate the files again from 2010 to 2013, then decommission the Exchange 2010 server.

Then test everything. Oh, and there can be no downtime for email while all this is going on.

I know Orin’s up to the task. And he’ll get well fed while he’s down there.