Complaints About Your Job? See This Then!

It’s the last week of September and we are in Calgary, the energy center of Canada. 2 weeks ago a sudden snow struck the city and killed quite a few trees. We can feel that winter is coming slowly into this growing city, both vertical and horizontally.

In 2012, Calgary added to the city its tallest building, “The Bow”, which is 779 feet. From outside, it is a beauty of steel and glass, no sign of concrete whatsoever. This is what we saw the other day when we visited our clients.

From the picture you can see the cleaning crew hanging way up in the air while cleaning the windows. They are probably trying to get the job done before the winter fully arrives. I think there are lots of people that are afraid of heights, so those people must to a certain degree, like such risky jobs, but personally I feel blessed to be able to walk on solid ground and appreciate the job I have.

It is fair to say that none of us have the perfect job. We make tradeoffs here and there and try to have a balance between what we have and what we want. We develop drilling software and this task requires intensive coding. Occasionally, I lose myself in the midst of numerous lines of programming codes and feel like the purpose of the work gets a little fuzzy. Trips like this one help me see how lucky we are and how much we already have and the chance to meet our users is always a plus. Nothing beats to see how our drilling software helps drilling engineers on their daily tasks.

Do I complain about my job? I try not to. Living in a real world, we all have different jobs. The perfect job does not exist because each of us has our own definition of it and even if it does exist, somebody else has it. Maybe the perfect job cannot be found, but is created through a combination of harnessing our potential that not only increases our performance, but brings us more job satisfaction.

Two-Minded People

“I have two minds.” Quote from the book “Of Two Minds” by Carol Matas.

This is a phrase that can basically be applied to anything that involves decision-making.

When making a decision to buy or use a product, we all have two minds. We have a “buyer mind” when we want to get a product because we either have a problem, a need or a goal, and we believe this product will help us solve the problem, meet the need or reach the goal. But, we’ve got choices… and sometimes too many, so we would argue! Making a decision is always hard. We have to consider other products that can also meet our goals. Which one is a better product? What features does this product have that the others don’t? What features do these other products have that this one doesn't? What’s the cost difference between this product and the others? Sometimes we even take account other people’s opinions and recommendations on the matter. Considering all this narrows down our choices and helps us make a good decision.

Sometimes we wonder why some people would purchase an expensive product, but someone we trust recommends it, so we buy it, and after using it, we then understand why it was so highly recommended. The product is great to use and we realize now that the benefits it brings are of great value to us.

This is when our other mind, our “user mind” comes into action. It engages when we start using the product and when we start answering the questions we had when we were making the decision to buy it. “Is my problem solved or at least closer to being solved?” “Is it meeting my needs?” “Is it helping me reach my goal or does it feel like I'm making progress towards it?” And when the answer to all these questions is a big YES, we not only feel competent, but we also feel capable and effective.

Our “buyer mind” considers different things than our “user mind”. A “buyer mind” looks at our problems, needs and goals, considers the features and prices, and makes what looks like the best decision for us. Our “user mind” often chooses the best value, it’s the one responsible in using the product every day and the one that knows for sure whether our goals were met or not.

In our business of designing and developing drilling software, we are very aware that our customers are two-minded people and sometimes the buying mind and using mind have two different bodies. For example, the executives of a certain company make the decision to buy our software based on the perceived benefits to their company; however they won’t personally use our software and the actual users may not have been involved in making the purchasing decision, but they both have one interest in common: to make usage of the software to achieve the goal.

Buyer Mind and User Mind

That’s why our main goal at PVI is to satisfy the strategic goals of the buyer and meet the immediate needs of the users. When we talk about designing and development processes, we always consider “buyer mind” and “user mind”. We want our customers to accomplish what they bought the software to accomplish.

We've been talking about buyer mind, and user mind, but there are more minds than that to consider when we’re interested in a product. Think of these minds as a set of goals or concerns at play at the time you're considering the software. When you learn about it and consider all its great factors you will focus more on the enjoyment you’ll get from that interesting experience.

Attributes of Drilling Software

Socrates once said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates believed that the whole purpose of human life was about personal and spiritual growth. We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life.

A company is like a living human being, who goes through various growing stages, from infant, childhood, adolescence to adulthood. Last week, 4 of our marketing people sat down and had a discussion on the core values that a drilling software company like us should have.

We agreed not to copy any of the phrases from the internet on company values. Many of these are well written, but they may not suit our particular needs. We want to look inward to see what we are cherishing and to identify the attributes that are missing in order to become a top provider of drilling software.

Each one of us listed 6 values and then we combined those 24 values until we narrowed it down to the final 6 core values for our company. Here is our thought process.

Core Values Thought Process

Core Values Thought Process

The selection process was simple and fun. As soon as we wrote down the final 6, we all agreed that these values should be the ones posted on our break room wall.

We did not use big words like “excellence”, because for instance, if our team members are honest, have great attitudes and take responsibilities, we will have excellent products and services. If we are passionate by default, we are diligent.

Our drilling software is “us” in digital formats. We put our knowledge into the software’s DNA. The more professional we become, the better product we produce. In other words, these 6 values are the attributes of our software in the eyes of our users.

As a team, we strive to be balanced between work and life. Our products are the results of the balance between technical brilliance and aesthetic designs.

Our graphic guru is designing the poster now. Once it is done and hung on the wall, I will post it on the blog. You will see it as soon as we see it.

Ancient Memorial and Software Report

The oldest written Chinese characters are on bronze ware, stones and mostly on bamboo or wood slips. The bamboo or wood slips allowed the Chinese to preserve their history, keep records and exchange knowledge, but one can only imagine how hard it would be to read one of these books.

The legend says that Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, was very diligent in managing official businesses. He set a rule for himself that he would not go to bed until he finished reading 31kg (68lb) of bamboo slips of memorials submitted by subordinates. You can tell the amount of reading at that time was measured by weight. Back then, reading was a physical exercise as well as a brain exercise. By the way, Qin Shi Huang’s reading speed was amazing. By calculation, the memorials he read every day exceeded 300,000 words.

Later, plain silk joined the bamboo and wood slips as a material for writing and painting. Silk has advantages over the slips in that it was much lighter and could be cut into desired shapes and folded, as well as easy to be kept and carried. Due to its cost, silk was never as popular as the slips so it was later replaced by another miraculous invention: “the paper”, which we have been using till now.

One of many disadvantages of bamboo or wood slips is its excessive use of natural resources. The problem might not have been so severe at that time because the population was small and not many people read. Now, the environmental impact of paper is more significant than ever as paper becomes a cheap commodity due to highly mechanized harvesting of wood.

The next movement is to create a paperless society, which would not use paper to print texts, but would display texts on a computer screen or mobile devices.

For our drilling software users, going paperless does not have to mean they’d lose something. Digital content in the form of MS Word or PDF is not just greener but provides an unmatched convenience. This picture shows an MS Word report generated by CEMPRO, our mud displacement model.

Report from CEMPRO

Report from CEMPRO

Converting to a paperless practice brings many advantages such as saving on printing documents, photocopies and storage space, as well as easy email management and improved customer service.

Today, it is tough to make great software because you have to make it environment friendly as well as user friendly.

5 Benefits of Drilling Software Training

These days software, in general, becomes more and more user-friendly, even as it gets more and more sophisticated. We, as users, also have more confidence in using software without being bothered to read manuals or attend training sessions. Our busy schedules do not allow us to attend software training.

The situation is the same for drilling software users. As drilling engineers, whether we work in oil companies or in service companies, we always have next wells to drill, meetings to attend and deadlines to meet. We are so busy focusing on output that sometimes we forget about taking the time to receive input and recharge ourselves.

Unlike MS Office, drilling engineering software is not general-purpose software. It requires more specific knowledge to obtain results and understand the meanings of those results. Drilling software training should always be the first step to effectively use a software.  Here are the reasons why software training is necessary:

1. Understand the engineering models

All drilling engineering software is based on certain mathematical and engineering models. Understanding these models behind the graphic user interfaces helps us acknowledge the limitations of the software as well as the capabilities.

2. Interpret data meaningfully

Drilling software needs input data such as survey, BHA, wellbore and mud properties to predict hook load, pump pressure and ECD, etc. Like other software, only meaningful input data can lead to meaningful output data. It is necessary for users to know what the required input data is and to explain the meanings of the output data and charts to their colleagues or clients.

3. Increase efficiency

Training helps potential users to see the big picture as well as the tricks and features of the software. Once users know more aspects of the drilling software, they can use the software more efficiently. For example, survey data is essential to describe the well path and calculate the torque, drag and hydraulics. Survey data can be in various formats, Excel, text or PDF. All of our software can import data from these formats. The survey import feature saves tremendous time, especially when importing survey data from a PDF file.

4. Gain confidence

Software training connects the users with the developers of the software. The 2-way communication helps the users understand the ideas and structures of the software. Once users understand the inside calculations, the software is no longer a black box to them. Training removes the mysterious veil of the software. Users become more confident on explaining the results to clients.

5. Guide and influence

The software development training also provides a platform for users to influence and even guide the software development. Users, involved in field operations, can give suggestions, which can enhance the functions. This leads to better versions and win-win situations for software vendors and users.

Ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius once said:

“I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.”

How true this is to drilling software training.

Imagination, Prediction and Reality

There is a joke about the human brain and it goes like this: our brain has two parts. One is the left brain and the other is in the right. The right one has nothing left and the left one has nothing right.

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is” right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.

Artists may use the right side of their brains more to maximize creativity, but if they exhaust their imagination, their art works lose their appeal.

Sometimes, we, as viewers, participate in the creative process when we enjoy a good piece of art. This can be demonstrated in our appreciation of the statue of Venus de Milo. The statue is widely renowned for the mystery of her missing arms. The missing arms do not stop people from appreciating this marvelous work of ancient Greek. People are fascinated by the missing parts and are creating their own interpretations of the possible positions of the missing arms. By imagination, everyone creates a Venus statue in their mind. Maybe that is the everlasting beauty of Venus: the incompleteness of an original work of art.

However, in the world of engineering, we strive to remove any uncertainties as much as possible. Drilling software is a tool for drilling engineers to help them predict what will happen on the rig floor and downhole.

The following graph shows the hook load prediction using TADPRO (torque and drag model).

Hook Load Prediction Using TADPRO (torque and drag model).

Hook Load Prediction Using TADPRO (torque and drag model).

Charts like these give drilling engineers guidelines as to what to expect during drilling operations. This way, we can see the upcoming reality with little imagination.

Language War, No More

I made a stop in Paris during my trip to Dubai. Although I don’t speak a word of French, I somehow managed to get around and order meals. I’ve heard from others that some French people deliberately speak French to English-speaking visitors, even though they’re able to speak English. Whether this is true or not, I’m not sure. I myself didn’t meet many people who do not speak English in Paris. If this statement is true, which I doubt it; it would be hard for us to understand one another. To communicate in our own native tongue is hard enough, why create an artificial barrier?

While visiting the Louvre museum, I noticed that all the labels are in French, which I found quite visitor-unfriendly, since most of the visitors in that museum are foreigners. This made my quick tour of the museum quicker than anticipated. I briefly looked through most of the art works except one painting that caught my attention: I even did not need to read the label to understand it.  I was so fascinated by this painting that I even took a picture of it.

David in Louval

As you may already know, the painting depicts the Bible story of David and Goliath. According to the Bible, David heard that the Philistine giant Goliath challenged the Israelites to send their own champion to decide the outcome in single combat. David went out to face Goliath alone. David picked five smooth stones from a nearby brook and struck Goliath in the forehead with a stone from his sling. Goliath fell dead, and David took Goliath's sword and beheaded him. I read that story a couple of weeks ago and it was delightful to refresh my memory in front of the giant painting.

As they say, art does not have borders. Art does not rely on language to manifest its meaning, just like we can appreciate and understand the paintings and sculptures from France and Italy without speaking their languages.

I’ve been involved in the drilling engineering field for a long time and met many drilling engineers from different countries, mostly during our software training sessions. We all are able to communicate with each other easily despite our language differences. I figured out it must be due to the following reasons:

  • Most people in the drilling industry can understand and speak some English.
  • Tables and charts are easier to understand than articles.
  • Our software has been translated into Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Portuguese.

TADPRO - Torque and Drag Multilanguage

It is our goal and effort to create some universal engineering tools for our drilling community.

This is Your Life

To make a long story short. When I was in Banff, Canada I went to this store and saw a big poster with the words: “This is Your Life”. I was quite touched by these words, so much that I bought a few inspirational posters once I was back in Houston.

Now, one of them is hanging on the wall in our break room in the office.

This is your life

The story behind this poster hanging on our wall is that someone wrote these sentences as some kind of resolution to inspire himself. His friends found them so inspiring that they started to copy the writings, then, this guy started out a business by selling these kinds of posters. Why not? Making money while inspiring people seems like a good way of earning a living.

Even though it is difficult to follow them, I agree with every phrase in the poster. These phrases are the author’s personal words, but I believe it is a good idea to put the poster in our office area.  After all, we’re all just normal people before we are software developers and salesmen and we all need inspiration in life.

We make drilling software. The quality of our software is the reflection of the dedication we put in our work. We spend 1/3 of our time working. Our work is part of our lives. If we can improve our lives, we improve our software.

This is our life and this is our software.

Location, Location and Location

There is an old joke in the real estate industry:

Question: “When establishing the value of a house, what are the 3 most important factors?”

Answer: “Location, location and location.”

In other words the area where the property is located is the one and only important matter and everything else you could say about it hardly matters.

This can be applied to a country as well. On my way back to Houston from a recent trip to Dubai I read an article about the upcoming world EXPO 2020, which will be hosted in Dubai. The article talks about the convenient location of Dubai. Two-thirds of the world’s population lives within an 8 hour flight from Dubai. No wonder Dubai’s international airport is as busy at night as it is during the day. My return flight from Dubai always leaves at around midnight, so that I can be either in Amsterdam or Paris in the morning to make my connection.

Dubai, UAE | Location of Pegasus Vertex, Inc. Drilling Software Agent

Dubai, UAE

Customers in the Dubai International Airport, 1:30 am

Customers in the Dubai International Airport, 1:30 am

As the largest city in the UAE and the center point between Europe, Asia and Africa, Dubai has become a favorite city for the biggest headquarters of oil and gas, and service companies, including Russia’s Lukoil (oversea unit), and Halliburton among others.

By comparison, Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, well recognized worldwide for the energy industry. We are fortunate to live and work in this dynamic city from which we supply drilling engineering software and support our users.

Houston is an ideal location to support users in North America. It is also a gateway to many South American countries. It is said that over 90 languages are spoken in the Houston area. Our drilling software also “speaks” various languages for instance, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Portuguese.

In spite of the hot summers, mild winters and occasional hurricanes, I do not have much to complain. Houston is a pretty good location for a drilling software provider like us.

The Best is Yet to Come

The following is told by an American lady:

“My grandmother always used to tell us, “keep your forks.” when the main dishes were being cleared from the table. It was my favorite part of dinner, because I knew that something wonderful was coming… like a velvety chocolate cake or a deep-dish apple pie.”

A similar expression would be “You have not seen anything yet.” or as my 8-year old daughter told me, “I am not done yet!” when I gave her an applause after she sang the song from the movie “Frozen”.

Life is a simple and normal routine. Everyone has the same number of hours in a day and the same number of days in a year. It is up to us to make our daily routines more interesting, to fill our time doing things that will make us grow in every aspect of our lives, to make the most of our time. We cherish the hope that our present situation is not our final destination. The best is yet to come.

For us software developers, we are continuously enhancing the drilling software that is being developed. We certainly can’t add more hours to our day, but we can make our development more efficient. We will probably spend the same amount of time as we did last year, but we will have better products in 2014.

The latest release of our cementing software CEMPRO+ is a milestone. Why? Because this is the first time we address the displacement efficiency during the multi-fluid displacement operations such as cementing or wellbore cleanup. Before CEMPRO+ we used to assume that the drilling mud was completely displaced by the cement slurry with the use of a piston. This convenient assumption makes the hydraulics relatively easy, but it fails to predict the mud channeling which occurs due to many factors such as, differences in the cement properties and mud flow rates, and the casing centralization. A typical illustration of mud channeling is shown here:

Mud channel left on the narrow side of the annulus

Mud channel left on the narrow side of the annulus (Macondo incident-Chief Counsel’s report, 2011)

CEMPRO+ can help predict the mud fractions in the annulus during a cementing job. The following picture is a snap shot from the program. It looks neat. Graphics are more significant, because they show what really happens in the wide and narrow sides of the annulus.

Displacement Efficiency Illustration in CEMPRO+

Displacement Efficiency Illustration in CEMPRO+

If our CEMPRO has been on your software menu, keep your forks, because the best is yet to come.