Archive for July, 2005

Finally, some sense

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

I had to post this quote as to my mind it is the single most well thought out comment about the situation regarding Muslims and the integration into whatever country they are choosing to live. We talk about multiculturalism a lot, and are trying very hard to integrate disparate communities into the Canadian mosaic, and maybe the statement needs to be made

“Be welcome, but please leave your baggage at the door”

Thank you Dr Elmasry.

By the way - this comment should apply to all immigrant groups, not just Muslims

TORONTO (CP) - Muslims must move beyond condemnation of global terrorist attacks and work to integrate into the political and social life of Canada and other western democracies, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress said Friday.

Two terrorist incidents in as many weeks in London has pushed the long-standing issue to the forefront for Canada’s Muslims, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry said in an interview.

“I call it beyond condemnation,” said Elmasry of a sermon he planned to deliver Friday afternoon.

“Canadian Muslims can push for smart integration. It means they have to be an active Canadian citizen and the same time they can practice their religion.”

“(Where you are) born is not really the issue,” said Elmasry,

Too many Canadian Muslims conduct their lives apart from the larger society, which leads to a dependency on imported foreign ideologies, he said.

“Then if you are frustrated by x, y, z, political issue, you might actually use violence to propagate your agenda.”

That, he said, illustrates the urgent need for smart integration.

“The apathy among Canadian Muslims is above the national average in terms of not voting in elections, because we don’t see the benefit why. This is not acceptable,” said Elmasry.

“This is what we have to really ingrain in the minds of young people.”

selecting package software - Open Source clues

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

As you are working through the software selection process, you create a needs analysis to act as your benchmark. This basically states what you want from the product and how important each of the desired features are.

The next step is to find products that are potential candidates and determine how well those products fit your needs.

There are endless sources for product information, from promotional material being delivered to your office through to the endless amount of material on the Internet. The trick is to determine what is sales hype and what is verifiable fact, and that can be extremely tricky.

With conventional products, you really have four major sources of information

  • sales brochures
  • sales personnel
  • reference accounts
  • user groups

For Open Source products, there doesn’t tend to be a sales force, so you have to follow a different path. The best sources I’ve found for Open Source are the forums and the Wiki’s. Now you are asking - what the heck are those?

A Wiki is basically a community developed documentation effort, which tends to be the way documentation is created for Open Source products. To cut a long story short - the documentation is developed by the user and development community.

A forum is a site on the Internet where users and developers communicate about a product.

Both of these give you a good opportunity to get unbiased views on the product in question.

Ok - enough for now - more later……

If you would like further help on product selection, please contact us

Step up to the plate

Friday, July 15th, 2005

By now the news wires are starting to settle down about the bombings on the Tube in London and the various investigative authorities are following the many thousands of leads.

The latest information that I have come across is that these dreadful deeds were performed by british lads. That is the worst possible news. It means that violence perpetrated against Muslims will increase across Britain and all of the people that get their jollies off promoting racial hatred will have a field day.

Unfortunately the Muslim community isn’t doing what it needs to do to quell this tide. I’ve seen various press releases that are just weasel politics that have been released by leading Muslim figures. One had the temerity to say that Christians commit murder, so it is not fair to target Islamic groups when something like this happens.

Excuse me!!

I think it is fair to say that there are Islamic organizations across the world that are promoting this type of terrible activity, both from the ideologic and financial sense and unless you take a positive stand against it, you are inherently complicit.

The muslim community in the UK, through its leaders needs to make an unequivocal and consistent statement that this type of terrible deed is WRONG……period

Additionally, the muslim community in the UK needs to step up to the plate on this and cough these terror cells up. I find it very difficult to believe that no one knew anything.

In a way this is like the situation with gang shootings in nightclubs - the whole place was in the bathroom when the police interview potential witnesses. You have to stand up and be counted otherwise you will be tarred with the same brush, and you will have no one but yourself to blame.

Selecting package software needs analysis

Friday, July 15th, 2005

So now you have your needs analysis done. Put it in a drawer for a couple of days and do something else, and then pull it out again and go through it. Be harsh with your evaluations to determine whether the “must haves” really are must haves.

I’ve seen needs analysis that were for relatively simple projects that put them into the NASA league, and believe you me - you don’t want to go there. You end up with a very very narrow scope of potential candidates and end up turning blind eyes to better and more flexible products. I had one where the chief decision maker was very rigid and it ended up costing the organization $250,000 to purchase the product, whereas a little more flexibility could have gotten a free Open Source product.

Ok - back to the needs analysis. One potential use for a needs analysis is to be able to quantify how good a fit a product has to your requirements. The way to do this is to assign a points value to each criteria. Obviously, if a product cannot meet your ‘must haves’ then it is eliminated, but it becomes difficult sometimes to distinguish between the other candidates. So get your calculators out……

Assign a points value of 100 for each ‘must have’, 50 for each ‘very important’, 20 for each nice to have and 5 for each ‘not important’ and then grade the product. For each requirement, estimate how well and completely the product meets the requirement.

You will note the inconsistency here - I said if a product doesn’t meet your ‘must haves’ then you eliminate it, and then go on to describe scoring it. This is because there are many ways to meet a requirement, and some are significantly easier to deal with than others. If my requirement was to ship electronic format product between a variety of geographic locations, then I could do this by copying diskettes or CD’s and shipping them, or by electronic communications. You have to decide what that means to your organization.

At the end of this exercise you have a spreadsheet that allows you to compare like products. The one with the highest score is most likely your best candidate, but a note of caution here. The real use behind this is to allow you to COMPARE the products in a quantifiable way - but not to automate the decision process. Please, please, please make an informed decision, not just a mathematical one.

So far, the process we have described can apply to any product, both open source and commercial. With open source products, it is usually easier to get an unbiased opinion of how well it meets needs and in our next article we will be looking at ways of getting those opinions.

If you would like further help on product selection, please contact us

How to select a package - the first steps

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

When you are looking to implement any software package, the first step is what is called a needs analysis.

It can be a complicated process for many organizations, but in essence what you are tring to do is to make sure that the software fits in with what you need it to do, and works in a way that is compatible with your organization. The second part of this cannot be understated, as the best software in the world will not work in your place of business if it doesn’t fit in with the mindset of the people using it. Some of the most spectacular software implementation failures haven’t been because the software was bad, it was because the people that were using it either couldn’t or wouldn’t use it.

Let’s start with the needs.

The best and most straighforward way to do this is to get your pencil out and make a list. Start with big concepts and then break those down to the point where they can be answered with a simple yes or no answer. If you are ending up with a list of thousands - you are either at too low a level or you work for NASA.

Once you have done that then go through the list and grade each one with a level of desirability - keep it simple and use ‘must’, ‘very important’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘not important’.

‘must’ means that if the software doesn’t support this completely, then you don’t consider the software any further

‘very important’ means that if the software doesn’t support this completely or very close to completely it will be a major impact to your business

‘nice to have’ means that it will make your life easier and will give quantifiable benefits, but the world won’t end if you don’t have this feature

‘not important’ is the fluffy type features that look good on advertising, but really don’t provide quantifiable benefits

Once you have the grading, then simplify your life and get rid of the ‘not importants’

Now you have your checklist and its time to go do your homework. I’m presuming at this point that you are doing this research yourself rather than getting a consultant in to help. Personally, I would suggest getting a bit of support here, as it is dollars well spent.

Next we talk about how to use the needs analysis and souces of information to help you complete the process.