Richard Stallman Speaking in Belfast

The FOSS Means Business conference will take place in Belfast on Thursday the 16th March 2006. This all-island event will focus on the adoption and use of Free Software/Open Source Software (FOSS), with particular emphasis on the economic and competitive benefits for both the public and private sector.

They’ve also got Bruce Perens.

More details here.

Spires Belfast

How to avoid losing 150m Euro

It now seems obvious that the Healthcare Payroll system was destined to fail. If you were working on the project, I’m sure it felt very differently at the time. How can your projects avoid a similar fate? While IT may sometimes seem disconnected from reality, the following guidelines show that ‘Real World’ lessons still apply.

  1. Know what you want and stick to it. If you’re building a house and change the plans several times the builder is going to fleece you, no matter how low the initial quote was. The same goes for IT Projects – if you change your mind after the price is agreed, you’re going to pay more.
  2. If you don’t know what you’re doing , find a friend who does. I know very little about houses, so when I was buying my own I got a friendly surveyor to check it out. With IT projects, this ‘friend’ should be genuinely on your side, and have something to lose (e.g. financial or reputation) if things go wrong.
  3. Little and often is better. Like exercise, smaller projects that deliver results little but early are best. If the results are good, try a second (and third) round to add more functionality based on the feedback from users.
  4. It’s been all done before. Tailored suits cost a lot more than ready-made ones – and most people are happy with a ‘Good enough’ instead of ‘Perfect fit’. There are literally thousands of ‘off-the-peg’ computer systems out there ready for final alteration to what you need.
  5. If you don’t understand the answer, ask more questions. Thankfully the days we sat and nodded at the Doctor’s Latin words are long gone. IT Consultants may sometimes speak a different language, but if they can’t explain what they’re talking about in English that you understand, the chances are they’re trying to hide something.
  6. Don’t build on sand. Like houses , projects need good foundations. For IT Projects , the good foundations are sound knowledge of the Business Processes being coded into the system. Changing processes and changing IT systems at the same time is like building on sand.
  7. Sometimes the tortoise wins the race. Unless your entire business model is built around being the very first to market, then being a tortoise and letting others race ahead has very big advantages. Not only can you learn from other people’s mistakes, but the chances are you’ll get it at a much reduced cost – For example websites now cost a fraction of what they did during the dot.com boom.
  8. Use a safety net. When building houses, often the first thing to go up is scaffolding, for safety reasons. The equivalent safety net in IT is called ‘Unit Tests’. Not only do they help you get there faster, but they let you know if you’ve broken something you’ve already built.
  9. Be a good poker player. Good poker players never give away valuable cards. For IT projects, owning all cards mean just that – make sure that you have full rights to the solution so that you can still move tables and use a different supplier. Even if you never make the move, knowing that you can is an effective bargaining chip.

And finally …

When you are in a hole, stop digging. The decision to call a halt to the projects was no doubt a difficult one, and is to be applauded. Too often, the temptation is to keep on going and hope things will turn out right. Recognising problems at an early stage means there is more chance of being able to fix them.

Checklist for IT Contracts

The Irish Computer Society (ICS) has a useful checklist for Irish companies of things to watch out for when setting up an IT contracts.

These items include:

  1. Take a look at your ‘standard’ contract in the light of recent developments in IT
  2. Review how you can make your supplier selection process even better.
  3. Use competitive procurement if possible
  4. Keep electronic copies of contracts
  5. Have formal contracts in place
  6. Watch out for IPR and use source code escrow if necessary

Innovation Relay Center – Enterprise Ireland

If you are working in IT , then you are probably part of the knowledge economy. It is probably work your while checking out the Innovation Relay Centre Website, supported by Enterprise Ireland.

The centre acts as a clearing house, matching people how have patents and technology available for licence, and those that are looking to use it. As such is a good snapshot of the technologies that are up and coming in the medium term 12-36 months out).

Your Software – Unsafe at any Speed?

In the 60’s, the Auto industry used to say ‘safety doesn’t sell’ – the thinking was that buyers were more interested in new features like whitewall tyres or the latest radio. That begun to change with Ralph Naders Unsafe at any speed and manufacturers became liable for their safety defects. Now any car that doesn’t do well in the Safety rankings won’t do well in the salesroom.

When it comes to Security, are your business applications still stuck in the 60’s? Until recently it was thought that ‘Security doesn’t sell’. That has begun to change as buyers become aware of the possible threats that are out there. One such initive aimed at end users is Make It Secure (it’s run by the Irish Government, so excuse the photo’s). Once users are aware of the risks they are going to demand that providers of software solutions , do much much better.

Phishing Security Image Hook

All the Links from the BBC Click Online Program

All the Links from the BBC Click Online Program.

These links are some very interesting corners of the web , that you wouldn’t otherwise explore. Unfortuately, the links are stored on the BBC page in a ‘drop down’ format. You may find the normal web page links (below) easier to use. Like they say on the main site ‘the BBC is not responsible for the content of outbound links’

I must see if there is a script to all all of these to Del.icio.us. I should also go through and highlight the ones I find particularly good.

Creative
Graphic Design Forum
Flickr explore
Creative Commons
Mr Picassohead
Bonsai site
Zewall: online painting
Colour in motion
Industrious clock
Digital Blasphemy
The picture of everything
Creative park
Paperdoll heaven
Zeljko Djurovic
Free Photoshop
Access Art
Pinhole photography

Education
Investopedia
Avert (Aids)
fffbi.com
Energy Chest
Tolerance.org
BrainPOP
Knowing Poe
Starfall (for children)
Michelangelo
Make Movies
24 Hour Museum
Function X tutorials
Learning Curve
Philosophy
Computing history
Obsolete Computers
Computers in History
Online Chinese tools
Wikipedia
Free typing course
History World
ibiblio public library
Nation Master
Interactive Mathematics
Grammar Book
Word Spy

Film
Movie Physics
Lastindependent.tv
Camcorderinfo.com
Bollywood World
Movie-a-Minute
Asian Film Connections
Digital FAQ

Fun and games
Puzzle Pirates
Scrabble Word Finder
Noggin
Wizards
Bejewelled 2
La Pate a Son
Braingle
Virtual bartender
Su Doku fun
box7box
Infinite Wheel
Guess the Google
No Limits Rollercoaster
Just Letters Flash game
Chicken and Eggs
Fetch Fido
Prior-Art-O-Matic
Homestartrunner
Bowling Index
Sliding Puzzle
ICQ friendship cards
Howstrange.com
Bob the Builder
Personality tests
Fly Guy
Seussville
Cool Optical Illusions
Morph a face
Netives
Internet similies
Online Gaming Hub
Cyberscore
Create Bands
Chess World
Artificial intelligence
Fun Trivia
The End of the Internet
Orisinal games
ESP game
Shakespearean insults
Fun with words

Lifestyle
Cheese.com
We Are What We Do
iSerenity
Metacritic.com
Italian Food Forever
A Hamburger Today
Digital Home DIY
Fashion net
Cooking by numbers
Local Exchange
Carbon Gym
Cooking for Engineers
Alphadynamics
Self sufficient-ish
84 Charing Cross Road
e-How.com
Met check
Net mums
iParenting
Birthday alarm
Consumer complaints
We are the voters
Human body
Uniquely woman
UN online volunteering
Creativity assessment
Open heart
Virtual Hospital
Healthy Eating
Growing Well
Alt. Health News
Paranormal Research
Aqua Pets UK
Medline Plus
Disaster Help
TV-cards
Aqua pets UK
Community Connect
Electric minds

Maps
Cambridge
Standing stones/crosses
North York moors
Space Imaging

Misc
It’s a Wonderful Internet
Nice cup of tea…
Essortment (tips)
Podcast bunker
ID theft
SkyscraperPage
Postcard Crossing
My bit of the planet
Rate car pictures
Bobby Baker’s daily life
Watergate.info
Skeptic’s dictionary
WHO
Electron microscope
Turtlekiss.com
Serbian school
Subservient chicken
Met check

Music
Cookie Dough Records
ilikemusic.com
Opus Classical
Ministry of Sound
Khavi Collective
liveplasma music
DVD Fever
SampleSwap
CMP Radio
Todo Tango
Essentials of music

Science
What’s That Bug
NatureWatch
Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Sounds Amazing
Biology in Motion
Physics.org
Rat Lab
Artificial Intelligence

Bubble Games

European Youth Portal

Space Imaging

Underwater Times

Prongo games

BioTech

MarineBio.org

Modern World

Web Host Coach

Earth Impact Effects

DNA Interactive

Galaxy Evolution

Becoming Human

History conversations

Try Science

Noise
Explore Mars now

Search engines
Rollyo
Dogpile
Search.com
Ask Jeeves
The Scannery
Search Engine Showdown

Sport
Fantasy Premier League
Martial Arts Trickz
Stick Cricket
Uefa
Wimbledon
PongWorld Table Tennis
Tennis4you
Football community
Istanbul Table Tennis
Planet Rugby

Travel
Couch Surfing
Words Without Borders

Sleeping in Airports

Seat Guru

Hong Kong Antiquities

Discover Hong Kong

Hong Kong Fringe Club

The Man in Seat 61

Louvre Museum

natureandco.com

Finland

Virtual Finland

eFinland

Helsinki news

Finnish travel info
High Tech Finland
Wildland Tours
Survive Outdoors
Camp Recipes
Time Outdoors
Saltwater Fishing

Utilities/tools
Pixelgirl Presents
Computer companion
Internet Frog
VLC Media Player
MisterPrivacy
Maporama

Spy vs Spyware

YouSendIt

SnipURL

Vazu – free SMS

Stumble Upon Reviews

IncrediMail

theWebMachine

sodaplay

C++ Language Tutorial

WebFerret

ieSpell

Wiki Wiki Web

mail2web.com

Onesite.info

Sygate Online Services

3DTextMaker

Paper CD Case