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Comment: Re:Major application vendor headaches... (Score 2) 203

That was always my opinion. Unless you happen to run a business that has been completely solved in the enterprise software world - something like a mortgage broker or a restaurant - I would rather roll my own. I met a group who started a mortgage company and their entire business plan centered around using things off the shelf as they were intended to be used - designing their business processes around the available tools rather than trying to customize them to an existing business plan. Their IT shop was amazingly cheap - because they didn't customize anything. They even used off-the-shelf reports.

My business was such a niche market that nothing off-the-shelf would work for us without major customization. So we designed our own systems from the ground up around the business processes we needed automating. We ended up building a dozen CRM applications from scratch and definitely saved millions for the company on each one.

The nice thing is that everyone recognized how great it was that we saved them millions each year on software licenses while pumping up productivity across the enterprise. And we were all handsomely rewarded. And we all got rainbow ponies.....

Comment: Re:No matter how common you think it is... (Score 1) 203

Excellent point.

People are smart. Even the low-level clerical worker who dropped out of high school - smart enough to work around any obstacle their systems present. They are also likely to be ignorant of the consequences of their work-around. I have had such people do things like put DECEASED 1/2/2007 into the "last name" field so that the date of death would show up on the sticker that got printed out to put on a folder. That way they could file it appropriately. Never mind that things like privacy mailers were going out to families of the deceased with "Joe Smith DECEASED 1/2/2007" on the address. Nice.

This is the conundrum of moving to a professional IT shop with full software development life cycle controls. Things that a small shop could get done the same afternoon take months to accomplish in a big operation, and may never make it onto the priority list. So people quit asking and just start making their own solution. The fact that it causes other problems all over the enterprise might not be discovered for years - because the people affected might not even know that it exists.

The only answer to this problem is even more resources for IT - particularly to ferret out the small problems that people are having and provide immediate solutions. Something that is not likely to happen.

Comment: Re:Hire More Devs (Score 3, Informative) 203

This is good advice. In-house expertise is always preferable when possible.

I would not call the ERP a single point of failure though. It means having one version of the truth. If you have one place where the data is kept (and only one place), then the data will be correct - or as correct as the people using it need it to be. If you have it in multiple places, then none of them will be correct. Especially if spreadsheets are among the places where the data is kept and manipulated.

I would recommend using the ERP database as the master repository for every business application, even if you are using other custom apps to curate the data. That way you can maintain the business rules at the Oracle DB level and ensure data integrity.

The macro-laden Access databases and spreadsheets are fine for laymen to prototype their business models - but you have to hand it over to real developers to build enterprise class applications using the Oracle DB when it is time to go to production.

You can sell all of that to the accountants by including a push toward automation of the GL by using the ERP as a subledger. You can save tons of money on accountants and auditors by having every action in the company reliably captured in a database and automatically rolled into the accounting systems. Also, the board reports suddenly become reliable and easy to produce if you have a single version of reality. Bringing all of these little apps up to spec is a no-brainer. Sure, some of the managers who like having local control over their macros will complain about being hamstrung by IT, but it has to be done.

Comment: Re:Another another delay? (Score 3, Insightful) 43

by Cytotoxic (#47296017) Attached to: SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

Shuttle launch delays were the worst.... because shuttle launches are the only one's I have travelled to the cape to see. On at least half of our trips we went home disappointed.

SpaceX will get the chance to disappoint us when they launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Or when they start landing the first stage back at Canaveral. Either of those will be worth the trip to see. Of course, worst case is that you spend the day splashing around in the bay along the causeway and meeting other dorks who think it is normal to sit around on a causeway all day waiting to watch a launch. A pretty good day even without the launch.

Comment: Re:Email recipients (Score 1) 465

by Cytotoxic (#47265593) Attached to: IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

The IRS has already used this tactic to obtain internal emails. This is why the controversy is over the loss of external emails, which cannot be recovered by IRS IT personnel. Of course, it is the external emails that are the most damaging to political interests.

And you also need to know who they sent email to in order to check their local machine for copies of the email. And if 6 of those recipients just happened to also accidentally have hard drive crashes in the same time period, well, you wouldn't be able to find out what those 7 were talking to each other about. But that's a little far-fetched. I doubt that would ever come up.

Comment: Re:Does it have to come from NSA ? (Score 1) 347

by Cytotoxic (#47252011) Attached to: Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

They seem to be claiming that they do not have archival copies of her emails - that the only such copies were in the local mail archive on her personal computer, which crashed, taking out the archive. No, really. Stop laughing - that's what they are saying.

Comment: Re:SubjectsForCommentsAreStupid (Score 1) 347

by Cytotoxic (#47251959) Attached to: Congressman Asks NSA To Provide Metadata For "Lost" IRS Emails

This was my observation as well. Even absent direct government regulation, the simple fact of complying with discovery requests would lead anyone running an organization of even modest size to implement an archiving/search solution like Vault. With the immense volume of discovery requests that an organization like the IRS must have with its nearly 90k employees I just don't see how you could possibly run the organization without a professional archiving solution.

Really, if they don't have an archiving solution in place they must have an entire building full of email administrators whose only job is complying with discovery requests.

Comment: Re:14 days for a comic book? (Score 1) 140

by Cytotoxic (#47237139) Attached to: EU's Online Shoppers Get an Extended "Cooling Off Period"

In addition to book exchanges like you describe, here in southern Florida in the US we have a "Santa's helper" table every December, right alongside the road. It has a cool tent and everything. The idea is for people to anonymously leave presents for the needy. People can take what they like if they feel the need. It always seems well stocked.

I'm not sure your image of America is exactly complete. Having done a lot of business with EU companies, I'm not sure your image of Europe is entirely complete either.

Comment: Re:Everyone's Personal Email Server (Score 1) 372

RE: exchange, etc. If they are relying on the email server to do their document retention then they are doing it wrong. Heck, even if they were just dealing with legal issues like discovery requests that would be the wrong answer. Any organization that has to deal with litigation (pretty much everyone these days) needs an effective way to deal with email discovery request.

I pulled PST copies from the server 15 years ago for discovery requests and spent weeks going through the files looking for relevant information. That was a very expensive proposition - even if you discount the risks of screwing up a discovery request. This is a problem that tech companies solved a long time ago. There have been many document retention / discovery solutions (both on premises and off-site services) for many, many years now.

With the vast volume of document requests the IRS must get I do not believe that they could possibly be making do without a professional archiving/search solution. Please tell me that an organization of nearly 90,000 people that deals entirely in sensitive, private information wasn't relying on local OST files for document retention in 2010. Of course if they were/are, I suppose that explains a large chunk of those 90,000 employees.

Comment: Re:umm (Score 3, Insightful) 372

We are not talking about email in 1998. By the early 2000's even small to midsized businesses were having to face document retention policies and discovery requests. Whether by implementing in-house solutions like Vault or using outside services to implement email retention and discovery most companies had to have this in place for more than a decade. The IRS has nearly 90,000 employees. Their IT shop is no mom-and-pop operation.

So to claim that all outside email was lost from 2010 is pretty shocking. The client computer mention might be an error, or it might be that an outside email service was being used. If the latter is the case, this should be a huge red flag.

Comment: Re:Phone security frameworks are fundamentally fla (Score 2) 249

by Cytotoxic (#47220779) Attached to: New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

This sounds very much like the way Microsoft tried to do security in Windows Vista. People did not react well to so many dialog boxes popping up.

Maybe that is why google decided that most people would rather just not have to deal with permissions in any real and meaningful way.

Comment: Re:I still don't see the difference... (Score 1) 507

by Cytotoxic (#47219461) Attached to: Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin

... between what Uber has set up, and simply giving somebody else a ride, but expecting to be compensated for one's time as well as gas. Is it illegal to carpool if the driver is profiting from it?

Heck, before I got my driver's license, I would sometimes ask my friends who already had their license for a ride somewhere and pay them for their time and gasoline as well. Was that illegal?

From what I understand, it is indeed illegal to do this in many locations. The rate used as the cutoff is usually the federal mileage write off rate. So if you charge more than 56 cents per mile, you are a criminal. Hurrah for regulation!

Comment: Re:$300k is cheap (Score 1) 507

by Cytotoxic (#47218525) Attached to: Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin

It also doesn't imply that the driver can drive or anything like that, because the medallion doesn't have to be held by the driver. The driver can be changed out under the medallion by a taxi company. That's why that medallion proves absolutely nothing to the prospective taxi customer, and offers them absolutely no protection.

Well, to be fair, it does mean that the customer will be paying too much for that cab ride.

The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago