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Indiana Launches Statewide Productivity System 285

TaylorJo writes "Lt. Governor of Indiana Kathy Davis today unveiled a new technology program designed to give all Hoosiers free access to a full suite of computer software tools. The SimIndiana software permits residents to access their personal files and applications from any computer at any time. The software can be downloaded on the SimIndiana site, but requires Windows, and registration on the site, to use it. The program also provides an email address and remote storage on SimIndiana servers."
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Indiana Launches Statewide Productivity System

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  • Multi-platform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatman@ g m ail.com> on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:33AM (#9528419) Homepage Journal
    The software can be downloaded on the SimIndiana site, but requires Windows, and registration on the site, to use it.

    See? They should have written it in Java.

    • Or a web browser (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TrentL ( 761772 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:01PM (#9528754) Homepage
      I've seen some of the things people are doing with HTML, CSS and JavaScript these days. We aren't that far from having powerful office tools that are used via a web browser. Heck, we may already be there.
      • I'm still not sure that I want web apps to completely take over the role of most desktop apps. Messing around with a display-document structure is a complex and processor intensive procedure. Suddenly you need the PC equivalent of a super computer just to run your Word Processor.

        Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm against the core idea of document based programming and rendering engines. In many ways, user interfaces are merely an interactive document. Technologies such as XUL and XAWT promise to bring f
    • Just because it's Java doesn't mean it will run on everything. It will run on a lot of things, I'll give you that, but I personally find the Linux x86 version of Java to have many errors with it's forms that aren't present in the Win32 version. My bank's online banking system was a great example of this, then they started using HTML to do everything (probably after people complaining).

      Flash is a slightly better option, as the specs are published [macromedia.com] such that you can make your own player/interpreter. Thoug

  • by KevinKnSC ( 744603 ) * on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:34AM (#9528431)
    Davis said that once the account is set up, the software will allow for e-mail, remote printing, spreadsheets, calendars and other computer tools at any computer. Users' documents are then stored on a remote, secure server and can be accessed via the Internet.

    Sounds good to me. I can't think of any reason [slashdot.org] not to trust government contractors with my personal information.

    • by caseydk ( 203763 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:39AM (#9528486) Homepage Journal

      What are the TOS?

      I wonder what's going to happen the first time they start to lose their users' data? Do you sue the government knowing that the settlement will just be funded by charging the comsumer (ie the public) more?

      I'm sure we'll be able to trust Indiana as an honest player. People gripe about Google scanning your email, but other seem to think that the government should store their files for them?

      (former Indiana resident for 4 years during college)
      • by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:02PM (#9529540)
        > People gripe about Google scanning your email, but other seem to think that the government should store their files for them?

        I can't vote to oust the CEO of Google.
      • Do you sue the government knowing that the settlement will just be funded by charging the comsumer (ie the public) more?

        That's precisely why you can't "sue the government". An apparently little known facet of law known as sovereign immunity guarantees that the funds held by the state are in "Public Trust" and cannot be siezed by any legal action regardless of merit. See: getting in a car accident involving any state owned vehicle (even off duty police, civil engineering trucks, etc.).
    • by radulovich ( 47127 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:29PM (#9529844) Homepage
      Many people who use SimDesk share your concern about the privacy of their information. In fact, that is often a key reason why they use SimDesk (and one of the reasons I chose to work at SimDesk).

      SimDesk takes a lot of pride in developing secure products. One example of that is shown in how we do our file encryption.

      By default, all of your files that sit on our World Wide Server are encrypted with 128-bit AES encryption. This encryption is quite a bit stronger than the old DES and Triple-DES used by many other products. Please see question 15 on this FAQ from NIST for more details about the strength of AES - http://csrc.nist.gov/CryptoToolkit/aes/aesfact.htm l
      .
      For the record, our customers have the option of replacing it with something stronger, or even their own algorithm if they prefer. AES is our default because it is a proven algorithm which has undergone quite a bit of testing by people much smarter than I. This is why AES has been certified by NIST to replace DES - http://cio.doe.gov/ITReform/ArchitectureStandards/ stds_activity/FIPS197.htm.

      Further, the files are actually encrypted on your computer before they are even sent over the internet. This has a nice benefit - your files are stored on the World Wide Server in that same encrypted form. This protects your privacy by making your sensitive information that much more resistant to hackers.

      I invite you to read the white paper I wrote about our security at http://www.simdesk.com/thought_leadership/white_pa pers/pdf/security.pdf . We are always striving to make our products more secure, and we would appreciate any comments or suggestions that you might have.

      ===============
      Mark Radulovich, CISSP, NSA/IAM
      Director of Strategic Analysis
      SimDesk Technologies, Inc.
  • The first step... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gevmage ( 213603 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:34AM (#9528432) Homepage
    I wonder how long it will take before it's required to have this access to pay taxes, register to vote, etc? At that point, I'd be annoyed.

    Craig Steffen, former Indiana resident

    • Re:The first step... (Score:4, Informative)

      by dilettante ( 91064 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:44AM (#9528557)
      I think the population of Indiana would start a civil war before they'd submit to being required to use a computer by the government. I mean, these are people who've rejected daylight savings time.

      -Another Former Hoosier

      • these are people who've rejected daylight savings time.

        The real conflict aren't the pesky farmers kicking up a fit. The conflict is certain areas of Indiana want to remain on central time (i.e. Lake County and Evansville) while the rest wants to go on eastern time. So the problems they face is drawing the lines to make enough people happen to get the vote passed.

        • Re:The first step... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MacBrave ( 247640 )
          I live in Indiana, and I don't want to change because changing all your clocks twice a year is a pain in the butt.

          I lived in Michigan from 1990-1998 and failed to understand the big deal about daylight savings time. In the winter it was dark by 5pm and in the summer it didn't get dark until 10pm.
          • by cide1 ( 126814 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:41PM (#9529225) Homepage
            I agree, changing all the clocks is just a pain. The current system has worked well so far, why change? I have yet to find software that can't cope with it, and it's nice to not have to change the VCR, your watch, the clock in your car, the clock in your other car, the wall clock, the microwave, the oven, the alarm clock, the answering machine, and whatever else has a clock these days.
          • by nelsonal ( 549144 )
            It was sweet getting to watch the late shows early after everyone else had switched. Doesn't Gary switch with Chicago?
            FWIW, Ben Franklin came up with the idea as a way for farmers to more or less work with the sun (and not be vastly different from city folk's schedules) in the 1700s. It was implemented in the oil crisis to reduce electricity consumption. I think we keep it around now so politicians can laugh at the folks who show up an hour late/or early to church or other Sunday meetings.
            • Re:The first step... (Score:3, Informative)

              by LinuxHam ( 52232 )
              FWIW, Ben Franklin came up with the idea as a way for farmers to more or less work with the sun (and not be vastly different from city folk's schedules) in the 1700s

              It goes a LOT deeper than that. I gave the totally wrong description (i.e. farmers) to my friend's kid and ended up having to look up the correct info. It had a lot more to do with train schedules than with farmers. Keep in mind when ole Ben was living in my 'hood, the size of the U.S. wasn't anywhere near what it was 50-100 years later when t
          • by wulfhere ( 94308 )
            Amen!! I moved up to Lake County about 5 years ago (one of I think 4 counties that uses Daylight Savings Time), and changing the clocks is a TOTAL pain in the ass.

            Not to mention that in the winter, it starts getting dark about the time the kids are let out of school...
    • Well, how long did it take before it was required to have electricity or a phone to do those things? Right, it doesn't, and it won't, because government must give access to everyone. Yes, electricity and phone and computers make all these things easier, but they are never required, and without a dramatic shift in the way government in the USA thinks and works, it will not happen in the next 20-30 years, at least.
    • Re:The first step... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by blanks ( 108019 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:51AM (#9528638) Homepage Journal
      Annoyed? I think this would be a nice step in making tax payment easier and faster, as well as registering to vote, It could make it easier to do many things too that are state related, car tags, paying / viewing tickets (speeding for ex).

      I can see this having alot of features that could make this a really useful tool to residents if it was done well, and if it was used affectivly.
    • I think it's a rather clever idea - get people to use it for the free, add-free email account (and other services), and thus make people reliant on a service that they get for being an Indiana resident. I think it's a scheme to try and stop those who have enough of a brain to use a computer from leaving that homophobic, racist, poorly educated, boring as heck, podunk little state whose people insist on mispronouncing the 'I's in some words as "Eye" and the 'A's as "Ar" (you eat "eyetalian" food, you "warsh
    • And required to buy Windows machines, no less, said the iMac-owning Hoosier.

      Feh. More pork from the Indiana government. Why don't they give us something useful, like software that will translate Julia Carson's comments into English?

      (And yes, I am a Hoosier resident and taxpayer who owns an iMac.)

  • And is offering me a ride in his shiny car.

    Ride! Ride! Ride!

    Oh, is it called SimIndiana because you can pretend to be a Hoosier?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:36AM (#9528447)
    "but requires Windows, and registration on the site, to use it. The program also provides an email address and remote storage on SimIndiana servers."

    NO! Not registration! How will this site ever survive if they require registration!?

    Anyways.. could this be the worst statement to try and appeal something to the /. crowd? It has Windows, registration, and remote storage all in the same paragraph.

  • by worst_name_ever ( 633374 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:36AM (#9528448)
    SimIndiana is finally out? Cool, where do I get the demo and how do I send in the tornadoes?
  • You get... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GuyinVA ( 707456 )
    ...what you pay for.
    • You do pay: Taxes

      If this is what taxes should be used for. well, there might be some different opinions on that...
  • One word: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomknight ( 190939 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:39AM (#9528474) Homepage Journal
    Good

    Okay, a few more words....
    Yes, you need to use Windows, and yes, we can't really trust the government (the next government, or maybe the one after that) with our personal/sensitive data/pr0n, but isn't it a good thing in principle that this is happening?

    Tom.

    • Re:One word: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pointym5 ( 128908 )
      Why should a Mac-using taxpayer be happy about this?
      • Re:One word: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tomknight ( 190939 )
        Or a linux using tax-payer, indeed?
        Because it's a sign that local government is getting clued up about computers.

        Having to use a Windows client does indeed suck. Maybe Apple will see the potential damage to its business and push for a diversity?

        Tom.

      • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:03PM (#9528776)
        A Mac-using taxpayer should be happy that they didn't squander a ton of money to produce software that only a handful of people will use.
        • Trust me, the Indiana government knows how to squander money ...

        • Re:One word: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Chiming in: Or linux users for that matter. Apps like this are probably best written in Java, or it should be entirely web based and work in at least IE, Mozilla and Opera.
          I saw nothing about Open Source on the SimIndiana site, but this app should definately be open source software. Given taxpayers can benefit from it's use, but they should also have some say in the design aspects (like supported platforms) seeing as how they are intended client. Nothing like ignoring your intended client's needs/desires/w
      • Why should any taxpayer be happy about this? I can't believe anyone thought making this a government service was remotely a good idea.

    • Yes, you need to use Windows, and yes, we can't really trust the government (the next government, or maybe the one after that) with our personal/sensitive data/pr0n, but isn't it a good thing in principle that this is happening?

      Hmm....no, it's not a good idea. For libertarians like myself, this is simply not the role of government. There are plenty of free alternatives out there (OpenOffice, anyone). I'm not sure having a free productivity suite & remote hard disk storage is going to benefit anyone
  • by herrvinny ( 698679 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:39AM (#9528482)
    Tried to create an account, but the site's getting slow. Anyway, at the whatis page [simindiana.com] says:

    Every student, every parent, every business, EVERYONE who lives in the State of Indiana can use SimIndiana. The only requirement is that you register for the software with a valid Indiana address.

    Can't we forge an address anyway? NY Times thinks I'm from Anchorage, Alaska.

    If you create a document in SimWord® (SimIndiana's word processor), you do not have to save it to a disk or to a computer's hard drive. With SimIndiana, you have the option to save your document in your virtual drive on the SimIndiana server.

    It's simply a glorified virtual hard disk service, paid for by the government.

    • Odds are they're going to try to reconcile the number of accounts at a given address to tax records and/or school records.

      Gov:

      "We have 3 thousand people who seem to live at 100 Main St, Indianapolis, but only 3 people filed taxes listing that address. Hmmm..."
    • The funny thing is, the TOS does not specify that you actually must live in Indiana. How on earth are they going to verify that each address is a valid address? How about multiple computers at a single address (i.e. re-registrations when you forget your login, your kid registers after you have, etc.)?

      But after the posting of this article, the service will probably be more SimSlashdot than SimIndiana;)

      • by tbone1 ( 309237 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:11PM (#9530461) Homepage
        The funny thing is, the TOS does not specify that you actually must live in Indiana. How on earth are they going to verify that each address is a valid address?

        Simple. Answer the following questions:

        • Who won the first Indy 500?
        • Where did Kurt Vonnegut go to high school?
        • In euchre, if spades are trump, what does that make the jack of clubs?
        • Who hit the winning shot in the 1954 boys basketball championship game?
        • Whom did Gene Keady replace as basketball coach at Purdue?
        • What Congressional Medal of Honor recipient used to own the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
        • Are you a heterosexual man who cries when Jim Nabors sings?
        • Who wrote A Girl of the Limberlost?
        • What coach led the Pacers to three ABA titles?
        • What high school's alumni include David Letterman, Jane Pauley, Wayne Gretsky, and Marylin Quayle?
        • In 1983, John Mellencamp was involved with a strange contest on MTV. What was the prize?
        • What is a Duesenburg?
        • What was Yank Rachell's primary instrument?
        • Who was Abe Martin?
        • What Hoosier author won the Pulitzer prize for literature twice?
        • What is Larry Bird's nickname?
        • Complete the following: the goblins 'll gitcha if ...
        • What is Bob Knight's middle name?
        • Name one of the national morning radio shows that originate in Indianapolis.
        • Name three current NASCAR drivers from Indiana.
        • At what age are Hoosiers required to retire to Florida?
        • What jazz guitar great is from Indiana Avenue?
        • The section of Interstate 65 interior to 465 is named after whom
        • St. Elmo's is famous for what appetizer?
        • What three rivers is Ft. Wayne built around?
        That's enough to start with ...

    • Can't we forge an address anyway? NY Times thinks I'm from Anchorage, Alaska

      NY Times isn't the government. It is a federal crime to lie on a federal form. I'm sure there are similar state laws, but I don't think this would quite count as an official form. However, it may fall under wire fraud statutes, depending on where you live (NY times forgery may also fall under these statutes).
      • Thankfully those laws do not apply to people living, *gasp*, outside the united states.

        Whoever sold this harebrained idea to Indiana state gov must be hell of a salesdroid. This will crash and burn so badly its not even funny.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      From their help page:

      We welcome your questions and comments about SimIndiana®. ...
      We are located at:
      6510 West Sam Houston Pkwy. N.
      Suite 100
      Houston, Texas 77041
    • Okay, sorry for double posting, but the site seems to have come back up (or perhaps something flaky happened to my net connection, but at the Signup page, you can select any state! [simdesk.com] I just signed up as an Indiana resident (forged, of course) and then went back and created a new account, and selected Idaho as my home state, and it still accepted my registration!

      My guess is, they're using some template form, and they forgot to take out the state box. Anyone want to double check?
    • It's simply a glorified virtual hard disk service, paid for by the government.

      Allow me to correct a serious flaw in your thinking.

      This boondoggle is paid for by money taken from TAX PAYERS.

      It is another example of state government growing to consume all current funding, so that later they can justify taking more money by saying that they need it for firemen or school teachers.

      This is where MegaCorp$ are less evil: you can at least choose NOT to buy (i.e., pay for) MegaCorp$ products.

      Bleh.

    • ...is convince the terrorists to use it.
  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    you store you files on a remote server owned by the government? How much storage space do you get? What kind of privacy can you expect? Does every resident automatically get an account?
  • ...heard of this. I, too, would love to trust my state government with my important docs. After all, we all know they handle our property taxes soooo well.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:40AM (#9528497) Homepage Journal
    As a matter of fact, I'm one of the legions of programmers that lost their jobs when it was outsourced to Indiana.

    I think they said it was Indiana, anyway.
  • Additions in bold:
    TaylorJo writes "Lt. Governor of Indiana Kathy Davis today unveiled a new technology program designed to give all Hoosiers
    who purchase Microsoft Windows free (ahem) access to a full suite of computer software tools. The SimIndiana software permits residents who have already purchased Microsoft Windows to access their personal files and applications from any computer that runs Microsoft Windows at any time. The software can be downloaded on the SimIndiana site, but requires Windows, and registration on the site, to use it. The program also provides an email address and remote storage on SimIndiana servers."
  • Good idea but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:44AM (#9528544)
    I really wish people would make Microsoft keep its own monopoly instead of helping them by making IE only or Windows only stuff. They could've at least given the protocol so that if somebody with a Mac or something else wanted to could make their own.

    Really, I thought government was supposed to be generally non-discriminatory. It's like "Congrats! We have a super-duper new highway system. Oh, only Ford motor vehicles can use it."
    • Well, government's can't discriminate on the basis of age, sex, religion, etc., etc., etc., but I don't see operating system listed anywhere on the list.

      Given the market share that Microsoft has and the limited resources available to most government programmers, I think the only way that you'll win on this one is if you somehow claim that using Linux/Mac/OS/2/*BSD is a "disability."

      Of course, if you make that claim, you can imagine how quickly it will be picked up by the media. "Linux Zealot sues State o
  • This Is Cool! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:44AM (#9528551) Homepage Journal
    This is really cool. This is the first attempt that I've seen by any state government to deliver some really useful technology to their citizens. Heck, I'm happy just being able to pay parking tickets online, this SimIndiana has online productivity apps for gosh sakes!

    While I'm sure they'll get the usual criticism, I admire and salute their attempt to deliver something truly useful to the good people of Indiana. The only real problem I see with this is reaching the many people who don't have access to the technology needed to use SimIndiana. In the future it may be very useful to provide similar services that can be accessed via cel phone. Afterall, these days everyone and their grandma has a cel phone.

    Again, Kudos to Indiana!

    • Ok, I live in Indiana and have been in technology for over 15 years now, and here is what I see.

      Indiana was number one in lost jobs in the last few years (percentage wise)

      Indiana has some of the best schools but almost no startups.

      If not for Lilly, Indianapolis would be in far worse financial shape than it is now.

      Our local housing taxes just went up considerably and yet we were still in a huge deficit.

      Joe Kernan, and his predisessor Frank Obanion were and are the worst govenors Indiana has had in over
      • I've never quite figured out how Democrats take the blame for spending when the Republicans are just as bad. The difference is where they choose to spend the money.

        If you want to blame someone for the property tax issue, blame the guy who sued the state. If he hadn't done that, we wouldn't have had this whole re-assessment.

        Indiana is in the shape it is now because of the people who live here and our non-progressive attitudes. Our politicians, in my opinion, are just a reflection of that.

        There's a good
        • I've never quite figured out how Democrats take the blame for spending when the Republicans are just as bad. The difference is where they choose to spend the money.

          You just answered your own question. Spending money to make it easier for individuals to start a business, while still spending, is better than spending money on useless or stupid things like this.

          Oh, and if, by 'progressive', you mean paying people to not work or raising taxes to Bostonian levels, then I'll stick with the pioneer-style libe

  • Texas ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:45AM (#9528566) Homepage Journal
    I am reading the TOS right now. This caught my attention:

    6. User Conduct You are responsible for any content that You store, post or transmit on or through the Service. You will not use the Service to store, distribute, link to, or solicit content that:

    • . . . .
    • Specifically advertises firearms or ammunition, t obacco[sic], alcohol, pornography, or any other product or service that is illegal in Texas, or the domicile of either the distributor or recipient;

    WTF? Is this SimIndiana or SimTexas ?

    • My guess is that the service provider is in Texas. We all know not to mess with Texas.
      • We all know not to mess with Texas.

        I messed with Texas once. It went and got all its state buddies (you know, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Canada, etc.) together and came back and beat the hell out of me. Bastard Texas couldn't fight me on its own. I'm just glad Idaho was out of town that day. I've heard it has a set of brass knuckles.
    • Re:Texas ? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Alan Cox ( 27532 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:49AM (#9528608) Homepage
      Presumably its outsourced to texas then. Nothing says Indiana can't outsource its government to Texas does it ? I mean we seem to have outsourced ours to Washington
    • There is/was a plan for SimHouston. This looks like they copied the Houston plan and used it in Indiana. The SimHouston program turned into a big local scandal, similar to the Oracle scandal in California, with allegations of impropriety in the bidding and award process.
    • Re:Texas ? (Score:3, Funny)

      by grahamdrew ( 589499 )
      Firearms and ammunition illegal in Texas, tha's a good one....
    • Are you kidding? Here in Texas, if you don't advertize your knowledge and ownership of firearms, you get sent to Maryland. Also of note, Texas got rid of the open container laws only last year.
  • Heh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dannyelfman ( 717583 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:45AM (#9528577)
    I wonder how long it will take before some enterprising 12 year old figures out how to own this system.

    Was it Regan who said, ``Government does what doesn't need to be done, poorly''?

  • Might Shut Down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thpdg ( 519053 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:46AM (#9528584) Journal
    The last bits of the article report that the system is just a 2 year trial, with possible extension. What happens at that time? Your materials will magically disappear? Thousands of warnings get sent out that you miss, and next thing you know, you life's work, written in SimWord, which can only be opened by SimWord, is gone forever? Even if you have the file, you have no license to SimWord to open it? This is like trusting any of the other dot-com gimmicks that came and went in the past 10 years. Where is the mp3.com archive today? What about Hotmail suddenly closing accounts? What if it is a SimIndiana account, and you had all your financial reports on there?
    This is just too freaking dangerous to be more then just a handy accessory, but how many people will take it seriously?
    • They said on the Indianapolis tv news this morning that the service was going to be provided free of charge for the first two years, and then if the state government keeps it, it would be paid for by taxpayer dollars. Here's a link [indystar.com] to the story in the Indianapolis Star. Nice quote at the end by a Purdue prof:

      The $6 million cost -- about $1 per Hoosier -- is being footed by SimDesk Technologies, which also has brought the technology to users in Houston and Chicago. The Houston-based firm has several India

  • by RegalBegal ( 742288 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `lageblager'> on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:47AM (#9528593) Homepage
    Hey there was a glitch in the network thingie and I found these peektures of a hot girl.

    wait a minute, that's....JENNY COME DOWN HERE NOW!!!! AND WHEN DID YOU GET THAT TATTOO?!@?
    • Offtopic? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RegalBegal ( 742288 )
      I think the thought of having personal files and access to personal files on a central resource could yeild comical problems such as a father finding his daughter nude from her indiana boyfriend's personal files. No class? maybe. Offtopic? nahh.
  • How is this legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by robertjw ( 728654 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:47AM (#9528594) Homepage
    I work for a tax software company. Last year the IRS and many state governments were forced to remove their free online tax services because they competed with private tax software providers.

    How is it that the state of Indiana can provide a free product that competes directly with everyone from yahoo mail to wordperfect and get away with it. I'm guessing this site won't be up for long - the courts will shut time down in a hurry.
    • How is it that the state of Indiana can provide a free product that competes directly with everyone from yahoo mail to wordperfect and get away with it.

      Because our state government is run by thieves. At least, I hope it's thieves. I'd hate to think that they're that incompetent ...

    • I really hate to come off as rude, but if you look a little more closely, you'll notice a few things. First, the product is provided by SimDesk to Indiana residents free for two years. At the end of this period, if the state decides to keep it, it will cost about $1 per resident, paid for presumably by tax dollars. Essentially, the state is not competing with any private companies, at least at this point; rather, a private corporation is offering free access to a product/service for a rather lengthy tria
  • by MacBrave ( 247640 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:49AM (#9528612) Journal
    From the system requirements:
    "TCP/IP (Internet Connection required for installation); 56 Kbps or higher modem (128 Kbps ISDN or better recommended)."

    Considering most of Indiana is rural and those living in those areas with internet connectiions are still using 56K dial-up, this could be a big stumbling block to geeting SimIndiana off the ground.

    My parents and MIL live in a rural area of Indiana and even though they have 56k modems the phone line quality is so poor that 29.2kbps is the best they can get.
  • OK, so it would appear that this is really a desktop application which accesses a centralized file store.

    Other than a centralized place for files (which is also available, BTW, from Yahoo!), I fail to see what this buys you over, say OpenOffice.

    With OpenOffice, you don't have to worry about whether or not the state is going to continue to pay for the system after two years, plus it runs on far more platforms than SimIndiana.
    • With OpenOffice you just have to worry if your files are usable by anyone you send them to.

      OpenOffice doesn't run on "far more" platforms. Windows makes up the vast majority, so adding a tiny bit more to that isn't "far more" than windows, just a "few more". Let's not get overly emotive with our language :)

  • More TOS goodness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @11:49AM (#9528624) Homepage Journal
    This caught my eye:

    This State of Indiana and STI have a three year contract for STI to provide the Services and Software to city residents; however, the State of Indiana has the right to terminate this contract earlier. Therefore, any data, files or other information You store on an STI server may be deleted if the contract between STI and the State of Indiana is terminated or when it expires, if not sooner. STI cannot guarantee that You will be warned before Your data, files, email, content, or other information is deleted. (emphasis mine)

    Let me get this straight: after they've got the citizens of Indiana using this system for 3 years, they'll be able to blackmail the state from ever terminating the contract. Wow....

  • by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:09PM (#9528820) Homepage Journal
    You know, at first read I thought this said "India". Like maybe they were worried about recent reports that the outsourcing trend was slacking off.

    Maybe the state of Indiana wants to get in on the offshore outsourcing business anyway. It wouldn't be the first time somebody confused North America with India.

  • Seen this Before (Score:5, Informative)

    by techsoldaten ( 309296 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:20PM (#9528984) Journal
    I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I have experience with this company and this product and my experience was that they are far from perfect.

    They came into my daughter's school about a year ago promising the same thing - free applications, email and file storage. And the software seemed really nice - there is a word processor, a spreadsheet, an email client, etc.

    But there were also major issues with how the software worked (or, in some cases, didn't work). People had problems installing the software, performance problems after it was installed (the sim software ran as a memory-resident application from that point forward, which was a huge problem for older machines), crashes, and no one seemed to know how to uninstall the software once it was on the machine. Emails were not getting through, people had trouble retrieving files they thought they had saved (or perhaps the files were not being saved at all).

    After a 6 month pilot project we scrapped the program due to complaints from parents. The group participating in the program were some technically savvy parents, most of whom are capable of dealing with routine issues like file management and email. I wonder what will happen when a whoel state comes online and trys to use this stuff.

    M
  • In related news, diligent posters on the notable anti-productivity website Slashdot.org recognized the irony of spending company time screwing around on message boards and reading about "productivity enhancers".
  • Yeah, real nice stuff.
    I sign up for an account, press submit, and get a "page not found".
    Try again, it says "that account name isn't available at this time".

    The first thing I try, and it breaks. Life's too short to waste time with low quality software.
    Maybe Microsoft users just have a high pain threshold and they'll tolerate crapware.
    Where have all the good developers gone?
  • Heres the EULA (Score:2, Informative)

    ND USER LICENSE AGREEMENT AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE IMPORTANT: THIS SOFTWARE END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE ("EULA") IS A LEGAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN YOU (EITHER AN INDIVIDUAL OR AN ENTITY) AND SIMDESK TECHNOLOGIES. READ IT CAREFULLY. IT PROVIDES A LICENSE TO USE AND RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF THE SOFTWARE AND CONTAINS WARRANTY AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMERS. BY CLICKING THE "I ACCEPT" BUTTON AND/OR ACCESSING ANY PART OF THE SIMDESK TECHNOLOGIES SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS OR ACCESSING AN
  • SimHouston (Score:3, Informative)

    by akpoff ( 683177 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @12:58PM (#9529481) Homepage
    We have the same thing in the City of Houston (as mentioned in the article about SimDesk). The city took an interesting route for granting access -- you have to have a library card to get in. All the public library have terminals for easy access as well as the SimHouston site [simhouston.com].

    Going the public library route is pretty smart -- a lot of people who can't afford computers were already going to the library for information so this gives them easy access to a personal workspace and productivity tools. It also has the possible added benefit of increasing library use and hence funding. That said, I don't use it and nobody I personally know use it. No doubt because we all have computers at home and the fact the city hasn't done a great job of promoting it.

    Oh yeah, did I mention not wanting to keep all my email, wordprocessing, spreadsheet and contact information on a government server? I like knowing my data is on a computer I control. Before I seriously consider signing-up for any roaming desktop product I want all my data kept in an encrypted data store that I alone have the key for. Requiring a search warrant to access my data is a good procedural requirement but like the lock on my front door I want a physical barrier to keep out the curious and opportunistic.

  • Just trying out the software, it seems to be pretty slick -- just about on par with OpenOffice.org, though a little faster. Complicated Word documents don't open well, but for the basic, simple purposes a person using a free office suite would require, it is really a decent application.

    What I'd really like to see is Open Source groups working with state governments to accomplish the same purpose for free (speech / beer). Many more possibilities are available.

    In any case, I think this is an excellent ste

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