Many Pies

Many Pies

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You can't have it all

I've just finished compiling a list of places where we duplicate information. It struck me that software engineering is like any other engineering, you can't have it all. You can't design a car that is fast, cheap and reliable. You can pick any two of the three and design a car to fit those criteria.

In my previous job in an electronics firm the engineers had to explain to the management why we couldn't produce products in a short space of time, that were powerful and yet cheap. "Pick any two", we'd say, "and will manage those".

In our information systems we'd like them to be integrated, handle complicated information and be easy to update. One of the places where we duplicate information is where we've previously chosen integrated and complicated whilst having to put up with not easy to update. However the ease of update is has become more important so what we've sacrificed instead is the integration - so the data is partly duplicated in a custom system that handles the complicated data nicely.

In another place we have data entered by hand which exists elsewhere in a spreadsheet, so we can do a quick mail merge to get the data out in several ways. In that case we've sacrificed integration because the effort to type it in was easier than the gymnastics in getting the data out in those several ways.

Fortunately the list of duplicated data is quite short because the data is mostly fairly simple and so can live in the integrated system (Raiser's Edge).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A review of "The Website Owners Manual"

My review of The Website Owners Manual:

This isn't a manual for web designers, it's for those people who are responsible for a website in any way. It covers pretty much everything non-technical you need to know - setting up a project, overseeing direction and design, testing, launching and monitoring. From comments I've heard Paul Boag make, as a web designer he wrote this for his clients, so he wouldn't have to keep on answering the same questions over and over!

Each chapter has a helpful introduction, and at the end some actions points as to what to do next. This is useful as there's so much information in each chapter that it can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you've been landed with the job of managing a website without much previous experience. I really can't find much to criticise in this book - it has a really wide coverage of most of the things you need to know about.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Digmission - first post

Two days ago I went with a couple of colleagues to Digimission (recordings) which aimed to "explore how technology shapes faith, church and mission". I can't find the quote that got me interested, but it was something along the lines of the subtitle for the book that was given free to early bookers: "Flickering Pixels - How Technology Shapes your Faith". That was one of the themes of the day - the message is affected by the medium it is transmitted through.

The people there were a diverse group - from a variety of organisations, or leaders of churches. One of them was Jonny Baker, whose blog I have been reading for a few years now. I'm looking forward to seeing the powerpoints because the only thing I wrote down from his talk was the phrase "mainframe Christianity".

There was a plug for Faith Journeys from Christian Research (not sure which is their website) which is interesting. It's built upon a platform used by major companies to research what people think of their products. It gives people a chance to store, possibly just for their own benefit, stories about their faith journey. However it also gives Christian Research a chance to ask questions about their faith to answer questions about how gradual the process is, what age milestones happen at etc.

Someone showed a YouTube video of Ricky Gervais talking about the Bible on his Animals tour. It has adult language at one point, so I won't link to it, but he talks about Genesis in a very fresh way.

I'd like to draw some conclusions, but the thoughts are still rattling round in my brain, so I'll probably do that in another post.

Links to other articles can be found on twitter: #digimission

Three of the speakers on the panel discussion:
Mark Meynell, Maggi Dawn, Jonny Baker