Many Pies

Many Pies

Monday, February 27, 2006

I went to the Charity Finance Directors' Group's IT Conference last week. I'll write more about the other speakers, but I want to mention Richard Barrington from Sun first. His was an inspiring talk, so much so that at the end I looked down at my hand to see if I had a bottle of Kool-Aid in it, so much was I taken in by it.

Seriously though, he convicingly presented Sun as a company:
  • with good environmental credentials - producing low energy products, recycling their own paper and plastic, as well as their own computers: "if it's got a Sun badge we'll take it back"
  • committed to Open Source
  • not forcing users to upgrade and supporting all the old kit
  • supporting education with free stuff
The Sun Ray thin client looks good. Richard said he could insert his id card into one of them in any Sun office around the world and within 4 seconds he was logged into his account with his documents and applications.

The thin client argument generally is impressive, but I don't know why it hasn't taken off. Certainly I've never heard of people using Sun Rays in any company. I'm sure they've sold a few, but it's not making big mindshare from my perspective.

His pitch to the charities was about "delivering an online Global CVS (Community and Voluntary Sector) Community" by providing shared services. There are things to think on there with the trends in online applications, like CRM. My brain is ticking...

Friday, February 24, 2006

More info following from my post on Ubuntu from someone working in the NRSI:

"This next release of Ubuntu (Dapper, 6.04) is to be supported for 3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the server. The feeling is that Ubuntu has hit a stable point in its development, with little new stuff being added to core packages in the last 6 months. This provides Canonical with a relatively stable distribution with which they can go after certifications with some of the big database people. They already have db2 certification, but they are after Oracle and people like that. One key certification they are going for is LSB 3.0. The reason for only 3 years on the desktop is the feeling that who would want to run a 3 year old desktop distro anyway!

"Unfortunately, graphite [the non-Roman font rendering thingy] wasn't ready in time to get into 6.04 so we will see it in 6.10. But that doesn't stop us producing 6.04 ready packages for people to download, etc.

"I got the lowdown on the relationship between Ubuntu and the OLPC [One laptop per child].
Redhat as a financial partner will be producing the official distro for
OLPC. But the OLPC market is big enough and open enough that there is
nothing to stop users putting other distros on there, including Ubuntu.
Some countries may prefer to use Ubuntu over Redhat for whatever reasons."

tags: fonts
I saw the back of Patrick Johnstone's head the other day! He of the Operation World book fame. I also came across an article he wrote about Bible translation & the cross-cultural DNA of the church.

He says, "The translation and enculturation of Scripture into every language where there is a response to the Gospel is a fundamental prerequisite for the endurance of Christianity over many generations." That statement is backed by some historical examples.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Victor Keegan's column in today's Guardian made my ears prick up, figuratively speaking, because I was one of those he mentions because I was one of those "young programmers [who] cut their teeth on the easy-to-access coding of the Spectrum and BBC B computers". I made enough money to pay for my driving lessons, but I'm not now, as the article said, "behind Britain's successful computer games companies".

The difference in those days was that the manufacturer, Sinclair or Acorn(?), didn't make money once you'd bought it, whereas the mobile manufactuers and networks look forward to a steady revenue stream. It looks like they are too greedy if they aren't sharing it with the equivalent of those young programmers. On the web you expect your software free, like Flickr, for some functionality. That's partly due to the fact that micropayments are so hard, so you give away your basic service and charge a non-micro payment for a "pro" service. With the mobile platform already good at micropayments I agree with Victor that the mobile industry is missing a trick.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I can highly recommend the Idealware monthly newsletter for information useful to non-profits/charities. Sign up at their website. It pointed me to this excellent white paper on Open Source CMSs.


Monday, February 20, 2006

A plug for a mailing list I've subscribed to:
It's called "MissionBytes" and it "is geared towards people in the technological world who are already mission-minded but either do not have a familiarity of computers in missions, who want to broaden their understanding, or who simply want to see some the things we see as we work with different organizations."

You can subscribe at:
You'll need to accept their certificate as they haven't got a "proper" one, so you'll have to trust me that they are good people :-)

It's not a discussion list, but more of a occasional news item list, so you won't get overwhelmed with emails from the list.

Friday, February 17, 2006

So much to catch up on. I'll park it here and write it up later:
Ruby on Rails
and another interview.

Oracle express database - free

Spike Source - what's that all about? I also need to catch up with what's been happening with SugarCRM and Microsoft and the implications.

The latest features on including a blogging tool.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Now here's something that may prove to be revolutionary. I don't know if were the first people to do hosted CRM applications, but they are certainly the ones that seem to be the most talked about.

Now they've got AppExchange where you can develop or use applications that people have written to work with

Mashups are very Web 2.0, but here you have a mechanism that you can make money out of a mashup that you create.

The Regiser has a good overview of it.

I looked for nonprofit or charity applications and only found two, no make that four, two more have appeared since I started looking yesterday. The most useful one is volunteer management which use themselves for when their employees do volunteering.

The attraction of the hosted CRM application idea for charities is the fact that you don't need IT support staff so much, which may be an issue if you're small.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Here's a conference which you may find gives a good perspective on Agile programming:

Tags: agile

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I've been crafting some SQL to query the Raiser's Edge database. If you want some tips then let me know.
Here's one for nothing: not all ids link back to the CONSTITUENT table, usually its RECORDS.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Are you an IT professional in the SF, LA or Seattle areas? My colleagues in the US are running a two day introduction to IT and mission. There are more details at There are live interviews with people in field locations, but unfortunately you don't get to talk to me. I know a couple of the guys who are organising it and it should be good.