provoking what happens in IT

a single flower

enough of the hammering of IT for the moment.

you must support this great idea of philanthropy – so simple and effective –


September 29, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

recruitment and the percentage scam

sometime ago I was in the process of hiring a number of people and decided to farm the process outside to a recruitment firm. this was about 3.5 years ago and we were assembling a team of 20 people. IT specialists. not cheap people by any means.

at that time, we were able to negotiate our way down to a rate of about 9% for letting the recruiting agency find people through for us. the end recruiting fees would have been around the $150k mark at the end of the process.

at the time I felt that this was high but went along with it.

when I came to my recent role 3 years ago I had to hire more people. I found, with disgust, that I was getting hammered 14% for IT staff. so on the average IT person’s wage ~ $80k per annum, I was up for $11k in fees.

let me break this down for you even more. the average contractor (in business type services) in australia earns around $80 per hour for their efforts. an hr person, looking for staff using seek, should be earning this amount of money – perhaps a substantially larger amount of money if they were finding cios, cfos or ceos.

but for the average punter, $80 per hour is adequate.

so at that rate, there is 137.5 hours worth of work to be allocated against finding the average employee.

I cannot fathom that any hr person would be spending 130+ hours to find a generalised resource for you. I mean they get the resumes, talk to the person to see if they have 2 heads, and then send them on through for you to look at. if you like them, you interview, most likely three times and then get the hr person to do the reference checks.

most hr people I ask about this tell me that it takes them less than 20 hours to fill a role. they admit it! which is even worse – they admit taking 100 hours of money for nothing from you!

I’ve lived life as a vendor, supplier and cio with a golden rule – you owe what you owe and nothing less.

I constantly feel aggreived by the amount of money that the hr fraternity want to charge.

so recently, I negotiated a time and materials rate with an hr firm to help me find people.


well for one, every other normal contractor in business works under this sort of rate, or an agreed daily rate; not give me a percantage.

secondly, there is an accountability of the work being done by the amount of hours being taken to fill the role.

thirdly, I pay for the things that I want.

richard giles was recently talking about the change in communication methods for the media going forward – I think that there exists a real potential for the hr and recruiting industry to reinvent itself to meet the real needs of companies, rather than the bs costing in place at the moment – no wonder sites like flourish.

September 27, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 1 Comment

battery recall wars

it seems these days that as a notebook provider you have to have a battery recall – if you don’t, you not sitting on the edge of technology. it’s the ‘in thing’ at the moment.

just this last week, toshiba announced their recall of batteries on a selected range of tecra notebooks.

let’s see who else on the list…

. obviously dell, they started the craze
. panasonic did the same at the beginning of the month.
. apple with the ibook g4 and powerbook g4…although, if we leave notebooks alone for a moment and concentrate on ipods, then apple could be an even greater contender
. hewlett packard with their 679,000 potentially exploding digital cameras (well at least their batteries)

although, the funny thing about some of this is that sony is the company making the batteries for dell and apple (could there be industrial espionage of a grand scale here to protect the vaio range?) and we don’t see a viao recall. hmmmm…maybe it will happen soon.

personally I am thankful that my main laptops are hp – the ‘dying screen for no apparent reason’ issue is something that the support centre guy can deal with for the next 3 years on the support contract, free of charge. no data gets lost, no one goes to hospital. 

but there’s another side to me that says, call me crazy, but, as a cio, I wanna hear the execs come to me with exploding notebooks…it beats the monotony out of “er…sorry to bother you, but why can’t I see my password when I type it?”

so I put it to hp, acer and sony – get popular and start melting notebooks with batteries.

but it’s always something like this that brings out the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ syndrome in people. the first person to talk about their notebook battery heating up in the lappie is then drowned out by the office nutjob who recalls (no pun, I swear) a time when his aunty’s fifth uncle had a compaq lappie that just blew up in his face 10 years ago before anyone heard of it.

so I put it to all of you, who’s got the oldest story. I’ve never encountered it personally – only lucky enough to have hard drives fry.

September 26, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

office 2007 beta 2 tech refresh

I would be arrogant to think that my rantings of late about office 2007 beta 2’s inability to have certain functionality working has prompted ms to issue a new release fixing these bugs.

however, they have just released a new release called ‘office 2007 beta 2 tech refresh’. why not beta 3? who knows how the marketing machine works.

let’s just see if beta 3 works – if it does I’ll be a happy person. and then I’ll blog about it.

September 25, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

slamdunk on vista and office 2007 licensing

I’m not too happy with vista. apart from a number of technical things, it’s licensing model is still short sighted.

software assurance for xp was very shortsighted in it’s approach – from memory when I did a refresh of our environment it was an extra $80 per license per year which meant we could upgrade to vista for nothing when it was released. in my direct environment this would have been a wasted cost $48k for upgrades that never happened throughout the life of the lease of the equipment. and microsoft has outwardly stated that they will not be recompensing anyone for their software assurance and vista issue.

office upgrade provisions fall in the same category I have read.

next year I ditch my current machines and renew the lease with new equipment. most likely they will come with vista, if microsoft’s vista propoganda (sorry product) management team can deliver in jan 07.

I have started to tell some of my tech staff that some machines on the floor, for the light office users, will most likely come with on them rather than ms office. that’s $400 per machine saving. we’ll see how it goes and I’ll let you know 🙂  (and I know richard giles is going “convert to mac” somewhere in the background…)

will I be tempted by software assurance this time round? hmmm…

September 22, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 2 Comments

you wet collection of lost aardvark effluent

I know blogs are meant to be about original content, but this one came from the rooster’s rail (thanks!) and I am just syndicating it because it is so good. it’s bottom feeder generator appeals to my inner sense of being at a very spiritual level. at least the drunken one (or the hangover one) the ultimate in online insulting tools that every self serving geek should have on the desktop.

September 21, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 1 Comment

toeragging at hp

it’s always good to see bit of muck rake happen in the industry – especially when people have got too much money and control and then they see themselves getting in to all sorts of strife.

like hp for example. accused of sending in spies to tackle people on their own board and journos.

see groklaw 

September 21, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

removing vendors

today I am having the most distasteful pleasure of writing to a vendor who is within our business network and advising that we will ceasing all business with them immediately.

I always say to executive that all IT relationships are never forever. and that these relationships, of all things, should come with pre-nuptials.

this particular vendor, who I won’t name for the obvious reasons, has lied to us and overcharged us in excess of what is reasonable. and when I say lie, I mean lie. these guys make pinnochio look like small fry. ‘dubyer’ may have some problems keeping up with this vendor – ok maybe that’s a bit too extreme on the comedic end.

however, there are countless emails directly to me and others in my team that are complete fabrications that we have caught the vendor and their MD out on. SLAs are not met and internal client satisfaction of the vendor does not exist. at each touchpoint in the business there is constant complaint against this vendor.

it is a very unpleasant business of going through – this vendor has been with us for some time and we placed a great amount of trust in their services for which they have constantly let us down. so the next vendor to come in and take over has to work doubly as hard to regain the trust of the staff which in a way is unfair.

have you been through a similar situation? let me know…

September 20, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

the big fella

a billion posts will be done today for steve irwin. what a man. and what an achievement – he’s probably the first guy to get a billion posts in a day. not even ‘dubyer’ could do that, despite his stoopidity.

if there is only one organisation that you throw $20 at this year, make it

if this provides any indication on how loved the man was, the australian tv networks are holding a memorial service live at 9am today. this has never been done before – not even for a prime minister.

September 20, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll | Leave a comment

the unwanted gift of presence

recently I was lucky enough to attend a conference where a number of vendors spent copious amounts of time pitching their product instead of talking about the relevant topic in the alloted 5 minute space.

one of those talks was on voip which has been a hot topic of mine for some time now…I’ve been asked by my executive when we are going to get voip as apparently it has all of these ‘to die for’ features like make a phone call and see how ugly the person on the other side is.

one of the the side discussions was on the topic of ‘presence’ and the ability to see where someone is and what they are doing. the same principle applies with instant messenger – I’m online, busy, away from my desk etc. cool technology when used properly in the work environment or when you choose to engage it.

however, I often wonder as technologists are we setting the world up for a reign of pain and failure. presence is one of these things that works in the business environment because there is an expectation that people are performing. however, outside of work we should have the capability to just ‘be’ without the interference of technology.

while presence and voip are not the norm today, in 5 years time they will be for most people. in 10 years I suspect it will be commonplace and analog phone users will be the social technology outcasts.

but what happens when this sort of technology is standard and can’t be removed? who cares you say? well what about the woman living in fear of her jealous ex-husband who is sitting 150 metres down the street sitting on the boundary of his apprehended violence order polling the phone to see if she is ‘away, busy or offline’.

if you think that I am going a bit overboard here then think about this. as I am writing this blog, I am using one of my neighbors wireless links that he/she trustingly bought from the same vendors that supply voip – he/she has no idea that I am sucking up their bandwidth without even having to wardrive their router. even after 5 years in the marketplace, why can’t wireless routers be made secure for the average punter.

if this is the case with routers, what are all of the issues that face us with voip?

from a business perspective for me it’s the new wave of ransomware – ‘hi this is joe blogg and if I don’t get $100k in my account tomorrow I am going to hack in and shut down your voip based call center on thursday.’

in the good old days you had to drive a backhoe through a copper line to have the same effect.

sometimes I wonder if some technologies that are released are here to help us or assist in failure…what do you think?

September 19, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 5 Comments

the firefox slamdunk

all’s fair in love and war and firefox can suffer the same fate. if you’re working in a networked environment and are running anything less than v1.5.0.7 and you’re running a vanilla install, your network admin is probably hating you for sucking up unnecessary bandwidth.

firefox polls for updates on a continuing basis, but in a very heavy manner. so do your network admin a favour and make the change today.

September 19, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

the first slam dunk

i am known for my slamming of some companies. however, I have to admit that in slamming them, I use them.

now i don’t slam them for the sake of slamming their brand or all of the products that they build – just individual products or methodologies that they choose to engage in – either building or selling.

take the classic easy slam – microsoft. in my organisation we are a microsoft shop from end to end. right from the desktop to the financials packages we use. heck we even build our own software and we use microsoft .net to produce these products. so by and large I engage with microsoft on a number of levels at a business level.

in my own private business I use microsoft’s small business accounting to look after my business because it’s a great easy package that can be changed without much fuss and has a much non-repudiation concepts that a small business needs without employing a developer when something needs to be customised.

however, i will go to town on the new office 2007 beta 2 release. word and powerpoint work well. I like the export to pdf function. the functionality shift was a bit naf to start with – it was if the usability guys said “how can we effectively screw with people’s minds in this release?”

outlook on the other hand is another kettle of fish – I am running a pop3 account through it on a full microsoft machine – nothing foreign from anyone else and it runs on xp pro. so microsoft can’t hammer me there. but it runs like crap. everytime I want to send new emails, the second email in the series will cause outlook to crash and restart. if you go to reply to or forward an email from the tool bar when viewing emails from the the main pane, outlook crashes. I could go on, but I think you get the hint.

so now I am scared to open excel to see if the formula engines are going to be corrupt. so just the pretty presentations for me at the moment thanks.

office 2003 is fairly consistent and without major functionality issue. what happened here? I release software to a very large group of people each month – and my software handles over $1billion per year in transactions. if I released software without the standard functionality working I would not be occupying my position for very long.

where did the line “don’t go backwards” fail to appear in the project plan with the Microsoft guys with this release? I accept that beta releases will have bugs in it. but let’s face it, 95% of users only use 15% of the office suite – and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work it all out.

September 19, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

provoking it

welcome to provokeit.

this blog is designed to provoke and generate thoughts and interest into the world of professional IT, the products we use and the vendors who support us.

it is meant to be completely unbiased, regardless of personal likes and dislikes of any particular product / vendor.

i am a cio of a global organisation at the moment and I have played with most technologies as well as dealing with most vendors. i also have my own consultancy in which I help companies get off the ground. so I know a little about startups, mergers and acquisitions. just a little.

if you are sarcastic or have a streak of it in you, you might have some fun here, you may not.

September 19, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment