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Fire Destroys Iron Mountain Data Warehouse, Argentina's Bank Records Lost

shugah Re:unenforceable debt (463 comments)

They'll pay you in New Pesos.

about 7 months ago
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Not Just Healthcare.gov: NASA Has 'Significant Problems' With $2.5B IT Contract

shugah There's another side to that argument (176 comments)

I work as a consultant in both the public and private sector, so my perspective on this is a bit different. I've worked for the big firms, but now work through a network of other boutique consulting firms to deliver larger projects. Each of your points has a counter argument and counter evidence. I will say that I don't think anyone gets their money's worth from the big firms. Their rates are too high and while they may have access to the right expertise, after the first week of the engagement the specialists are all gone and the client left with the B team. I've been approached many times to subcontract under one of the big firms and I've so far turned them down because they are so arrogant. They usually don't want to actually use my specific industry expertise, they just want my CV to bolster their bid. They trust their endless pool of resources and standardized methodologies to make up for their lack of expertise.

I'd also like to point out that the failure rate of IT projects in general is very high (close to 70%) with little to no difference between in house and out sourced projects. I would add that a sizable portion of my work is refocusing (or replacing / undoing) projects that were started in house and went off the rails. I also know the flip side is also true - failing external projects are brought in house just as often.

There are several good (and some bad) reasons to bring in consultants.;

When you don't have the skills in house, or when your in house skills are fully utilized on other projects it makes sense to hire contractors. Contrary to popular belief, most IT staff do not spend most of their day playing Minecraft or streaming episodes of The Big Bang Theory at work. Most IT staff I'm familiar with work 50 - 60 hours per week and have weeks of backloged operations support and in house projects. Expecting them to add yet another major project off the side of their desk is a strategy for failure. Contractors (can) bring focus. I usually only work on 1 or at most 2 major project at a time.

Hiring staff for projects is not easy and not always the best idea. When you hire someone you invest in recruiting, training, benefits, pension, etc. because you expect that person to be with you, and productive for at least 3 - 5 years. If you hire people just for a project, at the end of the project you can end up with staff who are either under utilized or under motivated because their skills and/or ambitions are no longer what you need. Alternatively, you could end up creating projects with shaky business cases just because you have some in house resources. As a consultant, while I love to be re-engaged for subsequent work, I have no expectation of such. My best marketing is to get the job done. I usually include a post implementation review 2 - 3 months after the project. For me, this is a sales opportunity, but it is also an opportunity for the client to evaluate and learn from the implementation. This is something that doesn't always happen with in house projects.

When people say contractors get paid more than in house staff they are not seeing the whole picture. The things I mentioned above - recruiting costs, training costs, benefits, pensions, health insurance, vacations, paid breaks, statutory holidays, office space, admin support and HR support are all costs for internal staff that are either paid by or not applicable to contractors. Additionally, I carry errors and omissions and liability insurance - where the client company is entirely on the hook for the errors, omissions and liability risk of its employees. Finally, contractors can only bill hours actually worked on the project (or in some cases, a fixed price) where staff are paid regardless of utilization. When you factor all of those things in, experienced staff with equivalent expertise are often paid/cost more than contractors.

The biggest problem with outsourced projects is often in procurement. I haven't seen very many good procurement departments. They are often either inexperienced in the business area, they don't seem to know how to negotiate a good contracting relationship, they are overly bureaucratic; focused on rules and rigid policies and/or they are more concerned about liability in the contracting phase than risk in the implementation. Often they don't understand the relationship between cost and risk. If you want to off load all of the risk onto a contractor, you are going to pay for that because only an idiot is going to take on high risk without a commensurate reward. There are many ways to share or manage risk and cost in a contracting relationship, but if it doesn't fit into their rigid policies that are designed to off load risk without any consideration of cost, they can't seem to understand that it drives up contracting costs. Additionally, it is very difficult to manage scope if you don't understand the business area.

Another reason NOT to hire consultants is if an executive sponsor in the client organization has a former business or personal relationship with a consulting firm. I've seen so many of these nepotistic relationships and they NEVER work.

Another major cause of failure is outsourcing too much or too little of the project. If you give the whole project to a contractor and have none of your staff involved in the implementation, how on earth do you expect to have knowledge transfer or a seamless transition from implementation to sustainment? On the other had, if all you are outsourcing is a PM don't expect any added value or specific expertise because that's not what you hired.

about 7 months ago
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Canadian Government Trucking Generations of Scientific Data To the Dump

shugah Re:Not 95% of documents (209 comments)

Even the 5% that are/have been/may be digitized, if they are not properly indexed and tagged they are essentially lost. Digitizing an academic archive is not simply stuffing pages in a scanner.

about 8 months ago
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Canadian Government Trucking Generations of Scientific Data To the Dump

shugah Re:This is goddamned appalling (209 comments)

Another chapter in Stephen Harper's war on science.

about 8 months ago
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Irish Politician Calls For Crackdown On Open Source Internet Browsers

shugah And this is a bad thing? (335 comments)

Do they have electoral recall in Ireland?

about 8 months ago
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Why We Think There's a Multiverse, Not Just Our Universe

shugah Re: You mean (458 comments)

I think we already tried that.

about 8 months ago
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I'd rather pay for my space latte with ...

shugah Starbucks (265 comments)

Isn't it obvious?

about 9 months ago
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Apple Again Seeks Ban On 20+ Samsung Devices In US

shugah Re:How about no? (235 comments)

Apple's patents were for frivolous bling and obvious trade dress (rectangle with rounded corners).

about 9 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

shugah Re:There must be a very good reason... (579 comments)

It's my understanding that the vast majority of Hawaii's petroleum plants are biodiesel. Hawaii has 1 coal plant and very little natural gas. In cities all over the world diesel generators are used as peaking plants for the very reason that they can be spun up to full power or turned down very rapidly.

about 9 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

shugah Re:Sources (579 comments)

Incorrect. There is only 1 coal plant in Hawaii. Most electrical generation is from biodeisel which has very rapid turn up time.

about 9 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

shugah Re:There must be a very good reason... (579 comments)

One more thing - diesel or bio-diesel plants (70% of Hawaiian mix) are often used for peaking / on-demand power production so are entirely suitable for quickly turning up or down depending on demand. There is only 1 coal plant in Hawaii and very little natural gas, so the most of Hawaii's base load is of the on-demand variety.

about 9 months ago
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Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

shugah Re:There must be a very good reason... (579 comments)

Hawaii's electrical energy mix is approximately 12% from all renewable sources. 70% of electrical generation is from petroleum (mostly Bio-Diesell) with the remainder from a single coal plant. Roughly half of that renewable energy supply is sourced from biomass and geothermal, which are both highly available and predictable. Solar provides roughly 8% of Hawaii's renewable energy or less than 1% of its total electrical energy supply. Wind energy provides roughly 30% of the renewable supply or 4% of the total. Based on these numbers, solar production is far from saturated.

about 9 months ago
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Write Windows Phone Apps, No Code Required

shugah Re:Windows 8 woohoo! (210 comments)

Apps that anyone can write, but no one will use.

about a year ago
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Teenage League of Legends Player Jailed For Months For Facebook Joke

shugah Re:So much for... (743 comments)

or have sex with Roseanne Barr
Ew. Thanks for the visual.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software?

shugah Re:Yes, (614 comments)

I just did a risk assessment for a large hospital whose radiology information system is running OpenVMS on unclustered DEC Alpha hardware. The application stack is MUMPS based and no longer supported by the vendor (who no longer exists). They backup to tape and have never in the long, long life of the system test restored a backup set. Needless to say the risk assessment had a lot of red on it.

about a year ago
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Adobe Creative Suite Going Subscription-Only

shugah Re:But who are their competitors? (658 comments)

The first thing GIMP would have to do is to completely dump the current UI.

about a year ago
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Microsoft's "New Coke" Moment?

shugah Re:It's like deja vu all over again (786 comments)

Aero was designed to improve usability over Luna, the Windows XP UI. The problem with Aero was that it was launched on top of a slow, bloated, bug ridden operating system - Vista. Aero was user focused and was an honest attempt to update / modernize the Windows UI. Aero on Vista was lipstick on a dog, but Aero (with incremental, user focused improvements) on Windows 7 is great.

Metro is not user focused - no user group was demanding a common UI between phones, tablets and desktops. It might have been different if people actually used Windows Phones or Surface tablets. But with basically zero market share in the mobile space, the "converged" UI is a solution to nothing. Steve Ballmer really rolled the dice here and got the math wrong. You have to have a foothold in a market in order to leverage your way in via dominance in another sector. Microsoft has always succeeded by making it easy and transparent for people to use what they are familiar with (Windows) to do things in new markets segments - browse the Internet, access/play multimedia content, author content, etc.

What Ballmer and Co. have done is the opposite, they made it more difficult for people to use Windows in hopes that they might take that crappy experience to their mobile device.

about a year ago
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Microsoft's "New Coke" Moment?

shugah Re:New Coke was a Flop? (786 comments)

I don't think Coke - New of Classic is the beverage of choice for people concerned about eating healthy.

about a year ago
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Microsoft's "New Coke" Moment?

shugah Re:"You're holding it wrong" (786 comments)

This is one area that Microsoft could learn from Google. Google has never hesitated to pull the plug on less than successful products - sometimes, possibly even too soon. Bill Gates did this with his Internet Tidal Wave memo - essentially admitting that while Win95 was a success, Microsoft was in danger of missing the boat with the Internet. For those not old enough to remember, Win95 was released without a web browser in the shrink wrap version and with TCP/IP networking not enabled by default - these were only available in the Plus Pack which was marketed mainly as a package of desktop themes.

about a year ago

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