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Author: Created: 7/27/2007
Systems
By admin on 11/23/2009
Microsoft’s SQL server and the related suite of products continue to increase in popularity and provide an even richer array of possibilities for significantly improving your reporting and business intelligence environment. However, the suite is complex – anything with comprehensive functionality is.

 

What are some resources and approaches to get you ramped up as you move into your data warehouse project?

 

The advantage of using mainstream products is that user communities are often large, active and there are many comprehensive resources available. It takes a while to get up to speed with what first appears to be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible and you just need to be organized in your approach.

 

Vendor Web Sites

 

No matter what the tool, your software...
By admin on 10/23/2009
Microsoft’s campaign for the release of Windows 7 will use the theme that 1 billion users have been part of the design, and Microsoft has listened. “I am a PC and this is how I made it better.” “I spoke and Microsoft listened.” “I wanted less clutter and there will be less clutter.” “I wanted better security and the security is better.” There will be no mention of Vista.

 

7 is the “lucky” number – how “lucky” will your organization be this new release?

 

Unfortunately, we often assume a lot about the ability and knowledge of our users. It used to be – in the olden days - that when a new operating system came out – for those of you that remember (DOS to Windows) – changes were “radical”. We ensured we had training sessions so users could adapt and take advantage of new functionality. “Try the solitaire game to learn how to use the mouse.”

 

Now, with reductions in budgets and time, many of us will just send out an email – “your upgrade is happening on Monday, let us know...
By admin on 8/26/2009
Not all software providers have a robust user group that directly influences products and directions for future developments.

A strong and influential user group should be considered one of the basic requirements in any major software purchase for a variety of reasons:

• Helps to drive new features to be part of the product rather than multiple customizations for individual customers.

• Enables networking among clients and helps build product ecosystems. User groups often share reports, enhancements and other information.

• User group officers can be rotated over time so all clients can eventually help guide the group and have influential voice.

• User groups can reach agreement on future enhancements before resources are committed by the vendor. This helps the vendor make more effective use of resources.

While it is in the interest of software vendors to develop user groups, there is also the natural inclination to not want to lose “control” over features, enhancements,...
By admin on 5/15/2009
Digital convergence is happening faster than we realize, and just as the PC industry innovated at dramatic rates in the past, the mobile device industry is now the hotbed of innovation because of the intense level of competition.

So what does this mean for our profession? Some ideas and possibilities …

• More of an outcry from staff for more “friendly” devices such as iPhones. We’ll all need to understand where and why the outcry is happening. • Less patience from our road warriors for accessing and updating information when they are travelling. • More demand for ease of updating information such as contact reports using mobile devices. • Our staff will face increasing challenges from having to support multiple device platforms. • The distinction between 'personal' and 'corporate provided' devices will continue to blend. This has its own set of security and policy issues. • Others?

We will all have to be creative in our managing and understanding the effects of convergence within our organizations.

...
By admin on 3/12/2009
How do we update our plans for Information Systems and Data Management and make strategic decisions on an ongoing basis in relation to how the work changes and changes in the world? Information systems plans need to address mid-to-long term needs but should be very flexible in an environment that changes rapidly.

 

Successful implementation of a plan will be to work “outside” the current organizational structure and address what’s best for the organization. Staffing and structure may need to change. Budgets may need to be reallocated so as to make the best use of scarce resources.

 

The world changes at the margin, and it’s critical to realize that opportunities exist, but should not derail core strategies – if the strategy is only affected at the margin. For example, we may have 100 reports that need to be modified. If these are marginal changes, and we spend time implementing them all, we may have ignored the data warehouse project – which is a critical core strategy and a more enabling...
By admin on 2/20/2009
Typical tuning and database performance activities are often based on ratios and sometimes they give misleading results. As database functionality continues to become more sophisticated, new methods of tuning will become more useful.

An example of this is the Wait-Time information in Microsoft SQL Server. This allows tracking of every step of a process so you can identify which steps are causing a lag in performance.

Consider the metaphor of the cashier in relation to performance tuning:

The Cashier is the CPU Customer Being Checked is Running Customers Waiting in Line are Runnable Customer 1 Requires a Price Check Price Check is Runnable If you use a ratio or a simple statistic such as total time at a cashier, you may end up taking the wrong action to fix the problem. Wait-time analysis would give you a clearer picture, by isolating the price check as the place where the longest amount of wait time occured. Wait-time tables are used to keep track of this information in SQL Server...
By admin on 11/21/2008
AASP Keynote Session

 

The first Association of Advancement Services Professionals conference kicked off in Chicago with the opening keynote session. This session was certainly indicative of the exciting and in-depth sessions that followed throughout of the conference.

 

Sharon Burns, CIO for the MacArthur Foundation was responsible for delivering the keynote, to help us all think about the future, and what we need to do within our profession to both address the present and prepare for the future. A future that is rapidly changing and which we need to adapt to and understand quickly.

 

The Foundation is a large nonprofit, with over 5 billion dollars a year to disburse in grants, and one of their objectives is to utilize innovative approaches to information technology to accomplish their mission.

 

One of the questions that Sharon put forth: What is the role of the CIO in the inter-mediated world? What does a CIO need to be aware of and manage in a world where...
By admin on 9/26/2008
Ever travel, get to your hotel ready to do some work and spend the next 15 minutes trying to find a plug to charge up and work with all of your electronic devices?

 

In some cases, every available plug is taken up, and is located behind the bed, television, or some other immovable object that you can barely reach behind. Maybe these organizations are trying to save money on power consumption and making it up by charging for Internet access.

 

So here's a solutution in one hotel that seemed a bit novel. This is the power bar that rises out of the desk to form the power column that is convenient and is still able to prevent the theft of it from the hotel. What a great idea!

 

Now, this was a little more of an "upscale" property, a little newer than most, but was still a bargain through one of the online hotel booking web sites. The guest has instant piece of mind by knowing that computer, cell phone, iPod, GPS, portable recorder, digital camera can all be charged upon arrival...
By admin on 4/6/2007
Pushing Technology - Speech Recognition

 

So sometimes it's just small things that make a difference when you're pushing technology.

 

After first trying it 11 years ago I recently picked up a copy of Dragonspeak Naturally Speaking software. The idea came from one of our development officers who is using the software to enter contact reports. I remember when I previously tried it and it was just a trade-off between typing and speaking because it took so long to make corrections that you didn’t save a lot of time.

 

This is also a lesson in making sure that a first software release works as well as you say it does. It really takes a long time to change a bad user experience to the point where you actually trust the company again. We believe marketing language and are very disappointed when the product doesn't work exactly as advertised.

 

So what's the verdict?

 

I've been using it for about two hours, sent a few e-mails, written a few paragraphs...
By admin on 9/30/2006
 Reconfiguring your information resources for the next century. Change is now discontinuous and at the same time continually transformational. We’d like the world to remain steady, but the desire for continuity becomes a mirage. I.T. is now the way, in fact the primary way in which society is moving closer to working and collaborating as one global unit. Change is changing and the pace is ever faster. Consider content management software. We can produce content at a comparatively low cost, and even include interactive elements as part of our content. And without programming on the user end. We lose independence of development by following a more generic approach, but experience great gains in efficiency. Technology has now become our means but not our end. We are more capable than ever of transforming our organizations and our processes. Think about … Distributed learning Competition E-commerce models Portals Support Research However, change is not easy and there are some barriers to transformation:...
By admin on 9/30/2006

On the gift tab of a constituent record, you can right click anywhere in the grid and export the whole gift history to Excel, and then group by gift type, etc. We've found this extremely helpful when doing our Donor Wall updates.

For more information on this and other hot hot Raiser's Edge tips and tricks, please visit http://reusers.server-planet.com.

Peter Gulka
Database Administrator - NAIT Development Office

By admin on 7/31/2006
Very few organizations have an overall integrated approach to information technology, and this is particularly true of higher education. Even though the split between academic and administrative computing is less pronounce than it was in the past, we have evolved from the first users of computing technology to in a lot of cases, in terms of efficient and integrated approaches, among the last. Most of us still don’t distinguish between student, faculty and administrative needs, and apply a global approach to all, rather than standardized systems using components depending on the target audience. While systems need to touch all areas, like an email system, they don’t necessarily need to touch all areas equally. The calendaring for administrative needs may be quite different in fact than the calendaring needs for students. Advancement touches everyone in the organization at some point. Faculty staff, student giving, alumni relationships all coalesce into the use of technology, so it is important that we help...
By admin on 7/31/2006
 Query or Question - give us everyone within (x) distance so we can plan an event. 1. Visit a web site and input zip codes to get back the distance: http://www.simplyzipcodes.com/zipcodesbydistance.php 2. Use latitude and longtitude and a formula: x := 69.1 * (lat2 - lat1); y := 53 * (long2 - long1); distance in miles = sqrt(x*x+y*y); Where lat1 & long1 is one point say the event location and lat2 & long2 are those of an address. 3. For an even greater degree of accuracy, a stored procedure (Microsoft SQL server), that also considers the radius of the earth in the calculation: CREATE PROCEDURE advance._test_sp_FindNearby    @CenterLat float,     @CenterLon float,     @SearchDistance float --,     --@EarthRadius float AS declare @CntXAxis float declare @CntYAxis float declare @CntZAxis float declare @EarthRadius float set @CntXAxis = cos(radians(@CenterLat)) * cos(radians(@CenterLon)) set @CntYAxis = cos(radians(@CenterLat))...
By admin on 6/30/2006
You can create the following characters by holding the ALT key and entering the corresponding numbers using the number keypad. Do not use the number row above the letter keys. Romance Languages: á 160 ä 132 é130 ë 137 í161 ï139 ó162 ö 148 ú 163 ü 129 ñ 164 å 134 Ñ 165 â 131 à 133 ê 136 è 138 î 140 ì 141 ô 147 ò 149 ù 151 û 150 ç 135 Mathematical/Symbol: ½ 171 ≈247 ¼ 172 ¿168 ¢ 155 ¡ 173 £ 156 ° 248 ∞236 ≥242 ± 241 ≤243 The other thing you can do is go to your computer Character Map. Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Character Map. Select a font and click on the character. In the lower right had corner it will tell you the ALT+#### to insert that character. Tip of the month from the Raiser's Edge Users Forum.

...
By admin on 5/31/2006

If you put in current system date (or hit F5 while in the date field) in your default set for any date it will load the current (today's) date when you load your default set.

Tip of the month from the Raiser's Edge Users Forum.

By admin on 4/30/2006
This tip on the search screen within Raiser's Edge Provided by Walter Koenig Search Option Tips: 1. Three of the checkboxes are grayed out until you enter something in the last/org name search field. 2.The fourth one that's grayed out, "Check nickname," is grayed out until you enter something in the first name search field. 3. If you want the boxes to remain checked for future searches, you must actually run a search (but you don't have to open any of the records found). 4. If you click on the New Search button on the right of the screen, the grayed-out boxes you have checked will be unchecked. 5. And by the way, although the NEW SEARCH button unchecks the grayed-out checkboxes on the Constituent Search Screen (without telling you), the PREVIOUS SEARCH button doesn't mess with the grayed-out keys. It's OK to use that button to recreate your previous search without having to type in the search keys (very handy). From the RE Users Forum http://reusers.server-planet.com/index.php

By admin on 3/31/2006
Never too late to visit a few of the following sites to update and revisit your security procedures and practices: While some might argue that Microsoft is the source of all problems, you will also find many solutions here: http://www.microsoft.com/security/default.mspx. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology site includes detailed information on securing multiple operating systems, security checklists and documentation on well-known security issues: http://csrc.nist.gov/itsec/. The Computer Emergency Readiness Team coordination centre, operated by Carnegie Mellon University is a great resource for IT security matters of all kinds. It caters to expertise that goes well beyond the desktop. http://www.cert.org. Anti-virus software reviews and ratings, to help you make decisions regarding what products to buy and install in your own organization:...
By admin on 1/31/2006
Nothing can be more annoying to system staff than when a new person starts, shortly after an implementation of a new system, and one of the first things they do is complain about the system they have to work with. It’s easy to react negatively. What do you need to do when this happens? You certainly don’t want to go out and start the sourcing and implementation from scratch, but at the same time, a new person can be very influential in how they supervise their staff, utilize the system and bend management’s ear. Don’t get defensive, and although it can be tough, these issues can be an opportunity so try to understand the reasons this may have come about. • Lack of training or proper orientation. • The new person may be familiar with another system, and we all resist change. • During the learning curve, a new system actually reduces productivity just at the moment your attempting to sell it to the rest of the organization. • There may be myths or legends and learning by folklore, that have no basis in fact....
By admin on 12/31/2005
Since we all like “Top 10” lists, a few tips for successful project management: • You need a business case. Income and “if come” are entirely different concepts. • You need a beginning and an end. Projects are not an endless journey. • Figure out what you’ve got first. Sometimes a project many not even need to be done if you just understand what you have first. • Don’t underestimate the existing structure and how difficult this may be to change. • You need to have governance, responsibility and accountability clearly defined and managed. The systems people may not be the best to manage this aspect. • Use command standards and practices for your architectures. • Always think about your users and make it easy to use. • Remember that every project needs to be about the business. • Consider the effects of globalization on your project. We live in a 24X7 wired and interconnected world. Learn lessons from others. Network with peers in advance to understand some of the problems, trials, tribulations and...

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