IT-illiterate employees burden helpdesks
Employee IT illiteracy does not just lower productivity (IT illiteracy lowers productivity, 12 March). Firms also risk haemorrhaging money, by wasting the skills and, time of the service desk on solving minor IT queries raised by untrained employees. And while it is imperative that employers ensure their service desk is well trained and able to support the increasing number of calls without buckling, the argument for self-help in IT support has never been stronger.
Employers need to recognise the business value of investing in basic IT training - employee productivity will improve and the service desk will be freed-up to focus on delivering the top-level IT support it is there for. The return-on-investment will be twofold.
Barclay Rae, Help Desk Institute
IBM ad shorn of grey matter
IT Week often provides a platform for IT folk to express their concerns regarding ageism. Take a look at the advert on page 7 of last week’s print issue (IBM Take Back Control Ad, 19 March). It says, “So Gil’s interviewing half the IT guys in the country,” and shows a crowd of men and women all wearing glasses and carrying red coffee mugs. These people have scarcely a grey hair between them.
This IBM advertisement proves all the negative comments to be right - ageism rules OK.
By the way, I’m 62 and still cutting code.
UK must assess CSP’s potential
I am concerned that misconceptions are leading the UK to overlook a source of clean energy with great potential - concentrated solar power (CSP) (Watch your datacentre grow greener, 12 March).
CSP is the simple but effective technique of using mirrors to concentrate sunlight, and using this heat source to drive a conventional power station with steam and turbines. Heat can also be stored in melted salts to continue generation during the night.
This approach works best in hot deserts - which we lack in Europe. However, detailed studies by the German Aerospace Centre have shown that it is feasible and economic to send power to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East using high-voltage DC transmission lines. The German research suggests there would be an overall improvement in the resilience and security of energy supplies compared with today.
Malcolm Wicks, minister for Science and Innovation, said in a written reply to a question from Jon Trickett MP that the UK government has “not made any assessment” of using CSP to help the UK meet its long-term energy goals, concluding that the technology is “not a priority for further work”.
Wicks added that the economics of the situation “needs more work”, but these things have already been examined with great thoroughness and professionalism. The German report concludes that even including the cost of transmission infrastructure, CSP could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity for Europe.
Gerry Wolff, TREC-UK
Accessible sites can be cool too
The majority of web sites today, not just those in the public sector, do not comply with accessibility standards (Council sites criticised, 12 March).
Too often, web sites are designed to look “cool”, with heavy use of Flash and images outweighing accessibility needs.
Attitudes need to change among those web designers who still believe - wrongly - that accessible, compliant web sites are generally a pain to create, involve extra work and do not look attractive.
The situation will only improve with the use of software tools that help ensure the pages generated comply with accessibility standards.
Furthermore, organisations need to understand that the responsibility for providing accessible web sites does not end with the site’s launch but extends to every update made.
Erik Aeyelts Averink, Tridion
Firms fail to comply with e-discovery logic
For the past six years my company has specialised in email archiving and we have never seen a step-change in buying habits - contrary to analysts’ predictions (Law and disorder will put firms at risk, 5 March).
Even in the largest financial institutions we have only very rarely seen regulatory compliance as the business justification for a large-scale rollout of archiving. Management of storage and service levels for corporate Exchange and Domino servers are still more likely to trigger boardroom funding in most organisations. And yet all that IT Week’s Leader column said about mitigating the risk in litigation is true, and the financial benefits regarding operational and process efficiencies are undeniable. In addition, there’s the strong end-user benefit of having effective knowledge management across files and email - though we have yet to see a customer request this as a key deliverable.
As the article argued, it is hard to understand why so many firms still don’t have their e-discovery systems in order. There is undoubtedly a fast-growing trend for lawyers to go straight to the email, but we think that it will take quite a few more high-profile public embarrassments before e-discovery gets the same mindshare as storage management.
Barney Haye, Essential Computing
IT must grasp reins of power
James Murray’s comment about taking responsibility for electricity usage was bang on (Watch your datacentre grow greener, 12 March). It’s high time the IT industry used its collective genius to solve a problem that hits us all.
We run a large datacentre and 18 months ago, power wasn’t even on the radar. Right now, it’s our number one concern. With Moore’s Law proving more or less correct, it’s not a problem that will go away on its own any time soon.
Tom Howard, Qube Networks
Law penalises data disorder
As your recent article pointed out, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were recently revised to clear up how US courts should approach electronic evidence - called Electronically Stored Information or ESI (Firms ignoring e-discovery law, 5 March). The ramifications of this change will be extensive and potentially very costly.
US courts are becoming increasingly hostile towards companies that are unprepared or unable to find electronic information relevant to a trial. Some courts have previously shied away from electronic information altogether, but those days are clearly behind us. ESI will now play a starring role in most US litigation.
The new rules do put a limit on what can be made part of a lawsuit - the information must be “reasonably accessible”. But ignoring the whole issue is not reasonable, so companies with a US connection need to take steps now to get their records in order.
Craig Carpenter, Recommind
If only Vista was more like 3.11
Like Kelvyn Taylor I too recall the “blistering” speed of IBM ATs versus XPs (Be thankful the good old days are gone, 5 March). However, it is worth trying vintage software on some of today’s high-horsepower PCs. I recently re-installed Windows 3.11 on a 1.6GHz Athlon and, after a modicum of fiddling, it worked.
The boot time was amazingly swift and really emphasises just how hardware-intensive Windows has become. The 3.11 version actually works quite well in many respects. Not all of the “bells and whistles” are there, but most aren’t missed either.
I suspect there would be good demand for a very much cut-down and simplified version of Windows, which just enabled toggling between applications and simple email and internet browsing. That’s all most of us do anyway. About 99 percent of Windows’ capability is never used - or even found.
BSA chairman lives in a dream world
The BSA may call for feedback from IT managers about software licensing, but it needs to start listening (BSA tries to be good cop, 5 March). The BSA should talk to IT managers in small and medium-sized companies as they are the ones that face the stiffest licensing challenges. With small and sometimes non-existent IT budgets, getting licensing right can be a real pain.
I have been trying to talk to the BSA since October 2006 and it has never properly responded - it’s always “We’ll get back to you” - but they never do.
BSA chairman Ram Dhaliwal and his colleagues live in a dream world where software licensing is a simple, straightforward affair and we should all understand it and accept it. It is about time Dhaliwal personally spoke to real IT managers who face licensing challenges every day.
How to make IT more enticing
I agree with Les Hatton that students are avoiding IT because they can earn more in a different career (Talent follows the money, 26 February), but it is not sufficient to offer better salaries; firms must provide jobs and a job market that offers a long-term future.
IT is characterised by high levels of unemployment for both graduates and people over 40. Skills shortages are a myth - there are plenty of unemployed, experienced IT workers.
If we want IT students, we need to nurture them and not allow employers and agencies to bring in low-wage foreign workers.
Given the above, plus a lack of union representation and a discouraging environment for women, why would any student in their right mind opt for IT?