VSJ – Feb 2003

Notice Board

Business Intelligence 2003 takes place at the Hotel Okura in Amsterdam from 3-4 February.
Contact Pat Pearce on 01784 268999 or email pat.pearce@gartner.com.

Legal IT 2003 is at the Business Design Centre in Islington on 12 and 13 February. Email info@legalitshow.com, phone 01491 575522 or fax 01491 575544.

et2003 is at the NEC, Birmingham, from 8-10 April. What’s et? Environmental technology. Isn’t that slightly off our beat? See John Burns’ article in next month’s VSJ for the answer.

[Got an activity or event coming up? Email eo@iap.org.uk with the details.]


Sounding Board

Michael D. Mitchell saw John Ellis’ comments on the missing PWS mystery and says:

I was shocked to discover, on reading John Ellis’ article in the November issue of Visual Systems Journal, that XP no longer supports PWS. I recently installed it on my Win98SE PC in order to experiment with some Active Server Pages development, having used PWS and IIS many times in the past few years. But my suggestion to John would be, ‘Don’t play their game!’ The ‘their’ being Microsoft, of course. I am fed up with how this company treats us in such a cavalier fashion and just shrugs its shoulders when small fry like me dare to complain. But all the while we just moan into our beer and go along with what they serve up to us, well, they’ve won, haven’t they?

To anyone contemplating an upgrade to XP – Home or Pro – I say, ‘Have you asked yourself the searching question, why do you think you need it?’ Many consumers just upgrade because, well, they have done it so often in the past that it’s become second nature like brushing one’s teeth in the morning. PWS is ideal for testing out ASP before uploading a suite of pages to a hosting service. If that is what John really needs, along with classic Visual Basic and not the abortion they are desperately trying to push on us, then I would either stick with Windows 98SE or perhaps consider Windows NT 4.0 or 2000. But let Microsoft beat me? No way!

Meanwhile, John himself offers a solution:
A light has appeared at the end of the tunnel!

‘Web Matrix Editor’ is a simple package that is only 1.1 MB big, although you do need the .NET framework and that’s quite bulky. But it is free, and it will run in only 128MB of memory.

The package contains three main components:

  • A Class Browser that lists all of the classes in the Base Class Library, including their methods, properties and events.
  • The Web Matrix Editor, a visual editor that allows you to build ASP.NET applications using familiar drag-and-drop techniques.
  • A lightweight Web server for testing your Web applications (that’s the bit we want).

Why Microsoft could not have done this themselves I do not know but at least we can continue to develop on our laptops and those who are learning to develop Web sites have a cheaper alternative to IIS. You can download the ASP.NET Web Matrix from www.asp.net.

John Ellis FIAP

[Something you’d like to get off your chest? Email me (Robin Jones) at eo@iap.org.uk.]


Members’ News:

The Director General, Mike Ryan, writes about some new developments of interest to members.

The IAP prides itself on its commitment to responding rapidly and flexibly to changes in the IT industry. This month, we can announce two such initiatives.

Licentiate Grade

First, the Council has approved the creation of a new grade of member, the Licentiate. This is, in part, a response to the development of foundation degrees, which are two-year courses that would not entitle a holder to election as a Grad IAP. Nevertheless, they do represent a standard at which an employer can confidently expect a body of IT knowledge and skills that provide the basis for a competent, albeit inexperienced, member of staff.

Because the IAP’s evaluation scheme operates at the module (rather than the course) level, this means that students on other courses may be able to apply for the LIAP designation before completion. For instance, an honours degree student might well be successful towards the end of his or her second year of study. The second year is often followed by an industrial placement year, so this would give a prospective employer confidence in the student’s abilities.

The Council has also taken this opportunity to abolish the old Student grade. In future, therefore, no one will be admitted to the IAP unless they can demonstrate a significant level of professional competence, worthy at least of the Licentiate grade.

Some marginal alterations have been made in the boundary criteria for election to some grades. These reflect changes in the nature of the IT industry over the last few years. Full details are available to interested members from Robin Jones at eo@iap.org.uk.

The Employment Exchange

That the employment scene has become particularly difficult in the last year or so will come as no news to anyone. The IAP has, of course, no control over that. But it can help prospective employees communicate with prospective employers and vice versa.

So we are going to offer a free service to IAP members through the pages of VSJ. Members looking for work (full-time, part-time, contract or consultancy) can advise Robin Jones at eo@iap.org.uk and we will publish brief details in the next available issue. Similarly, employers who are IAP members can advise us of their needs in the same way and these will also be printed. This may be particularly attractive to small companies for whom the advertising rates of the conventional publications are difficult to justify.

Because this service is free and we have limited space, we cannot hope to match supply and demand. So it will be on a first-come-first-served basis. But, because both prospective employees and employers will be working through the same channel, it may well be that some ‘matching’ can be done before details get into print!

We are always looking out for new things that we can do for our members. If you have an idea that you’d like us to consider, get in touch!

Nominations for the Council of the IAP

The Institution is a democratic body governed by a Council elected by and from its members. Five members of the 15-strong Council retire in rotation each year. Nominations for the 2003 election, accompanied by the nominee’s manifesto (in electronic form and not exceeding 150 words, please), must be received at the Institution Office by 28 February. Contact the Office for further details, or an informal discussion, if you are interested in playing your part in the governance of the Institution.

[Don’t forget to email eo@iap.org.uk with items of news about you or your company.]

Work in Progress

Hakiza Nzabanita, MIAP is an IT professional who has been involved in user training, support and systems implementation with an international organisation in Africa for the past 10 years. Here, he introduces a Web-based training system that, he believes, can improve users’ satisfaction with applications packages.

Every day brings forth new technological advances that impact our lives in different ways. Developers are constantly designing applications that are able to perform more and more complex tasks. The results of software development are deeply manifest in the current degree of automation of work, information management and business transformation.

The myriad applications readily available are designed to be used in different environments such as business or at home. Despite IT marketing efforts, there is a community of dissatisfied technology users. Constant technological changes regularly impose new learning challenges on technology users, which can be a barrier to the rapid adoption of new information systems and ways of communicating and working. High learning curves, which can result from the lack of straightforward training methods for some packages, also tend to deter the adoption of certain technologies.

It is evident that the learning problem is one of the major hindrances to the emergence of a computer-based economy. Even though developers come up with products that are more and more user-friendly, users continue to encounter problems in harnessing these products. So the full potential of many applications remains untapped.

As users are unable to enjoy the full potential of products, it is unlikely that product satisfaction will reach its highest level. This challenges the IT community to develop methods for delivering effective training that will fully equip users for real productivity within a short period of time.

Web-based training is one of the most flexible training methods available today as it enables people to train at their own pace and schedule and from any location that has Internet access. Individual performance also relies on a good knowledge of computer basics, which all users do not always seek to acquire, as they tend to focus more on the application they intend to use for work or fun. With the advent of online training systems, developers can be more directly involved in the training of end-users of their applications.  When quality online training is readily available alongside each new application, users will have greater chances to become power users within a shorter time frame and overall product satisfaction for software products is likely to be enhanced.

One product that has been designed to bridge the computer skills gap is the Ziby System.

Eight years ago, the founders of ZibyCom saw the enormous need that existed for simplified computer education. Today, that need hasn’t changed much. An estimated 85% percent of people who own computers still can’t use them effectively.

ZibyCom was launched with the unique ‘Teach the World’ program on April 1, 2001 with plans to operate in two key markets. The first target is individuals and families because they should be able satisfactorily to use computers to communicate with their family and friends around the world. The second target is small-to-mid-size businesses that must have simple, affordable tools for Web site building and hosting. That is why ZibyCom offers simple, online computer education in 29 languages and easy, affordable Web site solutions.

ZibyCom offers a unique, hands-on learning system designed for the brand new user as well as for those who have spent time on computers but never felt comfortable with them. The system is designed to take people from computer ignorance to computer literacy in a very short time. The learning process focuses on the essential skills required for one to become an effective computer user. Most small-to-mid-size operations face two obstacles when they try to get their businesses or offices on the Internet. The cost is too great or it’s just too complicated. This system is meant to eliminate both obstacles.

The system is also designed to eliminate the fear factor, which keeps most people from learning to use their computers. When you are no longer afraid of your computer, you become empowered to learn. You can then learn everything that is required to know in order to become an effective computer user, without intimidating classrooms, without hectic travel or scheduling. You can learn at your own pace, on your own schedule. In fact, you can access your education or Web sites from any computer that has Internet access, from anywhere in the world, at any time, day or night. With the all new Instant Web site Builder, you can build your own Web site with absolutely no experience.

The purchase of one ZibyCom Educational/Web site package is an opportunity for everyone in a household or office to master all essential computer skills, as everyone in the household or business will have the chance to learn the computer, master the Internet, and build professional looking Web sites. That’s because in your ZibyCom Educational/Web site package you get five complete Web sites you can use for any purpose, whether family or business.

The system covers topics such as Windows, Internet Explorer, Netscape, iMac, Microsoft Word 2000, Web site building and Flash frames building. The product has been delivered to people in over 160 countries throughout the world.


You can see a complete product overview, complete with educational and Web site builder software demonstrations, in text, video and E-simulator versions at www.hanz.zibycom.com. The business overview is there too. I’d be very interested in any comments that IAP members have to offer having looked at it.

If you’d like to contact Hakiza, you can email him at hanztech@email.com.

[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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