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Government Technology

By Ramon Padilla Jr. ·
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Mired in Methodology

by Wayne M. In reply to Mired in Methodology

<p>I believe a major subcategory of M&M is CMMI.  The whole rationale of work in a CMMI environment is to create "artifacts" based on the off-chance that some CMMI auditor will choose your project for evaluation.  Luckily, most project managers are aware that the project really ought to accomplish something.  They take there hits when an auditor's evaluation comes back, make the appropriate gestures, and continue with the project.  </p>
<p> </p>

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Grant Funding: Get your share of the "free" money

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">I was going to begin this post with "in these tough
economic times" in regards to funding for technology, but when do you ever
have enough money to fund all the worthwhile projects that need to be done? It
is rare to have more than enough money to get the job done.

</p><p class="MsoNormal">That being the case, we should always be on the lookout for
ways to add to our existing funding streams. Grant funding is one way to do
that. Oh, don?t roll your eyes. I know that while some departments live and
breathe because of grant funding, technology departments don?t often seek them
out because of the work involved ? and they are work!</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">However they are certainly worth the effort and can provide
a significant boost in your funding stream ? often for years. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><b>So what kinds of
grants are available?</b></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">There are numerous kinds of grants and sources of grants. Some
of these are:</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Higher Education, Grants for Non Profit Organizations,
University Grants, Non Profit Funding, K-12 Grants, School Grants, Education
Grants, Science Education Grants, Vocational Education Grants, Federal Grants, Government
Grants, Corporate Grants, Technology Grants, Technology Funding Grants, and the
list goes on.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><b>What specific grants
within the categories listed above can be had?</b></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">This is where research comes into play. My first visit would
be to your organization?s grant coordinator (if you have one available). If you
do, make them your friend! They can be invaluable in navigating the myriad of
possibilities out there. If you do not have a resource such as this, you can
make use of the thousands of resources, paid and free available on the Web.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><br /></p>

<p>Before you start looking or making an appointment with your
grant coordinator, make sure you have your list of needs/projects in hand. In
fact, one of the questions I always ask when evaluating a potential project is:
"Is there any grant funding available?" That way, if the request is
from a department, they will have done some of the research and perhaps used
their inside information to determine grant-funding availability. </p>

<p>Also be prepared to answer whether you have "matching
funds" available. Some grants require you to put up half the funds in
order to get the grant. So don?t go looking for a $5 million matching grant if
you don?t have millions to put up as a match. However, be aware that your match
does not always have to be in the form of dollars. In-kind contributions, such
as value for work performed, employee?s salaries, hardware and software, can
sometimes be used as all or part of your match. </p>

<p><strong>Things to know.</strong></p>

<p>Once you begin searching, keep an open mind. Acquiring grant
funding is as much an art as a science. Know that while being super analytical
can help you as a technologist, it is a drawback when evaluating possible
grants. Know that grantors often give grants to programs/projects that in your
mind are "loosely" connected to the purpose of the grant. That?s
where the art of grant writing comes in. I am still boggled by some of the
grant awards I have seen over the years and those were a testament to the "creativeness"
of the grant writers. </p>

<p>Also know that partnerships are highly valued when awarding
grants. Grantors look kindly upon partnerships, especially public/private
partnerships. So it is worth your while to foster good relations with other government
organizations - local/state/federal as well as not-for-profits and even for-profit
organizations. </p>

<p>Understand the strings attached. Many people assume that
grant money can only be spent for the express purposes of the grantee and that
no one else can take advantage. This is expressly false. I have had grants that
were for a specific department but purchased enterprise-level hardware because
by doing so, I was able to provide the specific services to the department
required by the grant. The fact that the rest of the organization benefited
from the purchase was just a plus. </p>

<p>The point is you will need to understand the caveats of the
grant. Some grants assume you never actually <em>own</em> what you purchase with the funds and they expect that you <em>return </em>goods back to them when you take
them out of service. Others offer much greater flexibility. Understand the
grant to maximize your flexibility! Gray areas can be your friend. </p>

<p>Make sure you are prepared to be a diligent record keeper
and can show exactly where, when, and how grant funds were expended. You will
be required to do so. </p>

<p>Lastly, under the category of things to know, be prepared to
spend the money! You will drive your finance department and the grantor crazy
if you get funds allocated to you and then do not move forward with spending the
funds at hand. So if you get a grant, make whatever projects associated with
them a HIGH priority. Trust me, I speak from experience on this and being
cautious and frugal is not what the grantor is looking for. In their minds, if
you are not using the dollars in the time allotted, they may as well have given
the funds to someone else. </p>

<p>When you finally choose one or more grants to go after, it
is then time to put on your writing hat. If you haven?t written one before (and
even if you have), it often pays to get a model of a grant submission that was
awarded funding in previous years. It can also be worth your while to take a <a href="">grant writing course</a> to learn some of
the ins and outs. Additionally, if you made friends with your grant coordinator
you might get lucky enough to be able to work with a grant writer who can write
the majority of the grant and let you fill in the technical parts. </p>

In any case, being able to bolster your funding via
grants can go a long way in giving you the ability to meet the technology needs
of your organization. Like anything worthwhile, there is an investment to make
in order to get started, so forget about easy money. But know that your hard
work can provide dividends for years to come.<br />
<br />
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Oracle HTML DB ? a best kept secret?

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">I don?t read a lot about Oracle HTML DB in trade magazines,
nor do many of my colleagues know about it.
But the ones that are using it think it?s the next best thing since
sliced bread and are happily singing its praises.</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">What
is it? ?Oracle
HTML DB is a web-based application development and deployment tool integrated with Oracle Database 10g. Oracle
HTML DB enables anyone with only a web browser and limited programming
experience to quickly create secure and scalable web applications that can be
instantly deployed to tens, hundreds, or thousands of users. Oracle HTML DB is
a standard feature of Oracle Database 10g, available in Standard One, Standard
and Enterprise Editions at no additional charge.?</p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Essentially it is a web based application
development tool geared to those users who are creating the dozens of
spreadsheet and small desktop database applications that one finds among end
using departments. The colleagues that I
speak to tell me that it is a fabulous tool that has enabled them to get rid of
dozens of problematic spreadsheets and MS Access databases that have grown too
large and complicated for the desktop.<o> <br />

<p class="MsoNormal">I haven?t had an opportunity to try it out myself yet,
but they insist that this feature alone is enough to drive the upgrade to 10G
from Oracle 8i or 9i. You might want to
check it out yourself and see if you feel the same way. Just don?t tell them I told you their secret.<o> <br />

<p class="MsoNormal">Oracle HTML Product data sheet: <a href=""></a></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><br />
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Government uses for Wikis

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

A couple of months ago I wrote on the difference between Blogs and
Wikis. <a href="Blogs">">(Blogs Vs Wikis)</a> <br />
In the article I spoke of Wiki use by government primarily for internal use, in conjunction with an organization's intranet.<br />
This article; <a href="Wiki">">(Wiki advocate sees government uses)</a>
discusses the use of external facing wikis for government use.<br />
I think it does a good job of showing how wikis can be used by government to carry on a conversation with the public.<br />
<br />
And for those of you that might be interested in trying out a wiki for
either internal or external use and are committed to products that will
run in a Microsoft environment, check out <a href="">OPENWIKI.</a><br />
<br />
<br />
<em><em>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="">Automatically sign up today!</a></em></em><br />
<br />

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Is your IT department governed by shared values?

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

Every IT department usually has a mission statement. It is
usually more verbose than necessary and drones on about how the IT department
will support the mission and objectives of the organization. They (mission
statements) are usually created because of the need to document the fact that
you have one.<br />
<br />
Values are something different. The dictionary defines
values as: <strong><em>beliefs</em></strong><em> of a person or
social group in which they have an <strong>emotional
investment</strong></em>. Your IT department is a social group. What does it believe
as a group? Are these values expressed or are they just intrinsic to the group?
Does your IT department even have shared values? Or is it just an amalgamation
of people doing prescribed work from 8 to 5?

<br />
<br />
I personally believe that values are hugely important in an
organization. I think they are the heart and soul of the work group and are
what drives us to excel. I believe they play a huge part in creating an
environment where people like to come to work and a significant role in job

<br />
<br />
Values/beliefs of a workgroup come from management. Not just
in the form of words, but more importantly, through actions. Everyone can tell
when beliefs are only hollow words, just as they can tell when they are full of
conviction.<br />
<br />
I think it is an important and worthwhile exercise to put
down the values of your unit on paper. Are they what you want them to be? Will
these values guide your unit/workgroup towards excellence? Do they conflict
with your organization's mission? If you are not satisfied with the values,
then you must work to change them. Discuss them with your staff. Talk about why
they are important and how they are guidelines for how work is performed. Most
importantly, manage in a way that is consistent with them and that showcases

<br />
<br />
I recently came across a brochure from my old Government IT department
that I directed. On it, we had listed our values for our customers to see and
to judge us by. As I read these values again, several years after I had written
them, I realize that they are just as relevant now as they were then. More
importantly, I <em>still</em> believe them and
am confident of the fact that my staff shared in them as well. We all had an
emotional investment in them that drove us to excel.

<br />
<br />
I thought I might share them with you in the hopes that they
can help you as you develop the values for your own IT organization. Here is a
section from our brochure:

<br />
<br />
"We believe that we are different from your garden
variety technology organization because of our values. Our values set the tone
for everything we do and how we approach our work. These values are:

<li>We are
a customer-focused, quality driven-organization.</li><li>Flexibility,
creativity, and initiative help set us apart from the ordinary.</li><li>Teamwork:
We value individuals ability to work together to achieve a common goal. We
are able to compromise and learn from others. We promote cooperation and
building consensus when working with others.</li><li>Ethical
behavior: We maintain a personal commitment to professionalism and
integrity. We will bend over backwards to keep our promises.</li><li>Leadership:
We value those that lead by example. We encourage everyone to be a leader
in his or her job.</li><li>"Just
do it:" We refuse to be mired in bureaucracy. We will seek to change
established processes if they are ineffective or inefficient. We seek to
avoid blaming processes and personnel as an excuse for delays or lack of
take pride in our work and strive to raise the standards by which we are
judged.</li><li>We see
change as an opportunity."</li>

As you can tell, these are common themes that you have
probably seen before. Individually they are ordinary statements of commitment.
Taken as a group however, they form a strong foundation for providing excellent
services to customers and the organization.

<br />
<br />
These values were quite successful for us as a group and
went a long way towards helping to create a unit that performed far greater
than one would have expected given our numbers and our budget.

<br />
<br />
The point of this essay is not to force my values on anyone,
as they may not apply to your group or situation. Its purpose is to make you
think about values for your organization. It is worthwhile to document them,
not only because it makes you examine them in the context of your situation,
but it helps to establish a road map towards goals you wish to obtain. Additionally, you might find that the beliefs
of the group, while perfect for the organization, don?t fit your personal
beliefs. That then becomes the subject for a lot of soul searching?and another
essay.<br />
<br />
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public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
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Linspire - "Uninspired" to me

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

I had my first hands on with Linspire 5.0 over the weekend and I will
have to say I am lukewarm over the product. Linspire (formerly
known as Lindows) is a Linux distribution by Linspire Inc. that is
touted as the "Worlds Easiest Desktop Linux".<br />
<br />
Based on that description, I had my expectations set. I was
prepared to have an install that went smooth and painless and which
recognized all my hardware. So I pulled out my test machine that
I put all my linux distributions on and started fresh by wiping the
drive as part of the install. My test machine is a Pentium
II 450mhz with 384 megs of RAM, a Nvidia Geforce II MX, an HP CD/RW, a
floppy drive, an internal ZIP drive, a generic NIC, and a Sound Blaster
sound card. Yes the platform is old, but it is a good test bed
for linux and those distributions that are well done run like a champ
on it.<br />
<br />
The install was smooth and required less input and hid more of the
technical stuff that was going on than most other linux distros that I am
familiar with. Once it was done however, I was disappointed to
find that my sound card and my Zip drive were ignored during the
setup. This was disconcerting since both Suse Linux, Red Hat, and
Mandrake love this machine.<br />
<br />
Ignoring the hardware that didn't work, I proceeded to use the OS to
see how functional it was. The desktop is KDE, (Gnome is not a
choice during setup) and is attractive. It is designed to mimic
Windows as much as possible. It has just about everything you
need to get going with Linux as your desktop. I have no issues
with the installed base of software you get or the environment's ease
of use. My biggest gripe is its speed. Having had previous
versions of linux on this same machine, I have come to expect a certain
level of performance and this install just seemed sluggish.
Bringing up the browser, switching applications, etc. just seemed to
take longer. In fact, Windows XP on this same machine runs faster.<br />
<br />
My second gripe is the service that comes with Linspire 5.0 called CNR
which is short for Click and Run. It is billed as "A software
delivery service designed for Linspire users that makes it easy to
install Linux software." And in fact it does - however it is a
subscription service for which you get charged for the convenience of
having 1 click access to already free software. The CNR interface
was just too out right "comercial" for me and just screamed "BUY BUY
BUY" to me. A definite turn off for what could be a powerful tool.<br />
<br />
All in all, for home use Linspire 5.0 is ok. But if I was going to
choose a linux desktop for the enterprise I would rather have Red Hat
or Novell/SUSE. Obviously this wasn't a scientific evaluation of
the product but more of a gut reation based on experience - and as
always, it is my personal opinion. I normally would suggest you try
before you buy, but Linspire does not have an evaluation version as far
as I can tell. And unless you have $50.00 to spend for the sake
of curiosity, I would stay with one of the free linux distributions
which you can obtain <a href="">here.</a><br />
<br />
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Linspire -

by mdevere In reply to Linspire - "Uninspired" t ...

<p>I also tried Linspire and was disappoited at the lack of intuitivity: To add a language or change screen settings is not an easy thing at all. I had to drill down the different menus. </p>
<p>Am I so locked on to Redmont? I did expect the imitator to do it better not harder!</p>
<p>The Help is not helpful enough though the introductory filmstrips are nice but I don't have patience to wait for it to get to the point I am looking for. </p>

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Linspire -

by CTOS In reply to Linspire - "Uninspired" t ...

<p>I live in Canada and went to buy a machine installed with Linspire 5.0 from Toronto. I brought it home, turned it on and that was it. To be truthful, I have no knowledge of Linspire or RedHat or the others. I was hoping to be able to learn from use, since i am fairly good at DOS.</p>
<p>It did not take me long to find that I could not connect to the CNR site as my internet would not function on this was designed for Windows 98 at the time. I tried to instal 98SE on here to remove the 5.0 but that would not work either. I tried to get answers for all the different issues from the person who sold it to me, but that was a total bust as well. As a last resort, I managed to contact a software geek I know in a nearby town and explained the situation. He was totally lost on Linspire, (every one that I asked had never even heard of it!) I would have to explain to them what it is! But he believed that if I was to put in the CD of XP upgrade and when it wants the disk for the previous system, stick in my 98 it should work. He was right, it did.</p>
<p>I could not USE the Linspire, I could not get rid of it, I could not get any basic questions answered to continue my explorations, I could not download from CNR and I could not get out on my Internet. This machine is now an XP and it will remain so. I was very, very dissappointed in my purchase and Linspire. I too had my hopes up with the new 5.0, they make it sound easy enough for a Window/GUI user to just use!</p>
<p> </p>

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Linspire -

by ITSecurityGuy In reply to Linspire - "Uninspired" t ...

<p class="MsoNormal">I
don't think Linspire is really trying to compete with Red Hat or Novell/SUSE in
the enterprise. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">AFAIK,
the home user is the intended market, and here is a posting from the
Philadelphia Area Network Technology User Group, which demonstrates an ideal
solution and a pleasant surprise. This probably wouldn't have happened with Red
Hat or SUSE. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">-----Original
Message----- </p>

<p class="MsoNormal">From:
Troy Sorzano </p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Sent:
Saturday, July 02, 2005 1:46 PM </p>

<p class="MsoNormal">To:
'' </p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Subject:
Linspire Experiment / The cheapest computer in the world </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">My
mother's Win98 box died a little while ago. I needed to find a replacement for
her as a birthday gift. I took a look at Dell and all the sales flyers in the
Sunday paper. I could not really justify a $400 - $500 computer because she
only uses it for Internet access. If the computer could work with hotmail,
ebay,, e-cards and open images of her grand-dogs she would be happy. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Micro
Center had an ad for a $99 Linspire box after rebate. The price was $249 and
came with a $50 mail in rebate. Then if you signed up for a Micro Center credit
card you could get another $100 rebate on any pc. So after all the hassle of
signing up for a credit card and getting approved and mailing in two rebate forms
the price of the pc is $99. Ok it's a powerspec (1405) piece of crap but for
$99 what do you expect? It comes with a scroll mouse, keyboard, CD-Rom drive,
128meg ram, 40 gig HD and AMD Sempron 2200+ processor. The case is actually
very nice and the interior was tidy. The motherboard is a BIOSTAR M7VIG 400Pro
V.1 which costs about $45 online. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">I did
a few upgrades to the box. I added 512meg PC2700 ram and then pulled the CD-RW
and hard drive out of the old Win98box. I was surprised to see Win98 was automatically
added to the Boot Menu. The only problem was Win98 would not boot, not that I
really cared, because all the Win98 partitions and files were available from
within Linspire. The CD-RW drive icon was added to the desktop like a Mac
desktop. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">The
real story here is not the hardware it is the software. Can Linspire replace
the functionality of Win98 for a computer novice? It seemed to do very well
with hardware detection finding the second hard drive and the second CD-RW
drive. When Linspire starts for the first time it brings up some very well done
training videos. The videos are all done in Flash 6 so we know we are ready to
surf the web and have the full multimedia experience. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">I
tested the Modzilla browser with hotmail, I had been a little concerned that
Microsoft may have blocked non IE browsers. I was glad to see that everything
appeared to work fine on hotmail. The pages opened fast even after I opened several
browser windows with several tabs each. With the stock 128megs of RAM there
were serious performance problems. The biggest problem was the Linspire CNR
(click and run) agent. It was getting loaded during startup and taking about
40megs of RAM. The CNR agent is the package manager for Linspire. It allows
easy installation of software from a web interface. CNR is how Linspire plans
to make money. They charge a yearly fee for a CNR subscription but they do
allow a 15 day trial. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">This
weekend will be the moment of truth. I delivered the computer on Monday and I
will be visiting this weekend. I have not heard anything from my mother about
the computer. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. <g> </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Later,

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">P.S.
(a week later) </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">I saw
my parents this weekend.  I asked my
mother if she had a chance to use the computer? She replied "I've been
using it all week, why?" Well I guess no news was good news. She did ask
my sister to help setup her Epson Stylus 400 printer. The cool thing was my
sister got the printer installed and working. She has never even heard of Linux
and was able to get it working. I think Linspire is a great option for the user
with limited computer experience that only needs to surf and print. </p>

<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]--></p>

<p class="MsoNormal">Troy </p>

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Linspire -

by supermodified In reply to Linspire - "Uninspired" t ...

Note that the minimum requirements fro Linspire are a 800 MHz processor and that is why is was slow on your machine.  Also there is a trial version available on the Linspire website.

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