PraxIS Jan. 2002

Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success

Systems Modelling Ltd.



Euro features 

UK shops accepting euro
Italian problems
Heads or Tails?
Would you like chips with that?
How to tell which country issued a euro bank note
Success has many fathers

Tech stuff

Are Your Passwords Secure?
Security Costs and Risks
Project Management

15 Web links in this newsletter

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I'd really appreciate your feedback on the newsletter. What has been most valuable to you, what you like to me to continue to focus on in 2002?

Because I am sending this out as plain text, I have given the web links in the text.

May I wish all my readers a successful new year!

Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


Readers in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark: Are you doing your euro contingency planning? Are you sure your software applications can support all the requirements for the business changeover to the euro? Get an independent assessment on their "compliance" or "euro-readiness" with our euro software certification service.


After the first week of trading in Ireland, the introduction of the euro cash is a runaway success with the public queueing to get rid of the old money on the first day. Reportedly, one punter turned up with two socks stuffed with coins that yielded him about 250 euro! Very little consumer criticism apart from gripes about some pubs wanting to accept only euro; but even there, it's just at the bar, they changed the money on the way in.  It looks as though few punts will be in circulation after the first weekly shopping cycle.

All that preparation and tireless evangelising paid off. Congratulations to all involved in the logistics, the public education and retail staff training effort. Good humour and tolerance counted for a lot, too. An example of on-the-spot contingency handling is in the report in the Irish Times about AIB's hitch in issuing euro cheque books to customers. One caller told The Irish Times that her branch had advised backdating an Irish Pound cheque to make payments.

All that remains now is the paperwork, the accounting changeover, when the euro compliance of all those systems will be tested. It's the same story in the rest of the eurozone with the exception of Italy which is giving the euro a grudging acceptance.

Back to normal work now, thank heavens ... except for the DUKS (Denmark, UK, Sweden) who are wondering should they get their feet wet.  If you have any anecdotes, funny or otherwise, about the practical experience of the transition, I'd appreciate hearing about them for my next address to directors of UK companies at the BASDA meeting of 7 Feb. 2002.

I can't summarise all the stories here ... check out my news excerpts page at which includes some of the goofs as reported in the Risks Digest archived at

UK shops accepting euro
There is some debate on whether the rate that UK shops are offering is good for the consumer. There is no confusion in Northen Ireland, the canny traders there are giving a rate of 1 euro = GBP 0.63, as good as or better than the official rate. They know that while pure money changing has to rely on the rate spread for the margin, they make money on the goods they sell. Giving 2-3% on cash is just like giving it to VISA, maybe better as it's more visible. It's all part of the marketing mix.

Italian problems
Italian bank strike added exasperation over conditions marking the euro changeover, which encountered more problems in Italy than in the other 11 euro-zone countries. Long lines formed in Italian banks after euro cash was launched on January 1, and police had to intervene several times in Rome, Naples and Palermo to calm disputes provoked by the delays. (EUBusiness)

But even Italian cartoons urge "thinking in euro" : 


Heads or Tails?
There were some reports that the euro coins are biased and therefore unreliable for a fair coin-toss.
The New Scientist indicates that those reports may be jumping to conclusions from small samples:
New Scientist carried out its own experiments with the Belgian Euro in its Brussels office. Heads came up five per cent less often than tails. This looks like the opposite of the Polish result but in fact - in terms of statistical significance - it is the same one.

Would you like chips with that?
European scientists are considering the development of a tiny microchip to put inside Euro notes amidst fears that the introduction of the Euro will mean an easy target for fraudsters.

How to tell which country issued a euro bank note
Ray Holden on the euro2002 list pointed out that you look at the left-most character of its 12 character serial number:

N	Austria
Z	Belgium
L	Finland
U	France
X	Germany
Y	Greece
T	Ireland
S	Italy
R	Luxembourg
P	Netherland
M	Portugal
V	Spain
(...and as forward planning for the DUKS...)
W	Denmark
J	United Kingdom
K	Sweden

Success has many fathers
... so the saying goes. There are competing claimants to the title of the designer of the euro symbol. In my mid-December 2001 update, under "No consultants for euro symbol", I quoted the FT "Among the hundreds of policy makers and officials who have participated in the creation of the euro, a special place belongs to Jean-Pierre Malivoir." I later saw a piece in the Observer (a UK Sunday paper),3858,4325292,00.html that claimed the original idea was by Arthur Eisenmenger. This story appears to be based on an article from De Zeit in 1999: "Wie der Euro zu seinem Symbol kam" (How the euro got its symbol), indicating that he produced sketches in the mid-70s.  Jean-Pierre Malivoi himself says "we cannot say who the designer is. There was no one in particular, it was a team effort. "

The euro book
"Managing the Euro in Information Systems: Strategies for Success", Addison
Wesley 1999, ISBN 0-201-60482-5. The accompanying CD has software, fonts, web
links, and europapers. The book is aimed at IT managers and business
executives. It covers history, regulations, business strategy, I.T. strategy,
project planning, conversion methods, and case studies. 11 chapters,
appendices, 368 pages. Book description and ordering:


Are Your Passwords Secure?
If you can remember them, they're a great tool for protecting your computer and work. Or are they? In a special Solutions expose, Ziff-Davis  take a look at software that can break the passwords on almost any application.,2997,s%253D1481%2526a%253D19959,00.asp  The products from Passware ( proved to be the best at cracking Excel, Word, Outlook, Access,  Windows NT, Exchange, Lotus, Schedule, Mail, Backup ... Sounds great - but just think who else could be using them!

Security costs and risks
Coming to Grips with an Unsafe World
Corporate America is finding that protecting employees and data isn't simple but sure is expensive. Yet the cost of not doing so is even dearer.

Project Management
Unrealistic deadlines are practically a fact of life with IT projects.  Here are some ways that can help you manage your project when you have no time to waste.


How does a project get behind schedule? One day at a time.

Most projects are not late, they are just promised early.

Copyright 2002 Systems Modelling Limited, . Reproduction allowed provided the newsletter is copied in its entirety and with this copyright notice.


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Patrick O'Beirne, Editor


"Praxis" means model or example, from the Greek verb "to do". The name is chosen to reflect our focus on practical solutions to IS problems, avoiding hype. If you like acronyms, think of it as "Patrick's reports and analysis across Information Systems".


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