PraxIS Feb. 2002

Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success

Systems Modelling Ltd.



Euro features 

Goodbye to Euro-Impact
Free Euro Font check Utility
Euro trivia
Designer of the euro symbol revisited
Euro news items for Jan

Tech stuff

WinXP backup? Not!
From the news items
XML and E-Business initiatives
Uninvited: My Party
Project Management

17 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.

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.

Goodbye to Euro-Impact

Euro-Impact magazine published its last issue on Jan 27. Its key features were its objectivity, detail, and pages packed with solid reporting. For those of us whose job was to focus on a myriad of small details EI was essential to step back and see the big picture, a fifteen-nation view. My thanks to Marion Bywater and her team.

Free Euro Font check Utility  to check if your system can support the euro symbol in its fonts. It looks like it needs some tidying up work, but hey, it's free.


Looking back thirty years .... 1 euro = 15s 9d Irish (78.75p in new old money). That's only 0.0064p out, less than .01% error.

Designer of the euro symbol 
In my January newsletter, I quoted the piece in the UK Observer on Sunday paper that claimed the original idea was by Arthur Eisenmenger.,4273,4325292,00.html 
It contained the following paragraph: "A few days ago he got his first look at the new currency when [his wife] Mechthild delivered an introductory pack of euro coins to her husband [...] 'I placed a coin in his hand, he turned it over and over and gazed long and hard at the symbol,' Mechthild said. 'He told me they had copied his design correctly, even down to the width of the curve."

A reader found this comment on "Place a coin in your hand, turn it over and gaze long and hard to see if you can see any euro symbols."

Of course, we would not think the Guardian would be embroidering the story in any way. Could we think that about making the risk of a cent rounding error in 0.5% of cases into a report claiming "European shoppers are being ripped off for billions of euro cents because of faulty computer software"? See:  Faulty euro software costs shoppers a fortune

My reply, supplemented with some comments from BASDA, appeared in AccountingWeb: 
Software body plays down euro rounding scare

From the point of view of software testers, one can say that the errors made by software developers which induce the defect described are a common class of errors and they may indeed occur in retailer software, but the fact can only be ascertained in any particular case by testing. That is why we urge software developers to obtain independent testing, to reassure their users, and also offer our service to users who are concerned that the software they are using may not have been adequately tested.

The results of insufficient testing are often embarrassingly obvious:

5,000 statements reissued by TSB after euro muddle  
TSB Bank had to re-issue statements to 5,000 customers following a computer error arising out of the changeover to the euro. In the past couple of days, it has been discovered that corrected statements sent to around 300 of these customers contained a further error and will again have to be re-issued.

And of course newspaper web sites can have problems too:  As a news site, this has good updates on the consumer issues; and a report that the churches did not do as badly as was feared!

But check out the table of conversion rates. They have the Irish rate wrong, the last digit missing; and they still haven't discovered that Greece is in the euro.

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: 


According to , Microsoft decided to include the backup half of the wizard in Windows XP/Home but neglected to include the restore part. Duh.

Woody reports "Microsoft outright lies in their Knowledge Base article Q309340 where it says the restore feature 'applies to Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition' when it most assuredly does not - any backup that you make in XP/Home is essentially worthless. Even if you tell the XP/Home 'Backup or Restore Wizard' to restore the entire contents of the c: drive, it misses parts.


MS fixes Win2K with 17MB security patch  Microsoft's new-found and recently publicized interest in security has yielded fruit in the form of a security rollup patch for Win2K which clears up a number of niggling hassles with the usual slew of unchecked buffers and some authentication issues and transfer protocols. The 17MB whopper is the first comprehensive offering since SP2 back in May, and addresses most of the bugs and glitches the company has been warned of since that time.

HP: Users don't want recovery disks  Only the "technically savvy" two per cent "still want disks".

I could understand if the PC came with a CD-Writer and the user could make their own system backup, but I would certainly want a recovery disk for an PC I have. After all, it's only a machine and can fail.

MS declares programming moratorium  Microsoft will suspend software development for a month to scour its vast, bloated reams of code in search of bugs, according to a brief item by Government Computer News. This startling development was announced by MS privacy chief Richard Purcell during a conference in Washington on Friday.

We could of course smile and say "Only a month??"; but if other software companies tried that once in a while, it may help. If what they find makes them think that perhaps they would be better off not putting in the bugs in the first place, the TSE site would be a good start:

HONESTLY - How do you rate your company's software procedures and processes?

Towards Software Excellence (TSE) is currently a free initiative to help software companies improve their software development. It is backed by the DTI and managed by the National Computing Centre, to help software companies remain competitive. It follows an internationally agreed standard for software development.

TSE can simply offer you advice on demand or, perform a full healthcheck, benchmarking your performance against similar organisations.

The site can be accessed at 


European Commission: Open consultation on the e-Economy 
1 February to 31 March 2002 The Commission is now seeking views and recommendations to be considered at the Industry Council on 6 June 2002, where the agenda would seek to identify timely, relevant and focused measures to maximise the benefits of the e-Economy for European enterprises. The URL above gives you an address where you can send your responses to some questions, for example: "What do you believe are the main challenges currently faced in the future development of the e-Economy in Europe? Which policy areas should be given the highest priority to help maximise the benefits of the e-Economy for European enterprises?"


February 6th, 2002 : XML and Web services  XML and Web services Jury's Hotel, Ballsbridge 7pm to 9pm Moderator for the evening will be Peter Flynn, who maintains the XML FAQ at 

Irish XML SIG eGroup Message Board: 

New EBusiness Technology (EBT) Forum 

at the Centre for Software Engineering, Dublin Opening session: CSE in Dublin on 6 February 2-5pm. A sample of the topics addressed by the Forum includes

* Fundamental patterns: Design patterns, distributed application patterns, effective java idioms. * Application layering: Model View Controller implementation issues, persistence frameworks. * Process: refactoring, pattern usage, effective testing.

For further details contact Dave Halpin: dave (at) cse (dot) dcu (dot) ie Phone: 01 700 5622


You *know* you should never click on an unknown email attachment, right? But the "My Party" virus hides itself as a web addresss www,myparty,yahoo,com Yes, I put commas instead of dots in there so no simple virus scanner will get triggered. But it's a file; and when you double-click on a .com file, you run the program.

I agree with Woody : buy, install, update, and use an anti-virus program; make Windows show file name extensions; patch Internet Explorer so it doesn't run programs when you preview email messages; don't open or run an attachment until you contact the sender 


The latest timewaster .. Googlewhacking 
 "In essence, Googlewhacking is simple. Simply try to find those elusive combinations of search terms that are so rare they return a single result on Google. According to Gary Stock, "The sweetest words ever returned are 'Results 1 - 1 of 1.' " 


If under real pressure to deliver, you must say to your sponsor that they can have the project fast, good or cheap - pick two.

Unrealistic Project Plans are marked by: 
- deadlines set without reference to logistics or work content 
- deferring issues rather than addressing them at the right stage 
- inadequate change control procedures

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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This newsletter is prepared in good faith and the information has been taken from observation and other sources believed to be reliable. Systems Modelling Ltd. (SML) does not represent expressly or by implication the accuracy, truthfulness or reliability of any information provided. It is a condition of use that users accept that SML has no liability for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions. The information is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice. You should consult a professional at Systems Modelling Ltd. directly for advice that is specifically tailored to your particular circumstances.

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