PraxIS March 2002

Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success

Systems Modelling Ltd.



Euro features 

News: Goodbye to national currencies
Paper: "Britainís best interests lie out of the euro" (download)

Management issues

Review: Not moved by the cheese (download)
News: Personal Software Process
Opinion: Email marketing opt in/out
News: XML Exploit

Off topic (personal) & light relief (humour)

13 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


Goodbye to old eurozone national currencies

The mayor of Rome threw his last lira into the Trevi fountain. In Ireland, we said goodbye on 9 Feb, but down the country things move a little more slowly. Driving to the popular seaside resort of Rosslare, Co. Wexford, last weekend, the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) signs were still advertising room rates in pounds. (By the way a room for £40, 50.79 euro, is good value for those of you looking for an inexpensive holiday break in the Sunny South East). No sign showed the rates in euro! In Dublin's Dame Street, a bureau de change is advertising "1 for 1" Irish pound to euro They are obviously relying on people not knowing that a few blocks down, the Central Bank will give 1.27 euro for a pound. If you're not already convinced about price inflation effects, see the Irish Independent article: 
Virulent row erupts over euro changeover 'rip-off' 
"A major  row has broken out among consumer watchdogs and business groups over whether or not there was a euro rip-off during the changeover. "

This also marks the end of euro coverage in PraxIS. I'll still draw your attention to developments in so far as they affect the UK, Sweden, or Denmark, but the main focus will be back to the main business line of software quality and software development. The lessons learned in the euro changeover will stand us in good stead for a while. But now, there is a pent-up wish to move on to new challenges, and I look forward to discussing them with you. Please continue to give me your feedback on what you find most interesting!


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.

EC advisor says Britainís best interests lie out of the euro
Scotland on Sunday reported: "Andrew Hughes Hallett, professor of macroeconomics at Strathclyde University, says in an unpublished paper that the UK economy would be best served by remaining a member of the EU single market but not joining the single currency. An analysis of the economic cycles in the two decades from 1975 to 1995 shows that the UK is out of sync with the rest of the EU". 

Although the paper is as yet unpublished, readers of this newsletter can get a sneak preview of it. It has already been discussed in the euro2002 list, introduced there by Jay Levin of the Economics Department of Wayne University in Michigan, the author of "A Guide to the Euro" (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). "Britain and the Euro: A Study in Reluctance" will be published imminently in a new book, "The Euro and Britain" edited by Ali El-Agraa (Palgrave-MacMillan, London). He also asked to receive any feedback from the list. 

If anyone would like to see the paper, email HHPAPER (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM  with the word "REQUEST" in the subject line. That will trigger my autoresponder to email you a link to where you can download the paper. (By the way, in case you are wondering why I spelled out the email address like that, it's to foil spambots that ceaselessly search my website for email addresses to harvest and spam.) To comment on the paper, I recommend you join the euro2002 list, which has now naturally changed its focus to the DUKS (Denmark, UK, Sweden): send an e-mail message containing just the word SUBSCRIBE in the body of the message to:
euro2002-discuss-request (at) euro2002 (dot) com

You can find more about Prof. Andrew Hughes Hallett at his home page:

_______________________________________________________  EUROPE: Euro changeover cost banks a 'year's profit'  Financial Times; Feb 18, 2002 CECA estimates that the first phase of preparation, until the end of 1998, cost Spanish savings banks some Euros 900m (Pounds 552m), or Euros 45,000 per branch, with the majority of the investment going to upgrade information technology systems. The preparation for the physical introduction of notes and coins cost Euros 300m, or Euros 15,000 per branch, mostly in lost foreign exchange fees. In Germany, the cost is estimated at about Euros 50,000 per branch for a total of about Euros 1bn.


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: 



Cheesed off

Peter de Jager ("Managing Change & Technology") has written a book review, a perspective on the bestselling book... "Who moved my Cheese" by Spencer Johnson M.D.  Unlike the turgid reviews where people try to impress with their verbiage, this is passionate and indignant. I liked it. You can download it as a PDF from 


Personal Software Process tools 

The Personal Software Process as designed by Watts Humphrey is a disciplined approach to improving one's software development process. Through a series of cumulative exercises, developers learn to record their time and track defects, estimate software projects, design and code reviews and quality management for  defect reduction. Basically, the aim is to spend more time on creative problem-solving and implementation and less waste re-working defects.

The method as described in the book (see uses paper recording. Most users want to move on to a tool as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the Process Dashboard tool has been withdrawn on the request of Watts Humphrey: 

That's a pity. However, another tool is still available: TIPSI is shareware at 



What is opt-in ("permission marketing") versus opt-out ("spam") ?

Opt-in is asking people briefly and unobtrusively if they like would something in an area they have already expressed interest in, and taking "no reply" to mean "no".

Opt-in is standing outside a gig offering flyers advertising a related event.

Opt-out is stuffing the flyers in passer-by's pockets at a train station or wherever there is lots of traffic.

Opt-out is sticking the flyers under windscreen wipers at the supermarket.

Opt-out is wiping the windscreen at the traffic lights before the driver has had a chance to refuse.


XML Exploit

IE, Outlook run malicious commands without scripting 

An attacker can run arbitrary commands on Windows machines with a simple bit of HTML, an Israeli security researcher has demonstrated. The data binding exploit will work with IE, Outlook and OutlooK Express even if active scripting and ActiveX are disabled in the browser security settings. 

Thomas Greene comments "Personally I believe MS does this to discourage high security settings in IE which interfere with the rich eXPeriences advertisers have in store for you on the Web, and which MS seems inexplicably eager to vouchsafe. You don't get sick of the slightly scaled-down functionality; you get sick of the endless warnings and eventually capitulate and restore your settings to Redmond-approved, and Direct Marketing Association-approved, levels. "



I just can't let this one go by without a mention .... my artist wife Megan has now a web site at to showcase her abstract art work in oil painting and acrylics. There's some photomontage and book reviews too



Q. How many XML gurus does it take to change a light bulb?

(To: xml-dev (at) 07 Jul 2001 by Sean McGrath)

A. Eight:

1 to create a syntax for expressing light bulbs
2 to create broadly similar yet different APIs for interacting with light bulbs
1 to argue that the API differences can be resolved by splitting the universe of light bulb applications into physical-model and logical-model camps.
1 to argue that no single, cohesive model is possible.
1 to disagree and invent yet another "gee! all light bulbs can be though of in terms of nodes and arcs" model.
1 to question the sanity of all this and just get stuff working by hacking simple lightbulb instances into relational databases and processing them with Perl.
1 to write the meta-light-bulb joke about it and post it on xml-dev

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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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