Mobile Computing

May 14, 2017

Mobile computing refers to the use of any kind of computer in a moving environment. The motion may be of the device itself, as in laptops, palmtops, wearable computers, and mobile phones; or it may refer to the dynamics of the computing process, as in digital cameras, podcasters and MP3 players. Mobile computing devices generally use wireless technologies such as LAN, Wi-Fi, GPRS and the more recently introduced MAN.Mobile computing can be broadly classified into two categories – portable computing and mobility computing. Portable computing actually refers to wired communication. Portable devices themselves are movable, but in order to access them one needs to connect them to a network port. That means, portable computing devices can be carried to wherever there is a network port available. Mobility computing is also called simply mobile computing nowadays. This is true wireless communication. Not only are the devices movable, but they can also be accessed from almost anywhere. Today, portable computing is almost on the verge of extinction; mobile computing has made its foray into almost every aspect of human life.

The first usage of mobile computing devices was perhaps in vehicles. Speedometers were among the first devices to get computerized. Almost every modern vehicle has several mobile computing devices under its dashboard. Cell phones are another rampant proliferation of mobile computing today. Every single cell phone is a computer in its own right. With the advent of wireless technologies, it is also possible to access the Internet through cell phones. Blue tooth has brought cell phone users closer than ever before and has facilitated data transfer within a stipulated area. Another brilliant advancement in the field of wireless technologies is the Metropolitan Area Network, or MAN, which will allow vehicles and cell phones to remain in communication with each other forming a network probably much vaster than the internet.Today, mobile computing is a boon to people on the move. It can be used for checking mails while in transit and even carry out transactions and businesses. Services like SMS (Short Messaging Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) are targeted towards the younger generation to remain in contact with their colleagues and friends. During sports events, mobile networks keep users informed of the goings-on.

However, critics are concerned with the intrusion of privacy that mobile computing creates. Several members of the younger generation are turning into ‘gizmo freaks’ and becoming almost addicted to their mobile computing devices like watches and cell phones. Some of these devices which work on infrared technologies can also pose potential health risks.Yet, mobile computing has become an indispensable extension of technology today. It is definitely here to stay.

Credit Collection Laws And You

May 21, 2017

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Act has helped thousands of debtors free themselves from collection agents and junk debt buyers who act like complete Neanderthals when collecting debts. Junk debt buyers, collection agencies and sometimes, even original creditors are known mostly for their unforgiving, intimidating and often illegal collection tactics to extract money from debtors. Since laws have been enforced, consumer rights are protected against mean-spirited credit collectors, which is why it is important to educate yourself with credit collection laws to minimize the chances of being harassed by creditors or collection agencies.

One of the most common ways debt collectors obtain information from debtors is asking for their bank or credit card information. In the past, debtors have no other choice but to divulge such sensitive information from creditors or collection agencies. However, things have changed, laws are enacted and junk debt collectors and collection agencies can no longer make a person give his or her credit card and bank information.Once contacted by a debt collector, debtors are given 30 days to dispute the debt and make the debt collector prove the ownership of the debt in dispute. The bottom line is, you don’t need to pay anything just because someone claims you owe them money. If they can’t produce proof that you owe them money, they can’t collect the money nor can they file a credit card lawsuit.Apart from proving the debt’s ownership, collectors can no longer threaten, use profanity, vulgarities or use demeaning language to scare debtors into paying the debt. They can no longer humiliate you or talk to third parties about your financial problems. They can no longer discuss confidential debt information to other people. They can no longer threaten to garnish your wages, put lien on your properties when they haven’t gained legal authority to do so. They can only obtain a portion of your paycheck if they win the credit card lawsuit they filed otherwise, no such threats are allowed under the FDCPA.

If debt collectors continuously call you at the dead of the night or early in the morning, you can send them a Cease and Desist letter, information them that you do not wish to be contacted via phone calls and will respond only in writing. In response, the debt collector can only notify you about their next step, usually filing a credit card lawsuit, in writing. If they refuse to comply, they are violating the mandates of collection laws and will be brought to justice.

Healthy Competition In Team Sports Teaches Life Skills

May 1, 2017

The word “competition” brings to mind images of athletes or sports teams striving to do their best and working hard to accomplish significant goals. For most of us, achieving goals and enjoying life is at least partially dependent on working together and getting along with others. Many of these essential relational skills are learned in the developing years as children move from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. Given the importance of these key life skills, our society would benefit greatly by ensuring that kids are provided with ample opportunities for working together and getting along with people. Such relational skills can be effectively taught (and caught) in the context of an organized sports program.It seems that kids are born with an innate sense of competition and a desire to win. Our society, schools, and sports programs all cater to this inclination to compete with various games and challenges. Such challenges have been a part of human society from the beginning, and this competition develops a number of important skills for use throughout life.As an example, the desire to be the champion and top dog often pushes people further than they would choose to go on their own. This dogged determination to win is what drives Olympic athletes, CEOs, and many leaders to attain to lofty positions. However, the downside of unchecked competition is that negative traits including roughness, a domineering attitude, and unsportsmanlike conduct can develop and can take over a person. Such negative traits can be very harmful, and if not kept in check, can lead to damaged and broken relationships.

This danger for unguided winners to develop poor attitudes is precisely the reason we should encourage children to get involved in team sports programs and other organizations where healthy competition is encouraged and promoted. It is often within these organizations that essential life skills are taught and where the development of proper attitudes can be nurtured.By participating in organized team sports, kids can begin to truly experience the thrill of winning and the pain and discouragement of defeat. By experiencing these emotions in the context of their sports community, children can begin to understand the roots of their emotions and how their emotions can affect others. In addition, parents and coaches can observe how kids react and can provide encouragement and guidance as needed when and if inappropriate behavior and reactions are observed.Within the context of an organized sports program, a skilled coach can help and encourage the winners to revel in the victory, and yet do so in a way that does not put down the losers. In fact, if the kids on the winning team can learn how to reach out and encourage kids on the losing team, they have learned an extremely valuable lesson that will serve them well throughout their lives. In the same way, the losers must learn the essential skill of losing well and not withdrawing in self-pity or lashing out at the winners, their teammates, or their coach. Winning and losing are a continual part of life, and developing key skills to cope with victory and loss will go a long way in helping young people cope effectively with the ups and downs of life.In developing life skills, there is a significant difference between team sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer and individual sports such as tennis and racquetball. Individual sports typically focus on developing the competitive side of an individual, but organized sports programs can teach so much more. On a team, the children learn to work together to accomplish things that they could never do on their own. In addition, the coach can provide encouragement and direction, and the kids themselves can encourage each other when they are down. On a team, kids can also develop the confidence to try new things that they might otherwise not try. Such an encouraging and supportive environment is rarely found in an individual sport, but can be commonly found on sports teams. Out of necessity, teams learn to work together to accomplish mutual goals and such skills will help carry them through life and work.

In summary, the competition and cooperation that occurs in organized sports programs can be very healthy and helpful for developing essential life skills. In a well-run program, team sports encourage children to work together, encourage one another, and get along with others. A quality and gifted coach can develop these skills in children, and our children would be well-served into adulthood and our society would benefit by having these skills engrained into our children’s character.

Systems Thinking in ‘ORGAN’-Izations

April 28, 2017

What is systems thinking? Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. That definition and many like it are found all around the internet, but do we know what it looks like in action? I found it confusing in many cases due to these same resources stating that a systems thinking approach is the opposite of breaking a larger system down into its parts to be analyzed and/or improved. It is my opinion that using a systems thinking approach in an organization is a balance of both.I’ve read a lot about tearing down these functional areas as if they are some kind of barrier standing in the way of a systems approach. I am going to disagree with this and state that we simply need to work with them differently. I strongly agree with the need for these teams, but the information within should be openly available to all other teams and the communication paths should be directly available.In every business we have a product, service, solution, etc… to provide to someone and in many it is important to have expertise organized into functional teams within the organization. These functional teams need to be in place for organizations to provide important pieces such as expertise, accountability and responsibility. Building a culture of relating these functional teams to systems that are part of a larger system and promoting collaboration between these systems is how I would describe getting your organization to a systems thinking approach.A systems approach provides many things from efficiencies and cost savings to feedback loops and product improvements. It can even have a positive influence over morale.After recent discussions on systems thinking I was looking for an example of an organization that utilizes a systems approach effectively. What I realized is that not only is the human body a great example of many things working together for a common goal, but that we study and teach on this subject recognizing each of these parts as systems working together.If you were to look up the Human Organism and write down the highlights, you are probably going to write something like skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, etc… See the common factor?

Now hold that thought and let’s look at the human body as we look at our own organizations. Imagine a standard org chart with organ systems breaking down into each system (nervous, muscular, digestive, etc… ), then to the organs themselves (heart, lung, liver, etc… )From atoms to molecules to organelles that form cells which form tissue which leads to organs that make up an organ system and results in an organism.If the body worked vertically it probably wouldn’t function let alone be what it is today. The body maintains our functional groups that allows for expertise, responsibility and accountability; but still has many interworking systems.Notice that when we speak of the functional teams that make up the body, we refer to them as systems. The body has 11 major organ systems, but what you cannot display in such a standard org chart representing the body is the overlapping of these systems. Nearly all of the major organs of the major systems have other organs from other systems connected to them. Notice that I said there are 11 ‘major’ systems. Choose your belief here, but whether fantastic evolution or a genius creator, the need for interworking systems was obviously not overlooked. I listed some organs that fall under their organ system, but what happens when I ask you where the hypothalamus resides? It is a gland so let’s say its functional area is the endocrine system, but it’s function is being responsible for the activities of the autonomic nervous system. This happens to us everyday right? Your software developers are not writing software to develop software.We’ve decided that with the org chart of the human body if you will, it needs a system to link the system, hence we have what is known as the neuroendocrine system. This is found again and again throughout the human body where functional areas overlap. The muscular and skeletal systems work so closely and are dependent on each other for optimization of movement and support that we have a musculoskeletal system. Genius right?The musculoskeletal system is not a whole new functional area of the business with new management, etc… Consider instead that it is a space where representatives from both systems come to collaborate on their ideas of how to reach the common goal and then returns to their own system.Aside from not addressing dependencies from multiple functional areas to optimize the outcome, silos cause other issues in the organization. Regardless what your functional area is, it is better than the others right? If you are an installation tech, you could meet your goals if development had it together and if you are in development your product is fine if only your installation guys were smart enough to implement it.We’ve got to tear down these silos and interact. Every decision made in a functional system is going to change the overall system. If your change is not matched and/or countered by other changes the result has changed. What a standard org chart (silos) doesn’t do is help us identify where a problem is or visually instill the idea that what one does has a greater consequence to the common goal. As an example, let’s assume you have hypoglycemia.Well, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Now you have double vision, fast heart, nervous, shaking, sweating, etc… Each system is reacting. If you take medicine to rectify the symptoms without understanding the true cause you could damage your pancreas or cause other systems to work harder to counter the new effects while not actually curing the problem.Hypoglycemia can be caused by medications or alcohol so it could be the fault of the mouth. If not the mouth maybe the overall digestive system for not breaking down the carbohydrates or back down in that functional system to the pancreas for not producing insulin. Maybe it’s the blood stream and maybe it’s that the liver and/or muscles aren’t storing glucose properly. It very well might be a digestive system problem, but unless we understand how systems overlap you might of just replaced your director of digestion when in fact the problem could of been any one of circulatory, muscular, or endocrine systems.Similarly, defects in the muscles and bones can be the result of neurological problems, metabolic or vascular disorders, nutritional imbalances, etc… If any one of the systems that make up the human body were to over/under produce or change what it does all together, it can drastically change every other system and the overall result of what they were previously working together to do.

The body has 5 vital organs being the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Scroll up if you need to, but I’ll just tell you that the blocks are red and each resides inside of a functional system. What?! The brain isn’t higher than bones? All of these systems work together and due to this the information uses the nervous, muscular, circulatory, and other systems to share information where they overlap and transport it to another system it interacts with. If you were to put your hand on a hot surface the body reacts by sending signals to other parts of the body. Your muscles contract to pull away, it notifies your brain of the incident, your blood pressure increases while you breath heavier, your pupils dilate, and you start releasing hormones like adrenaline.Many systems in the body just worked together to notify, react and rectify and it did so by communicating within interworking systems rather than all information leaving the critical areas and coming back via the same point it went it out. Good thing or you might just still have your hand on a hot surface waiting for that single point of communication to be available.Any living organism is amazing, but remove any one system or even tamper with it without proper communication to the others and if you are still alive, you’ve just caused cancer.To do this an organization needs to instill a culture of collaboration and team building so that the vital organs can work together while the functional manager acts as a servant leader to keep his experts focused, trained, and with the tools they need to do what they do.With all of the communication that the body has going on, you can provide it with the right nutrients and not only is it healthy, it becomes self healing when the unknown arises. Shouldn’t your organization be self healing?

Online Computer Science Schools

May 16, 2017

Computer education is a necessity these days as tasks in all professions has become digitized. Computer sciences applications have a far reaching impact on how we live our day-to-day lives and the need for computer trained and IT professionals is greater than for any industry or field in the world today. In this Article we review how online computer sciences courses can help prospective professionals find careers in any industry.OverviewComputer sciences are the study of the foundation of computing logic and the applications to computer architecture, hardware and software design as well as specific applications to program development and the use of industry standard technologies. The education starts with the study of natural sciences as they relate to computing and then diverges into a study of the specific niche area – such as hardware, software, graphics and information technology etc. Most institutions offer students the opportunity to learn about all these areas to some extent before choosing a specialization.

Online computer sciences institutions offer students a variety of fully online – to – blended courses in a variety of subjects; students can complete a choice of degree or certificate at any level (diploma, associates, bachelors, masters, PhD or certifications through shorter courses) in general computing or a specialized area – all from the comfort of their own homes and be able to work around their jobs and schedules – without having to enroll for time consuming classes and without having to relocate or spend and money commuting to and from lectures.Enrolling in an online computer science course means prospective students can now fit their education around their work and personal schedules and save the money and time normally required in order to attend lectures and lab sessions. Most online institutions offer their enrolled students a free online resource center for all the information – e-books, lecture slides and practical experiments – that is need in order to finish their coursework.Areas in computer science educationTheory of computation: This area deals with the logic use by computation systems and the mathematics that relates to computational logic. It defines the limits of computability (solvable problems) and computational complexity (resources required to solve these problems in terms of time and space).Algorithms and Data structures: This side deals with functionality such as searching data storage structures and the formation (of models) of data storage (linked-lists, arrays, trees etc).

Programming Languages and Methodology: This area addresses the methodology used to formulate problem solving software code and the programming languages that are used to write viable code. It also deals with modern software development tools and tricks-of-the-trade which are used in modern compilers to formulate accurate running code. Languages may include c, C++, Java, c-sharp etc. Tools may include Visual C++ etc. This area defines the methodology of writing logical code step-by-step and the use of common best-practices.Computer Architecture and logic design: This area deals with the knowledge of how a computer processor works and how is uses its resources to solve computational problems by breaking complex code down to minor mathematical and logical problems. This area includes digital design, automation, architecture and compilation.

The Role of Change Management in Successful Information Management Solutions

May 7, 2017

IntroductionImplementation of Information Management solutions necessarily brings change to any organization. Business practices, role and relationships all affect the way in which people work and interact on a day-to-day basis. Whether the driver for implementation is for productivity, compliance or risk reduction there is always the need to consider what impact there will be on user communities.Document and records management practices in organizations are not often front-of-mind for most managers and employees and asking them to think about information in a different way or even at all, as a corporate asset requires a fundamental mindset change. This will take many employees out of their comfort zone, impact on their confidence and competence to perform the work and creates a situation where individuals can sense a loss of control in their work context.It is natural that most people initially react with caution with concerns about their future, security and where they will fit in to a new order of things. In any group there will be 10% who are excited by the prospect of change and at the other end 10% who will resist change regardless. This means that there are 80% who can be influenced one way or the other.The successful implementation of an information management system extends far beyond the design and implementation. It extends beyond the support and operation. Effective information management requires a fundamental mind-shift by stakeholders and everyone in the organization that relies on information in their work activities. This shift needs to be carefully executed to create a requisite culture in which information is appropriately and thoroughly managed as a key organizational asset.What is Change Management?Change management is the art of influencing the majority to positively accept and commit emotionally to the change. Many of the issues arising as a response to change can be real or perceived and are closely related in a cause and effect network. Either way, they need to be addressed to avoid resistance or rejection of the change. This requires a combination of communication, understanding, mentoring, coaching and general support with the aim of building trust. It is from this position of trust that the task of building the work culture required for successful information management begins. The ’4 Cs’ of change management help us think about the change from an effected user point of view.Comfort People are creatures of habit and develop patterns of working within a comfort zone of daily activities.Control Changed practices may cause a loss of control over daily routines and activities. This may come through changed reporting lines or responsibilities which can evoke a level of discomfort.Confidence The introduction of new practices may undermine employee confidence in their ability to perform. Some may see this as challenge, for others it can be stressful. Often the introduction of computer equipment is something that can be discomforting. Some people, particularly older workers may have no experience with computers and can cause self doubt over their abilities to learn the new skills required.Competence To be able to operate in a changed work environment there is always an element of re-skilling required. This necessarily means that current skills, often developed over an extended period of time will need updating or may become redundant. This uncertainty can impact on an employee’s competence and ability to perform.The management of the complex web of responses, issues and perceptions requires focused attention. The skills of a change manager are built on an understanding of human behavior and the change manager’s role is to assist people to understand the change and what it means in personal terms and has been proven to be a significant success factor in building Information Management capability.Why is Change Management important?As volumes of information inevitably grow and our regulatory obligations increase amid the ongoing business pursuit of productivity, we cannot afford to waste the opportunity to exploit the benefits of information management solutions.Studies repeatedly show that a key risk in the success or failure of information management solutions is stakeholder resistance to change. Through an investment of time and effort in preparing the user community for the coming change the chances of resistance are lowered. In short without a disciplined approach to managing stakeholders through the change then realization of anticipated benefits is put at risk. This has impact on business productivity, staff moral and the bottom-line. So it would seem logical for us to deploy our information management solutions in the most effective manner.Some common Change Management pitfalls of an IM solution implementation

We are seeing an ongoing consolidation of the information management vendor community and a subsequent convergence of the underlying technology. There is a growing recognition by organizations that an information management capability is needed. Further, audit activity frequently highlights any shortfalls in performance and organizations react accordingly.The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment and common pitfalls addressed by change management include:Focus on TechnologyIgnoring the emotional needs of users in the rush to get the technology in place can create a real project risk. Many organizations with an information management solution already in place experience a negativity of opinion towards the system. Often the cause of this perception can be traced to an initial technical implementation focus that neglected the needs of those who consequently struggled to apply new functionality in their work activities. An effective change management approach including awareness building and communication can turn this perception around.Recognition of the Business importance of InformationThe low profile that information management has in most employees’ minds can be an issue. We are all busy and in the scheme of things ‘filing’ is not front-of-mind for the majority of employee’s striving to keep pace with everyday work pressures. Document management and filing, can fall down the priority list partly because of work pressures and partly because of limited awareness and can be seen one of the things that ‘should’ be done’ rather than something that ‘must’ be done.Organizations recognising the business value of information as an asset can then raise awareness of its importance and manage it accordingly. An increased awareness of this importance should also influence the planning of information management system deployments.Business Case and BudgetThe business case for information management is focused on risk, mitigation, and productivity. However; many benefits are intangible and have an indirect impact on the bottom line. Unfortunately associated costs are very tangible and visible.Consequently, there are challenges in the development of the business case as it can fail to excite the financial fundamentalists who view the whole undertaking in terms of an unavoidable cost that must be minimized. For the uninformed, change management activities can be seen as non-essential and result in budgets being set to minimise cost adding to the risk of failure.Although not unique to Information management implementations these above factors can create significant project risk. Change Management techniques are designed to address the human behavioral issues that can adversely impact on project success and as such, are a necessary inclusion in any deployment activity.What are some Change Management best practices for an IM solution implementation?When it is apparent users are not participating in Information Management practices an objective assessment can identify a way forward that is usually cost effective and will meet organizational needs within a much shorter timeframe. This assessment must take an independent and holistic view of the situation from multiple perspectives.This assessment must identify the root causes of any associated issues and develop a clear strategy to build the information management capability required. There are a number of common elements that have emerged as issues with information management implementations that have nothing to do with the incumbent technological tool and the strategy developed must consider how these are to be addressed.The capability assessment framework enables organizations to holistically assess information management practices and to identify improvement opportunities that will build capability. This is achieved by benchmarking current organizational practice against best practice in each of the dimensions of the framework. The best practice benchmark criteria in the framework have been identified through experience with multiple organizations across industry sectors and geographies, and are augmented through industry collaboration and global academic research outcomes.The dimensions of information management identified in the framework are defined as follows.StrategyBest practice organization’s should have a clear strategy relating to its management and use of information The strategy clearly defines the content and structure of the information, how it is to be governed and applied to support the primary business strategy.ContentWe can assume that most organizations have the information content that is required to manage their business. If this is not the case then it is difficult to envisage the organization operating successfully or at all. However, most organizations suffer from an ad-hoc approach to the management of this important asset. Best practices relating to managing this content start by having an inventory of the content, a consistent architecture governing naming conventions, taxonomy, where content is held, how content is held, i.e. hard copy soft copy formats and who can access what categories of information.ProcessDue process governing how information is created, stored, accessed and communicated is fundamental to the governance of enterprise information.Governance is the combination of processes and structures implemented at management level to inform, direct, manage, and monitor the information management activities of the organization. This consists of clear policy, procedure and business rules guiding information management practices. These must be developed in context of the organization’s business activity and be clearly communicated to stakeholders.Information management governance also includes the development of business classification schemes, taxonomy, naming conventions and rules governing the creation, storage, protection, communication, sensitivities, use and appropriate destruction of information.CultureThe manner in which information is treated and perceived in an organization is reflective of organizational culture. Best practice organizations have clear understandings and norms recognising the importance of information as an asset. This mindset needs to be pervasive across the organizational culture and is fundamental to induction and staff development initiatives.Change management during information systems implementations is a clear best practice aimed at creating the cultural awareness and mindset required.RelationshipsOrganizations operate within a network of relationships with stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers, suppliers, regulators and industry bodies. Best practice organizations have clear understanding and service level agreements with other stakeholders in order that corporate record keeping obligations are met and to ensure information is shared appropriately and to the level required to maximize efficiency.ServicesThe application of Information as an asset is fundamental to the services or products offered to the market place. Best practice organizations embed value-adding knowledge and information into services to maximize attractiveness and utility. Corporate discipline ensuring the validity of information shared is necessary to mitigate risk of non-compliance and avoid potential litigation.TechnologyInformation technology is fundamental to the management of the information asset. Clear and consistent architectures, data and information structures, security and operational tools indicate a mature approach to information management. Best practice organizations have clearly defined architectures.Change Management Best PracticeThe capability assessment framework facilitates benchmarking against specific best practice indicators. The absence of any of these indicators provides an opportunity for the organization to improve. Over and above these specific indicators the following themes have emerged as overarching best practice in change management as information management capability is developed.GovernanceAs discussed above governance is the combination of processes and structures to inform, direct, manage, and monitor information management activities. This includes effective record keeping practices. It is important that organizations develop governance practices as early as possible in implementation projects. This often means putting governance in place prior to specification, selection and deployment of a technology solution. This has a double benefit. Firstly: stakeholder’s become familiar with information management expectations and the requisite culture begins to develop; and secondly; the organization gains the opportunity to refine its governance structures prior to full deployment.Information Management SystemThe selection of an enabling information management technology to meet performance and functional requirements should follow a diligent approach. It is best practice for selection criteria to consider wider information management architectural needs. The functional richness of available solutions can allow the retirement of duplicative products providing islands of functionality. Workflow or WebPages are common examples of these islands where products have been acquired for a single one-off purpose and are unable to integrate with core applications. Once configured and deployed the new infrastructure can provide the opportunity to create an integrated technology architecture thereby reducing support cost.PilotsThere are many examples of high cost, high-profile failures in the information technology industry. Often this can be traced to over-ambition and a big-bang approach to deployment.Implementation of Information Management capability within well defined scope delivered in incremental steps provides many benefits. Primarily incremental implementation through a series of pilot deployments allows adaptation of the solution based on real experience before attempting to conquer the world. Many organizations are benefiting from the adoption of this approach.

User FocusThe inclusion of change management activities focused on preparing stakeholders to take on the reformed work practices mitigate against risk of stakeholder resistance. This involves considering the emotional needs of all stakeholders to ensure that they feel in control, are comfortable and have the confidence and competence to execute new work practices. For many stakeholders the learning of new skills and changed role and responsibility provides enhanced career opportunity.ArchitectureMost of the solutions available in the marketplace offer rich functionality to manage documents and content in a web-based environment. Full use of the functionality on offer can simplify the technical architecture and realize savings in licence and administrative cost further justifying investment.Change Management Roles and ResponsibilitiesThe change manager works very closely with stakeholders and it is important that relationships based on trust are established. The personal attributes of a successful change manager are empathy and patience. The role and responsibility of the change manager is focused on understanding stakeholder needs, building an awareness of the need for change and supporting these stakeholders as they transition to new work practices.Some key responsibilities for the change manager include communications, setting up reporting and communication channels, participating in business process reform, workshop facilitation, staff training, mentoring and awareness building. In short, any activity that interacts and prepares the user community to participate in reformed work practices.Regardless of the scale of undertaking information management projects require a change management capability. In large scale projects there may be dedicated change management resources. For smaller scale projects this role may be a part-time or shared responsibility. The change management role can in many instances be a shared role across the development. Sometimes this can be provided through a corporate change management function. Regardless of how the role is resourced it is essential that it is included.Many routinely conducted project activities such as workshops, interviews, training and presentations are in fact change management opportunities as these events they are interactions with stakeholders. They therefore present the ideal opportunity to develop the relationship of trust between the project team members and stakeholders.It is important to avoid the situation where contributing stakeholders feel as though they have been sucked dry for information by technical people. This can be avoided through the development of awareness of the importance of the project team/stakeholder relationship thereby maximizing the value of this contact time.Further, ‘champions’ can be identified from within the stakeholder community. This provides a critical change management input. As these champions are representatives drawn from the stakeholder community their roles can be a very influential and positive contributor to project success.SummaryResearch shows proves that higher levels of user acceptance and greater use of installed solutions are achieved when deliberate change management activities are included in the implementation work plan and life cycle. Best practice in change management is focused on the early involvement of stakeholders and on building a trusting relationship. Accordingly, leading organizations have recognized its importance and routinely allocate resources as projects are plannedFor most organizations there is the opportunity improve information management performance. A place to start is through a benchmarking assessment of information management capability against best practice to identify how to realize available benefits by learning from the success of others.This paper has emphasized change management and the resultant outcomes and opportunities as best practice. The selection of an information management solution is an important corporate investment. For those organizations considering implementation and for those that have current infrastructure in place, there is the real opportunity to maximize return on investment and to create a work culture that displays the requisite information management behaviours.

Deck Construction Maintenance Tips

May 5, 2017

You can hire a deck construction company to build your dream deck, but how do you take care of it to keep it looking nice? Performing basic maintenance and upkeep on your structure will keep it looking and functioning great for much longer than if you just let it sit there. Here are some tips to get you started.Repairs
Each year, check the supporting posts and joists underneath that hold the deck up, as well as the screws and bolts that connect it to your home. Inspect for wood rot, structural damage, or loose bolts and screws. Also check the railings and flooring for loose nails or screws, as well as damaged wood and splinters. If you find any problems, make sure and correct them before doing any further maintenance. This may be as simple as tightening bolts and hammering nails back in or as complicated as replacing posts. If you find wood rot on your supporting posts, it is best to give your deck construction company a call. These types of problems often require major renovations and are best left to the professionals.

SandingIf your deck is older and looks beaten up, consider sanding rather than washing it. Sanding an older structure can give it new life and add another 10 years to it. Before sanding, make sure all nails and screws are sunk into the wood so they don’t catch on the drum sander. Sand diagonally first with sandpaper that is 40-50 grit, then go back and sand it again horizontally using 70-80 grit sandpaper. This process evens out the surface while opening up the pores of the wood.Homemade Cleaning SolutionHere’s a recipe for an effective deck cleaning solution that you can make at home. Combine one quart of household bleach with 1/3 cup of powdered laundry soap and 3 quarts of warm water. Apply and rinse off.StainingStarting at an inner corner, use a sprayer to apply semi transparent stain. Watch for overspray on siding or any other surfaces nearby. Go over any puddles with a roller to even out the finish. Don’t let the stain completely dry before applying a second coat because it will not soak into the wood. Not all structures will require more than one coat. Use a stain that has a high amount of resin in it so it will last longer. Look for solids at or above the 50 percent level. In the years between staining your deck, a water sealant can be applied to protect the wood.

Ask your deck construction company about installing low-maintenance decking if you prefer to avoid frequent upkeep and repairs. These kinds of decking materials are stain, scratch, mold, mildew, and split resistant.

Mental Health Stigma

May 4, 2017

Despite the increase in publicity surrounding mental health and mental health issues, there is still a lack of understanding about mental health in general. For example, a research survey published by the government “Attitudes to Mental Illness 2007″ reported that 63% of those surveyed described someone who is mentally ill as suffering from schizophrenia, and more than half believed that people with mental illness should be kept in a psychiatric ward or hospital. Overall the results showed that positive attitudes to people with mental health had actually decreased since 1994 which is worrying indeed.Amazingly, many people still don’t understand that mental health problems affect most of us in one way or another, whether we are suffering from a mental illness ourselves or not. If we bear in mind that a quarter of the population are suffering from some kind of mental health problem at any one time, then the chances are, even if we personally don’t have a mental illness, we will know someone close to us who does, so it is our responsibility to understand what mental illness is and what can be done about it.Many people with mental health problems will often feel isolated and rejected and too afraid to share their problems with others purely because of the way they might be perceived. This lack of understanding means they are less likely to get the kind of help and support they need and are in danger of slipping even further into depression and mental illness. People need to understand that mental illness need not be a barrier to a better quality of life and that help is available and that most people with a mental health problem can regain full control over their lives if they get the support they need.

A new guide to mental healthThe Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a new guide to mental health which was published in November 2007 and is aimed at informing the general public about what mental illness is and is a big step towards tackling the stigma that is still attached to mental illness.The guide is written in an easy to understand format and over 60 mental health experts have contributed to it. The Mind: A User’s Guide contains chapters that cover a whole range of mental illnesses and includes a section on how the brain works, how mental illness is diagnosed, and how to cope with it.A Scottish surveyIn Scotland, a national survey of public attitudes to mental health Well? What Do You Think? (2006) was published in September 2007 and highlighted that although people living in socially deprived areas have a higher incidence of mental health, the level of stigmatisation is still no lower than in other areas. This suggests that being confronted with mental illness is not enough to change the attitudes towards it.There are also gender differences too. According to the Scottish survey, men with a mental health problem were more likely to be treated with suspicion than women and were also more inclined to avoid social contact with someone else with a mental health problem. Even out of those who displayed a positive attitude towards people with mental health problems, many said they would be reluctant to tell anyone if they had a mental health problem themselves which just goes to show that there is still fear surrounding other peoples’ perceptions of mental health.A CIPD SurveyA recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG consultants surveyed over 600 employers and reported that doctors are not doing enough to help people with mental health problems return to work and that this is costing the business world billions of pounds. For example, only 3% of the participants rated doctor support as “very good”.It may be that doctors really don’t know what else to offer someone suffering from depression and anxiety other than drugs and time off work. Even more worrying was the fact that 52% of employers maintained that they never hired anyone with a history of mental illness which serves to perpetuate the stigma. On a more positive note, of those that did hire someone with a mental health problem, more than half said the experience had been “positive”.

Changing attitudesA lot is being done by governments and organisations to try to change public attitudes towards mental health but is it enough? Until we all recognise that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, the stigma attached to mental illness is likely to persist.Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, and yet the stigma attached to mental illness still persists. Although a number of government initiatives, awareness campaigns and organisations have been set up specifically to tackle mental health stigma and change our attitudes towards mental health in general, there is still a long way to go.It is therefore up to each and every one of us as individuals to make sure we are well informed and understand the issues involved because only when the public are fully aware of the facts will mental health stigma become a thing of the past.

Developing Original Humor for Your Talk

May 25, 2017

Most humor in the business setting is unplanned. It just happens. Spontaneous events with clients and co-workers create the surprises and uncomfortable situations which call for humor as a coping tool.We all have differing abilities to recognize, appreciate and create humor. How’s your HQ (humor quotient)? Do you work with people who are full of wit?Regardless of where you are now, you can increase your humor skills. When you study humor, it’s obvious there’s more to it than just spontaneous laughs. There are times when you may want to deliberately use humor, maybe even plan it in advance.Perhaps you want to spice up a training session or a planning meeting. Maybe you want to lighten up a sales presentation. You can learn ways to administer a dose of laughter to help you connect and communicate.There are three elements which can help you understand and structure your humor: surprise, tension and relationships.
First, humor is based on the element of surprise. Humor often comes from something as simple as someone saying the unexpected. The surprise twist creates the humor.Because of the element of surprise, when we are deliberately structuring a piece of humor (perhaps for a speech) we don’t want to telegraph the joke. A line like, “a funny thing happened to me on the way over here,” signals your listeners that a joke is coming. This will lessen the element of surprise.To enhance the surprise, it’s best to place the punch line at the end of the joke. And within the punch line, the punch word is usually given last. The punch word is the word that makes the humor work. It’s the trigger that releases the surprise.If your humor falls flat, do what professional humorists do. Pretend you are serious. Since the listeners didn’t realize you were making a joke, you never need to apologize or explain it. Turn your surprise into a secret.

It’s no surprise to people who work in pressure-packed work environments that humor is also based on this second principle: release of tension. Laughter is a pressure valve which releases muscle tension. Uncomfortable situations, fear and pain are all tension builders that cry out for humor. We find ourselves laughing at risqué humor and embarrassing situations because they make us uncomfortable. We release the tension they create with humor.People who intentionally and frequently use humor know tension can be used deliberately to heighten the impact of the humor. A pause placed just before the punch line or the punch word builds a sense of anticipation, a form of tension, which makes the joke stronger.In most jobs, daily challenges give you the opportunity to purposely use tension in setting up your humor. Simply by sharing a real life humorous situation, you can recreate the spontaneous circumstances which generated the laughter in the first place. Although there’s nothing like “being there,” you can improve on the actual event by embellishing to create a little more tension in the set up. You can structure the punch line for maximum effect by putting the punch word last. And you can pause to add impact.As we plan our humor, we also notice that the third principle of humor is relationships. Most humor is based on how things are related and not related. We can create humorous twists when we play with relationships.Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoons are well known for twisting relationships. One of his frequent tools is giving animals human characteristics. For example, the cartoon shows a car driving down the road. Driving the car is a bull. Sitting next to the bull is a cow. And in the back seat is a calf. They’re driving past a field with humans standing in the pasture. The picture, by itself, creates a funny picture by twisting the normally expected relationships. The calf sticks his head out of the car window and says “Yakity, Yakity, Yak!”Understanding the principle of relationships, you are able to create your own, original humor. You can create “shopping lists” from which you search for humorous connections.Let’s say you had an idea for building some humor. We’ll call this idea a seed from which the humor can grow. Perhaps, on a difficult shift at a hospital, someone made a comment that working in a hospital was like working in a war zone. This is the starting point for developing some humor.You’ll begin by creating two “shopping lists.” On one list you’ll put “hospital things.” And on the other, you’ll list “military things.” It will work better if you choose “military” rather than “war zone” because it’s a broader category which will give you more options when looking for relationships.Your first step is to brainstorm by making the lists as long a possible. The more items you have on each list, the more likely you’ll be able to make some humorous connections.As you make your lists, you’ll look for opportunities to branch out and create sublists to multiply your chances of finding humor. For example, if the idea “basic training” comes to mind, your sublist should contain everything you can think of relating to basic training: drill sergeants, marching, inspections.The next step is to search for connections between your two lists which might lead you to humor. Play with it. Then set it aside and come back to it later. Once you find something with humorous possibilities, you’ll massage it to maximize the humor impact.

To see what this exercise might produce:”Why a Hospital is Like the Military.”1. In the military, soldiers take orders from people with silver and gold on their shoulders. In a hospital, nurses take orders from people with silver and gold in their wallets.2. When discharged from the hospital after a Lower GI Series, you get the GI bill.3.,Nurses, like soldiers, see a lot of privates.4.mWhen filling out a hospital shift report, you sometimes resort to the policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”5. Nurse training is like boot camp. Never before had you seen so many bald body parts.6. In the military, a fatigue is what you wear. In nursing, it’s what wears on you.7. Soldiers get combat pay. Nurses don’t…but should.Whether you’re creating a list or a slogan to go on a poster, looking for a monologue to open a speech or training session, or just searching for one joke to make a point, you can use these lists to create your humor. It works.These three principles of humor are illustrated by the classic slip on the banana peel. The slapstick spill illustrates surprise because we weren’t expecting someone to fall. We also experience tension. When we see someone get hurt we get startled, and react with tension. It also twists relationships. Seeing a distinguished person sitting on the sidewalk is something our of the ordinary. Surprise, tension, relationships…we laugh!Natural, spontaneous humor is one of your greatest tools for coping with stress as you work. By understanding what makes the humor tick, you can become better at planning and deliberately using this powerful adjunct to your success arsenal.

How To Make Sure The Toys You Buy Are Safe

May 15, 2017

There are some very strict safety regulations in the United States that attempt to insure the safety of toys that are sold. But even with the strict regulations there are occasions from time to time where unsafe toys make it into the market.As a whole the regulations that are in place to ensure toy safety have been very successful. When compared to the number of toys that are sold on the market each year there have been very few incidents which were caused by unsafe or defective toys. Most accidents are caused by improper usage or common accident such as tripping on them.In the few cases where defective or unsafe toys have actually made it into the market they were recalled fairly quickly. But this is no reason for parents not let their guard down when buying toys.Check The Label: Safety Labels Are A MustThe first thing that should be checked when buying a toy is whether or not is has the appropriate safety labels. The primary label in the United States would be that of the Consumer Product Safety Commission which signifies that the toy meets the minimum safety standards.The next important labels to look for when shopping for toys would be age labels. You should always follow age guidelines, as they are an essential part of toy safety.Most toys have age labels, even if they are not legally required. Any toy that is not suitable for children under 36 months must have a visible label stating so.

Though, in general most toys give guidance as to what age group they are designed for. These guidelines let you know what age group will benefit the most from the toy, in terms of development, fun, and understanding. Here is a brief guide of different kinds of toys and what age group they are intended for:Under three yearsFor this age group the greatest threat that toys pose is a choking hazard. Most everything a baby or toddler gets their hands on, ends up in their mouth. For this reason, very small toys or toys with small parts are especially unsuitable. Be sure to keep marbles and small balls or buttons out of their reach; be careful with inflatable toys and balloons; and avoid toys with pointy or sharp edges.Three to five yearsChildren of this age are full of discovery and are capable of playing with more sophisticated toys. However, you should still be cautious as certain toys could still pose a risk to them. Avoid toys made with thin plastic that might break and cause injury and still watch for small parts that they may still be tempted to put in their mouth.Six to twelve yearsBy this age children will be able to safely play with almost any toy they are given. However, always read hazard warnings and instruction pamphlets for maintenance guides. For example, if you buy a trampoline you will need to carry out maintenance on it on a regular basis. If you buy a bike or skateboard for your child, you should also buy appropriate protective equipment. Always make sure you get the right size ride on toy for your child, so he/she can handle and enjoy what he/she is given.Things can get a little complicated when you have children of varying ages. When you have lots of different toys that are suitable for varying ages you have to stay vigilant. For starters, you should teach older children to keep their toys out of reach of younger children, especially when they contain small parts and/or are breakable. It is also best if you do not put different age appropriate toys into one toy bin. Have a separate box for each child and make sure they do not swap out toys. To help keep organized, you should follow and separate based on the age labels on the toys.In general it is a good idea to be organized and keep toys in order. Having toys lying around the house is a common cause of accidents. If you have children of varying ages, this can be dangerous and allow smaller children to get to toys not intended for their age group. Keep in mind that children are intended to play with the toys, but all maintenance, such as changing of batteries should be carried out by an adult.

Toy safety labels offer an important safeguard against dangerous toys reaching our children, but it is just as important to use your own common sense. Before purchasing a toy, examine it thoroughly yourself to make sure that it is sturdy and well constructed. Check for any sharp edges or pointy corners, especially when buying toys for younger children. For example, if you are buying a stuffed animal make sure all stitching is secure and small items like the eyes or nose will not come off easily.If your child has an accident with a toy or you suspect a toy is potentially harmful, you should take immediate action. The first step is to take the toy out of the reach of all children. Once the child is cared for and the immediate danger has passed, you should report the toy to the appropriate authorities. You will need to keep the toy safe for examination and you should also try to provide details of where and when you bought the toy. It is important to regularly check online for toy recalls. This way you can remove a potentially dangerous toy before any incident occurs.

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