Archive for June, 2011

2011-06-27

Digging into MAS 90 and 200

So I am going to be taking a new direction for some of my blog posts. This new direction with be into the depths of MAS 90 and 200. Don’t panic if you like my posts up to now, I will continue to post my thoughts on all manner of things and I will be sharing my learnings as I dive into the technical side of MAS 90 and 200.

For those of you not familiar with MAS 90 and 200, it is the Sage enterprise resource planning (ERP) application for small and medium sized businesses. The reason I am involved with MAS 90 and 200 is because it runs on ProvideX, which is the development environment that I have been helping produce for the the last 11 years. In October 2010 we realigned our ProvideX business, turning the sales and support of all external Sage customers of ProvideX over to PVX Plus Technologies. This allows those of us on the ProvideX side of the business to really focus our efforts on making MAS 90 and 200 an even better product than it already is.

So I have been dabbling with MAS 90 and 200 for 11 years now. I know enough to be dangerous and knowing more will help me provide better input when we discuss the future to the product. The posts will be fairly technical in nature about such things as the object oriented business framework, the plug-in for Eclipse, and other things that mostly developers will be interested in. I hope that my posts will help those with more years of experience with MAS 90 and 200 find things that they didn’t know and also assist those new to MAS 90 and 200. Please provide feedback when I go awry and about topics that you would like an in depth analysis of.

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2011-06-12

My Xoom

I love my Motorola Xoom. Since I got it a few weeks ago I have read ten books in the Kindle app, and made it almost all the way through Angry Birds. I have had fun with the voice recognition app, and played a little chess.

Yes, I could have bought a Kindle, or a Kobo, but I love multi-function devices. This is the device that I remember seeing on Star Trek, or reading about in Sci-Fi books. With an Internet connection I have the world at my finger tips, literally. I did buy a silicone sleeve to protect it, and allow for a slightly better grip; the case is a tad slipper. Though it is heavier than an iPad 2, or a Blackberry playbook, I don’t find it too heavy when reading for hours on end. So far the battery has been great, lasting a full day easily enough.

I could have gone with an iPad or iPad 2 as I really appreciate what Apple has done but I find the proprietary nature unfriendly, and their approach to DRM draconian. I only just broke down and accepted an iPod nano for my birthday (I returned the last one and bought an Xbox instead). Nope, give me the much more open Android operating system. I did contemplate the Playbook which uses QNX, a Unix variant. The geek in me really enjoys having a shell available….that would be the command line for the less geeky.

The only thing I find lacking is hand writing recognition. There are a few apps to be found that do hand writing recognition however the reviews are terrible and there is no trial period for the software. I would really like hand writing recognition because that is my preferred method of starting a project. I write and sketch out my ideas then refine and edit them. Right now I do that on a pad of paper with pen then have to transcribe the work to the appropriate application. Cut and paste from a source document would be so much better.

So, if you like a larger format screen and the lack of draconian control then the Xoom is the tablet for you.

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2011-06-12

Becoming a Writer

Is it just me, or do things regularly converge in ways that are unexpected? Perhaps they shouldn’t be unexpected as it is our focus that draws them together but some things are random events that just seem to be timed too perfectly. So what am I going on about? I just read “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, my brother published his first full length ebook on Amazon, and at work we needed someone edit a document on managerial core┬ácompetencies.

So I recently read “Made to Stick” which is a book about why some ideas ‘stick’ or resonate with an audience. It is a very thought provoking book covering such topics as newspaper articles, campaign strategies and slogans, and corporate mission statements. The premise is that there are six principles that make ideas stick. If what you are communicating hits enough of these six principles then your idea ‘sticks’ with the audience. As I read through the book it got me thinking about the construction of my blog posts, among other things. How could I apply what I learned from the book to improve the quality of my blog posts?

In the middle of May my brother announced that his first full length ebook had been published in the Kindle store on Amazon. This is an achievement for my brother some six (I think) years in the making. He gave up his successful business and house here in Canada and moved to Europe to dedicate himself to writing. And he stuck with it resulting in the aforementioned book. Now, as his brother you would expect me to heap praise on his book just because he is my brother but that wouldn’t be me. To be honest, I was dreaded starting it because I expected it to be a slog. The night I started it, I picked it up about 11 PM, and didn’t look at the clock until 1:30 AM. It was excellent and I rushed through it looking forward to discovering how it would end. Through dedication and hard work my brother had transformed himself into a writer of books that I was interested in reading. Could I do the same with myself and create blog posts that would attract readers?

At work we have been working on creating core competency documents for all the staff in our research and development organization. We had previously created a document for all the non-managerial positions, a process with I shepherded. We are now working on the same document for the managerial positions and I am once again the chief editor and shepherd. I didn’t write the initial draft, that was done by another director. My job is to rewrite the document based on the initial feedback of all the directors. This document isn’t just a bunch of job descriptions, the what you are suppose to do but rather the principles that each level should be following to accomplish their job. This ties very much into “Made to Stick”. A good corporate mission statement can help every employee choose the right path for the company by informing them as to the best action. That is what this document is suppose to do for managers, provide them with the yard stick against which to measure their actions. If the managers follow the core competency document then they will have guidance on each tactical decision they make.

So all three of this things came together in a very short period of time which lead to this blog post. I had to ask myself if I wanted to become a writer. Did I really enjoy writing? Writing isn’t something I have done extensively since I graduated from university.

Can I write a blog, or a corporate document, that people want to read, that communicates clearly what I am trying to say? Will it cause people to think about what I said? Only time will tell, and perhaps the fact that you read this far.

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