Week Six

Software and Intellectual Property

Lines of software code have copyright attached to them. However, many of the assumptions we make about purchasing and the rights of ownership do not apply. It is more relevant to think of licensing. Normally when one pays for a product one has complete rights of how to use it (warranties aside).

Typical software packages have license agreements (EULA) that dictate what things the purchaser is allowed to do with them. For example a student package might not be allowed to be used for revenue gathering or more commonly, copies are not be made for distribution.

End User Licensing Agreements (EULA) give rights to users that do not exist before the agreement is made. The general rights that software agreements give to users are:

– able to install (copy) on to a computer (number of computers defined and conditions as to what a computer is defined as)

-run software of specific purposes only (e.g. student vs enterprise)

– make a back-up copy

To access these rights the user must activate software and have it validated.

The copyright holder of software code can be either developer, company or a mixtur of the two, often depending on the nature of the employment as stated in employment contract. e.g permanent vs contract. When developers retain copyright it is often the source code rather than the non-changeable machine code that they retain the rights to. Liability as to how the software damages people and property needs to be established too.

When it comes to allowing users full free rights of use and distribution there are two broad categories of copyright:  completely free rights and permissive rights. GPL, General Public Licence, an example of completely free rights,  covers a number of freeware and essentially states the the rights of free use must apply to everyone who has the software passed to them. Permissive rights allow software that was sourced freely to be altered and to become proprietary software and/or closed source.

Other examples of exemptions to standard copyright are freeware, shareware and public domain software that all have their own particular restrictions.

One example of software that I use regulary which is freeware is GIMP -. It essentially mimics the capabilities of proprietary software. Of course the question is- How does anyone make any money by writing opensource software like this. Some times it seems completely altruistic but other times it is obvious by the use of paid updates or extension to the software that there is some monetary gain.

One form of software that poses as freeware/shareware are those programs that appear to be free for download but once installed inform the user that the software will disable itself after a trial period.


Week Five

Internationalisation & Software Development

Many things need to be taken into account when developing software in terms of how that software needs to interact with differing locales.

– Defining a locale. A locale is tricky to define as it could be defined as by country or by language. Countries may be multi-lingual or langauges may be spoken in many countries. Locale specific items might be language, currency, LTR/RTL, date formatting, am/pm/24 hour clock and decimal places vs commas interchanged. These are changes to how things are displayed.

– Localisation. Changes to content specific to locale might be taxes, measurement units, legalities, banned goods, deadlines differing by timezone.

– Software. Three key types of software are impacted by internalisation. Operating systems, client applications e.g. WinZIP, and Web applications. Operating systems can be installed or changed at the Control Panel. Word allows language to be chosen for keyboard layout. Character map available on Windows hass access to UNICODE – the 16 bit code for characters. Therefore in programming 16 bit must be allowed for character strings if UNICODE is required. Stand-alone apps are often configured during configuration so if software has international market then langauges should be considered. Web applications identify the source locale by IP address. Normally international websites will use this information to determine which language is presented to the user. It is possible to change Internet Options to have web pages display using particular languages. Sometimes these approaches are troublesome so the user may need to be asked which langauge they would  like. However it needs to be considered which language asks the question! If many langauges are used to ask a question then have rendered as image not text to make sure it show on any PC.

UTF – UNICODE Transformation Format

Which types of businesses would benefit most from internationalisation?
– Businesses with a global presence where their business is sourced from across many locales and who’s revenue is directly sourced from e-commerce. For example airlines who take bookings online from customers in many different palces speaking many different languages.

Which kind of countries would benefit most from internationalism?
– Countries in which more than language were spoken e.g. Switzerland where German, Italian and French are all spoken

Week Four

Social Media

You Tube –  I never considered you tube a social medium so it was interesting to see that the definition appiles when on considers it as a collaborative site. Obviously it is a place for viewing videos but when one considers that anone can upload videos then it becomes clear that it is a site of shared information about anything. I have used it to view a ‘walkthrough’ of enterprise software had never before encountered.

Pinterest – I used this site to get inspired about urban gardening. The site operates a little like google images search except that there are occassional written snippets attached to some photos. Not so useful for serious research but quite good for looking for inspiration.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do not belong to any social media sites.  If you tube and wikipedia are included then I can say I use social media for entertainment form time to time. However more usefully, I have used both professionally to help me undersatnd or research things that were relvenat to my job.

Before social media came along i was never a fan of those emails that were ‘forwarded containing such things as pictures of kittens or jokes and such. That’s really the same attitude I have towards most soical media – just an ocean of banality. However as I said in an earlier post, I would storngly consider joining linkedin to help find employment.

Week Three

Understanding business terms, systems and processes

Knowing business – It’s important for IT professionals to understand  how business works because it is essential for communication. Without understanding the terminology it is difficultt to provide a level of service that provides the required solutions.

IT professionals are often asked to design or problem-solve systems for businesses and it’s important to know what processes are involved. One of the key ways to understand business processes is first to comprehend the terminology used in business.

Once business terms are understood then business systems can begin to be analysed. One of the central concepts for understanding business systems is the flow of information within the business. For example, invoices, statements, accounts receivable and journals all are interconnected and flow from one to the other. Without an understanding of how the flow of information and the documents involved in that process it is difficult to analyse the business system(s) .

Business systems that may require IT specific solutions/input might include payroll, accounting, HR, marketing, knowledge management, records management, communications and technical processes:

  • Payroll – This may be handled largely inhouse or not so  the amount of processing by internal IT systems can vary. In professional services firms, for example, where hourse have to be acoounted for hour by hour and then processed. This may dictate that different systems must talk to each other so an IT professional has not only to design hwo the systems operate independently but how they affect each other
  • Accounting systems can vary greatly depending on how bespoke they are.  Even if the business uses a straight out of the box package the IT professional may be expected to trouble shoot.
  • Human Resources – It is possible that HR will use  a variety of tools, often Windows based that may or may not interact with other systems external to the business e.g. external recruitment
  • Marketing may make use of such things as Customer Relationship Management software and may also be involved with graphic design software. An IT professional may have to, as is the case with all software with licenses and updates
  • Knowledge Management can include internal systems such as intranets and IT professionals may be asked to help administer these
  • Records Management tend to be managed by peer to peer web systems and require little input from IT but archiving of data and backups may need to be considered in realtion to normal business practices.
  • Communcations technology such as mobile devices and phones need to be managed
  • Technical processescarried out in the coruse of business could include the whole gambit of IT applications. Specialised knowledge might need to be aquired. For example the trouble shooting of oversize printing equipment, the configuration of complex software.

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