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Posts Tagged ‘SYSTEM MISCONCEPTIONS’

FEBRUARY: BUSY HOLIDAY MONTH

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 2, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– For a short month, we stay rather busy.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Even as a child, I always had a fondness for the month of February. It always seemed like the quirkiest month of the year. Maybe it is because it is the shortest month, or perhaps the first “R” in February is commonly pronounced silently. While seven other months have an extra day (31 in total), February was somehow shortchanged by two. Then there is the matter of Leap Year, which occurs every four years, whereby February picks up a day, yet is still less than all the other months. Imagine if your birthday was on February 29th, does this mean you only celebrate it every four years? One benefit would be your age would only be a quarter of what it is now, which would make me a teenager.

Other than the peculiarities of the calendar, February has some interesting days to celebrate:

Groundhog Day – this was my first indication that adults were truly mad. Why anyone would take their weather advice from a marmot was beyond me. The idea of the arrival of Spring was dictated by a groundhog is a bit much, even for a five year old. Yet, Americans seem to relish this day every February 2nd.

Super Sunday – for years, the Super Bowl was played early in January, shortly after all the college bowl games. Thanks to greedy owners though, the NFL championship kept getting pushed back until it finally settled on the first Sunday in February. This was probably done to give the players a couple weeks of rest until the next season begins. As an aside, I am old enough to remember the first Super Bowl in 1967 between Green Bay and Kansas City. As a fan of the old AFL at the time, I was disappointed until 1969 when Joe Namath and the NY Jets proved the viability of the league.

Valentine’s Day – this too was an odd holiday for youngsters to learn. I can remember dutifully making Valentine cards in elementary school and having to exchange them with the girls in the class. I prayed they wouldn’t get the wrong idea; after all, they had “cooties.” Other than that, this holiday reminds me of the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 when Al Capone’s gang “rubbed out” Bugs Moran’s gang in Chicago. I found it interesting how they couldn’t pin the assassination on Capone. The police disguises were also a nice touch.

President’s Day – is celebrated on the third Monday of the month and observes the birth of George Washington (Feb 22nd) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12th). This was an important date in grade school as it was used to teach us the significance of both presidents. As young children, we learned about Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree, crossing the Delaware River, surviving Valley Forge, and becoming the “Father of our Country.” As for Lincoln, we learned he was an avid reader, a rail splitter, the President during the Civil War, and his assassination. We also learned the importance of his “Gettysburg Address.” Some of these lessons may seem rather shallow, but we probably learned more about these men than most of the kids in high school today. Historians today question the cherry tree story, but it served as an effective lesson in morality.

For a short month, we sure stay busy! In addition to the days listed herein, I have family members with birthdays and my wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary; I only wish I had been smart enough to have married on the 29th. I would then have to wait until next year to celebrate it (Leap Year).

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  A PLEDGE TO DENOUNCE TERRORISM – Who is ready to sign the pledge? I know I am.

LAST TIME:  SYSTEM MISCONCEPTIONS  – Is an information system the same thing as a program or “app”?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

SYSTEM MISCONCEPTIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 30, 2015

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Is an information system the same thing as a program or “app”?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I’ve been writing about Information Systems for over three decades, mostly to I.S. professionals, and I’ve spent in inordinate amount of time trying to clarify our terminology and concepts, as well as dispel basic misconceptions about systems. For example, there are those who believe an Information System is a computer. Sorry but, No, that is a piece of equipment, a tool used within a system. Then there are those who think it is a computer program or collection of programs like what you find on an iPhone. As an aside, the word “app” (for “application”) is indicative of the sloppy thinking in the industry; an “application” of what? No, let’s call a spade, a spade; they’re not “apps,” they’re “programs,” but I digress.

Perhaps the biggest misconception regarding Information Systems is that you cannot have one without a computer. Sorry, but this is simply not so. The day a company goes into business, large or small, is the day when its Information Systems are born. For example, companies need to routinely manage their finances, pay employees, manufacture products, process customer orders, manage assets and inventory, schedule deliveries, etc. This has been going on well before the advent of the computer. The only difference is systems were implemented by manual processes as opposed to computer automation.

Perhaps the best way to think of an Information System is as an orderly arrangement or grouping of processes dedicated to producing information to support the actions and decisions of a business. Hundreds of years ago, systems were implemented using logs, journals, ledgers, spreadsheets, and filing cabinets. Over time, equipment was introduced in the form of such things as cash registers, typewriters, adding machines, and tabulating equipment, all of which eventually gave way to the computer. Incidentally, there are many manual processes still in our companies serving critical business functions, much more than you might think, most of which are not properly documented.

When I teach a basic class in this subject, I ask the students to design a totally manual system just to overcome the handicap of thinking only in terms of computers. For those imbued in programming, this exercise represents an epiphany and teaches them to think outside the box. Suddenly they realize writing a program is only a small part of a much larger puzzle.

The reason people have trouble understanding the difference between systems and programs is actually quite simple; a program is much more tangible than a system. You can touch and feel a program, particularly its screens, reports and source code; but a system is much less tangible as you are talking about several business processes that operate routinely, and are implemented by people and technology that will come and go over time.

This brings up an interesting point, the basic business processes of a system (aka “sub-systems”) are logical in nature and only change when information requirements change. They are implemented by manual procedures and computer programs that are physical in nature and change dynamically as technology changes, but the business process remains essentially the same. Consider this, for any company who has been implementing payroll for a number of years; Has the process of paying your employees really changed or was it the method of its implementation? If, years ago, you paid your employees on a weekly or monthly basis, you are probably still doing so. The only thing that has changed is physically how you have been doing it. Whereas you may have started out preparing payroll manually years ago, this was probably replaced by a commercial package to do the same thing, which has probably been updated or replaced several times; but your employees are still paid weekly or monthly aren’t they?

Next time someone promises you a womb to the tomb Information System on a computer, remind them that the first on-line, real-time, interactive, data base system was double-entry bookkeeping which was developed by the merchants of Venice in 1200 A.D. …. and there wasn’t a computer within miles of it.

FIRST PUBLISHED: 12/08/2009

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  FEBRUARY: BUSY HOLIDAY MONTH – For a short month, we stay rather busy.

LAST TIME:  THE MASONIC ROLE IN AMERICAN HISTORY  – How Masonry affected America.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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