CHRISTMAS BREAK Go on... Take a break over Christmas and get a game. Sure, you can justify it as a gift for the kids. You may even let them know you bought it for them if you want someone to play with. And don’t forget to book the office laptop over the Christmas holidays (to get that big report done, of course) so that you can play as you travel.
Stories by Nygllhuw Morris
In my CIO August column I wrote about my frustration when dealing with Domainz.
Every day my team sets sail on the waters of free enterprise and gets out there to sell, design and host websites. We create sites of all sizes, styles and purposes, yet each member of the team has their own way of creating the final output.
Basically we use two site management packages — FrontPage and Dreamweaver. FrontPage is generally used for clients who will self-manage the site later, while Dreamweaver is the internal tool of choice.
However, each person does design quite differently. For example, Kiwiwebs’ director of webs, Jason, relies mainly on Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash. In fact, the Macromedia studio on his PC is his primary tool. He rarely uses a Mac as the joke is they freeze and crash as he walks towards them.
However, I tend to work solely on a Mac, using Photoshop for initial design, ImageReady to transform and optimise, and then I code in either PageMill, SiteMill or Dreamweaver. I rarely use Flash or Fireworks and would have trouble remembering any of their commands.
Our latest addition to the team is a graphic artist, currently finishing his degree in fine arts, specialising in Maori design at Massey. Isiaha, while not hired for web design, tends to create all graphics by hand and then scan them in as images. He then creates pages by coding in Notepad. Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than going back and doing code all by hand.
When it comes to choice of software, Isiaha tends to use Microsoft packages on a PC as they are all he has had available in the past.
Steve, another web designer finishing his degree in graphic design at Wanganui, uses a PC or Mac depending on which is in the room and seems fluent in most packages. He is also a dab hand at picking up a working knowledge in any package within a few minutes (which can be immensely annoying, if only because I can’t do likewise).
Of course, these are just a few of the html design packages out there. And while these reflect our individual preferences, we get all sorts of people bringing in things they have done. So it helps if, between them, the team has a working knowledge of other html editors. These include Corel Web.Designer (yuck!), Hot Dog, HoTMetaL and LiquidFX. This said, often we just wait till customers walk out the door and go back to what we know best. Once it is up it all looks the same.
However, as well as the plethora of html editors, we also need to be up to speed on the other usual bits and pieces common to design nowadays. These include ASP, PHP, JAVA, SQL, Access, Final Cut Pro, Quicktime, Cold Fusion (under protest!), Perl, C++ and a swag of other bits and pieces too numerous to mention.
So where is all this absolutely useless trivia taking us and what does this have to do with sailing, Jolly Rogers and, by association, pirates?
In most cases I own a copy of the software I have listed above. If asked, I would have said I owned up-to-date copies of all the packages listed. In fact, I would have happily stood there, hand on my heart and sworn an oath that this was the case. I would have been lying, but I would have stood there and lied anyway.
Honestly, I would have thought that I was 95% clean, with one or two minor exceptions. I know I own around $30,000 worth of software because my depreciation schedule says so.
However, Kiwiwebs has just moved into newer, larger offices (again) and has been trying to set up workstations and systems that we can all use when we are in the office.
Now, trying to set up computers to be suitable for everyone — even for a small firm like mine — is a pain. If anything, it just makes me restless for the days when I could just create policies saying what software could be used, regardless of cost, opinions and usually commonsense, too.
Unfortunately, my team, being the creative free-thinking individuals that they are (what I really mean is stroppy, self-opinionated smegheads), would never live with this. So instead, I have a multitude of software packages to buy, update or pirate. And it was this word pirate that had me worried. Rather than just dump the old machines on desks, we have a number of new machines, with old gear being used either as home machines or just dumped.
Now, I was aware that I had fallen behind in versions of some packages. I was also aware I was running some software that I didn’t technically own — “technically own” being business slang for never purchased a copy, but use it anyway after stealing it from someone else.
It is really easy to fall into this trap, too. Over time we have acquired upgrades or packages. Usually these were either downloads off the web, or where we have loaded clients’ software to allow a job to be done. Both activities are illegal under the licence agreements, no matter how I try to twist the wording.
In some cases we have software loaded on multiple machines, which I am also prepared to admit is just as much breaking the rules as pirating a single copy. In most cases this multiple load issue is not a problem for us as the network allows only one copy to be in use at a time. Good examples of this are Pagemaker, Quark and Photoshop. In each of these cases, if the program is already open, it brings up a message if a second person opens it, saying it is in use. Then it quits. That person can see who is using it and if it can be freed up. I own two copies of Photoshop for the Mac, and with three Macs on the network, this isn’t normally a problem for me. I haven’t bothered to ask if it is a problem for Adobe — no doubt they will let me know if they read this.
In other circumstances we have software loaded on multiple machines that came bundled with hardware. For example, our Canon USB scanner came with OCR software. However, rather than set up one machine we have it on two machines (a Mac and a PC) and swap the scanner between them as required. This suits us and I personally don’t think it infringes the software agreement.
So after all the work of setting up, I find I need a copy of Photoshop, a complete Macromedia Studio package, two copies of Microsoft Office (just Word and Excel, really) and probably Quark Xpress. So suddenly I am up for probably around another $5000 to $8000 worth of software I hadn’t planned on. If my business had been twice the size it is, this bill could have been three to four times the cost.
It is amazing how quickly you can find yourself in this predicament and it is also understandable why software companies are jumping up and down about missing out on sales.
I guess the moral of all this is a recommendation to ensure your software policies and software register are up to date. While I haven’t been raided by the software police yet, I do believe in a software company’s right to expect me to pay for what I use — especially if I am making money out of it.
Now, as a small entity, it was relatively easy for me to check all this out.
However, we were recently doing some installs for a larger organisation. With more than 25 machines over two locations, it was interesting to see this business had almost no software to load and the locked software safe (a small unlocked cabinet) was full of old boxes but almost completely empty of actual CDs and manuals.
One of the things the business had lost was its single copy of Microsoft Office. The fact that I had more copies of Office sitting in my tool kit than they owned brought home just why statistics indicate that fewer than one in 40 copies of any Microsoft package in use are legitimate. The statistics I was reading also indicated that fewer than one in 90 copies of most Microsoft system software are legitimate.
I don’t know Microsoft’s official estimates on piracy, but if these are anywhere near close it goes a long way to explain why the company gets so stroppy on the subject.
So before the software police come banging on your door, just check that any licensing systems you have in place are still working.
To finish, though, I did find it amusing that while the process of setting up the office has caused heartache over software, parking spaces, coffee facilities, phone lines and all the other usual things, surprisingly the issue that has caused the most argument was chairs. After super-heated debate, total refusals, threatened terminations and lively wrestling it was finally agreed that we all go out and buy our own chairs in the style and comfort of our choice. And (and it is a big and) no one is permitted to adjust the settings of other workers’ chairs without permission.
So now that we have the new software loaded and we have nice chairs to sit in we are ready once again to go and pillage a few more websites.
Nygllhuw Morris can be found at email@example.com.
If I were a cynical person, I would be convinced that Domainz must have someone new working for them. What is worse, my warped, overly sensitive paranoia makes me think they are out to get poor little users like me.
I wouldn’t know who my new mystery opponent is, but he could be watching me. I wouldn’t know what he looks like but I could describe things about him. Whoever this person is — I don’t like him …
As of last night my official title is now The Right Honourable Sir Doctor Nygllhuw Morris, OBE, MBE, QSM, BSC and MBA. Of course I don’t expect friends to use my full title — just plain simple Sir Nigel will do.
My little cutie pie, Jadzia, is now Professor Jadzia with major degrees in Mongolian Pottery of the 6th Century, Contemporary Doodles and Post Modern Origami.