September 2010 Newsletter
In this months Issue:
- Server Consolidation Project Update
- School is in Session
- Vermont's Enterprise GIS Consortium - Annual Report
- Project Management Approaches
- Employee Bio - Basil Vansuch
Server Consolidation Project Update
by Dave Tucker
The server consolidation project is going full steam ahead. We are in sort of a quiet period right now as there are RFP’s out for the network, active directory and data center assessments, as well as an RFP to identify a partner to help with the analysis and implementation of the VM infrastructure that is part of the overall project. We continue to receive enthusiastic and active involvement from many of the affected departments and agencies for which we are both grateful and appreciative. This is a complicated and complex project, and the assessments will be key to determining the correct path to take in this two year project.
Those of you who have been identified as stakeholders will continue to receive periodic updates from this office. In addition, we are working on a web presence for the project, which will be launched somewhere on the DII site in the coming weeks. Once the site is available, you can expect to find the same information that is being shared with the stakeholders. So if you have an interest you can keep up with the progress of the project as it moves along.
School is in Session! Cyber Safety for Kids.
by Kris Rowley
It is the first of September. The leaves are changing color, apples are getting ripe and school is starting. Children will be in classes, using computers, both for school work and for personal use. The tween and teen age group will be Tweeting, texting, and IM’ing. These actions are also part of using a computer, even if the computer is in the form of a smart phone.
Children are spending more of their time online than ever before. According to one study, 8-18 year-olds spend an average of 1.5 hours a day using a computer outside of school (1). As use of the Internet and online technologies becomes more ingrained into our everyday lives, it is important we ensure that our youth understand how to use these powerful tools and how to protect themselves from becoming cyber victims. Children of all ages face online risks, including the following:
- Inappropriate Contact: Children may come in contact with individuals with malicious intent, such as bullies and predators.
- Inappropriate Content: Children may be exposed to inappropriate content while online, such as violent or sexually explicit material.
- Inappropriate Conduct: Children have a sense of anonymity while online and may do things that they would not do when face to face with someone.
- Identify Theft: Because of the perceived sense of anonymity online, children may post personal or identifying information that can then be used by identity thieves.
There are steps parents, educators and others who work with children can take to help keep children safe on-line:
- Computer Location: Keep your computer in a central and open location in your home.
- Supervise Access: Supervise computer access for children and monitor the types of sites visited. Consider using parental control tools on your home computer. These tools are provided by some Internet Service Providers or are available for purchase as a separate software package. You may be able to set some parental controls within your browser. As an example, in Internet Explorer click on Tools on your menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, and click the Enable button under Content Advisor. (For other browsers, contact the vendor to determine what parental controls are included.)
- Establish Rules: Create guidelines for computer use. Include the amount of time that may be spent online and the type of sites that may be visited. Post these rules near the computer.
- Personal Information: Teach children not to post or share personal information such as their photograph, address, age or activity schedule. Create a safe screen name that does not reveal personal information about the child.
- Web Filtering: Use web filtering software that restricts access to inappropriate websites and content.
- Communication: Maintain an open line of communication. Encourage children to come to you if they feel threatened online.
- Cyberbullying: Teach children not to respond to cyberbullies. Report incidents of cyberbullying to school administrators and local law enforcement when appropriate.
- Smart Phones: These powerful devices are portable computers, with Internet access. If you feel your child needs one of these devices, be sure to teach them about the above mentioned concerns for safety. The most secure way to assure your child’s safety, and also be able to communicate with them, is to purchase an inexpensive Track Phone. Internet access is not a feature on most Track Phones, but other “cool” things are, such as a camera.
For more information about protecting children online, as well as a wealth of other cyber information, go to the State of VT Information Security website at: http://itsecurity.vermont.gov/.
Notes: 1. "Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds" http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm
Vermont's GIS Information Consortium Publishes FY 2010 Annual Report
The Vermont Enterprise GIS Consortium (EGC) has published its latest annual report for FY 2010. This report documents the organization’s productive initiatives and accomplishments over the past year, detailing the EGC’s continuing efforts to foster efficient and effective use of the State’s geospatial capabilities. In FY 2010, the EGC made significant headway in a number of areas, including data access and sharing, imagery caching, and a SharePoint website.
The EGC is a voluntary consortium of state government organizations focused on effective management of State’s Enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS). The EGC has established a realistic and effective strategic plan that supports a wide range of GIS needs within state government. The Plan is an important part of the state’s ‘comprehensive strategy’ for the development and use of Vermont’s Geographic Information System. Vermont’s GIS represents a broad spectrum of geospatial activities and constituencies throughout the state of Vermont, including academic, town, regional, non-profit, state, private sector, and the general public. The Plan articulates a strategic vision for the development and use of geospatial technology by all interests within state government.
The State’s Consortium has continued to make significant strides toward advancing the “efficient use of the state’s Geographic Information Technology sources”. It has furthered this goal by improving and simplifying access to geospatial data and services, and by providing a venue where agencies can coordinate efforts. The EGC is especially proud of its Enterprise GIS Web Portal (EGC GeoPoint), and looks forward to its forthcoming release in FY 2011. The EGC anticipates that FY 2011 will be another productive year.
For a full copy of the EGC Annual Report see http://www.vcgi.org/egc/EGC_AnnualReport_FY2010_final.pdf
For more information about the Enterprise GIS Consortium, see http://www.vcgi.org/about_vcgi/default.cfm?page=./projects/egc/default_c...
Which Project Management Approach is best for “This Project?”
by Christine Hetzel, PMP
Is PMI methodology really the only project management approach that will work? Or, has it becoming antiquated in the fast paced, agile world that we live and work in? I’ll be honest; I am a veteran project manager and I LOVE PROCESS! Structure and process help me and my project teams to consistently march toward our goal of effectively completing a project on time, in scope and on budget. It’s frequently the anchor that adds focus and clarity to chaos and let’s be honest, we all live with a little more chaos than we would choose to.
When a senior leader approached me about investigating and potentially embracing more “agile” project management processes (an approach born out of software development), I was less than thrilled. By nature I am skeptical of the latest business trend or fad (having seen so many approaches come and go). Many seem to be a repackaging of what I think is common sense. But, on the other hand, I want to learn and grow and sharpen my skills. My project teams deserve my very best!
As my investigation began, imagine my surprise when I realized that I was already managing my largest project in an agile fashion! I thought we were a PMI shop? For this project, a charter was written and a schedule was developed for the entire project. The accuracy of my original schedule was laughable (or cryable, if that’s a word). A 9-month project quickly became an 18 + month project. My resources were motivated, our team met every week so communication was good, I had a detailed plan, so what happened? The barrier - this was new technology, requirements and dependencies were not clearly known in the beginning of the project, our team didn’t thoroughly understand the body of work around the implementation. Basically, it was a lot more complicated than we originally thought. Sound similar to some of your projects?
Without my realizing it, I began managing this project utilizing more iterative cycles (an agile approach known as life cycles). I discovered that "agile" isn’t only for software development - the approach is often used in a variety of projects where you have a clear goal, but the solution is not completely clear (in this case, a new technology that the team was learning on the fly). This is the process we actually followed:
- We developed our plan, built the infrastructure, configured the application and tested
- Based upon what we had learned, we developed our plan and deployed the application group by group within our department
- Based upon what we had learned, we developed our plan and deployed the application to the first outside department
- Based upon what we had learned, we developed our plan and deployed the application to the next department
- And so on and so on……
Graphic from Cutter Consortium – used with permission
In the adaptive/agile models, you plan a “cycle or iteration”, build it or deploy it, and then based upon what you have learned you plan the next cycle. Your plan stays closer to the immediate work that needs to be done. Some new research suggests that more than 30% of technology projects are being managed utilizing agile methods. PMI now offers agile training. The method is taking hold and finding its place as a valid project management method.
So, after this experience am I ready to throw all traditional project management out the window? Absolutely not - it’s an industry standard that has proven itself over time. What I am interested in is having a larger tool kit, in which different projects may require me to have different tools. Basically, I want to be “agile” and adapt to the needs of my project and my team. I may not have the personality that jumps onto every band wagon, but I don’t want to become archaic either. The ability to leverage new tools and maintain some balance will be my goal.
As we quickly approach the completion of 2010 and enter into 2011, our Enterprise Project Management Office will be looking for fresh opportunities to learn more about the benefits of agile and how we can continue to sharpen our project management tools. We have no shortage of projects to try out these new tools. As always, I’ll be sharing our experiences along the way.
Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent. - Nolan Ryan (former major league baseball pitcher and part owner/team president of the Texas Rangers)
Employee Bio - Basil Vansuch
by Peter Jaquith
We spice things up a bit in this edition of the DII newsletter employee BIOs. Our featured employee this month is a former EMT and bar tender (ummm…not at the same time). At one time he had secret security clearance with the DoD and ran for Burlington City Council. Care to read on??? Well, we are pleased to introduce you to one of DII’s newest employees…Basil Vansuch.
Basil has been a great addition to the DII Desktop Solutions group as an Information Technology Specialist. Here is what Basil’s manager says regarding his addition to the team - “In the short time he has been here, in addition to quickly coming up to speed on operations, he has been assigned to work on the AD migration project. He is very customer friendly, and is a great troubleshooter. We are extremely lucky to have Basil as part of our team.”
Basil began working for State Government just four months ago, but brings eight years of IT experience to DII, having previously worked in the hospitality technology sector. He spent his collegiate years studying in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. There he attended Bloomsburg University, Northampton Community College and East Stroudsburg University while studying Biology, Pre-Med and Physical Therapy. Hmmm…how did he get into IT? Read on.
Basil resides a commute and-a-half away from Montpelier due northwest, in Burlington. He lives there with his wife Kate and their three children, Isabelle (10), Leo (6) and Clara, who is a toddling 2.
When asked about his interests and hobbies Basil states, “I enjoy canoeing, hiking, golf, soccer, doing various home repairs (aka family handyman) and watching the Red Sox. I’m such a devoted fan, I now have a tatoo with the Red Sox logo! I am a member of the Burlington Ward 5 Neighborhood Planning Assembly Steering Committee and I ran for Burlington's City Council, back in 2007. I like to act older than I really am. By that I mean saying things like ‘you kids today and your hip hop music…’ I love to eat spanikopita and usually listen to NPR radio. Oh, and here’s something unique . . . I have broken 9 of my toes and 8 of my fingers since I was a child. Still working on the remaining 3! :-) ”
So Basil, how did you get from Pre-Med and PT into IT? “It was almost by chance that I ‘got into’ computers. I was an EMT in Pennsylvania, Georgia and South Carolina and seemed to be on the medical field career path. I always "tinkered" with computers growing up and a friend in my college dorm was a Computer Science major that really got me interested in computers. When we moved to Fairbanks, AK, my first job there was as a bartender when I applied for a computer specialist job. Then my computer-related career launched from there when I was hired. A kind of proud moment was when I was granted Secret clearance by the DoD during my federal employment. In case you're wondering why we were in Alaska, my wife Kate was a nurse in the Army and we were stationed at Ft. Wainwright in Alaska. It was there that she was promoted to Captain. She currently works as a nurse at the Vermont Respite House.”
Hey Basil! We look forward to seeing you thrive in your new role here within DII. We hope this is just the beginning of a long career in State Government for you. Thanks for your continued work here to keep the Desktop Solutions group moving ahead to enhance the services provided by DII!