Terian Blog details have moved

Oooops, this post has been on my list of things to do for a couple months. Alas as a completionist and wanting to ensure I move the Trello card for this task to the ‘Done’ column here is this post, albeit possibly a bit too late.

Anyways, after years of posting Terian related posts on this blog, earlier this year I moved them all to a separate blog terian.blog. The intention was that it would then make this personal blog less cluttered so we could see additional posts regarding the actual journey from Code to Sales.

This was good in theory however as you can see I haven’t posted much here unrelated to Terian in the past three years.

The good news is that anyone wanting to keep up to date on Terian now has a one stop shop and it’s even linked from the main Terian website

Well with this tidied up a bit, hopefully it’s not too long until the next update.

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ITx 2018 – The Countdown is on

ITx 2018 July 11-13, 2018

What is it you ask?

ITx 2018 is a collaboration of twelve tech-focused conferences and runs every 2 years. ITx is the premier tech conference in New Zealand and attracts the absolute best innovators, leaders and experts in our sector.

ITx is where New Zealand’s digital technology sector comes together. Running at the TSB Bank Arena complex, right in the heart of Wellington, this conference will attract delegates from right across New Zealand and in some cases, the world.

ITx focuses on innovation, technology and education and brings IT professionals, decision-makers, leaders and academics together under one roof. This is where industry, academia and government come together to network, learn and engage.

What does it mean to me?

Okay, so there you have the official word on what it is, but what does it mean to me? Two things, opportunity and learning.

Opportunity:

It is not only the opportunity to hear from fantastic speakers from all around New Zealand (and further afield), but there is the fantastic opportunity to meet other IT Professionals and listen to them talk about their own disciplines.

With 12 organisations collaborating on the conference the programme is impressive to say the least. It’s great being able to step outside my usual area of work and attend streams put on by the other organisations, where as I wouldn’t necessarily attend a standalone conference from these other organisations, its great to have the opportunity to check out what they have to offer.

If you were fortunate enough to attend ITx 2016 I’m sure you’ll agree that the caliber of not only the speakers and presentations was extremely high but the caliber of attendees was impressive in itself. The networking opportunities are invaluable and depending how you work a room, can lead to some fantastic relationships.

For myself networking can be a bit challenging, as being slightly introverted it can easily fall outside my comfort zone (usually I will be to the side listening and watching everyone and taking everything in) to push forward and introduce myself to new people, however where I have done this in the past it has been fantastic to learn more about the people I meet.

Learning:

Many of the speakers provide fantastic insights into their subject, and this is a great learning experience, especially when you join presentations from some of the organisations outside your usual forte. While a 45 minute presentation will not give you an in-depth look at any topic, it will open the door and potentially spark your interest to follow up for further learning. I must admit I’m a bit of a sponge when it comes to learning new things, and love soaking it all up, unfortunately I’m not always able to retain everything.

ITx 2018 Master Class Speakers
(Colin Ellis, Greg Sanker, Doug Kim, Rob England, Dr Cherry Vu, Julie Mohr)

This year ITx 2018 enhances on this by providing several masterclass workshops which are a steal ($495 +gst) when comparing the costs to how much you would normally expect to pay to see these speakers. However if the workshops are beyond your budget (let’s be honest, attending conferences can be an expensive exercise not just in monetary terms, but also in time) the good news is a few of these speakers are also keynote speakers.

ITx 2018 Excellence in IT Awards:

ITx 2018 Excellence in IT Awards

In addition to the conference, the event also showcases excellence in IT with the NZ Excellence in IT Awards Gala Dinner on the Thursday night. These awards offer sector-wide recognition of individuals and teams who have truly excelled in our industry. While other awards focus on companies and vendors, these focus on and celebrate the people involved.

Check out that setup from 2016, a massive 26x6m screen offered a fantastic backdrop to the awards evening, with some fantastic entertainment ranging from acrobatics, dragon dancers, comedian MCs to great table banter. Needless to say the queue for coffee the following morning was more sustained than the previous couple of days.

3 Days too long, try 2, or even 1:

As mentioned earlier, attending conferences can be an expensive exercise, not just the cost of admission but the time away from the office also has to be taken into consideration. To help with that one and two day passes are available and with a fantastic programme spread across all three days I’m sure there will be opportunities for everyone, even if it is only for one or two days.

It’s going to be fantastic:

Based on the success of ITx 2016 and looking at the programme and speakers attending, ITx 2018 is going to be a fantastic conference with huge opportunities for networking and learning. With only a few weeks to go I recommend anyone in the IT industry that hasn’t already registered should consider attending even if just for one day.

Hopefully I will see a few of you there.

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Hardware clean-out finds some gems from the 90s

In the process of tidying up some our storage locker, i came across a box of old hardware that we used over 20 years ago. Once this box was uncovered the tidying up process certainly slowed as nostalgia set in.

AMD 486 DX2-80:

AMD 486 DX-2 80mhz Motherboard

One of the early motherboards we used, the impressive part of which was the AMD 486 DX2-80 mhz CPU. Now i recall this CPU being an absolute beast, at the time when Intel held the crown in the 486 arena with the 486DX2 66mhz. I recall the AMD chip being price competitive with the Intel 486DX2 66, so quite often it was a no brainer, plus you had the bragging rights of running at 40mhz externally.

Socket 3 Motherboard:

Asus Socket 3 Motherboard

Socket 3 motherboards often brought with them the mix of RAM sockets with the newer 72pin modules starting to become popular. Also the VLB slots were often filled with a video card and IDE Controller board.

I recall the power connectors on these, being split you had to ensure you always had the correct colour in the middle else you’d be met with an unfortunate surpise on power on.

VESA Local Bus (VLB):

VLB Video Cards

VLB Video cards were a regular feature, the 1mb Cirrus Logic, and 2mb Diamond Stealth (S3 Trio 64) cards displayed here were used quite a bit in our systems. I personally had a preference for the Diamond Stealth Cards, however they were the high-end line and usually more expensive than the likes of the Cirrus Logic card.

Intel Smart Video Recorder:

Intel Smart Video Recorder

Featuring a 64-bit 25/50-MHz i750 RISC engine, the Smart Video Record was one of the early capture boards we utilised. We were able to capture up to 30fps at 320×240, with our early systems utilising the Video for Windows (VFW) framework. This board was stayed in our production systems for a number of years, only replaced by cheaper alternatives as additional systems were required.

Backup on 5 1/4″ Floppy:

5 1/4" Floppy Disk

It will be interesting to see if these disks actually still read, but it is interesting to think how we were able to take entire backups on a couple 5 1/4″ disks.

Finding this old equipment has mad me wish i hadn’t discarded a large amount of equipment over the years, as looking back at it after 20 years makes me want to see if it all still works. Alas with the amount of system upgrades we have gone through over the pas 20 years there would have been a considerable amount of ‘junk’ priceless gems to store.

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Code Signing Migration from SHA-1 to SHA256

Effective January 1, 2016, Windows (version 7 and higher) and Windows Server will no longer trust new code that is signed with a SHA-1 code signing certificate for Mark-of-the-Web related scenarios (e.g. files containing a digital signature) and that has been time-stamped with a value greater than January 1, 2016. This cut-off date applies to the code-signing certificate itself.

What this means:

Any new distribution of our products (i.e. Terian ICP, Terian IDC) that are code signed and time stamped from 01/Jan/2016 onwards will no longer appear as coming from a verified publisher, i.e. like this…

TerianICP_Install_UAC_Signed

SHA256 Certificate:

Fortunately GoDaddy provides both SHA-1, and SHA256 code signing certificates. So newer versions of Windows can be supported with the new SHA256 certificate ensuring our applications still appear to be from a verified published.

Dual Certificate Code Signing:

To ensure we maintain backward compatibility with older versions of windows all new distributions will be code signed with both the SHA-1, and SHA256 certificates, like this…

Terian ICP Properties Dialog displaying SHA1, and SHA256 Digital Signatures

SHA-1 Deprecation:

Once SHA-1 has been fully deprecated we will most likely transition to only signing our code with the SHA256 certificate. Hopefully by this time our requirement to ensure 100% support on older systems will be reduced.

More information regarding Windows Enforcement of authenticode Code Signing can be found here

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Website Overhaul Complete

It is done, the much needed overhaul of www.sjones.co.nz is complete.

The 2016 Home page:

Sjones Home Page_2016

WordPress:

The new website uses the WordPress platform, which I have slowly been getting more exposure to over the past 9 months or so. To help speed things up, I’ve simply customized a template that was purchased from template monster. The idea was that customizing a template would save time, and I would gain more experience with WordPress.

A Template to Save Time and gain more experience:

Well one of those two was correct. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the content ready so much of the content was created during this process, or at least copy ‘n’ pasted from the old site and sliced/diced to fit, and this process seemed to be quite time consuming. At least valuable experience was gained, with a few more things learned regarding WordPress.

WordPress – An intriguing beast:

Some people like it, others hate it, a few of the developers at work have a distinct distaste for WordPress. However, considering WordPress reportedly runs 25% of all Websites in the World the carrot is far too large to ignore.

At this stage I’ve had a small amount of experience with WordPress and design sites from scratch or using templates, however my plan is to extend my knowledge in this domain. The next step is to learn how to create my own templates, plugins, themes and have a more in-depth understanding of the WordPress platform.

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New Logo for Sjones Limited

As part of the website overhaul a new logo has been created for Sjones Limited…

Sjones Logo - Horizontal

Emblem for the Win:

In the past the Sjones logo did not include an emblem, and I found it was not as easily identifiable. This became quite apparent when it was placed in printed media, so for quite some time I had been thinking about some form of emblem to associate with the text.

After considerable time spent on design and logo websites not finding exactly what I wanted, Adobe Illustrator was fired up and the painful process of logo creation began. This process was made even more painful by having to stop every 5 minutes to watch YouTube videos on how to use Illustrator. However there is good news, I now know how to create triangles, circles, curvy lines and even unite objects (That’s CV material right there 😉 ).

Flexibility:

Another issue to consider was the flexibility of the logo, sometimes a horizontal logo does not work as well, and a vertical logo is required. Fortunately the design is simple enough to provide this flexibility while still remaining identifiable.

Sjones Logo - Vertical

A secondary requirement for the logo was that it had to be usable when embroided or screen printed on the likes of polos, caps and even flags

Next Step:

The next step is to update my business cards, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

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WebSite overhaul in the works

It might be a bit of an understatement, but my website www.sjones.co.nz is certainly in need of a complete redesign and overhaul.

The 2015 home page:

Sjones Home Page 2015

The 2007 home page:

Sjones Home Page 2007

Complete Overhaul in the works:

As can be seen, not much had changed in 8 years. It has served it’s purpose well, however with far more web design experience under my belt I’ve decided it is time for a complete overhaul.

The new website will use the WordPress platform, and I am currently in the process of customizing a theme (which is quite time consuming when you have minimal content to start with). Unfortunately with multiple jobs on the go at the moment, this project hasn’t been given a high priority, so hopefully it will get some attention in the coming weeks/months/hopefully not years.

Wish me luck.

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 810 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Conclusion:  I’ve been bad, and need to be posting more content more often. 😦  Will see if i can improve upon this in 2016 (shouldn’t be too hard, as i haven’t exactly set the bar very high)

 

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Kaikorai Cricket Club Sponsorship

Sjones Limited is a proud sponsor of the Kaikorai Cricket Club.

20151011 - KCC Seniors

So far in the 2015-2016 Season the Senior team (pictured above) is leading the competition with 2 wins from 2 matches. Earlier today they demolished their opposition to join the Green Island Cricket Club as the only unbeaten teams after two rounds.

2015-10-11_00-52-31

Top of the table clash is next weekend, but hopefully the remainder of the season continues favorably for them.

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Outside the Square Usage

Last weekend (11-13th Sept) Terian ID Creator was utilised to help assist with pack distribution for the 2015 Dunedin Cadbury Marathon.

Dunedin Cadbury Marathon Runners

Not a single ID Card printed:

However the system was utilised to quickly identify participants and then print off a label that was attached to their race pack. Of some 1700 participants in the marathon over 800 were issued their race pack in conjunction with a record lookup from Terian IDC.

Representatives from the Dunedin Cadbury Marathon committee were quite impressed with the benefits provided by the system, and appreciated the improved efficiency during the pack distribution process.

Multiple Applications:

Another example of outside the square usage is how a local Cricket Club (Kaikorai Cricket) utilises Terian IDC to print address labels for sending out annual reports to its members.

It is great to see Terian IDC used outside the normal scope of ID Cards, as these type of scenarios help demonstrate the power and flexibility of the system.

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