Category Archives: Technology
For the sake of completeness we would like to present a balanced argument regarding the use of Carnivore. We therefore feature the following video which argues against the use of Carnivore.
This material is republished despite the fact it is clear the author shows a lack of understanding about the fundamentals of the system and about the potential benefits of its use. We invite you to make up your own minds, however please watch the NANOG video as well.
There are many business people who are faced with making a very important decision that will affect their companies for years to come. Should one choose off-the-shelf software like Microsoft Office, Intuit Quickbooks or an industry specific canned package for running the company? Or would it be better to have a customized software solution built from the ground up? This is a very real challenge for management, because it can affect how efficiently the business can handle its day-to-day operations.
In general, off-the-shelf software is very good for a company as long as it’s for dealing with general business chores such as bookkeeping, customers, contacts, inventory, etc. If it’s something that is very narrow and industry specific, then a customized solution will usually be the better choice. This is because the custom program will generally do a much better job of economizing time and labor in comparison to what a canned software package will likely do for the specialized process at hand.
Using myself as an example, I have made a number of custom software solutions for small and medium size companies in my local area. While I can design software for most any industry per the customer’s guidelines, I have typically done it for “manufacturing businesses”. Industrial companies are typically running very specialized processes to facilitate what they do. I have made customized programming solutions such as these:
I made a job card program for an electroplating job shop. This is basically a “recipe rolodex” for a large number of electroplating processes. It details what part numbers are involved, type of metal used to plate as well as the various steps involved along with their corresponding times.
I also created software for a tool and die shop that scanned a lengthy text file. This file detailed the physical layout for a 2 dimensional side view of a piece of metal with circles and arcs in it. My program automatically removed the concentric arcs and circles from the text file that the CAD/CAM software they were using wouldn’t get out. This saved them enormous amounts of time and work.
I have worked for an industrial pattern shop for a long time. I created a job costing application that costs out pattern making jobs using labor, purchases and special materials from their data tables. This collective data is then “black boxed” through their proprietary job costing formula in their customized software. They can see how much money they are either making or losing on each job. In addition to all the time and work saved, this gives management a close up look at what is really happening in the business.
These are just a few examples from my own experience that make the case for customized software. Trying to replicate the efficiency in the above mentioned examples with canned software would create so much hassle and wasted time that it wouldn’t even be worth it. Doing all the work by hand with pen and paper would be a nightmare to be sure. But it wouldn’t be much worse than trying to do it with off-the-shelf software that isn’t really made to cater to a highly specialized process that is occurring multiple times throughout the day in a fast paced business environment.