Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: Durham rolls out PeopleSoft 8.8 for finance operations (June 17)

It was nice to see the correction in the text for the “”Region of Durham.”” The town of Durham, Ont., existed for

more than 100 years (incorporated 1872) when our friends near Toronto decided it was such a nice name that they would copy it. Of course confusion reigned. It was amusing in the early days to get cheques made out to “”Durham”” for large sums of money, when they were supposed to be forwarded to the “”Regional Municipality of Durham”” or shortened to “”Region of Durham.”” Why would I care? Since I grew up in that little original town of Durham of 2,500 people, and your article was about IT finance, this anecdote of history, and government, not thinking to do a simple name search, came to mind. Thanks.

Barry Pratt
Nortel Networks

Re: Chambers opens up (June 17)

Cisco’s Chambers seems to have fallen out of love with e-learning, after proclaiming a few years back that e-learning would make “”e-mail look like a rounding error.”” Since Cisco’s experience is not consistent with results in many other companies, maybe what this shows is that companies (even big ones like Cisco) should stick to their knitting and outsource those things that are not their core competence.

Of course, there is always the alternate possibility that the material was so good that people learned what they needed to know to do their job in 15 minutes. Defining success as everyone wanting and having to spend 40 hours learning on the computer seems like an inappropriate definition of success. Now, 23 per cent improvement in productivity? That sounds like a success measure to me.

Unfortunately, your article will be used by the naysayers to justify inefficient “”training-as-usual,”” where the definition of success is too often that people put in their 40 hours of classroom time and only dozed off occasionally.

Dr. Bob Abell, President
Automated Learning Corp.
Kanata, Ont.

Re: RBC’s glitch: The post-mortem (June 10)

I know nothing of how this glitch came to be but would like to raise a question. Were the RBC’s programming/IT staff directed to effect this update in an unreasonable timeframe? I am aware that many such workers are under terrific pressure to produce, that these pressures mount annually, and that unbounded pressure leads to fracture in any system.

If the above speculation is anywhere near the truth, I question the wisdom of an “”employee dismissal”” knee jerk response. Dismissal is a reasonable solution to repeated demonstrations of incompetence or an unwillingness to learn, but not if the workers were pressured to accept unreasonable terms.

If this is what happened, attention should centre on the whip-crackers. Otherwise, the problem remains the inheritance of future scapegoats.

Whether the glitch was caused by humans, software or both is not that relevant; that it reached RBC’s customers is. I acknowledge an unconscionable degree of speculation on my part, but this event really does sound rushed.

Stan Nowak

Re: Ontario school system gives StarOffice a shot (May 27)

The problem I encountered with Open Office, the free version of Star Office was basic formatting differences between it and MS Office. Last year I had four contracts — all multiple pages — in length to review with legal advisers who originated them in MS Office, I also have MS Office and used that in response.

Out of curiosity, I decided to view the contracts in the latest version of Open Office which I had tried a couple of years previously and noted poor interoperability with the MS Office suite.

In all cases, each contract loaded into Open Office was reformatted resulting in them being longer than the MS Office version, sometimes a page and a half to two pages longer.

When I saw my lawyer at the gym I mentioned this fact to him. He told me in a case where two copies of a contract held by two parties are not the same — i.e. the number of pages in the documents differ — the two documents must be read side by side by relevant legal advisers from one or both parties to ensure the wording is identical.

The first punch line is that a six-page contract would take approx an hour to read in this manner and as he charges $250 an hour, that would be the cost for one contract.

It also raises the interesting question that when teachers set assignments for students, do they have to say, “”Maximum four pages if done in Ms Office and 6.5 if done in Star/Open Office””?

Mark Ashford

Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and company name along with an e-mail address or other contact information. All letters become the property of Editors reserve the right to edit submissions for length and content.

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