New FamilySearch Project Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Wednesday, 07 May 2008
FamilySearch has announced an exciting project that will make millions of historical British military records easily accessible on the Internet—a boon for those with British ancestry.

This is a three-year project utilizing the combined efforts of the U.K. family history Web site, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, and FamilySearch. The trio will work together to digitize and index nine million images from the War Office’s Royal Hospital Chelsea Soldiers’ Service documents dating from 1760 and Militia Attestation Papers documents from 1870 through 1913.

These are very rich documents. Many of the 20th-century records of merchant seamen include portraits, personal details, and summaries of the voyages. They also include people of many nationalities and women’s service records. Many of the War Office’s Royal Hospital Chelsea Solders’ Service documents include information about service history, physical appearance, personal conduct, previous occupations, family details, and sometimes even a reason for discharge.

Know Your Customer: Cultural Intelligence and Quality Print E-mail
Written by Jayson Christianson   
Monday, 12 May 2008

We have all heard the stereotypes: Computer guys are hard to deal with. They speak another language, they have no patience for those who cannot understand as quickly as they can, and they have little ability to effectively communicate what is wrong with the way someone is using the computer or software.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, however you choose to look at it), most of the time we computer folk do not create software for our own kind. We create software for everyone else. This cultural clash can result in a disconnect between the development team and the people for whom the software is built: the customer.

Who Tested This Thing? Print E-mail
Written by Lorin Romrell   
Thursday, 15 May 2008

“Who tested this thing?” is a question we hope the customer never needs to ask. Software should just work, without explanations and without workarounds. In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the bride’s father carried around a bottle of Windex, which he claimed was the cure for all kinds of physical ailments in addition to being a great cleanser. When presented with a problem, he would say: “Just spray some Windex on it!” There are some in our industry who share this notion when it comes to testing software. It’s all too easy to just focus getting a project “completed” and then “spray on some quality” at the end. I’ve never seen a good outcome from this approach. The results are very painful for the customer and breach the very trust we are striving to build.

It’s been great to be a part of the evolution of Quality Assurance in ICS. In the past, our numbers were so small that we only “sprayed a little QA on” before projects went to the customer. We realized we needed to grow to be successful. This growth happened very rapidly and often miraculously, but the results have been excellent. We have been careful in how we scrutinized potential candidates for both the best skills and the best team fit.

The Customers' Customer Print E-mail
Written by David Skidmore   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Since joining the ICS team here at the Church, I have had the opportunity to get my hands dirty with just about every department. I have worked on membership and financial applications, travel and booking systems, and most of the software in the Missionary Department. I have been down into the internal workings of most of these systems. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most impressive people. Please accept it as truth that most of these systems are extremely complex—most are large and handle thousands to millions of transactions each day.

I hold it as a value that when I am working on something it must add value and that people need to be able to connect what they do to an actual outcome. The challenge there is that life tends to get a little abstract and removed when you are constantly focusing on nothing but the work or the crisis directly in front of you. For example, when a DBA sees his world as data and transactions and indexes, etc., he will act differently than he would if he sees his world as providing a service to a customer. That connection is only deepened if he can see the way he connects to the customer’s users. The past few years I have been dedicated to supporting the Missionary Department and the Public Affairs Department. It has been a remarkable experience, but I had an experience recently that enhanced my perspective.

New Collections Added to FamilySearch Pilot Site Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Friday, 23 May 2008

The FamilySearch Web site has recently added the following unindexed digital image and indexed digital collections to the records search test site. Patrons can search these new records and millions of others for free at the pilot site. The pilot site is currently testing new search engine technologies or applications that will ultimately be used on the FamilySearch Web site. User feedback is encouraged by using the Feedback utility on the test site.

Poll Results Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 29 May 2008

The community here at LDS Tech has talent and skills in a wide variety of areas of the I.T. industry. Recently a poll was conducted to obtain a better understanding of  these areas of expertise.

Over a quarter of the poll’s 239 participants indicated that their experience lies in software development. The remainder of the poll results can be found below. In addition, many of the poll participants elaborated on their experience in the forum.

The polls we have are designed to help us better understand you as community members and how we can best serve your needs. Please continue to participate in these polls as they become available.


Improvements to Adoption Web Site Print E-mail
Written by Lisa Howes   
Friday, 30 May 2008

One of the current ICS projects in development is an enhancement to the LDS Family Services Web site for adoption services ( The new site will provide many new features that will help streamline the adoption process.

Chief among the enhancements is a much richer set of criteria for expectant birth mothers to search on as they look for a couple to adopt their children. As an example, birth mothers can currently search for how many children a couple has. On the new site they will be able to specify not only the number of children, but also whether the children are biological, adopted, or foster. They will be able to search on the mother’s employment after the adoption, whether the couple served missions, whether the couple would accept siblings of the child being placed for adoption, the racial background of the couple, and even whether the couple has a certain pet. There will also be a new keyword search if the birth mother has a certain hobby or interest she would like to find in the family she would have adopt her child. Another improvement to the search capability for birth mothers will be better matching of her preferences and the characteristics of her child with the preferences of couples.

Apparently Geek is Cool Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Saturday, 07 June 2008

When I was in high school, “cool” guys played football, went to movies, and had fast cars. “Nerds” were guys who went to debate tournaments, played Dungeons & Dragons, and played with those new “computer” things.

Hans Rosling, Health Expert and Datacaster Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Data is fascinating! Well, at least when Dr. Hans Rosling presents it. Dr. Rosling is a professor of global health and has worked around the world to fight hunger, HIV, and other problems that plague developing nations. When he speaks, he presents data in a visual, creative way that engages the viewer in a way we’re not used to. He is asking the world to serve up data in a way that would allow us all to build queries and present them like this.

Make It Easy, Hasten The Work Print E-mail
Written by Troy Davis   
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Can we hasten the Lord’s work by making technology easier to use?

(“Hasten” means to cause to make haste; to urge on; to accelerate, expedite, hurry [Source: Oxford English Dictionary –].)

That’s a question the ICS product management team believes can be answered with a resounding “YES!” We think one way ICS can hasten the Lord’s work is by delivering easier personal technology experiences for Church employees. such as e-mail, phones, desktop software, and video conferencing. Things like offering the right product choices, an intuitive ordering process, simple product setup/installation, having convenient training options, getting quick and competent support, etc.

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