Front-End Development: The Emerging Role Print E-mail
Written by Josh Cummings   
Thursday, 27 August 2009

Over the years, front-end developers have been called several things to reflect the value that various organizations assigned it, but the most memorable for me is "HTML Monkey." The name reflects the "conventional wisdom" that many organizations have gradually come to accept: that the front-end developer is largely an entry-level position and a career-minded engineer will eventually evolve into either a real designer or a real engineer. This view has led to a production gap that neither real designers nor real engineers want to fill.

For several reasons, though, this cannot continue to be the case for organizations and career-minded engineers who want to compete in the world of the future. Whether through skill set transition or acquisition, the market is demanding the emergence of front-end developers.

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How to Protect Your Computer and Church Information Print E-mail
Written by Adam Wisden   
Tuesday, 25 August 2009

As a Technical Support Representative (TSR), I have seen a major increase in the amount of support requests related to spyware, malware, adware, or a regular virus. The Information and Communications System department (ICS) takes great care to protect computers and data from malicious and illegal activities. The Church has gone to great lengths to implement firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and so on.

That said, Church computer users can include certain daily practices to help mitigate the possibility of your computer being compromised.

I will discuss four habits that would make our computer environments safer at work and home.

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Challenges of Global MLS Communication Print E-mail
Written by Mark Soderquist   
Thursday, 20 August 2009

Communicating through the Member and Leader Services (MLS) application presents many challenges for software engineers at Church headquarters. The Church has more than 28,000 units (wards, branches, stakes, districts and missions) scattered all over the world on every continent and in many remote locations. Unit leaders use MLS to send membership, finance, and other support information to Church headquarters. One of the greatest challenges is supporting the amount of information from Church units, and doing it in a way that can be maintained efficiently.

Communication and electrical infrastructure varies widely around the world from nothing at all, including no electricity, to broadband Internet connections with stable electrical systems. In most units MLS uses modem connections since telephone lines are available in the majority of Church locations around the world. Recently MLS has been able to take advantage of broadband Internet connections in some stakes. In some of the most remote locations, MLS can take advantage of satellite broadband Internet connections. Currently, 92 percent of Church units use MLS, however, only one-third of Church units that use MLS have broadband connections. In all cases, the Church attempts to use the most cost-effective means of communication to spend tithing dollars as wisely as possible.

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LDSTech Talk 2009 Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 13 August 2009

You are invited to participate in the second annual online LDSTech Talk hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 17 at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).

Last year, Joel Dehlin, managing director of ICS and CIO of the Church, gave a presentation and answered some of your questions via webcast. Download the inaugural online LDSTech Talk from August 2008.

We encourage you to submit questions early by filling out the LDSTech Talk Question form. Please keep questions short and concise. Use the #ldstechtalk hashtag to discuss the event on Twitter.

In addition to the opportunity of having your questions answered by Joel and a panel of Church employees, we will also present the 2009 LDSTech Awards. Please take the opportunity to nominate someone who deserves to be recognized for their efforts. There will be three categories this year:

  • Helping Hand: recognizing an individual who has gone the extra mile to help and guide others within the LDSTech community
  • Top Tester: recognizing an individual who has helped test and improve community development projects
  • Coding Guru: recognizing an individual who has made significant code contributions on a community development project

 

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Employee Spotlight: David Torgerson Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Question

What do you do at the Church?

David

Answer

I am a security engineer for the Family History department, working on the new FamilySearch site. I spend most of my time making sure that our layered approach to security is functioning correctly, and looking for ways to improve our site security.

Question

What role do you think Web site security plays in the Church organization and to the public?

Answer

Working for the Church has been interesting. Instead of working on protecting trade secrets or financial information, I focus on protecting sacred ordinance information and user information while providing a way to make most data public. I have been involved in an initiative to collaborate and share data with external organizations. We have many affiliates, and even more in the approval process. Working with affiliates has introduced many exciting and interesting security challenges, but we try to adhere to as many industry security standards as possible.

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Physical Facilities Management: Software Tools to the Rescue Print E-mail
Written by Darrell Redford   
Thursday, 06 August 2009

We rely on a variety of software packages in the Physical Facilities Department (PFD). One of these, Facilities Management Automated Tools (FMAT), is home grown. It has been developed over the past eight years using mainly Active Server Pages (.ASP) and JavaScript, technology that is now fairly outdated.

FMAT handles an enormous amount of information. It keeps track of everything the Church owns for tens of thousands of properties—buildings, parking lots, ball fields, hymnbooks, furnaces, chairs, light bulbs, ceiling tiles, cleaning equipment, desks, computers, carpet, benches—everything. It manages this information for ecclesiastical purposes and for physical and preventative management. For example, FMAT keeps track of all operational expenses, repairs, improvements, and new facility work. It tracks every work order and every item being worked upon.

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Document Your Architecture Print E-mail
Written by Dale Eaton   
Tuesday, 04 August 2009

Have you ever pondered the question, "What is the difference between a cowboy and a pioneer?" Aren’t cowboys and pioneers both people of action? Don’t they both ride off conquering untamed lands beyond the horizon? The difference is that cowboys work on something, finish it, and move on. Pioneers, on the other hand, build something with the attitude that it is the foundation of something that will endure.

In the software development industry there are both cowboys and pioneers. Developers should clearly establish and document their architecture from the beginning, knowing that it is the foundation of something that will endure.

An Agile methodology is no excuse for not clearly establishing architecture. Architecture defines the structure and/or behavior of a system and unless architecture is documented, it is always open to future subjective interpretation. An architecture that exists only in the minds of the developers is not good enough. “Do not believe any programmer, manager, or salesperson who claims that code can be self-documenting or automatically documented. It ain't so. Good documentation includes background and decision information that cannot be derived from the code.” 1

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The Local Unit Support Group Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lund   
Tuesday, 28 July 2009

It’s Tuesday night and you are the ward finance clerk. The bishop has asked you to provide him with some information pertaining to the most recent tithes and offerings batch that was just deposited last Sunday. You log in to MLS and try to get the information, but you get a system error that will not let you complete your assigned task. You’ve never seen this error before, and it will not let you proceed until you resolve the problem.

The second counselor who is there doesn’t know what to do, and you’re unable to reach the stake clerk or stake technology specialist for help with your problem. Does this sound familiar? Anyone who has served in the bishopric, stake presidency, or mission office has at one time or another felt frustrated by a membership, finance, or computer system malfunction. 

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A Well-Oiled Machine Print E-mail
Written by David Parra   
Thursday, 30 July 2009

Every week hundreds of young men, young women, and seniors around the world gather with their families to read a letter calling them to serve as full-time missionaries. The letter includes an assignment to labor in one of 348 missions around the world.

This sacred piece of correspondence is customized to each missionary candidate with specific information and instructions for the assignment. The Missionary Call Letter System was developed in 2008, and it is currently used to generate hundreds of missionary letters every week. Some may think that creating a one-page letter programmatically would be a matter of adding a few merge fields to a document, but the system does a lot more than that.

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Pretty Good Privacy Print E-mail
Written by Jonathan Eicher   
Tuesday, 21 July 2009

To scriptorians, PGP means “Pearl of Great Price” but to cryptographers, it means “Pretty Good Privacy” and refers to the safe-keeping of personal information. PGP is a type of encryption the Church uses to communicate securely with other organizations, such as banks and businesses. Each day we depend on encryption to act as a computerized safe-and-key system for managing access to our data.

Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP, developed and released the first PGP software in 1991. He published his source code and freely gave it away for anyone to use. The software is simple to use and is designed to encrypt files and e-mail transferred over the Internet. PGP is now the most popular e-mail encryption software in the world.

How does PGP work?

PGP requires entities or individuals to create their own individual pair of encryption keys. The key pair contains a private key that is never shared with anyone and a public key that is shared with everyone. Anyone can use a public key and encrypt a file or message with it. However, only the entity or person with the corresponding private key will be able to decrypt it. This is known as a one-way function. The technical implementation of a one-way function is brilliant but simple.

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