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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XHTML Prototype Management Print E-mail
Written by Clifton Labrum   
Thursday, 16 July 2009

Here at the Church, we develop projects of various sizes that require designing and building prototypes of varying complexity. Much of my experience has been with large prototypes, and I wish to offer three suggestions for handling 20+ XHTML pages and numerous other assets.

#1: File Organization

A good Web application will have a domain structure that mirrors the content structure. This allows users to see where they are both on the Web page and the address bar of their Web browser.

For example:

“domain.org/temples”

is much cleaner and clearer than:
“www4.domain.org/webservices/construct/pagecontent/pageGenerator?id=temples&mode=981ASDFKH171ASDKFJ19”

In my projects, I like to separate page structure from assets like this:

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The Advantages of Collaborative Interaction Design Print E-mail
Written by Jed Grant   
Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Usually an interaction designer works to understand and implement project requirements in a way that allows users to most effectively accomplish their tasks. In this model, team members review designs and offer feedback, which leads to valuable improvements in the product design. Various iterations with the team happen before the design is even presented to the client.

When you present the design to the client, the client usually requests additional changes, which in turn leads to further iterations of design. The whole process to complete a design varies in the number of iterations—it can be excessive or light, depending on the team and client.

However, I’ve recently discovered several advantages to collaborative interaction design—that is, working alongside another designer on the same project. Collaborative design can reduce the number of iterations it takes to reach a high quality of design.

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Spotlight: Jim Adams Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 09 July 2009

QuestionJim_Adams

What do you do at the Church?

Answer

As a member of the Information and Communications Systems department (ICS) Mobile Device Team, I help coordinate cellular communications for Church headquarters. That includes ordering cell phones and mobile broadband data cards for laptops, helping employees with an array of phone issues, and generally safeguarding the Church’s investment in this popular business tool.

Question

What role do you think the Mobile Device Team plays in the Church organization?

Answer

We try to make the employees’ mobile device experience as smooth and trouble-free as possible. For example, a lost, damaged, or stolen cell phone can represent a minor tragedy in the life of a citizen of the 21st century! We resolve problems as painlessly as possible by having a small stock of lightly-used surplus devices available for immediate replacement. This minimizes “phoneless” down-time. Without this service, hundreds of dollars would be spent on each replacement phone, so we feel we save the Church significant dollars as we help maximize employee productivity.

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Meetinghouse Webcast Software Beta Begins Print E-mail
Written by Jacob Stark   
Friday, 04 December 2009

Meetinghouse Webcast is the official solution for local units of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to broadcast meetings over the Internet to other locations. Webcast technology provides an alternative to travel for stake conferences, regional conferences, firesides, and training meetings.

In February 2009, the Church released the Meetinghouse Webcast Communicator. The Communicator includes the hardware and software needed to encode and send a webcast stream. To meet the needs of those with custom hardware configurations, the Church is now beta testing a software-only solution for use on Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, or 7.

To learn more, please visit the Meetinghouse Webcast Software Beta page.

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