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Quality and Truth Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Crow   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009

The job of a quality assurance engineer is to constantly be looking for ways to improve quality, including setting targets for metrics or setting criteria that must be met before we consider it a quality product.

At a recent gathering of Church quality assurance employees we discussed the idea of how truth affects the quality of our work processes and lives.

We may be really good at setting goals and envisioning the future. However, our ability to achieve those goals depends on having a true understanding of our current state of being — how we’re doing right now. This is the point: often we are not truthful with ourselves about the reality of what our current state actually is. We think (or believe) we know where we are, but in reality we may be far off.

Why is being truthful about our current state so important? An example that was shared by a former mission president was eye-opening. While serving as a mission president, he would regularly look at how the mission could improve in different aspects of missionary work. One area was the knowledge the missionaries had of the discussions and basic gospel doctrines. While he felt that the missionaries were doing well, he believed that there was always room for improvement. He devised a quiz that tested knowledge of basic doctrines, the commitment pattern, and other basic missionary information. It was a simple quiz and he believed that the average scores would be in the 80s and 90s. When the results were tallied, the average score was approximately 30 percent!

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Mormons in Technology pt. 1 Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 03 September 2009

The Roadometer: William Clayton

Technology has grown at an exponential rate since the restoration of the gospel. Every day we are blessed by the contributions of those who are working to advance technology. Many of us think of the computer on our desk when we think of technology. But technology is more than that; it is defined as the practical application of science to commerce or industry.

Latter-day Saints have been active participants in science and technology. Learning about those who have worked so hard to get technology to where it is today can inspire us to keep innovating.  Many of the innovations that we enjoy were either invented or influenced by Latter-day Saints. Mormons in Technology is a short series of articles that will be posted once a month and will discuss some of the technical innovations made by Latter-day Saints since the restoration of the gospel. Use the RSS feed, e-mail subscription, or LDSTech Twitter updates to stay up to date on LDSTech posts.

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Rich Web Applications and the Google Web Toolkit Print E-mail
Written by Aaron LuBean   
Tuesday, 01 September 2009

There is little question that the Web browser has become the platform for most software applications. The rich Web applications of today push the envelope of Web browser standards (such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS). Consequently, software developers are finding it necessary to become browser experts. Fortunately, new technologies are being created to help developers bring rich Web apps to market more efficiently. One such technology is the Google Web Toolkit (GWT).

Evolution in Web Application Development

Web development is moving away from the request/response paradigm of older generation applications. In older apps, the application server generated the “View” in the Model-View-Controller pattern. This led to lots of chattiness between client and server, and consequently poorly performing applications and frustrating user experiences. This has been helped with the advent and use of AJAX, which reduces full-page reloading and promotes richer, thicker clients with less control of the View on the server. Many modern Web apps are stateful clients comprised of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and AJAX calls to a stateless server which performs CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) operations on the database. GWT is a perfect candidate for developing these types of apps.

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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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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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