Some light reading

Monday, 17 March 2008

I've just placed my first ever order with Amazon for the following books:

The first three came about by reading recommendations from the old alt.net list, the new altdotnet list and the Alt.Net book list.

The fourth will hopefully help me pass the 70-547 exam. I did consider the Microsoft Press book, but the reviews weren't inspiring.

If they arrive as predicted, they might end up being a nice birthday present next month.

Not a culture of blame (or what UniSA could have done better)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Another thing I've learned from Jane is the phrase "not a culture of blame". The idea is that you might achieve more, improve things and make progress better if you don't just focus on finding someone to blame.

So trying to keep that in mind, I'd like to comment on a couple of things I think UniSA as an institution and senior management in particular could have done better with the restructure of the FLC, in the hope that the next time they might not repeat some of these mistakes. You be the judge as to whether I've managed not to blame anyone.

Don't take your staff for granted

There also seems to be a lack of understanding of what staff actually do. I suppose if those staff end up leaving, you'll probably find out pretty quickly though :-)

A new role isn't actually attractive if it is perceived as worse than the old one.

Don't assume that staff will willingly want to leave a fantastic team that provided them interesting, varied work, flexibility in work hours, supportive and understanding managers, ability to work from home, support to attend conferences, seminars and training events, in a reasonably convenient and pleasant location - to move somewhere else that they believe doesn't.

There is a world outside of UniSA

I wonder if senior management have considered the risk of causing staff, that they hoped would stay in the new structure, to discover that the commercial sector desperately wants their skills and is willing to reward them significantly better for them.

Sell us your vision

If you do need to change or restructure an area, then tell us (the staff affected) why! Tell us your vision of what you want to achieve and how this will help the organisation - and do that in person, not just as an impersonal email.

There are times when email is an appropriate medium for communication, but I believe this is not one of them.

Ideally, "in person" would be just that, but this is the unit that set up Centra and streaming video for the University, and either of those would have been an improvement.

 

As far as how the actual managing change process is progressing - the latest is that the NTEU lodged a dispute with the University on March 3rd, so we now have to wait for that to be resolved before anything else happens.

On a more positive note, I've got a few weeks of leave starting next week, so that will be a nice break. I'll have some time to make some more hot cross buns, and get ready for G3's arrival.

Microsoft WebDAV Extension for IIS 7.0

Friday, 14 March 2008

In late 2006, I noted that IIS7 (that shipped with Vista) didn't include WebDAV. Well the good news is for IIS7 and Windows Server 2008 at least, it's now available. The notes don't say it's compatible with Vista, so this might only be a server thing.

Heroes Happen {2008} - Adelaide

Friday, 14 March 2008

Yesterday, along with the rest of my team from UniSA, I attended the Adelaide "Heroes Happen {2008}" event - the local launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008.

It was a good day, and we got some nice goodies (including a T-Shirt, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, and Vista Ultimate with SP1). One curious thing is that the extra EULA with the Vista DVD says you're only entitled to use it for 365 days! What's up with that?

The location at the Hilton was good, if a little crowded. Excellent catering though, which is always something I watch out for.

Some good presentations, and I did learn something new - I didn't realise that the .NET Framework 3.5 includes support for RSS and Atom feeds.

It was great to bump into lots of familiar faces too.

Batch-converting JPEG files for OCR

Saturday, 8 March 2008

I was sent a whole bunch of .jpg files of scanned documents with text that I wanted to extract.

I have Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI) installed, so I was keen to use that to perform the OCR (instead of re-typing all the text!). The only problem is that MODI only understands TIFF and MDI formats.

I used ImageMagick to do the conversion. Convert might sound like the best candidate, but mogrify did the job for me.

You can convert a whole lot of files using the following command:

mogrify -format tiff *.jpg

This creates new tiff files for each JPEG file. The only problem is that MODI doesn't like the particular flavour of TIFF generated. Fortunately ImageMagick has 1001 options to configure exactly what you want to happen.

A bit of experimentation and I've found that the following extra options generate TIFF files that can be read without problems:

mogrify -format tiff -colorspace RGB -compress RLE *.jpg

All good, except that I then discovered that the scanning was at such a low DPI that the OCR wasn't able to find any text :-(

Something else that sounds interesting is that MODI can be programmed against. Maybe I could automate this even more!