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AFRIK-IT  July 1998

AFRIK-IT July 1998

Subject:

Between a rock and a hard place.

From:

"Watermeyer, Henry" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 7 Jul 1998 12:36:38 +200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (135 lines)

=From:          "Watermeyer, Henry" <[log in to unmask]>
=Organization:  University of the Witswatersrand

Good morning

My question about the ITA seems to have ruffled a few feathers.

However there has been some usefull input as well.

One of my callers, from a member company of the ITA, informed me that
the ITA is the SA equivelent of the ITA of America who apparently
represent most, if not all, suppliers of software and hardware.

Apparently they have been working to provide standards within the
industry and have their own standard which was announced in 1995 and
which is very similar to the the IEEE definition of compliance. (I am
led to believe that was only approved by the IEEE in June this
year!!)

They claim that this standard will form the basis of the ISO year
2000 compliance standard when that is eventually ratified.

They argue that it is a far better and wide ranging definition than
that proposed by the NYDSC and they have been trying to convice the
NYDSC of this.

This has lead to the statement made by Mohamed Madhi that:-

===
===- IT Association not happy with compliance definition, want
===standard to be lower than Europe and North America
==

I dont have a copy of the IEEE compliance definition just yet, I will
try and get one, but Elmar Roberg in his mailling on the 10th June
1998 to y2ksasig, attached as a txt file, refers to it.

In his posting Elmar refers to the concept of "fit for purpose" as
"defined in the documentation", as being the key element in the
definition and I gather that this is why the ITA, etc, as suppliers, like it.

As a user/buyer of software and hardware I am most unhappy with this.

My Office 97 package for example says that "Microsoft warrents that
(a) the software will perform substantially in accordance with the
accompanying user documentation for a period of 90 days from the date
of receipt .............etc".

"Substantially" ????    What does this mean? How close to 100% is
substantial?  Why can we not expect it to do what the documentation
says it will?

"for a period of 90 days"???   What happens after that? Does it stop
working, destroy your machine, self delete, change the documentation?

Corel is even worse!!

The Corel 8 licence agreement  states that there is a warranty on the
cd and then says "The software is provided on an "as is" basis
without any other warrenties or conditions, express or implied,
including, but not limited to, warrenties of  ..... fitness for a
particulartr purpose ....."

As I read this if you buy the Corel Profesional suite 8, as I have,
and you actually get a BASIC compiler with nothing else, thats your
problem. They don't guarrentee their product does anything at all.

I could go on. There are many other examples which we accept everyday
because we trust the supplier.

However the point is that the association representing this kind of
legal thinking wants to dictate that the year 2000 standard does not
have to be consistant from supplier to supplier or even, in the case
of MicroSoft as we have already seen, from product to product.

As long as the documentation says how it works the supplier is
protected and the customer must find his way through the resultant
mess.

I gather from Elmar's support for this concept, and from other input I
have had, that the CSSA officially supports this way of doing things.
That worries me because it would appear to indicate that the IT
workers, business and other users are not having their interests
considered in the various fora in which standards are agreed and the
mighty supplier is allowed to continue making the IT industry
confusing, non user friendly and just plain expensive.

{Maybe those of who are members should start insisting that the CSSA
gets a mandate from the members before attending any forum at which
standards or policies are being agreed. The committee and election stuctures
certainly dont force this to happen at present.}


Having said all of this what can we do?

I would like to suggest that the NYDSC approach should be supported
because it is morally correct but unfortunately not having, as users
and IT professionals (!), attempted to recognise the existance of the need
for a standard definition until far too late, I suspect we may now
have no option but to persuade him to change his view.

{There is an old saying that I was brought up with that says "if the
mountain won't come Mohamed then Mohamed must go to the mountain".}

It wont help legislating some arbitary definition for SA only, because
that cannot be enforced if we wish to continue our right of choice.
Suppliers will just not be allowed to market their products and we
will have no choice open to us.

Its a bad position to be in but the problem will be international
because internationally we have accepted that the suppliers have the
right to dictate how we, as users, shall operate our businesses.

Are we all saps or what?

The IT industry is full of examples where supplier marketing has
caused inferior products to successful at the expense of other, more
effective alternatives, so whats new.

Well thats my 2 bits worth.

Henry

=====================================================================
Subscribe to the IT Digest, an information resource from Wits Univ.
Send e-Mail to [log in to unmask]  with SUBSCRIBE ITDIGEST
and {your_user_id} in the body followed by END on the next line.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Henry C Watermeyer                         'Phone +27-11-716-3260/8000
Director - Computer & Network services     Fax    +27-11-339-1225
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
P/Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa           mobile +27-(0)82-800-8862
                 //SunSITE.Wits.ac.za      //WWW.Wits.ac.za
======================================================================

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