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John Olson

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Top Stories by John Olson

As a consultant, I'm keenly aware of the bitterness some people have toward us. On many occasions I've felt the ire of managers who, in the past, have had bad experiences. The causes vary, but the blame can usually be spread evenly between management and the consultants. Unfortunately, this results in a negative view toward consultants and the valuable services they provide. At the risk of stating the obvious, let me describe some important details about the business of consulting: 1. Consultants provide valuable services. When you decide to build a home do you build it yourself or hire a building contractor? If your car breaks down do you hire a mechanic? Why don't you take care of these tasks yourself? The answer is that you probably don't have the skills or the time. You could take the time to learn, but usually it's better to hire someone else. The same goes for c... (more)

PowerDesigner 8

Sometimes this job is a real headache, and at other times, it's a lot of fun. This month was fun. Instead of searching for writers for the focus topic, PowerDesigner 8, I was able to quickly line up four solid PD8 articles plus the usual mixture of other topics. Why was it so easy? Excitement. A lot of people are excited about this new version and what it can do. Sybase has finally jumped into the object design arena with a solid effort, not to mention the entirely new code base and more powerful interface. Now you can have one tool for all your designs, from database to objects.... (more)

What Happens When the Self-Taught Stop Learning?

You can pay me now or pay me later." I love that line. It was the catch phrase in an auto repair commercial several years ago. The story was that the transmission in this man's car was making strange noises. He took it to a repair shop and was told he needed to spend money to service the transmission. After deciding to wait on the recommended service, the man walks back to his car while the repairman shakes his head and utters the phrase that rings true in many instances. The point made plain by the commercial was that the transmission needed to be serviced and the problem wasn'... (more)

Remember When...

Remember when you first heard the term "application server"? The concept was cutting edge and the products were vaporware. Companies that bought into the idea built their own application servers using whatever technology they could wrangle. Of course, each was proprietary and industry standards weren't even on the drawing board. As distributed technologies became more prevalent, major vendors began developing application server products. They were expensive, diverse in their implementations, and still proprietary. The PowerBuilder product group, needing to provide something to the... (more)

Avoid Being Outsourced

Products and markets have well-defined life cycles that vary in amplitude and length, but follow historical patterns. As Bob Hendry described in his editorial in last month's issue ("Is IT Outsourcing Worth It?" [Vol. 10, issue 10]), the IT outsourcing craze is in full swing. Certainly the heads-down programmer jobs are rapidly flowing out of this country, but for two centuries the backbone of American success and industrial might has not been labor but rather innovation. During the industrial revolution we made great innovations in industrial technology and went from a small col... (more)