Does the best IT job exist?

Even though being a systems engineer nets you what has been deemed the best job in the United States, recruitment experts in Singapore point to the ups and downs of being an IT professional.
Earlier this month, a study conducted by ranked being a systems engineer as the best job in the U.S., ahead of other professions including physician assistant, college professor and nurse practitioner.
While local experts ZDNet Asia contacted were unable to pin down a specific IT role that should be the most sought after in Asia, they did offer some thoughts as to the pull and push of various industry positions, based on indicators such as remuneration, work hours and job security.
Demand for role and job security
The good: Tay Kok Choon, head of strategic sales development at Singapore, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that the general demand for IT skills remains "very high". This, he explained, is because aside from traditional application development, many industries such as healthcare depend on IT professionals to improve their customer care and services.
Brian Richards, who heads Kelly Services' IT resources business unit, also noted that those in "hard-core" technical roles or who have specialized skills tend to be recession-proof. "For example, deploying top talent [to develop] efficient applications and provide effective support for systems would be even more important during a downturn when dollars and cents and productivity are closely scrutinized," he said in an e-mail.
The ugly: The more "generic" skills, such as project management, tend to be vulnerable during an economic downturn, added Richards.
Pay, perks and progression
The good: According to Richards, IT jobs within the financial services and IT consulting sectors tend to accord higher salaries, even though bonuses in these verticals saw a "noticeable dip" in 2009 due to the economic slowdown.
Perks and incentives, he said, tend to be higher in specialist areas such as information security, as skill sets are not readily available but nonetheless critical. Another group that receives better perks is senior project or program managers whose roles have a direct impact on business operations.
IT candidates, Richards added, can "pursue careers purely along the technical path, eventually moving into middle- to higher-level positions such as IT director, CIO and CTO, regardless of whether they come from support, infrastructure or application development backgrounds". They may also broaden their experience by taking on "hybrid" roles that require technical skills as well as functional, domain or business experience. Such expertise could eventually lead them to assume senior positions such as COO.
According to Robert Walters' Global Salary Survey 2010 released in February, there will be upward salary adjustments for several IT positions in Singapore this year. The designations include IT risk and compliance director whose salary range is expected to be from S$160,000 (US$113,840) to S$280,000 (US$199,220), up from S$150,000 (US$106,725) to S$250,000 (US$177,875) in 2009. Service delivery managers can also look forward to remuneration of S$130,000 (US$92,495) to S$160,000 (US$113,840) in 2010, an improvement over S$120,000 (US$85,380) to S$140,000 (US$99,610) last year.
When it comes to contract positions, Axer Goh, Robert Walters' manager for IT contract division, said IT specialist roles are the most highly paid in Asia. Those in these roles also have the luxury of selecting projects and working in a new environment with every assignment.'s Tay noted that many IT roles have a regional responsibility which allow employees to develop softer skills, such as managing cultural and solutions diversity.
The ugly: Robert Walters' Global Salary Survey 2010 stated that roles including director for service delivery, EAI (enterprise application integration) middleware specialist and software engineer can expect to see their maximum salary dip by about S$10,000 to S$20,000. No reasons were given for this forecast decline.
Working hours
The good: Kelly Services' Richards said non-IT support roles tend to operate within office hours, even though the average number of hours worked a day is around 10 to 12.
The ugly: "Occupational hazards" of IT professionals, he noted, revolve around work hours. Firstly, tight timelines and thin budgets typically call for IT professionals to clock longer hours and face tighter timelines than their counterparts in business roles. Major IT systems implementations also typically happen during non-working hours over weekdays, weekends and public holidays so as to minimize business downtime.
IT support jobs also tend to incorporate shifts due to the "follow the sun" nature of system support roles in global organizations, added Richards.'s Tay pointed out that IT professionals need to be not only fast, but also thorough in their work. "The QA (qualitative analysis) process that was deemed applicable traditionally may no longer be sufficient in today's context. An IT professional needs to stay alert [and] be passionate about his role to reduce incidents of mishap," he said.
READ MORE - Does the best IT job exist?

Five features of a good password manager

Given the number of different sets of login credentials we need, especially online, managing strong password policy for your entire computing life may feel like an insurmountable challenge. But there are some tips and tricks that may be used to ease the procedures of secure password management.

A rough approach that many use involves nothing more than maintaining a text file full of passwords that is kept encrypted, so that none of the passwords stored in the file ever really needs to be memorized. They are all accessible by way of a single password, which is used to decrypt the file’s contents when a password is needed.

Such an approach is a bit clunky for many, however. Smoother methods of managing passwords securely exist, most commonly in the form of a type of program known as a "password manager".

Numerous examples of such tools exist, of varying quality and effectiveness. Different people have different needs, and the plethora of options ensures that something "close enough" to one's needs is almost certainly available. Even failing that, there is always the option of just using an encrypted file.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the importance of using strong passwords that are unique in each context where a password is needed. Even if they are aware of these measures to protect their private data and login credentials, many of them do not see much value in further protecting such passwords when storing them locally.

Finally, even among those who are aware of all the above considerations, many people do not consciously think through all the implications of the design and feature set of a given password manager when they select it, beyond the basics of ensuring that it encrypts stored passwords.

A number of key characteristics of a password manager are very important for securely managing passwords:

* Encryption: Stored login credentials should always be stored in an encrypted form, using peer reviewed, heavily tested, strong encryption, so that even if the device used to store the passwords is stolen the thief is unlikely to be able to recover passwords.
* Secure resource usage: A number of possible vulnerabilities involving unsecured resource usage are possible. For instance, using secure memory that will not be written to a pagefile or swap partition on disk guards against the danger of a decrypted password being dumped onto the disk where it can be recovered later by a malicious security cracker.
* Self-contained functionality: A lot of software is not written with absolute data security in mind, and it often should not be written that way if the intended functionality of the application presents no need for such security. This does mean, however, that any password management software should not trust the security of outside applications. What good is using secure memory if the decrypted passwords will just be passed directly through another application that stores everything in tempfiles that may never be explicitly deleted?
* Usability: Quick, simple, and easy use of the day-to-day functionality of the password manager is important for ensuring that the password manager actually gets used regularly. If it is not at least nearly as easy to use for all of a user's common password needs, it may get neglected in favor of less secure options.
* Verifiable design: Just as encryption that does not trust the user is not trustworthy, the same is true of software that handles any part of one's secure data management needs. This is especially true of something like a password manager, which manages the data used to access other applications that also need to manage data securely. To ensure that the software is trustworthy, it should be verifiable--which means that the source code is not only available for scrutiny, but verifiably the same as the source code used to produce the actual executable program itself. Security through visibility requires open source software. Ideally, security software should use copyfree licensing policy.

These five criteria are of fairly universal value for a general purpose password manager, and should probably be considered by everyone designing a password manager or selecting one for personal use. Other features may also be desirable, many of which involve suitability for a particular user's workflow, and the specific uses to which a password manager may be put, as contrasted with the specific uses to which another person might put a password manager.

For your particular needs, this short list of considerations will surely not be the only things worth considering, but it should offer a good start.

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.
READ MORE - Five features of a good password manager

Sneak peek at the (totally awesome) new Photoshop

News just in that Adobe Creative Suite 5 will be released on April 12th, with shipping expected to start a month later.
As usual, CS5 will combine the very best features in graphics, video and Web design for professionals, for an extortionate price.
That said, have a watch of this video of just one of the new Photoshop’s capabilities. You will be blown away. This makes light work of what previous would have taken hours, maybe even days of work.
If you’re low on time, skip through to 2.50.
[Note: YouTube is Down which is why you might not be able to play this video.]
via John Nack on Adobe via Techmeme
READ MORE - Sneak peek at the (totally awesome) new Photoshop

Legacy keeping IE6 in enterprises

Some big Internet properties are dropping support for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6, but a "don't fix it if it ain't broke" mentality continues to keep the aged Web browser in enterprises, says analyst.
Hydrasight's research analyst, Vu Long Tran, said in an e-mail interview that IT departments need a solid business case to justify upgrading Web browsers enterprise-wide, as well as to deal with the risks of making changes deemed unnecessary.
"Despite many of the benefits of later versions of Web browsers, change management and regression testing issues still consume the majority of thoughts and concerns of enterprise IT departments," said Tran.
Web browsers are also often tied to enterprise upgrade cycles, he said, adding that businesses are likely to upgrade to newer browsers that come with new OSes. He noted that Hydrasight estimates 80 percent of enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region are still running Windows XP, and IE6 numbers are tied to that OS.
According to Net Applications data from February this year, IE6 had a 21 percent share of the global market, ranked almost on par with the latest version, IE8. IE7 stood at 14 percent, with Microsoft browsers taking a 61 percent share of the overall market.
Tran said a primary reason for companies to continue using IE6 is to maintain support and stability of existing corporate systems.
Financial institutions ZDNet Asia contacted agreed, noting that this was the primary reason they were still running IE6. Alluding to the need to support legacy systems, these sources, who declined to be named, said they would be sticking to IE6 until their companies are forced to make an upgrade through vendor initiatives.
Upgrade by app requirements
Jason Yeh, regional IT manager for Kellogg Company, said in an e-mail that the company upgraded to IE7 a year ago, prompted by requirements of its Web applications.
Kellogg's global IT policy does not allow its users to download other browsers, said Yeh, who is based in Taiwan.
Paul Loke, senior assistant director of computing and information systems at the National Heritage Board, said the Singapore statutory board had also moved to IE7 as part of the country's government-wide initiative to operate within standardized environment, dubbed SOEasy.
Employees are also not permitted to download their own browsers, said Loke. "This is to reduce our manageability issues [such as] increased testing, and the standardized environment will allow us to roll out patches quickly and easily, in cases where urgent fixes are needed," he explained.
IE and Firefox browsers are supported internally, he added.
Tan Teik Guan, CTO and CEO of Singapore-based Data Security Systems Solutions (DSSS) Asia, said the company does not enforce browser choices on its staff.
Its employees also run multiple browser versions to test the company's Web-based products, Tan said, adding that most of the company's users prefer Mozilla Firefox.
According to Tran, organizations should not rush into upgrading Web browsers but must instead, concentrate on maintaining systems and ensure they are fully patched.
"We do not recommend a major wholesale upgrade of the Web browsers inside organizations, where upgrades are not linked to a complete desktop upgrade or overhaul," he said.
Lack of ongoing support
But, there has been pressure by the Web community to kill off IE6.
Google in January announced it would drop support for IE6 on its Google Apps and YouTube Web properties. Earlier this month, a group of Web designers also held a mock funeral for IE6.
However, Tran noted that Google's announcement will have minimal and gradual impact on enterprise users since enterprise vendors will ensure support for the most common denominator--the Microsoft family of browsers.
Furthermore, the main priority for IT organizations is in maintaining the overall computing environment, and not about managing benefits of individual applications such as the Web browser, the analyst explained.
Microsoft has been actively pushing the latest version of its browser IE8, since its launch in March last year.
In an e-mail to ZDNet Asia, Richard Francis, Microsoft's Asia-Pacific general manager for Windows Client business, said IE8's features offer "significant productivity gain" over the competition.
Its security features will also defend PCs against Web attacks, said Francis, quoting NSS lab study data that showed IE8 blocked 80 of all "socially-engineered" malware and phishing sites.
Nonetheless, he noted that the browser also comes with a "Compatibility View" feature to support pages on older versions of IE.

via zdnetasia
READ MORE - Legacy keeping IE6 in enterprises

CiviCRM: Open Source Nonprofit CRM

civicrmWhile dealing with I came across a lot of experts comparing it with another open source (customer) relationship management solution, CiviCRM. I had CiviCRM on my list of Top 10 CRM software. It is a web-based CRM tool basically designed to meet the needs of advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental groups. CiviCRM allows organizations to use a for-profit sales tool on nonprofit CRM purposes. The CiviCRM is also used by many NGOs including Amnesty International , Creative Commons and the Wikimedia Foundation.  Let's get into the CiviCRM to delve more into it.
Here are some of the important features that should be considered before evaluating CIviCRM

Easy customization

CiviCRM forms allows the organizations flexibility to choose the information they gather from the constituents. The user can configure custom forms using data fields according to the configuration they require.

Custom fields

The users can set up their own custom data fields apart from the fields provided in standard constituent record.

Custom code

With CIviCRM the users can create their custom code that will initiate actions, calculations etc within the fields.

CRM integration

CiviCRM can be deployed on Drupal and Joomla! content management systems. This allows integration with other CRM systems.

Task Management

The organization using CiviCRM can chalk out new tasks and get them completed. Specific tasks can be assigned to each staff members. The task will appear on the dashboard of the employee.


CiviCRM offers a native integration for Google or Yahoo! It Maps API to geocode for all the contacts as they are created.


CiviCRM is one the perfect set ups when it comes to non-profit organizations. It is really intuitive to provide out of the box service for such organizations. CiviCRM offers in-built donation pages as well as event registration. It shows better opportunities for extending relationships. It is easy to create groups and smart groups easily in CiviCRM.


CiviCRM is not too adept with data management. This can be a hindrance for organization looking for extensive data management requirements.  Reporting is a concern with CiviCRM. It doesn't integrate membership and payment information with Quickbooks. It also lacks use an external report-writing package that allows easy creation of custom reports.

Competitors is one of core competitors. CiviCRM is no comparison to the much more sleek and polished, thrives with huge ecosystem add-on that are missing in CiviCRM. Mot significant difference between the two software seems the member management out of the box. But, for a nonprofit set up that has a different approach to data management, CiviCRM could be a better selection.


Despites it's shortcomings CiviCRM has a core nonprofit design that makes it perfect for nonprofit organizations. If you have something more to provide, give in. .
READ MORE - CiviCRM: Open Source Nonprofit CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs. : An Unbiased Review‏

crmsphere1 is a leading company in Contact Management Software. They provide customer relationship management  by allowing companies to organize and get reports that is going to streamline the business and makes the business more profitable.


  • It provides customers with host of solutions like customer analytics, document application, marketing automation etc
  • The software offers the most flexible CRM solutions that serves almost all business needs. On- demand application is made easier because of the range of services it provides. You can consider it as the backbone of on - demand application and that is the reason for its huge number of users.
  • The tool can be installed easily across a wide range of departments and in turn achieve customer satisfaction. You can integrate it with other customer solutions.
  • You can easily assess your business data using Sales force's sales force automation . For the sales department, it allows them to clearly study the sales data and provides them the idea to effectively manage sales activities with the result like more sales deals are closed, costs are reduced and time and effort is saved.
  • Sales force's tightly integrated solutions helps users work more efficiently and add some value of every part of the customer lifecycle.
  • Sales force provides the advantage of multi channel service with easy usage, customization etc. Using this software company can handle from inquiries to lead management.


  • No on-site CRM capability (on-demand only).
  • It has no vertical functionality and few vertical add-ons available for customers
  • The integration capabilities are limited with existing productivity software and line-of-business applications
  • The price is twice compared to Microsoft Dynamics on line solution.

Microsoft Dynamics:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM online, an on-demand customer relationship management service which is hosted and managed by Microsoft. The software provides marketing, sales and service through a web browser or directly into Office or Outlook.


  • 5 GB of storage versus 1 GB in Professional Edition
  • 100 workflows versus none in Professional Edition
  • Total cost of ownership is $44 per user, per month versus $65 per user per month  for Professional Edition
  • Your choice of a hosted CRM, on-premise CRM, or hybrid CRM deployment model
  • Web Browser Interface
  • Unlimited users vs  five users allowed in the Group Edition.
  • Mass email capabilities.
  • Microsoft Excel integration which is not available in CRM
  • Easy integration with Microsoft tools whereas is difficult to integrate with Microsoft tools.
  • Capable of accessing data offline.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed to allow customers to easily customize data types, workflows, role-based views through solution capabilities and standard Web services.


  • It does not provide support for power dialing and voice messaging.
  • The feature to record sales message and to track a customer through sales message is not available.
  • This is windows only application
  • There is a restriction for web interface
  • There is basic hardware requirements (3 servers) to run the software
READ MORE - Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs. : An Unbiased Review‏

Handy Tools to manage projects

Events are indeed projects or at least they should be managed as such.
Here is yet another free list that will help you to be more productive.
Remember to save it in your for future reference and to let others know through StumbleUpon.

Project Management Software

- OpenProj and our template
- OpenWorkbench
- dotProject
- Vitalist
- GanttProject
- Project2Manage
- Redmine
- ProjectThingy
- ProjectPier
- Qtask
- Basecamp
- WhoDoes
- GanttPV
- Faces
- PHProjekt
- NetOffice
- TaskJuggler
- GroupTweet
- JoinContact

To do lists

- Remember The Milk
- Ta-da List
- Zoho Planner
- HiTask
- Blist
- Listphile
- Wipee List
- Toodledo
- Bla-bla List
- Tudu Lists

Mind Mapping

- mind42
- XMind
- Wisdomap
- Mindomo


- PocketMod
- Compact Calendar 2009
- Concrete Goal Tracker
- Task Progress Tracker
- Task Order Up


- Lifehacker
- Dumb Little Man
- 43 Folders
- David Seah
- Zen Habits
- Lifehack
- To-Done
- Tim Ferriss
- LifeDev
- LifeClever


- Inbox Zero
- Social Project management
- The PM Process
- PM: State of the art
- The clutter is in your mind
- Managing teams
- Stop Wasting Time
- The 4 hour Workweek
- 7 Habits of highly Ineffective People
- Social Productivity Tips


- Getting Things Done
- The 4-hour Work Week
- Brilliant Project Management
- Lifehacker
- Mastering the Art of Delivery in PM
- The Power of Less
- Mind Performance Hacks
- The Definitive Guide to PM
- Project Management for Dummies
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


- Getting Tasks Done
- GTD Wallpaper
- reQall
- do.Oh
- EasyTask Manager


- Got-2
- Pocket Express
- Google Sync
- iSkoot
- gRef

Online Communities

- Gantthead
- IT Toolbox
- Professional PM Networkign Group
- 43 Folders
- David Allen’s GTD
READ MORE - Handy Tools to manage projects

Too Many Ideas-Not Enough Action? Time to Use Actionmethod

Actionmethod is another Project Management related...

Action Steps are tasks that need to be completed. Each Action Step should start with a verb: "Call Y," "Follow up with X," "Buy a gift for Z."
Create an Action Step with the click of a button.
ACTION STEPS: Delegating
The Delegate feature allows you to use Action Steps to keep others accountable. Create, delegate and track progress.
When you create an Action Step you can delegate it to anyone with an email address.
Once an Action Step is delegated, you can monitor progress to ensure completion.
When someone delegates an Action Step to you, it appears in your Inbox where you can accept or reject it.
Filters and dragging allow you to organize and manage your action steps by priority, due date or any system that works for you.
When you check-off an Action Step (once you complete the task), it moves to "completed."
You can quickly view all Action Steps, or view by project or group of projects, color, target, or search term.
You can drag and drop to reorganize and prioritize.
All of your items in Action Method Online are organized by project. A project could be a client, a specific project at work, a party you're planning -- anything.
If you are within "Action Steps," "References," "Backburners," "Discussions," or "Events" you can view each of those items by project.
Or you can view all of the elements in a project at once.
References are notes, links, files, sketches - any information related to a project that gives context to your Action Steps.
References can store notes, links, and files
With the Introductory Plan, you can create References by entering or pasting key information into the text box, or adding a link to a website or shared document.
With a Premium Plan, you can upload and share files and attachments
Backburners are the brilliant ideas that you want to come back to later, but are not yet actionable.
You can quickly create Backburners
Then assign them to a specific project.
Discussions enable you to manage ongoing conversations across all of your projects with anyone that works with you. All relevant communications (shared documents, solutions to problems, feedback, decisions) are in one place, for optimal project management.
Discussions are organized by project and can involve any number of people.
Discussions are fully searchable
With a Premium Account, you can attach files to a discussion. They appear within your post, and in this attachment list.
Events are the key occasions/meetings/milestones/etc toward which you (and your team) are working. Events can be used to coordinate deadlines for Action Steps, aiding project management.
After you create an Event, you can then assign Action Steps to the Event (all the things that need to be accomplished by the time of the Event).
Your Inbox receives all Action Steps that people delegate to you as well as any References, Backburners, Discussions, and Events that are shared with you.
When someone delegates an Action Step to you, it appears in your inbox.
The Activity Feed records everything you do on Action Method Online. You can also view others' activity if they choose to share it with you.
Everything within the Activity Feed is fully searchable by keyword.
You can change your preferences to only see certain activity (e.g. Action Steps)
You can share selected projects in your Activity Feed with other users of Action Method Online.
You can see the Activity Feeds of those who choose to share it with you.
Communication is the key to action, so use the simple Nag and Appreciate features to let other users know what you have to say.
Nagging allows you to send a quick reminder to another user of Action Method Online. It's a friendly way to push projects forward.
The opposite of a nag! Spread the love.
ACTION STEPS: Target Date (optional)
When necessary, you can add a "target targdate" to Action Steps (due date), to ensure timely completion.
When necessary, you can add a "target targdate" to Action Steps (due date), to ensure timely completion.
ACTION STEPS: Time Tracking (optional)
Time Tracking allows you to assign to an Action Step the amount of time necessary for completion.
You can view how much time the Action Steps in a specific project will take.
READ MORE - Too Many Ideas-Not Enough Action? Time to Use Actionmethod