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mndrix
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Distributed Development

Postby mndrix » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:51 am

What are the Church's plans for harnessing the software development talent of members around the world?

As "Zion spreads herself abroad", more and more of the IT talent of the Church is found outside of Utah and the western United States. The Church's extraction program has done a great job allowing individual members to contribute from home. Segments of the secular software industry apply this same distributed model through telecommuting and similar arrangements (open source software development being the most prominent). Is the Church interested in employing similar arrangements to develop software for the Church?

I would be more than willing to develop software for the Church in my spare time, but I probably won't be moving to Utah or applying for a full-time IT position with the Church anytime soon. I expect that there are many members in the same situation.

mikengray-p40
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Less Microsoft-centric applications?

Postby mikengray-p40 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:55 pm

Hi,
1) I've seen different websites hosted on lds.org (employment section comes to mind) where only an Internet Explorer browser will work. Is the Church looking at more Open Source solutions to make content more widely available and accessible (Firefox, Opera, etc).

2) Will the Church ever stream or allow for download of all of its church videos--especially the missionary videos? I see some videos, but it just scratches the surface of whats available.

3) I really like the searchable engine for documents, but will the Church ever offer full online books from renowned LDS authors like Talmage, McConkie, B.H. Roberts, Nibley, etc?

All I can think of for now!
-Mike Gray, Maricopa, AZ

blmcewan-p40
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Behind the times

Postby blmcewan-p40 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:58 pm

First, kudos to all that the IT/IS departments do and have done to help bring computing technology to the church over the years. While what I write may sound like I don't know about what it takes behind the scenes to make things happen, I know enough to know that things could and should be alot better in a technologically advanced society for a world wide organization.

For purposes of this forum and the upcoming Tech Talk I represent the power end-user of some of the day in and day out systems of the church (Unit Websites and MLS). Professionally I am an instructor of most things IT, but usually end-user software. (I'll save the rest of the resume for another time or inquirying minds.

Similar to things already posted and topics you've probably heard time and time again:

1. Stake/Ward websites - they don't do much, they are limiting severely by today's standards, too much time is wasted in doing the basics. There are much better technologies both for the development and of the shelf use to allow much more capabilities. Yes, the branding and continuity are valid issues, but could still be addressed with newer technologies.

2. Follow up to #1, ancillary website uses helpful to the ward. I saw a poster earlier this may be a possibility! HOORAY!! Seems if there is the disclaimer it's not an official church website then that should begin to make it ok. Local leaders should be encouraged to use various technologies with prudence, prayer, and wisdom and allow those called to do a particular calling utilize other technologies

3. MLS, do we really need mapping?? Sure every ward finds someone to create one and the information I know is needed more importantly for other things, but that seems to be all I read about for updates. The report engine needs an overhaul. and other. Where's the specific focus group for MLS.

4. Training--it's what I do. This has implications beyond just IT in the church; While I've briefly seen some examples of training for MLS and maybe there might be others for the web, family search etc. depending on the development/release cycle and how education/training fits in, it's either left out all together or takes too long to get it out--but there are ways to have faster just in time, simpler training that meets the needs.

5. Communication - for good or bad, whatever the reason, I know in my own little world over the years at different levels as I have talked to various church leaders local and in SLC about doing more with IT usually there is not enough information or communication about why something is or isn't being done or plans to do something--thus just leaving us hanging and taking matters into our own hands.

So, while I have already taken a lot of space and maybe not posed real questions, I have underlined topics as others have, I think should be addressed and plan to be in the meeting and can provide some feedback and what possible solutions I see.

I leave this post post with a few examples of my title "Behind the Times" to help all those involved think about what could be:

Example: we're doing a 1st ever webinar--why so long? the technology in some way shape or form has been around for 10+ years (okay so MS Netmeeting would have been pushing it)

Example: conference broadcasts are streamed all over the world and made available via iTunes--why can we not utilize similar services? I currently record our sacrament meetings via an MP3 records and the line out feed and burn them to CD for our shut-ins in the ward who are not able to make it. Itunes would be a huge time-saver

Example: PDA applications/support is minimal, yet there are plenty of 3rd party developers willing to take time to make these apps and some pretty good ones--why not as someone else suggested do the same with the church apps; afterall OpenOffice is still the standard on the ward computer image-right?

Example: What could be accomplished if as has been suggested, we in our callings or as everyday members, had more information, tools, resources at our fingertips. I've seen the benefit to a Bishop of him having "more" of the MLS information at his fingertips on his PDA when he needed it, have benefitted myself from it and find it limiting that I can't do certain things on the website in my current calling.

Again In an age of such marvelous computing power, doesn't it seem like we should have continually better tools and more of them! I truly am grateful for what your groups do--if you haven't submitted next year's budget ask for more $$$ and more FTE's---LOL

computerdude-p40
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Postby computerdude-p40 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:58 pm

These are all great questions... i pray that answers to many of them are addressed. We often
feel that they go to deaf ears.

It seems for years the Church has failed to keep up in the technology field.

There too many applications, MLS, and websites that need to been tuned to todays technology. Such as
not driving websites to be platform dependent thus only using MS explorer. Using firefox/mozilla
opera should be acceptable by any industry standards. But takes time to make this development and
QA effected. But this should be a priority of the church.

Java applications: Why has the church not converted its application to a java based application?

Why don't we use applications that we can access live. Such as MLS to slc databases? Having to
send and receive records seems time consuming for membership and finance clerks. Why not allow
records to be pulled over the internet or a intranet?

Finance records: Why are finance records of a member ONLY kept locally and his/her ward? If the
member moves they need to hunt down the current clerk of each ward they are in and have them
mailed. The applications need to be updated so a member can request ALL finance donations in the
last 2 years or more. We have members in our area which are military and move often. What a pain
it can be for them to track down his/her donations the next year.

I have been a MLS or FIN clerk for over 12 years. I have seen MLS grow to what it is today. But I
am afraid it has not kept up with current technology.

bmillett
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Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2008 5:46 pm

I'll echo the question about linux

Postby bmillett » Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:09 pm

RussellHltn posted a very valid question.XP is EOL, Vista is too big a punishment to place on sites in many places of the world where the hardware will not support it.

My experience with linux has proven to be very encouraging. I just setup a member with an older compac. PIII, running at +- 800 Mhz, 384 MB with linux as a desktop for thir kids. They love it. There is too many older PC's that can not run Vista but can run the latest linux.

Leslie-p40
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Location: Orem, Utah

Melchizedek priesthood ordinations

Postby Leslie-p40 » Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:37 pm

Will stakes eventually have the ability to directly enter Melchizedek priesthood ordinations into MLS? When?

Leslie-p40
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Location: Orem, Utah

Viewing ward callings on stake MLS

Postby Leslie-p40 » Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:38 pm

The current version of MLS only lets the stake view "leadership" ward callings. The earliest versions of MLS (and the prior MIS) let the stake see all ward callings. Is there any chance of restoring the ability to view all ward callings? It would be very helpful when considering someone for a stake calling to know that person's current ward calling.

Jack Stickney-p40
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Location: Tremonton, Utah USA

WebPay Donations

Postby Jack Stickney-p40 » Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:17 am

I've often thought how nice it would be to be able to submit church donations via some type of WebPay system. This would allow direct debiting of funds and automatic payments. It would also make completing donations very easy by filling donaton slips on-line, and give users direct access to summary information when wanted throughout the year (not just at year-end).

The doctrinal requirement of the Bishop to 'receive' the contributions could still be met by having the member of the Bishopric processing weekly contributions review and sign a summary of on-line donations. This would be included with the normal backup documents. It could easily be set up that the contribution information be downloaded to FIN each week to be included each Sunday with normal processing.


Potential Advantages:
  • Less: handling (opening envelopes), input (clerical) and verification (reading receipts, reading checks and filing source documents); time after the block.
  • Ease of use and access by contributing members.
  • No keeping track of those donation receipts.
  • Less handling of specie.
  • recurring automatic contributions (won't forget to fill out the donation; and personally hand it to a member of the bishopric).
Potential Disadvantages:
  • Additional log-in connection to SLC to download information prior to processing weekly donations.
  • New process to track all funds (electronic deposit and funds in deposit bag).

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brado426
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Location: Foothill Ranch, CA
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Postby brado426 » Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:21 am

computerdude wrote:These are all great questions... i pray that answers to many of them are addressed. We often
feel that they go to deaf ears.

It seems for years the Church has failed to keep up in the technology field.

There too many applications, MLS, and websites that need to been tuned to todays technology. Such as
not driving websites to be platform dependent thus only using MS explorer. Using firefox/mozilla
opera should be acceptable by any industry standards. But takes time to make this development and
QA effected. But this should be a priority of the church.

Java applications: Why has the church not converted its application to a java based application?

Why don't we use applications that we can access live. Such as MLS to slc databases? Having to
send and receive records seems time consuming for membership and finance clerks. Why not allow
records to be pulled over the internet or a intranet?

Finance records: Why are finance records of a member ONLY kept locally and his/her ward? If the
member moves they need to hunt down the current clerk of each ward they are in and have them
mailed. The applications need to be updated so a member can request ALL finance donations in the
last 2 years or more. We have members in our area which are military and move often. What a pain
it can be for them to track down his/her donations the next year.

I have been a MLS or FIN clerk for over 12 years. I have seen MLS grow to what it is today. But I
am afraid it has not kept up with current technology.


I have worked at several large and small companies throughout my career. No company keeps up with the latest technology (today's technology.) Every company I have worked at has a combination of older technologies and newer technologies because there is no way to keep all hardware and software in-tune with today's technology at any given time. I think expecting something from the Church that most of corporate America does not follow is unrealistic. There will always be some older technology and there will always be non-standard technology within any organization. What seems like a good idea today may not be so great 5 years from now.

Perhaps I shouldn't be using this thread to answer questions for the Church, but I think this question is asking for the impossible. Sure an organization can always strive for a standard, modern environment, but realistically, the organization will never actually attain that goal.

Brad O.

mdantas
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Location: São Paulo, SP, Brasil
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Suggestions and questions

Postby mdantas » Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:08 am

1. There are plans or has a team working to that MLS and other systems (web and app's) work with Linux?

2. How can we contribute and help so that these things happen, even living in other country, like me, I live in Brazil (Sao Paulo), but wanting to contribute with experience and talent as happens in the open source world? mainly in translation systems web or desktop's.

3. The world of systems are going to use SOA. And perhaps the church is not involved with this, but there are plans to have web services available for consultations on various services?

4. I would to congratulate the whole team working with systems in the church, because I have admired everything that has been done and has been offered as the new family search and tech forum.

Regards,
Márcio Dantas


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