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Category: government

04/10/10 06:08 - ID#51363

Six Catholics and Two Jews

Who would have thought, it's possibly the end of Protestants on the supreme court.

Today, the court is made up of six Roman Catholics, two Jews and Justice Stevens

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Category: government

06/01/09 02:23 - ID#48814

Workfare instead of welfare?

A continuation of (e:paul,48807) What about a workfare program? What if instead of paying people to stay home, we give them state job doing all the things that need being done.

Obviously, I am only talking about people who are physically capable. If childcare is an issue than they could pick child care providers out of the group and have them watch children while the parents took turns working.

I mean our society has so much stuff that need to be done, and a lot of people that "desperately want jobs but can't find them." We pay them either way, why not let society (the people themselves included) reap some benefit from the tax money spent.

Then their salaries can just show up with all the other state workers? Is that ok?

There were plenty of examples of this during the depression with public works projects.
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Category: government

05/31/09 10:22 - ID#48807

State Employee Salaries and Welfare

I wrote about this before but I want to discuss it some more. It is interesting that you can see the names and salaries of all state workers
They are a little behind, its not real time number but last year's numbers - still interesting.

I understand why people want this - the public pays the salary - the public wants to know where the money is going.


I like this kind of transparency and think we should take it one step further.

I think we should also publish the names and amount that people reap in social welfare benefits, and how about unemployment too? Seems only fair.

What do you guys think?
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Category: government

12/13/08 12:24 - ID#47052

Throwing your money "at the windows"

This is just a continuation of (e:paul,47049) as I am still so angry about this issue.

(e:james), you are right, we need to get some politicians behind this. Even just starting with the city of buffalo, there must be so much in possible savings. The problem is getting information about what they currently are using. We need a tech person on the inside who cares. I think tax payers are not outraged because they do not understand the issue, all it would take is some awareness.

The City of Buffalo represents a perfect candidate for free and open source change because:

1. It is so poor and our taxes are so high.
2. It is a pure government entitity unlike Roswell where some of the money comes from grants.
3. Its not that big compared to New York State.
4. We have access to policticans who could make it an issue.

Building Future Workers
A interesting way to promote this would be to pick an OS for the city customize the build to its needs. Then release the live CDs on the cities website so that citizens could download the OS for their own computers. It would help people who can't afford to buy windows products and it would also effectively train new city workers in using the software. If you use open office, firefox, etc at home then you won't have a problem using it at work. With all the money that would be saved, you could afford to have more programers customizing Free and Open Source software for the government needs, so they could get what they really want and need.

The Nay-sayser
The worst part of transitioning anything are the government employees who say I am only trained in microsoft tech. Well, you know what, getting a government job should not be the only pre-requisite to keeping a state job - as it seems to be. Especially, in technology. Technology changes and people need to adapt to new technology and more importantly - new budgets. Their lack of willing to learn and train in cost savings alternitves should equate losing their jobs to people who are committed to cost saving technologies.

Its not that hard to learn new technology. If you are a computer server tech, you could definately learn linux - if not capable of that you are in the wrong field.

If you are an administrative assistant, you can learn to type reports on open office software. It kills me to think how much money is thrown out the window or as I said in the last post "thrown at the windows"
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Category: government

12/12/08 10:07 - ID#47049

Cut costs, open source, free software

What prompted this?
So, New York State is in this horrible budget crunch that is going to involve all kinds of budget cuts. It stresses me out every time I think about it. I wouldn't want to lose my job but it would also be bad having the same amount of work and less people to do it. Through the grape vine I heard that the union is working with the state on making us take 5 day pay cut, to be paid back upon retirement in order to save money now. Supposedly, we will get it back at our retiring pay rate, which is great - if NYS has any money then. Not to mention that we already gave them two weeks pay at the beginning.

I say stop borrowing from the employees and start borrowing from the wasted money spent on vendor contracts, and propriety OSs and microsoft products.

Why doesn't the government consider letting go of Microsoft and expensive vendor products, especially for web servers and office products or other systems where there are free open source alternatives that are even more robust.

In terms of the office products it is exceptionally ridiculous when most of the users don't even use any of the high-end features. You don't need expensive office software to type memos or spell check a report. Its almost like they never heard of the multitude of free office type products, most specifically Moreover, its so crazy when people cling to things like Internet Explorer 6.0, software from almost 10 years ago that is light years behind where the web is now. Imagine what the web could have been if IE 6 was abandoned yers ago. Everything is always developed for the lowest common denominator. If your vendors are 5+ years behind the times, then maybe you should realize they suck. Converting stuff to work in standards complaint brosers is not rocket science. Most of the blocks are caused intentially by vendors using micorosft technology that locks the end users into microsoft solutions. As tax payers, you should really hate this. There are billions of dollars thrown out the window or should I say "at the windows."

Roswell Park alone spends a fortune on Microsoft and Microsoft related vendor products. .NET is costly and really doesn't offer much of an advantage, especially when you are using it to develop simple form based web apps. Luckily, we have changed that significantly since I came onto the scene but it needs to be more hospital and state wide.

It is the same with all government institutions from the city, to county, to state to country. Take the NFTA site or the City of Buffalo site or the Erie County site or Roswell Park Cancer Institute's main external site Why are they all in asp and aspx - because the vendors convinced some IT people who really don't understand what they are doing, that it is necessary. It is especially true for web sites using content management systems. There are so many free, open source content management systems that run on Linux. I wonder what will happen when the old people who cling to the Microsoft ideals retire.

Our new web content manager is finally committed to this. It is so financially irresponsible to use Microsoft products and then to pay huge vendor fees on top of it for a stupid CMS. Not to mention that the vendor products are closed source, so we just keep paying and paying every time we want a new feature and are completely dependent on vendor release time lines for changes.

My Suggestion
We as tax payers should force all government institutions to use free operating systems and to create and use open source software. We as tax payers should also force them to share, making all software produced by government workers, open for re-use in other departments and sectors to reduce duplicative error. You and I as tax payers should be demanding this - we pay for the government. Better yet, why not even have an official government or healthcare OS. Maybe that is my calling.

Voting Machines
This is exceptionally important in things like voting machines. At the minimum, this software should be created by government workers, completely open source and auditable by the public with the possibility of submitting patches and bug fixes back to the government to keep stuff honest. I mean why should we let any company control that.

What I have done so far
I have done a lot to try and reduce spending in IT at Roswell. All new web app development is done in Linux with CENTOS(free) / apache(free) / php(free) instead of Windows (costly and old) / microsoft IIS(costly /.NET(costly) / mssql(costly) / oracle(costly++). We also do our development in eclipse (free) instead of visual studio (costly). It is such a huge savings.

I wish other people would see this as a big issue. I guess they won't until things like having their pay reduced or delayed started to happen.

My dream job would be some sort of technology cost control manager for the state. Just so I wouldn't be some lazy ass bureaucrat leach on the taxpayers, I would want my salary directly proportional to how much I save, so that if I get lazy I get less money. I am so confident that so much money is being wasted that I think that would never be an issue all the way through my natural work life.

The hypocritical part
Some people might think this is hypocritical as I have a mac at work. I really like mac hardware so much and for what it offers the price point really isn't that high - I would consider a lenova thinkpad instead or even a Dell. I would go macbook instead of pro but I really need the larger screen size to be productive. It has to be powerful but also very portable as I carry it around everywhere for meetings and back for forth home several times a day.

If they told me I had to get rid of my mac OS for linux, I would in a heartbeat. I mean I spend 90% of the time on the mac, working on the linux servers. The mac basically become a dumb terminal. Unfortunately, being a web developer and I constantly have to test everything for mac, especially as it becomes more popular and the mac lets me test windows, mac and PC while a linux laptop only lets me test linux and PC. That might be changing with OS X running in vmware or the possibility of just sharing one mac that we all VNC into.
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