Downtime: Evidence that not all inspiration is divine

Vicars struggle with sermon-planning software after incorrect spyware alert.

Evidence that not all inspiration is divine

Downtime was shocked to read last week that 4,500 Church of England vicars have been struggling to use their service-planning software after an incorect spyware alert was circulated by Symantec.

The problem took a little while for the security firm to fix, hence the story, but we were more concerned to find that our ministers are so ready to seek out IT shortcuts to do the Lord’s work.

Thankfully, the software they are using – Visual Liturgy – is not some kind of automated sermon writer as we first feared. Visual Liturgy’s website counsels work-shy ministers of the cloth that “careful, sensitive preparation and inspiration is just as necessary with Visual Liturgy as with any other worship resource.” Phew.


An e-mail link straight to the big guy upstairs

Keeping with religion for a moment, Lincolnshire Police has decided it could do with some divine intervention to improve its clear-up stats and is about to start distributing e-mail alerts to local churches and Christian groups asking worshippers to turn their attention to certain incidents. (No, we are not making this up.)

Not surprisingly, the idea has met with a mixed response.

“I have rarely heard of such a ridiculous idea,” said Hanne Stinson of the British Humanist Association.

But Don Axcell of the Christian Police Association called it a “brilliant” plan.

All this does beg the question: has the power of prayer ever helped you sort out any IT mess you have been involved with? If so, Downtime would love to hear about it.


Simplification is not all that simple, apparently

What is simplification? Downtime has often wondered. But as luck would have it, and as one eagle-eyed reader has spotted, the government’s Better Regulation Executive is on hand to guide us.

It states, “Simplification means reviewing, reducing and removing regulatory burdens for the public, private and voluntary sectors, either through merging regulations in to a more manageable form or removing inconsistency within or between regulations. The aim of simplification is to reduce regulatory burdens wherever possible but without removing the necessary protections regulation provides, for the environment or workers, for example. An important part of the simplification process is to gather practical suggestions from those with experience of being regulated – businesses, voluntary and public sector organisations and individuals – that can inform government thinking on how to simplify regulation.”

Nice to have that sorted. Thank you, Better Regulation Executive. You are making our lives better and simpler already.


Introvert or extrovert? Be careful how you answer…

IT’s efforts to shake off its unfair associations with geekdom and promote itself as a profession soon to be peopled exclusively by smooth-talking relationship managers took a hit last month.

Research from the Purdue University in Indiana has found that “introverted” IT students are more likely to indulge in morally dubious or illegal computer activity.

However, the study’s authors cautioned against rushing to any unduly hasty or stereotyped conclusions. In fact, they were quick to point out that this research contradicts some previous studies which found that computer misuse was more common among extroverts.

Not sure that is any better, but there we have it. More grist to the mill of that bloke who wrote Channel 4’s The IT Crowd.


Vote for your IT greats

Who have been the most influential people in IT in the past 40 years? The greatest organisations? The best hardware and software technologies? As part of Computer Weekly’s 40th anniversary celebrations, we are asking our readers who and what has really made a difference?

Vote now at:

Read more on IT risk management