Monthly Archives: January 2009

Outsourcing 101 – Introduction

The World is Flat

Outsourcing and offshoring is a mainstream business practice in today’s economy. Companies reach to outsourcing and offshoring to find cost savings, find expertise outside of their core business, and provide a follow-the-sun workforce. Blended costs for outsourced companies is lower than a purely domestic team by leveraging lower resource costs in other countries like India, Brazil, and the Philippines. Things are no exception where I work.

The Story

I have decided to document the transformation of my department into a global organization that embraces outsourcing and offshoring. I am also hoping that those that went through this process with me who read my blog will provide comments of their own, and keep me honest.

In The Beginning…

In the middle of 2007, my department decided to globalize our work force and find an outsourcing vendor. Other departments had experience with Satyam, Intellogroup, and Accenture. We decided to start with Satyam, as we heard the most positive reviews of their performance.

We put together a brief meeting and walked through our objectives of blending a global team to drive down costs. Over the course of the next 4 months, we focused our interviewing skills at a half dozen candidates for our first outsourced team member. The first candidate seemed to be a good fit for our team, and so we made short order in making an offer and getting a contract signed. But, in the 24 hours between interview and offer, the candidate mysteriously became unavailable. Interview followed interview, and all the candidates seemed to fall short of our expectations. It reached a point where the resumes stopped coming in. With only two months left in the year, we resolved ourselves to try another outsourcing company.

After reaching out to Intelligroup, we held a brief meeting with them. The meeting turned into an ad-hoc interview for one of the attendees. He seemed to be strong in .Net technologies, have a solid background in software architecture, knew enough about web technologies, and had project management experience. We made an offer, signed a contract, and on December 3, 2007, we had officially taken the plunge into offshore outsourcing and hired our onshore liaison.


My next post will talk about how we expanded the team to include our first offshore resources located in India, how we integrated them into the team, and some of the bumps and bruises we experienced along the way.

Some Research on User Interface Standards

The Task

I have been asked to put together a working group to put together user interface standards. Initial discussions are that we will need to come up with different standards for different environments, like portal sites, websites, custom applications, mobile applications and off the shelf applications. So… I have done some research on the areas of user interface standards, usability, and user experience.

Some Definitions

Wikipedia was a big help. Here is what I found there.

  • User Interface – also known as Human Computer Interface, user interface is the aggregate of means by which people interact with the system. The user interface provides means of input ( allowing the users to manipulate a system) and output (allowing the system to indicate the effects of the users’ manipulation)
  • Usability – the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal
  • User Experience – a term used to describe the overarching experience a person has as a result of their interactions with a particular product or service
  • Human Interface –

Existing Standards

I know this is material that has been covered by other companies. Here is what I have found available that other groups have compiled.

Other Standards

These are some other user interface standards that I have heard mentioned in other articles onbline, but could not find any links directly to them.

  • DIN 66234 part 8 standard – 1988
  • The Data Company’s standard
  • Motif™ style guide [OSF 1990] 167
  • OPEN LOOK™ [Sun Microsystems 1990] 404
  • Smith and Mosier [1986] guidelines 485


These seem like two promising conferences about user web usability.


Here are two organizations I found that focus on Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and usability. I hav just joined the UPA, and plan on re-joining the ACM.


Amazon is a cornucopia of information on user interface standards, usability, and user experience. I have most of these books, and plan on getting the others soon.

Link Roll

Lots of good sites out there about usability and user experience.

If there are any sources that you use that I have not included, please leave a comment and let me know what it is.

Virtumonde is not your friend

I was the victim of a very annoying piece of malware. I have been avoiding the corporate install of Internet Explorer for months now, and I have been using Firefox 2 and 3 instead. I am sure I was doing something I should not have been, because for the last two weeks these strange popups have been plaguing my Firefox browsers, and my machine has been running like there was taffy on my hard drive. I tried to remove the trojan with Spybot S&D, and that did not work. It did identify a Browser Helper Object (BHO) and some registry entries that I could not get rid of. That is when I knew it would be bad. Derek recommended that I try Macafee Avert Stinger. That was no help either. I tried HijackThis. That was informative, but not as helpful as I had hoped. So I did some more digging online, and an article recommended Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (MBAM). That was a big step forward. It clearly identified my problem as the Virtumonde Trojan. There were 59 DLLs, BHOs, data files, and registry entries all over my computer from this one trojan. I used MBAM to remove all of them, but the BHO registry entry was stubborn. This meant there was still more. I did some research on Virtumonde, and found that a tool called ComboFix will wipe it out entirely. It took about 20 minutes to run, rebooted my machine, and took another 20 minutes to complete. But when it was all done, I was trojan free. No more popups when I use Firefox, and my machine is fast again. Now… if only I knew what I did that was so bad…

Techno-Christmas 2008

Well, another Christmas has come and gone, and we have all exchanged our gifts. Everyone in the family got new gadgets to alleviate their tech addiction.

Nicholas got his long-overdue Xbox 360. We bought him the Elite version, with the wireless remote and the 120GB hard drive. Can’t get a new console without a shiny new game too, right? So we got him one of his favorites… the new NHL 2K9. He also got lots of gift cards, so that he could go out and get a game of his choice. He picked up Call of Duty 4, and another wireless remote, so that he can pwn me and his friends up in NHL 2K9 or Call of Duty.

Mary Ann was light on the technology this year… she did get some CDs that would help her learn basic Dutch in the car on her long commute to work every morning.

I was burned by the HD-DVD fiasco last Christmas, so this year my wife bought me the Sony BDP-S350 Blu-Ray Disc Player. And, just like the Xbox, you can’t get a new Blu-ray player without getting a couple new Blu-ray movies. My parents bought me Iron Man and Wall-E.

The great thing about technology is the same as the problem with technology. It is always improving. The Harmon Kardon receiver we had for 6 years or so has no HDMI inputs or outputs. I had been using direct component connections to the TV, but I ran out of those too, with all the different HD devices I have now. So I had to treat myself with a new Sony STR-DG820 A/V Reciever. Yay for 4 HDMI inputs! It only took 30 minutes to set up with my speakers and all the devices.

And with all that technology, I was able to watch Rutgers beat NC State 29-23 in the 2008 Bowl. RU Rah Rah!