We have listened...

At the National Executive meeting in Bristol on 7th December 2017, we discussed your feedback (over 65% of Conference delegates completed a survey) and decided to take the following action:

1. To cease using Stoke Rochford Hall as a Conference venue - the venue did not provide, in 2017 a satisfactory standard of conference facilities, that met our needs. We can't see the situation improving for 2018. We have decided to share anonymous comments with the venue so they can understand why, after many years, we won't be returning in 2018.

2. To source a new, Central (pin in Map!) UK and Ireland venue, easily accessible via air, car, rail and bus.  It should have a superior standard of Audio Visual equipment in a suitable conference building, preferable in a contained (accomodation and conference), rural and attractive location.

3. We will hold a special session, for new delegates at the 2018 conference.

4. We will attempt to not increase pricing. 

5. We will open the Conference to suitable vendors who wish to hire an area.

6. There will be a User Group desk for conference queries, open at key times.

We expect to announce a new, confirmed venue and dates very soon!

Best wishes,

Steven Law




Christmas or is it Riskmas

...when shopping online this year?

Here is a small piece about Online shopping this year. 

About me: I worked in IT, for a few years, in my Authority – Application Support and Business Intelligence. I now have a healthy interest in Information Security and Privacy, in my spare time, I attend events around the UK and Ireland, as a hobby.

Information Security expert Chad Calease, Founder and Consultant at WIMZKL stated, last month that he expects a 600-700% increase in Malware (short for malicious software), this Christmas, compared to last Christmas.

Some Tips:

1.       Keep antivirus up to date.  I use Sophos at home, at work its Symantec, just make sure you don’t install Malware instead of Antivirus!

2.       Stop installing apps, browser extensions or services unless they are purchased from a reputable provider, e.g. Microsoft, Apple Mac Store, Google apps etc.

3.       Purchase goods and services only from online companies you know and trust.  The bad guys are getting better, be careful, research before buying from a new service or seller

4.       Shopping online, every Christmas, is reported as the biggest yet. 2017 will be the same.  So when shopping online, make sure the URL begins with https:// before paying for goods, check for the padlock icon on the toolbar. 

5.       Passwords, should be strong, we all know this in work, but at home?  Here is a good idea for a passphrase.  Think of a sentence, say you are a massive but deluded(!) Liverpool fan. 
A good passphrase would be “Liverpool football club might win the premiership league title this year 2017”
Taking the first letters from each word makes a password Lfcmwtpltty2 

Another Password needed, use the last letter of each word llbtnepeesr7

What about a third Password? Reverse the first password and so on.

To make it even more secure put ! at the end or start of the password.
This means all you have to remember is a passphrase.
Passwords that use your son or daughter’s first name plus 123 are easy to guess as is liverpool123

6.       If two factor authentication is available, use it.

7.       Don’t click on email messages from unknown senders, just delete them (at home, not at work!)  Obviously be careful what attachments you open, even from someone you know. (at work and home)

8.       Finally don’t disclose personal or sensitive information online without verifying why it is needed.

I hope you find this useful!

Chair APP User Group UK & Ireland

Should we examine Users?

I attend a number of IT Infosecurity and Privacy events across the UK and Ireland over the course of a year, as a hobby!  A previous Chair and Secretary of the Irish User Group, Rory McGerty brought me along to IRISSCON in Dublin a number of years ago, they are now on their 9th IRISSCERT Cyber Crime Conference.  I was hooked!

I would urge you to attend, if you can, book now - Thursday the 23rd of November 2017 in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Pembroke Road, Dublin

Some of the speakers are present, life changing challenges.  

At a number of recent events the challenge has been thrown down on what computer system people are called, you know the ‘Users’.  The term users has been examined, as far back as 2013. 

From the Register 

Don't call them 'users': IT staff can often forget they're in a position of service. Nobody likes getting bad service; it doesn't matter if it's the 15-year-old at your local fast food restaurant or a rude doctor. This means respecting every person you deal with. "User" is a technical word and should not be used outside of technical circles - people want to feel like people. Generally I would recommend calling them "staff" for internal people, and "clients" for external people – a good guide is to use the same term as other departments with their communications.

I realise this refers to IT staff talking to their ‘people’ but the principle is the same, or is it?

Although this year the government have produced a document which is designed to help government teams create and run great digital services that meet the Digital Service Standard.  They mention users many times in the section “Learning about users and their needs

You must understand the needs of all kinds of users, not just ‘typical’ users. You also have to consider the needs of people who provide the service or support other users (for example, caseworkers, call centre agents, inspectors, lawyers and charity workers).

What do you think, should we be called a User Group, should we be users supporting users, food for thought. What is the alternative On a serious point, do you call yourself a user, do you dislike or even care!  Let me know below.  You are people.  Or drop me a message.

Steven Law



Strong views? *
Strong views?
I don't like to be called a 'User' at work

Full House!

When I walked in to the South West regional group meeting at Civica’s Bristol offices on 28 March, I was rather nervous as it was to be my first meeting as Chair of the group (I’ve lurked in the background for many years now!).  I was shocked at the amount of people who were crammed into the room – surely the most I have seen at the SW group for a long long time! 

I am pretty sure I wasn’t the attraction – maybe it was the lovely Civica facility in the centre of Bristol, the promise of news and ideas regarding IQ, or something else on the agenda, but it was fabulous to see so many faces, old, new and somewhere in between.   In the current climate where many of us struggle to get out for these events, the sight of a full room was very welcome.

With IQ and the Civica update a very important part of the agenda, the group put forward many useful suggestions which I am sure Nick et al will be taking on board, and there was some very interesting discussion around the table.

I must thank Chris Higgins for letting me use her presentation on Data Quality and Cleansing (I don’t think I mashed it up too badly Chris!), which is a very pertinent subject in view of the potential for migrating to IQ in the future, and also fits in with the new General Data Protection Regulations which I gave a precis of later.  The GDPR may have quite an effect on us as APP administrators and users and whilst some of us have a vague knowledge of something happening, we really need to ensure our organisations have a handle on things as early as possible.  I hope my presentation (https://appusergroup-beta.squarespace.com/s/8627070235897987814.pptx) wasn’t too boring (or uninformed!) and would like to thank everyone for putting up with me giving two presentations in one day! Also big thanks to Ken for looking after me all day!

Breakout sessions and discussion over lunch gave us all the opportunity to share ideas, questions and solutions, which is what we as a User Group are all about – Users Supporting Users.  If your authority has not yet renewed their membership, please let those with the purse strings know about the benefits – we have a unique relationship with Civica whilst remaining independent, and the sharing of the huge amount of knowledge amongst members is absolutely priceless! 

I look forward to our next gathering – dates are not yet agreed but will appear on the website as soon as they are.

Kevin Davies
SW Chair