About Lev Lafayette

Crocodile Logo

Lev Lafayette has an MBA (Technology Management) from the Chifley Business School, where he was on the Dean's List, a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the same institution, and an honours degree from Murdoch University in Politics, Philosophy and Sociology which is commented upon by the Vice-Chancellor of the time. Many years later he completed a Graduate Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Education at the same institution.

He is a certified PRINCE2 Practioner, and an Adult and Workplace Trainer. Clearly not satisfied with one masters degree, he's started another, this time a Master of Higher Education at the University of Otago. With a interdisciplinary approach, Lev's interests include the political implementation of universal pragmatics, the relationship between communications technology and society, and comparative economic systems. On again and off again, he plods his way through completing a PhD in Social Theory as well.

Professionally however, Lev is an experienced systems administrator, specialising in the Linux operating system and scientific applications, a project manager, systems engineer, and quality management systems coordinator, specifically for ISO 9001 (Quality assurance) and ISO 270001 (Information Technology Security). He also does a lot of training for researchers and technical staff in Linux, High Performance Computing, mathematical programming, Postgresql, and related subjects, with graduates and post-doctoral researchers from a variety of organisations including: RMIT, La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Swinburne University, Victoria University of Technology, Monash University, the Australian Synchrotron, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the Westmead Millennium Institute, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, and the Australian Institution of Marine Science.

Previous employment and clients include several years working as a computer systems trainer and database management for the Parliamentary Labor Party in Victoria. Following this he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Timor Leste (East Timor) managing their computer network and providing training and technical expertise to that Ministry in their first year of self-governance. Dr. Ramos-Horta provided the following comments on his work.

Lev works for the Research Platforms group at the University of Melbourne as the Senior High Performance Computing Support and Training Officer, and prior to that Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing, as a systems administrator for Linux clusters. As per those roles, this site is mostly dedicated to issues concerning High Performance Computing, Scientific Computing and Supercomputing. Lev is involved in Linux Users of Victoria, having spent four years as President, two years as Public Officer, two years as Vice-President, a year as Treasurer and is now in his third year as an ordinary committee member. He is has a coordinating role in the annual Multicore World conference and typically take the role of MC.

The crocodile logo was designed by Victoria Jankowski. It was first used on the cover of Neon-komputadór, the first IT training manual for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in East Timor which was printed and translated by the United Nations Development Programme. The crocodile represents the Timorese people and is the emblem of their land. The integrated circuit represents their independent connectivity to the wider world.

You can also find a political site that Lev subscribes to, The Isocracy Network, a synthesis of several progressive political orientations, and RPG Review which covers his interests in roleplaying and simulation games, including as editor of the namesake journal. This includes being the author of one very ironic RPG (Papers & Paychecks), a co-author of another (Fox Magic, author a supplement (Rolemaster Companion VI), as well as plot and character development in the computer game Cargo. He has also been a playtester for RuneQuest, Traveller, Basic Role Playing, and Eclipse Phase.

As a secular humanist with an interfaith perspective, he manages and contributes to the Lightbringers website which includes various addresses and essays on philosophy and religoin.

Finally he also has a livejournal account, which will probably be quite boring to anyone who doesn't know him personally.

That's enough of me talking about myself in the third person like Cerebus The Aardvark.

Easybuild: Building Software with Ease

Building software from source is necessary for performance and development reasons. However, this can come with complex dependency and compiler requirements, which have to be explicitly stated in research computing to ensure replication of results. EasyBuild, originally developed by the Julich Supercomputing Centre, the University of Gent, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center, is a tool that allows the building of software with ease, managing the complex dependencies and toolchains, and integrating by default with the Lmod environment modules system.

Praise-Singing Poppler Utilities

Last year I gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria entitled Being An Acrobat: Linux and PDFs (there was an additional discussion not in the presentation about embedding Javascript in a PDF and some related security issues, but that's for another post). Part of this presentation was singing the praises of Poppler Utilities (named after the Futurama episode, "The Problem with Popplers").

Thematic Review 3 : Practical Implementations of Information Systems

Following examples of a successful IS implementation, the Bankers Trust of Australia, and an on-going failure with the example of the UK's Universal Credit project, it is opportune to consider a subset of IS that is common to both projects and determine whether there is a general rule that can be applied.

Thematic Review 2 : Practical Implementations of Information Systems

When reviewing practical implementations of information systems (IS), incredible failures provide very valuable lessons even if they are ongoing. At an estimated £12.8bn, far in excess of the originally estimated £2.2bn (Ballard, 2013), the UK's Universal Credit project will be the single-most expensive failed or overbudget custom software projects, although when adjusted for inflation the UK's NHS Connecting for Health project (mostly abandoned in 2011), also cost around £12bn. Apparently if one wishes to study exceptional failures in IS, government in general, the UK in particular, and the subcategory of health and welfare is a good place to start. Whilst this may seem slightly snide, it is backed by empirical evidence. Only the US's FAA Advanced Automation System (c$4.5b USD, 1994) is really within a similar sort of scale of failure.

Universal Credit, like many such projects, on a prima facie level, seems to designed on reasonable principles. Announced in 2010, with the objective to simplify working-age welfare benefits and encourage taking up paid work, it would replace and combine six different means-tested enefits, and roll them into a single monthly payment and which, as paid work was taken up, would be gradually be reduced, rather than having an all-or-nothing approach, following the "negative income tax" proposals, as proposed by Juliet Rhys William and Milton Friedman (Forget, 2012). The project was meant to start in 2013 and completed by 2017. Under current plans (there have been at least seven timetable completion changes), this has been pushed out to 2023 (Butler, Walker, 2016).

Thematic Review 1 : Practical Implementations of Information Systems

Following definitional foundations and theoretical models in Information Systems (IS) there is a great desire to find some detailed practical applications. The first, the Arcadia project at Bankers Trust Australia limited (BTAL) for the derivatives group is almost ancient history as far as computer technology is concerned - it was initiated in 1994. However, as a very successful project it provides excellent information on the processes of implementing new systems into an organisation (Baster et. al., (2001)).

Video Review of a Social Media Webinar

A video review of the webinar/video presentation of Meet Edgar's "Ten Social Media Tips for 2019 Success", for the MSc course in Information Systems (University of Salford).

Video produced through slides made with LibreOffice Impress and audio with GNOME SoundRecorder, and composed with OpenShot.

Two White Paper Reviews

Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Planning

If a broad definition of information systems is taken as "usage and adaptation of the IT and the formal and informal processes by all of its users" (Paul, 2007), then Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) must be recognised as a major IT application which seeks to combine a very wide range of business processes in an organisation in a technologically-mediated manner. Integration is of primary importance, for example, so that the disparate and siloed software applications that manage customers, sales, procurement, production, distribution, accounting, human resources, governance etc are provided common associations through a database system and from which decision-makers can engage in effective and informed business intelligence and enterprise management.

As can be imagined with such scope, effective ERP systems are highly sought after, with a range of well-known major providers (e.g., Oracle, SAP, Infor, Microsoft, Syspro, Pegasus etc), and a number of free and open-source solutions as well (e.g., LedgerSMB, metasfresh, Dolibarr etc). The main advantages of ERP systems should be self-evident; forecasting, tracking, a systems consolidation, a comprehensive workflow of activities, and business quality, efficiency, and collaboration. What is perhaps less well-known is the disadvantages; the twins of expensive customisation or business process restructuring for the software, the possibility of vendor lock-in and transition costs, and, of course, cost.

The Disciplinary Vagaries of Information Systems

Introduction

More than thirty years ago, Professor Peter Checkland of the University of Lancaster, raised the question whether information systems (IS) and systems thinking could be united (Checkland, 1988). Almost twenty years later, Ray J. Paul, senior lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science also raised the disciplinary status of the subject, as editor the European Journal of Information Systems (Paul, 2007). These two papers are both illustrative of several others (e.g., Banville and Laundry, (1988)., George et. al., (2005)., Firth et. al., (2011)., Annabi and McGann, (2015)) from information systems as it attempts to find its own disciplinary boundaries among the crowd of academia, research, and vocational activities (c.f., Abraham et. al., (2006)., Benamati et. al., (2010).

The two papers are selecting not only to provide an at-a-glance illustration of the time-period of foundational issues within Information Systems as a discipline, but also the temporal context of each paper, and the differences in their views which, at least in part, is reflective of those different times. Drawing from these illustrative comments and from other source material mentioned, some critical issues facing the field of information systems is identified. Rather than attempting to enforce a niche for information systems, a philosophical reconstruction is carried out using formal pragmatics, as developed by the philosopher Karl-Otto Apel (1980) and the social theorist Jurgen Habermas (1984).

Introduction to Information Systems & Systems Thinking

What Are Information Systems? (video)

Reflective One Minute Paper

The primary objective here is to define information systems. To do so, one must differentiate between raw, unorganised data, to processed, organised, and structured information that is meaningful. Information is necessary to for behaviour, decisions, and outcomes and can be valued by various metrics (timeliness, appropriateness, accuracy, etc). Information has a life-cycle: Creation (internal or external capture), Existence (Store/Retrieve, Use), Termination (Archive or Destroy).

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