Lotus Notes vs. Microsoft. Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). “FAHCSIA is in the middle of a transition from a prehistoric Lotus Notes platform to MS Office, which is not going anywhere near as smoothly or as cheaply as expected.” Yet again another Commonwealth Department has been wooed from an established, industrial strength and modern system providing rapid application development, a stable mail and collaboration platform plus excellent security (at a low total cost of ownership), to MS Vapourware. As a senior consultant to FAHCSIA, (and other Commonwealth Departments) I attended meetings last year that clearly demonstrated to me that the MS product expected to replace Lotus Domino was immature, incomplete, resource intensive and out of the box, could do less than 70% of the Lotus alternative. The sheer amount of work that is required to migrate Domino Notes applications to MS is horrendous, but MS tell you they have a migration tool, without bothering to point out that it is only of any use for mail applications, and doesn’t cover the thousands of other applications built in Notes. They also don’t point out that to get the same functionality as a single Domino Enterprise Server, you require several servers and related server applications. Expect to see this fiasco repeated across a number of departments in the next couple of years, at huge cost in outsourced consultants and disastrously inadequate transition arrangements.

Wesfarmers Richard Goyder has now started the process of unveiling just how bad his team are discovering things to have been at Coles before they took over. His swipe at public affairs last week relates to the ridiculous salaries that were paid to what were really mid level ex-journos. They were good at their job, but we’re talking in the $300k to $400k annual salary bracket, plus bonuses. Public affairs is just the tip of the iceberg. The team who exited immediately after the sale took with them severance payments of around a million each – not just the top execs, either. Several Fletcher cronies in non-executive positions also pocketed windfall gains of over half a million each. The more Wesfarmers people dig, the worse it gets. The problem is finding somebody with a salary of $500k to $1m who actually does something or makes decisions. They’re proving to be few and far between. Imagine being a Wesfarmers exec who has run a profitable stand alone business unit on $500k total package, then taking over a company where dozens of mid-level GMs who never make a decision get paid $700k plus.

All public schools in Sydney have to provide accommodation to the Catholic pilgrims in their halls and gyms but many public schools do not have hot showers or enough toilets to cope with the number of pilgrims, millions of dollars are being spent on temporary hot water systems, the upgrading of safety features such as fire extinguishers, leaking roofs and exits.It seems that Catholic pilgrims must have reasonable facilities for their 10 day visit but not public schools students as a matter of course. Public schools have no choice in the matter and have to hand over their keys to complete strangers, onsite Catholic managers who will take over their buildings for the 10 days. Public schools are constantly battling for funds for significant maintenance issues and yet taxpayers are funding this extravagance. Surely there are enough Catholic school premises to house the pilgrims

Memo to all media advisers: triple-check your press releases. Last week Bronwyn Bishop criticised the Government for “scraping the carer’s bonus.” Bottom of the barrel stuff?

So, not so much volunteers as public servants on full pay..? How will the full cost of World Youth Day to the taxpayer actually ever be calculated? Go back to the 2000 Olympics and ask how they calculated the cost for that – same fully paid public service volunteers, even a Director General on $365k directing people traffic at Central Station (he also signed up for the Paralympics).

Medicare were notified late last week that the Government is scrapping the Medicare Benefits for Dental Services to chronically ill people (worth up to $4,250 per year). This was initiated by The Howard Government – and came into force 01 Nov 07. It is going to be scrapped by 30 March 08. This is a lot of money compared to what Nicola Roxon announced re children and dental cleaning! Once again the Government hits those who can least afford it! This didn’t get publicity like the Carers allowance – no one in the press has said anything!

Brumby’s land release can’t be doing much for the Baillieu family development at Eynesbury (10 mins south of Melton), which already had approval and is just kicking off.

Nelson will be gone by ANZAC day: Turnbull won’t stand – preferring a “Bob Hawke” to “Bill Hayden” – Turnbull not interested in taking over a party anywhere less than 45% popularity. Chances are next leader will be from Victoria. Also, in NSW, John Brogden will return to the Liberal Party, either in an appropriate by-election, or at the next election. Barry O’Farrell wants his expertise.

Has ANZ installed Foxtel’s customer service technology? I phoned twice on Friday, maybe an hour apart, about two different matters (both questionable transactions) but one relating to my bank account and the other to my credit card. Both times I went through all the punch buttons routine (which on credit cards takes quite awhile as they read out various information about your account) and then was told I’d be connected to an operator. And then… beep beep beep – a disconnected phone line. So what are the customer service staff doing while no calls get through? Should I phone head office and ask for the managing director? I did this once with Telstra and after being asked which of the ten managing directors I wished to talk to, (yes, ten!), I was put onto a special office that resolved my problem within 24 hours and called me back to check that the problem had been resolved. As my father always told me, if you have a problem, take it to the top!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey