Data Privacy

Data Privacy Cartoon

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Posted in 1. New Technology, 2. Social Media, 4. Software Development, 6. Big Data, Risk Management

Yahoo Finance Portal Crashes as Nasdaq drops 100 pts

When Marissa Meyer took the reins of Yahoo in July 2012, she promised a better and more reliable portal experience. However, Yahoo’s share of portal users has been steadily declining over the years, and today we got first-hand experience in one of the reasons why! The Nasdaq dropped a 100 points at 14:30 EST today in anticipation of a lack luster 1st Quarter earnings season and as a result, Yahoo’s Finance portal got overloaded and died on us! I guess it could not handle the load of a couple of million investors who probably rushed to it to see the effect of the market on their personal portfolios.Yahoo Finance

What I fail to understand is that in this day and age of super-scalable,  super-elastic cloud network  infrastructure, why is it that Ms. Meyer’s company can’t keep the portal up an running.  It’s not even like we had a Black Monday kind of scenario today. Its just a 100 pt drop! And given that their user base is only shrinking, why?!

And no, I am not a freebie user of yahoo services venting here; I am a paying customer on one of their subscription plans for web hosting, business email and portal use.


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Posted in 1. New Technology, 2. Social Media, 5. Cloud Computing, Uncategorized

Make your Online Banking Safer with Trusteer

Hi everyone! I am writing this post to share a simple solution to make your online banking experience safer – both for you and your family.Trusteer Architecture

Without getting into the technical details of the kinds of shady methods used by hackers and viruses to get at your email user-ids, passwords, bank account numbers, online banking password etc., let me just assure you that there is a plethora of methods being employed by the bad guys – and most of our home computers are sitting ducks.

The list of hacking techniques that you could fall victim to is endless. Phishing, Key logging, Screen shotting, Browser Hijacking, Session Hijacking, Drive By Hacking, Spoofing, Sniffing, Viruses, Worms are just a few of them.

While I personally try my best to ensure I have a ‘clean’ computer to do all my online banking on, I am always looking for ways to secure it further. Trusteer is another little gold nugget I have found in this quest. The product has a sole purpose – “End-point Centric Fraud Prevention”. This is security speak for preventing fraud via a home computer that you and I would normally use to do our online banking from.

Why use Trusteer?Trusteer is recommended by banks

To start with, your bank recommends it. Most Canadian banks (TD Canada Trust, ING Direct, Scotia Bank) are proactively suggesting that their clients install and use Trusteer. It is also being used outside of Canada in the Continental US (Bank of America and others) and Europe (Royal Bank of Scotland and others).

It keeps your computer clean of:

  •  Man-in-the-browser malwareTrusteer Complements Antivirus
  •  Detects new zero-day threats
  •  Stops phishing of login credentials and payment card data
  •  Notifies fraud prevention teams in participating banks of any threat activity

The company is owned by IBM – the technology provider to almost every major bank on the planet. So that’s added comfort.

How does it tell you when you are safe to bank?

Once you install Trusteer on your computer, it works behind the scenes with your browser.  The browser URL window will show a green colored icon indicating that your session is safe on the site you are on. See the image below with the icon circled in red.

Trusteer Browser Alert

If you accidentally typed a variation of your bank’s web address/URL, and went to a phishing site, the URL window will not display the green icon and you should know something is amiss. Trusteer partners with most banks in North America, so you would see the green icon the moment you are on their site. Trusteer will also warn you proactively when it detects any other activity on your computer that is potentially malicious; for e.g. consider a scenario where some malware in your computer is attempting to capture your web banking id or password or any details when you are on your bank’s site.

So go ahead and install it and be a little safer.

You can download it from the following button

Hope you enjoyed this post; Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family – post it on Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook or all three!  Thanks for reading and be safe till my next post.

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Posted in 1. New Technology, Uncategorized

Program Management basics

When I decided to write this post on program management, I was tempted to follow the routine format of any other blog post but then decided to do it bit differently. There are so many variables and angles to program management that it is probably best addressed as a Q&A. So here goes.

Que.: What is a program?

A program is a collection of projects that are usually done to meet a strategic need or objective of the organization. The projects in the program will have inter-dependencies between some of them.  While an individual project may meet one or more objectives, the program when delivered successfully, will be broader in benefit and help meet an overall organizational strategy or objective. Another way to look at it would be – a single project may not yield all the benefits that a collection of projects would.

Que.: What are the basic elements of Program Management?

Any aspect of program management will fall under one of the following five key elements of program management.

Program Management Five Key Elements by Sri Prakash

    1. Program Infrastructure: Setting up all the technology, support processes, work spaces, and people required to run the program office.
    2. Fiscal Planning & Control: Putting in place clearly published standards, procedures, and controls for managing the fiscal needs of the program. This includes setting up of program budgets and the staff required in assisting the program manager in managing the budget.
    3. Planning Programs & Projects: Defining a clear framework for planning for the program and the individual projects within the program. Program Planning is very different from Project Planning and must be done after all individual project plans are developed.
    4. Governance Model for Program & Projects: Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities for all those participating in the delivery of the program.
    5. Management of Program & Projects: This is the ongoing monitoring of the program and its underlying activities. This essentially includes monitoring and reporting on program progress, financial burn-rates, percentage completion, highlighting and addressing risks, and ensuring that the environment is kept conducive for the completion of the underlying projects in the program.

Que.: Why do we need to run so many projects in parallel – why can’t we do them in sequence?

It is definitely far more complex to run a multitude of projects in parallel as a program; the reason we run these projects in parallel is for a number of reasons:

Time: Time is of the essence when it comes to executing a program; a program is almost always designed to meet a strategic need of an organization that has “time” as one of the cornerstones. For example, your program may require putting in place all the processes, people, and systems to support your organization’s strategy which may read something like:  “to become the second largest provider of solar LED panels in the Eastern United State by the year 2019”. There is little chance of meeting this aim if you do all the projects required to meet this strategy in sequence.
Economies of scale: It is far more cost effective to handle projects in parallel where resources can be shared across projects and where the knowledge on one project often becomes critical to another due to the interdependencies between the projects in a program. Resource utilization is maximized and down-time is reduced.
Change: Managing change in an organization is always tricky. Staff resent change; you can gear up your staff for a major change as long as it is promised to happen for a reasonable/finite period of time after which staff knows that the organization will settle back into steady state with the promised benefits that the change will bring about. Doing projects in sequence results in staff experiencing what seems to be a never ending cycle of change resulting in burn-out due to project-fatigue.

Que.: Why do I need a Program Manager; can’t a Project Manager oversee the program?

A project manager is used to playing a role where they are focused on the specific deliverables of a project. Project managers work on detailed planning at a task level, identifying and assigning tasks to the right individual, managing a plan, and ensuring tasks are completed on time so that the project deliverable is met. Their scope of functioning is far narrower and a lot deeper than a program manager.

A program manager is a leader in the true sense of the word. The program manager brings clarity and structure to an otherwise chaotic scenario normally associated with multiple projects each vying for attention and priority. The program manager will be able to set the relative priorities for all the projects in the program by understanding the interdependencies, comparative benefits of each project, and alignment of these projects with respect to the overall goals and strategic objectives of the program. A program manager may often have to make tough decisions around diverting resources from one project to another in the overall interests of the program. A program manager’s role is strategic and macro in focus versus a project manager who tends to be more objective and micro in focus.

To know more about program management, project management,  and other technology related information, follow my blog.

Thanks for reading and be safe till my next post.

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Posted in 3. Project Management, Risk Management

Common Mistakes in Project Costing

Hi everyone… over my 20 plus years of managing programs, projects, and project managers, I have developed and reviewed hundreds of project cost-estimates and proposals. Here are a few takeaways that I continue to bear in mind and hope you might find useful when it comes to costing for your projects.

Common Mistakes

  1. Not accounting for historical costs (maybe due to lack of availability of numbers, unwillingness by stakeholders to provide historical costs).Project Costing
  2. Over reliance on historical numbers.
  3. Guesstimates versus estimates (not using a basis/model for estimating).
  4. Lack of transparency – not using accurate labor rates/costs.
  5. Underestimation – not being aware of market cost/rates.
  6. Lack of understanding of the estimating process.
  7. Lack of experience in estimating – never estimated before or never did so frequently in the past.
  8. Lack of understanding of a project life cycle – risks and how to manage / mitigate them with appropriate resourcing.
  9. Picking a Project Manager who is a pure administrator/paper pusher who relies on others for estimates on every line item.
  10. Not re-validating a line item estimate that is received from someone.
  11. Using Project Managers who do not understand the culture of the organization.
  12. Not listing assumptions behind each cost element.
  13. Not accounting for market conditions that can affect human resource cost/rates on multi-year projects.
  14. Lack of detailed planning – too many high-level line items in the estimates.
  15. In sufficient cross-review of a project manager’s estimates by functional managers, directors, and/or sponsors.
  16. Project Costing by decree – imposing a budget and timelines on a project.


  1. Inaccurate line-item estimates quickly add up – larger the plan, greater the magnitude of error.
  2. Time lost in re-estimating, refining when you find out estimates are wrong/invalid.
  3. Lowers confidence of staff who participated in the development of estimates.
  4. Project slowdowns when you discover that estimates were off; results in: crisis, finger pointing, root cause analysis, re-estimation and justification, requesting and getting additional funds.
  5. Lack of trust in the planning process.
  6. In some cases, firing and re-hiring of project manager may be required resulting in major down-time.
  7. When bringing in a project manager from the outside, the project manager almost always has a lack of understanding of the culture of the organization; estimation that is done without an understanding/insight into the culture of the organization is almost always inaccurate (either grossly over or under budget).
  8. Over-reliance on historical numbers can be a mistake unless the project is exactly similar to the historical one.
  9. When budgets are imposed on a project versus determining what a project will truly cost, the project is bound to fail.

As a rule, make sure that the project manager you hire is aware of these common mistakes. You can use the list (1 to 16) as a checklist when reviewing any cost proposal whether it is by your internal project manager or a vendor who is submitting a proposal.

Thanks for reading. Be safe till my next post.

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Posted in 3. Project Management, Risk Management

FM Radio on Blackberry 10.2.1 – how to find the radio app on a blackberry

Ok now that the much awaited Blackberry OS 10.2.1 is here, not many people know where or how to find the FM Radio ApplicationIMG_20140129_164224

So let me explain how:

1) Select the MUSIC app on your Blackberry (Q10, Q5, and Z30 only – sorry Z10 users – you do not get the FM radio)

2) Make sure you connect your headphones (they act as the antenna)

3) Select the radio icon at the bottom of the MUSIC app. (see the screen shot alongside)

You are done. Now you can  manually select your station or simply do a auto-scan to pick up all local FM stations.


Posted in Uncategorized

Blackberry OS 10.2.1 Update – List of features


Following is the list of features in the new Blackberry 10.2.1 OS Upgrade released on 28-January, 2014IMG_20140129_160316

  • Customize Pinch Gesture to Filter BlackBerry Hub – BlackBerry Hub lets you access all your messages and notifications in one place. A new feature lets you instantly filter the message list in the Hub. You can customize the Hub to show only Unread Messages, Flagged Messages, Draft Messages, Meeting Invites, Sent Messages or Level 1 Alerts. Once the filter criterion is set, you can simply activate it with a pinch gesture on the Hub’s message list.
  • Simplified Phone Experience – The phone includes a new incoming call screen that lets you swipe to the left to answer or swipe right to ignore a call. New intuitive icons allow you to instantly silence the call, or send a Reply Now response through BBM, SMS or email that you can’t answer the phone right away. You can choose from a list of standard automated responses or respond with a personalized note.
  • SMS and Email Groups – You can now create SMS and email groups for more efficient broadcast communications.
  • Actionable Lock Screen Notifications – You can now “Tap to open” a message that appears on the lock screen, letting you respond to an important message much quicker or to check messages more discreetly.
  • Picture Password for Quick Unlocking – You can quickly unlock your phone using a combination of a picture and a number (0-9) of your choice, which you place at a particular point on the image. When you try to unlock the phone, the picture will appear along with a grid of random numbers. To unlock, simply drag the grid so the number you selected overlays the particular point on the image.
  • Customizable Quick Settings Menu – You can now customize what appears on the Settings menu, which includes features such as being able to quickly change the Brightness of the smartphone’s display, toggle various network connections, and access the built-in flashlight. The Settings menu also includes a toggle that lets you instantly switch between your Personal and Work perimeter.
  • Offline Browser Reading Mode – You can now save the current web page you’re on for later viewing, even if you are offline or without an Internet connection.
  • Preferred Contact Sync – You can now choose the sync source for your Contacts ensuring you always have the most up-to-date contact details. When adding a new contact you can designate which sources you want the contact info to sync with, such as the corporate address book, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
  • Device and Battery Monitor – A new and improved device monitor provides you with essential details on battery usage, the impact of installed apps on battery life and memory usage and storage, as well as CPU stats.
  • FM Radio – If you have a BlackBerry Z30, BlackBerry Q10 or BlackBerry Q5 smartphone, the new software update unlocks the built-in FM radio in those handsets. You can listen to local FM stations, which does not require any network connection.
  • Automatic Software Updates – OS updates can be set to happen automatically over a Wi-Fi® connection to help ensure you’re always benefiting from the latest and best possible customer experience.
  • Enterprise Features – When combined with BES10 version 10.2, enterprise customers will gain additional security features and IT policies for when more granular controls are required, such as for regulated industries and for organizations that work with sensitive data. For more information about BES10, please visit
Posted in Uncategorized
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