Archive for ‘October, 2010’

Conduce Group is pleased to announce that they are now members of the Middle East Aerospace Consortium (‘MEAC’), a membership association of Middle East and International organisations and companies.
The consortium members offer products, services, training and expertise to companies wishing to do business in the rapidly growing Middle East Aerospace Market.

John Ellis, Chief Executive Office of Middle East Aerospace Consortium commented. “We are very pleased to welcome Conduce to  the Consortium. Conduce will be benefitting from not only the assistance with meeting new potential clients in the Middle East through the Consortium, but also are a valued new member to our existing members who they will be able to help and assist. The Middle East Aerospace and Aviation market is rapidly growing and is expected to be come one of the largest areas in the world for Aircraft Manufacturing and Aircraft Repair and Maintenance. Companies like Conduce are highly sought after due to their specific niche expertise.”

Wayne Enis, CIO of Conduce Group commented “The Middle East Aerospace sector is an incredibly exciting and vibrant market. Aviation has been a central pillar of the strategic growth plans for the region for some time and this is now rapidly extending beyond first class airlines into aircraft manufacturing and maintenance. The Middle East Aerospace Consortium are perfectly placed to advise and assist on the opportunities available within the region and is a great forum for like minded organisations to innovate and collaborate.”

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This week the Conduce team have been in Singapore exhibiting and speaking at the Aircraft Commerce Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operator IT Conference. That’s a bit of a mouthful so has been shortened on Twitter to #AeroIT. Here are the best tweets during the week using the #AeroIT hashtag.

Flight ready for take off, are we nearly there yet? #AeroIT #TwitPict Oct 24 13:10:23 via TwitPicteoffice2go

A USB port! On a plane! Yes, I was quite excited too! #AeroIT Oct 24 22:46:25 via Twitpic Poster for iPhoneconduce

Are we there yet? Yes #AeroITMon Oct 25 08:14:48 via Twitter for iPhoneconduce

Implementing an MRO system without data cleansing is like putting diesel in a Rolls Royce says Sharhabeel Lone #AeroITTue Oct 26 01:39:58 via Twitter for iPhoneconduce

Listening to Rob Saunders from Cathay Pacific at #AeroIT Encouraging to hear to demand for simplicity at a large airlineWed Oct 27 04:38:44 via Twitter for iPhoneconduce

Our stand at #AeroIT just before we take it down #TwitPict Oct 27 08:41:05 via TwitPicteoffice2go

Author: Paul Saunders

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Windows 2008 time synchronisation has improved considerably since the days of TimeServ !  However out of the box it still does need work and careful consideration. 

Imagine the scenario if you will…….You perform a large installation including business application integration, P2V migrations, consolidation, email infrastructure upgrades, access portals, bells, whistles and a lot of tinsel, but the first and major complaint…….the financial director’s time on his laptop is out by 10 minutes !

After investigation, you realise that everyone’s time is out by 10minutes and sure enough the central time source, which is the PDC EMULATOR is also 10 minutes out.  Not a problem, or so we think, and a simple clock adjustment on the PDC EMULATOR resolves the issue……………….till the next day, and the time is now out by 15 minutes….hmm.

We investigate further, and after concluding that this isn’t a wind up, and the time is actually skipping out on a brand new HP DL360 we had to take this seriously as it was now becoming a major business issue as logons and custom applications were now failing due to these time inconsistencies across the network.

The HP DL360 was being used as a Hyper-V host, running four virtual servers, three of which were P2V migrations of previous hardware and the fourth VM guest was a new Windows 2008 R2 domain controller. 

The Hyper-V host itself was a domain member, and a separate standoff physical server was also acting as a Windows 2008 R2 Domain Controller.  Utilising this hybrid approach gives the flexibility of running domain critical services in a virtual environment, whilst providing fault tolerance by implementing a separate physical DC to provide domain services (particulary for the Hyper-V host).

The time problem was quickly traced to the PDC EMULATOR FSMO role being homed on the Hyper-V Guest DC.  The effects of this are as follows:

  1. By default all machines on the domain are set to update time from the PDC EMULATOR
  2. The PDC EMULATOR server is set to update time using its own BIOS
  3. A Virtual machine with the default Hyper-V integration options (in this case the PDC EMULATOR) will obtain its time from the Hyper-V Host.
  4. The Hyper-V host is a domain member, which will update from the PDC EMULATOR, which in this case will update from itself………..and go back to point 3…and the loop goes on, and on, and on……..

There are a number of ways to resolve this issue, including transferring the PDC EMULATOR role to the standoff Domain Controller.  This would have worked, however you would still rely on a machines BIOS clock to provide time to the entire domain. 

A smarter, more effective solution is to synchronise the PDC EMULATOR with an external time source, and then keep the domain defaults, which will in turn ensure all member workstations/servers will update from the PDC EMULATOR.

To do this, simply modify the registry on the PDC EMULATOR as follows: 

(Warning, I used the word “simply” above very loosely, you can cause serious system damage in the registry so please take a backup and proceed with caution)

Open Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and configure the following registry entries:


This registry entry determines which peers W32Time will accept synchronization from. Change this REG_SZ value from NT5DS to NTP.

Then set the following:


This registry entry controls whether the local computer is marked as a reliable time server. Change this REG_DWORD value from 10 to 5 here.

Then set the following:


This registry entry specifies a space-delimited list of stratum 1 time servers from which the local computer can obtain reliable time stamps. The list may consist of one or more DNS names or IP addresses (if DNS names are used then you must append ,0x1 to the end of each DNS name).   Set this to,0x1 for a reliable time source, others are readily accessible and available by searching online.

Once you are happy with the registry changes, restart the Windows Time service and voila  !

Well not quite…it can take upto an hour for the PDC EMULATOR to synchronise with an external time source, and upon doing so you will have to wait for the clients to update to the PDC EMULATOR.   If you’re too busy (or simply inpatient) you can run this following command to speed things up and force the synchronisation:

w32tm /resync /rediscover

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Here’s my presentation from earlier today which I gave at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference in Singapore.

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5 days to Launch
You’ll forgive me for keeping this brief because it’s pretty busy here getting ready to launch to an unsuspecting public next Tuesday in Singapore at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference. It seemed like a good idea at the time to pick the 26th of October for a launch deadline at the definitive aerospace software exhibition, but the added logistical hassles have proved to be an interesting challenge. We decided ultimately to take our stand and all our kit as excess luggage on the flight, so there might be a bit of suitcase juggling at the airport on Sunday.

Putting together marketing material from scratch has been great fun. We’ve made an exhibition stand; we’ve printed leaflets and presentation folders; we’ve written marketing blurb and we’ve prepared rolling demos and presentations. We held back from saying that “ is the world’s number one cloud based Fatigue Risk Management System”, because we simply haven’t been able to ascertain if that is in breach of trade description laws or not.

The final touches are being made to the software. Today we migrated the website across to the same production server where the application is hosted and finally got the two entities talking to each other. So far so good, but Wayne was a bit worried about cross account data contamination – so we’re going to go through some rigorous testing and snagging before the weekend. This gives us a good chance to give the account creation web services a good hammering and tidy up the interface between website and application.

The DNS from the old holding page is being re-routed this afternoon, so within 48 hours in theory visitors will be able to sign up for a beta account. Please try and hold off until Tuesday though please!! 🙂

Related Posts:
FatigueReporting Production Blog Part 3: Analysis
FatigueReporting Production Blog Part 2: Rebranding
FatigueReporting Production Blog Part 1: Bootstrap Mode

Author: Paul Saunders

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As we move ever nearer to a public beta release of on the 26th of October we’ve been busy polishing and fettling all those rough edges that come with such a fast moving project. As you might expect, once we started showing the software to the outside world we ended up changing our priorities for features to include or not include in the first public release.

One of these features that we had fairly low down our list of priorities was an analysis tool. There were a couple of reasons behind the decision to hold back the development of an analysis tool. First off, we didn’t (and still don’t) have a clear idea of what kind of analytics people need to do with a Fatigue Risk Management System.

There isn’t anything that we have found that is particularly prescriptive in terms what needs to be analysed or reported in terms of trends or causal factors. Our thoughts were that we’d get the event reporting system fully working, and then show it to some potential customers. At that point we would get their feedback on how they would need to use the system as an analysis and reporting tool. We also thought we’d have some time before we needed to think about that, because after all, you can’t do any analysis of fatigue events until you have built up some data first.

However, that viewpoint turned out to be pretty naïve. Almost anyone who knew anything about Fatigue Risk Management System told us categorically that we needed to have an analysis system from day one. We ignored that advice for a couple of weeks, but on Wednesday (2 days ago) we decided we’d reshuffle the project to-do list and move the analysis feature to the very top of the priorities.

Working to a spec which was one level better than the back of a cigarette packet, we got to work on designing and developing an analysis system. First thing first was to choose a method for all this. We’ve used a whole load of business intelligence and reporting development tools in the past and the one thing that we decided from the outset was that the application needed to work on any browser without the need to plug in or install third party software. So this ruled out anything running on Flash, Silverlight or any of those fancy animated tools that we know and love… That is because anything that is Flash or Shockwave based won’t work on an iPhone or iPad and any of the latest Microsoft stuff like Silverlight or Seadragon would need additional software to be installed on specific browsers, which could be a pain in the neck for larger corporate customers. HTML5 was going to be a pain to do in the figurative 5 minutes of time we had left – so we ruled out that option pretty quickly. The following conversation went something like this:

“What does Google Analytics work on? That’s pretty cool”
“Type that into Google and see what it says”
“Oooh… Google Charts API beta…. What’s that?”

“wow this looks workable”

Within minutes we’d fired up the chart wizard and were generating code that was making charts look like the scribbling on our notepad. 24 hours later, this is what it looks like so far.

This isn’t a million miles from the original wire frame I did when we first dreamed up the concept.

We’ve still got loads to learn about the Google Charts API, but it is well defined, flexible and feature rich. It certainly looks like it’s going to be able to do most of what we need – at least for version 1.
We’ve got some fairly grand plans for how we want to move things forward. All we need now is some ideas on the kind of reports and charts we need to present.

Please get in touch if you want to know more about, or if you know what kind of reports are required to run a comprehensive Fatigue Risk Management System. Only ten days to go until launch!!

Related Posts:
FatigueReporting Production Blog Part 2: Rebranding
FatigueReporting Production Blog Part 1: Bootstrap Mode

Author: Paul Saunders

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The Rowan Organisation (TRO) is a registered charity that provides disabled and older people (collectively known as service users) with information and resources in order to offer them increased choice and control over the way they live their lives and to increase their independence.

Traditionally, local authority social services have arranged packages of services for eligible individuals. In 1997 a system of direct payments was introduced that allows local authorities to make payments to  service users so that they could choose for themselves where to purchase their support from. A further development of this scheme is the introduction of Personal Budgets and it is the stated aim of the government that by 2011, all local authorities will be identifying a Personal Budget for all service users which they can then use flexibly to achieve personal outcomes.

This unprecedented change has created a huge challenge for charitable service providers.  Instead of dealing with a few local authorities managing funding, it is now necessary to engage with each service user financially directly.  This has effectively increased the existing TRO customer base from a dozen to many thousands.  It has also has created a huge opportunity for The Rowan Organisation, to market not for profit services all over the UK, instead of just to contracted local authorities.

Rob Wilson – CEO of The Rowan Organisation said – “We are currently working through a massive shakeup in our business environment.  As we became aware of the scale of the legislative changes going through parliament, we recognised the requirement for massive change in our administrative processes if we were to manage this significant shift in our customer base.

The Rowan Organisation then initiated a lengthy & detailed tender process with potential partners that could assist us to address this new environment.  We are pleased to announce that we have selected Conduce Consulting to implement a 115 user Microsoft Dynamics CRM system & provide the necessary project management along with accounting systems integration to make the most of these challenging times.

The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM system that Conduce Consulting are implementing, will enable us to track vital service user requirements to a detailed individual level & to enable one point of entry for all transactions.  This will remove the need for current multiple duplicated computer & manual systems in one stroke and will massively improve efficiency within our processes.  Previously Rowan only had to deal with a few local authorities for funding & this was relatively simple. With the new systems in place & the change management project in hand, we intend our existing valuable staff to be able to handle the new requirement for tens of thousands of financial transactions with service users directly, to be achieved effectively & efficiently within existing resources.

Wayne Enis CIO of the Conduce Group commentedWe have known The Rowan Organisation very well now for quite some time & we have a lot of admiration for their work.  We are fellow tenants in the excellent Eliot Park Innovation Centre & we have got to know TRO as good neighbours, helping each other whenever the opportunity has arisen.  Conduce Consulting are very proud to have been selected to assist with this challenge. The Rowan Organisation becomes the latest of our comprehensive list of ‘not for profit’/3rd Sector partners.

The Conduce Group has a long history of experience in the 3rd Sector & we will endeavour to enable TRO to get the best out of Charity software/hardware discounts. Our other group companies, such as Conduce IT Services and Dreamscape Design are on hand to assist with hardware & web requirements respectively as they emerge.  We have also been able to allocate some free time from our 2010 pro-bono charity campaign towards this project, keeping the costs for Rowan down & enabling the Conduce Group as a responsible company to make a positive difference in the Charitable/Not for profit sector

The project kicked off on October 1st & is expected to take about 6 months to complete.

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Paul Saunders will be speaking at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference in Singapore on the 26th October.

As well as launching Conduce Software’s new Software-as-a-Service products Paul will be speaking on the subject “Why is MRO IT software so complicated? What does the future hold?

Whilst working on the development of and Paul wrote a series of blog articles about the lack of simplicity with current MRO software systems. The first blog post on this subject was titled “Why isn’t MRO software simpler?” and came about as a direct result of a visit to the European leg of the same conference in Frankfurt in June 2010.

Paul said: “I’m the world’s greatest moaner, as friends and colleagues would attest, so when the opportunity came up for me to take the mic and moan about the subject that I am passionate about to a room full of people, I jumped at the chance. I’m not expecting to have an easy ride, as there is a chance that I’ll upset one or two people with what I have to say… but I’m taking my stab vest and if one person is influenced by my opinions then I will have considered it a success.”

A transcript and copy of the presentation will be available on the Conduce Blog a day or two after the conference, so if you can’t make it to Singapore you’ll be able to read and see the speech online. Paul will be taking questions both during and after the speech via Twitter, so if you have a question tweet it to @conduce using the #AeroIT hashtag.

Click here for the conference agenda
Click here for a list of conference speakers

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