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When ERP migrations go bad: Games Workshop says project issues are delaying refresh of 'dated' online store

Commissar Yarrick's bale eye focuses on company's web retail presence as 'long and complex' saga continues


Games Workshop, the UK's fantasy model maker and table-top wargames retailer, has been forced to stall the development of a new online shopping system because of delays to its ERP project.

In its annual report [PDF], the company said that while online sales were up 70 per cent compared to the same period last year, more than making up for the sales volume shortfall during lockdown store closures, its website is "looking a little dated and the back-end systems at times cannot cope with current volumes."

The current online system was "clearly not a long-term solution or as customer focussed as we would like it to be," the company said.

While Games Workshop was ready to press on with a new online system, an old foe has returned from sagas past. Readers with reasonably long memories will recall the Nottingham-based business was in the middle of making the move from Sage to a Microsoft Dynamics ERP system and the project had hit trouble.

In January, news came that the project had parted ways with its main implementation partner – later revealed to be DXC Technology – as it struggled with the "long and complex project."

According to the company's annual report for 2018-19 [PDF], a move to a "more agile methodology" would help the remaining project go live in 2020.

At the time, the company said certain elements of the project were live and it had a "robust plan for the implementation of the remaining phases" sufficient to downgrade the project's status to "no longer severe."

But fast-forward to 2021, and that ERP project has hit the timeline of the online store refresh.

"The complexity of our ERP upgrade has pushed back the start of a project to upgrade our digital offer, which includes personalising content and improving navigation, by about a year. We are currently in the scoping phase. The early concepts look amazing. It will be another major IT-supported project so we will be resourcing it appropriately with third party expertise," the 2020/21 annual report said.

In terms of investment in assets, the ERP project required £1.1m in the year, on top of £2.3m on a new warehousing facility.

The delay also gained board-level attention. The board is "briefed on a monthly basis regarding major investments and ongoing relationships with key suppliers as required, most notably in the past 12 months in respect of the ongoing ERP implementation project," the report said.

Not that any of this seems to have impaired the group's success. It reported pre-tax profit totalling nearly £151m – up from £90m a year earlier – on the back of £353m in revenue. Games Workshop has also enjoyed a lot of positive media attention as the Dungeons & Dragons revival and COVID-lockdown-inspired interest in board gaming attracted attention to its products. ®

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GIMP 2.99.8 is here but what's happened to 3.0? If only stuff would not break all the time

Keeping up with technology changes 'taking a toll on development'

GIMP 2.99.8, a development version with many new features, has been released, but 3.0 is taking its time due to system changes that break things.

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After more than a decade of development, South Korea has a near miss with Nuri rocket test

Nation playing catch-up following release from 1979 ban

South Korea today came close to joining the small club of nations that can build and launch their own orbital-class rockets, with its maiden attempt blasting off successfully, but failing to deploy the payload.

At 5pm local time (UTC +9), the rocket, named Nuri, or KSLV-II, left its launchpad at Naro Space Centre, destined for low-Earth orbit with a 1.5-tonne dummy payload. But while all the three stages of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle II worked and the initial payload separation was fine, the dummy satellite was not placed into orbit as planned.

It wasn't immediately clear what went wrong, although Moon, speaking from the Naro spaceport, said the payload did not stabilise in orbit after separation.

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Developers offered browser-based fun in VSCode.dev and Java action in Visual Studio Code

Looking at code here, there and (almost) everywhere

Microsoft has whipped the covers off yet another take on code-in-the-browser with a lightweight version of Visual Studio Code, while unveiling the version 1.0 release of support for Red Hat Java in the freebie source wrangler.

It comes after last month's preview of the code editor that runs entirely in the browser, and will doubtless have some users pondering the difference between this and Microsoft-owned GitHub's github.dev, which also pops a development environment into the browser. One of the biggest of those differences is a lack of compulsory integration with the VS source-shack; this is unavoidable with github.dev (the clue is, after all, in the URL.)

VSCode.dev, on the other hand, will permit the opening up of a file from a local device (if the browser allows it and supports the File System Access API) in what looks for all the world like an instance of Visual Studio Code, except surrounded by the gubbins of a browser.

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No swearing or off-brand comments: AWS touts auto-moderation messaging API

Automate everything – but while human moderation is hard, robot moderation tends not to work

AWS has introduced channel flows to its Chime messaging and videoconferencing API, the idea being to enable automatic moderation of profanity or content that "does not fit" the corporate brand.

Although Amazon Chime has a relatively small market share in the crowded videoconferencing market, the Chime SDK is convenient for developers building applications that include videoconferencing or messaging, competing with SDKs and services from the likes of Twilio or Microsoft's Azure Communication Services. In other words, this is aimed mainly at corporate developers building applications or websites that include real-time messaging, audio or videoconferencing.

The new feature is for real-time text chat rather than video and is called messaging channel flows. It enables developers to create code that intercepts and processes messaging before they are delivered. The assumption is that this processing code will run on AWS Lambda, its serverless platform.

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UK government puts £5bn on the table in trawl for public sector networks services

I dream of wires, say Whitehall’s big buyers

The UK's central government procurement agency is chumming the waters around the market's swimmers, hoping to tempt suppliers into providing a range of computer network services and kit with a £5bn tender.

The buying spree, which will officially begin when a framework agreement starts in fiscal 2023, involves a large spread of hardware, software and services around IT networks. Included are categories such as networking, internet and intranet software packages, network interfaces, network operating system software development services and so on.

Crown Commercial Service, the cross-government buying organisation that sits within the Cabinet Office, has launched what is known as a "prior information notice" to start talking to suppliers before it forms the official competition to be on the framework: a group of contracted suppliers from which a huge number of public sector bodies can buy.

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Informatica UKI veep was rightfully sacked over Highways England $5k golf jolly, says tribunal

Underling took customer on bucket list trip - and VP signed it off without checking

Informatica's former UK & Ireland vice president was correctly sacked after letting a salesman take Highways England's executive IT director on a $5,000 golfing jaunt, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled.

Not only did Derek Thompson breach Informatica's anti-corruption policies but he also warned underlings to "be discreet" about the jolly – and told HR investigators "Why does anyone do any customer entertainment?" when asked how playing golf benefited the business.

Thompson lost his appeal against a judge's earlier ruling [PDF] that his October 2017 sacking was reasonable, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal publishing its judgment [PDF] last week.

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Boeing's Starliner capsule corroded due to high humidity levels, NASA explains, and the spaceship won't fly this year

Meanwhile Elon's running orbital tourist trips and ISS crew missions

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

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Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

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Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

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What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

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IBM Systems sales sag as revenue growth slows to a crawl – but at least tape did OK

Big Blue promises mid-single-digit growth is coming, but CEO struggles to explain how.

IBM has blamed another quarter of tepid performance on its servers.

Big Blue's last quarter before it spins out services limb Kyndryl saw it land revenue of $17.6 billion – just 0.3 per cent above revenue for the same quarter in 2020. For the year to date, which now covers three quarters, the corporation has posted anaemic 1.6 per cent growth.

Investors were told that the quarterly growth figure is 2.5 per cent if you consider Kyndryl's imminent ejection, or 1.9 per cent after adjusting for divested businesses and currency.

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