Wednesday, 11 April 2007

The IT Brain Dump

One thing we have always struggled with in our little IT department is the sharing of important information. If I set up a new system I might note the details in a book or even on a shared document but we have never quite found a system which works for us all and as a result we cannot always put our hands on other peoples knowledge quickly and easily. Last week we decided to have another go at organising our information again and whilst wading through the available knowledge management tools came across a couple of gems.

One system which came top of the list on Google was an open source system called Twiki which I must say was my first choice for a while. They have some very big companies using the software and it looks like a very simple system, which in the tradition of wiki allows all users to contribute towards a knowledge base. I think my main gripe was that I wanted something which looked a bit more easily organised and more like an application than a simple website, although in Twiki's defence I did only look through the demo for a few minutes.

The product I found in the end was a very nice PHP application called PHPKB as in PHP Knowledge base. Although this would not be to every ones taste the fact that the application is available as a simple and very reasonable series of PHP pages suits our setup here perfectly. You have to have access to, or know how to setup, a web server and a MySQL database to serve this application but I did note that the company offer a free setup service and they do have a hosted option. We simply added a new virtual server to our main Virtual Host and had the system running in about an hour. The installation is quite simple and managing the system once its running is very straight forward, I have already started posting bits of information about systems and its surprising once you get started how many very important nuggets are stashed on emails and even in your head.

One of the other nice things about this particular system is that some categories of information can be public and some can be protected, so that in depth technical information can be cordoned off but some of the less technical information and tips can be made available to everyone in the organisation. As with all systems the usefulness is only going to become apparent when we have been using it for some time but I would say that with a little perseverance it has the potential to save an awful lot of time and stress.

On another point regular readers of 'AVFTR' will have noticed that someone actually commented on a post yesterday :o) In fact the nice gentleman concerned even Blogged about the Blog! I must add it to the Blogroll. I am now braced for a massive increase in traffic, I might call Blogspot to make sure they have capacity because in the last 4 hours of yesterday I had 30 visitors.

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A view from the rack is the personal blog of an IT manager who works for a pub company - hence beer