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State of the machine [Jan. 10th, 2012|10:05 pm]
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[Current Location |Invercargill]
[music |Sparks - "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us"]

Long-term readers of this blog will remember that the computer I'm currently using has been playing up for the last three years or so. Which is probably not all that much of a surprise - by now it's about seven and a half years old and has made several trips in to the shop to be fixed, with the shop usually unable to diagnose its problems. By now most of its innards have been rebuilt or replaced and it still plays up (typically by shutting down without warning while I'm working on it, with other problems including regularly running chkdsk on startup, data files losing their integrity and entire folders full of emails vanishing without trace). By now I think I see why most offices replace their computer equipment after three years, whether they need to or not.

So, last September / October I finally lost what little patience I had left and ordered a new computer. Parts of it started arriving during late October, and by mid November there was a machine sitting on the new desk that could almost masquerade as a computer in a dim light. It even starts up like a computer, and has all that wishy washing new look Windows looking stuff on it that as soon as the computer is actually finished, I'll tinker around with until I can find a way to make it look like Windows 98, like I did with my work computer (which, like the new computer, runs Windows 7).

(As a digression: No, I didn't build it myself. I don't actually have a clue about setting up a computer or Windows or anything like that, which is part of why buying a computer is such a complicated and highly off-pissing process. I have to wait for people to know what they are doing to do what they know how to do. And I am, in theory, an IT professional. This terrifies anyone who actually knows me. A few days ago our freshly hired Group Manager was brought around to meet our department and (trying to show an interest in his staff) asked us what degrees we had or were working on. Boss has degrees and post-graduate diplomas coming out of his ears. New Boy has a couple of degrees and is working on other stuff. Then it was my turn to say what I'd done. "School Cert. English." (pause) (longer pause) (deathly silence).)

But the latest hold-up on the New Computer front isn't even something that someone who actually knows about computers can fix. Currently, so I am told, there is an international shortage of disk drives, because most of the factories that make them are in Thailand and got flooded out late last year. So, currently, the new machine has its boot disk (which was available at the time) but neither its data archive disk, nor its backup disk. So, until disk drives become available again and I'm able to get my data transferred off the old machine and on to the new one, it's fairly much a cleverly designed computer-shaped ornament with a few programs installed on it that it came with (plus a Home Use Program version of Office, which means that I have been able to begin one of my database projects on it. What's holding up doing any of the other pending database projects is that the new computer has yet to learn to talk nicely to the wireless router. It is my considered opinion that 'networking' should actually be spelt with two 'o's and no 'e's).

[User Picture]From: botrytis
2012-01-10 10:06 am (UTC)
One day, a couple of years ago, the bean counters where I work woke up and realised that computers cost about half what the IT budgets they'd been receiving had them costed at, plus you could make computers last five years rather than three.

Since then, we've made work computers last five years. And spent less on each computer. Five years is limiting on the staff who need capable machines - each year software gets more complicated and resource hungry, and a five year old Windows XP machine is not cutting edge... which makes cutting edge development on that computer a challenge.

My work computer gets replaced this year. I'm hoping that Thailand is drying out and there's not too much delay in sourcing the larger hard drive I want to specify.

Here's to hoping your other drives aren't delayed much longer.
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2012-01-10 11:06 am (UTC)
I've been given a rought E.T.A. of "second quarter 2012" for the drives. So hopefully I'll be able to restart work on my (moribund) web site, and be a bit more active on line in general, by Easter or shortly afterwards.

A couple of years back our bean counters started getting alarmed at what I.T. was costing them. So they paid for an expensive Consultant to Look At The Department And Identify Scope For Cutting Costs. The result? They got told that they should consider themselves fortunate they're getting the service they're getting as cheaply as they are getting it for. Our department (G.I.S.) has effectively two and a half people (I do about as much work for customer services as I do for spatial - the main reason I'm not fully customer services is that my hearing is just bad enough that I struggle on the telephone) doing some fairly advanced stuff that in comparable organisations you'd have a team of half a dozen or so doing.

My previous work computer (replaced early the year before last, I think) was an XP box that I had been using for five or six years by the time it was replaced. (I had been using it for something like 18 months when its main computer chip failed and had to be replaced so as far as the bean counters were concerned it was a three or four year old box, even though it hadn't been upgraded.) In that time all our major corporate systems (plus Geomedia, which is a seriously resource hungry program) had been through multiple sets of New Features Needing More Memory (not to mention a new phone system that was all tied in with Outlook on the computers and caused Outlook to crawl like a snail on Valium) with the result that the average computer in the building was rather threadbare (mine took about half an hour to start up in the mornings) and some of them (particularly those used by outside staff who previously hadn't done much computer work other than basic email and looking things up) were clogged up to the point of near unusability.

But on the up side, at least work missed out on the joys of Windows Vista (which most of the feedback I've read and heard about indicates was almost as nice as Windows ME).
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