The “Modern” Work Computer

I believe the IT setup at work is stupid.

My work computer runs Windows XP with Microsoft Office 2003.  That setup’s not necessarily a bad idea but it gets worse. (I just hope that when they do upgrade, they’re smart enough to skip Vista as Windows 7 has all the advantages of Vista with a couple years of bug fixes, fine tuning and feature enhancements.)

The only approved web browser is Internet Explorer 6. It would be one thing if they had a plan in place for when to upgrade, but there is none. No other web browser other than Internet Explorer will ever be considered unless a dramatic policy from STRATCOM would come down. The fact that either Internet Explorer 7 or 8 are more secure and would improve productivity are ignored.  I guess it was a good thing after all that Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer & Windows Media Player inseparably into their operating system or we would have been left with no way to access websites or play audio.

The computers only have 512 MB of RAM (with part of that reserved for integrated graphics). Too bad that’s barely enough RAM to run a normal office workload of Internet Explorer, Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint. Just hope you don’t also have a PDF you need to open. Skimping the $10-20 for more memory means increased computer crashes.

Speaking of mail, our inbox size is limited to 100MB. If people would stick to plain text, that would be plenty, but I get far more massive PowerPoint presentations and PDFs than I do at home. I got to thinking how much money it would cost to upgrade our email storage. If I bought a 1TB hard drive from the store on base for less than $150, I could significantly increase the storage space.  100MB = 1/10 GB = 1/10,000 TB.  1/10,000 of $150.00 is a penny and a half. They spend more on toilet paper in a month than it would cost to permanently double my inbox size.  Obviously there are some bandwidth and load issues to consider but those bandwidth problems are coming anyway. They could outsource some of this pain & suffering to Google for $50/person fully supported and we’d all get 25GB (250 times the size of the 100MB inbox) inboxes and the ability to check our mail and edit documents from anywhere, increasing productivity and possibly reducing costs but no decision maker in the US Government is seriously considering that idea. The 99.9% uptime guarantee is about 8 hours of downtime in a year which is less than what we currently have. (And people could continue to use the Microsoft Outlook interface we’ve paid for if they like.) My thinking is especially foolish since they won’t even allow us to access Gmail from any official military computer ever. We have unique security issues they say.

All in all our setup is pretty modern compared to 2001 when Windows XP was first released, but it’s not that great as we enter 2010. The real problem is that there is no one in Bahrain I can discuss these concerns with as the decisions are made by a nameless agent back in the United States. Not that they would care.

Posted in Work

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Jeremy Bicha
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