Top 7 Things to Improve the Network at Work

After my first blog post, I thought maybe I should offer “constructive solutions” instead of just being critical, so here’s 7 suggestions to improve the work network:

1. Create a standard desktop image with Internet Explorer 8. Deploy to computers gradually depending on response. Since the network administrators refuse to deploy Mozilla Firefox because of security issues, it doesn’t make sense to use Internet Explorer 6 when versions 7 and 8 are more secure. For instance, the newer versions have built-in malware, phishing, and cross-site scripting protection which will never appear in Internet Explorer 6.

2. Create a list of all official websites that don’t work properly with IE7 or IE8. Apply pressure to get these websites modernized. Supposedly, we continue to use an eight-year-old web browser because certain internal websites were created poorly and no one wants to fix them. Well, we need to know which websites these are so that we can track whether the issues are being fixed and whether it affects very many users.

3. Research a plan to give us more space in our inboxes. After posting this week, I talked to a friend of mine who pointed out that it is more challenging than simply buying a 1.5TB hard drive off the shelf as a RAID5 setup (duplication across multiple hard drives in case one fails) and backups are used. I still believe that the costs are minimal compared to the time wasted in trying to decide which attachments are important enough to keep and the knowledge loss (in a place where turnover is excessively high) when important documents are basically forced to be deleted.

4. Increase RAM to 1GB  or 1.5GB at least. The cost is negligble. If there were 1000 computers, the hardware cost shouldn’t be more than $15 x 1000 or $15,000. That’s like a month or two’s salary for the expensive contractors.

5. Figure out why network access is so much slower now that it was a year or so ago. It’s probably because the network is being used more with bigger documents but the network slowdowns need to be reduced. Too often, Windows Explorer or Microsoft Word will become unresponsive because the network has frozen. I presume there’s some way to distribute servers so that the network is more reliable.

6. Deploy a true web-based user-friendly helpdesk system. Statistics from banks indicate that the most expensive transactions are, in order, in-person, phone, email, web. I tried submitting a help desk request this week via the email option (which is not as useful as it sounds since everyone on the alias gets the email) and was told I needed to call the helpdesk. The only approved way to get any thing fixed is to call up the helpdesk (who, by the way, are not allowed to give you their personal phone number if you need to follow-up.) Here‘s one example of how expensive this system can be.

7. Long-term: Begin work on a Linux standard desktop image. If one of the network guys ever does read this blog post, he’ll probably think I’ve gone over the deep end by now, but there are some interesting benefits to Linux. There is no reason to pay the manufacturer to upgrade or to install your desktop image on additional computers. There are basically no viruses for Linux. OpenOffice.org is free and can do what a lot of individuals need out of their word processing suite. It is even possible to install Microsoft Office 2007 in Linux with Wine.  If Linux is configured to mount home directories as noexec, meaning it is impossible for users to run any programs they try to download off the Internet (because seriously, I can’t believe that so many network administrators are not aware how easy it is to download Firefox and install it to My Documents folder without admin privileges. This isn’t an issue in Linux since Firefox is installed by default and unapproved applications can be easily blocked.) Finally, with Linux, you can get better performance on minimal hardware…Ubuntu for instance uses less CPU & RAM than Vista.

Posted in Linux, Work

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Jeremy Bicha
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