Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was amazed at the
amount being spent by a government department to upgrade its PCs.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
from Stuff, a major hardware and software upgrade is about to be launched
so as to bring the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry's machines into the 21st
So far so good. It seems silly to expect workers to provide high levels
of productivity when they're using machines that have long since been
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However, just look at the amount being allocated for this upgrade.
Ten million dollars!
Unfortunately, it's not easy to tell from the Stuff story exactly how many
machines will be replaced under this upgrade program. There is mention of
400 PCs that would be installed in the department's new Wellington offices
but it also says that "the network has about 800 to 900 machines on it in
If we assume that all 900 machines on the department's network are going to
be replaced then some simple math indicates that the total cost of each PC will
be around $11,000.
It might be tempting to say "What? $11,000 for a PC? That's ridiculous" --
but as someone who's done his fair share of IT management I know that the cost
of installing new computing equipment amounts to a lot more than just the price of
the shiny new hardware.
The Stuff story says that these machines will be running Windows 2000 rather than
the existing Windows 3.11, and then there's the price of those upgraded Microsoft
applications. This means that the upgrade will involve handing over a good
fist-full of dollars to Microsoft -- particularly in light of its new licensing
and upgrade policies.
Now tack on the cost of actually installing the boxes -- someone's got to
load the department's own software, transfer existing data files, configure
the Network settings and choose some really groovy wallpaper for the desktop.
Finally, all staff using these machines will have to be retrained in
the intricacies of using Win2000 rather than the Win3.11 they've been used to.
All this extra work contributes significantly to the total cost of buying
new PCs -- and can easily exceed the price of the hardware itself.
That might still leave one wondering whether even $5,000 is too much to
pay for a PC these days.
Well, I must admit that this does sound incredibly expensive -- even given that
they're buying Compaq boxes where you pay a premium for the "name."
Let's hope that they're not going from the absurd to the ridiculous by
purchasing "top of the line" machines which inevitably represent a very
low point on the price/performance curve. One has to wonder also, whether
a 2GHZ Pentium 4 with 512MB of RAM is really needed just to open
spreadsheet and MS Word attachments received by email.
But here's the real question that's been nagging away in the back of my mind:
If they're prepared to throw over $11K per machine at this upgrade, why not
make the switch to Linux and Star Office? Clearly there's going to be
re-training and a budgeted learning curve involved in the move from Win3.11
to Win2000 so what better time to show Microsoft the door?
What's more -- it is obvious that security is a major consideration -- with
the article stating that "all people on the project are cleared by the SIS
as the information carried on the network can be sensitive." Given
Microsoft's abysmal track-record in the area of security, what more reason
do they need to jump-ship to a cheaper, more robust, more secure
Have your say.
Due to other higher-priority calls on my time and resources over the coming
days, the publication of this column may be a little erratic.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible however.
The Jet-Kart is For Sale
It's time to clear out the closet here at Aardvark's country residence so I'm
having a bit of a garage sale. I need to spend a whole lot more time
and money on my jet engine R&D activities (now that the defense industry
has shown a very real interest) -- so I'm trying to scrape up some more cash.
The world-famous Jet-powered Gokart is up for sale by
way of an informal auction. Send me your bid and I'll post the current
highest offer on a webpage that will appear here soon.
As far as I'm aware, this is the only pulsejet-powered gokart in the
Southern Hemisphere -- I wonder why that is?
It may not be the quietest, smoothest, most comfortable or safest vehicle
in the world -- but it's sure different!
To place a bid, just drop me a line.
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