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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 17 April 2002

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: Philip S
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: New computer WITH win 2k - $3000...wheres the rest go?

Ok, looking at computer prices if you walked into a shop
and bought a pc then you can easily get a new pc for $3000
with windows 2000, considering what would be needed I do
not think you would need to buy the fastest pc's they have
there, or do the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry
reguarly spend their time using 3d studio max and playing
high end computer games?
One would think that if they have been able to be running
fine on windows 3.1 that their computers would have only
been low end pentiums or 486's. Bottom of the line that you
can buy at the moment would be 800/900Mhz if you can find
I see one retail store is selling 1.3Ghz Celeron, 128meg
ram, 40gig hdd, 15" monitor, cd writer, etc etc for a
little over $1800. Add on another 128meg ram for windows 2k
to run smoothly perhaps, a copy of windows 2000, copy of
microsoft office...now since they are buying in bulk they
can get this cheaper, so $1000 for that (I know for a fact
I can buy that myself for a bit under a grand).
So that brings the computer up to $2800, now they are
buying in bulk remember so that should hopefully bring the
cost of the pc's down to lets just use a round figure of
$2500. Thats a computer faster than probably needed might I
So say there's 1000 they need to buy, using round figures,
then thats $2,500,000.
Ok now where is that other $7,500,000?
That is a hell of a lot of money to pay for computers to be
set up in my opinion.
Or have they bought a Cray super computer for a server to
use a couple of million on?
I recon I could sell faster computers, cheaper price, and
then with a bunch of computer friends charge $2,500,000 for
it to be set up totalling around half the price they have
Its a shame I didn't get the job, cause then I'd be buying
a new Porsche instead of $2.5k 10yr+ Prelude next week :)

From: Peter
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Foreign Affairs to OSS

I agree - moving to Open Source like Linux would be a smart
move.  Although the software is low / no cost, there is
still lots of cost installing / administering the systems.
But the key thing is - this money is spent in NZ and on NZ
IT people, maintaining and enhancing our local expertise.
If our government won't support local service providers,
who will?

(and no, I don't work in IT.)

From: Paul Warner
For : Right Of Reply (for publication)
Subj: Replacement PCs

The worst thing about this story is that local PC vendors
have once again beem locked out Govt department and the
money goes to Compaq/HP most likely the Govt departments
will be the expensive dumping ground for old products that
Compaq can't sell in the 1st world

From: Oliver Bassett
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Is $11,000 For A New PC Excessive?

I agree with a lot of the points you make and think an Open
Source Solution would be cheaper alternative initially,
however support costs would be higher as would training
costs. The average Open Source system even with training is
more difficult to operate than a Windows System. The
vendors are improving their systems but there is still a
reasonable way to go.

Now in regards to the costs, I believe from reading the
article on stuff that this includes other costs as well,
e.g. Telecommunications between all the embassies around
the world, Database Licensing Costs, the costs in hiring a
Database Consultant to create the backend for this database
of kiwi's and also Software developers for the front end.
On top of this there could and probably are lots of other
things that just aren't mentioned in the Stuff article that
this money is being spent on. This is a full IT
Infrastructure Upgrade not just a desktop PC upgrade. This
needs to be taken into account when you are things about
where $10,000,000 dollars is being spent.

I do work in IT and feel that it is unfair/unrealistic to
just suggest that the money is being spent on solely the
Desktop PC's and the Training surrounding them.

Oliver Bassett

From: Camryn Brown
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: $11,000

$11,000 per PC sounds even less reasonable when you should
consider economies of scale. Surely a 900 PC order should
give enough clout to warrant a decent discount.

Anyway, why buy when you can rent? Most large organisations
don't own their PCs - just transfer the expense and risk to
someone else via rental

From: Geoff McCaughan
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: $11k PCs

I agree that they should be using Open Source software, and
as for the person who said this sort of software is "hard to
use" - I say rubbish. Any kind of software is "hard to use"
until you're used to it, and an unfamiliar person trying to
get Windows to do what they want will find the system "hard
to use", and the same is true with every other system.

As to hardware costs, it's really not realistic to try to
work out a cost per PC in a project like this. As you say
there will be networking, installation and software costs,
plus big expensive servers, printers and whatnot. Another
aspect that hasn't been considered, given the secure nature
of at least some of this installation, is that some of the
hardware may be Tempest rated hugh security systems which
bumps up the price a lot.

If that's the case, then even more reason why they should
avoid M$ software.

From: Andrew
For : Right Of Reply (for publication)
Subj: is $11k too much for a PC? get a mac?

Please note that the network will be the first non-security
department to use the CCIP standards of 168 bit triple DES
encrypted email. Therefore, any useful information is
classified SENSITIVE.
As this is a broken standard, these messages can be decoded
within an hour on the Echelon network. Your typical Borg PC
could decypher the message within 2 days.

For $11k, you could get 2 iMacs with microsoft monopoly
office and highly secure eliptical encryption built into the
OS. Why bother with a single PC that's slower and more
expensive to support?

From: Chris
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Re: Is $11,000 For A New PC Excessive?

Firstly, i dont think your calculations are correct.  I
dont think $11,000 per PC would be the figure.  This 10
million is likely to include all the supporting hardware
to go with the refit i.e. servers, network gear, support
contracts etc...

Secondly, Linux!  I see your arguement for retraining ...
but you miss the point that a lot of the staff will be
running Windows 2000, at the very least, at home and
probably already know how to use it.  It is a given that
some will not however.  Support of linux desktops is
significantly higher than windows, you cant get IE for
linux (something some would argue is not a bad thing ...
but i prefer to use a browser that works and that everyone
codes for) and last but not least you dont have a huge
company with mountians of resources to fix a major problem
that occurs if and when it does.  I would hate to see a
security issue turn up in my open source linux
installation and then have to rely on some back yard nerds
to 'get around' to fixing it.

Anway ... i dont think the $11,000 cost per pc is correct.

From: John
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Open Source

I work in IT and have done so for years, The problem with
open source as i see it is that there is a serious lacking
of people that are able to fix problems properly.
specifically i am talking about linux there are platforms
that are well supportedother than windows,

I tend to lean toward windows in a majority of the many
aspects of computing, because of the fact that you know
that you have support for the product (even if it does cost

There are alot of 'cowboys' when it comes to supporting
open source software, the problem as i see it is that there
is not one central administration company. there needs to
be a central control not just any man and his dog that can
write a bit of software and it gets added to a distro,
which will add to the instability.

From: Elizabeth Beaufort
For : Right Of Reply (for publication)
Subj: $11,000 PCs

Comment on your web site incorrectly says that the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade is spending almost $10
million on new PCs at a cost of $11,000 per PC.

The project referred to is in fact an upgrade of the
Ministry's systems from Windows 3.11 to Windows 2000 and
the rollout at the Ministry in Wellington and our 48 posts
around the world.

The upgrade or replacement of PCs is funded under our
regular replacement cycle.

The $9.8 million project covers:

The Ministry's IT systems are old and technical support
for them is no longer available.  This upgrade is
essential to reduce the risks associated with using old
technology and enable us to participate in e-government
initiatives, communicate effectively with others and
develop new tools to allow the Ministry to work smarter.

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