Friday, July 17, 2009

cutting IT costs

After watching the day the earth stood still on DVD, I decided to write about cutting cost and of course recycling and how we can stop killing the earth and hopefully the holes in our pockets.

Let's set some ground rules for IT.

1. IT is ruled from business needs. Exception: There are IT business out there and these guys are thriving, because businesses need IT or rather buy IT. There is a difference between needing IT and buying IT which I hope to cover later.

2. IT is viewed as a cost to the business. Exception: Unless they start a shared service center and start charging other departments, but that's still funny money.

3. IT is expensive and difficult to quantify. Exception: This is normally comparative, but even comparatively, the figures are all fake, so don't believe the sales people.

So with those 3 rules in mind, we can tackle how to reduce this unfounded cost for the following business functions:
  • Emails - reduce cost by moving to a service provider if not get a service provider and bargain to death
  • Office software - reduce cost by using free versions of office or google docs, apps, etc. Microsoft office isn't really that expensive as well depending on scale, but it's only good when you can pick up the phone and ask Microsoft where the print button is, otherwise, it's the same value as Open Office.
  • LOB apps - this gets a bit varied and not a one size fit all solution. Depending on the complexity of the application, we are normally set in the limitations of the software. This means that the problem lies within the software. All I can say is prevention is better than cure. Make sure you get the right application so that you do not have to undo the extensive damage and commit to all that extra $$$ you don't even know you're spending.
  • Helpdesk support - larger organisations might need this and you get someone to run by and help, the ideal answer to save costs is not to do this, transitioning to that state with service management.
  • Infrastructure - everyone says virtualisation, I say just turn what you don't need off and also organise your machines, centralise where you need to centralise and distribute where you need to distribute. Utilise desktops as nodes where there is less criticality, etc. What works at home, works at work. VMs are also useful for specific purposes of course, at the moment mostly for development work.
  • Backups - some people say you can't stinge for a proper backup. I agree, but there are multiple ways you can do backups and save those dollar. Software: most backup software is already included in the operating system or even given free, e.g. rsync, DFS, etc. Hardware: buy good value storage and organise your data. Practise Information Lifecycle Management and age your data.
  • Office IT supplies - do not burn CDs, keep everything in soft copy and use virtual clonedrive if you need to use an ISO. Do not print, read off the screen and bring your notebooks to meetings. Use natural light when you can and leave work early to go home :)
Hopefully with these points to all the different aspects of your IT, we can reuse and recycle while saving those bucks. And if these pointers do reduce those bucks, you would have quantified it as well as a saving on your P/L.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Windows 7 review

I've installed windows 7 RC again. Not the beta on a VM, but a real machine. I figured, I'll run it through the workstation test.

So far the results of the tests are (for windows based OSs)

1st place: Windows 2008 Server / workstation
2nd place: Windows Vista 64 bit ultimate / home premium - strictly for media center purpose, which is important.

Pros and cons of Vista

Let's revise the pros and cons of Vista before we proceed with Windows 7. And I mean pros and cons, because after using Windows for so long, I can't determine if it's a bug or a feature.

1. Time to boot

Yes, vista takes ages to boot, but after it does, don't shut it down. simple solution. Yes, we don't know where everything is, but it's a searchable

2. Driver problems

No salvation there, I bought a mac to solve that problem, but I still kept the vista 64bit ultimate windows desktop for my xbox media center extender. Now that PC has broken sound, but that's another story and I don't think I'm going to bother fixing it, although I am starting to question the use of the machine, since I hardly use the media center extender these days.

3. Lots of software

Sure, plenty of windows software out there that is 32bit and still installs into the Program Files (x86) directory. Compatibility mode is alright and there are tools to help developers determine if the OS can run the application (ACT).

4. All round good stuff

So, if there is anything you learn about Windows, it doesn't play well with just about anything. you need to go look for some logo somewhere, but since machines are just about self sufficient and you really don't need to plug anything in, e.g. usb midi interface, it's a safe and fun computer to use.

Verdict on Windows 7

And if you think I spent all this time talking about Vista for no reason, that's because, all the niffy stuff I like about Vista is in Windows 7. The boot time is great in windows 7 but it was good with XP for the first few months also, so I'm not holding my breath. So while using Windows 7, I do get all the vista flashbacks, so I can't say there is much of a change other than the boot time and response. Maybe it's like the iphone 3g 'S' thing.

What I did to get it off the ground:

Installed, and it was pretty quick, CD image didn't work though, so had to use another cd. Ok, that worked, decided to install cloneCD so I can load my software ISOs.

It's a funky non certified driver but Vista dealt with that. Windows 7 went all crazy and kept restoring itself to before the driver was installed and it also took out my ethernet card, so i couldn't get back on the network.

After a few reboots, mad clicking and selecting rubbish, I left it powered off for a week or so before I started again at a wireless access point and started patching it. (yes wireless still worked for some reason)

I've installed all the essentials things that most people will install and more, windows live messenger, firefox, office, visual studio, sql server 2008 and yes, it complains and its a series of weird patches to get it going. In fact it's still going. I need to update to all the SP1+ before it can be used.

So while I wait for my visual studio sp1 to be downloaded and my sql server 2008 install (still launched and waiting for requirements), I can conclude that while it's a flashy operating system, it's not for the weak hearted. Debugging is still necessary and there will be times you find yourself very lost.

I would recommend that you take this time to consider ubuntu or the mac os for personal use, or if you have limited or work requirements, this is still a good OS to use and I'll stick with it after all the pain I went through.

how many ways to blog

I'm trying to blog from flock now. It's a firefox based browser with preloaded add-ons intended to make my life easier. I think it's great however it shouldn't be used on public computers or shared computers, because of all the auto logon stuff that happens in the background.

Still the best features is that I can drag my photos from picasaweb from the webpage into the upload tool and it will be plonked into facebook, photo bucket or flickr. So it does improve productivity provided you already have some sort of personal workflow.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

dead pi

Well, I guess it has to happen at some point. the home automation raspberry pi has died. Much to do with the stupid Strontium mini SD card. ...