How Crappy is your Work Compy?
Not every workplace has a shiny new generic peecee, and not everyone is in
bitter dispute with their line manager at Hubris Games, who has *only*
given them the version 1 PS3 devkit to play with, and kept the really good
stuff for themselves.
Some of us have a lot less to work with.
This is an inverse competition, basically, to find out how rubbish your
workplace computer is. I think I can put in quite a strong challenge with
mine. It is basically unchanged, from the day I started my present job,
some seven years ago. It wasn't that new then, but unlike a fine wine, it
hasn't improved with age.
It is a generic box, described as an 'Opus Technology' machine dating back
to 1995. It sports a pentium II, running at a breathtaking 200 mhz, stop
fainting at the back there!. It has 64 mb of memory, and the operating
system, well, I'll come back to that shortly. My tribe of Falcon '030's
have had more upgrades than this thing, and they generally go a lot quicker
too. I remember doing a comparison with simple desktop operations, when I
got my Centurbo 2, and the peecee was lagging behind even then!
It is a small beige lump in a larger scheme of things, acting as a terminal
to a remote server, some 150 miles away. It runs a very stripped-down
Windows 95, to allow it to connect to a web-based portal, which itself runs
Windows 2000, and from there, I run the applications, write the documents,
and read the joke emails with comedy pictures that make my working day
possible. For these tasks, this old box is judged to be adequate, unless
you are running anything graphically intensive, where the playskool
graphics card takes eons to draw any images onscreen. Oh, and the latest
version of our main 'service director' application seems to be very slow
when changing the menu selection. A lot of the current custom software we
are using, is shortly due to be replaced. Will this hardware be able to
These tired old boxes do break down sometimes, but in a parody of how the
maintenance department of a budget airline in one of the former Soviet
Asian republics operates, they are continually broken apart, and the
components salvaged into a slightly better working configuration. A common
problem with older machines, the wheezy sounding cpu fan drowning out
telephone conversations is simply dealt with by cutting off the offending
item. So far, none of our machines have cooked to death, but we can hope.
Anyway, here's a picture of it
It looks flattened, as I couldn't be bothered with it!
I guess there may be more of us in a similar position. Some of the
following factors may be useful in predicting the crappiness factor of your
You are far more likely to encounter a grim determination to flog old kit
to death, if you work for a private company which actually has to make
money to survive, and not play pretend. The public sector and Government
offices, if they are ideologically favoured, can rely on more frequent
deliveries of shiny new office toys.
Older hardware favours non-glamourous quasi-industrial sectors, especially
with an engineering bias. These kind of offices also have what look like
flood-damaged carpets and yellowing strip lighting.
Management, these cob the hardware replacement budget for their fancy
laptops, whilst engineers are left waiting for their promised PDA's, and
the rest of us carry on using these old desktops which came out of the ark!
Following on from that, there is a customer service being last in the queue
syndrome, People like accounts and any 'admin' close to management get nice
machines with LCD screens. Meanwhile, my CRT has lost most of its red
So, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Has anyone else got work hardware
which is even older and crappier than my one? How do we go about getting
replacements. I for one, favour a fast-acting beige plastic eating
supervirus. Sprinkle this one over the offending boxes, and leave over the
weekend, then come back on Monday morning to a pile of dust and decaying
CiH, for Alive Mag, April '06..