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                         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
keep up?

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
work hardware

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..

Alive 13