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Technology is changing at an ever-increasing pace. The first personal computer I owned was a commodore 64. I wrote all my papers for my graduate degree on this little marvel. Now, years later, 3+ GHz computers with multi-gigabyte hard drives and 4+ gigabytes of RAM are commonplace in homes. I now have a network set up at home. With all of these advances, what technology should we be looking for? What technologies should we purchase or invest in? If we trace the recent developments of computer technology, we can determine a pattern.
When personal computers hit the office and eventually the homes, they were essentially stand alone machines. In many cases they were upgraded versions of the calculator or typewriter. Each person used his own machine, or had his or her own files on diskette. Information when it was shared was shared via diskette or printed on paper.
The next step was the simple network. People in one office or location could share data or programs over the network. More savvy users could get to their information on the network from any networked computer. Some home users shared information via modems by logging into a Bulletin Board System (BBS) – a kind of telephonic network.
On college campuses the Internet exploded. People shared information over the Internet. Homes started getting into the act when browsers became popular. Those with full time Internet access could get information quickly from anywhere in the world. You could conduct searches for the information you wanted. From home, the speed of access to the information was limited to the speed of the modem. Sharing information between home and the office was still pretty much limited to carrying the information on diskette.
With the advent of the Internet, TCP/IP became very popular as a network protocol (some will claim it was always popular.) Virtual Private Networks permit individuals to connect to the office network from home over the Internet. While still limited to the speed of the modem, as modems became faster (analog, cable modems and ISDN) connections to the data at the office became faster. Now, home users can get DSL or cable modems for even faster links. Handheld, palmtop devices are becoming more popular, and laptops became affordable. However, getting information onto these devices is still somewhat cumbersome. You have to run proprietary software to translate the information from the Desktop (or network) computer onto the palmtop. Laptops must either work off-line, or sacrifice the mobility of a laptop by plugging into a network or modem cable. While working off-line, the data is not real-time data. While wireless IS catching up, it still has a way to go.
OK – so much for history. The trend that is developing is: Faster access to YOUR data no matter where you are.
The major choke point for data access seems to be accessing data while 'disconnected from the world network'. So, the technology that supports faster access to data will be the technology to support and watch. Technology that supports faster (and real-time) access to data will be the technology of the future. However, as you watch for developing technologies, beware of those using proprietary interfaces or formats. (Does anyone remember MCA – Micro Channel Architecture?). The most open technologies will be the ones that survive (or the ones with the clout to force their standard on others.)
Before too long, anyone will be able to access data from either their office or the Internet from anywhere in the world. That access will be fast and secure. The technology to get to that data will be a common as pagers are today. Any technology that can deliver (not just promise) that data access will be the technology to watch.
Of course to benefit from this technology, you do have to learn to use the technology 8-)
Other twists on this
Ever wonder how many DLLs applications put on your hard drive? Have a hard time locating duplicate files? Which one is the latest version?
at the command prompt (ensure you are at the root of the drive), type:
dir(space) C:\*.dll(space) /s|sort(space) >C:\dll_list.txt
This will create a file named dll_list.txt in the root of the C drive. Any word processor, notepad, or even DOS EDIT can open this file. It is an ASCII listing of all your DLLs sorted by name.
dir(space) C:\*.dll(space) /s(space) >c:\dll2list.txt
will create a listing of all DLLs listed by directory.
|1. Do no Harm!||- Like the Hippocratic oath, your goal is to repair the system. The system consists of the hardware, the software, the information contained therein, and THE USER. Replace the hardware if that is needed. Reinstall the software if that is called for, Repair the data if you can. Train, don't humiliate or embarrass the user.|
|2. Attitude||- You can solve this problem. You must believe this. If you go in with the attitude that you may not be able to solve the problem, you won't solve the problem. It may take time and effort, but, you will succeed.|
|3. Things can always go from bad to worse. Ensure you can get back to bad||. - Always take precautions. Back up the old files. Scan for viruses. Change one thing at a time. These steps will ensure you proceed cautiously. Furthermore, you will be able to recover if anything goes wrong.|
|4. Never underestimate the power of Human Stupidity(including your own).||- Just because you wouldn't fold or staple a floppy disk, do not think your clients would not. Error messages that are important to you, are not necessarily important to them. You may not know how they normally do things. Your knowledge base is not their knowledge base. Their knowledgebase is not yours. Don't project. Assume they will.|
|5. 95% of all errors are due to the nut behind the keyboard||- Check. Did the user do something differently? You are asking to find out what is wrong with the system - not to assign blame! Did he (she) install new software? Did he (she) change some settings (even in other software)? Did he (she) change normal procedures in any way? Did he (she) try a new procedure or try to load a new file? What is new or different?|
|6. Recreate the problem.||Can you recreate the problem? Is it confined to this workstation? This Software? This file? This server? This user? Ask the user to recreate the problem. Watch the user, remember #4.|
|7. Keep a sense of Humor!||Providing technical support is a no win situation. People are always calling you with problems. The job will make you either laugh or cry. Laugh! Crying tends to upset the client.|
|8. Even a blind chipmonk occasionally finds an acorn||If you keep trying things, eventually something will work.|
|9. TANSTAAFL||There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If something seems to good to be true, it is!|
|10. Clean up after yourself.||Put files back where you found them. Undo any changes to system settings if they are not part of the solution. The changes you do not undo will become the next trouble call.|
|11. Write it down!||The next time you see this problem or face this issue again may be months from now. You will remember having solved this, but you won’t remember how. Write down the conditions of the situation and the resolution. If you have time and energy, add the thought process behind the resolution. On all documents, put the path and the file name. I guarantee, you’ll need to find that document, and you won’t know where to find it!|
|12. PPPPPPP (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance)||- Plan ahead. If you look to the future and PLAN, you may be able to anticipate potential problems and account for the problem and prevent it. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. If you plan for the worst, you will be able to easily handle anything up to and including the worst. If you only hope for and plan for the best, you are doomed to many frustrating experiences.|
|13. The error message you receive may not be related to the problem you are attempting to solve!||Just because the error message states you cannot sent to user XYZ does not always mean YOU cannot send to user xyz. The software has a limited number of predefined error messages. You may be doing something the programmers did not anticipate, so the software is giving the only message it knows. |
Check other resources to isolate the problems from the symptoms. Check error logs. Try to do the same thing from another computer or program.
|14. Yours is a sisyphean task||Sisyphus (according to Greek Mythology) was condemmed to roll a rock up hill. Each time he approached the top, the rock would roll back down the hill. Yours is a similar task. You build a system and users or circumstances keep bringing part of it down. Worse, the rock keeps getting bigger!. More storage or servers are added. Technology evolves, but you must understand and support both the new technology AND the older technology. OOPS - there goes that darn rock again. At least you get to star in your own Greek Tragedy|
|15. Your job is to defy the Law of Gravity!||What goes up must come down - except in the IT field. The technology and servers you (in IT) bring or set up, you must now prevent from going down.|
Credits: These tips are borrowed from or modified from the following sources:1. Borrowed and adapted from the Hippocratic Oath