Friday, May 30, 2008

Computers, Equipment, Software, Maintenance, and the Information Age

Last week, I had bad news, and good news.

The bad news was that I might have killed most of my staff - and certainly made it necessary for them to get treatment.

The good news was that, under today's laws, I wouldn't be prosecuted.

My "staff" is the software on the main computer, and on the laptop that I'm using at this moment. The main computer's software is what does the work for graphic design, photo retouching and manipulation, and all the rest of the 'professional' work. What's on the laptop is good enough for research on the Web (providing that the website doesn't use too many bells and whistles), editing HTML, and using spreadsheets - but it's definitely not up to the other tasks.

I don't think that thinking of a computer and its software as a staff is all that fanciful. Much of what I do is more 'managerial' than production, and has been for quite a while. I decide what needs to be done, and in what order. Then, I give instructions to the software, which carries out my instructions.

Sure, I have to be a very 'hands-on' manager, but the actual work is mostly being done down in the innards of a computer. The software-as-staff idea is a metaphor, but I think it's an apt one.

Happily, my main computer is back, and almost set to start being useful again.

I got the good news, that the glitches were fixable, late Wednesday afternoon. It was, objectively, good news, but I'd gotten myself psyched up to accept buying a new computer. Not all that hard to do, considering the device that I could get built for a little over $1,200.

I'd even gotten close to figuring out how to pay for it - although that might be wishful thinking.

The technician had an earnest talk with me, Wednesday afternoon, and again yesterday, on the subject of proper care of a computer. I'd allowed the hard drive to get overly full. Not smart. The solution to that issue involves a new external hard drive, and a new policy and procedure for archiving and backing up files that should be simple enough for me to follow through on.

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