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Neanderthal IT

By BigJelloSheriff ·
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Neanderthal Computing Evolution

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>I work for a construction company.  I started as an engineer on heavy construction projects such as dams, bridges and roads.  My introduction to computers came in the late '70's when the Corps of Engineers specified that concrete batch plants would have to be computer controlled.  The company I was working for bought a new plant and guess who was elected to set it up.</p>
<p>Now the computer for this plant was truly Neanderthal, a Radio Shack TRS-80 with 16kb of memory and two 170 kb 5 1/4" floppy drives.  The display was 40x25 of fuzzy gray monochrome ****.  No software existed for this application so I had to write it in TRS Basic and fit it into 16 kb.  Within a couple of days I had the little machine opeing bins to let cement, sand and aggregates onto the scales, weighing out the proper proportions of each, dispensing the chemical additives, measuring the correct gallons of water and running the mixer the correct number of revolutions. </p>
<p>Later I moved into the front office as a cost estimator and project manager.  Again armed with a TRS-80, I set out to automate my work.  Enter Visi-Calc :).  This little spreadsheet had few options.  Columns widths were not individually adjustable and text would spill over the column edge. I quickly learned to type 12 characters, tab to the next column and resume typing.  </p>
<p>A major evolutionary leap occured with the IBM PC.  I had <strong>256 kb of RAM!  Dual 360 kb floppies!</strong> Now I could utilize sophisticated software such as Lotus 1-2-3 and dBase II.  Vertical market software such as Primavera Project Planner became available.  This stuff wasn't cheap.  Lotus and dBase were $500 a pop.  Primavera was $1,700 for the schedule program + $1,500 for the graphing program.  Quickly running out of the 256 kb, I spent $800 on an expansion card to take the memory up to the 640 kb maximum.  </p>
<p>Of course MS-DOS ruled but I tried alternatives.  I had Windows 1.0 and Windows 386 but neither was usable.  Networking?  Forget about it.  Building a 5 user network with a  Compaq 386 Deskpro as a server (2 meg RAM, 40 meg hard disk), running Novell over a 1 mb ArcNet network would cost $40,000 in 1988 dollars.  Computers were still very personal.  Backoffice functions were done on minis such as Texas Instruments or IBM System 36.</p>
<p>In 1993 I got to set up my first network consisting of 386 and 486 machines running Windows 3.1 in a peer-to- peer configuration over Ethernet.  The built in Microsoft Mail was the internal email app while a single AOL account (5 screen names!) provided our outside world access through individual modems.</p>
<p>More later...</p>
<p> </p>

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Neanderthal Computing Evolution II

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>Windows 95 was the next great evolutionary leap.  Can you believe people hanging out in computer stores at midnight to get a copy of an operating system?  Sheesh.  At the time, no one realized the bundled browser would be a force to change history.  My focus was finally getting a client/server network.  Even the company owner agreed to put a computer on his desk.  I set up NT 3.5 on a Dell desktop for  a server and added GFI Faxmaker.  The setup worked very well for a small company.  The increase in efficiency was amazing.  Fewer people were getting more done and working less hours. Internet was still limited to dialup but there wasn't much 'net to surf.  Do you remember life before viruses & patches?  Sigh.  That was the part I miss.</p>
<p>In '99 I went to work for my current company.  Although this is a larger company, it was way behind the tech curve!  Not everyone had a computer and what was there was a hodgepodge of DOS, Win 3.1, Win 95 and Win 98 machines.  There was an ethernet network but only for the accounting department.  They were on a creaky old AS/400 and most of the accountants had 5150 terminals while a couple had emulator cards.  Twinax cables were everywhere .  I was given a handme down Pentium II which was OK since we were running the DOS version of Timberline Estimating.  To print we were used Smart Print devices.  No email, no internet.  It was torture!</p>
<p>I implemented some cost saving measures for construction projects that worked very well and the company president said he would recommend a large bonus for me.  I told him if he really wanted to make me happy, he would let me install a client server network. He had no idea what a server was (still doesn't) but was impressed enough to give me the greenlight.  I set up Small Business Server 4.5 with DSL broadband and we haven't looked back.  Now we pretty much out on the leading edge with technology.</p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>

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SBS 2003

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>Currently we are running <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/default.mspx">Microsoft SBS 2003 Premium</a>.  In our office we have about 40 users and usually less than 30 are in at any given time so this package makes good sense for us.  We make pretty extensive use of all the features.  We use Sharepoint Services for collaboration with our remote job offices and it is connected to the SQL Server backend.  We use OWA and Outlook via RPC over HTTP to connect to our Exchange Server. I've got to hand it to Microsoft.  This software is amazingly easy to manage which is extremely important since I am the only IT person and my estimating job comes first. </p>
<p>Three tools are golden for me:</p>
<ol>
<li>The Remote Desktop Connection.  Time and footstep saver!</li>
<li>WSUS.  All patches are downloaded to the SBS 2003 server and Group Policy has the workstations use it for upgrades.  Checking for unpatched machines takes seconds.</li>
<li>Trend Micro Client Server Messaging Security.  Darn near hands free anti virus and anti spam.  </li></ol>

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My lovely assistant, Helen Waite

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>My real day job is as a cost estimator.  My company is primarily a "hard dollar" contractor, meaning we have to turn in bids to get work.  Our bids have to be accurate, too low and we lose money, too high and we don't get a job.  Deadlines are absolute, one minute late and the bid won't even be opened.  When I am bidding a project everything else, including IT takes a lower priority.</p>
<p>During these times my co-workers know they will be referred to my assistant.  I tell them "If you need my help, you can go to Helen Waite".  One or two referrals is usually enough to convey the message.  . </p>

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Any Dicks in Your Company?

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>A month or so ago, I had some downtime from estimating so I decided to upgrade the Trend Micro CMS software to version 3.0.  I turned on all the default content filters and watched as a large portion of the company email went into the "Profanity" quarrantine folder.  I turned off the profanity filter and immediately started getting the "Hey, how come I'm getting so much porn in my mailbox?" emails. I started digging through the emails to see what was triggering the filter.  Most of the quarantined mail was innocuous and had Word or Excel attachments such as inspecton reports or cell phone listings.  Nothing to see here, move along.</p>
<p>Next step was to dig into the details of the filter.  There was a long list of banned words.  Hey, I'm an old hardhat over 50 years old and there was a lot of stuff in there I've never heard.  I decided to delete the list and create my own.  I felt like a little kid trying to think up dirty words.  I started to type the word "****" and the light went on.  We have several Dicks working here or associated with our projects.  Leave that one out and the filters are working well.</p>

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Microsoft Office Live Beta

by BigJelloSheriff In reply to Neanderthal IT

<p>Well, it looks like <a href="http://www.liveside.net/comments.php?shownews=68&catid=3">Microsoft Office Live</a> will go live tomorrow.  Is anyone else signed up for the beta? </p>

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