Operational Excellence with Technology


Easy Upgrade

My wife is not a power user. For years she could check email (using the icon with the label "Email"). If she wanted to create a document in Word, the kids would help.

But she's getting better. She can create her own Word documents, print them, even find things via Google.

Since she's not much of a power user, her last upgrade was to a single core Pentium desktop with 1GB RAM and a CRT monitor, running Windows XP. It was never a fast computer, but it kept up with her needs.

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When I was in college, back in the middle ages, party invitations frequently came with the notation BYOB, "bring your own booze."

Now, more and more job offers come with the notation BYOD, "bring your own device."

Another FLA (four letter acronym) being used to describe this change is CoIT, or the Consumerism of IT. One variant I like is Cooperative IT.

This was one of the recurring themes at this last year's Defrag conference.

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Bunches and Bunches of Data

Every year I have the privilege of attending Defrag,, a conference unlike any other I attend during the year. Where other technology conferences are about what's new, what's hot, but some specific topic, Defrag often appears as a random walk through technologies that will be. But every year I come away with one or two insights that prove to be predictors of future trends. It is an amazing, confusing experience.

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Change Your Passwords!

The end of 2010 hackers broke into the Gawker user database and downloaded its contents, including all the usernames and passwords. Gawker operates a larger number of on-line news services, including several I read regularly. I figured no big deal, the hackers know how to leave comments on those sites.

At that time I pretty much had a single password for anything I deemed "low security," which was pretty much anything that wasn't banking oriented. My banking passwords were much stronger and each one was unique. But for email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I used that single password.

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Background Clutter

With 18GB of RAM memory and a quad core CPU, I rarely need to worry about what programs are running in the background of my desktop computer. My thin and light laptop is a bit more limited (4 GB RAM, dual core CPU). But my netbook only has 1GB RAM and the modest Atom processor. Having a bunch of relatively useless stuff running in the background can make a real difference in how it performs (actually how all my computers perform).

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Never Ending Tablet Story

I broke down and bought an iPad 2 last month.

Generally I don't buy Apple products on the principal they are "closed" systems. Usually there aren't a lot of options to expand them without using Apple's unique connectors, etc. And they generally are more expensive for a given functionality.

I was really pulling for the Android tablets introduced at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. But unfortunately when they finally started shipping they ended up being as expensive, or more so, than the iPad.

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Small, Medium and Large

When I was building my first websites, way back in the last millennium, the most common screen resolution was 640 by 480 pixels. Most websites at that time were being designed for 800 x 600 screens, which was rapidly becoming the standard.

Desktop, and laptop, resolutions have been climbing ever since. If netbooks hadn’t become popular a couple of years ago, it is likely websites would be designed for 1200 to 1400 pixel wide screens. Instead the common design standard for current websites is based on a 960 pixel wide grid, centered on the user’s screen.

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Tune up Your PC

Windows PC’s seem to develop plaque over time (Mac computers may also, I just don’t have experience with them). The visible result is your PC seems to run slower over time. That plaque is the result of the various programs the average user installs, knowingly or unknowingly while using the PC. Updates, website add-ins, etc. all add software to your PC.

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