Stuff That Works November 2007

Looking at the Enthusiasm Score from a year ago, I’m amazed how unchanged most ideas are. So in this year’s edition, I’ll take a different approach rather than trying to score things incrementally

  • Stuff That Really Works
  • Stuff That Works with Minor Problems
  • Stuff That Works with Major Reservations
  • Stuff That Doesn’t Work

Stuff that Really Works

The following technology items that I take for granted on a daily basis, that never seem to require troubleshooting. It is a short list.

  • My landline. Verizon, with MCI long distance
  • Verizon pre-paid cell phone plan.
  • My ISP and web host:intermedia.net
  • The FireFox web browser
  • Microsoft Office 2003 – the file formats and interface changes of Office 2007 haven’t been internalized by either me or colleagues with which I exchange Word or Excel documents.
  • Microsoft OneNote 2007 – Solid as a rock.
  • SightSpeed desktop videoconferencing

Stuff That Works With Minor Problems

  • HP Procurve 2xxx Network Switch. Ended up replacing a couple of these because of a fan failure. The process was relatively painless, with excellent support from HP, and free warranty replacement.
  • Microsoft Windows 2003 Small Business Server. I installed on a repurposed Dell Optiplex workstation, and the combination has worked almost flawlessly for over two years. And yet, the SBS is more than most small shops need…eventually I can see a replacement with a straight Windows Server with added SharePoint, leaving aside things like Fax, and Exchange.
  • On workstations, Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2. This is starting to get more difficult to find. Upgrade any workstations now, or you’ll have to cope with Windows Vista.
  • WiFi. As long as you keep expectations reasonable, and remain aware of the security implications, WiFi is great.
  • BaseCamp web-based project manager.

Stuff That Works with Major Reservations

These are things that we’re using, but we are still looking, or items that are not yet ready for prime time.

  • VoIP – I had hoped to be a lot farther along with VoIP, both on a casual occasional basis using applications like Skype and Gizmo, and with a PBX solution such as Trixbox or Asterisk. To date there has been unreliable connection quality when using Internet VoIP connections. Like some other aspects of life, when it is good is very good, but when it is bad it is unworkable. Are expectations unreasonable here?
  • Windows Vista
  • The Mac OS X and Linux. The reason these are on the list is that indeed they work, but they don’t necessarily play easily with Windows, particularly when it comes to printing and sharing files. The problems here aren’t insurmountable, but they require more than a casual engagement and technical expertise. I think this is a reasonable major reservation…and it remains the reason to insist on a single operating platfom for your IT infrastructure. It should be easier than this.

Stuff That Doesn’t Work

In general, I can just point to John Dvorak and the Cranky Geeks for endless tales of chaos and disfunction.

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