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Buying Computers For Fun And Profit

Just A Thought - Buying Computers For Fun And Profit

by , 10:00 AM EDT, April 11th, 2003

If you buy computers for a large organization, your job may not be an easy one. It may sound like the ideal occupation for the gadget-freak guy or the woman with the urge to purchase. There is a lot to consider, however, before plunking down the company credit card in the local computer store, pointing your finger at various computer gadgetry like a weathervane in a storm, and yelling, "Gimme dat, n' dat, n' somma does, n' somma dim!"

To do any job well you have to have a plan, scope out what you intend to do and understand why you intend to do it. For instance, if you are buying equipment for a small office, say for a podiatrist just setting out her shingle (podiatrists who lose arguments on purpose are doctors with a fetish for defeat), you wouldn't consider shopping at Mainframes-R-Us for your purchases. Nor should you buy just one type of server and desktop computer to sit in front of your company's 10,000 employees; such an environment would be on its digital knees the first time a problem peculiar to that type of equipment shows up (unless they are Macs, of course ;-). It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and some thought and planning must precede your purchases.

Take the Videography department at Kent State University, for instance, according to an article in CPC (Creative Planet Community), Jay Frye, Kent State's Sys Admin, is scratching his head in frustration. I'll let the article's author, Mark J. Pescatore, explain the problem:

On Friday morning, I sat in on "Staying State of the Art on a Tight Budget," a panel that explored equipment purchases at the school level. That's where I met Jay Frye, a systems administrator at Kent State University in Ohio. He's got a problem with his nonlinear editing software; that is, he's got different NLE software throughout the video program.

Kent State is moving away from Adobe Premiere and is focusing on Apple Final Cut Pro. The problem is that some NLE stations have Premiere, while others have Final Cut Pro. To compound the problem, the video program, which is primarily a Mac house, is upgrading from Mac OS 9 to OS X. Again, not all stations have been upgraded. Depending on where a student sits, they could have a completely different setup than what they used in a previous class.

"That's been a real struggle for us," Frye admitted. "We're still struggling with continuity across the entire program." He emphasized the need to have a buying plan, so programs can avoid or at least minimize lack of equipment consistency.

Students need consistency. Toss a curve in their well-ordered little worlds and they freak and look at you as if you had just grown an arm out of your forehead and started speaking Cantonese. So here's a situation where purchases must be staged such that each upgrade happens across the board. That may mean that you delay upgrading until your intended environment has all the tools you need, as you Quark Express users well know.

On the other hand, I just ordered servers for a new program at work (no, writing for TMO is not my only job. When my English teacher told me to keep my day job, I took her advice.), and it consists of hardware from many manufacturers and includes Linux, UNIX, and Windows servers (sorry, no Macs this go-round, but it's not like I didn't try).

Mr. Frye at Kent State admits that a buying plan is needed. I have such a plan, though mine basically consists of six words: Buy this now, buy that later. OK, mine is simple plan, but I do have one, and you should too.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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