Sound bytes

Sound bytes

Technology tools of the trade are misunderstood and taken for granted. So we head to the real IT coalface to get the first word from inside your systems.

In the blizzard of news, commentary and advice written about IT, you don't often hear technology's tools telling their own story. In this series of exclusive but anonymous interviews, we redress the balance. Interview 1: The server

"When they booted me up, I thought I was lucky to be a server and maybe I could get into enterprise resource planning or some other high-class business application, something that would probably become a legacy application and offer a long career. Instead, I got shoved into a blade chassis with about a dozen others identical to me and was used to run a database. Sometimes I do get to run ERP, but only when they virtualise me. You feel violated when that happens and it's hard to plan for your future. I've got no idea if I can control my own CPU from one day to the next. Try telling that to a bank manager when you need a mortgage."

Interview 2: 4 gigabyte USB stick

"The great thing about being a USB stick is that you get to see the world. Most IT, it's just stuck on a desk, isn't it? I get the chance to swing on a lanyard and get out and about. A mate of mine, though, he got put on a key ring and spends his life in a pocket. He says he's the only piece of IT he knows that has to deal with the aftermath of a big curry. That kind of thing really makes you appreciate your lanyard, let me tell you."

Interview 3: 200 gigabyte disk drive

"Storage is supposedly a great line of work. Everyone says there's more of us needed all the time, so we'll never be out of work. Fat lot of good that did me. I slaved my guts out churning away for a year in a web server and then my boss said I used too much power and decided to spin me down most of the time. Now I take care of email from 2004 that nobody ever wants to read and dream of the good old days when my I/O was always maxed out. Still, as retirements go, it could be worse; tapes don't even get electricity."

Interview 4: Laptop

"A lot of other computers look at me, see how slim and light I am, and write me off as an executive toy. How wrong they are! How many times have they flown all night, woken up in another country and started work immediately? How often do they have to cope with foreign electricity or negotiate with a wi-fi router they've never met before?

"When I ask other computers questions like that, they start to admit that perhaps I'm not just fancy bling. But then they start to talk about how hard it must be in business class. That's the bit I hate the most. It's not like I'm resting up there, you know? Those tray tables are a lousy place to work and it is no fun at all being switched on at a strange time over the ocean somewhere when your motherboard just wants to sleep.

"And don't even ask what it's like in an overhead bin. I prefer nestling under the seat in front of me any day!"

Interview 5: Desktop PC

"Most of the time, this is a pretty easy job. I spend my time playing games, helping the kids or doing the family accounts.

"But one day my family let my security software lapse. Next thing I knew, I was working non-stop for the Russian mob. Those guys flogged me mercilessly for weeks sending spam. After a while, all that "enlargement" stuff really gets you depressed. I thought about ending it all by zapping a capacitor with a bit too much voltage. But then my owner got me off the botnet, installed World of Warcraft and upgraded my graphics card.

"Now the hours are a bit long, but anything is better than all that spam!"

Interview 6: BI software

"Ask me a question. That's what you bought me for. Go on: ask anything!

"Which customers are most profitable?

"Pfah! Even Excel could figure that out in about 10 minutes flat. Ask me something hard! That's what I'm really good for.

"How much stuff will we sell next quarter, based on historical sales trends, the pipeline in customer resource management, salespeople's tendency to exaggerate and the sub-prime crisis?

"Thanks for that. It's much better. A lovely workout, in fact! And here's your answer.

"What's this you say? Now that you've seen that answer you want a future cash-flow analysis, in "Express Answer" mode? I can tell you in advance mate, that you are NOT going to like the results. It might help if I just crash the server and let everyone blame it all on Windows."

Fairfax Business Media

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