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Computer use in the real world
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tightsocks
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Oct 6, 2010, 08:03 AM
 
I was talking with a university professor the other day and she was telling me that she lost a lot of files when the uni computer in her office had a hd failure.

I was surprised that the files were being stored locally on each professors machine rather than on a network or something.

Is this typical for a work/academic setting?
     
ghporter
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Oct 6, 2010, 08:20 AM
 
I would certainly not call an academic setting "the real world." Lots of academic settings are well supported by IT, but it depends on a lot of issues, not the least of which is what sort of funding the setting has. A research school will likely have a good investment in IT and security to protect the research and grant money. A "core curriculum" professor may not have that sort of support. Plus, how many professors actually know anything about their computers? Unless they teach something related to computers, not many do.

Work is a mixed bag. If the company understands the investment in time and intellectual property related to their computers, they'll do a lot to prevent such losses. If the corporation doesn't get it, they tend to not pay attention and spend a lot more money on recovering and fixing.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Warren Pease
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Oct 6, 2010, 08:57 AM
 
I work at a University and this doesn't surprise me at all. We have access to network servers (I've been told are backed up) for personal* and shared files, but whether anyone uses them correctly is anyone's guess. I work with websites, so either my code is local or on the actual servers (accessed via webdav). All of my code is in SVN, though time sheets, etc are not.

Our IT upgraded my computer to Win7 as a trial run, in anticipation of a larger deploy in December. Unfortunately, there is a conflict between WebDrive, SVN and Win7 indexing (indexing can be disabled on local drive, but apparently not on network mounts). I told them that Win7 wasn't working and they should downgrade me, so I could get some actual work done. Their solution (stated two weeks ago—no action taken) is to put XP in my old configuration on a VM inside Win7

I would guess the percent of people who backup (home/work/school) is less than 10% across the board.

*Timesheets, vacation requests, etc. Perhaps personel?
     
jersey
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Oct 6, 2010, 09:05 AM
 
I too work at a University, and our IT is miserable. I'll just list the problems - it'll be faster:

Unsecured servers - anyone can see anything
No IMAp or POP support - we cant get our mail on our smartphones
No VPN - so outlook doesnt work at home
No testing, just deploying and trying to clean it up later - Win 7 this semester, conflicts with the print server so printing needs to be authorized and faculty cant log in on these machines.
No Mac support - we have a new Mac lab. They rolled all the machines back to 10.5.8 because that was the image Apple made for them 18 months ago, and they didnt know how to make a new one for 10.6.

I'l stop there.
     
hayesk
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Oct 6, 2010, 10:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
I was talking with a university professor the other day and she was telling me that she lost a lot of files when the uni computer in her office had a hd failure.

I was surprised that the files were being stored locally on each professors machine rather than on a network or something.

Is this typical for a work/academic setting?
Yes. At least when I attended and worked in an academic settings. University professors are experts in their field, not in computers. (unless, of course, they are computer science professors, and even then...) Our IT department even provided network backups to systems that were backed up to tape.

Our IT department, at least as far as staff/faculty support was pretty good, and understood cross platform environments, though a few grumbled about it.
     
-Q-
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Oct 6, 2010, 10:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Work is a mixed bag. If the company understands the investment in time and intellectual property related to their computers, they'll do a lot to prevent such losses. If the corporation doesn't get it, they tend to not pay attention and spend a lot more money on recovering and fixing.
I've never worked in academia, so I can't provide an opinion there, but the above has been my experience in the corporate world.

Where I currently work, we have a very good backup system in place for employees working out of the offices, but as we recently found it didn't work well for our remote employees. A US$3,000 bill from Drive Savers for one of our execs quickly remedied that situation, so we have multiple back-ups available for each users machine.
     
tightsocks  (op)
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Oct 6, 2010, 10:39 AM
 
True, this person is not computer savvy at all.

In fact she was probably taught all of her computing skills by the uni IT dept. so that she could use the uni supplied computer. (She has a pc at home but only uses it as a word processor - doesn't even have an internet connection)

If she had been taught to save files to a network server (assuming one exists) she would have dutifully done so.
     
turtle777
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Oct 6, 2010, 10:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Work is a mixed bag. If the company understands the investment in time and intellectual property related to their computers, they'll do a lot to prevent such losses. If the corporation doesn't get it, they tend to not pay attention and spend a lot more money on recovering and fixing.
One of the main issues is with users of lots of data that use a laptop and travel a lot.

Good backup strategies for mobile users seem to be rare in corporate environments.

Really, what companies need is something like Dropbox, where you have a local copy that's synced in the background.

-t
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 6, 2010, 11:16 AM
 
At my university, everything is stored on server. If you save a file locally, it'll be deleted once you log out. Goes for both students and faculty.
     
mduell
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Oct 6, 2010, 11:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by jersey View Post
No IMAp or POP support - we cant get our mail on our smartphones
Why not use ActiveSync?
     
olePigeon
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Oct 6, 2010, 12:19 PM
 
It's amazing how many people think VSS is backup, until the hard drive dies.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
ghporter
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Oct 6, 2010, 01:14 PM
 
A friend is in the computer security department of the school I graduated from last year. There is a significant and robust IT infrastructure which includes a lot of built in security. But each department, and in particular, each researcher, is independent. There isn't a lot of force the IT folks can apply to some researcher that brings in $100M every year to make that researcher and his staff do some things. Most are OK, but some are just jerks who won't lift a finger for proper IT management unless/until Something Bad happens. Fortunately a lot of grant sources are now requiring at least a minimum level of management, control and security be in place on all computers involved with the research they fund.

On the other hand, the school across town that I attended to get some prerequisites for grad school had some really poor control and security. They've gotten better lately, but it's still not up to what it should be.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
mattyb
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Oct 6, 2010, 02:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
I was talking with a university professor the other day and she was telling me that she lost a lot of files when the uni computer in her office had a hd failure.
Usually an excuse used by students, I don't believe her.
     
finboy
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Oct 6, 2010, 06:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by hayesk View Post
Yes. At least when I attended and worked in an academic settings. University professors are experts in their field, not in computers. (unless, of course, they are computer science professors, and even then...) Our IT department even provided network backups to systems that were backed up to tape.

Our IT department, at least as far as staff/faculty support was pretty good, and understood cross platform environments, though a few grumbled about it.
It depends. Some of us in the research-intensive fields know as much or more than our IT types because we have to wring all the performance possible out of these things. We're the ones with 45,000 observations to manage (which was a big deal back in the old days) or running econometric forecasts, etc. that use a lot of bandwidth. Our IT is definitely too laid back for serious scientists - a great deal of grant funding is requested for backup resources and expertise.
     
finboy
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Oct 6, 2010, 06:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
Usually an excuse used by students, I don't believe her.
My dog ate my hard drive.
     
bstone
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Oct 7, 2010, 03:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
I was talking with a university professor the other day and she was telling me that she lost a lot of files when the uni computer in her office had a hd failure.

I was surprised that the files were being stored locally on each professors machine rather than on a network or something.

Is this typical for a work/academic setting?
I've spent nearly 10 years working in IT at 2 very large universities (Univ of Chicago and Harvard). The amount of info that profs have is rather large- many, many gigs. Much more than the average user whose life is a few text documents and music.

Why wasn't this profs info stored on a network drive? A few reasons-
*lousy network, 10base in some cases, that make transfer near impossible
*lack of support for IT folks, so no robust network storage available
*storage was available, but this prof never took advantage of it

All 3 are equally possible.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 7, 2010, 04:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by finboy View Post
My dog ate my hard drive.
I can't hand in my assignment until Fido poops out the USB stick.
     
jersey
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Oct 7, 2010, 09:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Why not use ActiveSync?
I've tried, but they seem to have the server renamed, ports changed and login scheme that I cant figure out. I spent about an hour trying to figure it out again last night.

I've spoken with IT about it several times, and they told me it "wasnt possible" and after I called them out on it I was told they wont / dont support it for students or faculty.

It amazes me that a school can be so ridiculous as to not allow its users to access email via mobile device or desktop client - all because they want to lock you into that damn SunGuard system interface.
     
P
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Oct 7, 2010, 09:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
I've spent nearly 10 years working in IT at 2 very large universities (Univ of Chicago and Harvard). The amount of info that profs have is rather large- many, many gigs. Much more than the average user whose life is a few text documents and music.

Why wasn't this profs info stored on a network drive? A few reasons-
*lousy network, 10base in some cases, that make transfer near impossible
*lack of support for IT folks, so no robust network storage available
*storage was available, but this prof never took advantage of it

All 3 are equally possible.
I'd say that the third option is by far the most likely. Unless it's historic thin Ethernet wiring (ie, the thin type as opposed to thick or TP), 100 Mbit Ethernet works anywhere - at slightly reduced distances, if you're really unlucky - unless someone really messed up when they made the cables and didn't twin the pairs correctly. 100 Mbit Ethernet is fast enough to work against a network server. Lack of IT support I also don't believe - there's usually enough students looking for a part-time job, so one skilled full-time person can get a lot of things done.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Person Man
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Oct 7, 2010, 07:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Lack of IT support I also don't believe - there's usually enough students looking for a part-time job, so one skilled full-time person can get a lot of things done.
He didn't say "lack of IT support." He said "lack of support for IT folks."

It doesn't matter how many students you hire or whether or not the IT techs are the best in the world if the university doesn't care enough about the IT department to fund it adequately so it can do a proper job.
     
finboy
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Oct 8, 2010, 05:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I can't hand in my assignment until Fido poops out the USB stick.
Hey, we got this excuse for not taking an online exam last Spring, from a student:

I'll be out of town over the weekend, and I'm going to where they don't have the Internet.


Turns out they were also going to where every grade was a "F."
     
tooki
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Oct 9, 2010, 04:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by tightsocks View Post
I was surprised that the files were being stored locally on each professors machine rather than on a network or something.

Is this typical for a work/academic setting?
I would have to say yes. Only large enterprise seems to have any inkling of how important it is to centrally manage storage and backup.

And with the growth of laptops, which may not be connected to a network, server-only storage is, IMHO, losing importance.
     
   
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