Microwave dinners

I was on a training course a while ago and they provided a buffet dinner (thats northern for the meal eaten around midday btw). They were nice enough (no pies though – it was down sarrrf (lots of quiche of course!)), but someone commented it would have been nice to heat up some dishes.

The trainer said they used to have microwaves until the government brought in additional legislation around hygiene, premises registration, inspections, health and safety etc. Rather than comply with the red tape mountain they just got rid of them and went to cold meals. (and in fairness who can blame them?)

So a bit of legislation brought in to ‘protect’ us, actually ends up preventing us from accessing a fairly reasonable facility – for our own safety.

Ring any bells?

I’m thinking patches to close security holes?

Many Office service packs ‘fix’ security holes by removing the whole chunk of functionality. Outlook especially has suffered from this, and Marcus mentioned the pain of 2k SP2 in comments recently. This is why I get more and more worried by each SP, as they now pretty much always remove or block, or make painful and convoluted, some once useful feature. I remember when SPs used to add features.

Of course as developers this adds a significant compatibility burden, as you need to develop against the service pack that will be the production environment. The old mantra was develop against the oldest version, now we are beginning to need to target the latest to see if our code gets tripped up by any new security roadblocks.

Lucky then that this has coincided with the widespread availability of virtual machines. Microsoft Virtual PC is free now I think, and VMWare is about 100 quid I think. and they can both convert from each others formats.

Its getting towards the classic – how do you keep a machine secure? Unplug it. Which would seem to be the approach many sys admins would prefer.

Are you seeing the same trend?

Got any clever ways to push back and protect our productivity?

Cheers

Simon

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4 Responses to “Microwave dinners”

  1. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    On many of the contracts I’ve worked on I’ve bought my own laptop on to the job site and used that rather than the allocated machine (which I’d use mainly for email).

    This way I could ensure I had the software I needed (including the right version), had access to my code library and past projects (which I leverage off). t also allows me to use my favourite tools/utilities without having to install them on the client machine (which I wouldn’t usually be able to do anyway). Work is transferred when required by USB memory stick or CD. I’ve rarely had an issue with this approach. Most project managers are happy as you’re immediately productive and don’t have to wait for IT services to fulfill a work request.

    Cheers – Marcus

  2. Jon Peltier Says:

    Most of my work is done in my own office. When traveling to a client’s site, I have never used for development computers supplied by the client. I bring my laptop which has all of the niceties marcus has enumerated.

  3. Harlan Grove Says:

    Using one’s own machine for development is fine as long as all testing AND DEBUGGING is done on the client’s machines using the client’s configuration(s). Nearly all the very difficult to diagnose bugs I’ve encountered came from differences in software between my own machine and users’ machines.

    Also, to the extent performance is an issue, software should be tested on the oldest, slowest machines running the oldest versions of OS and application platform software on which it’d be used. Thus the IBM PS/2 I still have with it’s 16MB RAM, 500MB fixed disk running Windows 95 and Office 97. If my workbooks run OK on it, they should deliver acceptable performance on newer hardware running newer software (aside from underpowered Vista machines).

    I wonder which runs Excel 2003 more quickly, a Vista machine with a paltry 512K RAM or a Mac running VMWare or Parallels?

  4. Simon Says:

    I use my own machine where possible too, and I generally need to get special dispensation to use a USB drive to transfer data, which are getting harder and harder to come by.
    At one place I had to email myself on my client email address to get stuff on the network.
    At one place they locked the USB ports, but only to prevent downloading stuff from network to portable device. You could copy any old malware from the pen drive to he network. Odd!

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