Treat Us Like Adults, Please

This post is not about my age.

Last month I spent about five hours ripping my wife's cd collection onto the new Gateway computer that she received from her employer. Keep in mind, they own the machine, and it's purpose is work only. I can respect that. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has left my computer open for my personal optimization. Most are not so fortunate.

I had a feeling that my efforts would be limited when I was not allowed to install iTunes. Fine, I can't install third party programs. It's a dangerous world, I know.

Irritated with this fact, I trudged on, if nothing else for love. I set up some desktop shortcuts, Firefox add-ons, and other tools designed for work efficiency. My jaw dropped when I realized Firefox itself was already installed. Very classy. Anyways, the finished product was a faster, easier-to-navigate, more enjoyable laptop. No harm, no foul.

Spring forward one week.

My wife's employer purchased some new testing software that she needed installed on her computer. So she took it in, dropped it off with the tech guru (who is reportedly a nice guy) and picked it up at the end of the day.

He deleted the music. He un-installed the Firefox add-ons. He trashed her shortcuts. Everything gone.

Here is my rant. Why, in a world that is constantly evolving for the sake of efficiency, are we, as professionals, not allowed to add new contacts to our Outlook address books? Why can't we create shortcuts for the programs we use frequently? Why can't we use the Internet to check our bank account balance or the weather report for tomorrow? I'm not talking about screen savers or desktop colors (although I don't understand the logic behind aesthetic limitations either). In today's world, life and work co-mingle in an unavoidable fashion. Instant access to information and communication creates an environment where limiting my efficiency is no longer an option. As these efficiencies are built into our lives they slowly become necessities rather than conveniences. There is no longer a world without Google.

It is time for the business world to function on a model that acknowledges I may spend five to ten percent of my "work day" on personal matters, but that I compensate for that time by spending at least the same amount of time "off hours" managing work information from home, school, or even while shopping. That I may look up kayaking on Wikipedia while I am on a business related phone call, but that I will also use Google to save our company twenty percent on supplies. What I am talking about is not a proposal to acknowledge and allow flex time but rather a conscious decision to change the way we think about our workdays/lives. The people that abuse the concept weed themselves out.

Gotta go do some research on kayaking.


Tom said...

Having worked with various IT people, I suspect that they are not trying to treat you like a child. Rather, the IT person simply has a complete disk image with the operating system and all software, including desktop icons and accounts. When a machine comes in to be upgraded, the IT person simply erases the entire drive and copies over the new image. Programs like Symantec Ghost make this process very easy and allow IT to upgrade many machines at once.

I assure you that no IT person I've ever met would actually take the time to manually remove programs or desktop icons.

Your best bet, at least for the iTunes music, is to get a USB hard drive (about $50 for 50GB; note: NOT a USB flash key which is too small) and put your stuff on there.

The Nursing Home Administrator said...

That's intersting, I never thought about copying a new image of the entire drive over the top. That actually make me feel a *little* better...

You have to admit, though, most corporations severly limit customization that is usually sought to improve efficiency. This is NOT the IT person's fault, and I shouldn't have pointed the blame in his direction!

Thanks for posting.

Tom said...

I completely agree that corporate machines are locked down very tightly. I'm sure the corporate lawyers see the few high profile cases of data loss (such as the V.A. laptop that was stolen with info on millions of veterans) and insist that IT tries to lock them down.

I don't see any change in this behavior happening soon. If anything, it will become more restrictive. Courts tend to favor the corporation in these circumstances since the company purchased the machine.

Another suggestion I would offer is to look at the newer USB flash keys that say "U3" on them. These let you store applications like FireFox, Thunderbird, and many others (see for details). The USB key stores your apps, your settings, your cookies, your data, etc. This allows you to use any computer as generic hardware without touching the hard drive.

Going back to iTunes, another option is to burn your music collection to some data DVDs, or to sync it to an iPod (there are utilities that let you copy your music back from an iPod to your hard drive).