15 October, 2011
Computers are a great tool but can they think? The short answer is no, not yet at least. The modern PC really only ‘processes’ the commands that we send it and it mostly does this without question. So if we ‘command’ our PC to do a stupid / crazy task it will happily do this all day every day without complaint. This is pretty much how a virus works. It will be written to create a never ending loop of tasks for our PC to process and it will get the PC to set a high priority on this task. Modern virus scanners normally ‘recognise’ this type of programming and therefore block these viruses from executing but it is this lack of the computer being able to question what we are doing that often creates other problems.
At Kerr Solutions, we often see a computer or even a network that has been setup specifically for a certain task or a ‘system’ of keeping data. This ‘system’ can vary from a home user keeping thousands of photos to a business keeping thousands of client records or managing a large database. If this system was initially setup with little forethought or planning then it can ultimately become a restrictive and time consuming monster to maintain and use. Consider the following examples.
A home user gets a new camera and starts collecting 1000’s of family photos, they are arranged in folders by date. A couple of years later they replace the camera with a different brand that now arranges photos by an incremental numbering system. They then purchase an extra camera for another family member which creates its own database of photos and keeps them in a different folder location all together – the result is simply a mess with zero conformity and also a headache to try to backup or transfer to another computer.
A medical practice scans all patient letters and results electronically into a database for future reference. This is setup properly in the first place to scan at 150 DPI in greyscale however after a year or two their scanner breaks and they replace it themselves with a new one. The new scanner has a default resolution of 1200 DPI and full colour which is ignored and scanning proceeds. This level of detail is not needed for keeping scans of black and white letters and actually results in file sizes that are around 300 times larger than the original scan sizes. If they do this for long without picking up on it their database will have grown to a size which is near unmanageable, running them out of server space and causing backups to fail.
We have also seen huge problems with something as simple as ‘long winded’ naming conventions on customer folders and file names which take them beyond the 255 character limit causing data corruption (a giant sized disaster). There are dozens of further examples that I have seen firsthand of both individuals and companies embarking upon a system of computer use without any forethought or planning. Computers are a great tool but they will never question the logic of the person sitting behind the keyboard, which, when left unchecked often creates a monumental stuff up.
So what stands between a new system of computer use and a monumental stuff up? Simply answered – expert advice from an IT consultant. In both of the cases above, either purchasing from a non-chain store source or investing a few dollars in an IT consultation would have resulted in a totally different outcome. Most people can manage by themselves to browse the Internet & send / receive a few emails however, as soon as you throw the need to keep important data into the equation then a good ‘system’ of use and a good backup become essential. Kerr Solutions is at 128 Musgrave Street & is contactable on 49 222 400.