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Re: [vox] [fwd] Re: [K12OSN] Why Linux? [in schools]
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Re: [vox] [fwd] Re: [K12OSN] Why Linux? [in schools]

The one thing you have to remember about the country as a whole.
Management doesn't trust IT people. To them, we are just a necessary
evil and no matter what we do, in their minds we just cost them money.

Scenerio #1 - wooow! this cost sooo much money!

Scenerio #2 - You save them $30,0000, ergo you were ripping them off all
that time before.


I did this point of sales system for a local retailer with three stores.
All MS implementations of course. So they have two stores up and running
on this POS system. But badly, its broken. I'm the IT guy, NOT the
software vendor. "But you're a computer guy, can't you fix this?" ...
NO, I don't fiddle with the PROGRAM, thats the VENDORS job. Blah blah

Ok.. third store is coming up, estimate for 3 terminals. I figure
inhouse builds for all the computers, licensing of the OS (btw, the
vendor lied to me, they claimed an incompatibility with WinXP and were
going to sell me copies of Win2K.. never mind that the computers came
with XP), and budgeted around $18K for the project. I add 15% for costs
overruns "just in case"  and round it up to around $21K for the estimate.

Well.... ONE day before deployment, the bookkeeper comes up to me. "Hey,
this $21K number sounds high, do we have to spend that much money?"

So I go, "In reality, we can use paper and pencil. Its all a compromise.
What kind of budget did you want to reduce this down to?"

"oh, I don't know.. but can't we trim money somewhere?"

At this point I'm thinking "uh? You don't know?"... that can't be good.

Can't we get the computers from a cheaper place? - UH.. no.. we're
building them inhouse. You're not going to get the computers and Windows
any cheaper.

Well, do we really need this multistore license? - Uh. no.. but
Accounting is going to have to reconsile everything manually.

Well, how about if we use another register program? (notice she didn't
say POS), - Sure, but you're going to loose consistancy and you're to
have to re-train and you're still going to have to consolidate
everything manually.

Well.. I think I can save us money.... - DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!

And I got permission to look over the project and see if I can do
something about that. - uh.. ok.. here's all the paper work, here's the
contact info. You need me, let me know.

Um.. do you have any experience of setting up a point of sales system? -
No, but I've used them.
Um.. do you have any experience in project management? - No, but it
shouldn't be that hard.
Um. do you have any experience in network enviornments? - No, but we can
get people to do that.


Ok, at that point I am out of it. What is the solution? Well.....

She decided to go with the upgrade of the program for all three stores..
(estimated guess.. about a $5K upgrade fee)

Which required an upgrade of all the computers (not really, but the
vendor said it did), so a local computer company convinced her that the
cheapest way was to upgrade all the motherboards to P4's from P3's. (I
told her there was like a 50% success rate for that in a computer thats
already configured. But its a great idea if you're gonna do it from scratch)

Well, the 50% number was about correct.. and the OTHER 50% failed on the
Windows XP upgrade. So no computers were upgraded. Estimated cost.. lets
see 5 hours of on site tech work... what? about $500 give or take?

So what is the solution? Replace ALL computers with Gateways!!!!! Yea!
The guys who have like a D- for the last three years running for their
commercial support! (You know, with the web being so convinent, why
don't people just type in "Gateway trouble problems" into Google and see
what comes up?!) Estimated expenditure, about $8000. Oh but wait, what
the hell is that in the warehouse? A Xenon server?!!! Overkill. Figure
about $5K. Oops, don't forget the Server 2000 license! $1000.

They hook it up. It doesn't work right. Yea.

So, factor all the work that wasn't done inhouse, all the re-support
they needed to do. And the fact that the program didn't cost them any
less. Hmm...  I estimated $3K in hardware, they spent probably $15K
after it was all done. On top of the software upgrade.. $5K, and then
the costs of the implementation of the new workstations.. another $15K.
So where are we? $46K?

Hmmm... are we saving money yet?

And the kicker is, the system is STILL not working right, two years later.

Ok.. end of story.

The moral is, management is stupid. You need to treat them as stupid.
You need to play the politics to get what needs to be done, done. You
need to balance computer stuff with some degree of mysticism versus
understanding. Always use analogy to make it simple, and if they start
getting stupid, break out the technicaleese so that they don't think
some 5th grader can do the same thing. Make it sound too simple, and
they will get ideas. Bad ones.

If I sound bitter, I'm really not. Its more frustration.

Personally, I would have kept the PIII's (there were mostly 500mhz chips
which is FINE), switched them all over to Linux. Hired a company to
create a custom application to our specs. And BOOM! Life would be good.
And functional.


softwareBill Kendrick wrote:

Here's a great post by David Trask (of the Vassalboro Community School
in Maine) on the K12OSN list (where K12LTSP thin clients in schools is

At the bottom is a link to an article he was quoted in in
Education Week newspaper...

----- Forwarded message from David Trask <dtrask@vcs.u52.k12.me.us> -----

I work for a school board that just quite doesn't understand the benefit of Linux especially LTSP. We did have Linux servers for authentication for Windows machines and proxy etc but they got cold feet and went with MS 2003 Server (not without problems)

I'm perplexed....what the hell is a SCHOOL BOARD doing making IT
infrastructure decisions? My school board makes decisions regarding
policy, curriculum issues (to some degree), budget, and some central

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