back to article My work-from-home setup's better than the office. It's GLORIOUS

I’ve been fairly used to the idea that my PC at home is substantially better than my work one; this has certainly been the case for me for more than a decade. I’m a geek and I spend more than most on my personal technology environment. However, it is no longer just my home PC. I’ve got better software tools and back-end …

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  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Yup.

    My home box is a nice quiet watercooled 8-thread 32GB beast with SSD. I spent only about a grand at NewEgg for the bitsnpieces because I was willing to accept the i7-3770 CPU that is slightly behind the enthusiast curve.

    My work box? Some 6yo Dell with only one SATA port. Yeah. However that's kind of my fault, as I haven't bitched for an upgrade because I work at home on the beast. If I needed an upgrade, they're good about them.

    I also have a crap HP laptop, but that's also my fault because I was stupid enough to buy an HP. I did however spray-paint over the damn dinner-plate-size BEATS logo on the thing.

    I run Debian and 2 official copies of Windows 7 that insist they're pirated, so I installed cracks for them.

    I want a couple more monitors, but no one sells 1920x1200 at a reasonable price any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup.

      My work recently upgraded our ancient machines to shiny new HP laptops. I however have a few gripes about them.

      1 Heat: These things pump out a lot of heat, the keyboard is like a hand warmer for me. They're good laptops sure, i7 SSD etc, but the heat from these things is monsterous.

      2: Exhaust: HP, why in gods green earth did you point the exhause for this heat mongering laptop DIRECTLY AT MY MOUSE HAND! I've actually taken to covering up the exhaust with a paper funnel to redirect (badly) the heat from this thing because my hand is starting to go red and itchy.

      For me the problem is mostly software wise. Tools are generally IBM (read crap) our VS version is about 4 generations behind now. It's quite comical actually, went on an external training course.

      "Hands up who is using VS 2012"

      " okay who's using 2010"

      "2005?"

      "Why didn't you raise your hand?"

      "We're using VS2003, and 6.0"

      "... Well I don't know what you're going to get out of this, I suggest you call your employer idiots"

      Or something to that effect.

      1. Steve Knox Silver badge
        Mushroom

        HP Laptops and Heat

        I've owned 5 different brands of laptops over the past decade: Dell, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, and Acer.

        The Acer is my current one, so doesn't really figure in my comments -- yet.

        All of the others I replaced because I wanted a newer machine. They were all functional, and I sold them for a good price to offset the purchase of the replacement.

        Except for the HP. The HP always ran hot, and one day (just a few weeks past warranty expiration; go figure) decided to die from heat exhaustion (specifically, the CPU overheated -- all other components tested out fine.)

        I've had a few other friends with HPs of various ages, all of which suffered similar fates.

        1. Vic

          Re: HP Laptops and Heat

          The HP always ran hot, and one day (just a few weeks past warranty expiration; go figure) decided to die from heat exhaustion

          I have a pile of BERed HP laptops in my office. They all overheated.

          It's a combination of poor thermal design, poor soldering on the GPU, and a combined CPU/GPU heat pipe that bends away from the GPU over time.

          They can be brought back to life (temporarily, at any rate) but it's 2.5 hours labour to do the job. And the "repair" lasts a few months. So BER it is.

          Vic.

          1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

            Re: HP Laptops and Heat

            I also suffer a HP laptop. Again, heat to the right hand, plenty of noise, overheats, it's SLOW and UNDERCLOCKED. Yes, it is underclocked so it doesn't overheat so much.

            My home pc is also watercooled 16 GB Ram, and fas SSD. I have way better experience using my systems than the ones my company provides.

        2. Peter Simpson 1
          Mushroom

          Re: HP Laptops and Heat

          Dell's not immune.

          I have here on my desk, an Optiplex 745 in "Ultra Small Form Factor"

          So "ultra-small" in fact, that our IT department wants nothing to do with them, as their anemic fans and poor internal airflow fail spectacularly at removing heat from the case, causing the box to be a never-ending instigator of service calls. It was "given" to me to use as a Linux box. I replaced the HDD and discovered that it ran TEN DEGREES C cooler if I popped the case top and ran it that way. It's been doing fine ever since.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yup. @AC with ;hot hand

        If your laptop's giving off that much heat 99% sure there's something wrong (most likely IME flash ads running in a browser). You need to look at the task manager and see what's happening. Again IME the only thing that can give out that much heat is the CPU. If all else fails, try throttling the cpu, but first try and find what's causing it.

        1. irneb

          Re: Yup. @AC with ;hot hand

          CPU isn't the ONLY thing. If the laptop's got a discreet GPU - then that's MUCH more likely to cause the fan to kick into overdrive.

      3. OzBob

        Re: Yup.

        I work for a vendor who likes to refer to "dog-fooding" as a methodology for using our own products. Its generally agreed amongst the techs that the management just pick this stuff off a shelf, we're the unlucky f*ckers who have to pick up a spoon.

      4. Scott Pedigo

        Replace Your Handwarmer with a Gamer Laptop

        If you can afford it, you should consider getting rid of the HP and replacing it with a gaming laptop.

        You cannot judge by the stats alone. The HP laptops look great on paper, regarding the CPU, RAM, etc. in the price/performance department. In actuality, some models have heat problems. The last time I went looking for a laptop, I did two things: (1) walked through a large electronics store, putting my hands on the keyboards of the running demo models and looking closely at where the exhaust ports are located. An HP laptop keyboard almost burned my hand. An ASUS model by comparison was cool to the touch. (2) I looked at user comments on review sites, and low and behold, there were many complaints about overheating and freezes in the HP same model that was so hot.

        I purchased an ASUS Republic of Gamers laptop that has two large fan exhaust ports at the BACK of the case. One for the CPU, one for the GPU. Large enough to get decent airflow, and they blow the air out straight out the back. The only thing you cannot do is jam it up against something, because that would block the airflow. Duh. No hot air on the mouse hand. The keyboard does get warm while gaming, but not unbearably hot. However, I never notice that anyway. I use a Logitech Unified mouse and keyboard, so I have just one small USB connector for both, have a full-sized keyboard that I can turn off/on, turn upside down and shake out, and position how I want. It's usually propped up on the bottom edge of the laptop.

        Gaming laptops seem to be a hit-or-miss proposition regarding quality. You probably have about a 10% chance of getting a lemon. Judging by the comments I've read, you either love yours or you hate the manufacturer for having crappy support. The same manufacturers that get 5 stars for great laptops also get rated as "never buy one from here again" by the people who get the occasional bad one.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yup.

        Should have bought a Macbook - they get slightly warm but the whole case is a heatsink so unless you work them really hard they are usually silent.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yup.

          Problem is we had no say in what laptops we had for work. When they were looking I sent in several suggestions for decent laptops you can plug into workstations etc, all great reviews, decent quality, inexpensive by comparison. But they went with HP because they're our 'main supplier' so now we're stuck with laptops which can heat up the entire office during winter.and dried out hands.

      6. stevehn

        Re: Yup.

        My Dell used to pump out a lot of heat then one day I opened up the fan cover and found like a thick layer of fibrous coat of lint stuck behind the heat sink. Cleaned all of that up and now it is not so hot and the fan doesn't have to work as much.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yup.

          I might have to do that because right now it's getting silly hot. Compile a project in the morning, come the afternoon the fan is still going trying to cool it down.

          There's either a wad of crap stuck in the fan, of poor contact. One will be fixed with a hoover, the other by a dab of thermal paste, since those rubber pads they sometimes use are useless.

    2. Decade
      Boffin

      Re: Yup.

      The death of the 1920x1200 screen was very sad, but what I'm watching now are the 4K monitors. They're starting to become affordable, for sufficiently stretchy definitions of "affordable." Sometimes a 4K IPS screen even goes below $1000. If I had plenty of money sitting around, I would so get that.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Yup.

        I recently switched home setup from 1920x1280 (27") to 2560x1600 (30"), this was nice upgrade.

        Not tempted by 4K since I'm using Windows quite a lot, and its screen scaling is apparently not very good. It would be a choice between tiny letters and/or icons and/or poor scaling across plethora of programs, and I am not keen to spend over a grand to test it.

    3. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: 1920x1200

      Dell and Samsung do 27" 2560*1440 at a reasonable price point while you wait for 4K

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I must be among the lucky few here

      Who get to pick their own gear for work. My rig, which I use for work and play:

      Dell M4800

      32 GB Ram

      1x256GB SSD + 32GB mSata + 1TB HDD

      Full HD Display

      i7 4900 MQ

      NVidia Quadro 2100M

      Linux Mint

      Fully paid for by my employer of course.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup.

      Gene Cash,

      For work I hate 1920x1080, I already own a very good and fairly expensive 24" 1920x1200 IPS screen, but recently was looking for additional one - something cheaper with 1920x1200 and ideally still an IPS screen. Last week I've gone for Dell UltraSharp U2412M which here in the UK its around 220-230 GBP. With this specs I couldn't find anything cheaper and its actually quite good screen - definitely worth having a look.

    6. joejack

      Re: Yup.

      > I want a couple more monitors, but no one sells 1920x1200 at a reasonable price any more.

      Here you go. I can vouch for this one. Great display, price, ports, UI, adjustable stand, etc.

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824260047

  2. Frankee Llonnygog

    My home environment is more secure too

    And unlike work, I've applied security in a way that actively protects me and doesn't prevent me from doing work

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT, or the people in control of IT budgets, seem to forget that giving decent equipment to staff is very cheap relative to the cost of employing the member of staff. This is especially the case with professionals using demanding software who really need the extra power. I've seen too many new members of staff in my office get some old heap of shit PC that should have been got rid of years ago.

    This holds back staff productivity to save a few quid and causes frustration. It's not good enough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, where I work we used to have ancient machines. Many of us were still on single core pentiums. With the size of our projects (very very very very large) it was taking several hours to compile the entire project. Now we've upgraded it's closer to 15 - 30 minutes depending. Kinda silly when you think about it really. The upgrade has probably kicked productivity up ten fold.

    2. Irongut

      And you think this is the fault of the IT dept? I think you'll find your IT colleagues would love to supply everyone with the latest shiny laptop or desktop beast. After all then they can brag to their mates what great machines they get for work. The fault for using old, probably used equipment falls squarely at the beancounters' door whether that equipment is IT equipment or anything else your company uses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The fault for using old, probably used equipment falls squarely at the beancounters' door "

        A big boy did and ran away, then?

        If the IT department were competent they'd stand up for workforce productivity, and be able to justify the provision of better kit. In my business we're rolling out better kit than the in house IT team would like to offer, simply because the outsourced desktop support refuse to continue issuing and supporting rubbish for one company (and Finance have little to do with it). It's the same with XP - IME it wasn't the bean counters stopping upgrades, it was the poor strategic choices made years ago by the IT professionals, and their subsequent fear of the hard work to rectify those mistakes.

        FFS, if there's a team paid to make IT work, don't you think they should deliver? Or is it acceptable to fall back on the "beancounter" excuse, whilst still claiming the salary of a true professional?

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge

          @Ledswinger: A truly ignorant response. Beancounters control the purse strings so best of luck getting the purchase signed off. You also neglect the fact that most managers are ignorant to the need for better kit whilst making sure they have something way beyond what they need for email and internet sat on their desktop.

          "If the IT department were competent they'd stand up for workforce productivity"

          and they'd be promptly ignored like they are in most other regards.

          1. TraceyC

            @ Mark 65.

            "@Ledswinger: A truly ignorant response. Beancounters control the purse strings so best of luck getting the purchase signed off. You also neglect the fact that most managers are ignorant to the need for better kit whilst making sure they have something way beyond what they need for email and internet sat on their desktop."

            Back in the late 90's in a large company, this was absolutely true for me (and many others). IT wanted to get me an upgraded machine because the old one I had kept crashing with memory errors due to overtaxed hardware. Today, however, in another company, the IT department does *not* fight for what users need. They are often the impediment that prevents people from getting the kit & network access they need. They have been known to be afraid of making changes to a setup done by someone no longer with the company. They're forcing a new VPN "solution" on us that doesn't even support all the machines & OS's our staff runs ffs (all of those machines & OS's were OK'd by upper management). They treat the support they provide folks on getting VPN to run on the non-supported kit as a gift, which they weren't even going to provide but by the kindness of their hearts, they decided to.

            Sometimes it is a manager who is ignorant or can only see the choices they are used to preventing people from getting what they really need. Sometimes both management and IT have this fear of "but that's not the way we have always done things".

            Just because in your experience it's always the beancounters at fault doesn't mean others can't and haven't had a different experience.

        2. irneb

          "FFS, if there's a team paid to make IT work, don't you think they should deliver? Or is it acceptable to fall back on the "beancounter" excuse, whilst still claiming the salary of a true professional?"

          Actually, a company I worked for a few years ago had this issue. I was on the IT committee so can speak from personal experience. Our local power supplier monopoly was warning of rolling-blackouts, so we were begging for a set of UPS's and a jenny to run at least the PC's and some lights for the 150 staff. The bean counter (Financial Director) simply refused as it was "too expensive".

          Well, we did the pricing and waited for the first blackout. In one hour the lost salaries were the same as the cost of the jenny, the next hour accounted for the UPS's. It took us a further month before the bean counter realized we were telling him the truth - only it wasn't that "we warned him and begged for a solution". It was him who noticed the decline in revenues and productivity and thus he feels the cost is justified.

          Imagine how difficult it is to get decent PC's with a management like that.

    3. Tom_

      The worst excuse I've been given for keeping us on low spec PCs is "We don't want you developing on better PCs than our average customers have because you won't realise how badly your code performs in the real world."

      Oddly, we don't ship the debug build of our product, although we often have to run it when debugging.

  4. Richard 120

    ITs going backwards

    Bizarrely when our office found that their old laptops couldn't easily be upgraded to Windows 7 from XP started issuing new laptops, which have slower CPU's less memory and no DVD/CD reader let alone writer in them, that might be okay if they also provided everyone with a means to transfer information.

    Working within a department that deals with govt. data means we need a secure means of transferring data between systems, this has always meant CD's or DVD's which are shredded after use.

    The alternative is encrypted USB memory sticks, however these are small in capacity, relatively slow and apparently non-existent as far as the IT ordering system goes.

    I lucked out by virtue of getting a fairly new laptop in the right gap between upgrades which meant that it came with windows 7 installed and was actually better than the old one, including coming with a DVDRW drive.

    When I say lucky it comes with the downside of a queue of people holding blank CD's...

    1. Tom_

      Re: ITs going backwards

      "Working within a department that deals with govt. data means we need a secure means of transferring data between systems"

      I know this one! It's called a train seat, right?

      1. Richard 120

        Re: ITs going backwards

        Nope, I'm way too far down the chain to do that, it's only the people near the top who are allowed to do that sort of thing.

  5. kmac499

    Company Car vs Company PC

    I remember a conversation a few years ago, I'd just reached the heady heights of qualifying for a company car.and I was given a list of thirty odd to choose from. I used the train so asked if I could trade in my works desktop for a works laptop instead. Look of incredulity from those in power. "No we only have a standard desktop with a standard corporate image on it." which BTW we all hated

    A couple of years later a summer student in IT help called me and said "Your PC seems to have some .EXE files on it that aren't in the standard build we need to delete them."

    I politely ( I hope ) reminded sad spotty yoof that my job title was developer and I created EXE's for a living. He didn't ring back,..

    1. Irongut

      Re: Company Car vs Company PC

      Haha that's a good one. I've had similar problems, the rest of the IT dept never seem to know how to treat the devs. We aren't one of them so they don't want to give us admin rights but if they don't then I'll have them at my machine every day installing something for me.

      1. topologicalanomaly4747

        Re: Company Car vs Company PC

        You:

        - include dodgy tools in your webapp to allow code updates directly on the production server

        - updates that sometimes break the whole app including your insecure backend "hidden" access and need to wake me on call to fix it

        - code updates you forget to commit to the repo (you barely know how to use anyway) and so get overwritten on the official update

        - spawn 500 instances of your crappy - no error treatment - code and then ring the sysadmin up to complain that the dev server is slow

        - app that floods the internal network with requests it never listens to anyway but slow everything to a crawl

        - ask me after I kill the shitty app what requests did it make because you have no idea

        - write code worse than 100 monkeys with 100 typewritters

        - don't say thanks after I find the exact line of code and reason that your shitty app crashes

        - line I have to find and show because untill then you insist it's a system issue

        So you bet your hipster canvas bag you don't get admin privileges.

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Company Car vs Company PC

          A few years ago, the IT team at the company I was at announced that they were removing admin rights from our laptops. The email chain went something like:

          IT: "Can you please schedule a convenient time for us to access your laptop, we need to fix the access to remove admin rights to non IT staff"

          Me: "Before you do that, I need a copy of your call out rota"

          IT: "We don't do out of hours call out"

          Me: "We do, I'll just call your mobile at 3am when my laptop needs support and I have an urgent production issue to fix"

          IT: "Forget it"

          1. PBelc

            Re: Company Car vs Company PC

            You shouldn't have admin rights end of, annoys me when our devs complain to the IT director they are not doing their job because VS doesn't work properly without admin rights.

            You should have an admin account though that can be used for said 3am emergencies, while all other times running as a standard user. Same goes for anyone in IT.

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge

              Re: Company Car vs Company PC

              In fact, if you do not know how to install windows by yourself on company kit you should not be allowed admin privs. Those other bright guyz in your company who never complain simply have reinstalled windows, not attached to domain, same username/password as domain account and never have any issues whatsoever ... if you do not know how to pull that one off, you do not deserve admin privs.

              All jokes aside, I also have an HP lappy that is underclocked (1.2 iso 2.67Ghz) because it kept overheating during builds ... I swapped 4Gb for 8Gb RAM, my own RAM, swapped HD for SSD (also mine). I work from home. Lappy is HP EliteBook with i5.

              For the others who do not know about ant, no, builds take much more oompf than crappy flash adds, believe me ... build uses 1-2Gb of RAM, easily, all four cores on my laptop are almost constantly above 90% usage, even at 2.67Ghz ... build time between the two clock speeds is about the same, the bottleneck is IO, I have a 500Gb SSD - the lappy came with windows 7, I dropped Debian on that. I almost halve build time on Debian compared to Windows 7 ... not sure why that is ... note that this is a biiiig application.

              I need to position the laptop like /\ for it to build at 2.67Ghz without overheating - I cannot work during build without external monitor/keyboard/mouse and the noise is unbearable ... not worth it.

              Waiting for a i7 tower with 16 or 32Gb ram and a second SSD for raid 0 - the shit is in subversion, all I need is speeeed.

        2. kmac499

          Re: Company Car vs Company PC

          Wise Old to new developer..

          "When writing code always remember the person following you \ maintaining your work is a psychotic mad axe murderer who knows where you live."

      2. Peter Simpson 1
        Happy

        Re: Company Car vs Company PC

        ...the rest of the IT dept never seem to know how to treat the devs...

        Teach them. Positive reinforcement (e.g.: remembering them at Christmas...apparently, I'm the only one who does) seems to work wonders.

  6. horsham_sparky
    Flame

    standardisation

    This is the scourge of the engineering department.. being expected to build FPGA/microcontroller code, or run Matlab or Spice simulations on a PC that was designed for a company secretary who rarely uses anything other than Word or Internet Explorer (yep, the standard browser for the company, no you can't have firefox, its free! it can't possibly be legal!). 2GB of RAM which IE and windows swallows whole when you have more than a few windows open.. a single core CPU that needs its clockwork winding up regularly..

    Anyone tried to design a PCB using a 15" screen? for heavens sake, my smartphone has more pixels! not fun!

    *sigh* sorry rant over

    1. Boothy

      Re: standardisation

      Chuckle : "for heavens sake, my smartphone has more pixels! not fun!"

      Works laptop screen (Lenovo T420): 1366 x 768

      My Nexus 5 phone: 1080P (i.e. 1920 × 1080 )

      Crazy, really, really crazy!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I spent 4 years badgering my boss before we got decent sized screens - big widescreen TFTs to replace our crappy 17" TFTs.

    We moved offices and went to a hot-desking environment, everyone got a laptop - the same laptop for all users. The laptops are widescreen, good for watching a movie on, useless for seeing multiple lines of code on.

    Even this, with it's clearly measurable drop in productivity, was not enough to stir the great IT budget in to capex mode.

    The tipping point was when marketing, who seem to have ways around IT capex - I think they just buy stuff and then say "oh, can't we do that?" - bought their staff 24" iiyama widescreens. Oh, and obviously, un-hotdesked themselves ("you can't sit there, those screens are for Marketing").

    Of course, we didn't get iiyama. We got Acer. We always get Acer. No need for the people implementing those designs being able to see accurate colours, eh?

    PS: The dichotomy of not liking my widescreen laptop and liking my widescreen TFT, I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode and get ungodly number of lines (well, 120+) on the screen.

    1. PC Paul

      "PS: The dichotomy of not liking my widescreen laptop and liking my widescreen TFT, I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode and get ungodly number of lines (well, 120+) on the screen"

      I managed to get dual monitors for all the developers by showing the boss something that he could understand - an IBM report saying that programmers were 15% more productive with dual screens. Getting that more work from you for only a couple of hundred pound a head, for monitors that could be nicely depreciated against tax makes business sense.

      We got crappy widescreen monitors as well, but if you're willing to put shiny and conventional aside (and what true techie isn't?) then you can either use both vertically or even better one landscape and one portrait then use which ever layout works best - vertical for coding, wide for browsing.

      It looks daft, but it works brilliantly.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

        Yes you can rotate it, but I've yet to come across a desktop OS and monitor that automates the screen rotation - funny Apple were able to do it on an iPad back in 2007, swiftly followed by Google with Android (okay not as smooth but still usable). Windows 8.n, MS's tablet OS, can't, likewise Linux. Given CRT displays that could be rotated from landscape to portrait mode were around in the late 80's, you would of thought a desktop OS, could handle them by now.

        1. BorkedAgain

          Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

          <Alt Gr> - Arrow Key will rotate your screen for you. Handy if your screen doesn't know which way is up (and why would it?) and also a fun way to confuse the hell out of a colleague who's left his machine unlocked while he grabs a cuppa... ;)

          1. Alan_Peery

            Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

            Which screen rotates at the AltGr <arrow-key> is controlled by where the mouse cursor is.

            It can be a bit confusing -- if the result of one rotation changes the resolutions so the mouse pointer moves into a different monitor. ;-)

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

            <Alt Gr> ... is not a Windows default shortcut, but one that a user can assign if their video driver permits.

            My point wasn't that you can't rotate the Windows desktop to fit a rotated monitor, only that support for automatic rotation isn't inbuilt, as it is in iOS and Android. The surprising thing is that automated support only requires a minimal change to the VESA DDC and the fitting of an orientation sensor in the monitor (suggest would need to be three axis to allow detection of: landscape, portrait and table orientations).

            1. kurtfarrar

              Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

              Screen auto-rotate IS built into Windows. I have a Windows 8.1 Pro tablet, if I turn it around, the desktop rotates to match.

              The problem here is that desktop monitors don't have a built-in sensor (accelerometer or whatever) to realise which way round it is and communicate to Windows that is needs to rotate.

              As someone else posted... it's a desktop monitor... why would it need to know that?

              With your monitor that you've rotated, how often do you change it's rotation? Once a year? When you decide to tidy/rearrange your desk? For something that would only be used once a year, I don't see why manufacturers should build the sensors into the monitors and bump up the price as a result. I personally would go and buy one with out the sensor if it was cheaper.

        2. feanor

          Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

          This is nothing to do with the fact that iPads and Tablets have accelerometers in them and monitors don't, obviously.........

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

            Yes you can rotate it, but I've yet to come across a desktop OS and monitor that automates the screen rotation … Windows 8.n, MS's tablet OS, can't, likewise Linux.

            Well, I personally I use FreeBSD, this works pretty fine for me:

            > $ grep xrandr .xinitrc

            xrandr --output DP-0 --rotate left

            xrandr --output VGA-0 --rotate left

            I guess you meant "automatically detect what way up a screen is".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

          Funny, when I'm rotating my Surface Pro, Windows happily re-orients itself.

          Maybe lacking the hardware in the monitor to detect screen orientation is your problem....

        4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

          > ... but I've yet to come across a desktop OS and monitor that automates the screen rotation ...

          Guess you are too young to remember then. Back as far as the 80s and 90s, Radius did a Pivot display that did just that - A4 greyscale, used custom graphics card, but included a switch so it knew which way up the monitor way.

          It was cool, but like most Radius gear, "inexpensive" was generally not part of the description !

          Sadly, such things seemed to disappear in the 90s - and as you point out, modern hardware doesn't do it. It wouldn't take much to do, but unless the OS vendors integrated support, adding a monitor would mean installing drivers (to handle the auto-rotate) - how very 20th century !

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

            >Guess you are too young to remember then.

            Thanks for the complement! Yes I do remember the Radius gear - as you say it was cool but highly proprietary - hence my reference to CRT's in the late 80's.

            Also I'm aware of various LCD monitors in more recent times that came with additional software and cables that would automate the prodding of the video driver to rotate the displayed desktop between portrait and landscape as per the Radius concept. Plus many more monitors and stands that support the physical rotation of a monitor by a user between landscape and portrait modes, but rely on a user manually prodding the video driver via a keyboard shortcut sequence.

            Hence why I phrased my query in the form of integrated OS support which would not only provide a standard way of connecting and communicating screen orientation but also a way to communicate to other programs such as trackpad so they can re-orientate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The tipping point was when marketing, who seem to have ways around IT capex - I think they just buy stuff and then say "oh, can't we do that?" - bought their staff 24" iiyama widescreens. Oh, and obviously, un-hotdesked themselves ("you can't sit there, those screens are for Marketing")."

      No shit, my boss built himself a render farm off the grid in a former life because IT deemed that an animation studio posed an unacceptable risk to network security (read: they couldn't be arsed to learn something new on top of running the core email/sage/SAP stuff), and refused to sign off his purchase order (using Marketing budget, so he wasn't badgering them for money), which is odd really considering Maya and associated gubbins aren't all that different from what the CAD jockeys are running in the design department. The CAD drawings were what formed the basis of their models rather than drawing from scratch!

      Marketing spent £40k on stationary that year in sub-£500 invoices. The hardware company they dealt with seemed unphased by the request for many invoices for different amounts between £300 and £500, so I suspect this goes on a lot.

      I suspect when you get into it the accounts of a lot of huge organisations are an impenetrable mess of subterfuge because people have got so tired of having IT/Accounts telling them they can't spend their own budget that they just crack on and bypass the system. I know someone else there in another department had a part prototyped at his own expense and claimed it back on expenses because accounts wouldn't do a 1-time supplier purchase and wanted to run the full approval/vetting process (which takes about 6 months) just for the sake of a £50 mockup...

  8. Aaiieeee
    Thumb Up

    At work I have 2x Dell 1080p 23" monitors each on a movable arm, connected to a Optiplex 7010 with 8GB RAM, SSD and a Core i7. For laptop I have a Latitude E7440 (fantastic laptop), 8GB RAM, SSD again.

    This is also my last week at this job and I am genuinly worried my new employer will not be so generous with the kit. Especially after reading these comments!

    At home I have a custom built PC that I mostly use for gaming, so the two arnt really comparable.

  9. Len Goddard

    This is not news

    I've had better machinery, more competent software and a generally more pleasant working environment at home for many years.

    It's one of the reasons I retired a couple of years ago.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously your own stuff is going to be better. But if someone told you that you had to fund a computer for 8 people then I can imagine the specs would be rather poor :)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. sam bo

        "It's simply stupid not to give anyone the right tools."

        Got it in one !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          As others have said, pinching the pennies on computing equipment, especially for developers is a false economy and is a tiny cost in the grand scheme of things.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            . . .

            Ok, imagine that your running the budget. The company is in several years worth of turnovers worth of debt which is just about being paid down because of the recession. To get to the current day the company took a 7 year holiday from buying any new equipment. This office has equipment from 2002-2007 that is basically XP with office 2003 on a P3 or P4 varying in clock speeds from 1.5-3GHz. You have after a titanic political struggle managed to secure a budget for replacement hardware; £1000 per month.

            Do you:-

            A) Spend the entire budget on one user on a really nice computer that you'd like to have. At a rate of one per month, you'll replace 50 PC's in 4 years. How long did you expect those 2002 vintage PC's to last...?

            or;

            B) Get refurb HP DC7800's with win7 MAR and second hand office 2007 VLK from discount licensing at a combined cost of ~£170 inc VAT per PC. That lets you do 5 a month, with space in the budget for replacing mice etc meaning that you'll have replaced every computer in 10 months with something without about triple the performance of the existing knackered hardware which then gives you a chance to put a better replacement program to run on a longer term.

            Unsurprisingly my home equipment is considerably better than the office equipment virtue of my home setup in aggregate total having had several months worth of my work budget for the entire office spent on it, where as my office setup has about a fifth of a months spending on it.

            Bigger budgets? Good luck, the money is in many cases simply not there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > A) Spend the entire budget on one user on a really nice computer

              That's a bit of an over-simplification and doesn't apply to a lot of business situations.

              If you are a company that has a sea of desktops all running web-based applications, then you generally run them into the ground because it's not worth upgrading them until you have to.

              But if you're a software house and upgrading a developer's PC or a build machine saves even a couple of hours a week of developer's time, the value of that saved time is often *much* more than the cost of the upgrade.

              The problem is often one of saving pennies at the expense of pounds and makes no sense at all.

              The cost of a machine upgrade for a developer is a one-off expense that you would expect to make perhaps once every 2 or 3 years. 1 hour per week (which could be quite a conservative estimate in my experience) saved over 2 years is more than a 100 hours of developer time. It's the saving that just keeps on giving.

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Without trying to sound funny, every person in every single department in every single business I have ever worked for comes out with the line that "only I need a better PC and everybody else can make do" yet I have yet to meet the person who is willing to pay even the amount between the baseline model offered and what they want out of their budget.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  > Without trying to sound funny, every person in every single department in every single business I have ever worked for comes out with the line that "only I need a better PC and everybody else can make do"

                  Heh, people being people will always try it on.

                  They still have to justify the upgrade and in many cases it would not be justified.

                  Most people are not using their machinery to their fullest extent anyway.

                  However, if a developer is using a 3 year old machine and they're spending a lot of time waiting for builds then there surely is a case for an upgrade if the company values the time of that developer.

                2. Apdsmith

                  Oh, we've got plenty of those!

                  In fact, they've proved perfectly willing to spend budget they don't even have! (why yes, every new starter does need the latest Mac Pro. Even if they're doing admin work.)

                  That'd be our friends in Marketing, who are also fond of getting the company to sign up to nice, shiny systems without asking IT. Which we then - legally, that is, given our data protection and PCI obligations - can't use. Ta very much!

                  Ad

                3. feanor

                  Without trying to sound funny, it's amazing how the people who don't need the latest shiny kit always seem to have budget for it. i.e execs. managers and the bloody IT department. They're nothing more than glorified administrators and yet they always have the flashiest kit while the people who actually need the power get the ancient old crap. Funny how the people controlling the budget always seem to justify the toys for themslves....

                4. Hans 1 Silver badge

                  @Peter2

                  See above, I upgraded my work lappy at my own expense .... obviously for sanity reasons.... Of course, company will get its crap back when I return it ....

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                > ... the value of that saved time is often *much* more than the cost of the upgrade ...

                Very true, but often the business does not have the cash available. It's a classic catch-22 of cashflow - you need some cash to upgrade/improve <something> that will increase efficiency/profit margins, but until you can get some more cash you do not have the cash available to fund the improvement needed to make the extra cash needed.

                Where I work is like that now. Spend on internal stuff* is on a "will the business actually stop without it ?" basis. Not just because the boss is a tightwad, but because there is so little cash in the business at the moment that it's hard buying stuff to fulfil customer requirements. It's not just a case of profitability - but since the downturn a few years ago, borrowing (the mainstay of cashflow liquidity) has become both harder and more expensive. That's the reality of many small businesses these days - YMMV.

                When the long proclaimed upturn arrives here, hopefully we'll have survived and be able to get back into a situation where we can upgrade our own stuff.

                Anon for obvious reasons, other people here read The Reg

                * Not just the desktops, but servers as well. I'm running on stuff that was "old" when I started here - or as someone put it, 7 years past it's refresh data 8-0

            2. kurtfarrar

              I agree, though I think businesses need to start looking at the tools that staff use differently. Perhaps giving staff (particularly those that need higher powered machines) an allowance to spend on tools (little more than they would be spending otherwise) and then allow the individual to put towards their own computer.

              I know IT admins out there will hate this idea, but I use my own high-spec laptop for work every day. I manage the IT at my company, but I'm far more productive with my high-spec laptop (as everyone else is pointing out with their home rigs) but perhaps devs would be willing to use their own kit if they were getting some sort of contribution towards it.

              At the start of an era of BYOD, this is really where I see things going long term, and IT (read: admins) will have the challenge of putting the right systems in place to secure company data on these devices without taking over personal equipment (not taking admin rights off) and allowing business continuity (perhaps there's some insurance out there for employee devices?). As much as BlackBerry are on the decline their dual-use BB OS where you can use the device for both personal and business use with two separate environments, is ideal, so it would be good to see something of this nature come to Windows, either built-in or via a third party.

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                How do you square employees having their own computers with their own tools, own choice of anti virus with no monitoring to ensure settings are appropriate and the hardware being the personal property of the owner with no right of IT staff to search the contents of the device with little things like say, PCI DSS compliance?

                And yes, if your company has a credit card machine then it applies to your company.

  11. BongoJoe

    Everywhere where I worked in an air-conditioned cube with artificial lighting to supplement my experiences of hell I have found that middle managers always got the best kit and they didn't need it.

    I hated worked for other people with their kit.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great Article.

    My 'official' work laptop is a totally locked down HP dual core 4Gb Ram, 1366x768 POS. How they expect us developers to build complex industrial systems with this is totally beyond me. The default browser is IE 8. Yep. IE8. The corporate Oracle Systems don't like anything newer especially Safari/Chrome or FireFox.

    Luckily our manager saw the light and allowed us to get decent laptops. Mine is an HP 8770W. 17in 32Gb Ram I7, 3TB of SSB goodness.

    At work, I can hook it up to an old 15in 1024x768 monitor. When working from home, the beast drives two Dell 1920x1200 monitors.

    Recently we got an edict from on High that we all had to be in the office 5 days a week. The problem is that the office is 90 minutes away (each way) on a good day. My boss is more symphathetic to our work environment by I have to be there two days a week as it is.

    My productivity is IMHO, 50% less in the office than when I'm at home. Sigh.

    We still have to lug our corporate laptops with us just so that we can access the corporate network and systems. Even the printers are locked down.

    Here we are in the UK but all our internet access (severely filtered) hits the Internet in California. So If I browse El Reg, the electrons have to travel over 16 timezones. Stupidity at its best.

    Looking for a new job? You bet. All down to the short sighted stupidity of Corporate. Not everyone is a deskbound user of MS Office.

    Can we have an icon that shows Corporate IT being shot by their users.

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Great Article.

      Can we have an icon that shows Corporate IT manglement being shot by their users the IT department.

      FTFY!!!

      1. AceRimmer
    2. ex RBS employee

      Re: Great Article.

      Ahh....

      You should work for a Swiss company .... our connection is in Zurich.

      At least spamverts splashed across your screen are in English !!

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    For over 10 years my work PC was the oldest one in the company.

    About 6 months ago all the 'office' PCs were upgraded - for about the 3rd time. When I asked about mine, I was given one of the discarded ones.

    My work PC is the oldest one in the company.

    1. Mark York 3 Silver badge
      Windows

      Users Jumping The Refresh Queue

      Same place

      One guy decided to jump the queue, by requesting a machine from a decommissioned building be moved to his desk, transfer his apps & data so he could be more productive than the rest of his colleagues & was in full smug mode the day it was installed to desk, while his colleagues grumbled.

      Six weeks later I installed 8 shiny new PC's (HP VL420's) to those colleagues .....

      "Err where's my new machine?"

      "Your old machine was decommissioned after the move request, the one you currently have is still in scope & not up for replacement."

      "Errrr... Can't I have the replacement for the one that I had then?",

      Sorry but no when the old one was decommissioned it's replacement unit was re-allocated to replace one of the machines that we didn't have have the budget to replace it with."

      "When do I get a new one?"

      Next year when your PC falls out of scope.

      The level of smugness & happy smiles through the office increased except in one little corner.

      Same refresh project..

      Good Morning I have your new PC,

      "Don't want it I'm getting a laptop."

      Really?

      "Yes the request is in, so I can make do with this in the interim."

      Your declining the replacement unit.

      "Yes!"

      That's fine I'll reassign it.

      Move forward to early September....

      Good Morning I have your requested laptop.

      "Great"

      I start collecting\deploying..

      "Errr whats that?"

      That's your requested laptop.

      "But I wanted a new one."

      We only have reclaimed one's that are still in scope

      "You had new ones purchased, I want one of those!"

      I'm sorry they were purchased specifically to replace laptops that were out of scope, they have all been allocated & assigned. We don't have any unless your departmental manager can purchase one from his budget for you.

      "You had a new machine for me the other week!"

      Yes but that was a desktop replacement, you get like for like.

      I don't recall what happened, he grumbled certainly about the machine (which as luck would have it was formally the Quality Control Directors machine on the third floor (Most IT dept feared her, but I always got on well with her), I think she had recently had a replacement for expediency, the laptop was in scope.

      I think some weeks later he put in a request for a desktop & was rather miffed (again) to discover his older replacement was one of the ones was currently in scope as his new unit had been reassigned.

      Fun times - I miss the old *** Site in Dartford, shame its been demolished.

  14. billat29

    Productivity

    I joined one outfit not so long ago and was given a low spec laptop which had just been refreshed - with the standard build of XP (NO! don't go there!) and a start menu locked down to "classic" i.e the one you had with Win98. I didn't stay long as it happened...

    Another time, I did manage to get high spec laptops for developers by explaining how long a build took on the old gear and how much time we could save. Luckily the bean counters weren't clever enough to add up all my claimed savings and demand a headcount reduction..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm... where to start

    When I started most ppl had hamster wheel powered laptops and desktops. As I took over the IT stuff over the years I started getting more and more complaints so went to each user, talked with them and discussed what they need it, why they need it etc... Noted it all down, jumbled up and got to a spec that is useful for everyone GIS users and devs.

    Has been some 3-4 years since and nobody has complained since about them. And frankly don't see a reason to change anything since the gear would be mostly the same. Still can't argue for SSDs because frankly I just don't see the point in it for 90% of use cases("my laptop will bootup in 5s... while I'm grabbing a coffe, taking a smoke, talking with everyone else in the office" - no sorry you don't need an SSD for that - only place I can argue for SSDs is highly mobile workers so that disks don't get damaged if dropped - but then those get 13" displays as well).

    The laptops ppl have are 15" for devs but with minimal 1600x900 res(I'd go higher if I could - or even 16:10 - but finding such devices seems to be near impossible or just costly) but each laptop user has access to atleast one 22" screen - so they can use that.

    And basically everyone has local admin rights on their box - people know the policy on SW so they are free to install whatever but cracked stuff or stuff not meant for commercial use will be removed if need be - beyond that no limits really - and frankly with all the crap that gets used around here this saves me probably a few days of work a week.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm... where to start

      I can search java code about 20x-50x faster with a SSD.

      Also, the App. Serversand compilers 5x-20x faster for big projects.

      So yes, there is good reason.

      A 22" screen is the minimum to develop properly, 30" (high resolution) or better is a good idea.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At work I have a Macbook Pro from last year, with 16GB of ram and an SSD. It's hooked up to a 30" monitor. I also have a Optiplex 8010 dev box with an i7, 32GB RAM and an SSD.

    At home I have a decent gaming machine, but nothing so extravagant.

  17. danXtrate

    Always better hardware at work

    I'm a presales consultant and I've always made a point in getting the best hardware needed for my job. I always managed to get it as appropriate hardware helps me deliver better and faster results. Testing technical proposals is a big part of my daily routine so I have my own little server farm to play with, together with all flash arrays and some other juicy bits. My production notebook has to be portable, quiet and powerfull enough for my mobile work and able to drive at least two external displays at my desktop.

    I've been using thinkpads for at 7 years now and they've never let me down. Right now I'm using a T420 i5, 8GB RAM, 120GB mSATA SSD, 500GB HDD notebook and two 23" displays connected to the docking station. I'm looking at ways to add 8 more Gigs of RAM but I wouldn't change it for anything newer right now. I loathe chiclet style keyboards and unfortunately the old school extra tough extra usable keyboard Thinkpads were famous for have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

    My home setup is much more multimedia oriented, I've got a dual drive NAS streaming music, movies and photos to varoius devices such as older thinkpads, TVs, tablets, smartphones and so on. I've given up computer based gaming and I'm thinking about geting a console in the near future, but no space for hardcore home hardware for me. I've got enough of it at work. Been thinking of doing a new ITX build for my photo editing but I think I won't be able to get much use out of it, as time is so short.

    P.S. Seeing what almost everybody else's posts, I think I'm one of the lucky few who have almost everything they ask for provided by their employer.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I think I'm one of the lucky few

      If you carefully reread the posts, you'll notice that you will most likely be part of the department that is designated "Marketing", which is the department that can bloody well do what it wants, order what it wants, and everybody else can cry.

      So yeah, you're one of the lucky few.

  18. Zacherynuk

    Any Chance of some details ? Or are you just trying to promote a willy waving anti IT department page?

    What 'Work' do you do and what 'data' do you work with ? Is it purely your own 'creative' 'work', or do you work with 3rd part details which are confidential ?

    Why not post your work flow details so that us bumbaloids can learn something?

    Perhaps enlighten us as to you AV, backup, data-leak prevention, DR/BC, licensing and revision control. What Wifi do you use, does it have segregated home access? Does your router / firewall have partitioning for home and guests? - does it log anything? Do you monitor for IDS, OOH access and hardware changes ? What are your encryption policies and password provisioning standards?

    Or has none of this mattered.... so far ?

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      You've totally missed the point. Everything you mentioned is important; indeed, you have shown that the cost of the original hardware is an even smaller part of the total cost of ownership. Therefore, staff should be given decent machines instead of being 'penny wise, pound foolish' the whole time.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I first started we all used to gather round the (1 of 2) PC to play Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. Every thing else was done on dumb terminals and nobody had laptops anywhere. You youngsters don't know you were born.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Either of you fill the keyboard buffer?

      In my first computer job (1988), the lead developer got the pc. He had to trade his wyse50 for it. After less than a day, he had the wyse50 back.

      All you coud hear was clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickbeeeeeeeep as he filled the buffer. After it stopped beeping he'd have to look at the screen to see how far he was, before repeating the process.

      I've never know anyone else that could type as quickly and error-free.

  20. Ant Evans

    Noise

    My office office is hot and loud. Firing all the sales people would instantly save a lot of money *and* reduce the noise levels. Until that happens, I'll just have to work from home.

  21. Ammaross Danan

    Consumer vs Business

    To actually address the questions raised at the end of the article:

    Businesses don't (shouldn't) use consumer-grade equipment due primarily to scale. You load 20 work laptops (or more) onto your "cheaper" AirPort or Netgear/etc WiFi device and you'll be locking up, dropping, rebooting it frequently at best.

    Google Docs or Apple iCloud would work well for documents and such, but I don't know many workplaces that are willing to toss their accountant's spreadsheets and ledgers out into the ether, let alone their HR documents. Does Google store their project code in Google Docs? Nope (at least not the public one). If you use the consumer versions of "cloudy" file sync, it's usually a single external USB drive attached to your WiFi device or (if you're lucky) something you can install on a home server. Most companies have a hard time just scattering their potentially-sensitive documents into the wind though. Use this in a healthcare environment and you'll be sued at best.

    If you want to go further into storage servers (a whitebox FreeNAS vs a VNX or the like), there's pros and cons, but you can't convince me a bank would host their infrastructure on your whitebox FreeNAS. Sure, it's loads cheaper than their Ipsilon or Hitachi VSP, but I doubt that would persuade them. You could try selling Macbook Airs to a MAS90 shop too. Just because it works at home for Facebook and iTunes, doesn't mean it has business-class features.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      WTF?

      Re: Consumer vs Business

      Businesses don't (shouldn't) use consumer-grade equipment

      Hell, *consumers* shouldn't use consumer-grade equipment!

      Plenty of off-lease refurbs to be had and they're a heck of a lot more reliable than the cr@p Best Buy sells.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My work from home setup is the same. Office is a crap locked down hp desktop with standard corporate build locked down with gpc policies under pain of dismissal.

    Home is currently 2 47U cabinets full of sun/x86/switches/kvm/terminal server the lot in a remote room, with a big link back to the office proper with multiple data links and a kvm over ip to a remote head, and which also runs 3 fanless silent pc's with synergy set up between them.

    I am a contractor, I see it as everyones interest to keep up with stuff I don't see day to day. And I don't see the point struggling waiting for some compiler to finish for hours to do so.

    Contrast this with a role I had once where the pc took 42 minutes on average to boot to a login. I was a new hire and they told me when I complained that I could only have a replacement if something went wrong and no, I couldn't fund my own replacement. It was quite shocking to see the destruction accidentally falling out of a upstairs window onto a concrete floor below caused the base unit later that day.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Windows

      The only thing that is shocking is how you missed getting dragged to court over charges of wilful destruction of company property.

      And yes, in my days we had to walk uphill both ways. Now get off my lawn !

  23. Herby Silver badge

    Young'uns...

    Look, when I first started we used keypunches (the 026 type if you must ask) and later had the nice 64 character 029 types later on. Along the way I bought a modem 33 teletype and had at it. It IS quite a humbling experience to program on such a beast with its sound level, and slowness.

    Nowdays, it is a nice laptop that has the logo of the company I work for. I got a docking station and a nice large monitor (1920x1200) that also has the nice company logo. It is quite nice. As for software, it didn't take long before I had a nice Fedora Linux image up and running and haven't looked back. It is a quite speedy goodie with lotsa cores. Thankfully I can leave "patch Tuesday" behind, but do run regular "yum updates" and all is well with the world.

    The home boxes are varied. Wife uses an older W98 box while sitting in front of a "computer", but mostly plays with her iPad and iPhone (between cursing at the news on the TV). My boxes are a smallish one for the email server, and a couple of larger ones for frotzing around. At one time I had a nice 8 port 100BT switch all full up. The box that really saves the day is a nice multi-port KVM switch (7 spigots currently).

    Such fun.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doing the procurement

    Its true that computer procurement is not easy, but we always managed to buy new laptops every 3 years and desktops every 4 or 5 years.

    It is also true that at some period we had to keep some laptops running for up to 5 years, but we always managed to prioritise budget for people who needs it (it badly include management who always need new laptop as soon as their battery seem to discharge too fast).

    Nothing is green, and many people get better setup at home, but a lot more don't (some doesn't have computer anymore as they use solely their tablet).

    What seem to me more important in this article, is the working set up, now a day everyone can use google drive, skydrive, or dropbox, to store their document and retrieve them on all of their devices.

    Those are great tools, but security concern often direct CIO to choose alternate solution, we choose sharepoint for our office and it has great document collaboration capacities, too bad no one use it...

    Moreover, I would believe that many organisations cannot follow the trend of new technology flogging out every month, and while consumer can profit from those innovation for free, corporates have to choose and budget for those. Of course once it is deployed they have to get some ROI out of it before deploying a new platform...

  25. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Ack. Better internet connection plus I don't have to sit on a train for an hour and pay £400pcm to get to work. Even better my natural tendency to get up early means I could start work at 7am and be done by 3pm. Or I can spread my work out throughout the day (taking several longer breaks between bouts of work). The latter seems to make me more productive.

  26. Andy 70

    yeah yeah whinge whinge whinge.

    the biggest problem I have found with upgrading is the other software vendors...

    "we've not certified our product for windows above NT4/2k/XP" or "office 2007, is that out yet?" or that everyone's frigging macros and addins are built for 2003.

    or one of my bugbears at the moment, is applications having hardcoded install directories, instead of "%progdir%" or "%windir%" or whatever. so even that is a problem for some with the installer defaulting to "program files (x86)"...

    I guess for all the b1tch1ng I get at work, I am pretty lucky to be in a Xeon powered 64bit win7, SCCM managed domain environment, with virtualized 2012 clustered back ends, and the only place my home kit beats out my work kit, is the GFX card. but then I'll never get sign off for stupidly monstrous cards beyond business certified Matrox drivers and 9188 hardware. £1300 and they're based on the parhellia architecture extracted from a fossilized dinosaur footprint back in the early 00's. bleh!

  27. txt3rob

    My Home setup no longer gets used even tho its a I5-2500k with SSD and 16GB ram.

    been given a nice I5 with SSD in work and 16GB ram and a brand new top spec mac book pro!

    big contrast to the computer manufacture i worked at where we was stuck on old dual cores and needed to run a VM for Win 8 support as they would not pay for new exams etc!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fast machines needed as bad code is written

    Frankly, for the sort of data manipulation that happens in most corporate environments, the actual code base should be small. The data should be large and the calculations from the code on that data will also be large, but the code should be lean But it isn't. Why?

    The reason all you devvies need your Usain Bolt hardware is because your code stinks. Instead of blaming your multi GHz CPU - try making some efficient code for a change. Every development project I have had the misfortune to get dragged into, at the first hint of performance problems, the infrastructure is blamed and development stops until infrastructure guys come along and pander to the needs (which doesn't fix the issue, just a quick way to return the ball to the Dev) or manage to find where the problem is - and in all these cases, the problem has been the code.

    Should all change soon, the world is full of new-school devvies, knocking up stonking apps and interfaces for mobiles, where the hardware element is not limitless and sanity prevails.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: the world is full of new-school devvies, knocking up stonking apps and interfaces for mobiles

      You mean farting apps, don't you ?

      Oh, and the random bird-throwing app too, I forgot.

      But you're right on one thing : all will change soon - when you lot who don't know how to code are confronted with real-life situations and have to spend your nights desperately divining why your "stonking" app doesn't work in basic situations.

      Then you'll learn to appreciate application execution logging and proper coding procedures.

      But by then the Son of Stuxnet will have morphed into SkyNet anyway.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's because your employer is teh suck

    I wanted a new laptop. I mailed my boss to ask if he'd approve it. He replied yes.

    I logged on to our corporate web shop and had a look at what's available in the computer section. There's the Apple stuff plus Windows laptops from a couple vendors. I selected a model that would suit me, and put it in the basket along with an SSD, maximum RAM upgrade and a laptop backpack. Clickety click, within a few days I get emails saying the order was approved, being delivered and finally ready to be picked up.

    Next I downloaded and installed our corporate desktop Linux distribution to replace Windows 7. For the inevitable Microsoft stuff I downloaded a corporate Windows 7 VM image. I have admin rights on both by default.

    Just because your company still lives in the 1990s doesn't mean it's the only way to do things. How much time do you spend maintaining your home network? Security patches, software version updates, backups, antivirus etc. I'd rather someone else do that for me so I can concentrate on my actual work. For those complaining about IT policies being too restrictive, you could try using virtual machines for your development and testing.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Joke

      Re: It's because your employer is teh suck

      Oh, yeah, fine. YOU'VE got a corporate Linux distribution. Well, la-di-dah, aren't you special?

      // insanely jealous :-)

      // good IT here -- they haven't tried to foist Win8 on us!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Penny pinching

    We had a manager once who decided to save £10 per DELL desktop by going for the model down to what we usually went for. The net result was so much wasted staff time for both IT and the user population because the machines had a higher mobo failure rate.

    However, we can only go so far. If people start to use their own software then compatability becomes an issue as well as integration with other systems; local government has a variety of bespoke software that will only talk with certain versions of certain versions of M$ office, etc. and Citrix back to a server farm is the best we can offer and keep things under version control.

  31. Otto is a bear.

    Just a minute

    Let me say a good word for corporate IT. --Working -- No minute's up, can't think of one. The trouble is that corporate senior management do not understand IT, still after all these years. They all see it as a cost that has no benefit to them, and something to be delivered as cheaply as possible.

    Working for a major IT company, it's even more pronounced, they seem to think everything can be delivered with MS Office Pro, on 6 year old laptops. Oh and BYOD, doesn't exist, against the rules. Lucky for them we all do it though.

    1. localzuk

      Re: Just a minute

      A counter to this thought - can you tell me what *can't* be done on that setup? :)

      Businesses want to make money as best they can, so in most cases, if you can justify why XYZ setup is 50% more efficient, the boss will sign off on it. Why wouldn't they?

      The onus is on you to show that you can do your job much better with a different setup.

  32. davemcwish

    Chicken Choking

    Is this a dig by a sub-editor who knows Storagebod's behaviours when 'working from home' ?

  33. M. B.

    I just started...

    ...as a consultant. I came from a job with a decent desktop, a netbook, an iPad, an iPhone, and a Mac Mini for use from home. Now I have a single HP laptop. Don't love it if I'm honest, primarily the screen is crap (1600x900 on a 14" screen, could be better) and there is no third mouse button for controlling scrolling or anything, but it does have a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM and the wireless has been rock solid so it's not terrible.

    They did give me an external 20" monitor which is only 1680x1050, but I still have no external keyboard and mouse. And the case they gave me is garbage. Oh well.

    I do miss the flexibility in the old place, and the extra toys as well.

  34. localzuk

    Budgets? Legal requirements? etc...

    So many reasons for it to be honest. But I'm going to go for a couple of them.

    1. Budget - IT budgets in many businesses and institutions are well below what they should be for best productivity. Looking at my own place of work compared to my home rig. My own rig cost me around £2500 if you include mobile devices and the like. The budget here for staff workstations and devices? £1100 each. There isn't any more money. Ok, the server backend and the like probably adds some more to it but that is there due to necessity - things like backup and licensing which lead me on to the other point...

    2. Legal requirements - Here, we have regulations that require us to keep things for many years for audit purposes, for FOI purposes, for DPA reasons etc... We also have a need for continuity, so backups have to be thorough, and things like redundancy of key systems. These things cost money, and therefore that money can't be spent on client side systems. If you lose your MBA, you've lost any work you've got on it that you've not synced (try doing that with a normal home internet connection and videos). Lose a work desktop, in any sensible business, you won't lose any work at all.

    The issue generally isn't the fault of businesses - its the fault of suppliers making things very expensive or difficult to integrate into existing systems. I'd *love* to have a proper 'cloud' based system which worked across all devices and to allow staff here freedom to choose and use their own devices but we can't afford it, and after having given staff rights to do more with their machines for a few years, we can't trust our staff to comply with the law properly so we have to do it for them.

  35. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    This just in: Air probably good for you.

    Seriously, what was the point of this brainfart?

  36. Craig 28

    I recall back in 2004 when I was at college they were still running Win 95, even reformatting newer machines just to reinstall 95. The technicians apparently claimed 95 was more secure than 98 and hadn't even considered 2000 or XP. Then again they still had machines with 32MB RAM and insisted on running Novell Netware.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The PC took 42 minutes on average to boot to a login..."

    No, just no. I would go PFY on this guy.

    I would flog the bastard that ever provided me with a such a monstrosity, while saying: "You can order pain pills and skin lotion online to quell your pains FROM THIS MACHINE, AFTER IT BOOTS." or I would force the machine to go into reset mode every 43 minutes.

  38. Aaron 10
    Mushroom

    Maybe your employer is a penny pincher, but mine ain't. The BASE workstation where I work has a 3.4GHz Core i7 with 16GB RAM and dual 24" monitors. It goes up from there.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With all this whinging I can really see why people buy MacBooks even if to run Windows on. Fast, quiet and all that aluminium is a massive heat sink so they stay relatively cool and you don't even hear the fan unless they are pushed hard. Retina screens, SSD and now mSATA flash plus fantastic battery life.

    Yes some others have copied and some will bemoan the lack of internal DVD drive but for most the extra battery life is far more useful and I'd rather carry a slimline DVD drive the few times I do need one than always carry a larger second battery.

    Expensive but I'm worth it ;)

  40. Roland6 Silver badge

    IT Dept needs some business analysis!

    Reading through the comments, it seems that many IT departments don't do to themselves what is normally done to other parts of the business, namely employ consultants!

    Typically business departments eg. customer services, sales, finance, manufacturing, warehousing etc. engage consultants, enterprise architects etc. to design a systems solution that meets their business needs - hence they got "good stuff" because they justify the expense against a business benefit. I suggest that many IT departments would benefit from a similar approach to identifying what it needs. The challenge is turning the resulting costs of investment into a set of business benefits that can be taken to the board, but then that is why you engage consultants...

  41. Paul 77

    Cool running laptop

    I have a very nice (and cool) work laptop. It is a Lenovo T520. I'm typing on it right now. Other than not putting a foot wrong in the two years I have had it, it runs cool and has the best keyboard of any laptop I have ever used.

    My only niggles are that you need an adapter to go from Displayport to HDMI (when I need to connect it to a large monitor/TV), and also that it doesn't have a particularly great graphics (i.e. I couldn't run a decent flight sim on it if I wanted to)-:

    But for work purposes it is the bees knees. Oh yes, and it runs both Windows 7 and Linux Mint 15 (dualboot).

  42. raving angry loony

    I always blame the accountants. I'm rarely wrong.

    My work involves connecting to databases and source code on other machines - I could do the work using Window 95 on a 386.

    However, I want to find the accountant who figured it was a good idea to cheap out on the furniture and use their skin as the chair mat. I figure anyone whose epidermis contains so much teflon that any blame just skims off would be best used for some purpose other than making sure we purchase the cheapest, nastiest, most uncomfortable furniture.

    Unfortunately, my boss is a "bums in seats" counter, and doesn't believe that useful work can be done outside of the office.

    I've found the main problem with I.T. is the accountants who don't know jack shit about computers and think that getting something for 30% less is "good" even if the performance is 30% of what was actually ordered, because they aren't judged on the kit's performance, only its price.

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