25 July 2006

Not My Concern, Idjit

Consider, if you will, the wonderful, overbudget, bloated, barely operating Dept. of the Navy IT infrastructure known as NMCI (Navy-Marine Corps Internet). In order to keep these thousands of computers updated, the Navy IT team and EDS use a system of pushing software fixes to the computers remotely. So that this somewhat processor-intensive process does not disrput work too noticeably, these pushes are scheduled to take place at night. For this to work, however, computers must be restarted at the end of the work day, not powered off. This way, if a push is executed at night, the computers are ready to receive it. And thus it happens - or, at least, it happens this way between 50-75% of the time. The rest of the time the push fails, and retries when you log on in the morning, locking your computer up for a seemingly unending upgrade, or simply just executes randomly during the day, with similar results.

But wait - didn't the DoD agree to try out the conservation thing? Doesn't leaving thousands of computers running all night just in case they need to be updated contravene this? Apparently, the powers that be thought so, for not too long ago another software push came down from the IT folks. This one would allow a computer to be turned on remotely if a push was needed. Success! Now the computers can be turned off, and the Navy can take one more step towards being good stewards.

There is more, however. On every push announcement, the IT team appends a little note about proper use of one's computer, which contains the advice to restart the computer at the end of the day. Now that this new push has been implemented, that advice will change, yes? You guessed it - that advice remains.

Confused, your friend, the confused PBS, emails the IT team, asking them to clear up thisapparent paradox. Surely, now that the capability exists, we should be turning our computers off at night?

The reply, parsed for space and admin-speak:
No, restart your computer every night. That auto-on update? It was just to keep the enviromental office off our backs. Sure, now we could have everyone shut down at night and save the energy, but, frankly, it is just easier for us if the don't. So, while we can do it, we won't. Hopefully no one will notice. Now be quiet, or we'll crash your laptop.

Ok, so I made that last bit up, but you get the idea.

NMCI - always looking out for, well...

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