THIS week was greeted with news that the Civil Service Association would find some reprieve with the resignation of their general secretary, Mary Isaac. Whether she was pushed out by the “friends of CSA”, or pulled out to focus on the time demands of her upcoming campaign, it seems clear that there were conflicting demands placed on her time.
Unfortunately, these sorts of time demands are not new to those of us who use computers. Do not be fooled by the gee-whiz gadgetry, marvellous speeds, and feats of processing power that computers are capable of. Your time demands are more important than the measly computer cycles of any machine.
Sometimes it might feel like the computer gets in your way and slows you down. This can be a frustrating experience for someone who is interested in getting their work done. Even as someone who is normally overheard advising others on the merits and benefits of updating their processes and their computer systems, I can understand why some might be tempted to simply use pen and paper.
Here is an example that many in the corporate world face on a regular basis. You arrive at work, filled with enthusiasm, ready to take on the day. You reach your desk, and switch on your computer to get started with your outstanding work. No sooner than you login, are you presented with a painfully slow machine. Why?
Have you ever wondered why the computer system waits until you are ready to do your own useful work for it to slow you down, with mundane maintenance tasks, such as:
(1) Connecting to a slow mail server to get your email messages;
(2) Checking online for an updated anti-virus package;
(3) Immediately scanning for viruses;
(4) Other local and predictable system checks.
Of course, there are perfectly good reasons why these checks are important. Your well-paid and talented ICT staff insist that these checks must be performed to ensure safety, integrity and consistency. The entire network infrastructure is at risk if these very important, but needlessly urgent tasks are not done.
How odd that your own time takes a distant second place, to the otherwise boring tasks that take place before you, when you are at your most eager. Would that not have you reaching also for a pen and paper while the computer was busy performing its maintenance tasks?
Unless you are fortunate enough to have an über-specified and modern setup, you might sadly recognise that scenario. Fortunately, there is good news. Modern computers systems can be scheduled to wake up in the middle of the night to run important but non-urgent tasks. A well-configured and designed system might also anticipate your demands and prepare to serve you, even when under heavy load conditions.
Next time you are competing with a computer that demands your time in that way, maybe you should reach for a pen and paper.
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