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Keeping Track

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

AS a summer student many years ago, I worked with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, to develop an asset management inventory of every item owned. In principle this is a boring task, which involves building a giant list of items. What made that job exciting was the range of items being tracked including boats, planes, vehicles, desks and chairs. A lasting memory from that particular job was the mandatory definition for every item. I discovered that a desk was a table but with filing capacity!

How would you feel, or would your life be different, if you knew the location and description of everything that you owned? A sense of freedom perhaps? Maybe even a sense of safety in the knowledge that anything you needed could be referenced, identified, and located.

When a computer is started up, it performs a check of its hardware, and builds a list of its assets. When that process is finished, it is aware of all its CPUs and memory. Likewise for every mouse, keyboard, display, and other hardware. Modern computers are more advanced, and will dynamically update this inventory if you unplug a device such as the mouse, camera, or printer. This is why a computer will refuse to let you print to a nonexistent printer, or will deny you access to memory that is unavailable.

It is fairly common to track items as part of your work, for example:
* Mobile phone networks track the location of your mobile phone;
* Airline reservation systems track each available seat being sold;
* Delivery companies track the location of items to be delivered;
* Vehicle fleet management software tracks the movement of vehicles;
* Computers track the usage of every byte of their memory.

When each item is located and accounted for, more efficient use may be made of the entire set of items.
According to the popular Christmas song, even Santa Claus makes a list, and checks it twice!

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

(Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and capacity building.)

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