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December 1997

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ACS staff discussion list <[log in to unmask]>
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From:
Andrew Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 15:48:58 -0500
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Andrew Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
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On Fri, 19 Dec 1997, Dean Williams wrote:

> >...  You have to put
> >enough cash on the barrelhead to buy the software, upgrade equipment and
> >above all TRAIN EVERYBODY on the new standard suite.  We've done none of
> >the above.
>
> You'd have the same challenges even without switching from one product line
> to another.  You still have to upgrade to current releases, or you put
> yourself in a position of getting no vendor support and, for some people,
> having software that doesn't work when you upgrade your operating system.
> True, UVM isn't giving away much software and hardware -- but as you know
> options like leases are being investigated.  And training is both available
> and free.

But a jump from WP 5.1 to WP 8.0 isn't as huge as from WP 5.1 to Microsoft
Word 97.  You can still use your old WP 5.1 key commands and get the same
result.  Other problems with such a move are due to ignorance of the OS,
not of the application.

 > But aren't we going to paperless -- online --communication? > >  \
http://www.uvm.edu/~djw/paperless/

CIT may be, but the majority of academic folks use their computers to
generate text that eventually ends up on paper. When the day comes that an
exam doesn't need to be on paper, or a journal doesn't require documents
to be on 8.5x11 double spaced courier ALA format, then maybe we'll get
away from paper.  Until then, the single most important thing that a
computer in the College must be able to do is print.  The biggest
emergency in any department is when there is a problem with the department
networked laser printer.

It also amuses me to no end that CIT uses the collective "we" when
discussing things that the general computer populace of UVM is completely
unaware of.  There is always the everpresent assumption that if something
is put on a web page, then it becomes general knowledge.

I don't have time to surf the CIT web pages daily to discover the newest
project that we're all supposed to already know about.  I find out things
long after the fact:  The move to the Netscape calendar, this paperless
thing, all of the client network installation info.  We never knew it
existed until someone mentioned it in passing.  I'm beginning to think
that UVM's biggest problem is not lack of support staff, nor is it lack of
funding or training, it's our god awful communication structure.  Fix that
and you will have cured a whole host of ills.  By communication, I don't
mean infrastructure, I don't mean forwarding every marginally interesting
web tidbit to a vast list of addresses.  What I mean is providing a
passive means of getting important information into the hands of the right
audience.  This cannot require that the audience seek out the info.

Sure, everything is available to those who actively pursue it. However,
pursuit takes time, energy, and money.  People have jobs to do, unlike us
their jobs do not begin and end with the computer on their desk. We need
to require a minimum level of competency, give people the hardware and
software necessary, then push and pull them into learning how to use it.
Also, support people who have already busy schedules cannot be relied upon
to do training.  We need a full time division whose job is to do nothing
but train in whatever methodology works.

Put together a two day basic skills curriculum, put everyone who touches a
computer at UVM through it, and watch things miraculously change.

---------------------
Andrew Hendrickson
College of A&S Computing Services
479 Main Street, #305

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