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Extension Technology and
Computer Services

 

University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

 
December 2003
  Vol. 20, No. 3



A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

 

 

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County Computer Replacement Plan
By John Myers

The Computer Replacement plan for the county offices has finally been approved! The highlights of the plan are as follows:

  • Four year computer replacement strategy

  • New office suite software

  • Increased security

The computer replacement strategy calls for the purchase of desktop computers and file servers every four years at no cost to the counties. This strategy will be reviewed on an annual basis with regard to available funding. Each filled faculty position will receive a computer and each office will receive a desktop for one support staff and one server. The computers and monitors come with a four-year warranty. This is a computer replacement plan not an equipment cost share. This program will be repeated every four years allowing counties to better plan their technology purchases knowing what the University plans to supply. We applaud counties that have purchased new computers in the past year, but this plan is to help level the playing field for all counties, therefore there will be no substitutions or reimbursements for prior purchased equipment. Counties do not have to participate in the plan. Any monies not spent will be used in four years with the next implementation of this plan. Note: this plan only supplies computers to filled field faculty positions and one support position; it does not supply computers for labs or public access. If a county needs computers for other positions, labs or public access, they can use their computers purchased in the last two years or purchase additional units. One important note to remember is that computers and monitors purchased under this plan both have a four year warranty and since this plan will be repeated every four years, there should be no costs to the county for the service of these computers and monitors.

The desktops for this cycle of the computer replacement strategy will consist of a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512 MB ram, a 40GB disk drive, a DVD player, a CDRW drive, and a 17" CRT multimedia monitor with built in speakers and microphone. The cost of this computer is $811.00. Counties will also have the option of purchasing flat panel displays instead of the CRT monitor with the county picking up the difference in price. The above computer with a 15" flat panel display costs $933.00 and with a 17" flat panel display cost will be $1026.00.

If a county would prefer to have a laptop instead of a desktop, they can so choose, but they will be responsible for the difference in price. The laptop will consist of a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB ram, 40GB disk drive, a CDRW/DVD combo drive, modem, network interface, wireless interface, and a 14.1 SXGA+ display. The cost of this laptop is $1509.00. The laptops also come with a four-year warranty and have an optional port replicator for an additional $129.00. This means that substitutions for a laptop instead of the desktop will cost the county $698.00 without the port replicator or $827.00 with the port replicator.

Additional units can be purchased by the county for positions and functions not covered by the replacement strategy with the county paying the full prices above.

The server will allow 40GB of disk space (2 to 27 times the space of the old servers) for the storing and sharing of data files. The servers will have backup capabilities for disaster recovery. With each county now having a file server, the recommended procedure will be to store all data files on the file server, since there are no automatic backup capabilities on the workstations. The file servers will have individual storage spaces for each user (R: drive) as well as a shared space for the entire office (Q: drive). All counties will receive a server. If a county has purchased a new server in the past year, that server can be used as a desktop computer.

Each CPD will be sent a spreadsheet to select the quantities desired for each option offered. The spreadsheet will also contain the maximum monies that the University will supply. If the selections result in county charges, we will be unable to invoice in the current year. However, counties may process a check for the expected amount before the year ends and send with the invoice when it is received. Documentation for the check would be the council minutes where the upgrade was agreed upon as well as the pricing information. Desktops and laptops will be delivered sometime in February or March. File servers will be delivered starting in late December.

With the new computers will also be coming new software. We will now be standardizing on the Office 2003 suite package. There is no charge to the counties for this software. The only problem with this change is that the software will only run on machines that have the Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating system. We are therefore also standardizing on the Windows XP operating system. One potential problem associated with this change is that non USB scanners will probably not work with Windows XP. Please check the manufacture's website for compatibility. Also, not all the old machines can run Windows XP. We therefore require a minimum of a 700MHz processor with 256MB of ram to be connected to the network. This means any machines purchased before the last cost share in January, 2001 will probably not be sufficient. The Gateway computers purchased in the 2001 cost share do not have enough memory. An additional 256Mb of ram for those computers can be purchased for around $70.00. Old equipment can either be sent back to ETCS for surplus or the county can sell it locally. The rules for the county to surplus equipment are as follows:

  • Only non-supported equipment can be surplused in excess of the needs of a given office.

  • A posting of the sale is required in a public place for at least a week prior to the sale.

  • Items to be sold by public auction or sealed bids.

  • The equipment must be sold for the minimum price set by the University.

  • All software, except the operating system, must be removed from equipment prior to sale. The description, serial numbers, University inventory number (if any) and sale price of equipment sold must be forwarded to Callie Glascock (by email).

  • Notify ETCS of any equipment being surplused so that inventory records can be updated.

Items that cannot be sold locally must be returned to ETCS. Callie Glascock will email you the sale price of the Optiplex GN at a later date. If you have other equipment you need to surplus, please contact Callie Glascock for prices.

Security is becoming more of a critical issue. The campus is being attacked on a daily basis and plans are under way of protecting the campus from outside use. We will therefore need to install Virtual Private Network (VPN) software on all machines so that you can access resources here on the campus. We will also start installing firewalls in the counties to protect your machines as well. The best defense against attacks is to keep your anti-virus software and operating system updated. With the new Windows XP operating system and consolidation of the Extension domain into the active directory, we will be able to instruct your machine to do these things automatically. If you leave your machine on over night, it will check to see if any updates need to be installed and install them if found. If you don't leave your machine on, your machine will automatically check five minutes after you turn it on and install any pending updates. The only problem is that the update might require a reboot and you will be told that your machine will be rebooting in five minutes. You have that much time to save your work before your machine automatically reboots.

With all the above changes, you will have a more stable and faster work environment. I have not had to reboot my Windows XP machine for months. The improved security will help stop the spread of viruses and lets us concentrate more on our needed work. Once these plans are completed, we will be able to offer new tools to do our jobs more efficiently. Team services will allow us to share our ideas and work with each other. Real time communications will allow us to communicate with each other over the internet in type, voice, video, application sharing, and remote assistance. Content management systems (CMS) will allow us to be more productive in putting our content on the web and allow us to participate in the coming e-Extension.

 

 

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