Administrative Computer and Printer Replacements

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
jdlessley
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Administrative Computer and Printer Replacements

Postby jdlessley » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:04 am

It looks like 2009 will be a year in which many units should be scheduled to receive the first cycle of replacements for computers and printers. We have been reminded in other threads that we should remind our FM managers to budget for these replacements a year before they are scheduled.

The question now seems to be when will they arrive? All of the computers in our stake were delivered in November 2004. I am guessing that since there are so many units expecting replacements in 2009 that the Church has a plan in place to handle such a large number. Can we expect the replacements in the same month or the same quarter? Since our FM people cannot tell us anything I am hoping a Church employee may have an inside line on how this is going to happen.

For me this is an issue of planning. I do not want to get a call out of the blue from my stake president one day saying he has nine computers at his home for me to set up and install. A heads up that these systems are on their way with an expected arrival date will give me time to coordinate swap out dates and times with unit clerks.

Also the condition or configuration in which the computers arrive will definitely affect the amount of time it will take to make the transition from the old to the new. The ideal situation would be for the new computers to arrive with the operating system, MLS, and all other recommended church software already installed.
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Postby aebrown » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:25 am

jdlessley wrote:The question now seems to be when will they arrive? All of the computers in our stake were delivered in November 2004. I am guessing that since there are so many units expecting replacements in 2009 that the Church has a plan in place to handle such a large number. Can we expect the replacements in the same month or the same quarter? Since our FM people cannot tell us anything I am hoping a Church employee may have an inside line on how this is going to happen.


I am not the Church employee you hoped for, but I can share the experience I have had thus far on this topic. In my case, it is definitely not true that "our FM people cannot tell us anything." Our FM Director understands the 5-year replacement policy. I told him well in advance of our replacement schedule (our computers date from November 2003, so they are up for replacement now). He knows how to place the order, although he doesn't seem to know about the software configuration you were wondering about.

As the scheduled date arrived, he let me know that they had some year-end budget issues that would prevent them from filling the order in 2008, but that they would place the order in early January. From my conversations with him, it appears that at least with our FM Group, they place the orders, so they are in control (subject to higher level budget contraints) of when the order is placed.

Because of this experience, I rather doubt that any Church employee can say what all FM groups will do, but I would certainly welcome information on a standard policy if it exists. If I were in your shoes I would revisit the topic with your local FM director and see what he knows about placing the order.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:21 am

The way computers are handled have been changed in the last 5 years. Before, it was between the Stake and the Church. Yes, the computer would show up at the stake president's home. I had to borrow a company van to move the 9 computers and CRT monitors off his porch.

Now, based on how I've received replacement computers for ones that have failed - The computers are ordered by and delivered to the FM group. My FM group has been dropping them off in the stake office, but you can probably work out something to fit your needs. The computers have been Optiplex 740 with a bone-stock install of WinXP. I've had to do all the work to make them ready for ward use. To do that, you can go to mls.lds.org and download the instructions and files needed.

I prefer to install Desktop 5.5. I still have the original disks for that. The 740 is a bit of a challenge to load. I find it easiest to pull the hard drive and drop it into a FHC GX 740 and restore the image that way. Then put it back into the 740 for the first boot.

I have not talked to my FM group (other then to remind them to budget for this year), but another forum member suggested that there might be a moratorium on replacement computers due to the world-wide economic situation. It's certainly a sounds plausible. Perhaps that's the "unknown" here.
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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:07 pm

RussellHltn wrote:I have not talked to my FM group (other then to remind them to budget for this year), but another forum member suggested that there might be a moratorium on replacement computers due to the world-wide economic situation. It's certainly a sounds plausible. Perhaps that's the "unknown" here.

I wish I had something more authoritative on this subject, but let me make it very clear that I do not. Through second hand information I was told that for the time being, some (perhaps many?) FM groups will be replacing older admin computers on an "as needed" basis only. I read that to mean, only those PC's with some sort of hardware failure will be replaced rather than repaired. Please check with your own FM group to see if this applies to you.

I mention this for the benefit of those making plans for new PC's, or perhaps have put off upgrading the original 256MB on their older ones, might need to reconsider.
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:54 pm

I checked with my FM group. The word is they were told they needed to cut their budget. Deferring the 5-year replacement plan is one of the easier cuts to make. So based on that, it's highly likely that the 5-year replacements will be deferred, but it all depends on individual circumstances. So check with your own FM group for your status.

Expanding the original 256MB does wonders for the older computers. It will feel like a new one. That and defragging the hard drive. Unless the hardware is starting to fail, there's there's no real pressure to upgrade.

And please remember that donation of Admin computers is not allowed.
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Postby aprayzr » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:37 am

[font="]Word from our FM Group: "We will not be replacing any computers this year unless they fail or you can see that they are about to go out. When and if that happens, call me ... and I will order a new one through Dell and it usually takes about a week to 10 days to get it to you.

I got the OK to strip the memory from our dead GX270's replaced last year to boost the remaining ones. Then have to ship dead ones back to FM Group for Asset Recovery Program.

I hope the MLS development team is listening and will attempt to scale back updates that are potential resource hogs. Maybe even optimize the program a little to reduce current resource demand, if possible. These machines are already taxed past their limit.
[/font]

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:30 pm

aprayzr wrote:These machines are already taxed past their limit.


Out of curiosity, can you give a specific example? Yes, the original 256MB is taxed to the point to testing anyone's patience. But bring it up to 512MB or better yet 1GB and I'm not sure what the problem is. It won't blow you away with speed, but it gets the job done.

At least in my experience.
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Ditto

Postby jeromer7 » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:05 pm

Got a similar response from my FM Manager - budget woes, no replacments this year. We are to follow "out of warranty" procedures, i.e., fix it if it can be fixed for $150 or less (SLC will reimburse) or replace using FM operational or contingency funds.

Just delays the inevitable. Maybe they'll come up with a plan to replace in smaller groups and smooth out the spike of all those systems fielded in '04. Or, maybe they decided to wait for Windows 7!
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Postby aprayzr » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:50 am

RussellHltn wrote:Out of curiosity, can you give a specific example?


These are memory starved celeron boxes - i.e. limited multitasking capability. As MLS has grown, I have had more and more complaints about the diminishing speed. The real indicators are the few clerks that have no computer usage outside of their calling - even they complain about how long it takes to start MLS and to do various taskes in MLS. Nothing more specific, just diminishing patience. As you said, they still, eventually, get the job done and the clerks calling is greatly enhanced by MLS as compared to the days of DOS and before.

I think our biggest complaint came from our Stake President after we installed the wireless for the internet. We were initially using the Odessey (Sp?) client that created a lot of overhead. He complained to the FM Group and we got four new machines. Then we went to LDSAccess and saw a big improvement on the speed.

RussellHltn wrote:Yes, the original 256MB is taxed to the point to testing anyone's patience. But bring it up to 512MB or better yet 1GB and I'm not sure what the problem is.


We have one machine that the clerk got fed up with and installed another 256MB and it is significantly faster. I don't think XP was ever meant be be run on less than 1GB. Based on your input and our experience on the one machine with 512MB, adding at least another 256 is a good interim solution - and a free one in our case. I am sure 1GB will make an even more significant difference - Crucial.com prices 1GB at $31, so not expensive either.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:37 pm

aprayzr wrote:We have one machine that the clerk got fed up with and installed another 256MB and it is significantly faster. I don't think XP was ever meant be be run on less than 1GB. Based on your input and our experience on the one machine with 512MB, adding at least another 256 is a good interim solution - and a free one in our case. I am sure 1GB will make an even more significant difference - Crucial.com prices 1GB at $31, so not expensive either.

I ran some experiments last year on our older Optiplex and found some improvement in performance going from 256MB to 512MB, but little if any improvement from 512 to 1GB. The test was running MLS with several modules open, along with some large documents open in OpenOffice.org. YMMV, but I wouldn't expect much improvement beyond 512MB. With that said, buying 1GB is only like $5 more than 512MB, so it's not a real issue.

BTW, the Optiplex uses dual-channel when available, so it gets a slight performance bump by installing the memory in matched pairs rather than a single stick. Any of THESE would probably work well.

aprayzr wrote:...just diminishing patience.

Yep, unfortunately this I can understand.
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