Book shop wtf



  • Yesterday I was asked by  an employee of a bookshop i go to regularly to look at their ordering system because it "didn't work". (no, this is not the wtf yet)

    Now their ordering system is a kind of unusual setup:

    They have a link on their machine that starts a remote desktop session with a Windows 2003 server that runs the software they use for ordering books. (that's not the wtf either)

    The problem they had was that this setup was relatively slow and one of the employees tends to tap the shift key impatiently. This triggered the accessibility settings popup on the remote desktop and turned on keypress delay set to 1 second. Unfortunately the admins in their wisdom deactivated any way except the hotkeys for changing the accessibility settings, so i couldn't do much to help...a "hotkey" that depends on a key being pressed for a few seconds or tapped quickly doesn't react when keypress delay only allows you one keyboard event per second.

    They're going to call their admins today...i wonder when this'll happen again. 



  • @witchdoctor said:

    They have a link on their machine that starts a remote desktop session with a Windows 2003 server that runs the software they use for ordering books. (that's not the wtf either)

    I beg to differ...



  • @shadowman said:

    I beg to differ...

     

    Ok, I retract my parenthetical statement, that's another of the wtfs. Seems this insane system replaced a nice webapp they used before.



  • A local bookstore here has a similarly retarded system. There's a computer you can use to search for books. It simply runs a fullscreen remote desktop connection to some other machine. Any idiot can close the connection, at which point they're presented with a nice list of non-password-protected machines to connect to, running various important things.



  • @shadowman said:

    @witchdoctor said:

    They have a link on their machine that starts a remote desktop session with a Windows 2003 server that runs the software they use for ordering books. (that's not the wtf either)

    I beg to differ...

    Hmm, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal.  It's a common practice when an application isn't capable of operating over a network itself.  Obviously the client machine needs to be locked down so it can only access remote desktop, though.  This isn't really any different than using X to connect to a remote window server or using ssh to run a remote CLI tool. 



  • @lolwtf said:

    Any idiot can...

    And you discovered this how?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Hmm, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal.  It's a common practice when an application isn't capable of operating over a network itself.  Obviously the client machine needs to be locked down so it can only access remote desktop, though.  This isn't really any different than using X to connect to a remote window server or using ssh to run a remote CLI tool. 

     

     

    Then I'd say the wtf is that an ordering application that is supposed to be used by multiple bookstores with a central database somewhere isn't capable of operating over a network.



  • @witchdoctor said:

    Then I'd say the wtf is that an ordering application that is supposed to be used by multiple bookstores with a central database somewhere isn't capable of operating over a network.

    Meh, it's just the way that it is.  You can complain about it, but this isn't a system for controlling nuclear warheads or monitoring a life support system.  Simple economics tells us that if the resources to build a better bookstore application were spent then there would be fewer resources for more critical applications.  Personally, I find this to be an acceptable compromise since remote desktop works fine in most situations and gets the job done. 



  • @witchdoctor said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    It's a common practice when an application isn't capable of operating over a network itself.
     

     

    Then I'd say the wtf is that an ordering application that is supposed to be used by multiple bookstores with a central database somewhere isn't capable of operating over a network.

    That isn't to say that that's the case here. It might have for example, been seen as the easiler to administer option - the application exists on exactly one machine, so only one upgrade needs to be performed, and you always have the same app version accessing the back end. You can also wipe and re-image the front end machines each night (or just when the moneys screw them up) without worrying about updating your images with the latest software version.

    There are lots of reasons - some valid, some not - to go the terminal server route, and not all of them are based on "we're too stupid to make a networked app".



  • @RayS said:

    There are lots of reasons - some valid, some not - to go the terminal server route, and not all of them are based on "we're too stupid to make a networked app".
     

     

    Another one is that the workstations don't need to be beefy enough to run the app, just enough to act as the GUI version of dumb terminals, which can make quite a difference to the budget.

     



  • @emurphy said:

    Another one is that the workstations don't need to be beefy enough to run the app, just enough to act as the GUI version of dumb terminals, which can make quite a difference to the budget.

    Yep.  In fact, you can buy all-in-one machines with a low-powered proc and no drives running Windows CE just for the purposes of running a remote desktop on a terminal server. 


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Yep.  In fact, you can buy all-in-one machines with a low-powered proc and no drives running Windows CE just for the purposes of running a remote desktop on a terminal server.

    In my experience, these thin clients are just as expensive as a bottom-rung Dell... Just pulled up an HP thin client (running Debian with a stripped-out Geode processor and 256mb of RAM) for $450 sans monitor, keyboard and mouse.... and a Dell Vostro for $299 (running XP, a cute little Celeron, and 512mb of RAM, along with such potentially useful things as a hard drive and optical drive!)

    Thin clients are SUCH good value in hardware cost.



  • @Weng said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    Yep.  In fact, you can buy all-in-one machines with a low-powered proc and no drives running Windows CE just for the purposes of running a remote desktop on a terminal server.

    In my experience, these thin clients are just as expensive as a bottom-rung Dell... Just pulled up an HP thin client (running Debian with a stripped-out Geode processor and 256mb of RAM) for $450 sans monitor, keyboard and mouse.... and a Dell Vostro for $299 (running XP, a cute little Celeron, and 512mb of RAM, along with such potentially useful things as a hard drive and optical drive!)

    Thin clients are SUCH good value in hardware cost.

    Thin clients usually consume far less power, take up less space and have very minimal OSes that don't require continuous maintenance.  Obviously they aren't perfect for every scenario, but there's more to cost of ownership than just the initial price tag.  Also, many times thin client deployments number in the thousands so the buyer gets discounts for buying in bulk. 


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Thin clients usually consume far less power, take up less space and have very minimal OSes that don't require continuous maintenance.  Obviously they aren't perfect for every scenario, but there's more to cost of ownership than just the initial price tag.  Also, many times thin client deployments number in the thousands so the buyer gets discounts for buying in bulk. 

    Ah, standard marketing blurb.

    Let me relate my personal favorite Thin Client story:

    Among my other pursuits, I'm logistics manager at a non-profit that does electronics recycling. One of my favorite customers is an IT manager for a large banking chain.

    The first time I met him, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of CRT monitors. Hundreds of them, stacked with a density that we still cannot match to this day.

    "Finally gettin' LCDs! The CEO got one at home and said we had to!" he exclaimed when I asked the obvious question: "WTF!?"

    The next time I met him, a year later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of older desktop PCs that obviously matched the previous load of CRTs.

    "CEO didn't like that his desktop PC didn't color match his new LCD! New workstations for everybody!"

    The next time I met him, a scant 6 months later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of brand new desktop PCs, older servers, and all manner of fancy Cisco 10/100 and Gigabit gear.

    "The CEO read a pamphlet about the lower total cost of ownership of thin clients. We're rolling them out branch-by-branch now. The server and network upgrades are killing us. All these shiny new desktops are going to be coming your way now."

    The next time I met him, 6 months later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of brand new desktop PCs, and blocking my parking lot with 3 more trucks full of, respectively, servers, networking gear, and an entire truck stuffed end-to-end with CAT5.

    "This is getting out of hand. I know I didn't mention it, but what do you think we should do with all this CAT5? Our entire datacenter is 10gig fiber now"

    Our discussion was cut short as I personally oversaw the transfer of the Great Copper Motherlode to the secure area of our facility (and 15 minutes after they left, onto a truck bound for cashout)

    The next time I met him, a year after that, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck half full (they aren't very big you know) of thin clients.

    "This thin client thing was a disaster. It was okay for the first 3/4 of the rollout, but we kept having to add more servers and more staff to support the servers. The staff we could let go because we didn't have to do desktop hardware support was all cheap interns - we had to bring in a nearly equal number of highly paid and trained professionals to handle the new duties, nevermind the increased infrastructure costs. And to make things even worse, the energy consumption was shifted from the general office floor to the datacenter, where it became a 'concern' and now they want to charge our budget for our datacenter power consumption, because in comparison the rest of the organization is getting so much "greener"."

    I'm meeting him again in a few weeks. He says he's bringing me a truckload of servers and network gear that they don't need in the datacenters anymore.



  • @Carnildo said:

    @lolwtf said:
    Any idiot can...
    And you discovered this how?
    Best way to test software: "Now, what might an idiot do in this situation? poke"



  • lolwtf, your "AAAAAAAA..." tag is stretching your posts horizontally (but no-one else's), in Fx3β5 at least. Quite frankly, I can't be bothered scrolling sideways to read the text that gets chopped off as a result. Might want to re-think this "cutting off your nose to spite your face" business.



  • @Irrelevant said:

    lolwtf, your "AAAAAAAA..." tag is stretching your posts horizontally (but no-one else's), in [b]Fx3β5[b] at least. Quite frankly, I can't be bothered scrolling sideways to read the text that gets chopped off as a result. Might want to re-think this "cutting off your nose to spite your face" business.
     

     

    Which OS? the stretching isn't happening here: FF 3beta5, WinXP. It's probably community server's dodgymarkup.



  • @Emyr said:

    Which OS? the stretching isn't happening here: FF 3beta5, WinXP. It's probably community server's dodgymarkup.
     

    Or it could be his low screen resolution or small windows.

    Blaming the OS would be a bit ridiculous.



  • Same setup here, XP Pro. My laptop's screen won't go over 1024x768, though, which might explain the difference if yours is wider.



  • @Weng said:

    Let me relate my personal favorite Thin Client story

    Do Best of the Sidebar features ever come from replies, or are they always from the first posts of threads? This story belongs on the front page.

     



  • @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    @Emyr said:

    Which OS? the stretching isn't happening here: FF 3beta5, WinXP. It's probably community server's dodgymarkup.
     

    Or it could be his low screen resolution or small windows.

    Blaming the OS would be a bit ridiculous.

     

    It is a combination of the long tag, markup (maybe?) and small browser window/low resolution.  Every other post is wrapping properly except for the ones with the long "AAAAAAAA..." tag (using Firefox 2.0 here).  Since there is no problem without the completely unnecessary long tag, I would say the tag is to "blame".  What if someone wants to browse this site on a handheld device?



  • @CodeSimian said:

    What if someone wants to browse this site on a handheld device?
     

     I've tried before, and IE on my Samsung i600 (aka BlackJack, runs WindowsMobile5) is incapable of dealing with the markup or AJAX used on the login screen.



  • @Noser said:

    @Weng said:

    Let me relate my personal favorite Thin Client story

    Do Best of the Sidebar features ever come from replies, or are they always from the first posts of threads? This story belongs on the front page.

     

    Seconded ... 



  • @Nelle said:

    Seconded ... 

     

    Thirded... 



  • @gutch said:

    @Nelle said:

    Seconded ... 

     

    Thirded... 

     

    Quartered... 



  • @Noser said:

    Do Best of the Sidebar features ever come from replies, or are they always from the first posts of threads? This story belongs on the front page.
    We had one from a reply.  The "Ear Michael" Xbox 360 headset.

    Fifthed 



  • @Eternal Density said:

    @gutch said:

    @Nelle said:

    Seconded ... 

     

    Thirded... 

     

     

    Quartered... 

    Septed



  • @Weng said:

    Ah, standard marketing blurb.

    Let me relate my personal favorite Thin Client story:

    Among my other pursuits, I'm logistics manager at a non-profit that does electronics recycling. One of my favorite customers is an IT manager for a large banking chain.

    The first time I met him, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of CRT monitors. Hundreds of them, stacked with a density that we still cannot match to this day.

    "Finally gettin' LCDs! The CEO got one at home and said we had to!" he exclaimed when I asked the obvious question: "WTF!?"

    The next time I met him, a year later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of older desktop PCs that obviously matched the previous load of CRTs.

    "CEO didn't like that his desktop PC didn't color match his new LCD! New workstations for everybody!"

    The next time I met him, a scant 6 months later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of brand new desktop PCs, older servers, and all manner of fancy Cisco 10/100 and Gigabit gear.

    "The CEO read a pamphlet about the lower total cost of ownership of thin clients. We're rolling them out branch-by-branch now. The server and network upgrades are killing us. All these shiny new desktops are going to be coming your way now."

    The next time I met him, 6 months later, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck full of brand new desktop PCs, and blocking my parking lot with 3 more trucks full of, respectively, servers, networking gear, and an entire truck stuffed end-to-end with CAT5.

    "This is getting out of hand. I know I didn't mention it, but what do you think we should do with all this CAT5? Our entire datacenter is 10gig fiber now"

    Our discussion was cut short as I personally oversaw the transfer of the Great Copper Motherlode to the secure area of our facility (and 15 minutes after they left, onto a truck bound for cashout)

    The next time I met him, a year after that, he was backing into my loading dock with a truck half full (they aren't very big you know) of thin clients.

    "This thin client thing was a disaster. It was okay for the first 3/4 of the rollout, but we kept having to add more servers and more staff to support the servers. The staff we could let go because we didn't have to do desktop hardware support was all cheap interns - we had to bring in a nearly equal number of highly paid and trained professionals to handle the new duties, nevermind the increased infrastructure costs. And to make things even worse, the energy consumption was shifted from the general office floor to the datacenter, where it became a 'concern' and now they want to charge our budget for our datacenter power consumption, because in comparison the rest of the organization is getting so much "greener"."

    I'm meeting him again in a few weeks. He says he's bringing me a truckload of servers and network gear that they don't need in the datacenters anymore.

    tl;dr -- Somebody once had problems with thin clients because they weren't the right solution for their environment, so obviously thin clients are the wrong solution for everything. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    tl;dr -- Somebody once had problems with thin clients because they weren't the right solution for their environment, so obviously thin clients are the wrong solution for everything. 
     

    If I had a nickel for every time.... etc etc



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    tl;dr -- Somebody once had problems with thin clients because they weren't the right solution for their environment, so obviously thin clients are the wrong solution for everything. 

     

    Exactly my thoughts. A WTF story, but the thin clients are NOT the WTF. If they had replaced the computers with hot alien babes, would hot alien babes be a WTF? No.



  • @RayS said:

    If they had replaced the computers with hot alien babes, would hot alien babes be a WTF? No.

    Hot babes are never a WTF.  moar hot alien babe analogies, plox. 



  • @Steeldragon said:

    Septed
     

    You missed.  Nobody sexed it yet.  And that was going to be the best one. 



  • @shadowman said:

    Nobody sexed it yet.
     

    Speak for yourself.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    tl;dr -- Somebody once had problems with thin clients because they weren't the right solution for their environment, so obviously thin clients are the wrong solution for everything.
    Perhaps I missed conveying what I thought was fairly obvious.

    Decisions on which solutions are to be used are often not made by people who know what's right for their environment because someone else will make the decision based on one or two sentences they read about the solution.



  • @Weng said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    tl;dr -- Somebody once had problems with thin clients because they weren't the right solution for their environment, so obviously thin clients are the wrong solution for everything. 
    Perhaps I missed conveying what I thought was fairly obvious.

    Decisions on which solutions are to be used are often not made by people who know what's right for their environment because someone else will make the decision based on one or two sentences they read about the solution.

    And sometimes decisions are made by people who are qualified, know what is right for their environment and have done their research.  You replied to my post about thin clients by calling it a "marketing blurb" and followed that with your "favorite thin client story" which contained several WTFs committed by management, including a switch to thin clients.  One would conclude that you are taking this anecdote and generalizing it to all cases, thereby supporting your initial claim.  Otherwise, why else would you mention it?  I already noted that thin clients weren't right for every environment, but there are plenty of times when they are useful as well.  So it seems my summary of your position was quite in line with everything that has been posted thus far.


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