Computer hardware lifecycles

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
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daddy-o-p40
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#31

Post by daddy-o-p40 »

Alan_Brown wrote:
While I certainly agree that MLS computers run better with 512MB, according to the Desktop 5.5 instructions, page 6, the minimum requrements are:

So if 512 MB is indeed the standard, it would be nice if CHQ would correct their documentation. Perhaps there is some other documentation besides the Desktop 5.5 instructions; if so, it would be helpful to know the source.

I don't have a complete list of all the parts of the church security software with me right now. But I did a quick check of the items I did remeber and was already at 256mb of RAM without all of them or Afaria (MLS db) running.

Check it out....
XP Pro 128mb RAM
SP2 requires 64mb RAM
Symantec AntiVirus 64mb RAM

References:
Microsoft XP Pro
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/ ... sreqs.mspx
Microsoft SP2
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/sysreqs.mspx
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition
http://www.symantec.com/business/produc ... pvid=805_1

I also believe the video card may be pilfering 64mb of RAM too. Not sure though.

So I concur wholeheartedly that this needs to be revised. 256mb is clearly not the true minimum RAM requirement when you talley all the concurrent demands for RAM. This shortage of RAM most likely contributed to the premature hard drive failure we experienced.

Truthfully, 1gb of RAM is the point of diminishing return. Anything over that isn't necessary. In our case we upgraded to 2gb of RAM just because 184 pin sticks required are not that common in smaller sizes anymore.

So I vote for revising the requirements also.
"What have I done for someone today?" Thomas Monson
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Mikerowaved
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#32

Post by Mikerowaved »

enriquer wrote:I don't have a complete list of all the parts of the church security software with me right now. But I did a quick check of the items I did remeber and was already at 256mb of RAM without all of them or Afaria (MLS db) running.

Check it out....
XP Pro 128mb RAM
SP2 requires 64mb RAM
Symantec AntiVirus 64mb RAM

References:
Microsoft XP Pro
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/ ... sreqs.mspx
Microsoft SP2
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/sysreqs.mspx
Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition
http://www.symantec.com/business/produc ... pvid=805_1
Please note, those numbers are the minimum System RAM requirements for installation of the above listed software packages, not additional RAM needed to run it. (Note that Windows XP also has a [laughable] minimum requirement of 64MB, not 128MB.)
enriquer wrote:So I concur wholeheartedly that this needs to be revised. 256mb is clearly not the true minimum RAM requirement when you talley all the concurrent demands for RAM.
I beg to differ. The minimum requirements are just that, minimum. They are not purported to be optimal. (Look at Microsoft's minimum RAM for XP! :eek:) MLS in all its flavors runs perfectly fine with an installed base of 256MB of RAM.
enriquer wrote:Truthfully, 1gb of RAM is the point of diminishing return. Anything over that isn't necessary. In our case we upgraded to 2gb of RAM just because 184 pin sticks required are not that common in smaller sizes anymore.

So I vote for revising the requirements also.
I'm not sure where you came up with the 1GB number. I started a session in MLS and opened 20 simultaneous items (tabs) varying from membership reports, to finance, to VT Districts, etc. etc. and never did the system utilize more than 420MB of available RAM. I then opened 2 spreadsheets (with graphs) and 2 documents in OpenOffice.org and still only saw another 50MB in use. Finally, I did a Send/Receive and downloaded the new 2.8.1 and the RAM usage went up just a few more MB.

Like I said before, the minimum RAM requirements are set exactly right. Some of us just noticed a slight performance boost when that was increased and we shared our findings here. If I had the time I would go back and benchmark MLS's performance with 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB of RAM installed to really see what the differences are. Unfortunately, I don't.

BTW, I misspoke earlier when I agreed the RAM was hard to find. I was thinking the Optiplex GX270 used SDR RAM, but it uses the more common DDR, which isn't hard to find at all. For EXAMPLE. (Not an endorsement, just one place I personally like to shop.)
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russellhltn
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#33

Post by russellhltn »

Alan_Brown wrote:So if 512 MB is indeed the standard, it would be nice if CHQ would correct their documentation. Perhaps there is some other documentation besides the Desktop 5.5 instructions; if so, it would be helpful to know the source.
And it would be nice to know who is gong to pay for the upgrade. If it's now required, I don't know as they'd be able to make the stake pay for it.
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daddy-o-p40
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#34

Post by daddy-o-p40 »

Mikerowaved,
Windows XP Performance Article:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/libr ... 57057.aspx
Recommended RAM is 128mb.

IT departments should never go by minimum requirements. Look at what mimimum requirements have done in other industries like construction??

Do you know if the onboard video steals any RAM?

I was on the phone with Jim from CHQ Membership Line on 1-9-08 triaging the stake computer which would not transmit and kept corrupting databases. Not sure if I included this detail in my earlier post or not. Anyway, after he diagnosed the problem he directed us to upgrade the systems to a minimum of 512mb of RAM. He added he was sending a message to our stake president advising him of this need for all our systems.

We couldn't find two 256mb sticks readily. When we did it was pricey so for $12 more we got two 1gb sticks. You see smaller memory sizes are just not being made any more.

I personally have seen the benefit of additional ram first hand. Again, not sure if I mentioned this earlier or not.....but these systems are finicky. They require ram in matched pairs and not all the ram we tried worked. We tried Kingston, Micron (Crucial), Patriot, Super Talent and PNY none of them worked. My earlier post did contain the info about the Corsair RAM which we did get at NewEgg (w/Free Shipping.) We even updated the BIOS with no improvement. These memory sticks had identical specs....not sure if it was a voltage issue or what....but the Corsairs worked on the first try. So I was posting from "actual" first hand experience.

RussellHltn, In our case Jim (from CHQ Membership Line) gave us the specifc steps for the stake finance clerk to use to seek reimbursement from CHQ. CHQ reimburses the stakes a fixed dollar amount on a per part basis. Anything over that amount is the responsibility of the stake. What I can tell you is we never went over the amount.

Hope this helps.
"What have I done for someone today?" Thomas Monson
russellhltn
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#35

Post by russellhltn »

My tip for buying memory is to buy from someone that matches the memory based on your computer model. For the one upgrade I did, I went to Crucial and entered the model (Dell GX270). It worked fine.

In your case, the computer wasn't functioning. In our case, it's just a performance issue. I suspect if I were to call, CHQ wouldn't reimburse us.
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Mikerowaved
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#36

Post by Mikerowaved »

enriquer wrote:Mikerowaved,
Windows XP Performance Article:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/libr ... 57057.aspx
Recommended RAM is 128mb.
Respectfully, minimum requirements and recommended requirements are separate things and need to be addressed separately. The Church has set the minimum for MLS running on Desktop 5.5 at 256MB. Is this an incorrect number? My experience has shown it's perfectly valid. I would even go so far as to guess that a large number of MLS machines throughout the world (if not the majority) are probably running with such a configuration. Obvioulsy, CHQ has faith it will work, or I'm sure they would have set the minimum to something different. (As far as I know CHQ has not come out with a churchwide recommended requirement.)
enriquer wrote:Do you know if the onboard video steals any RAM?
Yes, but surprisingly very little.
enriquer wrote:I was on the phone with Jim from CHQ Membership Line on 1-9-08 triaging the stake computer which would not transmit and kept corrupting databases. Not sure if I included this detail in my earlier post or not. Anyway, after he diagnosed the problem he directed us to upgrade the systems to a minimum of 512mb of RAM. He added he was sending a message to our stake president advising him of this need for all our systems.
Now, here we need to be cautious. What is recommended by CHQ for one Stake to solve a specific problem, might not necessarily apply to the rest of the Church. Even though you and I might agree that 512MB sounds reasonable, I'm sure there are other factors we don't see. For example, if a Stake was close to upgrading their equipment, or perhaps their budget had already been exceeded for other pressing needs. I'm sure some Stake Presidents might even suggest, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
enriquer wrote:We couldn't find two 256mb sticks readily. When we did it was pricey so for $12 more we got two 1gb sticks. You see smaller memory sizes are just not being made any more.

I personally have seen the benefit of additional ram first hand. Again, not sure if I mentioned this earlier or not.....but these systems are finicky. They require ram in matched pairs and not all the ram we tried worked. We tried Kingston, Micron (Crucial), Patriot, Super Talent and PNY none of them worked. My earlier post did contain the info about the Corsair RAM which we did get at NewEgg (w/Free Shipping.) We even updated the BIOS with no improvement. These memory sticks had identical specs....not sure if it was a voltage issue or what....but the Corsairs worked on the first try. So I was posting from "actual" first hand experience.
I'm sure whoever purchased the RAM did what they felt they needed to do. Having problems with a wide variety of RAM (being finicky, as you put it) is sometimes caused by other things. As you suggested, one possibility is the required voltage provided by your motherboard may not have been sufficient for them to run error free. A faulty capacitor might allow just a bit too much noise on the lines. There are many possibilities. It kind of goes back to my point about this being a unique situation that may not apply to everyone.

Just a side note, these Dell systems don't have a strict requirement of replacing RAM with matched pairs (like RDRAM systems), you just lose a smidgen of performance by having them run in single-channel mode instead of dual-channel, but it's hardly noticeable in all but the most demanding situations.

I'm sincerely pleased your system is running fine. Being a retired engineer, I'm cursed with looking at things not for how great they are, but rather with an eye of how I can improve it. :o These MLS computers are truely miraculous time savers compared with the "olden days". Can they be improved upon? Of course. Is there a blanket policy in place to do so? Not to my knowledge.

BTW, the RAM that upgraded some of our systems came from my basement workshop archives, so the cost to the Stake was nil, but not everyone has a system builder they can call on. ;)
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aebrown
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#37

Post by aebrown »

enriquer wrote:RussellHltn, In our case Jim (from CHQ Membership Line) gave us the specifc steps for the stake finance clerk to use to seek reimbursement from CHQ. CHQ reimburses the stakes a fixed dollar amount on a per part basis. Anything over that amount is the responsibility of the stake. What I can tell you is we never went over the amount.

Thank you for sharing your experience. It may well give some helpful insights to others with similiar issues.

I would note, however, that the reimbursement procedure described above was exceptional. It was certainly appropriate for that particular stake under the specific direction of that Church employee, but the general policy is different.

Regarding repairs, the Policy and Guidelines for Computers Used by Clerks for Church Record Keeping states:
If a computer malfunctions and is out of warranty but not yet scheduled for replacement, the ward should contact the assistant stake clerk assigned to manage Church computers and determine if the computer can be repaired for less than $150. If it can be repaired for less than $150, the assistant stake clerk makes the necessary arrangements and codes the expense in stake MLS to “Other: Authorized Computer Repairs.” These repair funds will be reimbursed to the stake.

When these repairs occur, the general rule (and my experience in every case) is that the entire cost of the authorized repair is reimbursed to the stake, assuming of course that the above policy is followed. There is no "fixed dollar amount on a per part basis" as a general rule, but such a policy may well be invoked for particular situations. -- the best advice is to contact Clerk Support if you have any questions, and of course work with your local priesthood leaders.

Regarding memory or other hardware upgrades, the policy is silent, and therefore such expenses are generally not reimbursible by the Church but rather come out of stake budget funds. Apparently this specific situation was deemed a quasi-repair and so the Church decided to help with funding it.
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#38

Post by JamesAnderson »

The Desktop 5.5 instructions are woefully obsolete. I don't think you can buy a 10gb hard drive or some of the other stuff anymore, it all has more capacity, more features, etc. You can get loads of hard drive space for probably less now than the 10gb drive was when it was new. I don't think you can buy one off-the-shelf that has less than 100gb anymore.

You may be able to get smaller hard drive sizes or less speedy processors off the net, but probably for only as long as they have them after the manufacturers quit making the smaller ones.

1ghz processors are also probably no longer sold. I have a four- to five-year old 1.8ghz Celeron in my home PC, and I understand that about 2.4 to 3ghz is the industry standard, even without dual-core or quad-core technology.

Eventually, peripherals like printers are probably going to require a higher processor or memory configuration on the PC it is connected to, mainly for throughput of print tasks.

What we need then is an upgrade standard, one that will also work well with the Internet as that gets deployed once they decide to do that more widely.
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#39

Post by russellhltn »

I think I've mentioned this before, but apparently that $150 isn't a hard limit. When I called with a price that was a little over, I was told that was a "guideline" and to go ahead and replace the part. (Motherboard for a GX270)

But anyone who finds they may exceed that value probably should call anyway - just to make sure.
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#40

Post by Mikerowaved »

JamesAnderson wrote:The Desktop 5.5 instructions are woefully obsolete...
You're correct in that you would be hard pressed to find a system that meets these specs nowadays (except maybe at DI ;)). However, these guidelines are not meant as "specs" for new systems, just minimum guidelines for what is needed to function today. I would imagine for those Stakes looking to upgrade, the Church probably has guidelines for new systems so they hopefully are robust enough to last another 5 year life cycle, without wasting precious funds unnecessarily.
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