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“I just wanted to tell you what a cool product the Disk Jockey is. I’m super impressed at the size and versatility of the little guy. It really is going to make my job easier.” - Tom Horton, Information Systems Administrator, Facilities Management, Cornell University

How are people using the Disk Jockey to make their jobs easier? Diskology caught up with Tom Horton, the Information Systems Administrator for Cornell University for a chat about how the Disk Jockey is being used in this Ivy League school.

Diskology: What systems are you running, Mac vs. PC, version of the OS, Applications including hardware? What Machine do you prefer? What is your workhorse system?
Tom Horton: We are running all PC’s (99% Dell), Windows 2000 and Windows XP Pro. I prefer PC to Macintosh. My workhorse system is an AMD 2300 XP+ with 2GB Ram and 500GB of data storage.

Diskology: What type of projects are you currently working on?
TH: We are currently working on updating all of our Windows 2000 machines to Windows XP Pro. This includes some hardware upgrades due to age of some machines. Another project on our plate is a “touchless” build. We want to build a machine (OS to deployment, hardware not included) without having to answer a prompt. We are currently using RIS images to achieve this task.

Diskology: How does the Disk Jockey fit into your workflow? What are the strengths of the Disk Jockey in your current environment?
TH: The Disk Jockey fits nicely first because of its size. It also fits nicely due to its versatility in function. Its 7 functions in one box will make for a welcome addition to my work environment. Hard drive failures cause a lot of headaches here and the Disk Jockey will very easily become my headache medicine.

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About Tom and Cornell
Diskology: How long have you been in the IT industry? And how long at Cornell?

TH: I’ve been in the IT industry as a career as long as I’ve been here at my current job. I’ve had computers/networking as a hobby since I was a wee lad.

Diskology: What are your primary responsibilities at Cornell?
TH: My primary responsibilities are to keep our departments computers running at top form for as long as possible, thus lowering the total cost of ownership per computer per year. I run a department with 100 computers and 150 users. There are only 2 of us, and we are responsible for all of the software/hardware/networking maintenance and trouble shooting for all of our workstations, servers, and domain controllers. I also work as a liaison between my department and CIT (Cornell Information Technologies) to install all telecommunications jacks (phone/network).

Diskology: Can you tell us a little bit about Cornell from the MIS / IT standpoint?
TH: I work in the Facilites Management department which is a part of the Division of Facilities Services for Cornell University. The 5 main areas of concentration within “FM” is

  • Grounds (campus landscaping, snow removal, road construction),
  • Maintenance Management (Scheduling, organizing, funding all maintenance of all buildings on campus),
  • Building Care (Custodial and Janitorial services that covers all of campus), Customer Service (communications hub for Facilities),
  • Mechanical Shop (replaces and installs all filters for air handlers on campus as well as emergency generator repair and installs), and
  • Facilites Management Administration (all of the finance and supervisory folks for FM). Whew…sorry for being so long winded J (ed: that’s quite alright, we’re not going anywhere!)

Diskology: What are the biggest challenges Cornell today from an MIS/IT standpoint?
TH: The biggest challenge is finding the time to keep up with all aspects of the IT world in order to keep everything in my department running like a well oiled machine all the while providing legendary customer service.

Diskology: What do you love the most about what you do?
TH: I like having control over everything that has to do with IT in my department. It’s not often you get to have your hands in so many pies at once.

Diskology: What is the least favorite thing about your job?
TH: I don’t really have too much to complain about since I thought hard about this question and couldn’t come up with anything.

Strictly your opinion…
Diskology: How do you feel that the technology industry has changed over the past year? Over the past 3-5 years?

TH: Bigger, better, faster, more has become cheaper, smaller, easier, and cooler making for a wonderful time to be in this industry. It’s super fun to watch everything evolve as it has, such as the internet, computer hardware, etc.

Diskology: What are the biggest challenges that you face in your day-to-day efforts from a technology standpoint?
TH: Time. If only there were more than 24 hours in a day, my life would be 100 times easier.

Diskology: What do you think you'll need in order to do your job more effectively over the next 6-12 months?
TH: Efficiency, and that’s where the Disk Jockey comes into play. It’s hardware ideas like this that will make my time more efficient.

Diskology: What technology are you most interested in?
TH: Network and physical security interest me the most. Being able to detect and halt intruders without having to lift a finger is wicked cool.

Diskology: What would you like to see added to the Disk Jockey in future version?
TH: I’d like to see a laptop adapter added. With the rise of portability and the lowering price in mobile computing, the ability to do everything that I’m already doing to 3.5” hard drives to do it to 2.5” hard drives would be great. I’d also like to see some sort of upgrade plan. For as everything changes (for instance, Serial ATA is becoming more standard) I’d like to see a way for the Disk Jockey to be able to adapt to change. Maybe some sort of an upgrade plan (you already own one so you get a discount on future releases sort of thing.) Also, one geeky thing that would be super cool would be an LCD display to read progress…so you wouldn’t have to translate mores code type of beep displays.

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Tom Horton, Cornell Univ
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