Here are some entries that didn't receive a Windows IT Pro Innovators award but nonetheless show the creativity and resourcefulness of IT pros in action.
Quick Thinking in a Crisis
Jeffrey Gagne, IT Specialist 2, State of Vermont, Office of the Attorney General, Montpelier, Vermont
Jeff Gagne needed to replace a motherboard in a customer's server that had been fried by an electrical surge. The customer had to ship a large order by the end of the day, leaving no time to order a new motherboard. Jeff had a demo server that used the same core components as the customer's server, but the customer's server had too many drives for the demo unit to support. Jeff disconnected the power to all components in the downed server except for the drives. Then he connected the ground from the two units together and booted off the demo unit; its drives were logically connected to the customer's server drives. After Jeff adjusted settings and installed drivers, the computers were up and running, and the customer shipped the order on time.
Doing More with Less
Howard Rubin, owner and operator, The Computer Doctor, Fortaleza, Brazil
After one of Howard Rubin's clients, a small trucking company in Brazil, upgraded from Windows 98 to Windows XP, receipts didn't print correctly on the company's antique Epson dot matrix impact printer. Epson didn't supply XP-compatible drivers for that printer, so Howard had to find a different approach. He installed Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1 (SP1) to create a virtual machine (VM) on the company's server. Then he installed Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98SE) to a virtual hard disk and configured the virtual LAN so that it recognized the physical server. Finally, Howard configured the virtual hard disk running Win98SE to recognize the printer. The setup worked flawlessly. The client continued to print on the existing receipt forms and didn't have buy new billing software or another printer.
Samuel Kwame Asante, IT manager, Fan Milk, Accra, Ghana
Refrigeration engineers and technicians at Fan Milk, an ice cream, yogurt, and fruit drink manufacturer in Ghana, needed a way to receive immediate notification in the event of a refrigeration equipment breakdown in any of Fan Milk's retail stores. IT manager Samuel Kwame Asante developed a solution that uses LogTech Canada's LOGarc process logger to gather refrigeration information from the various sites and lets IT access the logs locally or remotely. A Web application developed by consultant Con-IMedia monitors refrigeration parameters derived from the log information at the sites and automatically sends Short Message Service (SMS) text messages containing that information to engineers and technicians on their mobile devices every two hours. The solution has helped Fan Milk avoid breakdowns and cut costs.
Hurricane Katrina Solutions
David Crouch, general manager, Public Interest Computer & Technology, Miami, Florida
In the hours before Hurricane Katrina's landfall in late August 2005, Public Interest Computer & Technology (PICT) needed to ensure that all its nonprofit-agency clients' backups were complete and that customers' servers were shut down before the region lost power. Travel was risky, so PICT's IT staff couldn't go to client locations to perform the shutdowns. PICT regularly used LogMeIn IT Reach to remotely access and manage clients' PCs and servers, and David decided to use the product to perform the remote backups and shutdowns. PICT's IT staff was able to remotely back up and shut down all its clients' servers before the hurricane struck, ensuring that customers didn't lose data. Additionally, because IT staff didn't have to leave their office or homes to perform the shutdowns, PICT didn't charge its customers for the emergency service it provided.
Jane Metcalf, director of technology, St. Joseph's Academy, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, St. Joseph's Academy (SJA), a college preparatory school for girls, accepted 250 new students who had been displaced by the storm. Because the influx of new enrollees occurred just after the start of the school year, SJA's IT department had just one weekend to prepare the school's IT infrastructure to accommodate the new students. The school's IT team, including John Richardson, SJA's technology architect; Jane Metcalf, director of technology; and IT staff and students, used ScriptLogic's Desktop Authority to configure and secure the new systems from a central location. With additional help from Microsoft and other solution providers, the new students were added to the school's IT infrastructure by the time the school reopened.
Successful Blend of Third-Party Products
Lew Jacobs, manager of software solutions architecture, Ricoh Canada, Mississauga, Canada
Ricoh wanted to make its worldwide print- and document-processing and printing centers more efficient. The company aimed to deliver completed jobs globally within a few hours of the customer initiating the request and provide a virtual dashboard to let customers track a job's progress. Conceived and implemented by a four-person team that included Lew Jacobs, Ricoh developed a solution consisting of existing regional Windows Server 2003 print and Web servers, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 servers, XP workstations, and a centrally integrated production-scheduling application. Additionally, Ricoh used Network Automation's AutoMate to keep tabs on job transfers, file naming, and lookups; monitor Windows services and processes; and maintain document integrity. The solution also includes Objectif Lune's PlanetPress, which analyzes and processes raw content for output, and PJLM Software's Print Audit, which tracks and reports all forms of output. The combination of custom code and third-party products helps provide detailed global auditing of every procedure and transaction, gives customers up-to-the-minute feedback about their jobs, and integrates with the client billing system to ensure accurate invoices.
Assistant Editor Sue Tibbetts contributed to this sidebar.