Looking forward and back – clouds, cinnamon and railroads.

2020 has been a learning experience for so many of us. Maybe not the most pleasant one. We have probably all been forced out of several comfort zones: On the job, in our homes, in our various human relationships and maybe our beliefs?

Of particular interest to me, in the IT business, is how much we have had to embrace working remotely using various tools. Some tools are familiar, others are brand new.

To many the concept of The Cloud is new, but really it was the first to be there – before our home computers became so powerful. The way we are interacting with The Cloud is perhaps new, we are exchanging more data and collaborating in real time like never before. I find it thrilling to use Microsoft Teams and have conversations with team members spread all over Ontario and the country, including the two people I share office location with.

Now it’s not whether the call or meeting has to be done virtually, it’s just a matter of which platform. Maybe we will go back to face to face meetings, I hope so – but I recognize that we are probably burning less gas by doing things virtually. Just like the medical research industry has accomplished a giant leap this year developing a vaccine against you-know-what, at lot of people have become many times more knowledgeable when it comes to using cloud tools and virtual platforms.

If you swap two digits around in the year 2020, you get 2002 which is when I started my reBOOT career as a volunteer after having just moved to Ontario. One of the first days I was in we were cleaning desktop PCs donated from a company in Alberta – in the actual oilsands. The gunk on the computers was unreal. We used cotton swabs and rags, apparently it was worth it back then. Seven years later when I was an employee we had received some equally dusty computers from a local producer of chocolate bars and cereal. The computers had obviously been near the production line. As I was sitting in my office adjacent to the warehouse a fragrance started to waft in as the techs were disassembling the computers: Cinnamon. It definitely smelled like Christmas even if it was September. The computers had cinnamon in every corner inside. At that time, I think we decided it was not worth it – however much we would clean the units, the cinnamon would never completely disappear. Computers tend to get smaller and smaller, so a desktop computer produced in 2018 can contain less cinnamon (or any other spice) than one produced in 2004.

More than a decade ago we received some computers that did not contain any spices, but instead contained the name of a big railroad company in the United States, when you booted them up. We tried all the tricks we could think of to get rid of it, but it turned out that the original owners had custom ordered the computers to display their name, probably as a way to deter theft. After a series of phone calls we were allowed to use the machines and provide them to other people, I never found out of the person who had ordered the computers that way was asked, but as the company name was hardly offensive to anyone seeing it, we thought it was a waste to just scrap perfectly good Dell OptiPlex 755 towers.

Today a 755 would be scrapped right away even if perfectly good due to its age. This model would run forever, though.

reBOOT Canada is still trying to make the world a better place, one computer at a time. Sometimes the computer smells like Christmas.

Happy holidays!

/Lars