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Subject: Managing administration of computer systems for conservation lab

Managing administration of computer systems for conservation lab

From: Mark Giles MacKenzie <mark.mackenzie<-a>
Date: Thursday, May 8, 2008
In our Conservation Department we have one main conservation
laboratory, one office dedicated to instrumental and microscopal
analysis and another set of offices where our administrative
operations are carried out.  We are building an additional lab in
another building and would like to not duplicate the problems we are
experiencing in our main area now.

Our conservation laboratory is equipped with laptops for each bench
conservator.  There are also desktop computers for our MuSIS system,
graphics workstation and main documentation database and photo
archive.

Our analytical area where we house our FT-IR and UV-Vis
spectrometers along with our polarizing microscope needs a computer
upgrade at the moment.

The problem which has developed over time is that State IT
department controls access and everything else to do with our
computers in the laboratory and analysis areas.   We have
encountered increasing problems with broken software installations
over the past year or so, lost communications ports, etc.  We lost
effective use of our MuSIS system for several months.  We eventually
solved that problem ourselves as we wished to do.  We can't install
fresh copies of programs or attempt to fix even small problems as we
lack the access permissions or are barred by policies.  This is
normal IT policy for administrative installations.

An additional problem is that our intranet is shared with other
departments and museum buildings through a terrible, choked route.
We routinely access 8 to 100 meg digital files--or would like to.
Usually we can take an extra lunch break waiting for some of the
larger files to open up and these are only the 20 meg types.

I am beginning the process of convincing the powers that be that we
need to separate the conservation lab from the administrative side
of things and that means taking back complete administration of the
computer systems there, both software and hardware.  We will build a
separate intranet for the scientific analysis computers and the
bench related laptops and the graphic workstation along with the
documentation center. Although we are currently Windows based (2000
and XP), MacOS and Linux are certainly options depending up the
needs.

State IT will still control our administrative computers.

I am a software designer and programmer as well so I have a
reasonable idea of what needs to be done physically.  However it is
always a good idea to see what others have done or are trying to do.

I would like to correspond with whoever has gone down this route to
compare notes and take advantage of your experience in negotiating
the bureaucratic maze.

Mark MacKenzie
Director of Conservation/Chief Conservator
Museum Resources Division
Department of Cultural Affairs
Santa Fe, New Mexico
505-476-1236
Fax: 505-4761227


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:60
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Received on Thursday, 8 May, 2008

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