MY Hines

March Madness about to hit IT

Posted on: March 17, 2010

This year, I filled out my first March Madness bracket ever. I know that there are three teams around the Pittsburgh area that are in the NCAA tournament, but other than that, I might as well just drawl names out of the hat. Even if I didn’t fill out a bracket for the first time, I would be very aware of it being March Madness. I’m sure that you have seen the stories on television – March Madness and productivity don’t seem to go together. (Just Google it and see how many articles there are about the lower productivity in the workplace – March Madness a march to lower work productivity, The (Overblown) Cost Of March Madness, March Madness Productivity Drain: Calling a Foul,  and March Madness costs employers money, productivity (all glanced at today).

For me, March Madness is not always a bad thing. With nonprofit technology, sometimes you have coworkers who are afraid of computers that are lured into using computers for their March Madness needs. If it gets them onto the computer, browsing the internet, getting comfortable with search engines, using the mouse, and generally just using the computer – I’m for it. That is the healthy part of March Madness.

There is also the bad side to watch out for, especially given some network structures and typography. With my workplace, about 75% of staff use terminal server, which means that they share resources. While I understand this and several other people understand what this means – it does not usually stop the madness that will keep me on my toes in the next couple weeks. The madness that “I can watch this for a little bit and it won’t really impact anything”.  Shared resources are not an equal split, so if one person is able to find a site that is not blocked and can stream the games – that person will take a larger percentage of the resources and leave everyone else a lot less.

Blocking streaming isn’t the answer either. Why not?

Recently when I was allowed to finally do some blocking of inappropriate websites, I had to answer this question. It came down to what happens if you do really block that streaming of video. While YouTube is known for viral videos because that is usually what gets noticed on the TV News, the reality is that YouTube has a lot of really good training resources. Last fall I learned how to make an animated introduction graphic in AfterEffects – and I had only learned how to open up AfterEffects about ten minutes before finding that training video. There are countless numbers of valid training resources that now use video to train. Can I truly block all streaming to stop March Madness?

All I can hope is that the supervisors stay on the tops of this situation. It isn’t my responsibility to police the staff. All I can do is try to keep an eye on the shared resources and hope that everyone respects that they are all tied together. I’m sure that there will be a day or two when resources are low, but that is what happens in my network. It’s a trade-off for a lower cost of ownership and longer lifespan of my network equipment.

So, this is why I took my first NCAA bracket and filled it out (with help from my Uncle Don who I heard has won several of these in the past and I consider him to be a guru of all sport things). I had also looked up some other resources online and I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going to do a second bracket with some sort of geeky criteria of selecting winners (binary number of mascot names? highest Scrabble word that can be created from the name of the school?)

I did find some interesting sites that I wanted to end this post with. In case you are looking for inspiration for your NCAA March Madness Bracket – Muppet Madness (if they had 64 Muppets, I’d select my muppets and then just transfer that to my NCAA bracket), Meat Madness, and this one.

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