Letters to the Editor

This letter is in response to your article, “CIOs mull how to compete for IT
talent” [GCN, March 8, Page 50].

The Chief Information Officers Council’s objective to lure information technology
talent is impressive but unrealistic.

For what the Office of Personnel Management considers the average computer applicant,
the basic requirements are a degree in computer science or a certain amount of semester
hours in calculus, statistics and mathematics with some equivalent computer usage.

In my opinion, OPM discriminates against the average computer geek who obtains computer
knowledge in real-life situations and learns by trial and error.

I am one of those geeks with a bachelor’s degree in humanities. I have used my
computer experience, which I gained in the Army and in the private sector, throughout my
career. Another good example of a geek is Bill Gates—a Harvard dropout who is capable
of handling computer functions without a specialized diploma.

I had planned to retire from the Army but was released on a medical discharge. I fought
hard to get into the federal employment system by following the rules, and now that I am
here I want to make the federal government my career.

However, with my [unique] computer background, I am confronted with OPM’s
requirements for computer specialists.

My application might not be considered. How am I supposed to advance myself into a more
challenging federal position involving computers when OPM forgets the regular computer

I do not consider this fair.

Name withheld

In reference to the Power User column on BIOS fixes [GCN, March 15, Page 57], I have two stories to share. First, I have a 1995 vintage 100-MHz
486 PC running Windows for Workgroups 3.11. The BIOS was not Y2K-compliant.

Because I’m a Y2K consultant, I decided to upgrade the BIOS. I did all the usual
research, tracking down the original equipment manufacturer, Award Software Inc. [now part
of Phoenix Technologies Inc. of San Jose, Calif.], via the BIOS initialization string.

When I contacted the vendor for a replacement, I was referred to Unicore Software Inc.
of North Andover, Mass. I furnished the BIOS string and was promised a Y2K-compliant
replacement chip because my BIOS was not flash memory.

The new BIOS chip arrived and installation was a snap. The PC rebooted and recognized
all the proper configurations.

However, all was not well. Over time I noticed certain applications that ran before the
BIOS upgrade did not run under the new BIOS. Nothing major—some MS-DOS games running
under Windows, some multimedia applications and some system utilities.

The point is, no applications should have been affected by the new BIOS. I am now left
to wonder, what next?

I also have a 1992 vintage 33-MHz PC with Windows 3.1. Same story. I don’t recall
the original BIOS vendor, but Unicore said, no problem, based on the initialization

What a nightmare! After about 24 hours of work, and multiple calls to technical support
for more than a week, I gave up.

I just could not get the chip to work in this computer. You can imagine what a chore it
was to reconfigure the PC to put the old chip back.

The bottom line: Not all PC BIOSes are replaceable or upgradeable. Organizations are in
for a really rude awakening as chief information officers follow the pundits’
prevailing advice and attempt to salvage millions of dollars worthof PCs by simply
upgrading their BIOSes.

Neil H. Touchet
Senior consultant
Ajilon Managed Services
Reston, Va.


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