How many computers do I need to get my job done?


When I was new to Microsoft, I new that my first goal was to collect as much hardware as possible.  I figured that with more computers, I could do more cool stuff. 


With two development machines, I could work on two problems at once.  If one machine was running a build, the other one would be available. 


If I’m not sure that today’s drop is good, I only have to roll the dice on one machine, and keep working on the other.


Maybe I could implement distributed builds.  With 20 machines, even slow ones, maybe I could build in a fraction of the time. 


Then a dedicated machine for email, web browsing, etc., since the dev machines were often corrupted, being rebooted, or had their CPUs fully loaded.


And another machine as a file share, which would never be rebooted, to share out my batch files & utilities to the other machines.  I didn’t want to work to keep them in sync.


And another to run as a rolling build over our sources, which helped the team find build breaks more quickly.


To keep the noise in my office from getting out of hand, I checked out Terminal Services for Windows NT4.  I started pushing these machines out of my office, into a lab upstairs.  My office ended up with just a single, low-powered machine, with 2 video cards.


I also implemented an automated checkin verification system for the team to use.  It has grown to ~35 machines, that run a series of builds and tests over every checkin.  They’re certainly NOT in my office; I TS to them remotely.



These days, I also use a laptop.  I go to a lot more meetings.  I use my laptop on the bus to/from work.  It makes it easy to take work home, and I can keep up with email while watching a movie. 


But sometimes I leave the laptop at home.  Or I need something with more CPU power.  So, I still have a dedicated email machine at work.


Then my manager gave unto me a new Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC.  I like it a lot.  I started to use it, but I keep finding things that are on my old laptop.


I’ve been thinking about how much the stuff in my life creates a drain on me.  I have some stuff I don’t use, and that I should of course get rid of.  But there’s other stuff that I do use, and maybe should get rid of, too.  (All my life I’ve been in ‘acquire’ mode, so this will take getting used to.)


Can I get rid of some of my machines?  What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work?


Here’s my goal:



Get rid of the laptop.


Use the Tablet PC for email, browsing, listening to music.


My dev machine has 3 displays, get rid of 2.


Keep the file server where it is.  It requires near-0 effort for me, and it adds a lot of value.


Stop using the dedicated mail machine.  I’ll keep it on for a while, just in case, but try not to use it.  In a couple weeks, I’ll turn it off.  



What’s next?