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The Well Tempered Desktop

This page describes the Well Tempered Desktop -- the hardware, and mainly the software, that is more or less the minimum configuration that folks need to have on their desktop in order to fully exploit the potentials of emerging information systems. Additional stuff that is needed for website construction and maintenance is inventoried on the Cyber Tools page. This page is under continuous development, and your comments and suggestions to the CyberStrategy Project are most welcome.

Our rating system is as follows:

Platform Hardware

The new capabilities offered by current state-of-the-art computers will provide significant improvements in organizational capabilities. Over time, "computationally challenged" organizations will increasingly lose comparative advantage in the competition for effectiveness (and therefor funding). Most of our older computers can no longer be upgraded further, and require replacement. They are simply inadequate to the challenges and opportunities at hand, all of which require effective operation in a Windows environment. Many current machines either are incapable of running Windows, or run it very slowly. A 40 MHz 386 CPU is at least two generations behind the current standard (the 200 MHz "586" Pentium). Few people consider a 386 to be anything more than a fancy typewriter, a 486 is a minimum, a pentium with Windows 95 is standard (except for those of us who are Mac holdouts and believe that a 8100/100 PowerPC is the machine of the future.)

Desktop Configurations





Price $1,850 $3,100 $4,500
Processor 133-MHz Pentium 200-MHz Pentium 200-MHz Pentium Pro
Hard Drive 2.1 GB 3.2 GB 4.3 GB
Backup 1.6/3.2 GB Tape
Video Card 2 MB DRAM 2 MB EDO 4 MB VRAM
Monitor 15" LS 17" LS 20" TD
Sound Card SoundBlaster 16
Speakers Altec Lansing ACS90
UPS Power APC BackOffice 250VA
Modem 33.6 US Robotics
Service 3-year onsite

Applications Software

Its hard to imagine, but back in the old daze if you had some app on your desktop in addition to a word processor you were a real power user, and now its hard to avoid a situation in which your desktop is so cluttered with apps that you can't even remember what half this stuff is supposed to do, even.

Special Applications

This stuff is not for everyone, and you may have your own special list [please send us your suggestions] but these are a few of our own personal favorites, and are illustrative of the sorta stuff that is out there these daze.


The problem you gotta wrap yourself around is that although your desktop kinda looks like a typewriter with a small TV set, in reality if you could hop into a time machine and go blast to the past, say the sixties, your lil ole desktop would probably be about the most powerful computer ever known to western civilization -- putting even the mighty supercomputers [of the time] to shame [and if not, you gotta go get yourself a new desktop, cause the times they are a changin]. What this means, in dog years, is that there are now a whole bunch of utilities that you need, both for the care and feeding of your computer [its your friend, and if you take care of it, it will take care of you, one way or the other], as well as for just sorta generally doing business here in the technological vastness of the future [its electric, so live it or live with it...].

Web Browsers

Netscape Plug-Ins and Helper Applicatons

As we are recommending the latest version of Netscape as our web browser of choice, the helper applications listed below should also be looked at. You can download most of these cheap or free from the Netscape site. These utilities are invoked by Netscape when it encounters a specfic file type such as a sound, image, or movie file. If you do not have the extension installed as a Netscape extension, the file will not be able to be read. Some of the current Netscape extensions we use are:

Other Online Clients


Some non-trivial fraction of this stuff can be downloaded as shareware, which means you can try it for free for a while, and then if you like it you send the author a few dozen bucks for their trouble. In other cases, these sites provide downloads of time-limited or otherwise somewhat impaired demonstrations of the software. The major sources of shareware include:

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Maintained by John Pike
Updated Monday, December 30, 1996