Equipment Evaluation Memo

Manprit Kapoor

Writer’s comment: Thoughout my college career I never quite understood where I would apply the English skills I learned at school. It seemed unlikely that an employer would pay me to to write analyses of books written by people long dead or comment on the socioeconomic effects of American culture on the natives of Papua New Guinea. It was in Professor Squitieri’s 102E —Writing in Engineering class that I learned to apply my skills to the real world. From his Technical Report to the Article Abstract each assignment had clear relevance to my field. The Equipment Evaluation Memo below is a clear example of real world writing since many workers face the situation described within. Thank you, Dr. Squitieri.
—Manprit Kapoor

Belly Button Engineering Consultants



To:   Twills Twin, Engineering Branch Chief
From:   Manprit Kapoor, Electrical Design Engineer
Subject:   Request For Funding to Replace Obsolete Pentium 75 Computer with Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 Laptop
Distribution:   Wael Enan, President
Eric Rico, Vice President of Employee Efficiency
Susan Lee, Vice President of Computer Services
Wendy Li, Vice President of Financial Services

As requested in your memo of 29 April, here is an evaluation of my computer. Below is a description of my computer, an efficiency evaluation, and a recommendation that $1337.55 be allocated for the purchase of a Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 laptop and associated software upgrade licenses.

My current computer was manufactured by Packard Bell and was purchased and installed by the company in June of 1995 under the supervision of Ms. Susan Lee. Its specifications include a 75MHz Pentium I processor, 16 megabytes of RAM, and a 540-megabyte hard drive. My display, also purchased in 1995, has a 15-inch (13.2-inch viewable) VGA screen with a maximum resolution of 640 by 480 pixels.

Currently, my computer use mainly involves circuit simulation with HSPICE, integrated circuit (IC) design with Altera Max+Plus II, large scale vector analysis with MATLAB, and writing reports and memos for English 102E with Microsoft Word. My copies of these computer programs are about four years out of date because my processor speed and RAM no longer meet the minimum requirements of newer versions. Replacing the processor or increasing the amount of RAM is impossible, as my motherboard does not accommodate newer chips.

Furthermore, hard-drive space is at a premium; I have approximately 30 megabytes of free memory available that drops precipitously whenever any program is run. Memory consumption is so high that my excess disk space is being used as virtual memory. In addition, my CPU cooling fan has begun to emit a strange clattering sound that leads me to believe that its life is limited. A replacement fan is not an option since 8-watt coolers are no longer produced. Also, the display has begun to emit a strange, almost sub-sonic, whine that brings fears of imminent implosion.

Efficiency Evaluation
In order to conduct my efficiency studies, I ran each piece of software on a Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 laptop computer with a 1.1 GHz Celeron processor that I borrowed from Danny Lai, Mechanical Design Engineer. The load times of each piece of software are listed in Table I.

Table I: Software Load Times of Celeron vs. Pentium I Processors
(Load times measured in seconds)

Software   Celeron   Pentium I   Difference
HSPICE   10   121   111
MATLAB   5   60   55
MS Word   1   47   47
Max+Plus II   30   183   153

Each program takes an inordinate amount of time to load on the Pentium I. Unload times are comparable. Furthermore, unlike the Toshiba, the Pentium cannot run several programs simultaneously. I have to close whichever program I am currently running before beginning something new. The amount of time wasted is approximately 45 minutes per day. At my current rate of pay ($30 per hour) this amounts to $450 per month or $5400 per year. Moreover, I have to contend with intangibles such as frustration, anger, and lower morale which makes the annual cost much higher, perhaps as much as $8000.

Equipment Comparison
The Toshiba Satellite 1085-S027 Laptop computer is by far more advanced than my current Packard Bell. Table II gives a list of relevant features for both computers.

Table II: Comparison between Toshiba and Backard Bell Systems

Item   Toshiba   Packard Bell
Processor   Intel Celeron @ 1.1GHz   Intel Pentium I @ 75MHz
RAM   256 Megabytes   16 Megabytes
Removable Media   CDRW/DVD combo drive   CD Drive, Floppy Disk Drive
Display   14.1" Diagonal TFT-FP   13.1 Diagonal VGA CRT
Network Connect   56k modem/ NIC card   14.4k modem

As Table II indicates, the Toshiba Satellite is far superior in every aspect to the Packard Bell.

Replacement Cost
Replacement costs are low when compared to current losses. I wish to purchase a Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 laptop computer with a 1.1 GHz Celeron processor much like that used by Mr. Lai. Furthermore, I recommend upgrading my current software, if the purchase is approved. I am content with my current version of MS Word (Word 95) since the features offered in newer editions are unnecessary to my work. However, I wish to obtain upgrade licenses for HSPICE, MATLAB, and Altera Max+Plus II.

Table III summarizes average costs, including taxes and shipping, obtained though leading Internet resellers:

Table III: Replacement Cost Estimate

Item   Cost ($)
Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 laptop   979.23
MATLAB upgrade license   123.43
HSPICE upgrade license   165.29
Max+Plus II upgrade license   69.60

Replacement requires about 5-7 days after an equipment purchase authorization is issued. Ordering will require 30 minutes and since it can be done online, the rest of the time is for shipment and subsequent installation.

I recognize that Belly Button Engineering is currently undergoing a difficult time; we are in the midst of a recession and competition from Backstreet Boys Engineering and Abdel-Gaffar Consultants has decimated our profits. However, being able to run the latest programs faster will make my job more efficient and will also reduce our overall costs. My needs are modest, and the savings generated will offset the final cost in approximately three months and then will generate a profit that will surely please our beleaguered president.

Thus, I solicit your consideration of the following recommendations:

[1] The Financial Services Division should apportion $979.23 for the purchase of a Toshiba Satellite 1805-S207 laptop computer with a 1.1 GHz Celeron processor similar to that purchased for Danny Lai.

[2] The Financial Services Division should allocate an additional $358.32 for HSPICE, Altera Max+Plus II, and MATLAB upgrade licenses.

[3] Christina Aguilera, Wendy Li’s secretary, should be assigned my replaced computer because if it is, in her words, ‘good enough’ for me it must be fabulous for her.

I am available to discuss any questions or concerns you might have about my recommendations at any time. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.