technology: A Window To The Future

The days of the MS DOS-based operating systems, on which most landfill and recycling scale-house applications presently run, are numbered.

Like it or not, the PC operating system of choice for the foreseeable future will be Microsoft Windows-based. Though the jury is still out between Windows 95 (and soon-to-be 97) and Windows NT, it doesn't really matter which one surfaces as the leader. The point is, software developers are writing their applications for both.

One reason why all the latest software products are being developed for Windows systems: Most new PCs are shipped with either Windows 95 or NT operating systems pre-installed. There is a message here, folks: If you want to take advantage of the best software applications and keep up with the incredibly fast pace of software evolution, your eggs better be in Mr. Gates' basket.

But do not feel as if a technological gun has been placed to your head. There are many good things to be gleaned from this investment in the future.

Almost from its inception, the solid waste industry has been driven by compliance requirements of some kind. Typically, this has been in the form of mandated reports by a local, state or federal entity, charged with being the watchdog over such matters. In fact, one of the initial benefits of computerized scale-house systems was automating the reporting process.

If you think MS DOS-based systems were helpful, wait until you see what you can derive from Windows-based applications. While DOS products use plain text and column reporting, Windows products use color, graphics and innovative forms of analysis and creative informational displays.

In many instances, Windows-based applications already may be in place in your operation - such as Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 - that are used for analysis and reporting. The problem is, they are probably re-entering the data produced from an MS DOS-based application, either from tickets or basic reports.

With a Windows-based scale-house application, the process can become automatic, thereby eliminating redundant tasks.

Here is another important factor to consider: Individuals currently receiving their initial computer training are, in most instances, getting it on a Windows-based operating system. A time will come, not too far in the future, where the labor pool of proficient MS DOS users will be slim. Technology evolves, and we evolve with it.

Remember LP albums, turntables, eight-track tapes and players? They were great in their day, but something happened. Technology evolved: Cassette tapes and compact and laser discs became the standard. Recording manufacturers shifted their products accordingly and, soon, no one offered your favorite artist's latest release in the old formats.

The computer software industry is in the midst of a similar technology shift. Don't put yourself in the position down the road of having just a bunch of golden oldies and no way to play the newest stuff.