IT Forms: Machine Profile

Lots of software exists for keeping track of various computers. These software tools all revolve around some sort of database, and have fields for make and model, IP and MAC addresses, Inventory tags, Software installations, and so forth. While some of this software is very slick, it is almost always complex. Updating a central database can be a complicated process of logging in, clicking, typing, clicking, typing, clicking, and logging out. And if a machine is down, it may also involve taking a laptop or a clipboard as an intermediary before the typing and clicking can begin. Surely the D*I*Y Planner mindset can offer a better way.

Read on to see how I use a custom form to get this information out of the database, and into the binder.

One of the more intriguing facets of the back-to-paper movement is how popular it is with people who are normally associated with high technology. Hello, my name is eric. I'm a Systems Administrator. I use paper.

Sysadmins over a certain age recognize the value of keeping copious paper trails. Log files come and go. Databases fail. Wikis go wonky. The term "MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures)" exists to remind you that hard drives have a finite lifespan, and it is measurable, even if the average is in thousands of hours.

Where paper can succeed here is to provide practically permananent, mostly tamper-proof record-keeping of important information. And to a Sysadmin, very little is more important than keeping track of machines.

What I've designed here is a form called the Machine Profile to record vital information about each of the machines under my care (at my present job, about 150). On it are fields for the important physical characteristics (location, 'owner,' make/model), inventory information, and so forth. There are three lines for IP and MAC addresses and several checkboxes for software that is installed on each machine. A large Notes area lets me record free-form tidbits, like service and warranty information, idiosyncrasies, special access information, and the like.

I keep these pages in their own binder on my file cabinet. Each time I have to go visit a machine, the appropriate machine form gets taken out and put on my (now ubiquitous around the Lab) clipboard, providing me with the machine's demographics without the need for an online database, or even a working computer.

machine-profile-letter.pdf27.16 KB
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A4 version

Thank you for making this great form. Do you plan to make an A4 version also?

A4 Version of Machine Profile

I've placed an A4 version of the form here:

There's also a 2up A5 version on A4 paper here: