I’m a fan of Daniel Bogan’s long-running site Uses This, because it follows a really simple four question rubric…
- Who are you and what do you do?
- What hardware do you use?
- And what software?
- What would be your dream setup?
…and poses those same questions over and over again to an interesting slate of people. Just this month he’s had a circus artist, a director, a corporate strategist…and Rebecca Williams, who until recently was a policy analyst for the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of E-Government & Information Technology.
If you ever want to feel lucky about being able to use something as simple as Google’s G Suite for your day to day work, Williams’ interview is worth reading.
As a federal employee, I used a Dell Latitude E7470 with a smartcard reader that supports my federally issued Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credentialing card and an iPhone XR. I couldn’t download any software on either that is not included in a small pre-authorized list without special permission. I couldn’t text or screenshot on the phone.
I used the Microsoft Suite almost exclusively and in surprising ways. For example, I used or observed Outlook for version control policy consensus (in emails, you’d manually strikeout and color removed text red and added text green), Word for JSON editing, Excel for project management, and PowerPoint for data visualization. …
There is a shadow world of “for Gov” software not unlike a Jordan Peele film because of the reasons stated above. The big themes with all of this software are that they’re limited, slow, require workarounds, and are often not interoperable across agencies; death by a thousand papercuts, Kafka vibes for sure.