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I disagree too. My grandfather died of cancer when I was young and he spent A LOT of time with me those last few years. I look back and I know he did it to pass some wisdom on to the next generation, but unfortunately it's thirty years later and my memory of that stuff is pretty thing. The stuff I remember isn't as much as I want it to be. There were also some things I was just too young to understand and I wish he would have had a way to let me know. I love the book idea above - I really wish I knew what he enjoyed reading. He also had some pretty formative events in his life and I wish I knew what he thought of those.
Now, just be realistic - record these videos late at night after she's gone to bed or in school.
Do you really want more efficiency? Even the simplest technology adoption would help immensely help that group of self-serving luddites. How about using email to mail copies of documents in advance of actual signed copies? How about using electronic records for managing cases? How about sharing information between jurisdictions? How about better surveillance equipment so we can simply have better evidence? WHOA.. wait.. maybe not some of those.. Hm.. maybe this is a slippery slope and you should be careful what you wish for.
If you can't afford to pay for a real solution, you should be prepared to invest an exceptional amount of time in a custom solution, most of which you probably won't bill them for. If they can afford to pay you the proper consulting amount, then they should pay for the right software. If you're willing to dedicated an exceptional amount of time, you can make something like SVN work. To do it with something like SVN - to do the training, to set up the automation, etc - it will likely take WAY longer than you think. And then it will likely fail. Or, it will work and you will be forced to support this until the end of time. If you're getting paid, that's awesome. If you're not, it sucks.
So what I recommend is:
- stay away from this project if they won't pay the right amount for a solution
- kindly recommend that they use Google Drive. It's dumb, it's simple, it provides some extra backup for them for cheap. Let them set it up. (Note: there may be regulations involved that prevent them from using a service like that. IANAL.)
If your boss or the CEO is asking for this - great. Go do it. That's your job. (The RFID comments seem in the right ballpark.)
If a mid-level manager or you is taking this on as a pet project, then you need to do some soul searching. This doesn't seem to have much immediate benefit to the bottom line of the company. This doesn't drive revenue creation and it doesn't drive product development. Almost every time I hear someone say, "We need to track X", I rarely ever hear someone else say, "Get me the statistics on X". Tracking shit is easy, crunching the numbers to calculate metrics isn't. If this is simply compliance tracking, listen to the guy who says to install cameras and then dump it to a crapload of drives. If there's an audit, hand over the video and let the auditors sort it out.
There is a whole lot of not-your-job in here and very little hero making to be done.
My early years on a computer were spent cracking the DRM (I think we just called it copy protection back then) on Commodore video games and sharing them with friends. It was fun and a good learning experience.
What would have likely landed me in juvey today or possibly jail though was when we discovered the Anarchist Cookbook. We had an AP chemistry teacher who was really cool and we used to try to work out some of the formulas for some of the explosives found in there... so we could "improve" them. I distinctly remember one night being out in the middle of a farmer's field with something consisting of cotton balls soaked in something, stuffed inside newspaper and diesel fuel. A curious sheriff showed up and some how believed we were doing a science experiment for class. (Probably because most people building bombs don't pull out sheets of chemical equations to show off.) We also used to buy black powder, ground it, build into various kinds of pipe bombs along with custom fuses.
In college I fell in love with Sun workstations and loved using in the engineering labs. Workstations all in use? Compile a fork bomb and crash SunOS. Need to start your own business? Acquire some university server space for hosting. Need some fake ID's? Get access to the lab with the Tektronix dye sub color printer.
1. You don't seem to be the one in control of this project. So, you are stuck on this path. Or, do you have the political capital and will to fight to get your way? You're seriously going to piss in someone's Wheaties and when you're standing in the shower in the morning, you better have a smile on your face knowing it's worth it.
2. You work for a major HVAC manufacturer. That's the most exciting thing you can do with your life? It would make me want to slit my wrists every day with a spoon.
3. You have to re-do these applications and make the data integrity robust. That means seriously looking at things like where you can get the most benefit for least amount of cost and/or where the data integrity is shit. "Oh, Jim manages our entire Northwest supply chain and inventory using that Excel spreadsheet he keeps on his desktop." I don't care if you use and Oracle product to get there or a cloud-based, super-redundant shade of the color blue. The only thing your boss's boss cares about is whether you a) prevent the company from losing money or b) make the company more money.
4. Speaking about data center room makes you sound like a systems or support person. This is an application and developer thing.
5. I'm not sure I understand where your pain points are. Customer relationship management? Supply chain? Inventory? Quality control? Payroll/HR? Quantify.
6. Do they pay you enough to worry about this? That might seem flippant, but it's very valid.
I find it a bit ironic that Microsoft has helped usher in this huge digital age where none of us really want to "own" digital content any more. We don't rush out to buy CD's any more, we subscribe to music services or stream Pandora. We don't go out and purchase DVD's, we subscribe to Netflix or rent some viewing via iTunes.
Yet, despite some little things like Office 365, Microsoft still makes its bread and butter via selling software to OEM's and volume customers that runs on hardware, both of which many of us are increasingly not wanting to own. I f*cking hate installing an OS on a server and then making sure the damn thing stays running. I'd much rather rent the VM in the cloud. Even better, just let me subscribe to your web service.