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My Briefcase

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The Minister of Finance walked majestically into parliament to deliver 2020/2021 budget carrying a briefcase. It is a long-time tradition. In Britain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer dramatises it by using a craggy piece of briefcase. This reminded me about My Briefcase or Briefcase in Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft introduced My Briefcase in Windows 95. The philosophy behind the Briefcase was to digitise the real-life briefcase. How did it work?

If you needed to carry work home, all you had to do was to move My Briefcase folder to a floppy drive and drag into it all the files you needed to continue working on the home computer.

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Instead of carrying a briefcase full of printed documents, you only carried a ‘weightless’ floppy disk. While at home, you would open the files from My briefcase folder and start working. When you took the floppy back to the office and loaded it onto the office computer, My Briefcase would update the files on your computer to reflect the changes that you had made on them the previous night.

If you had a laptop and work network, all you needed was to copy the files you required onto My Briefcase folder on your laptop from a network location and disconnect the laptop. In the comfort of your house, you could continue working on your laptop offline. While at the office the next morning, your network location files would be updated to reflect the changes you made once you connected the laptop to the network. To be technologically correct, that is called synchronisation.

My Briefcase migrated to Windows 98, ME, Vista and 7. However, it was deprecated in Windows 8 and was disabled in the early releases of Windows 10. With a few keystroke moves in the registry, you could always bring back Briefcase in Windows 10. You no longer can bring back My Briefcase if you are running latest updates of Windows 10 because Microsoft decided to completely remove it.

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My Briefcase was useful in those days because the internet was not as fast and reliable as it is today. Windows Briefcase has been superseded by Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s One Drive. You can configure your DropBox account in multiple devices today.

What does this mean? The Minister of Finance does not need to have the IT guys upload the budget statement on his laptop or tablet. With a well configure ministry’s DropBox account, all the minister has to do is to open the DropBox folder on his laptop, tablet or smartphone and the budget statement will present itself to him, regardless where he is; London, Paris or Zomba.

What am I trying to say? The finance minister does not need the real-life briefcase or Windows Briefcase. Members of Parliament need not get hard copies of the budget. Why should they? Parliament is wired and MPs are usually supplied with laptops.

Honourable Members of Parliament and ministers, welcome to the information age.

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