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IT bods should be struck off if they create too many dodgy computer systems, according to Microsoft's UK national technology officer. Speaking to ZDNet yesterday, Jerry Fishenden, Microsoft's key government liaison, said something needs to be done if the IT profession is to earn the respect of normal people. "If you look at …

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Right! So Ballmer is first?

"IT bods should be struck off if they create too many dodgy computer systems, according to Microsoft's national technology officer."

Who came up with the concept of changing the user interface on every release of MS Windows, or MS Office? It costs roughly US$15,000 per computer user per interface (e.g., changing from WinXP with Office 2003 to WinVista with Office 2007 is two interface changes, ergo, US$30,000) in lost productivity while the user figure out where the idiots in Redmond hid the controls *this* time (not to mention turning off all the "gee-whiz" useless crap that burns up CPU cycles without adding anything useful).

So, whoever it was that decided to Office 2007 should work differently (at the user interface level) to Office 2003 is going to cost my employer roughly US$975,000 when we're forced to switch. (We're a fairly small firm, in spite of having 85% of the market in our field.)

Seems to me it would be cheaper to switch to OpenOffice. Hmmm.

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Anonymous Coward

Pot calling kettle

What! This coming from the company that brought us software with more bugs than the Amazon rain forest. IE, Office, XP, etc.

You'll need to fix your own bug first before you earn the right to tell the rest of the world how to behave.

What a cheek!

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Pot? Kettle?...

... 20 minutes to delete a file.

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Nice to have

Here in Italy, an attempt to have some regulatory board for the IT profession botched years ago.

As a result, wannabees and others still plague the IT world.

In addition those guys/gals usually prove to be cheaper than a real professional, and here you go, they are in, you are out.

By the way, I am happy for those that enjoy the new wave of IT spending across Europe. If you have some spare, please send'em here - address available on request.

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Taking this to it's logical conclusion...

...I wonder if Jerry Fishenden and the rest of M$ would be in favour of an IT equivalent of NICE: a body that could sanction (or not) the use of particular software. Fistula value for money anyone?

Oh no, silly me, that would be too similar to requiring the likes of M$ to warrant their software as 'fit for purpose', something they've always resisted.

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People in glass houses...

Perhaps they might have a point if they didn't release dodgy code that barely follows their own standards. Granted, the quality and support by Microsoft has improved, but there are still many areas that are poorly documented, buggy and badly supported. i.e. Vista, or programming a file system or exchange gateway....

What Microsoft really object to are people producing a high support cost, by using their systems in ways that should have been anticipated, or that are theoretically valid, but aren't 'the official Microsoft way' and thus break badly *cough* using RRAS on a DC..

It also doesn't help that people aren't prepared to pay for fully tested and certified software, let alone abide by the timescales required to create it.

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Anonymous Coward

in my darker hours...

I wonder if it's not part of the M$ strategy to deliberately build dodgy "easy to use" systems. This requires loads of mediocre IT spods running around cleaning up after it.

Now mass of mediocrity has their livelihood dependent on M$. And they in turn promote buying mediocre software with "Loadz a Wizards"...

Poor unwitting dupes.

The golden days of Novell was "If you can figure out how to install it, you'll certainly configure it correctly" :-)

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Already been done...

Nearly every vendor has a "certification" of competence program in place. Even Microsoft, with the MSCE and other certifications.

The problem: *ANYONE* can take a "cram course" to pass the exams without actually learning the detailed information that is required. And, to make matters worse, re-certification when new features are added, is generally only provided much after the fact - too late to remove the cram boyz from the department until after the damage is done.

Finally, to add insult to the injury these certifications already do: most vendors look at their certification program not as a way to increase the quality of support for their products, but as an incremental revenue stream. In my field (data warehouse), the vendor I work with most charges about US$1000 for all the tests required for their top certification...BUT...these include information that is *NOT* covered in depth in the vendor's own documentation. In order to "pass" for certified, you ALSO need to attend several vendor provided education classes - at the cost of US$1500-3000 per class per person. And that assumes that the outsourced teachers remember to cover the "secret sauce" needed for the exams.

Or you can take a US$2500 "cram" course and have a 90% chance of passing the exam.

See where this has gone?

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CISSP

I hold a CISSP. Fat load of good that's done me. I know plenty of paper MCSEs and CCNAs, so certification doesn't imply qualification.

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Silver badge

shot in foot..

again. m$ are doing an excellent job of teaching all IT professionals NOT to take them at all seriously. m$ to me, have always been a bit of a joke. Now m$ are rapidly becoming a big joke. Only the joke is not at all funny.

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MCSE's

Have always been worthless, I mean MS has refused to teach any of these guys anything in the CLI, and made the world believe that Windows98 was not running on top of DOS... Also the fact that they flooded the market with MCSE's, the certification became worthless (which why I didn't bother)..

Microsoft are good at shooting from the mouth, and then with a shotgun to the foot....

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Obviously M$ want us all certified...

...Microsoft certified. Think of all the money they'd rake in!

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He's hinting at the truth

There's an element of truth in what he says. Not literally, but in terms of Windows Administrators.

As a Windows Administrator (as well as Linux servers and Mac clients, although WinNT is my core) I see and hear of so many people that because they know what the registry is and have used CMD to ping a server they think they know what they are doing with Windows.

The world of OSS is very different... because the usability is crap. (I'm not knocking OSS, some of the software is 1st rate). Because OSS is so hard to use, particually at a technical level the home IT "professionals" ignore it and don't bother. So you get a load of people who after 'tweaking' the registry on a WinXP box and have a BT Home Hub setup call them selves Windows Network Administrator.

The problem is a lot of them are crap, mainly due to the ease of use with Windows compared to other plaforms. (open or not)

From my point of view, I can see MS trying to change this. Comments above, introducing Windows PowerShell and Windows Server 2008 Core (no UI at all!!!!!) are all indications that MS has had enough of the bad rep it gets compared to a lot of the OSS movement. How do they start to change this rep? By stopping stupid home users who can setup a simple wi-fi box from blagging their way into Network Management and Administration in a Windows environment.

If the enterprise side of Microsoft's business is as hard to get into as Novell's then it won't get as many home users playing with it's OS in a corporate environment.

Windows Administration consists of:

(Stupid home user pretending they can network x 100) + Experienced and knowledgable real Network Admin = a lot of incorrectly configured WinNT Networks with MS getting the blame.

Microsoft is acknowledging this and is trying to stop the blaggers from jumping into WinNT admin without knowing what they are doing. As everyone knows, the majority of downtime is caused by human error. Get a more experienced and knowledable human behind the console and you get less downtime. Less downtime on Windows Server = less slagging off from OSS advocates about Windows and less bad press for MS.

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Certification

Yes, we all know how accurate those tests are. Back in the day, I got (but turned down) a very nice offer from a government agency (natch) based on my score on the Civil Service D.P. exam. By the third question it was apparent that the test had been written by someone who hadn't seen a computer since 1963 (it was 1971 at the time), so I, having attended a backwater college with old equipment, just answered each question as if EBCDIC, System 360, decent-size disk drives, etc. didn't exist. Pity the poor souls who had gone to better schools.

I wonder if it's _still_ handy to know what "Twelve-edge, face up" means. :-)

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First get rid of the fear-mongers and idiot-callers

IT people need to stop treating average folks like idiots, no matter how much we want to do so. We need to stop scaring people into spending money. The fear-monger is a perfect example of an "IT bodger."

Unless you're also an auto mechanic on the side, you the IT person should think about how you feel every time you take your car in for service. Think about what the mechanic's job is; often it's to scare you into buying replacement parts to boost their commissions. Anti-virus vendors envy these guys for the amount of technobabble they can spew.

After you've put yourself on the receiving end of this kind of abuse a few times, you'll find it easier to not abuse your own clients, friends and family. Maybe then you'll get the respect you otherwise deserve for your expertise.

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CISSP

@Dillon, is this true? Your CISSP worthless? I am studying for such and hope to qualify before the end of the year. Am I wasting my time? I do actually know a thing or two. I have no paper quals/certs but around 12 years experience from 1st line support to IT manager, explains why I hate m$. Mind you I must thank them for something, their naff software has kept me in Smarties, paid the rent etc. etc.

Sorry Reg for hijacking your comments thread.

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No experience necessary

I see on TV companies advertising training courses to become MSCE, with "No experience necessary". Doesn't this take the gloss off the whole certification/accreditation process?

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Experience doesn't always equal competence

I just got my 2003 MCSE, it took 11 months of studying and I'm pleased to have done it. Of course, I get a few remarks from other engineers with 15 years experience compared to my 3 years who regard themselves as Windows experts because they've been working on it since 3.1 and Novell days and band around the term 'Paper MCSE'. Obviously, having an MCSE is no comparison to their years/wealth of experience... Until of course you need to actually fix the underlying cause of Active Directory and DNS problems, in which case you quickly find that these 'experts' have actually been bodging systems for 15 years and no no-one can tell them any better because after they finish the system is 'usable' again, for a few minutes anyway. I have seen some truly scary things from engineers with years of experience on their CV's; I think its a good idea that incompetence should be rooted out of the industry, as although we might not be directly responsible for life/death situations like doctors think about fire and ambulance Command and Control systems like the ones I work on.

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Anonymous Coward

BCS already exists as a professional body

The British Computer Society (www.bcs.org) already exists as a professional body for IT people in the UK and elsewhere. I looked at their code of conduct years ago and decided not to bother making any effort to join. Why? I concluded I'd have been fired from too many contracts if I'd insisted on sticking to that code.

Industry always views the cost of IT as far to high, and value people who just bodge up something that works in the shortest possible time. Even if you spell out the risk in security shortcuts, it's usually assessed as being lower business risk than the other risks inherent in a project. That will continue to be the case until legislation requiring significant compensation to people whose personal info gets compromised exists - and has been successfully used a few times.

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Anonymous Coward

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!

I agree with Jerry Fishenden.

I would email him to express my support, but the latest batch of Vista Ultimate/Office2007 updates left me unable to connect to my smtp server.

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"License," not "Certificate."

This is not about certificates of accomplishment. It's about professional standing, which can be revoked for "bad behavior."

In the US, a Certified Engineer is licensed to perform certain work in the relevant field. For instance, he or she could sign off on a bridge design, essentially giving a personal guarantee that the design is sound and meets all standards. Licensed Electricians operate the same way: most electrical work must be signed for by an Electrician.

If a CE approves a flawed design, he can lose his license. If an Electrician signs off on an improper wiring job that later causes a fire, that can be the end of her career.

I think that the computer support field more closely resembles that of auto repair. As with auto mechanics, skilled computer support is a "journeyman trade" that requires years of experience and certain basic skills. Manufacturers (vendors) certify technicians for specific makes, which is nice but is really necessary only for warranty work. Because consumers can't easily identify the skilled techs from the dangerous ones, a certain amount of incompetence persists in the industry.

Auto repair has reputable vendor-neutral industry certifications, such as ASE Mechanic. That day may not be far off for computer repair. Without government oversight (and insurance industry pressure), I doubt we'll see Licensing Boards.

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1980's printers

You guys sound like 1980s print workers.

They had a good thing going where instead of producing the paper directly from the journos text in the computer, they went through lots of utterly uneccesary processes to employ the maximum number of *skilled* people. Who had to be union members.

Your ideas (like taking out the GUI and make people use a CLI) are following exactly the same track and going to end up the same way.

Basically, you should be able to tell a computer system what you want to do using as simple an interface as possible and it should do it - whether you've got a Gold Swimming Certificate with Oak Leaves or not.

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First against the wall when the revolution comes

"IT bods should be struck off if they create too many dodgy computer systems, according to Microsoft's national technology officer."

That would be anyone who creates an IT infrastructure based on Microsoft Windows, then?

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And Microsoft are the biggest bodgers of them all...

It's true there are quite a few folks working in IT that are fairly useless, however firstly can I point out that M$ are the biggest bodgers of them all, we see it every month when they patch up the bodges they've made in the OSs and Office releases.

Further to this most 'bodges' occur because companies can't afford to do the job correctly. Why? Well I'd suggest that M$ or "A N Other IT Company" are simply charging too much, i.e the job needs to be done but the gain is lost by the cost of the IT. This doesn't affect large companies so much, but small companies simply can't afford M$ et al prices. So we end up doing the best we can with what we've got, be that second rate M$ software, or even worse a Pirate copy.

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Sounds like a good idea...

But the best programmer I ever met was a fully qualified toolmaker, the

best DBA I ever met started out at IBM as a fork lift truck driver.

Conversly the two worse screwups I ever worked with held CS degrees.

So until IT qualifications actually bare some relation to the skills reqired to develop real systems in the real world I think we can put this on hold.

On the other hand it might be a good idea to ban the government's favorate IT consultancy^h^h^h^h^h^h^h biller.

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thanks for the debate ...

Good to see the debate this is provoking. Tom at ZDnet was originally questioning me about senior IT management - and why "so many IT projects fail". And, equally, why senior IT management doesn't do a better job of explaining their successes too (although media fascination with bad news stories certainly plays a part).

Many so-called "IT failures" are actually more accurately project management failures. But there are times when clearly errors are made in programme delivery - and if we do want IT to be regarded as a profession (there's certainly enough talk about it), how do we make that happen?

Jerry (http://ntouk.com)

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Silver badge

GUI vs CLI admin tools

Being able to set-up most (if not all) things using a GUI is a bonus, and I use yast and sax regularly to administrate Linux machines. However, for many (especially repetitive) tasks command lines can be very handy. Besides, both under windows and linux I have found that GUIs all have limitations/errors which can only be detected and handled by in-depth knowledge of how things work under the hood, and manually editing configuration files. Ideally the GUI should be able to handle all cases, but bugs and incomplete modelling of what the sysadmin might want in the GUI's design prevent this from becoming a reality.

Essentially GUIs are excellent for everyday, well understood tasks, but run into problems when some real problem occurs which is beyond the GUI's administration model. It is precisely under unusual circumstances that really good sysadmins are separated from the bodgers, hence the former's "addiction" to the CLI.

One good set of arguments against "cram courses" is given (in the context of learning to program) in the brilliant piece by Peter Norvig "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years" (http://norvig.com/21-days.html). People all to easily think you can attain progamming/admin skills within 10 days, but to learn ANYTHING really well you need several years.

Cheers

Michael

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Anonymous Coward

Thats microsoft Struck off then

So lets watch microsoft form the front of the Q then.

Once microsoft goes then the overall quality of the industry will nearly double over night

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Bodging

Perhaps if Microsoft made a reliable and consistent OS, qualified and experienced (or both) engineers alike wouldn't need to bodge the damned thing to make it work properly in the first place.

I have lost count of the number of times the OS behaves differently based on identical installations on identical hardware.

Steve

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Anonymous Coward

Who are the real bodgers here?

Well, let's just have a look around for some really high-profile IT cockups (late, grotesquely over budget, failing to fulfil basic functionality etc.). Ah, Government.

NHS National Programme for IT, National Offender Management Service, Child Support Agency, MOD payroll....etc. ad infinitum.

The large Consultancies (you know who you are) had better look out! M$ has you in their sights and is going to force you to become competant.

Just kidding, they're only after a new way of diverting blame to the poor bloke at the coalface, carry on peeing the money up the wall.....

TeeCee

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Anonymous Coward

Pointless arguments

Why does everything get boiled down to the Microsoft is crap mindset? It doesn't even answer the question. The biggest project fuckup I ever worked on was a £6 million database project that involved Oracle and ran on Sun. That wasn't one bit of MS involved. The project ran for three years and delivered absolutely nothing. It was the supposed "experts" from Oracle who should hand themselves in. To say their system was a bodge wouldn't even do it justice. In my experience the more money spent on a bodged IT project the less likely it is to be a Microsoft product. I wouldn't even like to calculate how much money is wasted globally on disasterous Oracle, SAP, Peoplesoft and similar projects.

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Anonymous Coward

Vendor Liability

So make vendors liable for their bad products.

The test of whether someone is a bodger is 'DOES HE MAKE BODGES'. Any certificate the BCS gives is worthless, since the bulk of the larger government contractors have BCS membership, but they are also the ones that make systems that do 1 transaction every 6 seconds....

It's a poor measure of bodgers. If anything BCS membership correlates to a government contract bodger, best avoided.

MCSEs indicates the person will try to use Microsoft software even if it's not the best choice. Also a bad sign.

So make vendors liable and they'll soon make sure every employee is fit for the job, not just the programmers but also the managers that can trip them up with their conflicting requests, and sales people who lie about stuff then expect the engineer to make the product fit the lie.

As someone points out higher up. Vendor liability is all the way through every other industry, why not IT software development?

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Anonymous Coward

Windows for Warships

"... no public demand for IT spods to be legally certified, all the while their cock-ups caused no more harm than wasted tax money. How far would Harold Shipman have got with a modem and some crack codes?"

Now because your server's poorly configured you're not going to wear a body bag unless it's running Windows for warships... [standard BSOD line here]

Botched MoD-IT similarly leads to less cash available for life-saving/protecting kit like armoured cars and body armour.

Wasted millions on NHS-IT means less cash for Healthcare professionals and medcines. That can be shown to lead to less life-saving interventions.

Yes. the line between cause and effect is smudged but money is a scarce resource for UK government.

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Anonymous Coward

Symantec Bodgers

Does this also apply to software giants like Symantec. Check this out!

http://securityblog.itproportal.com/?p=889

- - - - - -

I was seriously less than impressed to read yesterday that millions of Chinese PC users have been hit by a faulty AV software update from Symantec.

According to reports from the Chinese state media last night, an automatic update to the Chinese version of the Norton anti-virus software sent out last Friday identified two critical Windows XP files as malware and deleted them.

As a result, millions of Chinese PC users have had to re-install their operating systems or, if they have planned ahead (and are lucky), used the RESTORE function from the XP emergency recovery menu.

China Daily says that many companies are threatening to sue Symantec for large sums of money for lost working time. Symantec has reportedly made formal apology on Wednesday.

This isn’t the first time Symantec/Norton applications have caused serious problems for punters. It happened to me three years ago (along with many other users) forcing me a re-installed of the operating system.

It’s one of the reasons by I don’t use Symantec’s IT security bloatware. The other reason is that the software seems to seriously hog system resource.

This latest escapade only serves to confirm the logic of my previous decision to ditch Symantec’s IT security bloatware

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A Bodger is someone who chooses bodges when they're not needed

Sometimes, bodges are needed. Either there is no time to do it 'the proper way', no money, political angles or the software/hardware simply *does not work* (tried switching certain Netgear adapters into PAE mode recently?). A professional is someone who bodges when they must, knows the tradeoff with a bodge, but implements the correct solution the remainder of the time.

Let's be accurate here : the majority of the time systems do work, and it's the fault of the bodger for not understanding basic concepts and implementing incorrectly. Unfortunately in the remainder of cases the cause is obscure, illogical, poorly documented, difficult to debug, badly logged and requires a vendor support call or substantial amounts of googling to resolve.

It also doesn't help that a large amount of IT infrastructure is seen as a cost, rather than a benefit by flawed managers. Networking, backup, security, file serving, mail and anti virus generate no direct, easily identified income and thus finding the resource to implement it properly can be difficult. The cost of *not* implementing a system is, of course, often not considered.

The 'easy' items should be made easier, and the 'hard' items should be made harder. If blithely choosing the defaults is likely to cause problems later in a significant number of cases, it shouldn't be possible to do so. Sometimes things should be made to be difficult, so that people are forced to implement them correctly and pay the going rate for someone who understands the system, rather than paying for a bodger.

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Culpability in Software License Agreements?

If Software License Agreements didn't systematically close every conceivable loophole of culpability, maybe developers would take this issue more seriously.

As it is, we see that MS and most other companies expect people to click 'agree' under a document which says "no matter what happens, it's not our fault". (GPL and the like are obvious exceptions, where it's more like "no matter what happens, anyone can go ahead and fix it").

That contributes to the kind of "shit happens" attitude which would be unacceptable in professions like medicine, teaching, law and so on.

If MS is serious about this, they should lead the way and take responsibility, instead of just blaming their developer community.

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Anonymous Coward

GPL no guarantee either

The GPL guarantees absolutely nothing in terms of either software quality or your ability fix it. I think it's section 11 of the GPL that says whatever happens, no matter how bad, you're on your own. As far as Microsoft are concerned it isn't just them, it's every software company that will not accept liability for their software. Sun go even further with Java and say you must not use it on safety critical systems. Say what you like about Microsoft there is no doubt they take security orders of magnitude more seriously than they did five or six years ago. If developers write poor software that undermines the OS, they're hardly to blame.

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