* Posts by Erik4872

298 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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Uber lost $7m a DAY in the first half of this year

Erik4872
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Re: Nobody is looking at how the executives spend money on themselves.

This this this!!!

Any time you want to predict the top of a bubble or a company's inflection point from growth to decline, it's one of these indicators:

- Executives buying corporate jets if they didn't have one already

- Lavish spending on conferences, etc. for senior management

- Buying or renting a new headquarters (see Sun for an example of that one.)

Also, people forget that executive compensation isn't limited to money or stock. Companies routinely give "loans" to execs for real estate purchases, which are conveniently forgiven later on. They pay for expensive cars, "business dinners," private security forces, family vacations, etc.

I don't know why more people don't just form corporations and funnel all their personal expenditures through them. I did IT support for executives of a large company way back in the day, and it was not uncommon to see their secretaries processing massive expense reports covering things that were obviously personal expenses.

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Erik4872
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Make it up in volume!

Yes, it's 1999 all over again, but this might actually work out for them. I already hear people say they're "Ubering" somewhere or "calling an Uber." If they can put so much pressure on Lyft that they fold, they have a near monopoly on disruptive phone-based ride-sharing service, _and_ Kleenex-level brand recognition.

Better to do this now, before the big IPO happens and those cranky investors won't let the company spend any money that isn't guaranteed to return 1000% in less than a month.

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HPE sharpens knife for next salami-slicing staff redundo round

Erik4872
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Re: It's worse than you think

Not sure what's going on at HPE these days, but haven't the paper pusher types pretty much been let go by now? Having dealt with them as a customer, I do know there are way too many account execs, etc. But I thought HP got rid of 30,000 staff. Isn't that basically all of EDS, where I'm sure most of the paper pushers came from?

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Microsoft bins Azure RemoteApp, says go with Citrix instead

Erik4872
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This is actually good news

The entire Azure space is very confusing right now. Microsoft is trying with all their might to get people onto Azure AD -- just click here and you have Office 365! -- and Azure RemoteApp was to be one of the key ways to do it. The only problem is that you needed a proprietary client (last time I checked,) an Azure AD account, and the apps you publish had to run on the latest version of Windows, essentially unmodified.

The problem is that 99% of users who require RemoteApp/Citrix have at least 1 or 2 "senior" applications that don't perform well without a million tweaks, app compat shims, etc. Azure RemoteApp didn't give control over the individual VMs, so it was basically a way to serve up Office. In addition, the real hardcore Citrix users (healthcare and banking) tend to have really crazy application requirements, making traditional XenApp and traditional AD the solution, even if you deploy it in Azure.

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IT security pro salaries: Silicon Valley? You'd be better off in Minneapolis

Erik4872
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Established companies vs. hipster startups?

Having worked in a non-security position for large companies, but having lots of IT security friends, the difference is the type of employee termed "security professional." In established companies, these people are the ones responsible for "real" security like PII, PCI, etc. for companies with millions of customers. They're the ones who get fired when the company has to give out free credit monitoring for a year in exchange for not improving their security. In hipster startups, they're the ones maintaining whatever crazy federated identity management solution their cloud providers have chosen. Either that, or their startup is producing the latest security "single pane of glass" mashup that they're trying to sell to big companies' IT security professionals. Either way, the pay is lower for startup employees -- in many cases they're playing the IPO lottery.

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US.gov to open-source made-to-order software, allow contributions

Erik4872
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Interesting

I wonder how this will affect code quality. Most software written by the usual suspects (Accenture, Infosys, etc.) whether for private companies or for government, isn't exactly stuff that holds up well to public scrutiny. My experience in doing systems integration work has been that they do the absolute bare minimum to get their code to run and not crash under the laughably inadequate QA standard tests. (I think that's what they mean when they say "the needful." :-) )

As for open source, I've always wondered about that not being a developer. How is it possible to _not_ use an open source library, routine or anything else these days, especially doing stuff like web development? I'm sure there's lots of open source stuff buried in closed code. Web front ends these days are practically snapping strangely-named open source framework Legos together in a configuration that does what you want.

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You think Donald Trump is insecure? Check out his online store

Erik4872
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Classic Reg

Whoever came up with the strapline for the article deserves kudos - I LOL'd. You even got the sentence fragments down pat.

That said, this is further proof that political campaigns don't exactly employ the highest-caliber IT security geniuses on the planet. The Hillary e-mail server thing was just an "executive privilege" thing we see all the time in big-company IT, but what about all these email leaks from the DNC and others? I understand that exposing things to the Internet means they're likely to be exploited at some point, but I thought secure email was pretty much a solved problem these days. Unless of course, you use "12345" as your password...

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Capita was always going to axe staff under Project Vincent – sources

Erik4872
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This happens in the US all the time too

Any time an outsourcer comes in, even if they keep the existing staff it's almost certain that they will be replaced with cheaper staff as soon as they can. I've seen it a few times at companies -- Tata or Infosys comes in, takes the existing staff and slowly transitions the work offshore. It sucks, but they have to do it if they ever hope to make decent margin on the deal. Otherwise, there'd be no reason to engage in the business -- you'd just be a pass-through IT department with similar costs.

What makes it worse is that often, the outsourcer will start making the workers' jobs miserable in an attempt to accelerate the process. Paying for plastic forks seems to fall in that category, as does strict enforcement of work rules, capricious changing of duties, etc. Anything they can do to get people to quit voluntarily is just a bonus for them, as they won't have to pay any severance or extra unemployment compensation.

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Ex-Citibank IT bloke wiped bank's core routers, will now spend 21 months in the clink

Erik4872
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Re: The need for software defined networking

Not sure about that one. SDN is great for desired state config and the ability to use crappy white box switches instead of Cisco gear, but those configs live somewhere and are managed by someone. It wouldn't take much for someone with enough access to turn all of that SDN gear into a bunch of dumb, unconfigured network ports. In theory they could just melt the whole network into a pile of goo by blanking out the software configs. Granted, it's easier to get back online if you're smart and archive your configs, but network admins generally don't like sharing control of things.

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Erik4872
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Re: Just another unstable idiot

"Seriously, let them fire you then collect unemployment if you are in the right."

Indeed. I think it was on my third or fourth big-company job that I realized, if I wanted to, I could just stop working altogether and it would take at least a few months to get through the procedures required to get rid of me. And this is in 'Murica, working for at-will employers. The first bad review is just the first step. When you get one of those, the grown-up thing to do is to use the time you have left to find other work, since you've been targeted for termination already. The immature spoiled kid thing, obviously, is to circumvent that whole process by clumsily sabotaging your workplace.

"He'll never find another IT job worth having."

That I'm not so sure about. IT has a bit of a French Foreign Legion mystique, in that you can just run away to a new location and get a job pretty easily after screwing up badly. I've personally witnessed this -- a company I worked for hired some "rockstar" systems architect who I thought was clueless. I did a little digging and it turned out he presided over a multi-million dollar failed project somewhere else as the chief architect. Now, he's going to have a criminal record so that's going to be a problem. But if he didn't, and just got fired because he was incompetent, all he would have to do is clean up his resume and walk into the nearest technical recruiter for immediate placement. If I were king of the IT profession, that's one thing I'd want immediately -- personal responsibility for bad work and liability malpractice-style.

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Erik4872
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Amateur hour, makes all of IT look bad

I'm assuming this lovely specimen worked as a NOC guy or similar -- why didn't he pull a Terry Childs and hold the network configs hostage until he got whatever satisfaction he wanted? A real BOFH would have wiped out all the network documentation, _and_ the primary and backup config files on all the equipment before casually heading off to lunch.

The thing I worry about is stories like this getting around to the executive classes and prompting more of them to consider replacing the "scary unstable neckbeards" with polite-but-incompetent offshore Tata or Infosys employees. People like this guy make the entire IT profession, including those of us who actually do a professional job, look bad in front of the decision makers. I've worked with a few people like Lennon Ray Brown (in terms of their personality, not their actions thankfully.) Let's just say some of these folks might have come back with a weapon of some sort if their boss gave them a bad review, not just wiped some router configs. IT does attract some intriguing personalities.

I've often opined that it's time for the IT and software development professions to grow up and actually establish a standard of professional work. Doctors and professional engineers do this, and the reward is a much more stable work life. Why are we still married to the romantic notion of the cowboy admin or coder doing things with no regard to how they could affect others?

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Seagate's south UK factory hasn't a future but HDDs do (it hopes)

Erik4872
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Would Brexit stop something like this?

Speaking as a 'Murican who grew up during the great offshoring-of-manufacturing -- wouldn't Brexit be something that could prevent things like this from happening? I thought a good portion of the argument was that having an economy less interconnected with the rest of the world would force the UK to become more vertically integrated, doing more jobs inside the country including manufacturing. Wasn't that basically what happened until Margaret Thatcher took over?

I guess I'm one of those people who looks around, sees no opportunity at all for people with a factory worker level intelligence and skillset, and wonders what we'll do with all of them. Once the only jobs producing reasonable incomes are Senior Cloud Engineer and Robotic Assembly Architect, you're going to have a lot of angry, less educated, less skilled people out there who have lots of time on their hands and an axe to grind. I'd rather keep some inefficiency in the system, just to give people something to do.

As much as Trump being President scares me, his proposal to remove the US from trade agreements and add tariffs on foreign-made goods would be a very interesting experiment. If every company, regardless of size or influence, woke up one morning and found the conditions favoring domestic work, wouldn't the work have to return? If nothing else, it would inject a little economic diversity back into the country and make it "OK" again to work in a factory.

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Microsoft delays Azure updates so you can catch up with the cloud

Erik4872
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Funny because Azure is the "legacy cloud"...

There are plenty of hipster Web startups on Azure, but Microsoft has been quite accommodating to legacy IT shops who want to use cloud technologies. Deprecating features is going to be a hard thing for all cloud providers as more businesses start relying on things being the way they were when their applications were first deployed. Azure Resource Manager has existed for a while, but they're just now getting around to building semi-automatic migration tools to move Classic resources to ARM in place without redeploying them.

What's been interesting as an Azure customer is watching the speed at which new things are developed and released. If you're an IT person at a very old school company, this is the most surprising change. It must be tough from a Microsoft standpoint too -- they're beating the rapid release drum, but they have to support things that they put out there potentially forever if customers keep paying for them, and migration institutes a breaking change (like an Azure AD cert rollover, for example.) I imagine there will be a few more iterations of "release, make it "classic", then migrate or retire" while Azure completes its buildout.

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You can buy Windows 10 Enterprise E3 access for the price of a coffee

Erik4872
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Aaaaand, welcome to Windows subscriptions!

I know all the accounting tricks say that OpEx is better than CapEx, but I still say it's totally retarded to pay a company for the same service, over and over again in small pieces, rather than buy it outright and use it forever. Look how long big companies stuck with Office 97 and Office 2003! They paid $xx once and used the software for 10+ years in some cases.

I did see this coming though - Microsoft is signing absolutely everyone up for Office 365 and is in the process of becoming every company's auxilliary (or sometimes primary) data center for a low low fee per month. The Home and Pro users get Windows 10 "free" but Enterprise users are going to have to pay, Creative Cloud style, until the end of time.

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IBM scraps loyal staffer gifts in favour of... a congratulatory social page

Erik4872
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Gamification of the workplace!

I seriously doubt anyone who is a new hire at IBM will ever make any of those milestones. But for those who do, there's a totally awesome 25-year badge waiting for you on your IBM social page!

I work for a pretty staid company, so gamification of the workplace hasn't really hit here yet. But I've been reading the articles -- do Millennials really prefer badges and points to monetary awards? It seems to me that things like this would work only in companies like Google, Facebook, etc. that become your entire life. Even when I was younger I could never imagine wanting to work 16-hour days in return for "perks" that keep you there and working.

Although, this is a first for our company...they announced a few months ago that they were "harmonizing" the long service awards across countries...but they were still giving people money (just not as much.) Usually our HR is the ones slavishly copying IBM and GE...seriously, every single management fad that comes out of those places is implemented. I think it's because they have the same white shoe management consulting firm.

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App-V birthday to you, Win10: Virty tools baked in Anniversary update

Erik4872
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Expect all enterprisey features to go Enterprise-only

Microsoft just got finished giving away their latest OS upgrade to Home and Pro customers. Since it's "free" from now on, I wouldn't expect any more of the enterprise features to be backported into Home or Pro.

It's definitely a shift from Win7/Win8, but not unexpected. At work we were previously able to get away with Windows 7 Professional OEM licenses because we didn't use the enterprise features. Windows 10 is forcing the company into Enterprise licensing because there's no other way to control the telemetry to a reasonable level or access certain features we need now.

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DevOps: The spotty faced yoof waiting to blossom

Erik4872
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So much is coming together all at once...

DevOps is smack in the middle of a bunch of huge changes happening in corporate IT. One of the biggest problems is that so many "new" things are all coming out at the same time. Public cloud replacing onsite systems, new cloud-enabled applications replacing traditional client/server applications, automation tools allowing fewer sysadmins managing more servers, microservices, containers -- and it's all happening at the same time. Now, like the article states, this new world needs more flexible IT staff which is what DevOps proposes to solve.

The problem is that DevOps is like Agile, a good idea on paper that is often horribly misapplied. DevOps can migrate to NoOps very quickly in a startup-style environment, especially with all the pushbutton deployment tools being developed. Same way an Agile project can morph from "fast feature driven development" to "no architecture, make up the design as we go."

Is DevOps a mindset, a magic dashboard sold to PHBs, or a religion peddled by DevOps consultants? Right now it's all of them -- I'm hoping it shakes out into a sane blend of these.

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Oracle says it is 'committed' to Java EE 8 – amid claims it quietly axed future development

Erik4872
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"Insane, yes, but they're still there."

Exactly. People forget that Java EE is almost like the new COBOL, and the various Java application servers are like the mainframe now. Almost everyone doing things like mainframe conversions, ESBs and other enterprisey things in the early 2000s has some of that development in J2EE. When you consider that a lot of that development was outsourced and the applications are complex enough to be considered black boxes, it makes sense for Oracle to continue extracting revenue from people who can't really move. Think about it - knowing what you know about Oracle, would you ever choose them for a brand new database deployment? No one is, so Oracle has to milk the existing customer base.

CA is also famous for doing this. Some of their mainframe and UNIX applications are 30 years old and basically haven't changed...yet they're still generating profit because companies rely on them to run their businesses.

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900 Hewlett Packard Enterprise staff to leave building by month end

Erik4872
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Re: All a bit sad.

Holy cow, that's pretty much the most spot on definition of the "professional services" engagements I've been a part of, on both sides of the fence.

I've often said that the grumpy guys in your summary could wipe the floor with the white shoe services firms by just getting together and starting "Greybeards, Inc." (or Greybeards PLC if you're on the right side of the Atlantic.) You'd still need the slick MBA weasels at the top to sell to the executives, but cutting out the useless empty suits at the bottom would let you spend money on smarter people who would be able to actually complete projects. It's criminal what the big firms need to pay the Ivy League or Oxbridge types for a job that basically involves flying around the country 50 weeks out of the year, presenting PowerPoints and deflecting blame away from their offshore teams.

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From Watson Jr to Watson AI: IBM's changed, and Papa Watson wouldn't approve

Erik4872
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What would a private IBM be like, I wonder?

It would be very interesting to see something huge like a pension fund or investment house leverage-buyout IBM and take it private. You would need Sagan-esque "billions and billions" of dollars to do it, but the experiment would be fascinating. It seems to me that any company with so much in the way of resources, patents and intellectual capital could do incredibly well when removed from the yoke that is the public market. I've been watching the slow decline of IBM for quite a while from the outside, just as an observer and occasional customer.

That would be an MBA case study for the ages and any success would probably cause MBA's brains to self-destruct. They've been conditioned for so long to manage purely by spreadsheet, not own anything, focus on next quarter, get rid of as many talented expensive people as they can, and care only for the share price.

I'm old (just turned 40 last year,) but I still say that large employers owe some loyalty to their workers if that loyalty is returned. People work for large employers because they're not Silicon Valley entrepreneur types -- they're there to do a job. In previous times, a job well done was rewarded with promotions, competitive pay and no capricious layoffs. I do know a lot of older IBMers who echo the article's sentiments -- up until Gerstner showed up and shook things up, it was a great place to work. You could expect to be moved several times in a career and put in a lot of extra time for the company,but it was rewarded with a stable life for one's family. I think one of the problems is that employees are seeing even the IBMs, the GEs and the other huge companies treating their employees as disposable. Once that gets too far embedded in people's psyche, they're not willing to give any loyalty back which is why you see people leaving jobs after only a year for just a small salary increase or silly perk that the current company doesn't have.

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Cisco is to spend $10m on infosec scholarships to 'widen talent pool'

Erik4872
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Does that come with a guaranteed job?

The problem is not having enough smart people; the problem is having enough smart people who see a future in the IT world. Students aren't dumb, and there are very few dedicated (crazy?) people these days who study in fields that don't have an immediate ROI (at least here in the US.)

If you want to train the "next generation of cyberwarriors" or whatever, you need to provide enough entry level jobs that these students can graduate into. You then have to have a progression of roles, leading to higher salaries and more interesting work over time, to keep people in the field. Offshoring and outsourcing have destroyed entry-level IT and the informal apprenticeship system that people in my generation went through. (By this, I mean graduating from help desk to in-person support to data center monkey to junior sysadmin and so on.) Those entry level jobs in the US are most likely filled by close-to-minimum wage body shop employees or H-1B visa holders these days.

If I were a very smart student now, I'd be targeting professions that cannot be offshored such as medicine or high-end consulting. Doctors in the US have it made once they're licensed; they were smart and set up a system that prevents oversupply, lobbies against legislation that would lower their pay and regulates practice. We in IT-land could learn a lot from them.

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Microsoft's paid $60 per LinkedIn user – and it's a bargain, because we're mugs

Erik4872
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I'll never get the marketing people's valuations...

I have absolutely no idea what real world metrics marketing people use to value the personal data for an individual. I'm a good example of an edge case in their world; I'm 100% unaffected (in a positive way) by any advertising. I have never bought a product or service based solely on an ad. Yet, there are apparently billions of drooling idiots out there who will buy whatever the advertisers tell them to.

I think the acquisition makes sense given the shift I'm seeing with Microsoft. They're going from selling software by the license to being the toll collector for everything. If they can collect a toll on the employment process, basically by doing nothing beyond making sure the platform stays up, then they win as soon as LinkedIn Premium subscription and recruiter revenue reaches the purchase price plus the running cost. It's the same mentality as Azure...Microsoft is increasingly making it very difficult to purchase one-off licenses or to sign enterprise agreements that don't involve Azure-hosted software. Our company, who was staunchly against putting source code for anything out in the cloud, caved and asked me to start designing a VSTS solution for our developers. New services and applications are cloud-hosted because everyone's convinced it's cheaper than buying hardware and software. It's a big shift, but Microsoft is pouring all that extra money into making sure it collects revenue at every exit point from a service.

If even a small percentage of LinkedIn users falls into the gullible-to-advertising category, then $60 per user is a bargain -- they'll be able to resell that data over and over again for multiple times that amount. LinkedIn isn't like Facebook; people use it to get jobs and post mostly factual, real content.

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Government regulation will clip coders' wings, says Bruce Schneier

Erik4872
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How about professional engineer status for coders?

In the 20 or so years I've been in the IT field, much of which has been doing systems integration work on really crappy software, I've often wondered why we don't have some sort of PE-style licensing arrangement. This would in my opinion get around "regulations" forcing people to code a certain way, by making individual practitioners responsible for the abominations they write. The second you try to regulate something like coding methodologies, it'll be obsolete overnight. Let's say you're able to replace the hodgepodge of educational backgrounds out there with a reasonable set of prerequisites. Make sure people actually understand what the stuff they're writing does when run on real-world systems.

I fall into the self-trained camp, but I would welcome the opportunity to make my education more formal. PEs require an engineering degree, experience and a licensing exam as a minimum barrier to entry. I'd say that beats coder bootcamp and stackoverflow reading any day of the week.

And, as much as malpractice lawsuits scare me, the idea of personal responsibility for bad work holds value for me. One thing about our field that drives me nuts is watching someone screw something up, entirely their fault, then get fired, then land another job a week later with a hefty raise. Mistakes shouldn't be able to be covered up by cleaning up your resume and applying somewhere else.

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The Windows Phone story: From hope to dusty abandonware

Erik4872
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I wonder when Microsoft is finally going to pull the plug.

Intel isn't making low-end mobile chips anymore, handset manufacturers aren't interested in making phones, Microsoft is killing or selling off their own capacity to make new phones, _and_ no one is writing Windows Store apps to the extent they write Android or iOS apps.

I'd love to see them just drop the whole thing all at once, say "oops" and get back to focusing on Azure and Surface and software. But that won't happen -- they're just going to slowly let it bleed to death. At least HP had the guts to just shoot webOS in the head and get it over with...not the greatest decision IMO, but it was decisive.

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Whitman deletes another chapter in HP history as CSC and ES borg

Erik4872
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"The only way they could be turned around is by being allowed to innovate again."

I think that's part of it. EDS may be or may have been a semi-reliable ATM for the rest of HP, but I doubt it. Any time I've ever had any dealings with the EDSes of the world, I've been amazed at just how many highly-paid project managers and account executives have been involved. So they may offshore the actual work to the cheapest, lowest quality place they can find, but they need to keep all those account executives, PMs, technical liaisons, escalation managers, senior escalation managers, VPs of service delivery, etc. paid well and flying around the world.

It's the consulting model -- Accenture, EDS, CSC, IBM, and all of them do it. Every engagement has three tiers:

- Insanely compensated senior management who sell the dream to the executives

- An army of new graduate, no-experience PowerPoint-wielding 24 year old analysts, consultants, PMs and what have you flying 48 weeks out of the year, billable to the client, to be the public face of the project

- Offshore minions in cheap country of the week doing any work that is necessary

The problem is that those top two tiers are expensive and I think companies aren't as willing as they were to pay for it anymore.

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Erik4872
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Maybe IT services just isn't worth it anymore?

I'm sure this is just another bonehead move on the HP executives' part, or more likely their management consultants from McKinsey or similar. But...could it be that companies are starting to wake up and realize that deals with these mega-outsourcers never go as planned? Seriously, I've worked for providers as well as companies who partake in IT services outsourcing. The weird wall that builds up between the two companies causes IT progress to slow to a crawl. One side is trying to get away with as little work as they can for maximum cost, and the other is trying to minimize cost by refusing to pay higher rates for better service. This is always a recipe for disaster unless the company involved really has no interest in IT investment and just needs to keep the lights on.

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Hey you – minion. Yes, IT dudes and dudettes, they're talking to you

Erik4872
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Re: But how can you become an effective Architect

"But how can you become an effective Architect if you haven't first been an Administrator?"

Yes, this is the killer. Entry level positions need to be available in the field. People don't just wake up and become systems architects. It takes a lot of experience, hopefully in diverse environments, to get the exposure you need to make smart choices that aren't just "well, Gartner says these guys are good..."

"And as for Administrator jobs becoming redundant, not while my co-workers refuse to write anything down and hold it in their heads instead."

Totally agree, but I've seen many situations in my career where people didn't document anything for "job security." They've been laid off like anyone else, and it's fallen to the ones left behind to very carefully probe around and solve the puzzle. Terry Childs comes to mind, as does my own personal experience with the "network BOFH" who built a huge enterprise network by himself and failed to document anything. Getting rid of him meant a huge spend on network consultants, but he was gotten rid of all the same and the company paid the fees to get their network back.

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Erik4872
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Agree somewhat, but don't call it "architect."

I've been in systems admin and engineering for almost 20 years. Most of your article is very much correct, but please don't call the smart people "architects." I've been anointed an architect because of my company's rigid promotion hierarchy and partly because that's what IT calls its smart guys. [1] Honestly, the term is so badly misused. Most "architects" I know and interact with spend their days reading Gartner reports and drawing pretty Visio pictures, and are disconnected from day-to-day real world stuff. These are the guys who come in from the consultancy down the road and foist the latest best practices document on an unsuspecting audience of executives. I end up having to deconstruct a lot of these presentations and often force-fitting whatever pile of garbage the execs got sold into a working environment. Maybe we should reserve the term "systems engineer" for the top smart person role and leave the "architect" job off in some fluffy cloud bubble somewhere because of the connotation.

I've said before that the people who are going to survive the next wave of IT cuts and still get paid reasonably well are generalists. It's going to be much more about connecting third party services and making then work as reliably as the stuff the company hosted in a data center. That requires a lot of "systems thinking" and the ability to troubleshoot quickly and efficiently on systems you don't necessarily have full control over.

I'm already seeing this manifest itself -- the latest generation of storage provides "good enough" performance without a storage wizard turning the dials in many cases. The server OS vendors are increasingly moving towards containerization, microservices and cloud hosting. Anyone whose sole job is in that minion category, just closing support tickets all day, is going to have to learn a lot more to keep getting paid the big money. Even if enterprises don't adopt the cloud in huge numbers, this will still be true. I'm working on a big new development project in Azure, and honestly the developers have absolutely no idea how complex it's going to be from a systems standpoint. I don't have to build pieces of kit anymore, or implement a massive hardware cluster, but I do need to make sure the application's components function in someone else's data center. The complexity is still there; the basics are taken care of but that's it!

[1] Don't take "smart guys" as self-promotion. I know full well I don't know everything and when I should be talking to someone who does.

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Inter-bank system SWIFT on security? User manual needs 'revamp’

Erik4872
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Purpose-built systems are never secure

I work for a company that's similar to SWIFT and maintains a very critical set of systems worldwide that perform...a useful function, let's call it. To say I'm not shocked that SWIFT is vulnerable is an understatement.

Truth is, any vertical, "closed" purpose built system built before the late 2000s isn't secure, and I'll bet a lot after that aren't either. Computers connected to systems like this are considered unreachable even in cases where the machine also has Internet access, for example. Until a few years ago, that was a safe assumption. Systems in networks like these are trusted, their requests aren't validated because it's assumed that there's no way to generate the appropriate messages in a non-official manner.

It's very interesting that international wire transfer is such a trusting system. You send a wire request, and it's just like handing a bag of cash over to the other party with very few checks in place. Attacks on systems like this are going to gain in popularity, simply because they're easy lucrative targets.

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Lending Club CEO booted out for dodgy deals

Erik4872
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Web 3.0 disruption bubble...

Uber, etc. are riding this disruption wave too -- basically, do an end run around regulations and build a business based on the fact that you can be cheaper than companies that need to follow the "old school rules." It reminds me of the dotcom boom where startup CEOs were saying the old rules no longer matter regarding profit & loss, sticky eyeballs were currency and they would make it up in volume.

I'm guessing, at least here in the US, that part of this love of disruption is the Libertarian leanings of many techies. Most people who call themselves libertarians think that any rule, regulation or government agency that sets rules is a roadblock to the free enterprise system and needs to be destroyed. I'm not a fan of regulation for the sake of regulation, but I do feel that a completely lawless "free market" will never work for everyone. It would be great for the business owners, but bad for consumers.

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Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

Erik4872
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Question from a Murican...

What's a bank overdraft? It sounds like it's a little more than the "overdraft protection" we have on bank accounts. Indeed, it sounds like a massive line of credit.

Here, if you have overdraft protection, the bank either fronts you money for an enormous interest rate (but still less than bouncing a check) or transfers money from your savings if you have any. It's generally not a good thing to run your checking account in the negative for too long because the interest adds up. Is that not the case in the UK/Australia? When you get paid, do you just reduce the negative balance but forever owe to the bank?

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Opower, my power: Oracle spends $532m to get some utilities cloud, er, power

Erik4872
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Oracle's buying an IoT Cloud

Seems like Oracle's trying to build out a cloud with all the applications pre-written. I guess this makes sense, because most enterprise IT people I know are avoiding Oracle as much as they can these days. That means that their cloud is going to only sell to the Oracle True Believers out there, of which there are fewer as of late.

It's a good strategy, in that they will become the toll bridge for the IoT in sectors that they cover. Smart meters are a perfect target, because power companies are most likely dependent on Oracle's enterprise software stack.

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Reskilling to become a devops dude could net you $105k+

Erik4872
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It is a big shift for many IT folks

Think about the traditional split between development and systems work. Both have their share of very deep specialist knowledge and siloing, but it usually breaks down like this:

- Developers write code on their own machine or VM, package it up and send it to the systems guys to implement, not knowing or caring how the code operates on real (virtual) production hardware.

- Ops guys are typically developers of automation tools, and that's pretty much it. They focus on keeping the tower of messy stuff developers write functioning.

Now that traditional hardware is being abstracted away, it seems to me that these groups need to meet somewhere in the middle. There's going to be either less work for hardware or data center experts, or it will move to service providers who will squeeze salaries to make their margins work. Similarly, developers will have to learn a little bit about the systems their stuff has to run on to remain useful in the world of offshoring and H-1B replacements of staff. The salary squeeze is definitely happening at both ends, and cloud seems to be the driver. Developers aren't commanding massive salaries anymore for knowledge of a small set of web frameworks (except in startup-land) but developers with a broad base of knowledge will always do well. Similarly, the "EMC guy" or "Cisco guy" or "Windows Server guy" is seeing less of a premium for extremely narrow sets of skills.

I definitely see less of a role for deep specialists on the systems side with software-defined everything coming down the line for most environments. The thing that has to calm down is the hype around DevOps. There are so many tools, frameworks, orchestration layers, ALM products, etc, and so much breathless chatter about it that the core message sometimes gets lost.

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Unisys releases its ClearPath MCP OS for VMs or x86

Erik4872
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Neat, but how useful is this?

I know Unisys has a big niche in airlines and government systems, but that's just it - it's a niche. I think the interesting thing is that they're giving up the proprietary hardware. I think IBM's the only one left building their own stuff from scratch to run a proprietary OS:

- NonStop is migrating to Intel

- HP Itanium hardware is nearly done, being replaced with RAS-able x86 boxes

- HP-UX and OpenVMS are being ported to Intel x86

I wonder how many people are going to actually pick this up and run with it. (I'm checking it out as I'm an obscure OS geek.) It's not like anyone is writing new greenfield Unisys applications anymore.

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Microsoft lures IT pros with breadcrumb trail of candy to its cloud

Erik4872
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Azure needs to be explained better for IT pros

I'm an "IT Pro" as far as Microsoft is concerned -- I'm a systems engineer/architect who basically designs infrastructure requirements for new projects, automates stuff, builds things, and fixes broken things. I wear lots of hats, but I'm definitely not a "software developer" in the traditional sense of the word. It's the classic struggle played out in a new environment -- developers want to deploy on command to inexhaustible magic hardware resources, and the systems guys want to maintain some sort of order. I'm the one trying to pull our development managers away from the huge vat of vendor Kool-Aid and explaining to them that "cloud" doesn't mean you can just abandon any sort of operational discipline. I'm doing a huge Azure-based project design now, and it's a big learning curve to design a real-world, secure cloud system, but the developers are being told everything is push-button easy.

Microsoft specifically, and cloud vendors in general, need to do the following to bring "IT Pros" on board:

- Make systems-focused documentation available in parallel to developer-focused documentation. It's very frustrating having to find random blogs on how to do traditional infrastructure tasks like network plumbing, while the dev side is just told "all you need to do is push the Deploy to Azure button in Visual Studio."

- Describe in better terms how all the Azure services map to real world on-site systems. (I'm thinking of writing a book or at least a blog series on this, once I figure it all out, because no one has.)

- Start transitioning traditional sysadmins away from caring for servers to caring for millions of little pieces of code running "somewhere." That's a huge leap, and one some of my colleagues are having trouble making.

I think what Microsoft is doing is a good start. Especially in the crappy work environments that are commonplace, training is nonexistent, so you need at least reasonable free access to software and services if you expect people to come along for the ride.

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Job ad promises 'Meaningless Repetitive Work on the .NET Stack'

Erik4872
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Refreshingly honest

There is sometimes no getting around the fact that not all jobs are writing AI algorithms for Google self-driving cars, or designing the next iPhone. I've worked for a lot of organizations like that who maintain systems that simply need to _exist_ for critical things to continue working. It's boring, there's decades of legacy technology and software, and these jobs require people who can tune out the buzzwords and just keep the ship running.

I actually find this a refreshing change from ads that tout any or all of:

"fast paced" (80 hour weeks minimum)

"cutting edge" (developers dumping barely-working software to production, Framework Of the Month Club)

"collaborative environment" (anyone over 30 need not apply)

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Intel bins ESXi in in-house private cloud revamp

Erik4872
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Re: One good product

I think the decline really started taking off when Microsoft baked Hyper-V into Windows Server for free. It still doesn't have all the features that ESXi does, but it's good enough for most applications and getting more capable. And with native Linux support, there's now very little reason to pay VMWare for VSphere in most small environments.

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French thrash Brits, Germans and Portuguese in IT innovation

Erik4872
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The DevOps fad...lots of fun!

It follows that DevOps is going to be the new fad technology to chase. We've spent the last 10 years building up the Social Mobile Agile 2.0 Bubble and have millions of apps whose back-ends need to be looked after. I think the concept is great - sysadmins should know a little about development, and developers should know way more than they do about how their products work in real world systems. What's going to cause people to lose the plot is the millions of tools, frameworks and "single panes of glass" cooked up by these new ops "innovators." I think a lot of this stuff is going to end up shelfware after the hangover wears off.

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Cyber-security pro? Forget GCHQ, BT wants to hire 900 of you

Erik4872
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Question is what they will get...

It's probably the cynic in me talking again, but my experience with "infosec experts" has been pretty mixed. I assume they're looking for actual talent. My experiences have been that some security people are simply there for security theatre -- PowerPoint jockeys from consulting firms, PCI auditor box-tickers, and so on. I don't blame them, security is a very lucrative IT subspecialty that's very easy to ride along on without doing too much.

If they (and GCHQ and the CIA/NSA) are looking for real experts, that's going to be the tricky part. The real experts aren't cheap, and most of them don't want to work for a telecom company or government agency. Especially the CIA/NSA -- someone would really have to love their country to accept the low pay and invasive background checks required. Then again, government positions may be the only stable jobs left 10 years from now, who knows?

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Microsoft: We have a bullet ready for 12 competencies

Erik4872
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Not surprising

These aren't technical certifications per se, they're sales and marketing competencies. As in, this partner has been fed enough sales content and has enough experience to effectively sell Technology X. I think they're just not bothering to continue actively supporting non-Azure deployments of various technologies. After all, if a technology is available in Azure as a purchasable service, there's no reason for Microsoft to help channel partners sell it when they can collect the money directly.

The next few years are going to be interesting for Microsoft. It's very obvious that they're done selling one off software licenses by default. They definitely prefer the lock-in of permanent revenue streams renting capacity in Azure. Some companies will never fully migrate to the cloud, but the resistance is getting less and less each year. That's going to mean interesting times for hardware vendors as well, who will end up mostly selling to cloud providers.

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India continues subsidising elite IT schools

Erik4872
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It's the public version of the Ivy League ticket

Here in the US, we have an equivalent setup with the Ivy League universities. Thousands and thousands of students (and their parents) go to extreme lengths to get into these schools for one simple reason -- getting into and graduating from one is almost a guaranteed ticket to success. Either you will make connections with kids of some of the richest people in the country, and/or you will be recruited for incredibly lucrative positions in law, medicine, investment banking or management consulting. In particular, all the banks and white shoe consulting firms recruit exclusively from the Ivy League for the best positions. Wealthier parents will pay private school tuition fees from preschool on with the implicit promise that their kid will be qualified to get into the Ivy League later.

We also have a public higher education system (which I went through.) If you go to a good state university with good programs, and have a little bit of motivation, you'll do OK. The experience is a little different - I'd liken it to dealing with a state agency in many respects, but that teaches you something too. My private school graduate colleagues have told me that once you're in an elite institution, they basically make it very difficult to fail after that; you get tons of support. At the big state U. I went to, no one really cared if you passed or failed as they were dealing in volume.

The indian example of the IITs is a preview for what could happen in the near future as good jobs become more scarce. In India's case, the income inequality there means that getting into an IIT is like winning the lottery in terms of success; the alternative is a life of grinding poverty.

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SQL injection vuln found at Panama Papers firm Mossack Fonseca

Erik4872
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Proof that most companies have no clue about security

This is interesting because I assumed that law firms handling extremely sensitive offshore tax haven creations for the richest people in the world would be super-paranoid about security. But, it's not surprising -- every industry I've encountered that I've assumed is at least security-aware actually isn't.

It's a good lesson though -- never put anything Internet-facing anywhere near your internal network. These days, it's easy to host the public stuff in a public cloud so you can control the entry points more closely. Also, relying on third-party plugins and frameworks for core development can be dangerous if your admins aren't being diligent about patching every component as soon as the patches appear. Just last week we saw the issue with the left_pad JavaScript function being pulled -- it goes to show you how many developers are relying directly on third parties for core functionality, and in some cases not even bothering to take a local copy of the dependencies!

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This year's H-1B visa lottery jammed full in just six days

Erik4872
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Time for a modern IT professional organization.

The root problem isn't the visa program itself - it's the loopholes that Infosys, Cognizant, IBM, HP, Accenture, Xerox and all the other outsourcers use. The company is sold an outsourcing contract where the outsourcer promises to take over the entire IT operation. All the "expensive" IT workers are sent to the outsourcer, who then swaps in replacement H-1B staff, and fires the former company IT guys after the replacements are trained. As part of the deal, the company gets to pull a "Pontias Pilate" and wash their hands of the workers with no direct involvement. The company can point to the outsourcer and say "We have no idea how they provide services to us, nor are we in a position to tell them how."

This is the loophole that needs to be closed. As it is, you're taking, say, a DBA or developer making $100K and simply swapping them with a $30K version. This is why the offshore houses snap up all the visas available. Any tech company that tries to buck that trend is going to get killed in the cost department, so I see why they do it. But, this is an example of an obvious unintended consequence based on lawmakers not knowing what's involved in technical work.

I think the only long term fix is to come up with an IT professional organization (not union) with some teeth and a loose set of practice standards. They can then go and lobby (read: bribe) Congress and get the loophole closed for everybody at once, so that no tech company has an unfair advantage.

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Storage admins.... they'll take your jobs

Erik4872
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Long live the generalist?

I don't think it's just storage. Like the article mentions, the dedicated, deep-knowledge server admin is going away as well. Part of this is automation -- tools like Chef/Puppet on the Linux side and PowerShell DSC on the Windows side are making it incredibly easy to stand up environments. The other part for the hardware and infrastructure nerds (like me!) is the cloud. I'm currently working on a project that's 100% in Azure, and it's a huge leap going from physical hypervisor hosts to hardware you can't see or touch. It's just as complex, but in a different way -- now you have to design your system to stand up to an environment that you don't control the downtime on, plus wade through all the marketing hype and figure out how things are actually accomplished.

I think the long term answer is to do everything you can to stay a generalist. I've worked almost exclusively for big companies that had the storage silo, the network silo and the server silo. Colleagues of mine have invested years of their lives learning the ins and outs of, say, VMWare or EMC or Citrix to the exclusion of all else. It's very easy to get trapped, because once you're the expert on a particular system everyone wants your knowledge...until they don't need it anymore!! My plan has been to get involved with a little bit of everything, and that has landed me in a systems architecture role. I do end user stuff, servers, storage, enough networking to survive, you name it. My next move is basically to become a platform-agnostic automation guru, because that's definitely where things are headed. Sysadmins for the most part will be taking care of thousands of machines and aren't going to be able to do it with manual changes.

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Your pointy-haired boss 'bought a cloud' with his credit card. Now what?

Erik4872
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Re: I see your " IT by magazine" and raise it ...

"IT by inflight magazine"

Oh yes, I've had to respond to many a sent-from-the-road email asking why we don't have big data analytics in the cloud. I really wish they'd focus more on the ads for the executive dating services.

Flying from time to time, I've also thumbed through these magazines. It's amazing how many companies place "infotisement" articles, and it's no wonder why things like Salesforce et al became so popular. At the same time, the choice of advertisers and the nature of the content set an interesting vibe. I can just picture a middle-aged sales executive in a suit settling in to his 90th flight segment of the year as the target audience. Not being in sales, I'm not sure how relevant this stereotype is anymore...how many sales guys these days are like the guys you used to see at trade conferences when that was the only way to learn about a product?

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IT freely, a true tale: One night a project saved my life

Erik4872
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Not sure if HR is the best choice of confidant...

At least here in the US, where there are very few worker protections, HR is not tasked with making sure you're happy. Their primary goal outside of basic payroll/benefits functions is to reduce the company's liability caused by their employees. I'd liken it to having to call the police to resolve a problem -- once the police are involved, the situation is typically so bad that you can't recover from it easily. Police are just going to sort it out the best they can, and someone will (figuratively) "go to jail" to resolve it. I've never had anyone I know who went to HR for a problem not regret it later. This is especailly true for some friends I've known in long-service government jobs where they're basically stuck with the same manager they've had a dispute with for their entire tenure.

I'd say the best choice, if you can manage to do so, is to find a new workplace. That's not an easy thing always -- I have a family and am not about to move across the country for a job that may or may not be stable, for example. When you stay somewhere you're miserable, everyone has to deal with it.

There's no doubt that stress in IT is real, and it takes many forms. Some workplaces are constantly in layoff mode and threatening the staff with that blunt weapon. Some work you to death. Some are just so backwards and clueless that it drives the clueful crazy. My personal way of dealing with it has been to continuously remind myself that it's only a job. You'd be surprised how many people forget that and let it eat them up inside!

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DevOps, huh? Show me the money. Show me the MONAY!

Erik4872
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High salaries? Likely not...

DevOps is a culture shift, but it's also a role shift. It's a way to allow a company to not pay for operations staff, while simultaneously allowing their developers to pump out releases faster than the traditional ops cycles would allow. It's true that traditional badly run IT operations groups are an impediment to getting anything done. However, DevOps' promise is allowing developers to safely roll stuff out. The reality is that people who understand _both_ coding and the systems their code runs on are very hard to find in the same person. I know developers who can't even take care of their own PCs, and I know systems admins (not very good ones) who can't throw together scripts to automate tasks.

Do I think it's a buzzword or fad? Partially...no doubt there are lots of high-dollar consultancies, books authored and conferences based on it. I guarantee there are tons of magic wand wavers out there selling their services to CIOs for massive sums. But -- as companies start either moving their stuff to public clouds or making their traditional data centers look more like public clouds, I think there will be less of a line between the pure developer who throws code over the wall and the pure sysadmin who mounts the blobs provided by developers on the appropriate server. There has to be some crossover. I just wish I didn't have to call myself a "DevOps Specialist" or provide my skills "as-a-service" to be heard.

Will there be high salaries? Not likely. Whether you're a "rockstar" dev or a "guru" systems guy, the long term trend is downward. There's offshoring, outsourcing, commoditization, the shift to public cloud, and all sorts of other factors. I don't think it's going to turn into a minimum wage job, but it's sure going to look different. People in the US and Europe who work for big companies are just going to be driving a team of thousands of random offshore people or brokering requests between cloud providers. People who work for small companies are just going to wear all the hats, all the time, for less money. That said, the short term payoff for being a PowerPoint jockey at one of the DevOps consultancies or writing yet another wrapper tool will be high until the dust settles down and business as usual commences.

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Feds raid 'extortionist' IT security biz Tiversa, CEO put on leave

Erik4872
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"IT Security" firms are interesting

Every audit I've ever seen from one of these "IT Security" firms reads like it came from a protection racket. "Nice infrastructure you have there, it'd be a shame if something happened to it..." Speaking as someone in the trenches, I have been asked to review their "reports" after they preyed on the clueless CIO and made him pay ungodly sums for their services. The truth is that security on an open set of systems is complex. Execs and standards bodies love their little checklists, but you'll never be safe from the idiot employee who clicks the link in their email for a cat video and gets malware.

I would be quite happy replacing the security snake oil salesmen (and other snake oil salesmen) with a professional licensure environment for IT. Security breaches would be punishable by something other than losing your job, then doctoring your resume and moving on. Companies who refuse to listen to security advice would face more than just a year of free "credit monitoring" for every customer. Of course, this will never happen but I can dream...

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Michigan shooter says 'mind controlling' Uber app told him to kill

Erik4872
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That's pretty sad

The cynic in me wonders if the guy's lawyer is trying to gain a little anti-Uber publicity to distract people from the core issue. That said, mental illness is really sad. It must really suck to lose control of your brain.

One thing I'm hoping will start swinging the other direction is the removal of state support for the mentally ill in the US. It seems to me like the second it was no longer imperative that dangerous mentally ill people be locked up, and could be controlled by drugs, the reaction was to close down all the mental hospitals. I'm just not sure why a smaller mental health system with some inpatient components couldn't be put in place to be an alternative to cycling in and out of prison or homelessness. True, there was patient abuse back in the bad old days when anyone could be permanently committed for any abnormal behavior, but why not treat it like a disease?

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