* Posts by Erik4872

392 posts • joined 11 Jan 2011

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Germany, US staffers to be hit hardest as SAP starts shedding 4,400 bodies

Erik4872

The corporate employment cycle is shorter than a typcial career cycle

Unfortunately, it seems like companies have figured out that all they need to do is fire experienced people as soon as they ask for more money, then replace them with college grads who haven't been through an exploitation cycle yet. New grads don't find out until the first job or two that giving your entire life over to the company isn't going to get you anywhere unless you're climbing the management ladder.

The problem I see is that this firing cycle keeps getting shorter and shorter. People aren't allowed to be good at their jobs and have a career progression that includes salary growth. I'm also kind of skeptical that SAP is actually doing anything serious with AIMLBlockchain...I think they just need to appear to be doing so. SAP is boring backoffice financial and CRM software at its heart. Other than bolt-on machine learning stuff, what is actually being done in these fields?

Dratted hipster UX designers stole my corporate app

Erik4872

I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

I'm 43 and I'm desperately afraid that UX/responsive design is going to be the thing that makes me seem like an old fart.

Do people actually enjoy having to think about what the little gray nub does, or what the line-drawing icon with no explanation text means? Do people like reading light gray text on a bright white background?

I know we're not going to go back to mainframe terminal screens or curses applications...but hiding functionality is just stupid in my opinion. With CSS and JavaScript doing what they can do these days, can't designers put a switch in the application that just says "Smart User <--> Dumb User" and let people choose?

Amazon throws toys out of pram, ditches plans for New York HQ2 after big trouble in Big Apple

Erik4872

Re: This happens all the time

"I know people who've been working for Google and other SF employers who're desperate to move away from $4500 rents, especially when they're looking at starting families."

We'd need the Second Dotcom Bubble to pop before it will make any difference. Companies are 100% bought into the idea that "disruption-enabling" tech talent only lives in Seattle, SF/SV and maybe NYC or Boston. Otherwise, why would they be paying $200K+ for SREs and developers even if they are swimming in more money than they can ever possibly spend? The tech companies are desperately trying to hang on to their top people, and whether or not it's true there is this perception that top tech talent is only interested in lavish upscale city living.

Even where I am in suburban NYC, around me the IT scene is quite boring...healthcare, education, a couple IT service providers and a handful of old-school companies that actually make physical products if you can believe it. If I wanted a Dotcom Bubble job I'd have to get on the train and go to the city...something I've managed to avoid since...surprise...I have a family that I'd like to see once in a while and a 3 hour daily commute isn't compatible with that.

What I think will happen is what you're describing...this latest crop of new grads will get tired of working crazy hours, might develop a life outside of the office and want to start families. I'm involved with a lot of AWS and Azure projects and I can tell Microsoft and Amazon are running their engineers ragged pumping out service after service every 2 weeks. Even the smartest, most work-focused people out there have a limit.

Erik4872

Re: This happens all the time

Basically all of the Rust Belt is in the same spot. Some cities have managed to bounce back...you could even say Detroit is at least on the right path now. The problem is image. I grew up in Buffalo which got hit very hard by offshoring and de-industrialization when I was young. I'm sure most of these cities submitted bids. Here's the problem...Amazon hires trainloads of new computer science grads and those new grads want the unattached hipster big-city lifestyle. Look at how much rent is in downtown Seattle or San Francisco. The new grads want nothing more than to work 90 hours a week in a preschool office space, then walk across the street to their $4500/month luxury studio apartment or spend time at the trendy shops and restaurants you know Amazon would have demanded be placed around its new HQ. Replicating that in a "regular" city would be artificial at best.

It's a shame because you're right...real estate is cheap and the people are very nice. But the most these cities ever get is call centers or mundane paper-processing centers. The executives don't want to live there and they know they can't attract "top talent" fresh out of school.

Erik4872

This happens all the time

I live near NYC, and it would have been nice to have another source of semi-stable employment to choose from. However, I think NYC actually made the right decision. The list of requirements and tax abatements that the city and state would have had to provide is astronomical. Long Island City (where they were planning on going) is crowded and has a public transport problem that isn't easily solved. It's right next to a very large housing project, so you know Amazon would eventually demand 10 square blocks cleared out to build their "techbro fortress".

I think New York was desperate to win one of these "corporate HQ beauty contests". For those not in the US, this happens every single time a company is thinking of expanding or doesn't get exactly what they want tax-wise from their HQ city. We in NY have high taxes and a pretty high cost of living compared to just about anyplace other than California. We _always_ lose these beauty contests because Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida bend over backwards to accommodate large corporations' every demand. Even if the HQ doesn't move, they move thousands of paper-pusher jobs to these cheaper locations that offer to build them buildings, give them free taxes, utilities and infrastructure, etc.

It would have been nice but $3 billion is a LOT of money to just give to an already rich company. Nothing wrong with a few incentives, but just bending over and asking what Amazon wants isn't smart either. I'm assuming they're going to pick Dallas or Atlanta.

Santander hands over $700m to IBM in hopes of becoming incredible banking machine

Erik4872

Haven't companies figured this out by now???

I'm well aware that IT outsourcing deals are settled over lavish dinners, golf trips and strip club visits, but you would think that companies would be wise to the outsourcers' playbooks by now. We'll see what happens in 8 or 10 years when Santander's back on the "bring it all in house" cycle again.

It's not hard to understand...massively underbid the contract, include loopholes and omissions you could drive a train through, make up the difference by enforcing change order payments for anything not written in the contract, offshore all the workers to increase margin and do the absolute minimum work necessary to avoid losing the contract. I've seen it more than once and experienced a full outsource/insource cycle. It's not pretty.

What are they teaching CIOs in their MBA programs that blinds them to the fact that the outsourcer isn't there to help them, but instead to maximize profit?

DXC Technology utters words 'hiring' and 'digital' 105 times in Q3 earnings car-crash

Erik4872

Digital employees

Digital is 2019's buzzword. Last year it was serverless and NoOps.

I don't want to wish another recession on anyone, but my hope is that the next one is going to slow down the hype train for a few quarters as companies just try to survive. Just like the Dotcom Crash it'll give us time to shake off the hangers-on, figure out what's useful that we got from the previous bubble, and get on with work.

As for these outsourcers...I doubt DXC is in any better shape than most are. My boss's boss just got a title with "digital" in it and he's been hit up by every single one of the Indian outsourcers trying to sell him their wrapper around AWS and Azure's management APIs as a digital transformation in a box. Even with firing every worker in the US and Europe, DXC still has too much overhead compared to Tata/Infosys and I doubt they have anything better to offer.

You like JavaScript! You really like it! Scripting lingo tops dev survey of programming languages

Erik4872

'Tis the future for good or ill

I work with developers as a systems engineer. The browser DOM and the HTTPS protocol have been overloaded to the point where they do absolutely everything a previous rich client application would do. It's as if people suddenly forgot how to write native applications around 2012, and at the top of the abstraction tower is the browser and name-your-JavaScript-framework.

Someone has to come up with a more general purpose thing than a piece of software designed (initially) to render Web content.

SAP to spend €950m on restructure: The thing is, 'loyal workforce', we want the 'best' minds

Erik4872

Best minds or cheapest minds?

"In countries where we don't have the skill set that we want, we're obviously going to come to a nice agreement with our employees to treat them very fairly... and hire the best minds in the world."

Someone stole IBM's super-secret playbook. I'm assuming the only country that has the requisite combination of cloud, social and mobile skills just happens to be India. :-)

At least they're being up front about the early retirement thing...hopefully that doesn't involve 2 weeks' severance like IBM changed their policy to a while back.

HCL picks up Notes, spanks total of $1.8bn at Honest John's IBM software sale

Erik4872

I doubt any tears will be shed for Notes

My medium-sized multinational company just got rid of Notes 2 years ago...for email. There are still some business-critical functions carried out via workflows embedded in Notes databases. But I'm sure the owners have spent this time rebuilding them...I hope...

I can't believe it's managed to hang on this long. I never really liked it, but in the dial-up days it was very handy to be able to take your entire mailbox with you and work offline as if you were connected. Outlook didn't get that for ages. The positive thing is that now that's in the hands of some Indian outsourcing firm, we're never going to see any NEW deployments. Maybe that will finally be the thing to kill it...just keeping it on life support for the one or two holdouts.

From Motown to lockdown: Detroit bathroom bung IT exec gets one year in the clink

Erik4872

Doesn't this happen all the time?

My assumption was that resellers and IT services companies do this all the time...was this exposed because someone got sloppy?

I've worked in large IT organizations with a single-source mom and pop reseller handing all purchases. As in, you can't get a PO approved if it's not through this company. There has to be some sort of bribery, kickback scheme, whatever in place. Government IT positions must be far worse.

Seriously, isn't this just how the reseller business works?

US Department of Defense to sling an estimated $3.17bn at Microsoft resellers

Erik4872

Trying to lock in licensing?

I'm wondering if Microsoft will make exceptions for governments, but my guess is that DoD wants to get their deal done now to ensure they get the last perpetual versions of Windows, Office and the servers/applications.

Microsoft isn't showing any signs of slowing down on the whole Windows as a Service thing, and setting Office 2019's EOL date the same as Office 2016's is a major clue that they're not going to be rolling standalone versions of these products very soon.

Deck the halls with ... oh, no. DXC tells staff they may not have a job in the New Year

Erik4872

Get out now, because you'll be kicked out later

I'm assuming at this point that anyone still working there in the US or UK has seen the writing on the wall...but in case you haven't...it's time to pull the emergency cord and get out while they're still offering better-than-statutory redundancy checks.

After they're done offshoring everything, I think the plan is to just sell the corpse of the HP/EDS/CSC Frankenstein to one of the big Indian outsourcers. Especially in the old EDS, there are some very critical systems and data centers being maintained for governments, banks, airlines, etc. Anyone left outside of India is going to be gotten rid of systematically over the next year or so in my opinion.

At least trhey didn't lay everyone off before Christmas...but spending the entire EOY period worrying about it isn't fun either. Sorry DXC people...

(Oh, and BTW you're not digitally transforming fast enough.)

Roll up, roll up, HPE's composable infra charabanc is coming

Erik4872

Re: HPE not-quite-Cookie-Monster

I think a lot of that thinking comes from "digital transformation" salesmen wondering out loud why an established business with thousands of employees can't be more like the 5-person "Tinder for Nurses" startup huddled around a cafeteria table banging out JavaScript on their MacBook Pros.

Unless you truly have no infrastructure and no existing systems, it's more difficult than they're selling to flip a switch and "serverless all the things." Just like Dotcom Bubble 1.0, Bubble 2.0 will pop, the startups will go away, and we'll take the useful things we've learned from this iteration, leaving the breathless hype behind.

I'd say we've received a lot from this latest bubble...public cloud, IaC, etc...I just wish the pundits would slow down and stop telling everyone about the newest technology that will destroy everyone's jobs if they don't ditch the stuff they spent the last month learning and learn it RIGHT NOW!

Lloyds Banking Group: We're firing 6,240 to hire 8,240

Erik4872

Employment Hunger Games

So, everyone in IT is fired and now has to compete for their job back? Nice...anyone with any sort of talent is going to just say "no thanks" and walk.

Sounds like what IBM is doing by firing all the experienced people and hiring DevOpsCloudAIMLBlockchain wunderkinds straight out of college. I have no doubt that there are tons of people who are basically coasting late in their careers, but it sucks that all of us are being painted with the same brush. At 43 i'm worried the reaper is coming at some point. :-)

Fujitsu: Closes director's gate to Tait, 9 execs abdicate, and for German workers – a crap Weihnachtszeit

Erik4872

Getting out of the hardware business?

Is the German factory the one they inherited when Siemens sold off their PC/server business to them?

I wonder how many companies are going to be left actually manufacturing physical devices for all this software-defined, cloud-scale stuff to run on, I guess it's just going to be Supermicro and a couple of contract manufacturers building custom cloud boxes?

Microsoft promises a fix for Windows 10 zip file woes. In November

Erik4872

Release fixes, not features

There's nothing wrong with releasing quickly when your target is an application with one or two entry points and very defined behavior. Operating systems need to be tested a little more carefully, because while your average phone user will just reload the app and web user will just hit F5 to bring your app magically back to some safe state...you can't really do that on an OS.

I highly doubt anyone is listening to average users about patch quality, but if they were they'd hear that these users aren't interested in new color schemes, 3D paint or HoloLens support. I feel Microsoft should slow down on feature development and target their inability to release fixes that work across all situations.

Amazon tried to entice Latin American officials with $5m in Kindles, AWS credits for .amazon

Erik4872

Interesting...

Manhattan was purchased from the original inhabitants for $24 in trinkets. I guess Amazon figured they could do something similar? :-)

DXC share price tumbles on El Reg bombshell of Americas boss ejection

Erik4872

Outdated business model?

All these big outsourcers are relying on the classic approaches to making money:

- Convince a CIO/CEO to fire their IT department and pay you to do it instead

- Make the deal's profit margin by making it impossible for the company to do anything not specifically written in the contract without paying a change order

- Make even more margin by sending all the actual work to India or similar cheap location

- Do the absolute bare minimum to avoid losing the contract, not a shred of work more

- Repeat, because said CIO has plenty of golf buddies you can sell your services to as well before the CIO gets fed up with your performance

Problem is with cloud and SaaS, it's actually advantageous for a company to have a smaller IT department in house that's more focused on application support. That's not compatible with a massive outsourcing deal.

Cisco Webex meltdown caused by script that nuked its host VMs

Erik4872

Blameless post-mortems?

I _highly_ doubt there will be "blameless post-mortems" in this case like DevOps calls for. Too bad for the person who actually triggered it!

Microsoft throttles on-prem tech donation scheme for nonprofits

Erik4872

Re: Nice charity you got there, shame if your Windows got broken.....

"The Cloud™"

This is the answer. Microsoft is so obviously done with supporting fixed-feature on-premises products. The only reason they don't come out and say they're dumping boxed products is because the installed base is still quite large. Even Office 2019 is now click-to-run only and won't run on non-Windows 10 machines...you know, "cloud cadence" and all...

Like all software companies, Microsoft is now addicted to monthly revenues and will never go back to selling you one-time-purchase products unless forced. It makes sense that they're forcing charities this way as well because they can write off that portion of running Azure/O365 as a donation rather than just the list price of the software.

On the commercial side, they're making it harder and harder to access product downloads in MSDN/VS subscriptions as well, probably hoping people will forget about it and click the "spin up an Azure solution" button instead.

Great, we're going to get DevOps-ed. So, 15 years of planning processes – for the bin?

Erik4872

Re: I'm not a developer but this is a genuine question...

Thst's the eternal question. It usually gets answered by saying that no one portion of the system is big enough to break anything. In the microservices world, it means the application is broken up into a ton of small components all HTTPing and JSONing their messages around. Even the database is abstracted away so you can swap in a whole new database under the hood.

Where it breaks down is when you start factoring in dependencies, requiring lower latency, etc. All those hops cost time.

Erik4872

Re: as soon as my shop realises

Yes, the tools is the killer. I'm all for the transition, but the constant swapping out of tools has to slow down if they want anyone other than consultants to develop an aptitude for it. I've actually had people tell me that one tool or another is "old" because it was from 2015.

Erik4872

The key seems to be doing only what works

It's like ITIL. I've worked in a few places where they've hauled the management consultants in, paid them a shipping container full of money and bought the IT Service Management Platinum Package. Problem is, if you don't adapt ITIL to the organization, it just becomes a ton of paperwork and process that no one wants to follow, and slows down the pace of change. Eventually people get fed up and the situation gets bad.

The same thing is happening again, with fear of missing out stirred into the mix. Everyone wants to be Netflix, Facebook or Google. And they're desperate to do something, anything, right now. What they're failing to realize is that this transition is meant to be adapted as well as adopted. If you have a mission-critical system being supported by 200 different offshore development houses writing code, you really shouldn't trust them to check code directly into production. If you have developers who can't/won't test their code and rely on integration/QA to find their bugs, then they can't "own the problem" the way Google SREs can. Bottom line is that if you want a real transition and not just a tickbox, you have to go slow and fix your cultural issues first. Problem is that tool and consulting vendors don't make money when you do that...they make money scaring people into implementing whatever's hot that month.

IBM gives Services staff until 2019 to get agile

Erik4872

Not being from London, I did some Googling. I see the first two items as part of the "Agile hipster with a MacBook covered in build tools stickers" set, but cereal bars?

Erik4872

DevOps by Fiat (not the car manufacturer)

This is symptomatic of a larger problem...fear of missing out by companies is forcing them to send in the management consultants and force-feed a "digital transformation" initiative on them. On the surface, it looks like another ITIL -- just buy a ticketing and change management system off the shelf and Bob's your uncle.

What everyone is missing is that to do it right, you need a total culture change. I've only understood this in the past few months (and yes, I'm very late to the party, thanks for noticing.) I work at a non-IBM IT services company that's doing something similar, but IMO has a greater chance of actually succeeding. For me, being in systems engineering, the big hurdle has been the --WALL OF TOOLS-- that cloud the actual change that has to happen under the hood. Telling someone that they can't manually make a change, and instead have to feed it through a meat-grinder of CI/CD stuff, who has directly worked with systems their whole career, is a big mind-shift. The Devs have been in control of DevOps for the most part, and so everything is designed to make infrastructure go away. IT services people understand infrastructure and most don't do much software development beyond automating tasks. Meeting in the middle appears to be the key for systems people.

The problem is that the culture change is pretty radical. IBM will have a very hard time, as would any company relying on resources nine time zones away who are pretty disinterested. The reason an "ideal" DevOps system works so well is because the ideal system is a 10-person startup, all in the same office, all understanding every aspect of the operation, and all working over 90 hours a week cranking out fixes and features. It's much harder to implement when your resources are all over the place, and in some cases you don't control them. It sounds like they're just trying to use this as an excuse to get rid of anyone still left in a high-cost country.

IBM Java CTO: Devs shouldn't have to learn Docker, K8s, 30 other things to deploy an app

Erik4872

???

"The notion that as a developer you'll have to learn Docker, Kubernetes, and 30 other things before you can even deploy an app is something I'd like to get rid of,"

My brain is hurting. As an infrastructure person, I thought the endless parade of strangely-named tools, products and frameworks was to abstract away the hardware. You know, push the Build button and your code magically deploys to a serverless, infrastructureless layer on your cloud of choice.

Test crash dummies: Pearson VUE broke half-way into all-day exam

Erik4872

Maybe, but..

But you can take a certification exam again... Some of these tests are structured such that you can't invalidate a bad score. The MCAT (the exam you take to gain access to the academic hazing that is medical school) is like this..all your scores, good or bad, stay on your record and follow you, so even taking it again carries less weight.

Imagine being 22, most likely under a lot of parental and societal pressure to get into med school, and basically flushing your life down the toilet if you have a bad day on test day. Not good, especially if you've spent the last year or more studying, which is apparently recommended.

Erik4872

Re: Holy Hell...

They and Promettic are basically the only game in town if you want an independently-adminstered computerized exam. I think almost all if not all of the high-stakes exams are done on computer now in the US. The SAT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT definitely are...but I think the LSAT is still a paper and pencil exam. (Most lilely, because they don't trust those clowns either.)

Erik4872

That's awful

This sounds like the equivalent of the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) taken at the end of medical school. Talk about a high-stakes exam...doctor friends of mine have said the score you get on it (assuming you pass) basically determines whether you get a residency you want, and that all future hiring is done based on that score too. I would have been beyond upset if I had spent months studying for the exam and not been able to complete it.

It's one thing having an IT certification exam blow up in the middle...quite another for a test that determines the course of the rest of your life. Medicine and law seem to love these no-do-overs, all-or-nothing high stakes exams...maybe they're just rites of passage. I hope these exam candidates get something more than an, "oops, so sorry about that!" from Pearson VUE.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Workstation adds killer feature: No Candy Crush

Erik4872

Consumer refers to who's paying

Consumer versions of Windows 10 are "free" and paid for by providing telemetry data. The Enterprise editions, and Windows 10 for Workstations, are paid for by license fees/subscriptions. And yes, the consumer editions are also free billboards for advertising and drivers of Microsoft Store revenue.

That's the big shift - Microsoft used to care very much about selling a Windows and Office license per box and ensuring that you couldn't use more than one copy. Now, the focus is on making sure that someone is paying the monthly fee to run the software, and they're not as concerned with *where* it runs. And for the free users (Home and Pro,) Microsoft gets sent data about usage that can be disabled in the Enterprise versions.

From Amazon to Ama-gone: Bezos swings the axe on hundreds at HQ

Erik4872

Re: empire building

I thought Amazon was notoriously "flat" and basically didn't allow anyone's span of control to go beyond a small number of people. Most of the MBAs cycling through management consulting land are touting the "2 pizza team" concept that Amazon supposedly follows.

I figured the cuts would be for staff in acquired organizations...Amazon and others are buying up tool vendors at a fast pace so I thought they would have acquired a bunch of employees that way.

I see you're writing a résumé?!.. LinkedIn parked in MS Word

Erik4872

Could be a positive thing

It strikes me as a little bit creepy, but the reality is that if a tool exists that allows me to get resumes past the Taleo filter and other content filterers, and into a real interviewer's hands...I'm going to use it. I'm assuming the Resume Assistant is going to genericize your resume to make it as machine-readable as possible.

What I wonder is whether LinkedIn is actually a professional platform anymore. When the UI started morphing into Facebook-style a while back, people started treating it like Facebook. I run in both the techie and management circles because of the nature of my work, and this is absolutely the case. You have people posting vitriolic comments, getting into comment fights, etc. You also have self-help attention seekers posting inspirational quotes, and their followers congratulating them on having such great vision. For a platform that's basically supposed to be an extension of your CV, it has a lot of social stuff that many potential employers might use to filter you right out.

IBM: About those agreed voluntary redundancies ... we were just kidding

Erik4872

Glad I don't work there!

The company I work for also has a lot of long-service employees, who would definitely be affected if the company opened up voluntary redundancy and then pulled it back. The thing about our workplace is that it's very easy to let yourself get settled into a nice quiet corner as you build up tenure. If you aren't keeping up, especially if you've been around forever and are expensive, you get tossed at the next bloodletting interval. People who keep up get to stay for the most part. It's the nature of the business...as you gain experience you get better and build up your industry connections, making you more useful. Sometimes there are capricious firings, offshoring attempts, etc...but usually they're fads that don't last beyond one CIO iteration. IBM seems hell-bent on removing any sort of labor cost from their books lately. Just a couple decades ago, I remember IBM, AT&T, GE and others being very paternal corporations that essentially offered lifetime employment...no more I guess!

It's interesting that IBM does appear to recognize that they can't offshore everything to the cheapest rent-a-coder or rent-a-sysadmin shop, and are keeping some people from leaving voluntarily with a package. But I can't imagine how bad employee morale is there...if you're good, you're basically surrounded by everyone who hasn't been able to pull the trigger on leaving...and who is probably going to have a hard time finding a similar job.

Serverless: Should we be scared? Maybe. Is it a silly name? Possibly

Erik4872

Serverless is just another abstraction layer

All serverless is is the next generation of API-only applications. Instead of having dedicated instances of...anything...you just pass a JSON blob into a URL and...somehow...you get a response blob and/or a set of actions. The main difference is that you don't even care where it's going or how it's working...but under that tower of abstraction is a real set of web servers somewhere.

Sack the Xerox CEO 'immediately', yell activist investors

Erik4872

Aren't they just a BPO outfit now?

My experience with Xerox these days is just as a business process outsourcer for governments and big companies. For example, they are the ones who administer the red light camera program where I live. All they're doing in that outfit is collecting a percentage of fines paid and hiring a few "needful-doers" to man the cameras and respond to complaints.

I know they still make copiers and printers, but even those are just physical extensions of the BPO organization these days.

Here's a timeless headline: Adobe rushes out emergency Flash fix after hacker exploits bug

Erik4872

Re: Why does Windows 10 bundle Flash?

The main reason was to bring it under patch management from a source of patches that would regularly get applied. From my experience in end user computing stuff, Flash installed standalone almost never gets updated. Sometimes that's for good reason to prevent a garbage internal application from failing, but usually it's just because no one is keeping an eye on it. This was one of the reasons Flash is such a huge target for malware...tons of consumer systems have old versions installed. See also the Java and Silverlight plugins for examples of client-side apps with lots of system access and no easy update mechanism!

Bundling it with the browser is also partially historical. Microsoft bundled Flash with IE going way back, but didn't release periodic updates until recently. Almost nothing uses Flash on the Internet at large, but there are a lot of internal applications, especially in the training field, that haven't moved on yet. They'll have to when Adobe finally kills Flash completely, but don't hold your breath waiting...

Alibaba's Jack Ma says: Relax, we're too wise for robots to take our jobs

Erik4872

Not sure he's thinking about the entire population

I've heard lots of predictions about what will happen when the vast majority of humans can't sell their labor anymore, and most of the rosy ones don't take everyone into account. Consider these 2 extremes (and this is in the white collar world; blue collar is a whole other kettle of fish:)

1. Hipster full-stack web developer sitting around a cafeteria table with 10 other hipster developers at a San Francisco startup, building web scale apps and getting paid a fortune, living at work doing 16 hour days with basically no concept of a life outside work. These are most often the people who say a robot-filled future will enable humans to have jobs that "don't feel like work."

2. Systems Analyst III, buried in some dark corner of a large corporation or state government, with an extremely narrow focus paper-processing and report-generating job. Their job consists of following the same set of unchanging rules, and is often designed to not allow them to deviate from those rules. (Big corporate IT has more of these positions than people think...yay ITIL!) This employee comes in on time and leaves exactly when their shift is over, has no desire to spend their entire life at work, and often hates their job but needs it and the security it provides.

From my experience in the real world, there are way more #2s than their are #1s. This is going to sound mean, but I think that most people are only capable of holding down one of the #2 jobs, simply because we don't need 7 billion visionary thought leaders and elite scientists. The problem is that modern society is built around middle-level educated white collar workforces coming to an office and processing paper all day long. Millions of students come out of universities every year with a generic BS in "management." Up until lately, large corporations would take in almost all of these graduates and put them to work doing some random task. These students would have something of a career path...associate analyst, senior analyst, supervisor, manager, director, etc...and they would earn and consume at an appropriate level throughout it. Switching everyone to unemployment, a fixed income, or minimum wage work is going to break the consumption cycle. A process-follower cannot be a data scientist.

How many times can Microsoft kill Mobile?

Erik4872

Maybe it's time to rethink UWP and the mobile UI?

I get where Microsoft is coming from. The company I work for also basically lives and dies based on a couple of products that are standards for the industry we support. This is very similar to Windows/Office on the desktop. Microsoft badly wanted to control the entire platform the way Apple does, or at least control the OS the way Google does. Big companies take a long time to react, and it's only now that they're fully admitting their mobile platform is dead. Once a company gets addicted to lock-in, no product or initiative that doesn't result in 100% guaranteed total lock-in will ever get reasonable levels of funding. Look at Azure - Microsoft is poised to be the next IBM mainframe provider. Now THAT is lock-in on a grand scale...no more one-off software sales. We're moving one of those cash cow applications to Azure now, and it's astounding that people don't see that they'll be paying Microsoft *forever* to host it.

What I wish they would do now is admit that mobile is dead and continue rolling back the mobile-first user interface in Windows 10. No one wants VB6-era apps, but IMO they're moving too slowly in undoing what was done with Win8.

HP Inc exec: Yes, we'll put a bullet in the X3 device

Erik4872

Killing the OS is definitely a "change in strategy."

It's strange to watch the last few months of Windows Phone's life. You can tell that Microsoft desperately wanted the lock-in and guaranteed revenue stream that owning a mobile platform would give them. But I think reality finally set in that they weren't there in time to influence things the way they can with PCs.

Not to worry though -- if they can't lock people in on phones, they're definitely going to do it with Azure. Especially with Azure Stack -- they're basically repeating the IBM mainframe model. Ship a box with "no user serviceable parts inside" to a customer, keep it fed and cared for, and charge by the MIPS. It's a very smart business strategy, and the main reason IBM can afford to attempt a transformation into a management consulting firm.

Town wants Amazon's new HQ so much it plans to split off new town called 'Amazon'

Erik4872

This will be entertaining

For those not in the US, this happens every single time a company announces they're expanding or not happy with their current situation. Atlanta is not a surprising choice...they spent most of the 90s vacuuming up corporate headquarters and back offices from around the country with lures of cheap taxes, free services and land as far as the eye can see. I imagine every municipality in Texas, North Carolina and other southern states is also competing heavily on a very similar platform.

What I'm not quite getting is whether Amazon is planning on formally splitting off AWS from retail and sending the retail part of the business off to Siberia somewhere while they compete head to head with Azure in Seattle, develop Alexa, etc. I wonder whether they're going to need smart people or just back office order processors...that will definitely determine where they put their headquarters. As an example, the financial company running my 401k is based in Boston, but all the drone work is done in Dallas.

The entertaining part will be seeing which municipality bent over the furthest backwards to attract the new HQ. I live in New York and we're constantly losing large employers who can just pick up and move because lower-cost locations will suspend taxes for decades, build them a headquarters for free, pay their electric and gas bills, reconfigure roads and zoning laws, and basically anything else they ask for. I imagine it's going to be somewhere in Georgia or Texas...cheap labor, nearly zero taxes for the well connected, and much more room to maneuver.

Azure fell over for 7 hours in Europe because someone accidentally set off the fire extinguishers

Erik4872

Today's cloud lesson...

The lesson for today is that you should never assume a cloud provider's operations are 100%. I hate having to explain to people why we need to have an instance of our service in more than one region. "But it's so expensive! My cloud salesman assured me that each region is interconnected data centers miles apart and they are nearly incapable of failing!"

It's all just computers and data centers, even if it's very much software-defined and very resilient. If humans and computers are involved, something will eventually go wrong.

Nailing a cloud project without killing Bob boils down to not being a tool

Erik4872

Learn to filter brainwaves

I'm currently in the middle of a forced "DevOps by management consultant" transition. None of what everyone is saying is totally out to lunch, but the sheer volume of opinions and information coming at you from all sides is overwhelming when there's an actual IT environment to run as well.

The key thing to realize is that people 2 or more levels above you are being wined and dined by cloud salesmen, and they have been plugged into the information firehouse at the high level. That translates down to my boss getting 2 AM emails from a super-excited puppy-like "cloud strategist" asking him when we can implement CI/CD by, or why we're not orchestrating Kubernetes containers even though they have no idea what that actually means. The only way to deal and keep your sanity is to learn to filter some of this out.

With all the cloud and cloud tool salesmen leaning on the IT strategy people, plus everything that doesn't involve the cloud or containers being called legacy regardless of age or usefulness, combined with the intense fear of missing out or being left behind, it's not surprising that we have a ton of Bobs out there. I'm hoping that the second dotcom bubble burst will slow things down to a sane level and we'll take what makes sense back into the real world...but I still haven't seen the top of the bubble yet!

DXC squeezes suppliers for extra margin, issues ultimatum

Erik4872

Re: Not surprising

That's the problem with IT services companies in general. They have to make margin on their outsourcing deals and have lots of levers to pull in order to do it. I work for a decent service provider, and even here there's a constant drive to squeeze and squeeze more. The main reason I actually like working for service providers is that you get exposed to a lot of things while not having to endure 100 hour weeks at a software company or a soul-crushing internal IT job at a company that doesn't care about IT.

If you manage to get to the point where you're something of an expert at what you do, keeping that spot has become harder since management feels they can replace you with 100 identical resources in a cheaper part of the world. The sweet spot for me seems to be finding those rare companies that will grudgingly pay for someone who can demonstrate better results...those are getting harder to find but they're out there. Body shops like DXC will never value talent...and forget it if you're doing anything considered a commodity skillset. Even if it takes the offshore guys 20x longer to do something, they're still cheaper, the customer won't know the difference and you'll never compete with that.

Erik4872

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People

That's pretty arrogant, but I've seen that happen to friends of mine who work contract jobs in finance. One day the bank will just say "we're cutting rates by 10% and/or changing your contract terms effective immediately. Agree by 5 PM or pack your stuff and go."

Now, contracting is one of those things where you know you never have a stable job but the pay can make up for it. Purchasing OTOH...how many suppliers do you think rely on large corporations overpaying for items because of some contract negotiated years back? I'm betting it's a lot. DXC may just be another rebranding of HP Services, EDS and CSC, but it sounds like they're trying for a margin squeeze right out of the gate so they can "look tough" to their supply chain.

It'll be interesting to see what this company does. You could argue that with the cloudy world upon us, companies will become even less aware of what happens inside the IT magic box, but I guess they have to balance that with the fact that most companies have been around the block with IT outsourcing once or twice before. Hopefully this means they are less susceptible to the sales tactics that allowed EDS/CSC to charge rates that allowed suppliers to overcharge for toilet paper...doubt it though.

Oracle finally decides to stop prolonging the inevitable, begins hardware layoffs

Erik4872

Wasn't the writing on the wall?

Every place I've personally seen or heard evidence of that wasn't absolutely married to Solaris and SPARC has been trying to get away from it forever. I can't imagine it's easy for Oracle to get new customers for anything other than their database applications, given their reputation.

You did see a lot of Sun hardware in the academic space back in the day, because their model was similar to Apple's -- give it away to students so that those students will buy it at a much higher margin when they're executives. But, the only places I've seen Solaris lately are those with 30 years of code that's totally married to Solaris, or workloads that have characteristics making SPARC the best or only choice.

Hopefully Larry isn't being too stingy with the severance packages. I feel bad for anyone who's still around keeping SPARC alive.

HPE wraps up $8.8bn Micro Focus software dump spin-off

Erik4872

Re: Prescient

That's the best description of CA's business model I've ever heard. I had a project at work around 2012 migrating a ton of managed devices off of their desktop management product (the former Unicenter from the early 90s.) It was very obvious that they weren't even trying to improve the product beyond making it compatible with new operating systems. They were just milking license fees from customers who felt they were stuck on it for whatever reason.

You can't DevOps everything, kids. Off the shelf kit especially

Erik4872

A good idea plagued by buzzword mentality

The higher-ups in our organization are very buzzword driven, and I imagine they collect a lot of free meals, golf trips and other...amenities...from the DevOps consultants. Just like Agile a few years ago, we've been told that we're now "all in" on DevOps.

What will happen in our case is that we'll take the parts of it that make sense and use it in the real world work we do. We'll even take the single-pane-of-glass magic tools the DevOps company of the month sold them and give a half-hearted effort to integrate them. I think that's the key -- if you let your consultants run the show you're going to get an ITIL-style monstrosity that takes more work to care and feed than the actual work you're doing.

We have a lot of "boring, legacy old school" stuff from 2005 (if you can believe it.) We also have a lot of new cool shiny microservicey stuff. Knowing where to apply DevOps techniques, which ones are appropriate for your world, and what to skip is the key to keep DevOps concepts (which for the most part are really good ideas) from being another shelfware that gets abandoned when the next buzzword comes to town.

Second one this month: Another code bootcamp decamps to graveyard

Erik4872

Checking to see if it's 1999...

I'm an IT guy, not a developer, so my experience lies with the "MCSE Bootcamps" that sprung up towards the top of the First Dotcom Bubble. I went after doing the MCSE myself because a consultancy I was working for at the time paid for it. If you were there for an upgrade like I was and knew what you were doing, it was a good way to cram for the stupid tests in a very short time. However, these bootcamps also enrolled a lot of complete newbies ("career changers") who were truck drivers and similar in a previous life. This is where we got the term "paper MCSE" from - the bootcamp taught exactly what you needed to know for the exam, and very little else.

I can only assume that these coder schools are very similar. What do you know when you come out? Maybe one or two JavaScript frameworks and a couple of back-end tricks? It makes sense now, when you have web startups grabbing for all the starry-eyed "talent" they can get and working them 100 hours a week. But once the bubble pops, or even just slowly deflates, there's just not going to be a need for millions of AngularJS junior developers.

Tapping the Bank of Mum and Dad: Why your Netflix subscription is poised to rise (again)

Erik4872

Why not do this if you get a monopoly at the end?

When most people think of a monopoly the image of a state-owned enterprise comes to mind -- inefficient, expensive, etc. But Netflix and Uber are just following Amazon to where Microsoft was (and is working on going back to.) If you think of the end goal as having no competition, and therefore not having to constantly squeeze nickels out of your operation to keep up with the other nickel-squeezers, then why not spend whatever it takes to get there?

Uber already has Kleenex-level brand recognition. "Taking an Uber" is part of the lexicon these days, and I'm sure they know that if they keep pumping money in they will eventually drive competition out. Back in the pre-2000s era,Walmart in the US spent massive amounts of money to open stores in every little town. It was expensive but they eventually drove out all the mom and pop businesses, and now enjoy a near-monopoly on goods and groceries in many areas. Anyone looking at monopolies of the past and not seeing an opportunity to become one themselves is not thinking ultra-long term.

Now, admittedly some of the talk is starting to smell vaguely of "this time it's different" and "eyeballs are the new profits" and "we'll make it up in volume." We'll see whether Netflix and Uber become monopolies...the US is already starting to tee up the conversation about Amazon...they're currently putting many retailers out of business. I never thought I'd see Sears on the verge of bankruptcy in my lifetime for example...

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