Archive for August, 2006

MCSE Certification – what does it mean any more?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

“Mouse Click Selection Expert”?

Lately I’ve been seeing “Prefer MCSE Certification” in job postings. I’m unsure of why the sudden resurgence after all these years, but apparently people are hiring point-and-click admins again. Most in the industry remember how high MCSE admins were valued during the dot-com bubble around 2000…and then let go after the bubble because there was no value there. Most (not all) MCSE’s didn’t know what was really going on under the hood, so they really weren’t an effective admin.

Now people can say that I’m bashing certifications all they want, but I have a few certifications myself. The certifications alone won’t get me the job. In fact, I was a part of the CST Advisory Board at my previous school for two years and the members consisted of the largest employers in the Tri-City area (mid-Michigan) and they had nothing good to say about certifications.

One such member stated “All certifications really do is prove how well the person tests – it doesn’t really prove if they can perform the functions or not”.

I’d have to say I agree for the most part. I went to school with a person who obtained A+ Certification, but yet couldn’t tear down a PC and put it back together. For those that aren’t familiar with A+ Certification, being able to troubleshoot all components on a PC is half of the certification. The problem is, the A+ Certification process doesn’t require any hands-on testing. This is part of the reason why A+ Certification gets the same bad reputation as the MCSE Certification.

Please don’t get me wrong, because I do believe that some certifications are put together rather well. For instance, from the prep tests I have seen from CompTIA web site, the Linux+ test appears to be a good BASE test for Linux. However, there’s more to Linux troubleshooting than what’s in the terminal, so it’s fairly incomplete. It also doesn’t take into account questions like how to troubleshoot/repair (for instance) the GRUB bootloader if it should happen to become corrupted.

I have been thinking about the Security+ Certification exam, but again, it comes down to really just being able to test well. Sure you can answer questions you read out of a book as to what SSH and SSL is, but it doesn’t cover how to configure and implement either encryption method. It doesn’t come down to whether I’d be able to pass the exam or not, but rather, is it really worth it to have “Security+ Certified” on my resume?

Decisions decisions…

Quote of the week: August 28th, 2006

Monday, August 28th, 2006

While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

Ways to get promoted (in my company)

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

1. Nod your head continuously any time your boss is addressing your team. This conveys that you agree with everything he says and that you only wish you could have articulated it as brilliantly as he is doing. If his ego is insatiable, his eyes will constantly gravitate in your direction for affirmation. In other words, embrace your inner bobblehead.

2. Disagree with everything the boss says. Go out of your way to contradict her every statement. This shows that you’re an independent thinker and way smarter than the rest of the peons you’ve been thrown in with.

3. Use the same buzzwords as the boss. Make sure what you say is an actionable, user-centric, directionally correct turnkey solution with touchpoints. As you can see, it doesn’t even have to make sense if you say it fast enough. For extra points, speak entirely in acronyms.

4. Ask questions during company meetings that have no purpose other than to showcase your tremendous intellect. If the CIO is talking about reorganizing the help desk, don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask what effect the current business strategy will have on the next quarter’s profit margin. For an added bonus, ask this question at the end of a meeting. (See next point.)

5. Don’t make any major presentations during the course of a regular meeting. Wait until the meeting organizer is wrapping up and makes the perfunctory “does anyone have anything else?” request. Then you launch into your spiel, assuring that everyone has to pay attention to what you say. Sure, they may hate you for making the meeting run long, but you’ll have made an impression.

6. Laugh hard at your boss’s jokes. The higher placed the boss, the greater your laughter should be. If it’s the CIO, feign uncontrollable mirth by intermittently wiping tears from your eyes.

7. Be at work 23 hours per day. Be there when your boss gets in and when they leave. Even if your workload only constitutes about 3 1/2 hours, stretch it out with coffee breaks, four-hour lunches, non-work-related web browsing, and general co-worker chit chat. After all, productivity is measured by your physical presence not actual turnaround.

8. Pay close attention to whatever phone/PDA/gadget the boss uses. Do a great deal of research on it, then casually let the boss know that you’re looking for a new phone/PDA/gadget with particular features–namely the exact ones that his model is known for. The boss will instantly recommend his own gadget, so that when you buy it yourself, he thinks you took his advice, rather than merely copied his purchase.

Shamelessly ripped from “The Trivia Geek” at TechRepublic.

It IS legal to copy CDs

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

17 USC, Chapter 10, Subchapter A, Section 1008 specifically states:

No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.

Section 1001 defines a “digital audio recording medium” to be:
any material object in a form commonly distributed for use by individuals, that is primarily marketed or most commonly used by consumers for the purpose of making digital audio copied recordings by use of a digital audio recording device.

In more common language, this refers to audio/music CD-R discs, which are made to work in digital audio recorders. These discs are different from the more common data CD-Rs, in that they contain special digital markings (standard data CD-Rs won’t work in digital audio recorders). In addition, by law a royalty has been paid on this blank media. These royalty payments are in turn distributed to copyright holders (see Section 1006 of the law cited above). They usually cost slightly more than data CD-R discs, but they can be found for less than $0.50 each.

So go ahead, make copies onto music/audio CD-R discs, even give copies to your friends. You can do so legally and without any moral problems – you’ve paid for the right to do so. As a matter of fact, not copying CDs would be theft – the music industry stealing from you through these forced royalties. (And the RIAA fought for this law. Thanks, RIAA!)
Oh, and if you also use those audio CD-R discs for downloaded music, then that would be legal, too!

I will say here, to make my position clear, selling pirated goods is theft. What is different? People appear to have a certain sum of money that they spend on music/videos etc; if pirated goods are bought, that money is redirected from the artist or his/her representative, since that cash is no longer in the hands of the purchaser. Accordingly, I would have profiting from piracy be a crime with a fine proportional to the money made, rather than the degree of infringement.

Quote of the week: August 21st, 2006

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Unix was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things.

Ad-supported OS? Huh?!

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Article here.

Here comes another marketing/advertising rant…because this is just a plain STUPID idea!

There are those advertisers and companies who like to use video ads. Even without the sound they are distracting. Then there are all the other unplesantries and deceptive adverting methods they use such as flashing epilieptic-siezure-inducing advertisment, pop-ups, pup-unders, dialers, flash advertisements that forward them to their website if you click, mouseover, mouseout, mousemove, avoid, or even do nothing (they run some dumb animation that sends you to their website without your approval), to upload dialers, spyware, toolbars, attachments, cookies, images (remember that JPG virus a while back?), viral marketing, or some other malevolent form of unauthorized, unorthodox, and down right evil form of advertising to repeat the cycle and urge you to consume stuff you don’t need that is shady or has the qualities of a timeshare real estate agent, carney, carpetbagger, or a person who solicitist for either the mormons, jehovahs witnesses, or the Cult of Scientology, by making you feel inadequate, left out, in danger, or entertained.

Greed motivates the entire process. The point is that some people will take advangate of the misfortunes of others by stealing more than time and resources, but also money. Since most advertisements lately have appealed to the lowest common denominator, this has allowed commercial advertisers to get away with what TV shows can’t. Waste twenty minutes yelling and flashing images in front of children and teenagers until they have ADD, ADHD, or shock-induced epilepsy, put college and high-school students in debt, lie, decive, and even use the the money to influnce the thinking of policitical leaders to suppress technology, information, and sound science to contintue spreading the virus that is Guerrilla Marketing.

My employer’s stance on professional growth

Friday, August 18th, 2006

It seems to be SOP these days for a lot of large corporations to cultivate the environment in such a way that it’s very clear to everyone involved that if you want a raise (past the pittance that you get each year that doesn’t even keep up with the cost of living) or a promotion, you must leave the company.

The attitude seems to be that you must leave the company I work for with no more skills than you walked in with, EVER. Frequently employees who get training on their own are seen as being “disloyal” by trying to improve their skill set. Why? Because if you’re making yourself more marketable, clearly it means you’re not interested in staying in the position you have that doesn’t require those skills, and are dissatisfied with the opportunities that you’ve been granted at your current company. (The fact that those opportunities are frequently described as “no fucking way” never enters into the thought process.)

Why large corporations seem to be so incredibly phobic of encouraging the professional growth of its employees is a mystery to me. It’s so incredibly pervasive that many companies have stopped hiring IT staff *altogether*. Instead they hire “contractors” (read: “temps” or “slaves” or “disposable humans”) to do the jobs that need to be done for the continued functioning of the company. The contractor gathers experience about the computing environment over the months (or, more likely, years) that they’re there, which is rendered completely useless to both the contractor and the company when one of the following happens:

1) Some beancounter arbitrarily decides that payroll is too high and forces someone to lay off contractors regardless of the importance of their role,

2) The contractor is fired (oh, excuse me, “has their contract terminated”) because of some incredibly minor infraction of the rules, their failure to take abuse from a permanent employee, or just because, or

3) The contractor realizes there is no place to go from where they are, and decides to leave. The company has to go hire and train another “contractor”, during which time the (usually critical) work the contractor was doing goes undone, to the detriment of the entire organization.

This isn’t restricted to IT by a long shot. A close friend of mine had been in the same job for 4 years. His supervisor left to take another job, leaving the position open. This friend of mine had more seniority and experience than others in his group (not to mention being the only one in the group that actually did any work, the rest spent most of their time talking about Pro Wrestling and NASCAR.) His supervisor wrote a letter recommending him for the position once she had left. A golden opportunity to reward a valued employee for hard work.

Rather than promote him (even in title, maybe not with a raise), they decided to eliminate the position. That’s how much they didn’t want to promote him (or anyone else). A lot of corporations have raised the concept of “penny wise, pound foolish” to an art form.

These are just several reasons of why I am currently looking for employment elsewhere. Not necessarily because I want more pay, but rather because of the negative attitude and backlash I have been dealt for going to school. I have literally been punished for bettering myself and I refuse to continue putting up with it.

Judge rules NSA eavesdropping program unconstitutional

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

From the article:

“In a 44-page memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, — who is based in Detroit, Michigan –struck down the National Security Agency’s program, which she said violates the rights to free speech and privacy.”

Read the ruling (PDF) here.

TONS of respect goes out to this judge.

John Conyers (D-Michigan) – bad for Michigan

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Michigan’s own John Conyers (D-Michigan) wants to destroy lives by making file trading a felony…even for one file. That, of course, would make every college student and most high school students a felon. Though the proposal is three years old, a lot of it has been made a part of the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006.

Yet another blanket law that can’t be enforced (or would be selectively enforced) and yet another sign it’s an election year. He obviously is blind to criticism surrounding the RIAA and has failed to even bother reading up on the RIAA. Anyone who backs the RIAA and ignores their racketeering tactics should not be in a public office. John Conyers should not even be running for office for proposing this draconian piece of legislature and for supporting the RIAA!

U.S. oil company earns $1,318 a second

Monday, August 14th, 2006

And in the time it took you to read that article, Exxon Mobile probably earned more money than you or I will make in about six years.

Isn’t it wonderful how these oil companies can cripple individuals and businesses with the high cost of fuel. I wonder…wouldn’t this activity of actively crippling the U.S. economy be a…”terrorist act”? I seem to remember something in the PATRIOT act regarding this. I guess that the PATRIOT act doesn’t apply if you’re a corporation.

Our government needs to step in and cap their profits – PERIOD. Good luck with that though with our current administration being knee deep in the oil industry.

From the article:

“Apples to apples, this quarter is the highest by any organization ever,” said Fadel Gheit, an energy analyst at Oppenheimer.