Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Can you get a job solving your ISP's problems from circumstantial evidence when you're a customer?
Can webmasters, “retired” from IT jobs by corporate buyouts occurring near the normal retirement age, and working at home on their own content hone in on some skills to get back into the job market?
One cottage skill that I have used a few times is problem solving “with a fresh pair of eyes.” I do have a couple of conventional sites, and a couple of times I have helped ISP’s solve problems. One time I recognized a situation where an outside party was using their trademark for a phishing attack. It was several hours before they realized I was right, but took action and called law enforcement when they did. Another issue is dealing with problems where Urchin statistics fail to accumulate, and then going back into Internet documentation (much of which Google now provides) on how Urchin and analytics software works in steps behind the scenes, and the various points at which the process can fail. Some of the infrastructure in a large ISP is predicated in running a number of processes in a certain sequence according to a certain schedule, very much like mainframe jobs in a financial system run according to a sophisticated scheduler like Jobtrack or CA7. Other problems, such as upload features failing, could be solved by noting whether normal quota parameters, that require access to a database, display to the webmaster.
Is it conceivable somebody could get a job by helping the ISP or service solve problems with entries on their messages boards? Maybe, but the jobs might start with the graveyard shift.
Another question concerns whether local technical college courses help someone get back in. In 2002, I took courses in XML and C# at Hennepin County Technical College while I was still living in Minnesota. But I didn’t get anywhere the level of hands-on agility and fluency needed to be productive as a developer in one of these skills. I have played around with free copies of Visual Studio at home, and again found that I don’t really need all the sophisticated capabilities for most of what I do.
What has been helpful is MySQL, for organizing some of my “arguments” into a database. I noticed that Wordpress entries are stored in a MySQL database.