Friday, June 29, 2012

Web design jobs go unfilled

There’s a curious story by Darren Dahl in the New York Times, “A Sea of Job-Seekers, But Some Companies Aren’t Getting Any Bites”, link (website url) here

Although the article discusses “humdrum” jobs that nobody “domestic” wants, it goes into areas that I had thought were just hip, particularly web design, although this would normally require advance java programming skills (and probably certification).

The company he discusses as having trouble filling web design positions with people with enough skill is Blue Fountain Media in NYC , which apparently builds corporate web sites and presence  (link).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

American salaried workers don't take all their vacation; they're afraid their jobs will disappear

Mother Nature Network has an interesting article (from Business News Daily) on how American workers (especially salaried) don’t take all their vacation because they’re afraid of looking expendable.  And in the US paid vacations are much less generous than in Europe -- one of the reasons for a European crisis. 

In information technology, I can remember a fear that a system I was responsible for could break down while I was away.  On one occasion, in 1976, I returned early from a West Coast Vacation (but saw “The Tall Ships” instead).  I should not have scheduled a vacation over end-of-month or an accounting closing.

Modern systems of test and production elevation control (like CA-Librarian, Endeavor, ChangeMan), security, and scheduling (like JobTrac) made this risk later in my career. 

Another risk can exist with archiving (disaster recovery and data warehousing) systems – not testing whether they are really usable.

I have heard some horror stories, back to the early 1990s, of jobs disappearing over vacation. 

The link is here.

Picture: Washington DC Metro weekend track work on the Red Line.  Some people have to make a living on graveyard shifts.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A weird adventure with Windows 7 and Carbonite

An odd thing happened last night on the way to the forum (that is, the movies, “for the end of the world”).  I saved a Microsoft Word 2010 note I had written to myself with word in a directory, I thought, that I put my blogger posts in before I post.

The next time I went to that directory (after the end of the world, about three hours later), all the items in the directory had disappeared.  The directory had not been deleted.  It seemed to have been erased (as in the old MS-DOS “ers” command).  On Carbonite, all of it had disappeared, too, as if the folder had been backed up empty.

I checked online to see how to go to older backups on Carbonite, and found this.    The concept reminds me of “incremental backups” in mainframe shops (often with “gvexport”).   The article compares Carbonite to Dropbox.  In the past, I’ve used Webroot’s backup, which just ran once a week and was a bit clumsy.

I found them  (a few hundred Word files, all small) on yesterday’s backup file, but with another folder name “cox” interposed.  I don’t know how this happened.  (Carbonite keeps files for three months.)  Maybe saving in Word without giving a name (just letting Word use the first sentence) did it.  “Cox” is the name of a competitor of Comcast as an ISP, and I think I’ve mentioned Cox recently in a blog, but I don’t think it was yesterday. No other directories on my hard drive seemed to be affected. 

I do know that with a (2009 Dell XPS) laptop converted from Windows Vista to Windows 7 Professional, there have been problems with the touchpad interpreting too much finger pressure as a Windows command, and deleting or moving material.  I could give in and get a wireless keyboard and mouse.  The Webroot  SecureAnywhere scan came up clean.

Here’s the review (from Jim Karpen) link

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Windows Update Agent: a surprise present for Windows 7 users?

Tonight, when I rebooted my Windows Professional Dell XPS after returning home,  the system, despite not having told me of any updates, applied registry updates and then reconfigured updates (quickly, at 35% and 100%) while coming back up.

The only update applied today was “Windows Update Agent” which Microsoft explains here

Perhaps this happened because I am the only user with full administrator privileges. But I don’t understand it’s not telling me when I signed off earlier today and reconfiguring on shut down.

I’ve noticed on three different windows machines (two travel netbooks and today, on my main Dell XPS Windows 7 Professional 2009 laptop (converted from Windows Vista, which I really don’t recommend), that after updates, the boot process now displays the registry updates on the “black screen” before reconfiguration and startup.  Is this a recent change to Windows 7?  I have SP1 on all machines but have had them a long time. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

IT job market seems to be getting even more fragmented

Scott Lowe has an article in Tech Republic about today’s IT job market (just “one view” of the market), particularly in the freelance area, with the experience of eLance, which allows contractors and short-term employers to match up. I must say, the home page of eLance has attractive content (yup, with eye candy).

Many employers don’t offer enough money for very specific skills in script programming or SQL, networking or security, the article says.  And many employers have trouble writing requirements precisely.  Candidates would do well to learn to read between the lines.

The link for the story is here

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Local 7-11 store has an odyssey with I.T. and cash register support

Here’s bizarre I.T. support tall tale.  Yesterday, I went to a local 7-11 (Westover, in Arlington VA) and bought some stuff, and found the employees writing down all the purchases on a sheet of paper and making “cash only” change from a box.  Today, the cash registers were still down, but at least the staff had 80s-style adding machines. They said it was a “software problem” and that it had crashed 2 AM Tuesday.  It had been down for over 30 hours.

I drove over to the nearest other 7-11, on Lee Highway, and found everything running normally. I bought a Discover Magazine (not to read about prions, as in 1983), so I guess this little escapade was good for the neighboring store’s business.  There can be competition among stores because most of them are individually owned franchises.  No, franchise ownership is not for me.

How can a “software” problem go on for so long?  I remember my mainframe days, dreading the possibility of reruns.  One time, in the 1980s, we did have to rerun daily billing for three days in a row. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tech Republic takes on "online reputation" and the I.T. workplace

Tech Republic has taken on the topic of online reputation, with a blog entry by Jack Wallen, “five tools to monitor and manage your online reputation”, link here  (also available as a podcast).
I was not aware that monitoring by was “free” (mine comes with AOL), but the “repair” service can be pricey.

Naymz has a free trial, and was marketed heavily to college students.   “Who’s Talkin’?” emulates a service available from Google, “Me on the Web”, (my main blog, March 19, 2012).

The first signs that employers occasionally noticed off-duty online behavior occurred in 1999, when a nurse in Arizona was fired for appearing (with her husband) in porn, and a similar fate awaited a teacher in Florida.  But “online reputation” as a controversy that we know today, didn’t take off as a topic until about the beginning of 2006, after Myspace had been around for a while and Facebook was just on the radar screen.

As far back as Feb. 12, 2006, Mary Ellen Slayter offered a Sunday morning missive in the Washington Post, “Maintaining an Online Profile – and Your Professionalism”, link here.

Until social media came along, employers had accepted the idea of a “double life” and were mainly forced on online behavior with corporate resources.  With social media, they were suddenly confronted with the idea that personal reputations of associates (especially those sent to client sites) could affect business bottom line more directly.

I came into this issue from a different angle, “conflict of interest”.  In the mid 1990s, I was authoring a book on gays in the military while working for a company that worked heavily with military member customers.  I did a corporate transfer in 1997 to relieve the potential problem, somewhat under the table, just as my online presence was taking shape.   And then, as a substitute teacher, I would fall into a major controversy about my own website in late 2005. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Can you collect unemployment while starting a business or setting up self-employment? Sometimes

In some states, it is possible to continue to receive unemployment benefits for six months while starting a small business.

The general procedure is to submit an application, which will run an automated script to determine the likelihood of your conventional re-employment given your age, occupation or previous wage or salary.

Typically, instead of reporting on job interview attempts (as in the spoofy Minnesota film “Great Lakes”) you submit aspects of a business plan.

EHow has a discussion here. Only certain states have developed this opportunity, coordinated with DOL.  The original states are Delaware, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Oregon (as of 2009) but it is expanding. 
There is actually a Blogger posting on this opportunity as it applies to New York State, link here

The possibility was covered on CNN Saturday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Some new resume tips: use QR codes, but don't use Word headers

Whereas there is a plethora of web pages giving resume advice, this latest article in Tech Republic, "10 mistakes to avoid", mentioned two original tips.

One of them is, don't put your name in a Word header or footer.  It might not get picked up my the scanning machines.  That is, put it in the "body".

The other tip is to add a Quick-Response code (or QR code), leading the employer with a smart phone to look at a carefully crafted, mobile-device ready professional web page.  It should be a real page, but your Facebook and social media presence should match it.  Unlike the world of ten years ago, it's no longer possible to lead a double life on the Web.  Mark Zuckerberg singlehandedly put an end to that.

The other big piece of advice is for brevity -- not so much an issue when I was in the market with "outplacement" in 2002.

The Tech Republic link is here

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bill Clinton tells CNN that employers need to invest in technical training big time

Former president Bill Clinton told Harvey Weinstein (subbing for Piers Morgan) on CNN that employers need to modify their attitude of demanding everyone be “job ready” and get back into the training business, the way they were 40 years ago, in the earlier days of big mainframes.   They also need to work a lot more closely with universities.

Jobs in IT security and smart infrastructure development and implementation are going unfilled because our system cannot pretrain everyone with the skills needed, and tends to look at them as matters of ability, curiosity or tinkering (as with the way Facebook uses the word “hacking”).  Employers need to put much more into training themselves, or our infrastructure will become vulnerable and tend to fail, he implied. 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Disappointing unemployment data causes job-seekers to rethink strategies

New employment slipped in May, according to Census Current Population Surveys, and there have been repercussions in the securities markets and for the presidential race.

The conventional wisdom for job seekers keeps shifting.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, during previous downturns, in mainframe IT one piece of advice was just, “you need a job”.  “A” was the indefinite article.  The problem was that such a track directed people down paths that would dead-end, in a market that would eventually insist on extreme, job-ready specialization.

Another variation on this “tema” was, you need to succeed only once (with an interview); you can fail countably infinitely many times.
In older days, you could lead a double life.  Even when I entered self-publishing, in the late 1990s, one could do that.  But that all changed with the advent of social media in the middle of the previous decade.  Now you must have an integrated presence and online reputation.  You may have to become more “partisan” than I had to be. 

Many people will soon lose unemployment checks as extended benefits end in many states.  And the percentag of long-term unemployed is rising.  This may be true in IT, where specialization is so critical now compared to times past.