Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Disturbing behavior" from a well-known browser tonight (DNS errors)

Google Chrome played a trick on me tonight.  My Dell XPS laptop, with Windows 7 (which had replaced Windows Vista) had been on all day and in use intermittently.

After some work on the Mac (my piano music) and on Windows 8 (book manuscripts), I came back to blog, and was looking at the notes on a movie on Amazon's imdb.com.   I went to look up the trailer on YouTube, and suddenly I got a DNS error.

So I tried a number of sites.  On most Chrome said it could not find the DNS.  But they all worked on Mozilla.  Weird.

I restarted the machine, and the problem with Chrome went away.  I am in this as I blog this.

But upstairs, in Windows 8, I  kept getting the same error from Chrome on a PBS station, but everything else worked.

I've never seen Chrome have this sort of problem before.  The Internet provider is Comcast Xfinity (allows up to five machines).  I didn't try the problem on Verizon before rebooting.

Has this happened to anyone else?


The next morning, on another computer, YouTube embeds would not work in Google Chrome until the machine (Windows XP) was restarted.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Military veterans may not have the interpersonal skills for today's job market like they did in past generations (remember EDS)

While I don’t write posts begging for support for specific constituencies (because there are so many “needs”), I thought I would pass along Petula Dvorak’s column in the Washington Post, Friday, May 24, 2013, Metro section, “Job market passes too many veterans by”, link here.  Online, the article is “Veterans need jobs: This Memorial Day weekend, pledge to help them”.
Dvorak makes one particular point that syncs up with what I recall about my own Army Basic Combat Training in 1968. Military people don’t learn to make eye contact in a way expected in civilian business.  That’s largely out of respect for the chain of command.  I remember being criticized once (while in permanent party, station at Fort Eustiis) for “walking between two officers.”

While much is made of the idea that military life involves forced intimacy, that happens in some civilian sectors as well.  It can happen in fire or law enforcement, or intelligence (although Hollywood has greatly distorted what CIA and NSA work is really like – often it’s analytical and solitary).  Start-up companies have surprising intimacy, as programmers cram into small spaces, even homes, to work and get started.  That’s even in the history of Facebook.  
I recall reports about the early days of EDS (Electronic Data Systems) when H Ross Perot started it in Dallas around 1962, and specifically sought military officers as employees.  How times have changed (even for EDS).  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Amazon to add 500 good IT jobs for web services, northern VA location; companies look at infrastructure resilience in choosing locations

Amazon.com plans to add about 500 IT professionals to a new facility for web services in Northern Virginia, not far from Dulles Airport and the “267” Technology corridor near Tysons Corner and Reston in Fairfax County. 
Thomas Heath has the scoop on p. A2p of the Washington Post today, link here
 Facebook and Google both have facilities in the Raleigh-Durham area, if I recall right, and Apple has a major facility near Charlotte.  North Carolina (and to a large extent, Austin, Texas) have also become “silicon valleys”. 
One company, Verio, moved some operations from Florida to Loudoun County, VA  (probably Ashburn) a few years ago because the infrastructure was safer from storms – an idea that some companies look at now.
Why did I not get on this “bandwagon” after my 2001 “layoff”?  There are a lot of reasons, that interacted the way storms do.  For one thing, the dot-com bust had happened. Another big reason was that the kind of broadcast publishing that I was doing did not require a lot script programming skills.  I thought I was revolutionary, but I began to grasp ‘revolution” when I saw what Shawn Fanning had done in 1999.  Facebook wouldn’t appear for five years yet. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Suddenly, I get a "Preparing Windows" from Windows 8; Start Menu back?

Today, when I powered u my Toshiba Windows 8 Satellite, I was greeted by a spinning wheel (like Camille Saint-Saens) and a message “Preparing Windows” next to my user name.  The preparation ran for about ten minutes.  When it came up, most of my desktop was gone. But there was a Start Menu (on the right side, in the hidden zone, brought up by clicking on the lower right corner). 
I went into Word, and found it had lost its place in “recent documents”.
I restarted the machine (with a cold boot), and the next time everything on the desktop came back, including all the bookmarks.
I think Windows 8 had updated yesterday.
Does anyone know what is going on?  I can ask the Geek Squad at Best Buy (where I got it) soon. 
Here is the best link I could find.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Peter Principle, even as flurries of Linked-In endorsements blow around

Although I suspended my Dice resume as inactive while I focus on book publishing, music and filmmaking in retirement (and I am fortunate to have some resources), I still get inquiries for jobs, even far from what I did.

No, I can’t imagine myself being a “supervisor” of customer service associates for a retail department store.  For me to have any direct reports might actually create a “conflict of interest” with everything else I do.
And friends in Linked-In continue to certify or “endosrse” me in practically every IT skill known to man on this planet.   That includes some in which I no longer have hands-on production-ready skills (like java), after years of disuse.  I rarely have to code anything now except native HTML.  It seems that life kicked me upstairs, like it or not. Welcome to the Peter Principle.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

When you work solo on your own business, you really depend on dependable customer service from vendors

There’s one immutable tautology about working on your own, solo.  You are on your own.  Yes, that’s a tautology.  But you’re very dependent on the professionalism of others.  You’re dependent on customer service from business.  And it’s easy to be derailed by the mistakes of others, or by accidents.
One problem occurs with continuous massive updates, often packaged with features I don’t even use.  They can disrupt getting work done. Last night, on another machine, a manufacturer-specific update from Toshiba upgrading how Intel works with a wireless interface took half an hour to install (including the restart, which took unusually long).  I had work to do and had not noticed any issues. 
When I was working in a large corporation as an “individual contributor”, business depended on me.  We were, oh, so careful with elevations (“moves”, or “promotes”) and particularly large implementations.  Any major inaccuracy – with systems that might process a million or so transactions a day – could have serious impact on the business.   Security, proving that certain things involving source integrity, couldn’t happen, became welcome. 
Now the roles are reversed. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recruiters do look at your Twitter profile (if you let them)

The trend for employers and recruiters to look at social media seems to increase all the time – double lives are a thing of the past, even for the CIA.
Tech Republic has an interesting piece by Tim Heard, “Your Twitter Account: A Recruiter’s Perspective”, here
The recommendations sound like common sense. Be wary of (1) excessive posts, all day long, (2) snarky language, which may work within your own followers but doesn’t on the outside, (3) attacking groups. I wonder if demonstration of mental telepathy is a good thing.  
Of course, you can make your account private, viewable only to followers. And you can refuse followers. I suppose not many people would refuse recruiters. Mine is public ("@JBoushka”), but in the last couple of years I’ve notice that more people make personal accounts “private”.
I wonder if recruiters pay attention to “who you follow”.  Some people say it isn’t good to follow too many more people than you have followers.  Not sure why that makes sense.   

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Video transmission programming: does it belong on the web in javascript?

Ars Technica has an important article by Peter Bright on the usefulness of javascript “codecs” for encoding and decoding (for playback)) video streams, especially in business conferencing applications.

The technique fits in with Mozilla’s strategy as a browser, emphasizing keeping streaming back in web-based software rather than using phone operating system-specific apps. 

Another important concept is watermarking videos, which makes them easier to track later if they are pirated, even though it doesn’t directly implement DRM.  Watermarks could conceivably be useful in child-protection filters, too, should “COPA-like” concerns surface again in the future. 
The specific script is called ORBX.js, developed by a company called OTOY.
A preference for javascript as opposed to smarthone-specific apps could have an effect on the kinds of skills needed In the job market.
Wikipedia has a useful discussion of “Codec” here.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

More job openings need mainframe DB2 -- because of Obamacare

Now, I’m seeing occasional jobs that stress just DB2 alone  The main emphasis is on writing stored procedures.  Presumably they want the modern IBM mainframe environment, but I’ve seen some positions that don’t seem to stress script programming on other platforms.

Why all this resurgence in mainframe skills in the past three months?  It has to come from Obamacare – the enormous changes that have to be in place by the beginning of 2014.  And it is beginning to look like the expertise bank in a lot of the old mainframe skills has taken a walk and moved on.  People now in their 60s.

Of course, all the younger people know MySQL or SQL Server, which is similar but not exactly the same. 
And the query technique is so critical to processing throughput in environments with huge processing loads, particularly when batched as at end-of-month.  Remember correlated subqueries?

Inevitably, more work will come from changes in Medicare reimbursement that are certain to follow any deal that breaks sequestration in Congress.

We may pass a sensible budget that convincingly addresses entitlement and further health insurance reform – and not have the old-fashioned skills to get them implemented. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Is ".NET" a scalding hot skill in the IT market (like it was ten years ago)?

I don’t know how I get e-mails for jobs so far from my past expertise just based on one keyword on my old resume.  This time, the “hot skill” is “.NET”  (Microsoft's Visual Studio).  

That was as “hot skill” around 2002 or so, in the post-9/11 recession.  It was also post Y2K, and mainframe hadn’t quite found its tracking yet, outside the familiar world of state MMIS and other welfare services contracts.  (Those are coming right back because of Obamacare requirements for 2014.)  At the time, there were magazine articles saying :”what’s hot” and “what’s not”.

“.NET” is a development platform on Windows products, and it has been common since Windows XP (where it took about 9 CD's to load from in 2002).  All Vista and Windows 7 (and I presume Windows 8) machines get regular automatic security updates for the environment, which tend to take longer to install than other updates.  It goes along with Visual Basic, C#, C++, or Microsoft’s clone of java.  Early in the last decade, it was extremely popular in retail companies (like Best Buy, near Minneapolis). 
It seems to be a prerequisite on your machine for Expression Web, which replaces the abandoned Front Page.

This particular contract is for “22nd Century Technologies” serving the Naval Postgraduate School Defense Language Institute near San Francisco.  In my novel manuscript, “Angel’s Brother”, one of the characters (a gay ROTC student about the time of the repeal of DADT) actually teaches a class at the Monterey  language institute in an early chapter. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

No, it's not OK to be "expected" to tattoo your employer's brand on your bod (Rapid Realty)

A company in New York City, Rapid Realty (link), is offering certain employees a 15% raise if they agree to have the company tattoo placed somewhere on their bodies.
The Los Angeles Times has a story (by Ricardo Lopez), which broke this morning on NBC Today and CNN, here. It’s obviously a sing of loyalty that is hard to remove.
Krosteen Quam has a similar story on the Time newsfeed here
But I would personally be offended by the idea of being expected to modify my body permanently for a job (as sensitive as I was about it as a boy).  I found the idea shocking.
Nevertheless, at least one condo in New York offers purchasers a free tattoo, story.
There’s something else here.  Besides the objection to changing my body (oh, actors do that, but I hope temporarily), there’s the idea of using your own persona (not just your social media or blog, but your own personal appearance, embedded into your body) to transmit someone else’s message.