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Dirty Duty On the Front Lines of IT

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the he-said-duty dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 166

snydeq writes "Jobs may be scarce in today's economy, but there's no shortage of nasty IT work — as the third annual installment of InfoWorld's Dirty IT Jobs series demonstrates. From the payroll cop to the coolant jockey to the network sherpa who has to squeeze into rodent-filled spaces and deal with penny-pinching clients, these seven jobs provide further proof that dirty duty abounds on the front lines of IT."

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FTA: (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817710)

The hardest part of Andrew Bonar's job is convincing the world he's not a spammer. It's not easy. Just having "email deliverability consultant" on his business cards is enough to start the Viagra jokes.

Somehow I don't think Andrew Bonar's job title is the reason for the Viagra jokes.

huh-huh-huhuhuh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817762)

He said Bonar.

You would think that he'd be an expert. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817876)

With a name like that. But ...

Bonar works with companies whose email isn't getting through to customers, thanks to overzealous spam filters. CEO and founder of EmailExpert, Bonar has to convince ISPs to let his clients' legitimate emails past their filters, while persuading his clients not to bend the rules.

Dude, if your clients are going to "bend the rules" then they are spammers.

Deal with it.

Re:You would think that he'd be an expert. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818030)

I suspect that the deal is "As long as they keep signing the checks, I keep describing them as 'wanting to bend the rules' rather than 'worthless marketing scumweasels who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes'"...

Re:You would think that he'd be an expert. (2, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818706)

They're only spammers once they've committed the act.

There are tons of bosses who think that it's a good idea to send out emails about their product/services to thousands of people who never asked for them (hey their product is wonderful after all, etc etc).

You can convince some of them that it's not a good idea, in which case they don't become spammers.

And there really are overzealous spamfilters. I've seen people here who think it's a great idea to block off entire IP ranges (not just for their personal systems, but at a corporate level).

How many call him first? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818824)

There are tons of bosses who think that it's a good idea to send out emails about their product/services to thousands of people who never asked for them (hey their product is wonderful after all, etc etc).

And how many of those bosses would think to call him for his services PRIOR to sending that email?
http://www.rhyolite.com/anti-spam/that-which-we-dont.html [rhyolite.com]

And there really are overzealous spamfilters. I've seen people here who think it's a great idea to block off entire IP ranges (not just for their personal systems, but at a corporate level).

Yep. The question still comes back to who hires him.

If Corporation X (not an ISP or email provider) is blocking email sent by Company A ... why would Company A hire this guy to talk to Corporation X?

Wouldn't the person at Company A who is trying to email someone at Corporation X call that person and tell them about the blocked email?

Re:FTA: (1, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818052)

Adam West thinks that is funny [youtube.com] .

Re:FTA: (4, Funny)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818240)

The hardest part of Andrew Bonar's job is convincing the world he's not a spammer. It's not easy. Just having "email deliverability consultant" on his business cards is enough to start the Viagra jokes.

The hardest ... Bonar ... is enough to start the Viagra jokes.

FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818898)

Steven Jobs provides further proof that dirty duty abounds on the front lines of IT.

I fix code written by offshore Indian developers. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817750)

I fix the horribly shitty code written by offshore Indian "developers".

The crap and stupidity I encounter from them daily is far worse than dealing with rodents, or cramped spaces, or spending months on the high seas.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (4, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817996)

So, is it cheaper to hire idiots to write most of the code and then hire someone smart later to fix it?

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (4, Insightful)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818098)

> So, is it cheaper to hire idiots to write most of the code and then hire someone smart later to fix it?

Doesn't the question answer itself? What's cheaper in the long run - install plumbing and wiring *while* the house is being built or afterwards?

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818798)

I don't know: I'm not a plumber. Sure as hell works well a treat if you offshore the bulk of dev. work and get a local specialist to fix it as required.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818884)

Houses are built to last 100 years or more, right now very little IT products (software and hardware) are produced to last more than ten years, with the introduction of virtual machines things will change as with IBM mainframes, where software designed for 70's machines run in today mainframes.

Right now with software you need to put it in the market as soon as possible to start generate profit and then fix the problems with support contracts. It's not the right way but the one more profitable.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818996)

Houses are built to last 100 years or more

You haven't looked at recent house construction, have you?

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819110)

You ask that question as if the metaphor speaks for itself, but it doesn't. I'm not a business mogul, but people who are business moguls are pretty good at doing math and finding the cheapest solutions. It strains credulity to say that all the people hiring Indian developers are making unwise business decisions. The only way that could be true is if you personally have superior knowledge and reasoning to all of those business people. That's possible, but unlikely.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819346)

>> So, is it cheaper to hire idiots to write most of the code and then hire someone smart later to fix it?

>Doesn't the question answer itself? What's cheaper in the long run - install plumbing and wiring *while* the house is being built or afterwards?

Actually if the plumbing and wiring aren't in the walls, it will never pass the rough-in inspection unless you bought the inspector.
You usually don't have the option of installing wiring and plumbing after the walls are closed up when building the house, unless you live somewhere that doesn't require inspection of new residence construction.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818114)

No, it's generally not, although you will usually get a product of some sort quickly. It's best to think of it as 'disposable software', which I suppose os fine in a few rare situations.

Mod parent up. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818302)

Remember, it isn't always about the techs or the technology.

Marketing operates on their own logic/ideology.

Management operates on a logic/ideology completely different from marketing OR the techs.

Ideally, you'll have a manager who can handle all three modes of "logic" and explain what they want you to do and why in a way that you can understand and handle.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818246)

It depends on the accounting method you use.

If you use the one typically used by non-technical MBA managers when making technical decisions, it is cheaper. But that's only because they're concerned with quarterly results, and most software projects take at least a year.

Furthermore, these guys typically don't last more than a couple of years at any given place. Between when a project starts and when it's finally delivered (usually one or two years late, and very broken) we have a three to five year gap. So while they're still with the company, they can talk about all these great "initiatives" they've started, and how this software developed in India will be cheap and boost productivity. But by the time the shit hits the fan, the management who pushed for the software in the first place are long gone, pulling the same stunt at some new employer.

Usually, I end up throwing out what the Indians have shit out, and redo it all myself. It takes me longer to sort though their crap and try to fix their work than it takes me just to redo it all from scratch.

So considering the cost over the entire development lifetime of the project, the client ends up paying a large amount of money to the offshore Indian team (say, $X), and then they end up paying me some amount of fix it. I usually do it for far less than the Indian team, because unlike them, I know what I'm doing and I don't fuck around.

Just paying for good work in the first place would save these companies huge amounts of money. But the MBAs just can't figure this out (or don't want to).

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (3, Informative)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818324)

If you can re-write what they spit out as a support function, you are working too cheap. And of course the company's accounting system is worse than the State of Arizona's. Which is bad.

What you just said was also 'I can do it as well as they can, all by myself, within a support timeline'. So you and/or your boss are not selling your abilities either. But that's another topic - how do you sell to management what they aready have? Imagine the hilarity when they realize they paid twice for the project, and one of the costs is already in the house...

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818278)

I doubt this person is in the position to change that policy.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818314)

No, but it all-too-often cheaper to hire idiots, then send it back to them for correction until they get it right.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818446)

This is not uncommon even inside companies.

A friend of mine fixes "dirty and broken" RF designs that others in his office develop - this is largely his full time job. I asked him why they didn't just get him to do the design ... all he did was groan.

We can't do code reviews because that might hurt someone's delicate ego. I have been making do with unofficial reviews where I preview the check ins of some junior staff and advise them on better ways of doing things / major disasters. I help the ones that appreciate it and their work is getting much better over time.

Who knows what bizarre politics lurk in the bowels of organizations... Some of us just work around it.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818462)

I fix the horribly shitty code written by offshore Indian "developers".

The crap and stupidity I encounter from them daily is far worse than dealing with rodents, or cramped spaces, or spending months on the high seas.

I am an Indian developer in USA. The stupidity of general American developers around me is astounding. I guess I can generalize and say American developers are just stupid and incompetent.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818892)

Of course you think American developers are stupid and incompetent. Why else would you keep writing shitty code?

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818960)

If you're in the US then you're not an offshore Indian developer now are you? The code I've had to work on that was developed here in the US by Indians has been fine, but the code developed offshore not so much.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818760)

Pretty much all the code I see is crap. I am NOT a Java or Perl or C developer any more, but some of the code I see makes me cringe. For example, here's some shell script I saw a while back:

    LOGDIR=/path/to/some/log/dir
    cd $LOGDIR
    rm -rf *

Then there was the developer that use column counts to get a filesize from an ls listing. The code failed when a directory got larger, but they didn't realize this until much later when the directory grew again and the process just failed.

I've had one developer copy binaries from an AIX Power5 system to a RedHat Linux x86_64 and wonder why it didn't work.

There was the developer who submitted a problem ticket because "ls didn't work". Resolution? There were no non dotfiles in his home directory so it wouldn't return anything.

I've seen "seasoned" Perl developers who didn't know how to include a module.

There was one developer who couldn't figure out how to read a credentials file so hardcoded the creds into the code. Of course you know what happened when the password changed...

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819300)

I get what you're saying but a lot of these things are beginner mistakes.. *face palm* learn the right way and move on.

A decent explaination about the mistake and the correct way to do it goes a long way to further their knowledge and understanding. If they refuse to learn.. to hell with em and treat their work like lepers, no need to fixate on it. Keep them out of core dev and give them little side projects to learn from.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818904)

(Must post as AC..)

I've seen my share of this in different companies. I can't complain too loudly. I clean up after some very slovenly people, but it pays the bills. But the contributing factors tend to be:

  • The overseas staff is overworked or over-scheduled. It's easier to put in crap code than add a genuine fix, especially if mgmt. is cracking the whip.
  • Resume inflation. Many of the folks overseas are motivated only by money, and the more impressive the title, the higher the salary. Passion for development is notoriously lacking.
  • Inexperience. See the last bullet. There's also the common misconception (among junior developers everywhere) that "if I just do what they tell me, I'll get ahead". (If only..)
  • "But it works!!"
  • Hubris. Someone with an impressive title is far less eager to learn, especially from their own mistakes.
  • Software management.. isn't. If you're doing outsourcing work overseas, or you're with a company that embraces it as a panacea, it sucks to be you. You're not working for software managers, you're working for cost accountants. Developers are interchangeable resources, quality means nothing, only dates matter.
  • Misplaced nationalism. Every so often, a junior, inexperienced team of offshore developers try to architect a grand project that will make everyone's life so much easier, just to prove they're as capable as anyone else. I think you know what the results tend to be.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (3, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819308)

My observations: There are some very good Indian developers. There are some very cheap Indian developers. My observations do not include any overlap between the two.

Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819740)

The sql processes I've seen wreak havoc on a website kept me employed for years! On the other hand I did admire their attitude.

Dirty is Relative (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817778)

If anybody thinks their IT job is dirty, they are sorely in need of a reality check.

I have relatives that run pig farms.

Re:Dirty is Relative (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817834)

I have relatives that run pig farms.

Given the grooming habits of most NOC monkeys a server farm isn't that far off.

Re:Dirty is Relative (2, Funny)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818854)

yes but you normaly (BOFH aside) dont have to slughter them and dress the carcass

Re:Dirty is Relative (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819098)

Might be easier than cleaning them

Re:Dirty is Relative (1)

Chagatai (524580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819332)

I had it worse as an IT guy for slaughterhouses. You can read about some of the, "fun," here [slashdot.org] .

Re:Dirty is Relative (0, Offtopic)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818106)

"And when you got your six pieces, you gotta get rid of them, because it's no good leaving it in the deep freeze for your mum to discover, now is it? Then I hear the best thing to do is feed them to pigs. You got to starve the pigs for a few days, then the sight of a chopped-up body will look like curry to a pisshead. You gotta shave the heads of your victims, and pull the teeth out for the sake of the piggies' digestion. You could do this afterwards, of course, but you don't want to go sievin' through pig shit, now do you? They will go through bone like butter. You need at least sixteen pigs to finish the job in one sitting, so be wary of any man who keeps a pig farm. They will go through a body that weighs 200 pounds in about eight minutes. That means that a single pig can consume two pounds of uncooked flesh every minute. Hence the expression, "as greedy as a pig".

Re:Dirty is Relative (2, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818582)

I am in IT because I grew up on a farm on the Great Plains.

I farmed, ranched and knew folks with pig farms, all of that motivated me to get a job where I didn't have to smell those things or get covered in hydraulic fluid on a regular basis.

Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817794)

I've gone through my share of cluttered closets, dusty vents, underneath dirty desks, and cleaned the fluff off of old computers.

However, nothing makes me feel dirtier than installing Windows Genuine Advantage, as part of the new computer deployment checklist.

Re:Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (1, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818042)

Interestingly, one of their so-called "dirty jobs" is a guy who narced on his company to the BSA for using single-user software licenses on networked computers. Sure, misusing software licenses is wrong, but some guy sicking the much-maligned BSA on his company is hardly an example of the poor downtrodden IT guy.

Re:Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (3, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818320)

I disagree. I did RTFA, and the guy tried to get the school district to do the right thing. They refused.

And his second point, that it's damn near impossible to teach kids ethics when they know the district is cheating...

I dislike the BSA as much as the next guy, but whenever I was the IT guy (and thank ha-Kadosh Baruch-hu, I'm not, right now), I always made sure that all our software was properly licensed.

Re:Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818434)

Why call the BSA when you already know who the vendors are for the software that's not in compliance with the licenses?

Re:Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (1)

ZippyKitty (902321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818374)

It wasn't just any company. It was the school system. I'm undecided as to whether that makes the actions better or worse

Re:Dust Bunnies and Asbestos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819356)

Snitches get stitches.

Lumping these guys with actual programmers (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817838)

It's amusing that these guys are sometimes lumped in with actual programmers under the terribly wide "IT" catchall. I'd liken it to calling garbagemen "sanitation engineers", but that's probably a bit mean.

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817938)

I take offense to programmers thinking they are "software engineers" when in fact many do not hold engineering degrees.

I chuckle every time someone says they are an engineer. Really? You went to Hollywood Upstairs Programming School?

And yes, I realize some OLDER person will get on this thread and say "I'm a train engineer - a real engineer - unlike these punks with engineering 'degrees'"

Anyway, the moral of the story is, don't berate people's positions, making yourself seem better, when in fact there are many people more qualified than yourself.

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (2, Funny)

erkkituo (1788388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818012)

Well, they DO teach software engineers here at JAMK. That's right, programmers who actually hold engineering degrees.

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818826)

Um a "real" engineer isnt some one with a a BS or BA you have to be a Ceng and charterd status requires work in the industry just like a Mech, Civil Or Electrical Engineer.

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (2, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818224)

And yes, I realize some OLDER person will get on this thread and say "I'm a train engineer - a real engineer - unlike these punks with engineering 'degrees'"

Of course, engineers existed before train drivers; but that's another story...

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (2, Funny)

syrinx (106469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819494)

And yes, I realize some OLDER person will get on this thread and say "I'm a train engineer - a real engineer - unlike these punks with engineering 'degrees'"

Of course, engineers existed before train drivers; but that's another story...

Somehow I doubt ballista-building Romans are going to be posting on Slashdot, though.

Re:Lumping these guys with actual programmers (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818316)

"IT" is, as you say, a very broad term, so there is nothing at all unusual or problematic about having Real Serious Software Engineers, PhDed computer scientists, and basic server screwdriver monkeys under that heading.

Take the analogy of "Public health": Public health means MDs, and PhD epidemiologists, and biochemists and stuff; but it also means the sweaty guy with the pipe wrench who makes sure that your water comes up your water pipe, your sewage goes down your sewage pipe, and the two don't get confused on their way to your mouth. Same goes for the dubiously literate kid at McDonalds who checks the core temperature of the "beef" patty because the pictograms in the employee handbook told him to.

Obviously, any screwdriver jockey who calls himself a "hardware engineer" just because he replaces dead hard drives when the SAN LEDs change color to tell him to needs a smacking. As does any ITT Tech Java monkey who calls himself a "software engineer". However, the idea that "IT" consists exclusively of upper-echelon engineering experts is transparently silly. A huge percentage of the labor involved in making a real-world IT system run basically has little or no relationship with hardware or software engineering at all.

Post Some News Instead Of Drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817854)

Slow news day or have you reached the end [slashdot.org] of your news DO LOOP?

Yours In Akademgorodok,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Post Some News Instead Of Drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31817980)

Different article. The one you linked is a followup to an article last year. This news story is following up on the follow up (I.e the third such article).

Hell, the summary even made a note of it. Emphasis mine:

as the third annual installment of InfoWorld's Dirty IT Jobs series demonstrates

If you are going to attempt to call people out, at least don't be a fucking moron about it.

Maybe the two most wrong sentences ever written (5, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31817958)

Techies often play a little fast and loose with the truth. But it's the marketing hag who catches hell for it.

Can someone please call an ambulance? I think these sentences may have caused my head to explode.

Re:Maybe the two most wrong sentences ever written (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818146)

The marketing bitch saying that is a professional liar. What did you think, that she would admit to being the one lying?

This line in TFA says it all (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818088)

"The geek personality is very different," says Bectel. "I've worked in a lot of different markets, and techies have much higher expectations for coverage than virtually any one else. It's because they're so passionate about what they do, and they expect everyone else to be equally passionate about it."

The one line explanation of /.

Rudigger (1)

Rudigger (992315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818094)

Starting as a peon in I.T., I saw my share of giant spiders and rats in . Harrowing work of a cable runner. Good motivation to get that career moving, though!

Re:Rudigger (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818484)

Back in the day it was fairly common in telephone exchanges (central office) to have cats on the payroll to keep down mice and such like.

Re:Rudigger (1)

Rudigger (992315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818860)

It's amazing how utterly disgusting office workers can be. No wonder mice love those places.

Re:Rudigger (2, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819570)

It's amazing how utterly disgusting office workers can be.

Absolutely. As one who has had the "pleasure" of moving/removing equipment, it is amazing at how disgusting some people are. I distinctly remember one case where I had to go to some machines and do a manual update. As I leaned over to put my fingers on the keys of a keyboard, I paused as I looked down and saw, as Tyr is my witness, that there was fungus or something growing from between the keys.

If you saw the movie Apollo 13 as they were preparing to fire up the command module for reentry and Kevin Bacon paused before asking about what the effect of the condensation would be on the electronics, yeah, that was me too when I saw this keyboard.

There are several people in the building where I work where I swear they eat their crackers directly over the keyboard. How they can possibly think that is hygienic or that the keyboard will function properly is beyond me.

And let's not forget the people who have to stack twenty pounds of pictures, in frames, Beanie Babies (remember those?), lotion bottles and other goodies all over their desks.

If a fire were to break out and clear out a few of these rooms, that would only be a good thing.

Questionable ethics (2)

spmkk (528421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818216)

"As a computer science teacher at an East Coast high school, Smith became concerned when the district bought single-user licenses of Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office, then installed them on network servers where 5,000 users could access them.

Smith says he approached his superiors and the district's IT department and explained why that was wrong, but to no avail. So one day he called the Business Software Alliance and reported them...a few months after he contacted the BSA, his employers purchased legal licenses for its software."



With what money, you self-righteous scumbag? This is a SCHOOL, and they're making do with what they have. It's not a for-profit corporation that's making money at the expense of another corporation's loss.

To be sure, the school isn't in the right. But sinking to an even lower level of wrong isn't the solution. There's the letter of the law, and then there's doing the right thing. Looks like someone missed that chapter in ethics class.

Re:Questionable ethics (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818332)

If an educational institution can't afford monopolyware then PIRACY is not the answer. If they can't pay their own way helping perpetuate the Microsoft monopoly, then perhaps they should not help perpetuate that crap to begin with.

A kid doesn't need to learn the Brand X version of a particular sort of software.

That's just nonsense perpetrated by middle aged idiots that couldn't adapt to something new if their life literally depended on it.

Re:Questionable ethics (2, Insightful)

spmkk (528421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818524)

A kid doesn't need to learn the Brand X version of a particular sort of software.

That's just nonsense perpetrated by middle aged idiots that couldn't adapt to something new if their life literally depended on it.

The trouble is, a kid DOES need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software, because the people he'll be working for/with use it and if he doesn't know it, they'll hire someone who does. In a sense, his life does depend on it.

For all the fervor of the FOSS hype, here in the real world people need to make a living, and they go to school to learn the skills they need to do that. Beg, borrow or steal if you must, but if you are a school, your ultimate responsibility is to teach the skills that enable your students to succeed in the framework of a sometimes-inconvenient reality.

Re:Questionable ethics (2, Insightful)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818808)

because "Hi, I took a semester of photoshop my freshman year of high school" will totally get you a job in the real world. Middle school and high school students just need basic tech literacy and first exposures. Going to college or trade school is what's going to land you a job, and that is where you need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software. Yes, there are exceptions to that (myself included, a couple years back), but the sorts of low-paying, under-the-table, tech jobs a high school student is going to land generally afford them the right to use whatever tools they feel comfortable with; because whatever local business or charity they're working for doesn't know jack-all about tech anyway, and will listen to whatever their new PFY says like it's the gospel truth.

Re:Questionable ethics (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819090)

So, Word '97 is the same as Word 2007?

XP is the same as Vista?

How about instead of teaching how to use a single version of an OS or software suite, they teach kids how to use a word processor, and more general stuff about using a computer?

Re:Questionable ethics (5, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819106)

I strongly disagree. For starters, your third solution, "Steal", is not an acceptable solution in a school. Ever.

Second, a kid does not need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software. They need to learn concepts, not specific implementations. So they should learn what a word processor is good for. Whether it's MS Word, or OpenOffice, or iWork (or pick some other word processor). Irrelevant. Learn what a word processor does. (Repeat for presentation software, spreadsheet, etc) It will make them more versatile in the real world. Additionally, the second option in there is free, thus solves the original problem of "we can't afford the licesnes". I have no idea what they need Creative Suite for. That's an even bigger sledgehammer than MS Office for putting in finishing nails.

Yet another advantage for OpenOffice, since it is free, the kid can easily take a copy home and use it for homework there too, and not inflict a large licensing cost on the family too.

Re:Questionable ethics (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819352)

Eh, I dunno man. We're talking about kids here, not adults in a tech training program. If a kid uses Foxit instead of Acrobat, then the kid will still know what a PDF is. And, the kid will still know what Acrobat is -- it's the software whose authors won't let him use it, for whatever reason. Hardly any software is so complicated that it can't be learned quickly on the job. I got all the way through high school, four years of college, and five years of professional programming before I ever had to use Windows -- yes, that is the honest truth. And when I finally received a PC when I started a new job, I figured it out in a couple days, no sweat. The fact that my college CS program used Linux didn't slow me down very much.

I guess I think you are being hyperbolic when you say his life depends on it. The truth underlying that statement is so tiny as to render the statement misleading.

Re:Questionable ethics (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818842)

perpetuate the Microsoft monopoly

Anyone know where I can get a key for Microsoft CS5? Or really just MS Photoshop, that's all I ever use.

Re:Questionable ethics (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818712)

Well your teaching kids its all right to break the law not quite shure that's a leason many parents would like taught to Jack and Lucinda.

And MS and Apple do give very generous educational discounts

Re:Questionable ethics (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818888)

No, he did exactly the right thing.

I wish more people would do that.

If the school, or anybody else, for-profit or non-, can't afford to pay for the licenses they need then the answer is to find another alternative, not to engage in illegal copyright infringement.

In this case, there are two possible solutions: They can ask Microsoft for donated licenses (which MS does all the time, by the way), or they can use a free alternative, such as OpenOffice. The latter is even better, really, as the open source can be used to demonstrate real-world programming examples. Even if a kid never programs professionally, it's still good for them to know that software is written and some idea of what it looks like and how it's accomplished will serve them well.

Re:Questionable ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819934)

With what money, you self-righteous scumbag

With the money allocated to self-righteous scumbag administrators for their perks and travel. Most school systems have sufficient money to pay normal operating expenses and decent teacher salaries. But unnecessary central administration and non-teaching expenses are given far too much priority in budgets.

Complaints lodged with the Auditor General created a report which stated "poor internal controls". This did not stop the non-teaching expenses; but did stop operating expenses, for items such as software licenses, from being diverted.
posted AC for obvious reasons

Trademarks (4, Informative)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818222)

...you're asked to throw a 'TM' after a product name, only to find out later it's not really trademarked

Slapping that TM after a product name does trademark it, unless some direct competitor has already trademarked that same name first.

Only the (R) (for Registered trademark) has to be...well, registered.

Re:Trademarks (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819136)

I thought everybody learned that after the reoccuring TM joke in the Monkey Island series.

Re:Trademarks (2, Interesting)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819454)

Yep, so remember, folks: if you make lingerie, you can't call it "very sexy" because Victoria's Secret has trademarked it (no, really), and if you make baked goods, you can't say they're "fresh from scratch" because Schlotzky's has trademarked it (no, really).

I don't know how well these trademark claims have stood up, but know for a fact I felt brain cells dying away when I saw these companies actually trying to claim IP rights in these terms for their product lines. Not just the outrageousness of trying to own these terms, but the fact that their marketing drones couldn't think of something more original!

Payroll cop fubar (4, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818248)

If, as the article relates, Jennifer Hoffman had to call the data center and walk them through the process of manually restarting the one, single, solitary payroll server, a few items come to mind:

1) The people doing the upgrades without considering their impact should be shot on sight. Anyone who has worked more than a week in a network environment knows, or should know, that when you are considering an upgrade to anything, you have to find out who else is impacted by the upgrade.

2) Relying on said single, solitary server for payroll is just begging for disaster. For a highly critical task such as payroll, having one point of failure is beyond stupid. One deserves what one gets if the server dies.

3) The person who was fired but was still able to log time so they got paid was smart, the people who administered user accounts and security were not. Basic rule when someone is fired/let go/whatever is you disable their account. Immediately. Whomever in IT let this little gem get by should also be shot.

4) Having only one person who knew how to run the payroll software was, like issue 2 above, beyond stupid. Does no one use the bus principle any more? For the uninitiated, if someone gets run over by a bus, can they be replaced by someone else with minimal downtime? Are their tasks documented? What about quirky procedures that need to be done?

These are just basic questions I had when I read that job. My other question was, what company did she work for so I can introduce myself to them as a "Risk Mitigation Specialist"?

Re:Payroll cop fubar (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818732)

I know its quite sweet that they think a major telecoms carier is one that has 12k FTE's plus 3K contractors when i worked for BT our divison (SE) had 70k employees.

Re:Payroll cop fubar (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818906)

Wow.. 50% of your solutions involve shooting people.. Have you considered counselling for your anger management? Or could I perhaps interest you in a career at the local library?

Re:Payroll cop fubar (3, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819562)

Bus Principal is only employed after it actually happens. We had this very same discussion years ago, then one day, one of the techs woke up dead.

Took the rest of the team better part of a month to get things all torn down and put back together because nobody had the keys to anything.

It will not happen again. Once was enough

Dirty Jobs... right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818292)

When you work as IT staff at a steel company, you know what that really is.

Out of many horrible locations, the one that stands out it trying to track back network cable over a pot of molten steel. As it's being melted. Fortunately, there was someone else there that knew more about where it was supposed to be going...

(note -"it" in this case being the steel, not the cable. In this case.)

Then, when we get into the pulpit, the users were complaining about the screen being "wavy". We're standing ~10 feet away from an electric arc furnace, think there might be a little EMF there?

One of my co-workers had a good story about getting into a wiring closet that was a rat's nest - literally, someone had gone in and cleared out a nest of dead rats after some poison was put down.

Walking around, over, and under moving steel plates is an education all it's own. Crawling under desks and above ceiling tiles is nothing after that...

Theft vs Infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818298)

"You wouldn't go into Best Buy, put a copy of Windows in your pocket and walk out the door. Only in this case they're taking that copy of Windows and installing it on 100 computers, so they're 100 times worse."

-Jennifer Blank, BSA director of legal affairs

Re:Theft vs Infringement (2, Funny)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818870)

Well if the original DVD was actually stolen, that makes installing it on 100 computers about 97.3 times worse.

Those qualify as dirty jobs in this industry? (4, Funny)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818360)

Mike Rowe would laugh at every last one of them.

Re:Those qualify as dirty jobs in this industry? (4, Funny)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819412)

Hell, he'd take one look at it and start a company called...

Wait for it...

MikeRoweSoft...

Yes, it's already been done [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Those qualify as dirty jobs in this industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819620)

Mike Rowe would laugh at every last one of them.

not really -- I've had pigs step on computers, cow poop covering laptops, mice living inside the computer, etc. Try working in Ag Research :-)

Place I hated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818412)

Of all the IT places I've worked, UPS has got to be one of the worst.

My "office" was *literally* the closet under the stairs to the men's locker room. The fileserver sat a couple feet under a water pipe. When people flushed upstairs, we heard it. Every single flush. There was a leak once and I had to put garbage bags over the server. I don't know if it was from a clean water pipe or from the drain, but it was sad.

That wasn't the worst part of it. While I was there the dress code requirement was slacks, button down shirt and tie. If we were visiting a customer site we needed to wear a suit. To put this into perspective, the UPS customer shipping systems I needed to maintain were almost always in a dusty warehouse. Often there was layers of dust, grime and all sorts of grunge over the equipment. Add to this that it was South Florida, where the temperatures were often in the 90F to 100F range, and it was freaking miserable.

But that's not the worst part of it. Every peak season (i.e., around Christmas time), the IT guys had to help deliver packages. They gave me a package car once and shelves full of packages. More often though I had to use my personal vehicle. Think about that... I was an IT guy (officially, a Technology Support Group person), but I had to deliver packages. This also occurred whenever the Teamsters went on strike. I was a "jumper" to some manager. I.e., while he sat on his fat ass driving the package car around, I would have to unload the packages, run up to the door and deliver the package.

There was also the work environment. Most of the managers were former truck drivers. It's a completely different mindset than college educated folks. UPS was the only place in my professions career where managers would routinely curse at the employees. We were spared from the brunt of it, but it was not unusual to hear "you fucking piece of shit" and other wonderful phrases being tossed around in a meeting room.

Did I mention the Union? I was showing an employee how to scan a package once and some union reps came up behind me and were upset because -- get this -- I *touched* a package. I mean that literally. These large folks were upset because I touched a package. Non-hourly folks (managers, tech guys) were not supposed to touch packages. We did it all the time, of course, but when the union reps were there it was a big deal...

Did I mention the management? Many were racist (and a couple times I had to give statements because one manager was fond of calling his workers "monkeys" and "n*s"). Very little integrity among them also. One manager took one of my documents, ripped off the cover page, and submitted it as his own (Yes, that's you Luis Al-------.).

Maybe it's changed in the years since I left, but it was the absolute worst place to work.

Systems Admin/Cable Puller... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818436)

I worked for a "Mom & Pop" ISP/Computer repair shop back a few years ago. I was hired as a "Systems/Network Administrator". Soon, I discovered that my true title was "Systems Admin/Cable Puller"...

One day, after a couple weeks on the job, I went into work, preparing to install a new backup server. Later that morning, I went out for three weeks pulling Cat 5 for a school's new network. 95-115 degrees each day and no air conditioning in the old school, rats in the attic, ceilings, walls, etc. (Basically, rats and other vermin in all the areas I was crawling around in.) And did I mention I'm claustrophobic?

No, that job didn't last long. Not long after I ruined three suit. The horror story part of this one is that I got chewed out by my new boss because the Spam filter went down in the middle of the night and I didn't see it due to being in the hospital. That was the wonderful night I learned of my allergy to rats. Ah, memories.

My point is this: any job in IT can be either dangerous or completely idiotic. It is up to the tech as to whether or not he/she should stay as a fixture or become the abuser, et al.

Good luck everyone!

--Tom

Bats in the cabeling (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818442)

a coupel of years we had a spate of Bats living in my companies roof void we used to find them dead and some times alive I had bat removeal duties - not a problem its the ones in scotland that sometimes have rabies :-)

Quick someone call Mike Row! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818468)

Looks like a good idea for an episode of Dirty Job on Discovery channel. We need to let the public know that white collar job can be a dirty job!

Wistle-blower is not a job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818542)

And the asshole who turned in his school deserves to burn, along with all of the evil fuckers of the BSA.

Dirty Jobs (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818650)

Quick, somebody call MIke Rowe [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Dirty Jobs (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818914)

I enjoy watching Mike Rowe, but seriously? Mike Rowe in a datacenter? I cringe at the thought.

Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31818894)

Obligatory xkcd: http://xkcd.com/705/ [xkcd.com]

Home Support for VIPs (1)

Nexzus (673421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31818942)

My last place, I was asked to, out of hours, go and setup the home network and VPN setup of the director of something or other. It was implied that it would be part of my normal course of duties. I absolutely refuse to do things of that sort, so I replied that my next available evening would be approximately 19 months from that day, and I could do it then. But I could expedite the process and clear some time to do the work for my "normal" contract billing hours - $200/hr, minimum three hours, plus travel expense of $4/km. (Hey, Mustangs aren't cheap to run).

I was never asked for home support after that.

Re:Home Support for VIPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819456)

I was never asked for home support after that.

I would have simply fired you. Seriously. Your attitude is typical of IT folks who seem to think this is stil 1995.

Re:Home Support for VIPs (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819834)

Unless he qualified for salaried exempt (and damned few computer people do), asking him to do that without pay is a crime in most states. Firing him for refusing to do so is a crime that might actually get some attention, depending on what state.

(Home IT support for the owner of the company I work for is explicitly part of my job, but a) he's not an idiot when it comes to computers, and b) since he tried having his nephew "who knows a lot about computers" fix something, he's been very, very polite to me.)

Re:Home Support for VIPs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31819902)

Pfft you fool. I always take these jobs so I can see what kind of security system they have, leave a window unlocked, then return later to rob them blind,
just as they rob me blind daily. Hello capitalism !

plague = avoid (1)

archangel9 (1499897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819008)

Worse, if you do a good job for your clients, they'll want you to come to their homes and do the same thing there

I avoid this at all costs. Many moons ago (read: 8-10 yrs) I would head out to the client's house for easy money. Turns out the same pennypinching tactics the client uses at work invariably show up at the house. "What do you mean, you're charging me X? I thought we were friends!?!?"

What I wanted to say: "You entered into a verbal contract with a professional and requested services. Sir, we don't hang out, party, or write in each other's yearbook. I came here on my own time and expect to get paid. What I ended up saying, because I didn't want to get reported for doing side work (even though I didn't have any clause in my employment contract): "Oh, okay, my bad. Can I get a glass of water or something before I go?"

Now, I politely refer them to the nearest homegrown tech shop, Geek Squad or whatever. If they insist, I quote them a stupid rate with a multi-hour minimum, plus gas and expenses. When they realize it will cost them $400 to "look at their PC, that just ain't actin rite", they head over to Best Buy and purchase a new one.

Re:plague = avoid (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819492)

Many moons ago (read: 8-10 yrs) I would head out to the client's house for easy money.

Hmmm... Extra money, eh?

Redundancy (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31819566)

"penny-pinching clients"

You mean "clients"

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