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Ask Slashdot: Do You Run a Copy-Cat Installation At Home?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the yes-but-cat-food-prices-are-getting-oppressive dept.

Education 308

Lab Rat Jason writes "During a discussion with my wife last night, I came to the realization that the primary reason I have a Hadoop cluster tucked under my desk at home (I work in an office) is because my drive for learning is too aggressive for my IT department's security policy, as well as their hardware budget. But on closer inspection the issue runs even deeper than that. Time spent working on the somewhat menial tasks of the day job prevent me from spending time learning new tech that could help me do the job better. So I do my learning on my own time. As I thought about it, I don't know a single developer who doesn't have a home setup that allows them to tinker in a more relaxed environment. Or, put another way, my home setup represents the place I wish my company was going. So my question to Slashdot is this: How many of you find yourselves investing personal time to learn things that will directly benefit your employer, and how many of you are able to 'separate church and state?'"

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308 comments

None. (2)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 4 months ago | (#45748381)

I'm lucky, my org has a very cool education policy in IT and we can learn pretty much anything that makes us better at our jobs. It helps that I'm a self-taught kind of person and don't want classroom training, though :)

Re:None. (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#45748541)

Same amount, for pretty much the opposite reason: I work for a Fortune 500 who punishes employees for taking college classes after hours, pays absolute shit, contradicts their own policy regularly, and treats their employees like criminals a third of the time, children another third, and indentured servants for the rest.

Fuck them, anything I learn on my free time is for my benefit, not these assholes.

Re:None. (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 4 months ago | (#45748625)

Yeah, some places can be like that. Pretty much all of my gigs early in my career were, but eventually you find an org that gets it.

Re:None. (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 months ago | (#45748641)

I don't have a bad work environment, but I do separate 100% work from home 'play' time.

I mess around with tech/computer projects quite a bit at home, but they are only ever directed at my personal interests or projects I'm working on at home. Any help they give me in my work capacity, is purely accidental and un-intended.

When I walk out of the doors at work and the door hits me on the ass on the way out, I don't give work another thought till I cross that threshold again. They don't pay me for my free time.

I'll spend working hours and any other paid hours for work related education, no problem. But my personal free time, is the most valuable thing I have. And I give the majority of each week to work related hours, so anything outside of work hours, I prize and cling too as highly valuabe as MY time. Time for me, time for my family.

I often reject OT hours and pay in lieu of my personal time. It has to be very much needed, and paid for...again, I don't work for free. If I didn't have to work to earn money for a living, I certainly wouldn't be crossing the threshold of a worksite again, so, why would I give my personal time up so easily?

Re:None. (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#45748775)

Exactly.
I try to make it a one-way gate: I have no problem using the stuff I learn on my own time at work, but I don't take the stuff I do at work home. This has the added benefit that since I have this personal policy, I'll never get into the situation where something I do in my spare time infringes on something produced for work -- if there's ever a conflict, I can show that work was gaining the expertise that I had already used elsewhere, not the other way around.

Bored wives of nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748383)

Me and the boys fuck your wife while you tinker with your nerd shit.

-Nigga Tyrone

Re: Bored wives of nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748481)

He does not tinker with red shirt

-- Saucisson Francais Camembert

Re:Bored wives of nerds (4, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 months ago | (#45748731)

> Me and the boys fuck your wife while you tinker with your nerd shit.

My wife? You can't handle my wife.

Next job? (5, Insightful)

yendor (4311) | about 4 months ago | (#45748391)

I learn things in my free time in order to beef up my skills for the next employer since the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.
Anyone notice you only ever get more responsibility but never more renumeration to go with all that extra work?

Re:Next job? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748553)

I've heard that before on here and I've gotta say, nope, that's not been my experience at all. While it took me some time to get my first raise, they've been pretty regular and beefy ever since then. I've only done any major work for two different companies, and they've both behaved this way.

Perhaps you just have never found the right employer.
...or you're not very good at what you do. ;-)

Re:Next job? (2)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 4 months ago | (#45748725)

I have to agree with yendor. You learn on your spare time because it's fun and because (anecdotally) most career advancement comes from changing jobs.

One out of my last five increases in compensation came from an employer unprompted, the other four came from a job change or from the threat of a job change with an offer from another employer in hand.

Most of my friends in the field have a similar experience, so either we all suck, or you're the one lucky enough to work for nicer employers than industry average.

Re:Next job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748979)

Most of my friends in the field have a similar experience, so either we all suck, or you're the one lucky enough to work for nicer employers than industry average.

Of course about half of the people in the field are going to be below average aren't they?

Re:Next job? (5, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 months ago | (#45748673)

I learn things in my free time in order to beef up my skills for the next employer since the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.

Anyone notice you only ever get more responsibility but never more renumeration to go with all that extra work?

Yep, that's been largely true for at least the past 2x decades.

The days of having a single job for life, raising through the ranks, to get more pay and better positions is long gone. It was ending as MY parents were working, and it certainly hasn't existed (with VERY few exceptions) in my work lifetime.

You work somewhere, get experience...2-3 years hop to a new job. After that for awhile..I jumped into contracting...never looked back.

If you're gonna work in an environment with no job security and no company loyalty (today's W2 market), you might as well contract and get the bill rate to go along with it.

Re:Next job? (5, Interesting)

Touvan (868256) | about 4 months ago | (#45748971)

What this industry needs is a professional organization and standards (or a trade union, but professional organization would be better). Alas, we are awash with folks who have been duped into libertarianism, and it's obsessive individualism (I gotta do ME, man), a tired ideology that prevents natural tribal grouping for mutual benefit. A locked tight political gambit for sure. Still there are signs that the craziness is ending.

Er...no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748397)

No I don't - but then you make the mistaken assumption that everyone reading /. is a control freak nerd. I do my work at work and accept the constrints that it imposes because that is the real world environment however much any of us would like to have it otherwise.

Re:Er...no (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 months ago | (#45748793)

Most employers suck. The larger an employer is, the more likely they are to suck worse.

Defending against the trained monkeys you've designed your enterprise to be run by is a considerable challenge that leads to predictable results.

Once you get past the monkeys, many of those constraints are stupid and counter-productive and should be violated by anyone that has enough of a clue to fend for themselves.

Investment... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748403)

The way I see it, I invest personal time to learn things that will directly benefit my next employer....

I actually learn at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748413)

At home I run my private business (I try to :)). I have plenty of time to learn exciting things at work. I am a solutions architect at a fortune 500 company.

Re:I actually learn at work (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45748621)

I'm a problem creator at a Fortune 500 company.... I'm the guy that keeps you with work to do.

Re:I actually learn at work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748633)

What the hell is a "solutions architect"? That sounds exactly like one of those BS jobs only a Fortune 500 company could come up with. It sounds like the title Dogbert would give himself as a corporate consultant.

Re: I actually learn at work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748749)

Jealous?

Re:I actually learn at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748879)

It's one of those jobs that's first to go in layoffs. An empty suit kind of thing that's lucrative in good times, but very hazardous to become complacent in.

Re:I actually learn at work (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748985)

Not OP. It's one of those positions that make sure your project doesn't turn into healthcare.gov, which is what happens when you don't design the system before you start writing code.

absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748419)

I wouldn't call it copy-cat, but I learn way more on my free time than I do at my office. My office also uses a few proprietary systems that would benefit me zero elsewhere.

Not only developers (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 4 months ago | (#45748423)

I have a couple machines at home that run tomcat and apache (and others that I can't afford a license to) to test out configuration ideas and to wade into new technologies and new versions prior to the POCs we run through. That way I can be the leader in these efforts at the office, instead of everyone fumbling around.

Lab environment (5, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | about 4 months ago | (#45748427)

Most of the places that I've worked don't invest properly in a lab environment and so the only "learning lab" is the production systems. You really need something that you can break and leave broken for days, weeks, or even months. You need something that you control 100% and you aren't answerable to anyone else for its status. A home lab is very attractive in that respect.

Re:Lab environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748485)

Holy hell! Y'all need VirtualBox (or any other virtualization environment.)

Re:Lab environment (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45748617)

You can do this inside of a lunch box today. I have a friend that has a complete production system with 2 SQL servers, 2 app servers, and a failover/load balancer all in a lunch box. he brings it to work and tinkers during compiles.

Re:Lab environment (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#45748947)

That's what I have encountered throughout most of my career. Those that actually do have a "Test Lab" want it used exclusively to test configurations before implementation in Prod. You're not to be poking around or causing break/fix situations.

Until recently I've had my own home lab made up of some cast off servers and the like, but I've gotten lazy the last few years. I still have equipment, including security cameras and the like, but never seem to get around to playing with it like I used to.

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748433)

first

Re:first (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748495)

It appears that even with a Hadoop cluster that you were unable to properly get FP.

Depending on your intellectual property agreement (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about 4 months ago | (#45748441)

Anything you do with that is company property. Or, rather potentially their property. Courts usually side with employees, but that's a costly court battle.

However wherever possible, I would create the software needed, then put it up for license by the company in the hopes that others would licence it too, so I can make some money on the side. Of course, generalizing it so it wasn't too targeted and generalizing so it did not run afoul of the IPA.

Re:Depending on your intellectual property agreeme (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 4 months ago | (#45748595)

Learning how to use tools effectively is not the same thing as developing software for the business at home. I've often done the former, but never done the latter. If you want something for the office, you pay me. Up front.

what about VM's at work? (2)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#45748457)

chances are you have some oldish hardware from the last 5 years that you can run vmware or hyper-v on and roll any instances you want to fool around

I use home as my dev environement (1)

ljb2of3 (967196) | about 4 months ago | (#45748461)

I do that. I have a full sized rack at home running an ESXi cluster complete with fiber channel storage. The equipment was cheap, purchased from ebay when I find killer deals. The power and cooling required to keep it running, not so much. Even still, I use home to learn about new things. I'm finding I use it less and less as work gets busier and I tend to just want to watch netflix with the few hours I have left over each day. It's still around whenever I get the itch to learn about something new.

Better investment... (3, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 4 months ago | (#45748469)

I found it easier to start my own company. Yes there are painful trade-offs (wearer of many hats), but if I'm putting sweat equity into something, I'd like to be the beneficiary. I get to dictate direction and scope, and feel so much better about my future.

Re:Better investment... (4, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#45748681)

I found it easier to start my own company. Yes there are painful trade-offs (wearer of many hats), but if I'm putting sweat equity into something, I'd like to be the beneficiary. I get to dictate direction and scope, and feel so much better about my future.

I am doing this too. The down side is that there is NO natural separation between Church and State. You have to work to set aside free time - and when you work from home even doubly so.

Re:Better investment... (2)

paysonwelch (2505012) | about 4 months ago | (#45748743)

By EOD today I'll be officially employed as my own company. The issues that OP presented are quite common. While I also run a home lab I have also seen the advantages of being in the directorial position. I think that too many tech companies out there are not run by people with sufficient experience. Recently I was doing some interviews in the Boston area (before deciding to start my own company) and the companies that seemed to be doing the best were the ones that were staffed by veteran senior developers. Capt. James I'm happy to see your viewpoint here because this is what I am hoping for in the long run.

One of the main reasons I work for myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748471)

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by separating church and state, because I don't particularly care for either... I work for myself and spend my work-time as I want. A large part of that is learning new technology and playing with the new toys - I have a long term background in coding algorithms in C, but find myself having tons of fun coding web apps in JS and working with schemaless databases, playing with new environments (sublime text is a current favorite) and I wouldn't be able to justify that to a typical employer. It is satisfying, useful, and increases my value.

Work, Sidework, Opensource (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748479)

As a salaried employee, I do work for the man. I also own my own company and do work for customers. Finally I run an open source project and do work for that. At work, I only do the first but at home I might be doing all three. It gets a little blurry but I think I'm generally always trying to do the right thing. Sometimes needs overlap and I might prototype for the day job and then refactor for a client or the other way around. Sometimes I do it the first time for my open source project and then my employer and my clients get it for free.

Everyone is pretty happy with the value they receive and no one has made a stink about it...yet...

FUCK NO. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748487)

No Windows in my house, GNU all the way. My son brought home an Android phone one day, I smashed it into pieces and beat him until he was weeping in the fetal position because he wasn't respecting his privacy and freedom enough.

Re:FUCK NO. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748711)

Look, we've told you several times now that you're not welcome here, Mr. Stallman!

Self employed so no separation (5, Interesting)

microTodd (240390) | about 4 months ago | (#45748493)

This was an interesting question and I feel like I can give an interesting answer. I'm self-employed, in that I'm the owner of the company. So for me there is no separation. My "work" laptop is also my beefiest and hence my primary laptop. I can dictate how our lab environment is built out.

To address what you talk about with my employees, generally speaking I'm pretty lenient with what they want to use and do (no porn no pirated software, that's pretty much it). I give pretty much free reign in the lab. I do this by having a development VM server and allowing a dev to spin up pretty much any VM he wants. I got an MSDN subscription to cover all the various MS OS flavors, but I see lots of ubuntu and OpenSolaris VMs too.

The bigger issue for me is not computing resources, its time. You have to show me that your research efforts are worth our time. If we're building a J2EE project on top of Ubuntu with mysql, I will question why you are doing a python tutorial on the company time, for example.

For me personally, since we're a small company and cashflow is tight I personally follow a "10% IPA rule". No more than 10% of my time can be spent on non-Income-Producing-Activity. I try to make sure 90% of my time is directly billable to revenue and not spend more than 10% of my time beyond that. Maybe larger companies with bigger profit margins can handle more, but we just can't right now.

I certainly encourage people to learn new things and I can see the value of doing this out of left field. (For example, last year I decided to finally really learn functional programming, and it gave me a huge positive impact on my vanilla Java/Perl/JS/etc coding). And since most engineering talent is the geeky sort who love to learn for learning's sake then its a positive morale influence to let people dabble. But when I can see the cash flow report every month then I can see where the PHB/clueless MBAs get nervous when you spend too much time doing research and learning.

Now, when you mention security being an issue.....well, can't help you there. Most large companies have fairly brain-dead security policies so there's not much you can do about it.

Re:Self employed so no separation (2)

rwyoder (759998) | about 4 months ago | (#45748627)

For me personally, since we're a small company and cashflow is tight I personally follow a "10% IPA rule". No more than 10% of my time can be spent on non-Income-Producing-Activity.

I wonder how many other Slashdotters thought "IPA" meant something else until they read on. ;-)

Re:Self employed so no separation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748773)

Yep. Dogfish Head came to my mind

Re:Self employed so no separation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748919)

The open computing environment running bleeding edge code is the definition of brain dead security. Most good security policies are drafted after they have fuzzed all of the inputs in your Java/Perl/JS/etc coding application that may end up on the internet.

If you're learning at home, then by definition... (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 4 months ago | (#45748501)

...you will benefit both your employer and yourself in the long run. Especially if it help keeps your profession entertaining and fresh, because there are a lot of cool technologies to explore, and more are being devised every day.

Exposing yourself to new ideas and approaches will make you a better IT professional, especially if you're a developer. It will help clarify what sorts of things you enjoy, which can help you decide if/when it's right to jump ship, and make it easier for you to land the next job when you do.

And knowing when to jump ship also benefits the employer you're leaving. No one wants to work with a bored, bitter developer, and boredom often makes people less productive. Being a good professional also means knowing how to make a graceful exit... which can give you somewhere to return to if the new position goes south. I've seen it many times.

Enjoy it while you can... (4, Insightful)

Andrewkov (140579) | about 4 months ago | (#45748507)

Wait 'till you have kids and your tinker time drops to zero.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45748597)

The solution to that is do not have kids. Honestly unless you really want the single most expensive hobby in the world, raising kids, just do not do it.
People claim, Legacy: and being remembered... Bah, after 2 generations you will be completely forgotten and your grave never visited. Dont waste precious time and money on children.

This is from a guy that raised 4 kids. Yes I enjoyed my kids, but if I was able to go back in time and kick my teenage self in the nuts 30 times to keep me from ever having children, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748701)

That just sounds sad. Your kids would never been born. I feel bad for them, and for you.

Unfortunately it is happening across America (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748915)

while white middle class are reducing productions, the dark-skin parasites are increasing reproductions at an alarming rate, draining the government's finance and drive up crime rate.

Re:Unfortunately it is happening across America (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | about 4 months ago | (#45748969)

I know this is a (racist) troll, but the lack of a decent social safety net and government mandated contraband is what drives up crime... Most people would prefer a decent job type job.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748709)

if I was able to go back in time and kick my teenage self in the nuts 30 times to keep me from ever having children, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Just remember, if you kick your younger self in the nuts so hard that your grandchildren will feel it, by definition, your older self will feel it too. Forewarned is forearmed!

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

stoploss (2842505) | about 4 months ago | (#45748803)

if I was able to go back in time and kick my teenage self in the nuts 30 times to keep me from ever having children, I would do it in a heartbeat.

If you have time travel capability, I would put forth that you take a quick jaunt to the future first and obtain some Vasalgel (aka. RISUG) [parsemusfoundation.org], which is very likely to be both more effective and less painful than massive testicular trauma. That would make your trip into the past much more likely to be successful.

Oh, and grab some Vasalgel for the rest of us while you're there in the future, please...

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748809)

I want to high-five you across the internet.

You are my hero, seriously. I wish more people thought this way.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 4 months ago | (#45748983)

I can tell you are not from an Asian family and not a good parent because because all your children have fled instead of staying around taking care of the elderly and ensure assets and trusts stay intact.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

hodet (620484) | about 4 months ago | (#45748703)

Heh, I can relate. I still make the time, the unfortunate part is that it is usually late at night when all other stuff has been taken care of, which is not the best frame of mind for learning. For me learning new stuff on my own may benefit my employer, but it benefits me far greater. It isn't work if you love the stuff.

Oh to get up on a Saturday morning with a fresh pot of coffee and a fresh mind to tinker. :-)

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

unimacs (597299) | about 4 months ago | (#45748727)

That can be true when they're really young. However, my son is now at an age where we can both learn stuff that will help me in my career and can have fun doing it. Lego Mindstorms or Arduino stuff is a blast.

For that matter things like swimming, sledding, snowball fights, etc are all worthwhile diversions that I can participate in freely as an adult with kids. I don't consider it time lost at all.

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 months ago | (#45748741)

Wait 'till you have kids and your tinker time drops to zero.

Isn't that what having a wife is for...?

Re:Enjoy it while you can... (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about 4 months ago | (#45748841)

Chances are the OP is not making enough to have an one-income household.

But in a two-income household, that is what in-laws are for. Free child care, free housing etc. (at least in most Asian societies this is widely accepted)

Duh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748513)

I would expect almost everyone on Slashdot to have their own test labs at home for experimentation and education. Your company's goal, with few exceptions, is not to entertain or elucidate you. This is the case even when it might benefit the company. Their self interest does not align with yours.

So, you have your home lab for your entertainment and elucidation.

They have their production platform and perhaps a specific use case lab for testing and development. But, WidgetCo is interested in producing widgets and reducing expense thereby maximizing profit. Lab Rat Jason's education is secondary, at best, to that. Lab Rat Jason is interested in learning and "playing" with technology. Producing Widgets and maximizing WidgetCo's profits are secondary, at best, to him.

If you just realized this and are older than 22, I'd have to say that you were not very observant and possibly a slow learner.

New generation techie problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748519)

See this as a modern day IT problem.
- Your boss needs a job, IT geek title and budget more than you, hence is justifying the head count with menial work
- Engineers automate menial task, unless they have no other work if automated
- You work in an industry that is too buzzed to separate corporation and state,

Benefits both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748523)

If I learn something that directly benefits my employer, it also benefits me should I and my employer become, shall we say, estranged.

Also, learning is an activity that has it's own rewards.

What I don't do on my "own time" is read work email, and work on regular assignments other than think over various issues that have been troubling me.

always, no holds barred (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | about 4 months ago | (#45748533)

I always have and always will do lots of "work stuff" at home. a good part of my free cash goes to that, and I don't regret it at all. Not trying to get ahead any more (63 years old) but I enjoy my work. I like to learn. I can't spend every moment at the office, so I do stuff at home so I can tinker when the wife and grand kids are doing their thing. I like tools, I have more than my company ever will

Its fun (2)

BurfCurse (937117) | about 4 months ago | (#45748535)

I do the same and I consider it fun. I guess that's why I like what I do. Does it benefit my employer? Well certainly, but it benefits me too in terms of job performance, confidence, and job satisfaction. I tinker with things that I think are fun. The experience that you gain will take your career in that direction.

Re:Its fun (1)

hodet (620484) | about 4 months ago | (#45748761)

This is the truth. I have always found that the best in my profession love what they do. The ones always whining about not enough training on the job or in class are the ones that are least effective. They have no joy in their heart for this. You want to learn? Then go, learn. There has never been a better time then the present day, with all the resources we have right at our fingertips to engage your mind.

Compulsion? (1)

Shaddow0001 (1577985) | about 4 months ago | (#45748537)

I don't have my home servers and desktop/laptops, for either my current or future employers. I'm likely just a compulsive tech person. I do know if i haven't coded something for a while, for my personal self, i get itchy fingers, and have a NEED to increase my skills/try something new. Ie. I'm working on an android app... not because I don't get enough work at 'work', but because i have this cool phone and would really like to see what i can MAKE it do.... it's a compulsion thing. It has been my experience that the most 'competent' programmers/tech people, have a 'need', that is as strong as most drug addictions, and doing extra stuff at home just allows you to focus on the things you are PERSONALLY interested in vs. work you HAVE to do.

It's not just benefiting your employer... (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about 4 months ago | (#45748549)

It's not just benefiting your employer, learning benefits you too:

Directly by keeping your mind active and engaged.

Directly by allowing you to experiment with ways to do things that might not be allowed in your work environment.

And not the least of which - it's "RBT" (Resume Building Technology) - While you may not be able to claim you did xyz on the job, you can at least indicate your familiarity with the technology.

With so many HR departments acting as gatekeepers - the first person who looks at your application may be someone who only knows to look for the correct buzzwords... when you can legitimately claim to have some knowledge of buzzword x, you improve your chances of getting in the door.

Then, when you talk to someone in the actual interview, you can mention that this is research you do on your own time - to improve/hone your skills.

If that doesn't get you points with the hiring person, well, you're likely interviewing for a place you're going to HATE.

I do it at work anyways. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#45748563)

It's easier to get forgiveness than permission. so I have a separate setup that is not on their network that I simply plug into to do my bidding and experiments. If I am learning new skills for them then they can pay me to do it.

Re:I do it at work anyways. (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 4 months ago | (#45748937)

Similar here,

although it is more likely to be a new programming approach to an existing project. So instead of a complete "private" computer setup it is more likely to be an unofficial change set that modifies only a few parts of the project. It may even live on the official TFS as a "shelf set" ;-)

You've got it backwards (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about 4 months ago | (#45748567)

Spend as much work time as possible developing your personal projects. Just don't let them know about it.

If you're not .... (1)

yelvington (8169) | about 4 months ago | (#45748571)

If you're not investing your energy in your personal time in furtherance of your mastery of your craft, you're doomed. The world will swiftly leave you behind and it's nobody's fault but your own. The coding skills you have today are obsolescent in 18 months. It may be wise for your employer to invest in your continuing education and foolish to not do so, but it's not the employer's responsibility. It's yours. You made the choice to be in a line of work where very little is permanent.

If you're not comfortable with that, consider masonry.

Not for my employer ... (3, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#45748575)

... but if they want to take advantage of my skill set, the end product will end up looking like what I do at home.

Being in the engineering (electrical) field, most of my software projects have been voluntary. Need something done? I can do that. Oh, you wanted it done on Windows? Sorry, I don't do Windows. I know my way around Linux or some other *nixes. If that's not suitable, find someone else to do it. In some cases, after a few months of playing with point and drool with no progress, they come back.

Most of the challenge in what I build is the domain knowledge. My skill set with tools and environments (the proper ones) is sufficient to get the job done with minimal fussing over those issues. People who agonize over the language, IDE, or O/S of the day are making more trouble for themselves. Since at the end of the day the domain problem is still staring them in the face.

No (1)

bmajik (96670) | about 4 months ago | (#45748593)

At home, I want my technology to serve me, and not take up any of my limited time.

I don't screw with it unless I have a particular itch that I want scratched.

That said, my work environments and home environments couldn't be more different.

At work, I work on Visual Studio. So I have windows machines with more hyper-V guests in them, running nightly builds of CLR and VS. Plus other ones for IIS/SQL to host test apps on.

At home, I run

- 1 windows workstation (turned off until I run a network drop over to it. We just moved),
- 1 surface RT my wife and I share
- 1 mac mini in the living room, when we want a bigger screen and keyboard
- an Ubuntu media/utility server in my rack
- a PC Engines Alix running openbsd as my edge device.

We use our smart phones at home a lot to watch email and facebook.

I just retired my ~6 year old windows media center machine for a WDTVLive. We also use an Xbox 360 for video games and DVDs.

I did a big batch of fiddling recently, as we moved house to a rural property with multiple buildings. I learned about Ubiquity hardware and have retired my previous consumre grade wireless gear in favor of UniFi APs, and I also have a Nanostation link between my house and shop building (with UniFi APs in both spots). Getting that setup was fun and easy, and unlike the consumer grade APs I was used to, I haven't had to power cycle the Ubiquity gear yet since owning it. Solid reliability and astounding speeds.

Also, after I got the WDTVlive and decided I liked it, and packed up my HTPC machine.. only then did I realize that the WD box wouldn't play any of my Hi10P anime. So I spent some time the other evening learning about ffmpeg and x264 build-from-source. My Ubuntu machine isn't fast enough to on-the-fly transcode hi10p to 8bit, and the binary distributions of ffmpeg and x264 on my old Ubuntu release didn't deal with 10bit either.

So, I need to spend some more time here, but honestly, it might just be easier to use handbrake on windows..

I do not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748605)

My desire to play videogames, play saxophone, chill with my kids and have sex with my wife prevent me from donating time to work.

I separate. (5, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 months ago | (#45748607)

I have a life. A wife who loves me, an ex that hates me, ingeniously dramatic kids, engaging friends. I feel slightly bad that I'm not investing extra time to stay at the profession's bleeding edge. But I genuinely prefer the company of warm bodies, music, games, conversation, food, physical work, and laughter.

So I doff my hat to all you die-hards with the ambition and drive to advance our profession, and I thank you. But that's not for me.

Occasionally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748629)

I do this occasionally, but only if the work goal aligns with some personal learning goal I have...

Separation of Church and State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748631)

Work for an MS shop. Run Linux and OS X at home.

It's part of who we are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748635)

We tinker. This benefits both us *and* our employer. It's certainly helped me as I've climbed the sysadmin ladder over the past 25 years. Sadly, I'm one of those chaps who never got a college degree, but with my continued tinkering and learning -- both on and off the job -- I've managed to learn huge amounts, and am now at my fourth Fortune 500 company as a top-level Linux engineer... and loving it.

Bottom line: keep that Hadoop cluster going. Keep learning. Install stuff. Break stuff. And learn. Me? I've been running Linux as my primary desktop since '94, even when it was frowned upon. I've always managed to get it working in my environment.

I've separated them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748639)

My personal (coding) projects are all done in a language aside from the one I code in at work. They target a different platform, and they hold different themes. I find it a lot easier to get enthralled when my hobby projects dont draw my brain back to work. However, when I am at work I still see the benefits of continued learning. Neither of these directly affect each other, but they both benefit each other with experience and design skills.

just a thought... (1)

woodworx (1780214) | about 4 months ago | (#45748645)

Since I have a security angle to my job, I wanted to ask: if you are practicing your coding at home is your home system secure? will your home coded app be put into the production system 'as is'? (creating a back door if your system is already compromised.) maybe it's a dumb question and a moot point, but seeing how a home brewed app (read developed in-house) used by a major commercial entity just gave up 400K credit cards, it leaves me to wonder what the process was all the way thru the development process, which we may never fully know. on the other hand, my hobbies tend away from system administration so I have pretty good separation, or I would be typing this in from the loonie bin.

None (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748663)

The last thing I want to do when I get home is work.

Wives (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#45748665)

Sometimes wives don't understand that work is something that the husband enjoys and wants to think about outside of work. A lot of people don't even want to think about work except to complain.

Very often a wife is intimidated by male passion when it is directed at anything other than herself. Invest a little effort into letting her know that she is the center of your universe, but you enjoy having fun with other things, too.

Guilty as charged (1)

Gruturo (141223) | about 4 months ago | (#45748675)

I rebuilt the whole damn Kerberos/LDAP infrastructure at home, including multimaster replication, and integrated Mac, Solaris, Linux, BSD and Windows boxes into it.

No copycatting (2)

flymolo (28723) | about 4 months ago | (#45748683)

My home projects tend to be on the peripheral edge of my work. I proof of concept stuff. I try a new library that might turn out to be useful. That's the best balance for me. If I pitch it at work, I have to promise return on the time. This makes my creative projects stressful. If I play with it, it fails or it doesn't. Either way I've learned something, and haven't had to worry about deadlines.

I use personal time to learn what I want to learn (4, Interesting)

unimacs (597299) | about 4 months ago | (#45748685)

A lot of the time, - maybe even most of the time, my personal skill building exercises will benefit my organization as well. I'm OK with that. There are so many posts on slashdot about people finding themselves unemployed or in danger of being unemployed because their skills are out of date. I prefer not to rely on my employer to make sure my skills are relevant.

Plus, it's fun.

Random Success... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748707)

When you consider the random processes that constitute "management" and how they often don't listen to systems/software engineering, but rather let "ops monkeys" go screw around, why on Earth would you ever try to help out your company? You should direct your energies to helping yourself. When you run a Monte Carlo analysis of your suggestions to management, management understanding them, management listening to them, "ops monkeys" actively trying to nullify your suggestions, and sunspot activity in general you are better off helping yourself. Even Amazon management will one day stop listening and fall back into the "ops monkey" abyss and implode. Also, you need to turn your experience into a Masters or PhD. Remember, certifications are only there to help your stupid employer when the lawyers come looking for the innocent. They can then hang you on deviations based on some crappy procedure in an A+ or MS book.

Glad I am not alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748713)

I have been a developer, sysadmin and now am a Technical Manager. I have invested in a ton of books (o'reilly etc) and hardware over the years since about 1995. The main reason is my employers have never seen continual learning as being a necessity until they see an immediate need. But without continual learning how the heck do they expect their employees to "make the leap" has been beyond me! anyway I have been thinking about striking it out on my own for a while. With a young family it doesn't seem likely right away. Hopefully soon.

How I copy my cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748719)

I let the tom have some quality alone time with the queen. This usually results in some VERY strange noises. Afterwards the cats consume all of the cheeseburgers available, and then a litter of copy-kittens appears in about 66 days. Those kittens eventually grow up to be copy-cats in about a year, but some are early bloomers and may have kittens of their own when they're only 5-10 months old.

FFS dude, it's called learning. It's a life-long process. Learn the new technology outside of work, and then tell your boss about it. If the boss thinks it's worthwhile, guess who will get paid to implement it? You, dumb ass.

I do what I do... (3, Insightful)

Dave Voecks (3197515) | about 4 months ago | (#45748759)

because I have a genuine interest in solving problems. That interest doesn't stop at 5pm. I don't feel the least bit "used" that I use my own time to tinker, and learn no things that ultimately benefit my employer. I feel much more satisfied learning things than I would if I spent that same time watching a lot of TV. That's also the same reason I listen to audio books while working out. Learning things IS my hobby.

Explicitly not for work (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 4 months ago | (#45748791)

If work won't invest in lab space,time or training, I won't invest *my* time in doing what they should be doing. I do have my stuff, but I learn what I think will benefit me. Sometimes that happens to be the same as my work is about at that moment, but almost always it's something that I find interesting at that moment.

If work asks me to check out stuff at home, I tell them I leave home to go to work and when I'm done working I go home again. I'd like to keep the two separated. They know I have stuff going on at home and would probably be more than able to do what they want there, but they pay for my time there only, not for my time or equipment at home.

Cheapskates will always be cheapskates. If you want to work for a company where you get to nerd out and try new stuff, go work for a company that has that. They're not going to change because you want them to.

Nerdy Sailor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748837)

I live on sailboat. And although space is extremely limited; i still have a full development stack mounted to my hull behind a bulkhead.

My reasons are same as OP; at home i have the flexibility to try new things (gasp! open source) and can get work done on a development instance which isn't crippled by a hard drive encryption policy.

All of my work at home has to be limited to POC, non-production type activities, but it certainly provides a more enjoyable programming experience.

My day-to-day is so bogged down with dealing with people who have no idea what they are doing, after work activities are the only way for me to continue to learn.

look at the bigger picture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748849)

Whenever you learn something that benefits your company remember one thing, it is YOU that is learning something, the company may benefit in the short term but you will benefit in the long term. Education is one thing that can never be given and never be taken away. Never ever stop learning, you will always end up being the ultimate beneficiary.

Me to. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 4 months ago | (#45748887)

Luckily at RBI I had 3/4 spare pc's I could convert to test/linux boxes then again i worked in a small team and had a director as a boss. At home I am just setting up a hp microserver to run a small virtulised hadoop cluster. I also have done the formal Cisco CCNA to expand my knowledge and to help with being a full stack developer.

Have you ever heard? (2)

javelinco (652113) | about 4 months ago | (#45748917)

Of a job that pays well, because you are expected to be a professional that is continuing to improve your own skillset? There are many, and development is one of those.

Really tried to roll back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45748923)

Like someone else said, once you have kids your free time drops to zero. Once mine got into their teens that eased up and now I've found myself backsliding into my old ways. It started innocently enough. My wife needed her own computer, of course. Then my oldest boy. Then the youngest needed his own machine. When they lost interest in consoles I had no choice but to help them each build their own gaming rig. When one of the computers crashed it became clear we really *needed* a backup server. By then of course I'd upgraded to a new machine of my own, complete with 16GB RAM and TB disk to support "just a couple" of virtual machines. Yesterday I found myself looking at the pile of old computer equipment in the corner of the bonus room and thinking. "what can I do with this stuff?". Not "where can I dump it", or even "who could I donate it to", but "how does this fit in with my next project?"

Seriously though, I don't think there are many of us out there who are smart enough, disciplined enough, or endowed by our employer with enough on-the-job education that we can afford *not* to spend a considerable amount of off hours time sharpening and even broadening our skills. It's part of what makes us who we are, and I think is what separates the real IT "professionals" from mere IT "workers".

I spend time learning (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 months ago | (#45748925)

but nothing my employer does interests me in any way , so I spend my time learning about things I am interested in, not what would benefit them.

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