Author Topic: Thinking about retooling  (Read 8179 times)

joeb

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2013, 03:28:48 am »
If you want to retool (as you use the term) within the IT field you need to find an up and coming or some obscure technology that the Indians havent poured into yet. That itself will be a challenge unto itself. But they do exist. If you do what everyone else does than you are a commodity. End of story.
Totally agree. Let me add to that: Retooling in a lousy industry is like shifting chairs on the Titanic.
I believe you must change your thinking: What skills do I have that can be used in some thriving and lucrative industry (hint: healthcare, law, government)
Quote
I have been told by many that Salesforce.com is the next big thing. I have a friend that owns a small consulting company and they are paying big $ for Salesforce.com guys - $100-$200 per hour. But again remember its just a matter of time before the Indians pour into it.
It's already happened. Where I am contracting right now, Cognizant has all of their "mud men" involved in Sales Force and the Apex platform. However, I listened in on a conference call, and I can tell you this: communicating needs and requirements to these people is almost comical....it takes about 3 go-arounds before they "get it". No matter: the bean counters think they got a good deal.

choppedwood

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2013, 08:27:13 am »
I would think Unix administartion is probably relatively insulated from H1B, or am I wrong?  It sort of seems beneath them as they all want to do development and data work.  I would also think networking might be safe too or do they configure routers as well these days?  I've never seen an Indian lay cable but my sample size is pretty small there.

TRexx

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2013, 09:07:46 am »
I would think Unix administartion is probably relatively insulated from H1B, or am I wrong?  It sort of seems beneath them as they all want to do development and data work.  I would also think networking might be safe too or do they configure routers as well these days?  I've never seen an Indian lay cable but my sample size is pretty small there.
Most of the body shops I know are will to supply talent for anything.  It is possible the individuals might not want to do admin work, but they rarely get a choice.

Most cable layers I've encountered are Union Electricians, Not a lot of H-1B visa holders there.

ilconsiglliere

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #33 on: September 05, 2013, 10:03:29 am »
I would think Unix administartion is probably relatively insulated from H1B, or am I wrong?  It sort of seems beneath them as they all want to do development and data work.  I would also think networking might be safe too or do they configure routers as well these days?  I've never seen an Indian lay cable but my sample size is pretty small there.

I have encountered lots of H1B admins. Many companies have outsourced all the management of their IT infrastructure to India and that includes admins.

At most of the companies I have been at - the only stuff that hasnt had as much outsourcing is PM, BA, security and physical jobs like laying cable and setting up servers in the datacenter. Though with PM/BA work they wont hesitate to use consultants. I have encountered lots of H1B PM/BAs now. They all want to move up value chain and are working it.

They look down on physical labor as most of them come from the upper caste.

I D Shukhov

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #34 on: September 05, 2013, 01:02:43 pm »

They look down on physical labor as most of them come from the upper caste.

Every time I need to have my car fixed, I think about how nice it would be to have a dealership that I trusted.  Nowadays, with cars getting so computerized, and with factory tools and scanners needed to interpret the sensor diagnostics, and the repair processes that must be learned to fix them, anything complex usually means going to the dealer.  There's always the *desire* to trust the dealer, and it's usually crushed.

My fantasy is an "open" car dealership, where "open" means that customers are "members" instead of "marks", which is the usual dealership attitude.  It would probably be organized as a worker cooperative.

The mechanic-owners would make a statistically significant good wage, which is 2 standard deviations above the average in 2012 = $56k + $29k = $85k annually.  I would just pick one model, the Prius, say, to allow for fleet-servicing learning simplicity.  Since they only have to service Priuses, training should be doable by just about anyone. Of course there would be no backstabbing, since everyone needs for the dealership to succeed.  In fact, it would be a learning community, with knowledge freely shared among the mechanics.  The latest factory repair equipment would be bought to make their jobs easier.   

A membership fee would allow one to buy a service contract, subject to mileage limits and maintenance obligations.  For the life of the car, there would be no maintenance or repair uncertainties.  The maintenance contract would require for the car to brought in at regular intervals (end-of-life loaner vehicles would be supplied) for preventative maintenance.   Cars would be bought in bulk, and the savings passed on to the members.  Members could buy new cars or certified pre-owned Priuses.

There would not be a sales staff, just mechanic-owners who would elect a management structure. They'd have to learn how to handle financing and the routine no-haggle sales transactions also.  Like Japanese factories, the workers would be expected to be able to handle any job and procedures and training would be maintained to enable people to do that.

I think there are ways for workers to organize to provide high value-added, non-offshoreable, businesses, just not the leadership, existing models and knowledge about how to do it.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 01:13:21 pm by I D Shukhov »

David Randolph

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2013, 05:13:52 am »
It's like the manual instructions on how to replace an alternator in a car - these are the bolts, here are the wrench sizes and here are the torque numbers for bolts and here are the steps.  Is my request unreasonable or am I missing the forest for the trees?

Yes, your question is unreasonable. Why? Because getting business is not a system where a manual can be written. In business, it is not possible to have a set of instructions similar to car mechanics: here are the bolts, wrench sizes, etc. Every time people have tried to have such, they have failed. (See any company run by the "bean counters".)

Why is that? Because doing business is far more like hunting than farming. In farming, you can follow a set of instructions: wait till the ground temperature is X, plow this way, plant the seeds this way, and wait for harvest. In hunting, you go out and observe that the birds were at this point in the field yesterday. Go out today and they are not there. The wind shifted and you have to change what you do. Doing business is constantly observing the reactions of others, dreaming up what you think might work tomorrow, and changing your behavior - repeat, repeat, repeat. It is not predictable, it can not be reduced to a set of instructions, and you can not teach it to someone who has no imagination. The patterns "rhyme" rather than "repeat".

Because of this, I still suggest that you might do well to apprentice yourself to someone in business so that you can get the experiences working directly with clients and start to see what goes on in sales. Until you get the experiences, you might not be able to understand.

The Gorn

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2013, 06:48:01 am »
Because of this, I still suggest that you might do well to apprentice yourself to someone in business so that you can get the experiences working directly with clients and start to see what goes on in sales. Until you get the experiences, you might not be able to understand.

Alternatively, it may be that Unix needs to get away from supplying technology services and try some entirely different line of business. The tech may be completely clouding his understanding of the  "value chain".

In my own case, it's been REALLY hard to understand how some of the things I've been asked to deliver as as a software contractor help my clients. And in many cases they didn't. I think for someone in an abstract role like system administration like Unix is, this syndrome may be even worse.
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choppedwood

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #37 on: September 06, 2013, 08:13:00 am »
Two thoughts.

First, on the auto dealer example.  It's always interesting to ask why a seemingly terrible process is done the way it is.  I'd love to see the car buying process change but between the dealer and the customer the whole thing probably makes a crazy, maybe even mean, kind of business sense that works.  I keep asking myself why Barnes keeps trying to force me to pay full boat for books in their store that they sell online at 30 to 40 percent off.  I haven't bought a book from Barnes in years but I assume someone they have access to math I don't.

My other thought is on finding a business.  I used to spend a lot of time talking to people in my job.  It wasn't just wandering the hallways, it was watching what they were doing, what reports they had, what they were entering into a spreadsheet, etc.  It's how I kept myself busy a lot of the time.

My thinking on this, and for a couple of reasons I haven't done it (mostly I'm chicken but, also, I didn't want to go this path), is that I should get out and talk to my old business niche.  They're all places I could walk into, they've probably used my work, the owner would be there some of the time, and I just might stumble into gold.

I really think that if you are going to test an idea, or look for an idea, you have to get outside of your comfort zone, which is us.  I saw this quote in a bodybuilding movie trailer but it turns out to be from Thomas Jefferson,

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 12:38:05 pm by choppedwood »

David Randolph

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2013, 02:22:21 pm »
The September issue of The Communications of the ACM has an interesting article that has some bearing on this discussion. The article is The Profession of IT: The Other Side of Language, a viewpoint by Peter J. Denning.

In it, he states that language has two sides. One side is about information and in that mode, we interpret language as a set of messages containing information. This fits how IT people deal with their world quite well. We have to deal with specific facts about the systems and problems.
The other side, "commitment side", interprets language as emotional, social, and historical. "In our conversations with each other, we invent new realities, we negotiate, and we make history happen." This is the side that business people and sales people inhabit all the time.

This difference in viewing language is important. The original poster wanted a set of facts and hoped that when he had those facts, he would be able to make a living being in business for himself. This article suggests that until he gets a new way of seeing how people communicate with each other, how they view social interactions, etc. he won't be able to be in business for himself.

The article is based on a set of essays by Fernando Flores and cover some of the issues we have in getting commitments from clients, co-workers, and others. I recommend the article.

unix

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2013, 03:41:30 pm »
The tech is, or has been completely clouding my understanding of the "value chain", (whatever that is).
Unix admin means working in a vacuum. You get really good at maintaining systems  and knowing obscure this or that, which is reinforced by idiotic "job" requirements or gang-rape interviews that grill you on options to the "find" command, and after a while you become such an idiot.
I am not really happy at all with my current role.
Gorn hits the nail on the head, as usual. *sigh*

Gorn:
 The tech may be completely clouding his understanding of the  "value chain".
Brawndo. It's got what plants crave.

The Gorn

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #40 on: September 09, 2013, 07:11:07 pm »
The tech is, or has been completely clouding my understanding of the "value chain", (whatever that is).
Unix admin means working in a vacuum. You get really good at maintaining systems  and knowing obscure this or that, which is reinforced by idiotic "job" requirements or gang-rape interviews that grill you on options to the "find" command, and after a while you become such an idiot.
I am not really happy at all with my current role.
Gorn hits the nail on the head, as usual. *sigh*

Gorn:
 The tech may be completely clouding his understanding of the  "value chain".


Unix, with respect:

One problem I have in communicating with you about this stuff is that you lack focus. You don't seem to engage mentally that readily. Like you're in a fog all the time.

I don't know why that is. I have some friends locally that have the same problem who are perpetually unemployed.

You need to find mental focus, mental clarity, as a first task.
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joeb

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Re: The doctor is in... answers to Unix
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2013, 04:05:41 am »
You seem to be stuck completely on not wanting to consider or talk about finding your target market or finding customers. That is the single biggest factor in making a go of freelancing.
Understatement of the century. However, unless you have some of the sales/marketing type in you, forget going independent.
It takes a combo of technical and people expertise. However, that being said, that's not enough.
You need gumption, persistence, and willingness to take chances.
If you have all of this, and are willing to work hard to market, then you'll be able to work less for more...i.e. higher rate.
Otherwise, you are stuck with the body shops who will eat your lunch or go up against the Indians who will undercut you (see recent post on Cognizant-Sales Force).

I D Shukhov

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Re: Thinking about retooling
« Reply #42 on: September 10, 2013, 06:08:27 am »
It's not a short-term solution, but long-term -- say, as a 5-year plan -- something a Unix sysadmin might want to consider is InfoSec.  Think about getting a CISSP, which is very highly regarded.   

Unless you are into malware analysis, you probably aren't going to be an independent contractor.  You might work within a company's InfoSec department, or if you like to travel, you could work for an InfoSec product vendor. 

I know there is a cattle call for this market right now, but so what?  You can throw a dart at any job these days and find 100s of candidates for any position.  With a world population of 7.1 billion people, all interconnected via the Internet, that's just the way it is.   You do have a competitive advantage, IMO, because you have been a longtime Unix sysadmin with real field experience.

The market is just going to grow.  It wouldn't surprise me if 50% of everything IT-related becomes security-related.  IT and data communications will still be usable because of technological advancements (Moore's law and increasing bandwidth), but there will be a tremendous amount of friction because of security safeguards that are needed.  And there will be a vast need for people to be involved to implement security-in-depth solutions, which I've read is the best approach.  Systems *will be* hacked.  Offense is, and may always be ahead of defense.   An intruder just has to discover one weakness, but defenders have to defend against every possible exploit.  What happens after a break-in -- how it's handled -- is just as important as perimeter defense.  Also, insider protection -- like against the likes of Snowden -- is an obviously hot topic at the moment.





The Gorn

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Re: The doctor is in... answers to Unix
« Reply #43 on: September 10, 2013, 07:10:53 am »
You seem to be stuck completely on not wanting to consider or talk about finding your target market or finding customers. That is the single biggest factor in making a go of freelancing.
Understatement of the century. However, unless you have some of the sales/marketing type in you, forget going independent.
It takes a combo of technical and people expertise. However, that being said, that's not enough.
You need gumption, persistence, and willingness to take chances.
If you have all of this, and are willing to work hard to market, then you'll be able to work less for more...i.e. higher rate.
Otherwise, you are stuck with the body shops who will eat your lunch or go up against the Indians who will undercut you (see recent post on Cognizant-Sales Force).

Good analysis.

The entire reason you freelance is to be able to bring in business without being dependent upon any middleman or small set of clients, and also to diversify your base of clients so that if one client falls by the wayside you still have income.

The marketing and sales stuff can be learned. The key is to not keeping thinking that you're going to fall back on a bork as soon as things get tough.

Again, you have to be really mentally engaged to make that happen. This means aware, reasoning, able to think strategically just a little bit.

Can Unix get mentally engaged in something like this? I do not know.
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