What Anyone works in IT should remember every day

Dhammika from EuroCenter mailed this to me, a very interesting read:

The IT industry looks much different from the outside than it does from the inside. There are secrets and tricks about how it operates that nobody knows except those who are in the industry. Kind of like a weird cult. That is, until now. Here’s my list of what everyone who wants to enter the IT industry should know.

Once you’re pigeon-holed, it’s extremely hard to break out
Lots of graduates and IT hopefuls take the first job they are offered, thinking they can upgrade to the perfect job later. This can be a big mistake. Once you’re known to have experience in a particular area, it can be extremely difficult to break out of it. If you spend a year on the helpdesk, you will become known as the “helpdesk-girl”. A year spent on Oracle can will quickly convert you into “Mr Oracle”.

IT workers are terrible snobs. Java developers think nobody from the helpdesk will ever be able to do what they do, and network-monkeys see developers as nothing but prima-donnas. It’s quite a tribal industry.

Agencies, always looking for the easiest way to make a dollar, will only forward you for jobs where you have experience. Once you get used to the dollars rolling in, a job in the hand will seem better than the prospect of learning new skills with a pay-cut. Before you know it, you’ve spent the past five years working in a job you didn’t want.

My advice is hang out for the job that you want. If you want to move into J2EE development, insist on working at that.

Technical Skills are hard currency
It is possible to thrive in the IT industry with limited or out-of-date technical skills, but it’s more difficult. During a bust, middle-managers and project managers are often the first to go. Those with up-to-date technical skills can also struggle, but not to the same extent. It’s possible to build and maintain IT systems without management skills, but not without technical skills.

Vow to always keep your technical skills up to date. Even if you move into management and find your time being taken up by “soft-skills” keep training yourself in the important “hard-skills”.

Your whole career in IT will be spent updating your skills
This follows on from the last point. If your skills become out of date, you will become vulnerable to losing your career. Because of this, IT is a career where it is difficult to thrive without having a real passion for it. Your employer may send you on expensive training courses, but unless you read up and experiment in your own time, you’re going to fall behind.

Despite the vendor rhetoric, IT systems are becoming ever more complex. This requires IT workers to add a growing list of skills to their CVs. This trend looks like continuing with the introduction of web services, which require more complex skills than web development.

When I started my Lotus Notes development career, all you had to know to enter the field was basic Notes development. One year later you had to know LotusScript and ODBC to get a job. The year after that, Domino and HTML were added to that list. The year after that, every job wanted Javascript. Then they wanted Java. Now increasing numbers of jobs are asking for J2EE and XML. If I don’t continue to add new skills to my repertoire, I’m likely to be struggling to find work.

IT is a volatile industry
If you want a nice cushy gig working for the same company doing the same job for twenty years, then IT is not the industry for you. IT workplaces are in a constant state of flux; with workers being retrenched, then re-hired, then retrenched again. You have to be prepared to change jobs every two or three years, and sometimes watch your income go up and down like a yo-yo. Periods spent out of work are not unusual. I predict a big boom in IT in the coming years, likely sparked by something that most aren’t even anticipating. This boom will be followed by a bust and so on. I can’t see the pace of technical change slowing down anytime soon, and as long as that continues IT will remain volatile.

You should get experience by working at bargain-basement prices
If you want to move into J2EE development, don’t expect to go straight onto $80 hour. That is, unless you’re very lucky or in the middle of a boom. Offer your services at below-market rates when you first move into the industry. You will be much more attractive to employers and will have more choice of jobs. Commercial experience counts in IT and you want to get some as soon as you can. Once you’ve got a year’s experience under your belt, you can look to increase your income.

Get your vendor certifications
These aren’t entirely necessary, but can give you the edge when looking for a job. If you haven’t got much experience, vendor certifications can compensate to some extent. Look on the job boards to see which certifications employers are asking for in the area you want to move into.

Paul Knapp 

What Anyone works in IT should remember every day

IIS Lockdown & .NET

I recently ran into quite a few problems when the IIS Lockdown tool was applied on one of our production servers. I’m listing it here so that I don’t trip over it again and also end up helping anyone who comes across the same problem.

My scenario is that we have a classic asp application relying on .NET components which use MSMQ. After applying the lock down tool the asp application worked fine until it called one of the .NET components that sent a message through MSMQ which threw this exeception:

Cannot execute a program. The command being executed was “c:\winnt\microsoft.net\framework\v1.1.4322\csc.exe”. 

What I found out was that the XmlSerializer which was used by System.Messaging to send the message created a dynamic class and compiles it on the fly. The problem is that the lockdown tool denies access to all the .exe files in the Windows system folder (and subfolders). This prevents the csc.exe or vbc.exe which is in C:\WINNT\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322 from being able to dynamically compile. To fix this I gave the Web Applications group Execute permissions for this file but this threw another exception.

File or assembly name sk-fuua9.dll, or one of its dependencies, was not found. at System.Reflection.Assembly.nLoad(AssemblyName fileName…

After spending a couple of hours trying to figure this out, I finally got around to using the excellent FileMon tool which highlighted that the cvtres.exe too was used by csc.exe when attempting to compile. So I ended up giving Execute permissions for the cvtres.exe file for the Web Applications group and wallah problem solved!

The Microsoft KB recommends creating an seperate user and impersonating it in the application. But I feel that going this route makes it more secure since the default groups created by the lock down tool revokes most of the rights, which is not the case when you create your own user.

IIS Lockdown & .NET

Spymac Launches The Internet’s First Free 1 Gigabyte Email Service

One gigabyte of storage is available to all Spymac Mail accounts, effective today, Monday April 5, 2004.

Spymac agrees with the staff at Google that a 1 GB e-mail account makes sense. Millions of people rely on easy access to mail and depend on their email service to not indiscriminately delete important mail. Spymac Mail offers several advantages over other free Internet-based email. In addition to the one-gigabyte storage increase, Spymac Mail also offers both POP3 and Webmail access to the email accounts. For those wondering why on earth they would need one gigabyte for POP3 mail, don’t despair; because IMAP mail capabilities are under development and will be available very soon. Spymac Mail does not include keyword scanning for search and has no advertising.

Spymac welcomes email accounts from users 13 years old and up on any operating system. Sign up for your free account today by clicking here.

Spymac Launches The Internet’s First Free 1 Gigabyte Email Service

Fiddler, et al

(and Dave
) point out a tool that should be in everyone’s party chest — Fiddler.
While at first glance it looks similar to Simon
‘s most excellent TCPTrace utility,
it seems to add even more every time I click on something. Here it is showing the
stats for round-trip times to various countries.


You can also hand-build GET and POST requests, test out the effects of GZIP compression
on requests, view all the headers and/or content of requests and responses, and much
more. Extensible with your own plug-ins as well (and the price is right — USD0).
Thank you Eric Lawrence (author and ‘softie).

PS: While you’re at it, look at the rest
of the utilites on the site
. There are some neat ones. I’m starting to really
fall in love with SlickRun. It may finally cure me of my 4NT addiction.


Fiddler, et al

Google launches free email service

Google has announced a free email service that is fully searchable and offers 500-times
the storage capacity of Hotmail’s free service.

A trial of the Gmail service kicks off today with testers hand-picked by Google. The
web-based service will display text adverts alongside emails that are relevant to
keywords in the user’s emails.

Google announced the service in a cheekily written press release, dated 1 April, with
its too-good-be-true tone suggesting April foolery, but with no obvious indication
that the announcement was anything other than genuine (apart from claiming the service
can search in Klingon!).

A Google spokeswoman said the announcement was not an April fool.

Key features of Gmail are the ability to search all emails sent and received; 1GB
of storage, equivalent to 500,000 pages of email; and automatic grouping of email
into “conversations”, so related received and replied-to email would appear together,
eliminating the need for folders.

Google said the inspiration for the service came from a Google user complaining about
the poor quality of existing webmail services. “She kvetched [Yiddish for complained]
about spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them. So she asked ‘Can’t
you people fix this?'” said Google co-founder Larry Page. 


Google launches free email service

Microsoft to remove the Calculator from Windows

News from Repeou:

The country Repeou threatens Microsoft to pay a fine as much as 10 percent of its
global annual sales for monopoly defenses. The software giant is abusing its monopoly
power by bundling several applications such as the Calculator and Paint with Windows.

The process against Microsoft was started by the company named Nisbum. Nisbum developed
a great calculator but doesn’t see a chance to sell this great product to the masses
as long as Microsoft bundles the Calculator with Windows.

According to Repeou, Microsoft must offer at least two separate versions of Windows,
one version without the Calculator.

Repeou is giving Microsoft a last opportunity to comment before the case is concluded.


What are the boundaries of an operating system? The boundaries of operating systems
shouldn’t be defined by governments, and they shouldn’t be defined by competitors.

Microsoft to remove the Calculator from Windows