The eighth wonder!

<DIV class=Section1>

<P class=MsoNormal>One of my friends forwarded this to me. Would you risk entering this place?</P>

<P class=MsoNormal></P></DIV><IMG class=inlinedMailPicture style=”WIDTH: 504px; HEIGHT: 335px” height=310 src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/pic19668.jpg” width=446 border=0>

I’m Longhorn’ing now!

<DIV class=Section1> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2>I finally got some free time on my hands to installed Longhorn on my machine on top of Virtual PC. I spent the whole day yesterday fooling around with Longhorn, poring over the MSDN articles on Longhorn that I was purposefully ignoring up to now. <?xml:namespace prefix = o /></FONT></P> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2>This is the first time I’ve used Virtual PC seriously, so while the Longhorn installation was going on I read over VPC help and learnt quite a few about it’s concepts. One key thing is that unlike VMWare (I might be wrong here), all VPC’s installed on any machine emulate a standard hardware configuration. This is what makes it possible to open up a virtual machine file on another machine.</FONT></P> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2>Using the Shared Network option I was able to configure the Longhorn installation to use my network config and was happily browsing my own site and logged in to Messenger on the Longhorn build (the tease screenshot below). Overall I’m quite impressed with this WinHEC build (which was released in May 2004). It’s quite fast, I didn’t notice the much talked about Explorer leak (I allocated 730MB RAM to the virtual machine) and configured it to run at maximum speed.</FONT></P> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2>I wrote and ran my first XAML application and boy what a feeling, I can’t wait to start writing some serious code!</FONT></P> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2> </FONT></P> <P class=MsoNormal><FONT face=Arial size=2><A href=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0011234.jpg” target=_blank border=”0”><IMG id=” x0000 i1025” height=600 src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0011234.jpg” width=800 border=0></A></FONT></P></DIV>

The state of the nation

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoPlainText><font size=2 color=black face=Arial>Everything seems to be going downhill, I had to wait for an hour to get some fuel for my car. Interest rates are supposed to go up by the end of the year. Will we Sri Lankans never learn?</font></p>

<p class=MsoPlainText><font size=2 color=”#333333” face=Arial>http://www.thesundayleader.lk/20040815/politics-more.htm</font></p>

<p class=MsoPlainText><font size=2 color=”#333333” face=Arial>Fomenting religious dissent was also part of the well orchestrated campaign of the then opposition, but in government today, it is called upon to bell the cat with the JHU demanding the Anti Conversion Bill be passed into law given the green light of the Supreme Court. To top it all, with prices already skyrocketing, the government last week asked the people to brace themselves for further hikes. </span></font></p>

<p class=MsoPlainText><font size=2 color=”#333333” face=Arial>And the irony of it all is that the very reasons adduced by the President and the UPFA for the ouster of the UNF such as the preparation to negotiate the ISGA with the LTTE, allowing the Tigers to set up camps in Trincomalee such as at Manirasakulam, providing duty free facilities to bring vehicles and equipment to the country in addition to helicopter rides and other violations of the ceasefire agreement, are all reenacted today, now with the blessings of the very President and the UPFA. </span></font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial> </font></p>

</div>

techbooksforfree.com

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>Check out http://techbooksforfree.com quite a handful of free books, there aren’t many on the Microsoft list but (as expected) quite a few on Linux, Perl, C and Python.</font></p>

</div>

IceRocket.com Search Engine

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>www.icerocket.com Yet another search engine, the search results seem to be accurate (my ego test search for ‘merill’ brings up my site). </font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>I like their Quick View feature which shows you the site within the search page on a frame. I would have liked it much better if their Maximize button opened the site to the full window, that way I wouldn’t need to reload the site if I really wanted to open it to the full window. Give it a spin…</font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial><font color=black><img border=0 width=210 height=99 id=” x0000 i1025” src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0011.gif” vspace=2 alt=”Go Icerocket Home”></font></font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial> </font></p>

</div>

Whoppee Sri Lanka beat South Africa

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>Chaminda Vaas showed the South African’s how to bowl with some exhilarating bowling and took six for 29 today to help us to a 313-run victory and our very first series win over South Africa. </font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>I feel sorry for South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith, hope they will try to put up a better fight at the one days starting on the 20th. </font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>Sri Lanka</font><font size=2 face=Arial> is now at fifth place on the Test Championship Table while South Africa moved to their lowest ranking ever to #6.</font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial> </font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial><img width=242 height=218 id=” x0000 i1025” src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image001123.jpg”></font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial> </font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial>FYI: Sri Lanka is #3 on the ODI Table.</font></p>

<p class=MsoNormal><font size=2 face=Arial><img width=167 height=229 id=” x0000 i1028” src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0021.jpg”></font></p>

</div>

DNGSL

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoNormal>Manoj came up with these great looking logos for our user group. Which one do you prefer?</p>

<p class=MsoNormal><img border=0 width=164 height=80 src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0031.jpg”></p>

<p class=MsoNormal> </p>

<p class=MsoNormal><img border=0 width=185 height=125 src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image004.jpg”></p>

</div>

Sweet Revenge: Sri Lanka takes the Cup

<div class=Section1>

<table class=MsoTableGrid border=1 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0 style=’border-collapse:collapse;border:none’>

<td valign=top style='border:none;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt'> <p class=MsoNormal><img width=150 height=202 src="http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image0011.jpg" alt="Was this a decisive moment? Tillakaratne Dilshan celebrates his spectacular catch of Rahul Dravid in the Asia Cup final © AFP" border=0></p> </td> <td valign=top style='border:none;padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt'> <p class=MsoNormal>Way to go Sri Lanka! I wasn’t able to make it to watch the match but watched it on a large projection screen at the Fingara club with some friends. Man did the Indian’s self-destruct, Sachin couldn’t have played any worse than yesterday even if he had tried.</p> <p class=MsoNormal> </p> <p class=MsoNormal>All credit to the Sri Lankan’s for playing positively even though they didn’t have a large score to defend. Let’s hope our guys can be on top of South Africa as well in the coming weeks.</p> </td>

</table>

<p class=MsoNormal> </p>

</div>

MSN Search Improving

<div class=Section1>

<p class=MsoNormal>I blogged about the MSN search preview earlier but still found that it was not up to the mark based on the ‘ego’ testing. Searching for ‘merill’ used to return my old site at webmatrix hosting and my current site www.merill.net never showed, if you do a search now you will find me in the top three positions. </p>

<p class=MsoNormal> </p>

<p class=MsoNormal>So Google you better watch out.</p>

<p class=MsoNormal> </p>

<p class=MsoNormal><img border=0 width=45 height=16 src=”http://www.merill.net/wp-content/uploads/contentbinary/image001.gif”> </p>

</div>

What Anyone works in IT should remember every day

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

<SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>Once you're pigeon-holed, it's extremely hard to break out</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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".</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>My advice is hang out for the job that you want. If you want to move into J2EE development, insist on working at that.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>Technical Skills are hard currency</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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".</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>Your whole career in IT will be spent updating your skills</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>IT is a volatile industry</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>You should get experience by working at bargain-basement prices</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>

</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>Get your vendor certifications</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us>
</SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>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.</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2>

</FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><A title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com href="mailto:brainbox@consultant.com"><SPAN lang=en-us title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com><U title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com><FONT title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com face=Arial color=#0000ff size=2>Paul Knapp</FONT></U></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us title=mailto:brainbox@consultant.com></SPAN></A><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us><FONT face=Arial size=2> </FONT></SPAN><SPAN lang=en-us></SPAN>