Nerval's Lobster writes: The average annual technology salary in the U.S. hit $96,370 last year, but some tech professionals are pulling down far more, according to new data from Dice. Specialists in app development and cyber-security, for example, can comfortably pull in six figures, depending on circumstances. Even as tech companies shell out more for managers, CEOs, and specialists, however, they seem collectively determined to save as much as possible in other areas, including via H-1B workers (witness the new lawsuit against Disney's recent outsourcing). It's a strange dichotomy: the best or worst of times from a tech-job perspective, depending on who you are and what you do.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Ever wondered which technology skills are the most 'popular'? A new interactive visualization (based on Dice data) could provide a clue. The visualization, which uses the C3.js charting library built atop the D3.js data visualization library, analyzes 700 technology skills and the top 400 job titles in Dice's current dataset. The chart shows some interesting trends. The in-demand skills and titles (the red ones) seem to be largely focused around DevOps work, front-end development (ASP.NET, Angular.js) and Big Data (MongoDB, Hadoop, NoSQL, AWS). The less in-demand skills include some legacy technology (COBOL, Mainframe, Solaris), as well as very common high-supply skills (Windows 2000, Visual Studio). Click through it yourself and see how it works: The red points on the chart are the ‘hot’ skills, while the blue points are the less-in-demand skills.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Which U.S. cities pay tech workers the most on average? If you guessed 'Silicon Valley' as the top-paying geographic area, you're correct. But some of the other cities on the list don't immediately spring to mind as tech hubs (Dice link), including Minneapolis and San Diego. Part of the rapid growth in salaries in these cities has a lot to do with established companies needing more workers to help do everything from manage databases to analyze data. But with the high salaries in some of these cities comes an equally high cost of living. Take Seattle, for instance, which paid tech workers an average of $103,309 in 2015, but also features notably high housing costs. That could be a key reason why the so-called 'Silicon Prairie' is drawing tech workers to places such as Nebraska, where the cost of living is low while demand for certain kinds of tech skills remains high.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Average technology salaries in the U.S. saw the biggest year-over-year leap ever, up 7.7 percent to $96,370 annually, according to Dice's new survey data. Bonuses and contract rates also rose from 2014, and tech salaries in seven metro areas reached six-figures for the first time since the survey began more than a decade ago. Contract workers saw a rise (5%) in hourly compensation, with contractors earning $70.26 per hour. Other Websites have shown similarly high salaries for tech professionals; Glassdoor, for example, called data scientist the best job in America, with an average salary of $116,840 and bountiful job prospects. But while everything might seem great on a macro level, that doesn't mean tech workers don't face their share of stagnant salaries, brutal workplaces, and annoying managers.
Nerval's Lobster writes: For years, security experts have told people they need better passwords protecting their online accounts: no more '123456' or 'qwerty' or 'password.' Based on SplashData’s fifth annual list of the 25 most common passwords, however, it’s clear that relatively few people are listening to that advice (Dice link). The firm based its list on more than 2 million leaked passwords during the year. The most popular, as in 2014, was '123456,' followed by 'password' and the ingenious, uncrackable '12345678.' One new entry on this ignoble list: 'starwars' in 25th place, no doubt thanks in part to the popularity of 'The Force Awakens' and the accompanying marketing campaign. Seems like a lot of people have forgotten (or never learned) that, while it’s a pain to create (much less remember) a complicated password with lots of numbers and special characters, it’s nothing compared to the pain of having your online accounts compromised. Maybe, as some have proposed, we could someday kill passwords for most services.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Technical debt arises for many reasons—whether moving goal posts, pressure to get code tested and released, high programmer turnover, and lack of documentation. Over time, it can also render code a spaghetti-like mess. But how to deal with it? In a new column on Dice, (Dice link) developer David Bolton offers some suggestions, ranging from refactoring to using compiler inference to increase readability and shorten declarations. While those techniques are straightforward, it's clear that a lot of developers let their code get out of control, and trying to plan beforehand doesn't necessarily prevent the work from getting overcomplicated. It seems like every developer has a go-to technique (or four) for keeping things a little more streamlined. What are yours?
Nerval's Lobster writes: Ford and Chinese technology company DJI (which manufactures drones that specialize in aerial photography) used the spotlight of this year’s CES to announce a developer challenge: figure out how someone in a Ford vehicle can use the dashboard touch-screen to launch (and land) a drone from the back of a pickup. While the challenge is framed as a “search-and-rescue system for the future,” drone control from a moving vehicle has a lot more applications than search-and-rescue. In 2014, Renault designed a concept car that came with a small flying drone controllable via tablet or preset GPS waypoints. In theory, this “flying companion,” launched from a retractable hatch in the roof, could prove especially useful at scanning the road ahead for possible traffic jams. (Renault hasn’t yet announced a production model of the car.) So are drones-from-cars an odd sideshow? Maybe. But if they catch on, imagine the driver-distraction issues from trying to pilot a UAV while you're on the road.
Nerval's Lobster writes: David Foote, an analyst who accurately predicted the tech industry's job growth in 2015, is back with some new predictions about which segments will do well in 2016 (Dice link). At the top of his list: DevOps, cloud and software architects, and cybersecurity experts. Those that won't perform well? SAP specialists, storage 'gurus,' and network managers could all face some headwinds. 'Companies are continuing to outsource infrastructure and that will reduce the need for network specialists except for network security which will remain in-house,' he says. Whether or not he's right about which parts of the tech industry will do better than others, there are also increasing signs that things could get very tight from a funding perspective for startups, as even the so-called 'unicorns' risk seeing investor money (and customers) dry up.
Nerval's Lobster writes: New data from research firm Nielsen shows that — surprise, surprise — Facebook, Google, and Apple dominated the list of most-used mobile apps (Dice link). Facebook’s core app took the top spot on Nielsen’s list with 126 million unique users per month, followed by YouTube with 97 million, Facebook Messenger with 96 million, and Google Search with 95 million. This is partially a consequence of the mobile world essentially becoming a duopoly between Google Android and Apple’s iOS, meaning that the core apps produced by those companies are always front-and-center (and thus always in use) for the majority of mobile users. But not every app launched by these companies succeeds: While Facebook dominates, for example, the company is notable for some app misfires, including Paper and Facebook Home. That might be cold consolation to indie app developers trying to build up a significant audience.
Nerval's Lobster writes: In its recent survey of 435 senior-level cybersecurity professionals, security-training firm Cybrary found that the demand for people who can protect IT infrastructure against attacks is only increasing. According to the data, the most in-demand certifications included (sequentially) Security+, Ethical Hacking, Network+, CISSP, and A+. The high ranking of the Ethical Hacking certification is interesting, given the longtime debate over its worth to security professionals.(Dice link) Whatever certifications they earn, however, tech pros will face a number of significant challenges in 2016 if they want to keep their workplaces secure, including vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things, the rise of “super bad guys” with increasingly sophisticated tools, and a generalized lack of funding to invest in relevant people and technologies. (For those interested, there’s also an interesting piece in Business Insider on how Ran Corey, who co-founded Cybrary, had to deal with Google abruptly banning his company’s app from the Google Play Store. For developers, it’s a good tutorial on what to do if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, and need to get your app unblocked.)
Nerval's Lobster writes: As part of its intensive promotion for the new 'Star Wars' movie, Google just launched a PC browser game called 'Lightsaber Escape' that allows you to swipe at stormtroopers using your smartphone (with the onscreen lightsaber following your real-life movements). Whether or not you actually have any interest in the game (or 'Star Wars,' for that matter), Google has accompanied the release with an interesting walkthrough (complete with coding samples) of how they built the game using WebGL to render graphics within the browser, and WebRTC and WebSockets so mobile devices and PCs could communicate with a minimum of latency. Google believes Polymer is powerful enough (Dice link) to build everything from a UX button to a full application, and the step-by-step breakdown of building 'Lightsaber Escape' certainly backs that point. Whether you’re interested in gaming or hardware interactions, the walkthrough is well-worth the read; if you want to build your own lightsaber game, though, prepare for a good deal of sophisticated rendering and graphics work.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Former CEO Steve Ballmer once publicly referred to Linux as a 'cancer.' Not content to just let Ballmer blow up about it, company also spent a good deal of money and legal effort on claiming that open-source software violated its patents. A decade ago, the idea of Microsoft creating a Linux certification would have seemed like lunacy. But now that very thing has come to pass, (Dice link) with the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure certification, designed in conjunction with the Linux Foundation. Earning the Linux on Azure certification requires tech pros to pass Microsoft Exam 70-533 (Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions) as well as the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) exam, which collectively require knowledge of Linux and Azure implementation. Microsoft evidently recognizes that open-source technology increasingly powers the cloud and mobile, and that it needs to play nice with the open-source community if it wants to survive and evolve.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The idea with Clang, a compiler front-end for C, C++, Objective-C++, and Objective-C, and LLVM (a compiler infrastructure) is that you can mix the compiler front-end with a targeted back-end and end up with highly portable and efficient compiler. Clang can perform static analysis of your code, and lets you write tools that give you information about a program. Although many developers prefer developing in C/C++ using GCC, developer David Bolton (in a new Dice article) makes an argument for why you should switch to Clang. While GCC is probably still best when it comes to speed, he argues, Clang is improving release by release, and features tools that developers could find useful.