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Comment Re:Maybe US IT deserve what they get? (Score 2) 260

"US IT workers could change the situation if they wanted to do so. But that would require actually doing something."

I totally agree. The problems with the current situation are:
- The problems are appearing too slowly for people to perceive any wider issue. Everyone assumes that it's just their company making questionable decisions and everything will be made right once they come to their senses. The reality is that this is accelerating and it may be too late to stop the train.
- Most of the people I've ever worked with are very conservative, free-market, Libertarian types -- I'm a pretty big exception among IT peers. Mention anything that might limit a company's power, or involve an organization drive on the labor side, and you'll be labeled a pro-union communist.
- There is also a very strong belief by people in our field that they are the absolute best at what they do, and they would never dare compare themselves with peers, let alone organize alongside them.
- I'm not sure where it comes from, but there also seems to be this belief that if we allow executives to do what they want, then they will let us into their club and we will be rich beyond our wildest dreams. Anything that might limit their ability to amass wealth is seen as jeopardizing that (nonexistent) goal.

Currently, there is very little support for my suggestion -- creating a profession for IT and development, and buying the laws we need. I think it's going to have to get much worse before people get mad enough to fight. And I'm not even talking about a traditional labor union; I'm talking about a professional organization that can lobby alongside the big companies who are fighting for things they want like more H-1Bs and the ability to offshore work more easily.

Comment It's the IT service providers that need fixing (Score 3, Interesting) 260

I've been working in IT for 20 years now and have been through a couple of these outsourcing/offshoring exercises. The truth is this - there is no way to convince executives that IT is a strategic investment opportunity unless the company's only business is IT. Therefore, outsourcing will happen in most big companies the first time the MBA's spreadsheets show a big enough paper cost savings. And in Disney's case, it's not the money -- I have 2 little kids. Disney could fill several of Scrooge McDuck's money bins with just the daily cash flow from their parks. They must carry all the cash out of Disney World in dump trucks. So, there's proof that they're not doing it for cost savings.

The thing that needs to be attacked is the IT service providers' use of H-1B and offshore labor for inappropriate tasks. Go after Cognizant, Tata Consulting Services, Accenture, IBM, HP, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Xerox, etc. for bringing in H-1B labor for purposes that don't meet the original intention of the program. H-1B was designed to import specific high-end skill sets for a limited time to fill in actual gaps in education/experience. These service companies use the H-1B to bring in "job shadowers" who train the offshore teams, and low-level DBAs, developers and other roles that could easily be had locally without the communications or quality issues. The problem is that this will never get popular support until the vast majority of white collar workers are out of a job or underemployed. IT is still seen as a hot field, and we are all still considered well paid, so we don't get any political attention.

Do I think outsourcing is a good idea? No, I think companies need to have some FTEs who at least have a connection to the company. When you go down the service provider route, the provider has to make money at the rate they bill you. The only way they can do this is reduce labor costs and reduce service levels to the absolute minimum to keep you from invoking breach of contract clauses.

I have no idea how it will work out for Disney, but I've worked on both sides of the outsourcing fence. In the company doing the outsourcing, the FTEs left behind are stuck in a stagnant IT department behind a wall of change management process, 2 AM conference calls and incompetent newbie offshore guys that keep rotating. The outsourcing company is forced to cut so many corners that being an on-site employee of the company is not a fun job -- you get to tell people why they can't have things, why projects are late, etc.

Comment Not just development (Score 1) 167

Systems work is impacted by this style of quick fix answers as well. There's ServerFault, as well as vendor support forums and other sources. I love and hate these sorts of resources. They're great because they get fixes and workarounds out there far faster than official vendor support channels can. What they're awful for is providing half-working or potentially dangerous answers that look fine but may not apply at all to the problem at hand.

You can say that the root cause of the problem is inexperienced sysadmin staff, and you would be right. However, the same problem exists on the developer side. On the admin side, it's worse because there are honestly a lot of admin staff who can't automate, can't script and some have trouble with the command line. Therefore, when the requirement comes up to do so, these admins are at the mercy of sites like this. The worst of them copy and paste script code without knowing a thing about what it does.

The state of programming and IT doesn't need to be measured by StackOverflow or ServerFault data. It needs to be measured by the number of staff who lean on these resources too hard and lack the fundamental troubleshooting/reasoning skills to filter the content.

Comment Re:No, I'm really not (Score 1) 315

The thing is, I don't want to count on everyone having the latest version.

Yes you do. That way developers using those bleeding-edge features can find the rough edges and get them fixed, and you can use their tested descendants a year later. If those features aren't delivered to end users, no one can test and learn from them and they don't become mainstream.

Comment Re:Stalking Horse? (Score 1) 137

Thus for most normal Blackberry users (non-corporate), their secure end to end communications begin and end at Blackberry's servers.

That's not a definition of "end to end" that I'm familiar with. Beyond that, how does Blackberry's "network operator" setup differ from Apple's Messages where Apple handles the message routing and delivery, except that Apple devices encrypt and decrypt on the user's hardware (which is the normal definition of "end to end")?

Comment Get a customer to complain loudly (Score 1) 192

I've worked with a lot of products that are obviously like the one you describe. They tend to be vertical market things where the vendor is one of maybe 2 or 3 choices and has their customers completely locked in. The only way to jar them out of their rut is one of these:
- Have a major customer pull up stakes and leave out of frustration. (They would have to generate a big percentage of your product's revenue)
- Have a major competitor undertake a similar radical change that leapfrogs anything you're currently doing.

I can think of several "enterprisey" software products that fit this description - SAP, Oracle DB, any CA product, etc. These companies know that migrating away from their product is nearly impossible and so they don't invest in it until they're forced to.

Comment IT doesn't have to be a sweatshop (Score 2) 242

IT has several factors that encourage poor work/life balance:
- The IT landscape is littered with awful companies to work for, who treat their IT people like the janitorial service. The ratio of good to bad employers is very low.
- Companies that are considered "fun to work for" encourage people to constantly be at work by providing free food, free personal services, etc. I just got back from a meeting at Microsoft, and even after Nadella took over and the reduction in their monopoly power, the place is still like a college campus and employees are encouraged to basically live there.
- There's pressure on older workers, who have been around the block and know the game, because there are always younger workers who will willingly work 100 hour weeks because they have nothing else going on in their lives.
- There's also H-1B and offshoring pressure. It's not uncommon to hear CIOs remark that their offshore teams never complain about hours worked. And, outsourcing the entire IT department means the company pays a monthly bill and gets even more compliant H-1B workers.

Outside of crazy industries like video games, or investment banking where you can make massive bonuses that make working the extra hours worth it, I think most employees would prefer to be given a 40 hour week, decent pay, and a good work/life balance. The good companies who provide these things tend to have longer staff tenure, but you don't hear about them as much. This is for 2 reasons -- (1) they're not sexy SV startups writing phone apps, and (2) there aren't very many open positions because employees tend to stay where they're happier.

Employers who treat their employees well will be rewarded in the long term.

Comment Not shocked (Score 1) 43

One problem with Citrix is that their cash cow, XenApp, is getting less relevant. They have a huge presence in health care and other sectors where they can't assure endpoint security, have lots of shared machines/terminals, and have a lot of regulatory compliance issues. However, Microsoft keeps improving RemoteApp which can be had for the price of a CAL rather than a CAL plus Citrix seat. In addition, more applications are migrating to browser-based HTML5 type systems that don't require weird client-side plugins or settings anymore. VDI is also more useful and easier to do now, as long as your company falls into one of the favorable Windows licensing scenarios that make the price reasonable.

I've worked with Citrix since MetaFrame, learned, forgot and relearned it 3 times for various jobs. Every time I came back to it, there was yet another massive shift in the architecture, management tools and deployment model. This latest version that I'm relearning (7.6) merged the XenApp and XenDesktop management platforms into one. I imagine that's a pretty huge shift for average Citrix admins. Anyway, they keep changing things on the periphery of the platform, but the core doesn't change -- it's still a more WAN-friendly drop in replacement protocol for Remote Desktop.

Selling off the GoTo stuff is probably a good idea. It'll let them keep pumping out new XenApp/XenDesktop enhancements or improving NetScaler, which are probably more reliable sources of revenue. And here's the reality from an end user computing guy who works for big companies -- there will always be "senior applications" that are deemed business-critical and cannot be replaced for whatever reason. A new sexy startup isn't going to have these, which is why the cloud, mobile access, etc. is gaining so much traction now. But, even in the more technologically forward companies I've worked for, I've seen stuff like really horrible Access applications, Excel macros, VB 6 GUIs cobbled together by "consultants", and others that just need to keep chugging along. And anyone who says "just move to" hasn't experienced the corporate politics that prevent some of that from happening.

Comment Re:Har har har? (Score 1) 231

Yes, but you save time by not indenting

I'm asking this seriously: what text editor do you use that you can easily not indent? I use Emacs (and Vim and Sublime Text and Atom) and automatically get thr correct indentation just by writing code like I normally would. If I type if foo: and hit enter, the cursor will be placed correctly for the next thing I type. This isn't Python-specific, either. I get the same behavior when writing C, Go, JS, shell scripts, and so on.

I love dealing with a language that's explicit about what I mean. Consider how incredibly dangerous it is to write code that's not actually indented the way it's meant to be executed. Lots of eyes looked at that C code and didn't notice that the formatting was inconsistent with its parsing. That would not have been a problem in a language that uses indent to describe intent.

Comment Re:Har har har? (Score 1) 231

You know, as much as I hear that whine, in 16 years of writing Python I've literally never once been bitten by it. Yes, you hate having to indent your code the way you would naturally have indented it anyway, left to your own devices. Sure, writing at-a-glance understandable clauses is torture. Oh yeah, I too hate formatting my stuff the way my coworkers / teachers / project maintainers / colleagues expect to find it. But as much as I love writing the horrible, unformatted mess that you also enjoy, I just can't make this hypothetical copy-and-paste problem manifest itself in reality. Curse you, Python!

Comment dear national security personnel: (Score 5, Insightful) 259

do your fucking job. spying on suspects

not hoovering everything from everyone and thinking a search query will give you magic intelligence. intelligence work is *work*

the encryption is not important. your gumshoe work is. get out of your fucking cubicle you lardass and find these dirtbags

and if you can't do that maybe your useless security theatre job should be axed

Comment Re:Another Twitter case study (Score 1) 519


Twitter is just one platform among many, and before it we've always given people public platforms to say dumb, career-ending things. You know, you can still (and always could!) say offensive things. The trick is to say it in such a way as to get your point across before others stop listening.

Dumb statement: Hitler wasn't all bad!

Better statement: Although Hitler committed great atrocities, it is important we remember he was a human and capable of good, too, so that we don't forget that danger always walks among us.

Same sentiment; more tactful delivery. This is what politicians are supposed to be able to do. That Kimmel was unable is a good sign that he should not be an elected representative. Lots of people have successfully used Twitter (and other social media platforms) to say lots of non-mainstream things without making legions of enemies.

There is very little future in being right when your boss is wrong.