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Comment All of the tech tools plus these practical items (Score 1) 416

All of the usual tech tools plus:

  • Several cheap LED flashlight
  • Several cheap LED head lights
  • Spare batteries
  • Small shop vac with a blower.
  • Plumb bob with string.
  • Hacksaw
  • P-Touch labeler.
  • Label servers on the front and back, using a naming convention.
  • Also alternate front and back on racks so you have hot rows and cold rows. Perf tiles in cold rows, air handler intakes near hot rows.
  • Two power strips per rack, connected to different PDU boxes, so if you lose a whole PDU your dual-power supply servers stay up.

Hang up placards (the size of a sheet of paper) at the end of each column and row of tiles along two adjacent walls so you have the grids labeled. In your CMDB you should have the server location (Grid H15C would mean the front side of rack H15, third up from the bottom.) I mentioned a CMDB. You do have an ITIL-compliant (or at least ITIL-resembling) CMDB, don't you?

Comment The world is not enough. (Score 1) 319

Another South African entrepreneur, Elon Musk, is like yourself, a space enthusiast. Unlike yourself, Elon didn't buy a ticket to experience spaceflight himself. Instead he built a business model which will help lower the cost of spaceflight for everyone who wants to put a payload into orbit or, eventually, to explore other heavenly bodies like the Moon and Mars. Ubuntu has been a tremendous contribution to democratizing computing by putting a free OS in the hands of people everywhere on Earth. Do you see yourself participating in any effort to make humanity establish footholds on other planets, and if so, how?

Comment The regulations WERE the problem (Score 0) 422

The Community Reinvestment Act and other regulations pressured lenders to make mortgage loans available even to high risk lenders. The taxpayers would guarantee the loans. Next, opportunistic bankers began to push loans on people who were no creditworthy, and people who wanted to profit off of real estate appreciation used "creative financing" (interest only loans, variable interest loans with balloon payments, etc.) to buy much larger homes than they could afford, betting on continuing rise in values. This over-leveraging at both ends of the market - the bottom end and the top end, fed the crisis.

Next, investment bankers bundled together bunches of these junk loans, slapped a triple A rating on them, divided them into tranches, and sold them to investors who wanted to make a killing on mortgage-backed securities.

The Financial Crisis was a perfect storm: misguided good intentions and unintended consequences got the ball rolling, then greedy mortgage bankers, home buyers, and investment bankers, pretty much greed and malfeasance at every level, not just restricted to a single economic stratum, all set the Financial Crisis in motion. It became the whirlwind we are all reaping today.

Even this grossly over-simplified summary is probably too long-winded for today's attention spans. Sorry, but this sort of stuff can't be expressed in 140 characters or less.

Comment Egalitarianism is the problem (Score 1) 684

Egalitarianism is misguided and naive, and leads to this sort of bullying.

Fact: You can redistribute wealth, you can redistribute false self-esteem, but you can't redistribute smarts. The bell curve forever divides the intellectual haves and have nots. And those who haven't got brains are more likely to use their fists.

We need to rebuild a school system that rewards excellence, that challenges smart kids to be all they can be. The current system not only holds them back, but subjects them to bullying by their intellectual inferiors. But the current system is scared to death of even a hint of elitism. It's not elitism to reward achievement and develop gifted kids. It's just common sense. But this is utterly lost on the radical egalitarians.

Comment Re:Cut your own trail (Score 2) 306

I agree. I started my own company after I was 50, only I deliberately left corporate employment to do it. There are lots of small businesses out there that need IT support and custom coding. Build your system admin chops. But you also need to be prepared to build your business (and yes, You have to build it. No matter what President Obama might have said, nobody else is going to make it happen.

Plan on working without pay at first. No, you don't have to provide free services to customers. But you have to let the money that comes in go back to the business to build it. You can't plant a seed, then yank the first green shoot that comes out of the ground and eat it. You have to nurture it and grow it. Your business has to build and grow so you need to invest your time and re-invest the money that comes in. When I started my company, I committed to two years without pay. I had plenty of savings from 15 years of corporate employment as a systems engineer and a spouse who had a job with benefits, so I could afford to do so.

Read _The E-Myth Revisited_ by Michael Gerber. This will help to prepare you for the business side of business - if you already have excellent tech skills, your business will succeed or fail based on how well you run the business side of things.

You must build a marketing plan. No matter how good your tech chops are, no matter how excellent your services or products may be, if you don't have customers you have no business. Identify some vertical markets you can target. Perhaps there is a single vertical product you can sell - Medical office practice management systems, or Sheep herding management systems. I don't know what you do, but if you can find an industry vertical, identify consortia and trade organizations in that vertical, find member businesses, speak at organizational events, become a thought leader for that vertical. If you're a generalist, fine, but if you can identify some vertical markets it will be helpful, and market, market, market your services.

As a programmer you should be able to understand this: A program is a machine (a code machine, but still a machine) that is designed to automate a task or set of tasks. Your company ultimately is a machine designed to automate the earning of money. Design your business with the goal of ultimately running without you. Learn to outgrow the employee mentality you had in the corporate world, and be a business owner. Build your business, create jobs, then once it's up and running, you can keep your hand in the business but it will not require you 24X7. Your employees will run the business.

It will be much tougher than showing up for work in the corporate world. Your only employee review is your balance sheet. If you can make half the money you made in the corporate world (after taxes and expenses) congratulations - you have a running business. If you get it running on all cylinders and get it to replace your corporate income and then some, then BIG congratulations: you are an entrepreneur and job creator. And you have created a business that will provide for you and your family. Design it with an exit strategy in mind: build it to a level of recurring revenue and sell out to a larger competitor when your valuation is enough to provide for your retirement, or build the business enough to create the cashflow you need (personal cashflow after the business is taken care of) and keep an office as a place you can go putter as you keep an eye on things.

It will be the toughest thing you've ever done, even if you're an ex-Marine. But it can be done. Those who can cut it never look back. If you fail, at least you tried.

Comment If you've got the chops for it... (Score 1) 260

You might already be doing cutting edge development. If you are really good, a Ph.D. can help you move ahead. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you have the chops for it - you know it deep inside, and it's a living, burning passion that is going to manifest itself in real innovation which will put you at odds with some organizations, and drive you to the front of others. It will drive you to find an organization that values real innovation, and in that kind of organization, that kind of creativity and brilliance is always rewarded with concomitant challenges. A Ph.D. in such an organization would accompany - not drive - ascent to a position on the cutting edge, but the sheepskin wouldn't be needed. If you don't have those kinds of chops, you still might be a really decent programmer capable of producing solid code. But getting a Ph.D. may not be as helpful as working on some good projects. And if after all is said and done you're a mediocre coder - a Ph.D. will look good on your wall with your other meaningless certificates and accolades, but will only produce eyerolls and cynicism from your colleagues and supervisors.

Comment Why host internally? Move data into the cloud. (Score 1) 227

Since you're already considering NAS it means you're not running client-server apps or databases on the server side. Why not go the full monty and put your data into the cloud using Dropbox, Google Drive? If you have less than 100G you can spend about $100 per year. You will want to publish some process guidelines in your ops manual, but this could work for you very economically. Although I am not completely familiar with it (and not affiliated in any way) Clio practice management http://www.goclio.com/ is another way you can put the management of your practice into the cloud with matter, document and contract management.

Comment Start your own business (Score 3, Insightful) 525

When it comes down to it EVERYONE has their own business. When you are traditionally employed, your business has one customer, and if you lose that customer by quitting or getting fired, you're out of business. Start your own business and remember each customer is an income stream. Multiple income streams mean more money and more security, and also give you the ability to fire customers you don't want to do business with.

This doesn't mean it's easy or even possible for everyone. My business was much harder to start than I ever thought it would be, but the challenges have been worthwhile both in income and in getting out of corporate BS like the stacked ranking game.

Middle managers who have no skills beyond playing office politics and self-promotion are pretty much stuck in the corporate rat race, but people with real skills that translate to marketable goods or services can make it on their own if they can learn how to build business structures and processes to run their business and a marketing plan to get customers.

The Slashdotter who said the best way to win is not to play the game was right. This post suggests one way HOW get out of the game.

Comment No pun intended, it's not Apples to Apples... (Score 1) 366

Of course the Asymco study looks at the profitability of devices and carrier fees taken together. It fails to consider that unlike Apple, Google is not primarily a hardware, software and media delivery company. Google's profitability is driven by advertising revenues. I wonder how Android's profitability numbers would look if the study took into account direct and indirect advertising revenues driven by the Android platform?

Comment So clueless even hypocrisy is impossible (Score 2) 115

The authors of SOPA are not hypocrites. Hypocrisy connotes understanding of the issue and the representatives who allowed this piece of legislation to be crafted for them lack even the terminology to enter into meaningful conversation about issues such as DNS Security, Website Poisoning, and other salient factors affected by the law. To use Wolfgang Pauli's aphorism as a metaphor, this piece of legislation is so bad it's not only not right, it's "not even wrong".

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