All of the usual tech tools plus:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley