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Comment Consulting (Score 2) 451

Get into consulting, easiest way to get experience (by fire). Volunteer for every project you can, even if you are just asking to shadow others at the start so you can learn.
Study things like Puppet, OpenStack, VMware vSphere, Hyper-V (along with SCVMM), KVM (part of OpenStack) etc. Be aware of app platforms (e-mail, SQL, etc) but don't make them your career as hosted/cloud based services are a serious threat to onsite stuff (privacy issues aside).
Find all the key blogs for each of these things I've mentioned, and read them often. Follow the authors of these blogs on Twitter if you really want to keep up to date.
Oh, and LEARN TO RECOGNIZE WHEN STUFF IS CHANGING and adjust your skills accordingly.
Remember your users/customers have needs, and your job is to give them what is best for them regardless of your own bias. Despite what vendors tell you, no solution is best for everyone.

Comment Re:On Education (Score 1) 161

Separating students by the way they learn will never happen given the push for "inclusion" in public schools.

Meanwhile my wife (teacher) has her entire class dragged down because she has to spend so much time with those who need additional assistance. Those kids end up getting more assistance, but not as much as they truly need, while the other kids fall behind.

Don't get me wrong, I get the idea of inclusion, but I disagree with others having to noticeably suffer (in terms of education) as a result.

Comment Get a local phone number (Score -1, Flamebait) 506

Use Google Voice, get a local number, and disguise the fact that you aren't local. Seattle has a lot of tech people already, which means companies can hire local. It doesn't matter if you aren't looking for relocation, unless your skills are rare or you very well known they probably don't need you. If they do need you, they may prefer to wait it out until a "local" version of you appears.

Comment Consulting for the win (Score 1) 293

Go consult for small to midsize businesses. Sysadmin skills less useful as automation becomes more prevalent/affordable throughout everything tech. You can learn more in 1 year of consulting than 5 of general sysadmin.
Learn basic Exchange/SQL setup/admin on your own first in a home lab. Realize that the difference between single-server/site Exchange (really no single server anymore with 2010 due to DAG) is wholly different that multi-site/server/large DAG setups BUT the basics are very helpful. If you want to go nuts, setup a multisite AD environment in your home lab and setup Exchange in both sites. Separate as many of the Exchange roles as you can to learn more about how they talk to another another within/between sites. Read MSFT forums concerning Exchange troubleshooting to see what kinds of problems people are having.
Offer to help out for free on after-hours/weekend work involving Exchange (or whatever else).
Just remember that Microsoft is pushing Office 365 heavily, especially for mail. Onsite e-mail will become rarer and rarer unless a business explicitly needs it (TCO for any enterprise class e-mail solution can get expensive). With Exchange no longer doing single instance storage you either need lots of DAS on your server or lots of array space, both of which can get costly.
Suggestions: OpenStack (open source virtualization), Puppet or Chef (automation), and VMware if possible. VMware is the most useful of those, but the other three are only getting bigger.

Comment Re:Here in Canada ... (Score 2) 631

Consider the following perks at my workplace:
Onsite gym
Popcorn machine
Tea/coffee machine
Few other (small) nice odds and ends
Should I be paying taxes on what those items would cost me if I had to pay for them? I think not. I accept that those items cost my company money, which is results in a slightly smaller paycheck. Don't ding me twice by lowering my pay AND making me pay taxes for the value of these items.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 3, Informative) 215

Bankruptcy is not 8 years without credit. You may have a year or two of few options, and will probably need to setup a secured credit card (credit line equal to the cash you provide the issuer) initially to show you can be responsible, but you will be able to do just about anything you want a couple of years after filing. Yes your rates will be higher, but if you pay your bills on time the penalty will be less over time until the bankruptcy falls off your credit report entirely.
In addition, if you can reaffirm on existing debt for those items which you need to keep (car, house).
My problem? People who got into debt for stupid things. No sympathy for them, all kinds of sympathy for those who have medical bills, family tragedy, etc.

Comment Depends on your boss (Score 2) 223

As with any company, your quality of life depends on your boss. Mine sets realistic quarterly goals, which I've met every quarter since starting there (yes I work for EMC). I occasionally work a few extra hours a week around product launches, or to do extra testing, but it is a few weeks per quarter at most. Our software engineers? Yeah they have it rough at times but they are paid well too, and their work is tied to products worth billions (makes the resume look good). Plus I have an office, no dress code (in our NC office anyway), onsite workout facility, and other perks. Best job I've had 13 years into my career.

Comment Can you sell yourself? (Score 1) 347

If you have connections, legitimate skills, and can sell yourself college is optional. Go out and convince someone that you are worth hiring. Bypass HR and recruiters if possible, in many cases they will simply toss your resume for lack of "traditional" accomplishments. Your goal is to talk to the people who make the final decision on whether or not to hire you, not those who make the initial decision.
For everyone else, a degree is important (well, legitimate skills are important regardless). I work for a tech company in the Fortune 150 and our software engineers work on everything from UI to our products down to the kernels. We have awesome intern programs as well as programs that rotate you in different jobs (3-5) over your first 3 or so years of employment. You won't get any of those positions without a degree. It's still possible to get in here without one, but you better have an impressive background and hopefully some connections on the inside.

Mistakes are costly, so companies have to be cautious. Even if you are willing to accept a salary that is lower to get in the door, your benefits package has a fixed cost. As large as my employer is (>50K employees globally), my benefits still cost them nearly 20K a year.

My Masters didn't strictly apply to the job I held today, but it got me in at a higher position level and salary. Even if the skills don't directly apply, the 18 months of writing papers has been invaluable in helping me write docs for work. In my case the degree both helped me at my job and got me more money than I would have otherwise been offered.

Some of our best software engineers have no degree, but they are really good at what they do.

Comment Re:Wife went through this ... (Score 1) 445

Any built in navigation or entertainment is a ripoff, generally speaking. The people who pay $700 for the upgrade CD are the ones that can afford it. Everyone else buys copies off eBay (or simply downloads them).

I stick with a $80 lifetime upgrade TomTom for navigation and tablets/hones/portable DVD players for kid/wife entertainment.

Comment Re:Can I use Win programs that I'm required for wo (Score 1) 417

The RT tablets do not support x86/64 or desktop apps. You need to wait for the full Win 8 Intel tablets (more expensive, early next year) to be able to run everything you might need (and join a domain for that matter). The RT tablets are consumption devices, much like iPads and Nexus tablets.

Comment Some things disk array vendors are doing (Score 1) 510

Disk array manufacturers are dealing with this in a couple of different ways (I work for one).
1) Using different methods to determine when a SSD will fail, and proactively sparing it out
2) Inline dedupe at the cache level to reduce writes before they even hit the disks, extending disk life (example:
3) MLC drives, which are supposed to be "enterprise" grade. Theory is if you can find creative ways to reduce writes (such as the last line) this negates the expense of MLC drives. Large storage vendors who got into flash early typically used MLC, but expect SLC to become more accepted (cost being one big reason, improved reliability another).
Just remember, when flash drives die they really die. Due to the way files are stored you can't just ship the drive off somewhere and get files recovered. This isn't a bad thing, but something people need to keep in mind.
As far as laptops/desktops go, beware of things that increase writes. Full disk encryption is good, but if the file is encrypted after it is written you've doubled you writes without even thinking about it. That is just one example of things that can cause flash drives to fail a little earlier than you expected. I've seen MLC flash drives that are used for array caching (hot data blocks written to flash for better response, data constantly being promoted/demoted to these drives) hit their write limit in 9 months. Not die, hit their write limit.

Comment What works for me (Score 1) 468

1) Quarterly objectives that are only partially tied to company performance. If I meet my objectives but the company doesn't I still get 75% of my bonus, which is 3.75% of my salary per quarter (assuming the whole thing pays out). And the company portion of the bonus has been there for the last 6+ years running without interruption, so they set reasonable goals for themselves too.
2) If you work on something big, or accomplish something significant, additional other bonuses. I've been there since last July and have gotten two of these, ranging between 4% and 10% of my base salary. The 10% bonus takes 4 years to fully vest, but that is reasonable.
3) Workout facility onsite.
4) I have an office, not a cubicle. You have no idea what this means to me, especially since I am usually writing documents for 1/3rd of my time (I build solutions, test them, and write-up my test results and reference architectures) and like my privacy.
5) So long as I am not seeing customers, there is pretty much no dress code (within reason, I wore shorts and a t-shirt from ~April till just last week). This is wonderful because honestly, unless we have clients coming in to meet with my team (rare, since we aren't in sales) I don't need to be dressed up at all.
6) Solid benefits. This means reasonable deductibles that won't kill me if someone has ongoing health issues/medications that are outside of their control. This is huge as well because crappy benefits can cost my family $3K-5K/year, and I take that stuff into account when looking at the base salary of an offer.
7) My boss feels that if you have to work more than 40 hours a week on an ongoing basis, he is likely not doing his job correctly. He works with you to set reasonable quarterly objectives, which he of course fully expects you to meet.
8) Training. We work with unreleased/just released stuff all the time (and write about it), so this is critical.

Yes I am paid well, but items 3-8 on this list are enough to give me serious pause before even entertaining another job offer. I could care less about cake days, or massages. Workout facilities, an office, and a lax dress code help keep the stress down. Good pay and benefits means that I'm not worrying about money, which is important. I don't need to drive a Ferrari, but my family vacations and the occasional hobby are important to me.

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