Monday, October 31, 2005

The Near-Future of IT

This past Friday, I attended a conference on the near-future (read: next 5 years) of Information Technology in terms of job availability and skill sets. There were a handful of panel speakers representing various large companies in the Chicagoland area, speaking to what they look for in IT candidates for their technology departments, and what they anticipate as far as future needs through 2010. Some things surprised me; others didn't.

The top 10 things I learned about the near-future of IT in Chicagoland:

1. Application programming is dead. Every single company said that they no longer hire in-house application developers. Instead, they use canned solutions out-of-the-box. This does, however, increase their need for software support personnel on-site.

2. The only niche in application programming that will continue to be viable in this area over the next few years is game programming, particularly since Chicago is home to one of the biggest game development companies - Midway games.

3. The need for web programming and web services developers has been consistant and will continue to grow.

4. There is still a need for network administrators, from entry level technicians through network and systems analysts. These jobs can't be outsourced or shipped overseas.

5. Network security is huge, and the current shortage of qualified candidates to fill positions is only going to get worse.

6. Companies are no longer looking for the jack-of-all-trades IT types. They want people with an extreme depth of knowledge on particular brands or subjects, and not necessarily a wide breadth of knowledge.

7. Industry certifications still get the nod over people who hold no certifications, but a college degree is also required. Bachelor's degrees are the new minimum, and Master's degrees are required for management positions.

8. Most companies prefer to hire people with experience, even at entry level - making internships that much more important.

9. Finding job candidates with a good work ethic is no longer enough; solid moral ethics are also required, particularly in security roles.

10. The next big IT boom will be upon us by the year 2010, so get ready!

Top 10 replies by developers when their programs don't work

Toooo freakin' funny. I've used them all...

C. Enrique Ortiz' Weblog: "Top 10 replies by developers when their programs don't work:

10. 'That's weird...'
9. 'It's never done that before.'
8. 'It worked yesterday.'
7. 'You must have the wrong version.'
6. 'It works, but it hasn't been tested.'
5. 'Somebody must have changed my code.'
4. 'Did you check for a virus?'
3. 'Where were you when the program blew up?'
2. 'Why do you want to do it that way?'

and finally ...

1. 'I thought I fixed that.'"

Sunday, October 30, 2005

For weather geeks

(of which I am one)

Weather Bonk

It shows your local weather on a Google map, with points marked where weather cams exist. Rolling over a cam marker shows a thumbnail picture of the current view from the weather cam, and you can overlay the local radar right on to the map. It's freakin' cool.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I'm Home

Back from Vegas... and I still have to go to work, so to satiate your curiousity - no, I didn't win millions. I didn't lose too much though, so it's all good. You can read the Vegas trip reports at my poker blog.

I have very little techie speak to spew today, except that I have a secret crush on Patrick Norton (formerly of The Screen Savers) and have today discovered his video-cast: DigitalLife TV. I will be an avid watcher, for sure.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Do as I say...

... not as I do.

One of the classes I teach at the local community college is computer repair. I preach constantly about the importance of backing up data and maintaining a frequent system upkeep schedule. Today, I finally paid for not practicing what I preach.

The last time I backed up my data was July 2004. Yeah. Over a year ago.

Last Christmas (10 months ago or so), I upgraded my computer from an Athlon XP 2200 to the Athlon 64-bit 3500+. I added a gig of Corsair XMS dual channel DDR400 ram, a brand new 250GB Maxtor DiamondMax hard drive, and a new CD burner. I added extra fans, and a neon light, and did it up sweet.

Shortly thereafter, I started having hard disk problems. Turns out, my power supply couldn't handle the neon light and extra fans. I unplugged them, and the problems stopped - and I was able to retrieve my data from the drive.

That incident was the 2nd time in 3 years that I'd had some sort of system crash but was able to recover my data. You'd think I'd have seen how lucky I was and started backing up.

I've intended for years to go buy a copy of Norton Ghost. It's an awesome product - I used it years ago at a computer shop I used to work at. But, it's $70. I always backed down at the last minute and avoided buying it. Too expensive.

Another thing I've been procrastinating is buying a new power supply. I thought I had a 400 watt PS in my system, and I figured after disabling the extras in my case, that was fine for a while - until I had some spare cash for a new PS. It never made it high on my priority list.

Last night, everything came full circle. I'd unplugged my computer to work on my cousin's system (which went just fine - though included ANOTHER failed Maxtor hard drive, the 6th I've owned, encountered, or heard of in the last 4 years). I went to plug my system back in, and as I plugged the power plug into the back of the power supply, something surged. The system was turned off, but power surged through it, lighting the power LED and whirring the fans momentarily before cutting out. I thought, "That was weird."

Sure was. My hard drive never came up after that - just repeated a loud clicking noise and hung the system.

You never want to hear a hard drive click. Not like that.

I lost everything - couldn't even boot the drive as a slave on another working system. It just clicks and hangs. I have so much data that was of vital importance that I hadn't backed up.

I am an idiot.

My last resort is the old freezer trick. My dead drive is in my freezer as we speak. I'll remove it from its icy home tomorrow and try booting it one last time in its frozen state. The trick worked once for me. I don't expect to have any luck with it this time around, due to the degree to which the thing sounds to be toasted. But I am praying.


Right now, as I type, I'm on disk 9 of who-knows-how-many of a Ghost hard drive backup. I reinstalled Windows and most of my software. And now, I Ghost.

Wish me luck....

Friday, October 14, 2005

Podcast Obsession

I finally got an iPod a few months ago - the 20GB white one, 4th generation. Since then, I've discovered podcasts. I find them to be a great way to pass the time driving to work or to the poker room. Here are my current faves:

TWiT - This Week in Tech - Oh, how I love Patrick Norton. I've been crushing on him since the days of the TechTV show "The Screen Savers." Kevin Rose is cool too, and I consider Leo LaPorte to be a fantastic tech news broadcaster and author. This weekly podcast routinely gives me a couple hours worth of interesting links and tidbits to surf through after listening.

The Web 2.0 Show - I was turned on to this podcast after its mention on TWIT, and for any web developer looking to stay on the cutting edge of web interactivity and interface design, this show is a great resource of news and links. If you don't know what "Web 2.0" is, check out this article by Tim O'Reilly.

Digg Nation - Kevin Rose's podcast, elaborating on the top news articles of the week from If you aren't already using Digg as your source of tech news, try it out. It's like slashdot, gone web 2.0. I love it. Nothing against slashdot - I still read over there too - but the Digg interface is much more slick and interactive, and the scope of news coverage seems to be a bit more broad without being irrelevant. I dig Digg.

Command N - You can't listen to this one, since it's a video podcast, but still worthy of mention. Amber Mac, of "Call for Help" Toronto fame, hosts this video podcast on tech news - mostly web related. She calls herself a "web strategist," and I thought that was just the coolest title ever. I might have to become one of those some day.

Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio - A weekly poker podcast, often featuring fellow poker bloggers of much higher fame than I. Not only am I a computer geek, but I'm also a poker geek.

That's what I'm into right now... in fact, it's time to update the iPod so I can go make the hour-long trek to the casino.

Bad Blog Mommy

I've neglected this here blog, and I've been feeling guilty about it. GeekGoesMeow became little more than a dumping ground for links I found while at work or away from home, and wanted to be sure to read later.

I'd rather it be more than that - namely, what it was originally intended to be: my geek musings.

So - while I likely won't post here as frequently as I do to my poker blog, I will try to make things a little more interesting. Thanks for reading!