Phil Kerpen, net neutrality, and socialism: A post-mortem

I learned the hard way a few weeks ago how net neutrality can be equated with socialism, an argument that puzzles people who work on computer networks for a living and see networking as a big flow of electrons. I think it’s very important that we understand how this happens.

Here’s the tactic: Find a socialist who supports net neutrality. Anoint him the leader of the movement. Bingo, anyone who supports net neutrality follows him, and therefore is a communist.

Political lobbyist and Fox News contributor Phil Kerpen told me Robert W. McChesney was the leader of the net neutrality movement, and he sent me a quote in the form of a meme longer than the Third Epistle of St. John. Yet in a Google search for the key words from that quote, “net neutrality bring down media power structure,” I can’t find him. So then I tried Bing, where I found him quoted on a web site called sodahead.com, but I couldn’t find the primary source.

For the leader of a movement the size of net neutrality, he sure keeps a low profile. Google and Netflix are two multi-billion-dollar companies that support net neutrality. I’m sure it’s news to them that they’re taking orders from Robert W. McChesney. Read more

IT jobs shortage? Slide over to security

IT jobs are getting scarce again, and I believe it. I don’t have a cure but I have a suggestion: Specialize. Specifically, specialize in security.

Why? Turnover. Turnover in my department is rampant, because other companies offer my coworkers more money, a promotion, or something tangible to come work for them. I asked our CISO point blank if he’s worried. He said unemployment in security is 0.6 percent, so this is normal. What we have to do is develop security people, because there aren’t enough of them.

I made that transition, largely by accident, so I’ll offer some advice. Read more

The phantom tech worker shortage

I saw a story yet again about the tech worker shortage, and the backlash against H1-B visas. Reading the comments on Slashdot, I increasingly got the feeling the shortage is a mirage. The people are out there, but the matchups with job openings aren’t happening.

My experience may be anecdotal, but it mirrors this. Read more

What to say to a coworker who was laid off

We had a round of layoffs at work last week. I’ve seen way too many of those. I’ve been one of the layoffs in too many of those, but not this time. If you’re wondering what to say to a coworker who was laid off, read on. Unfortunately I have experience in this area.

It was painful to watch. There were lots of tears, lots of glassy eyes, some denial, some apathy, and even a bit of acceptance. One day, someone walked around to every affected cubicle and wrote “You belong here” on the whiteboard. You can look at it like a sign of solidarity or like some kind of crazy reverse passover, depending on whether you were one of the affected.

I’ve made an effort to seek out the affected people I knew. It seemed like my duty. Read more

What to do when the layoff comes

An IT pro I went to high school with–he was a year or two ahead of me, so we weren’t quite classmates–got a layoff letter this past week, along with the rest of his department. It was a large, successful company making purely a financial decision to offshore a bunch of jobs, and unfortunately he got caught in the crossfire. It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, so now’s as good of a time as any.

The details about his layoff and my layoffs are unimportant. What’s more important is what to do next. There are definitely things I know now that I wish I’d known years ago, so I’ll share them now.

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Just reach for it.

I lost a college classmate this week.

We weren’t close, so I didn’t take it as hard as some of our newsroom-mates undoubtedly did. But at the very least, as a human being with a soul and with two kids, I feel bad for the wife and two kids he left behind. It shook me up enough that a couple of my coworkers asked me Wednesday morning what was going on. I told them.

“Don’t try to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense,” the smartest guy in the room said. Read more

Looking to hire IT talent? Write a good job description

I had lunch on Friday with the recruiter who placed me at my current gig. We talked about a lot of things, including our families, but we talked a lot about the tech labor market. It’s growing, finally, and going to grow a lot more in the next few years as Boeing relocates its IT operations to St. Louis, but the market still isn’t what I’d grown used to it being over the last seven years.

One problem he runs into is with clients. They’ll submit jobs that, for example, I’m a perfect match for, and he submits me, and we get no call. Then he follows up weeks or months later, and finds out something completely different. Read more

“They were bored and wished they had a job.”

I was catching up on security podcasts this week, and a brief statement in one of them really grabbed me. The panel was talking about people who steal online gaming accounts, I think. The exact content isn’t terribly important–what’s very important is what this person found in the forums where the people who perform this nefarious activity hang out. What she found was that there was one common sentiment that almost everyone there expressed, frequently.

They were bored, and they wished they had a job.

There was about a 30-second exchange after that, but I don’t think it’s enough. Read more

Troubleshooting at all layers of the OSI model

I saw this phrase in a job description last week: Troubleshooting at all layers of the OSI model. That sounds a bit intimidating, right?

Maybe at first. But let’s not overcomplicate it. Once you get past the terminology, it’s a logical way to locate and fix problems. Chances are you already do most of this whether you realize it or not. I was already troubleshooting at at least four of the seven layers when I was working as a part-time desktop support technician in college in 1995.

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