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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:00 AM   #46
MrvNDMrtN
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Just depends on the workplace.

I imagine if you worked at Google then you'd also be unhappy due to the fact that everyone is smarter, more productive and younger than you.

Haha.

If your salary is over 6 figures then i dont see the problem...
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:02 AM   #47
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The only point against what you have said is that you have to consider the amount of effort it takes to gain a broad range of skills whilst managing your workload. Those who want to upskill are usually those who want out of where they are due to low pay or high workloads or whatever. My problem is that work stays at work, with a new son I refuse to compromise my downtime, but then that's at the expense of developing my career, which is my choice.
I have three children, and also find the work/life balance difficult, so you have my sympathies there.

But at the same time I still manage to output more in 40 hours a week than I see others accomplish in double the time. It's about quality, not quantity. In an average working day I see my fellow employees wasting most of their day on crap that's unnecessary and unrelated. If they actually put in a solid 7 hour working day while at work, they'd accomplish so much more.

Not lumping you with them by any means, as I don't know you.

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The IT boom happened. People thought "IT means big dollars", and got into IT.
Absolutely. When the dollar-chasers saw IT as the next goldmine, it all went to crap. Hopefully over the next 10 years they'll piss off back to law and medicine.

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And I have to agree with people who say "you don't need every skill under the sun to be a sysadmin".
I'm not suggesting people have every skill. There's plenty of stuff I can't do. But there's a middle ground. Once upon a time a sysadmin was a fairly rounded skill base. More importantly, a sysadmin understood the "why" as much as the "how".

Today we're breeding a new generation of single-skilled sysadmins who only get the "how". They're all certificate trained with monkey-see-monkey-do skillsets. Give them a problem that's outside the bounds of what appeared on their certificate course, and they cry foul.

Everyone starts somewhere. I get that. I didn't have the skills 15 years ago that I have today. But 15 years ago I took every learning opportunity availably to me. If there was a new skill I could learn, or a new challenge I could attempt, I grabbed it with both hands and a smile. Today I'm surrounded by juniors who just don't care.

Three days ago I had a fight with a fellow (single-skilled) senior sysadmin who told me verbatim "I just do what I'm told, and everything else is someone else's problem higher up the chain. It's not my job to upskill or learn something new unless I'm told to". As a senior sysadmin, that attitude stinks. His role is more than that. As a senior, his role is to not only keep a minimum level of service available to the business. It's also to self-educate, to educate his juniors, and to advise to his superiors on ways he can see to improve and optimise the systems he is in control of to deliver more with less.

He took the senior sysadmin role for one reason: the cash. The responsibility and integrity that goes hand in hand with the role is none of his concern. It's people like him who I have a very particular beef with.

If he doesn't give a shit about the world around him, he should have stayed a junior (or changed industries). If he wants the pay packet that comes with being a senior, then he needs to have a pretty serious attitude adjustment, and step up to the role.

People might think I'm over reacting here. But this man controls some of the systems that affect the superannuation of over 6 million Australians. His shitty attitude is more than just the company's problem. Should his apathy lead to system malfunctions, millions of Australians lose their retirement funds. Is it unreasonable of me then to care so much about the systems I manage, and care so much when team mates of mine are this apathetic?

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I am going to say something that really sucks, I am one of the half baked IT professionals you are talking about . Not because I lack the skills or the motivation, I am just SICK TO DEATH OF FIGHTING with everyone. Basically a few months ago I just gave up...
2 years ago I would have bitten your head off. Today, I'm thinking about giving up too.

If I do give up, it will be the whole hog. I won't stay in IT and do a half arsed job. I'll get the hell out of Dodge completely, never to return. It's got to be all or nothing for me. I couldn't live with doing something half way for the rest of my life.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:07 AM   #48
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I imagine if you worked at Google then you'd also be unhappy due to the fact that everyone is smarter, more productive and younger than you.
If I worked in a place where *everyone* was more productive than me, it would make me the happiest man alive.

And I can tell you now, I'd be lifting my game even more and striving to be the most productive. Friendly competition is a marvellous motivator, and very satisfying. Apathy on the other hand is dangerously contagious, and a catalyst for destruction.

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If your salary is over 6 figures then i dont see the problem...
That attitude stinks too. Being paid well for a job is not a reason to sit on your arse and not care. Attitudes like that are a huge part of the problem - money chasers who don't give a toss about delivering a promised level of quality.

"Integrity". Look it up, and then go find some.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:14 AM   #49
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If your salary is over 6 figures then i dont see the problem...
I think this is exactly the mentality elvis is on about. Its not about the money, I use to love the industry, the people, the workload but more importantly, I LOVED THE CHALLENGE... Oh, but yes I get paid in the middle range for a sys/network admin for my area...

I recently, got a new employment contract at my place of work. In that contract it said that I will be paid for all approved Overtime. I thought to myself, "Wow, that really must appreciate what I have been doing for the last 18 months", our uptime is now over 99.5% which is up from 97% before I started. So I kept a log of my hours (we had a very large project which was rolled out and I did a bucket load of hours) and all the hours have been approved by my line manager but the CFO said he would not pay it as it was not approved by him. He said I should manage my 38 hours per week better. So now I do my 40 hours (yes an extra 2) but now I have my line manager on my back...

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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:16 AM   #50
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If I do give up, it will be the whole hog. I won't stay in IT and do a half arsed job. I'll get the hell out of Dodge completely, never to return. It's got to be all or nothing for me. I couldn't live with doing something half way for the rest of my life.
Seems like a waste to me. Surely you could find a company or start your own which followed the principles you adhere to?

It seems a genuine tragedy to let your passion dwindle and die because the standards you want aren't in the work place. Couldn't you become a consultant, like a professional mentor, who assists in enabling genuine I.T. guys structure their development?

Instead of leaving the industry, why not find a way to adapt to the changing environment by helping people achieve the sort of standards they want.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:19 AM   #51
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2 years ago I would have bitten your head off. Today, I'm thinking about giving up too.
Seriously elvis, two years ago, I would have bitten my head off too... I think we need to go out and drown our sorrows...
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:27 AM   #52
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Elvis and co, thanks for sharing your views! This has given me something to think about.

I'm about to turn 21, graduating at the end of next year in Bachelor of Multimedia & Marketing, and hating every second of it. I started with Compsci, but decided that I didn't want to be a programmer, so I quickly transferred into something with a bit more of a business focus. I had done Info systems in high school, and it bored me to tears, so I that was out. I want to pursue a career as a Unix sysmin, because that's what I enjoy.

Anyway, I've been working part time as a sysmin for the last 2 or so years, at two different IT companies. The first one was a Windows shop; they had one Linux server running asterix for internal use, and that was it. During this time, the boss gave me a cd with Windows 2003 SBS and I was able to play with this in my own time, and he lent me a copy of Windows server 2003 bible, but that was about it for training. They were a small two man service provider to SMBs in and around Melbourne. My job was to customise their CRM system (that microsoft one, part of dynamics 3). After that they let me go because they hired one of the bosses mates to do the work that I could have instead of me. I was pleased to leave (but not at the time).

My next and current job is at a slightly larger IT company, where I manage 3 or so Unix servers. I would describe my skills as junior, but the expectations are a bit higher than that I think. I know basic Unix services like samba, apache2, postfix, I do a bit of scripting in ruby and shell, and I implemented their remote backup system (boxbackup). I'm on $20per hour, paid by the hour, which suits me fine as I'm still studying fulltime.

Now here is where I want everyone's advice! (Thanks for reading so far). I don't know how to improve my skills. I mean, I'm learning a lot because I am using these systems everyday, and work will buy me any books that I want (within reason), but I don't have a mentor. Any problem I come across, I have to figure out myself. I can do this 90% of the time, if given enough time and google, but that's the issue. Is this how us young 'un's are expected to learn? I obviously want to be a good asset for the company, and make my customer's lives easier, but I feel that maybe I'm just not getting the big picture. Is this something that just comes with experience?

Finally, when can I call myself a system admin? I feel pretty comfortable with the software I'm using, but I don't have a degree in any of this. To what level is a decent (not awesome; I'm happy with being decent at this point in time) sysmin expected to know about this stuff, in your opinion? Because I can only play with the gear that my company has, and because my work is 99% remote via ssh, I don't have any exposure to big iron or cool (expensive) networking or storage gear, which I imagine is important for sysmins too

Should I go and learn about the TCP/IP standard?
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:32 AM   #53
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Seems like a waste to me. Surely you could find a company or start your own which followed the principles you adhere to?

It seems a genuine tragedy to let your passion dwindle and die because the standards you want aren't in the work place. Couldn't you become a consultant, like a professional mentor, who assists in enabling genuine I.T. guys structure their development?

Instead of leaving the industry, why not find a way to adapt to the changing environment by helping people achieve the sort of standards they want.
I do consult currently, on top of all the other work. I've considered doing it full time, but honestly it's no more satisfying.

I find instead of trying to convince one bonehead CIO that there are smarter ways to do things, I'm stuck trying to convince dozens of them. Worse, CIOs are easily bought. Smart solutions are not what they're interested in. All they care about is having their testicles manhandled by vendors. Corporate lunches and after hours strip clubs are the way to get contracts, not intelligent IT.

I should note, I use a very broad brush when saying this. There are a handfull of private clients I have that are fantastic to work with. All of them put business first. It's not about the brand name on the box, it's about whether it fits the role and does the job. It's not about proprietary this or free that, it's about getting the job done right. These are the few who are still keeping me motivated.

Funny story: the owner of a film and visual effects shop that I built the entire IT rollout for (custom authentication system, single-sign-on for Mac/Windows/Linux/UNIX via LDAP/Kerberos/SASL, central store of UID/GID mappings that are sane across all OSes, full render farm, firewall, VPN solution, dynamic, intelligent, custom-built, non-SAN file store, DR site, etc, etc - all built in 2 weeks by me alone) recently went down to Sydney to give some advice on workflow and render farm optimisation at a large and well known studio there. He walked in, only to find dozens of IT guys who had no clue. Systems far less complex than his back home, but unable to share data and users because of poor setup. File sets that had to be clobbered with world-writeable permissions because sysadmins onsite couldn't get together to formulate a way to make different operating systems work together. Systems that regularly crashed, DNS that didn't work or gave different answers to other network based name systems (causing conflicts and strage errors), and a host of other crap. Every time he asked why it wasn't fixed, the answer was apparently because "they can't get Exchange to work with it". Why the hell a mail/groupware server is the driving force in a visual effects / post production / film studio, I'll never know. These folks regularly do hollywood films, yet are consistently over budget and over time due entirely to IT related failures.

So, next on our list is to approach the studio together and offer our services. If we get the gig, I'm sure it will be fun. But the pessimist in me knows what the answer will be: the current C*O is best mates with the current service provider, and despite the piss poor setup and shithouse quality of services, it will stay that way because it's all mates helping mates and back alley deals.

I'm considering giving it all one more year. Come end of financial year 2009, if I can't see an improvement in this industry, I'll start working on an exit out into another industry. Even if that means changing my life to get there - moving, selling the family home, whatever. I'm just fed up to the guts with the way it's all going now. I welcome an industry crash, but honestly I can't see it happening. It's more like a slow and painful rot at the moment, and it's got another decade left in it yet before something big and positive happens. And if I stick around that long, I'll lose my mind.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:50 AM   #54
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It's true there's alot of overpaid crap people out there and alot of really good underpaid people out there. I'm a child of the 70's (yes I know DOS) and am one of those "good systems admins" who takes everything as a whole, knows networking/firewalls/*nix/Windows etc and grew up with a *PASSION* for it.

Unfortunately in the last few years I've lost the passion for it bad. I would happily go out and open a food store (fish and chips?) than stay in the industry. I see people straight out of an MCSE demand $75k. Watch them set up a mail server and wonder why all their email is being spam blocked. No RDNS value on their static IP fvcked them. Systems admin is a combination of more than just a single certificate in MS/*unix/Networking, it's all of them joined together. But to get someone who's an all rounder requires someone with experience and companies dont want to pay that.

I havent been given a problem I couldnt solve, however. What's the point of me busing my balls for little to no recognition? People forget all the good stuff you do really fast and focus on what's wrong all the time. I used to put in stupid hours at work doing data mining for a bank and they never rewarded me for it (that was the break point for me... Putting in massive hours with a 7 figure bonus for the company... All I got was a pat on the back). At the moment I'm custom building new ERP / BI systems which I could finnish in a week if I wanted to, but It's stretched out to 6 months because I've just lost the passion.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:51 AM   #55
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With regards to attitude and money... Well i think they go hand in hand.

At the last company i worked for, i was working as a helpdesk/system admin type roll (3 IT guys looking after 3 offices, (2 remote) and about 150 users + call centre).
So the roll really varied which was good, but stressful. That didnt worry me to much, however i was doing 60-65 hours every week. I honestly was getting physically sick from the level of stess. I was on $35k, which i guess was ok for someone starting out, but after 12 months i was running most of the systems (which were still NT4 btw, the company did want to spend the money upgrading. Most systems were P2/P3 Windows 98 based...)

I could have handled the conditions and pay, if there was a little more respect and appreciation. Nothing worse than doing 2 or 3 peoples job, putting in 60 hours of honest hard work only to be fed negative feedback.

It was really heartbreaking and demoralizing. I left a while back and last i heard they were in trouble... Shame, cause my boss was a really top bloke. Lot of time and care in his work, just not enough of us for the size of the business.

Im on a slightly better pay package working as a helpdesk support tech. Im currently studying to get my MCDST then MCSA. I already know everything in the MCDST course... But without the qualification its hard to convince people that i do. So i guess its a case of playing their game... Get the Cert to keep them happy, continue learning to keep myself happy.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 12:04 PM   #56
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I find this a two-fold attitude - one part from the employer, but the bigger part from the employee.
Ok, so you obviously didn't read the rest of my post, or interpret it - you're basically reiterating what I said.


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I have been working in the IT industry since I was 16 (bult a menu system to allow users to navigate to different apps in a DOS environment, how many people here have even used a OS before Windows XP, let alone good ol MSDOS). I am now 32 and have not left the industry. I have worked my butt off for over 15 years with almost nothing to show for it. I have absolutely zero qualifications, never had a mentor, and continually end up reporting to someone who cares more about covering there own arse and/or growing their own career...

I just need to find a way to earn the same money in another industry and I am out...
You are not the only one who did this - I did it too, Hell I remember virtual environments back with Desqview and Qemm, was running linux back in the old days with debian 1.8 onwards, and RH 5 (the crap that it was)... Why do you think I got off my arse and did a BCom (which hasn't gotten me far yet - and has put my career back a few years but sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward)

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Three days ago I had a fight with a fellow (single-skilled) senior sysadmin who told me verbatim "I just do what I'm told, and everything else is someone else's problem higher up the chain. It's not my job to upskill or learn something new unless I'm told to".
Therein lies part of the problem (see my previous posts)

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I thought to myself, "Wow, that really must appreciate what I have been doing for the last 18 months", our uptime is now over 99.5% which is up from 97% before I started. So I kept a log of my hours (we had a very large project which was rolled out and I did a bucket load of hours) and all the hours have been approved by my line manager but the CFO said he would not pay it as it was not approved by him. He said I should manage my 38 hours per week better. So now I do my 40 hours (yes an extra 2) but now I have my line manager on my back...
I had this problem while I was working 50-70 hour weeks for one company I was loyal to, eventually they just stopped paying me for 3/4 of them and expected me to work the hours.. Screw that for a joke. (Hence instead of excellence, you end up with mediocrity)

I can't count the times I burnt through the night to meet an IT deadline. Why? because I was passionate about it.

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If we get the gig, I'm sure it will be fun. But the pessimist in me knows what the answer will be: the current C*O is best mates with the current service provider, and despite the piss poor setup and shithouse quality of services, it will stay that way because it's all mates helping mates and back alley deals.
This type of situation is apparent EVERYWHERE in Australia and dare I say the world. Part of the problem is the good IT guys (and I use the term somewhat loosely) have little to no people skills, hell I had little to no people skills back in the day. I freely admit that. If I did I'd be doing a hell of a lot better than I am at the moment.

I'm going to call a spade a spade here - switch off if you don't want a harsh reality check

"The world isn't going to change for you, you've got to change" - Jim Rohn

I'm going to tell you something that has taken me years to work out - because I'm a sucker and to an extent I'm not very good at keeping personal advantages, I believe all skills should be taught - which is something I am working on:

Elvis - If you want what you want, by the sounds of it you need to devote some of your time towards learning how to influence/persuade people, and how to make more contacts easier.

I don't give a flying fuck how good you are at configuring servers and setting up applications that are tailored for clients, if you don't know how to convince people or make contacts (not just within the IT industry) you're antiquated and your ability to get things done will diminish over time - as is shown by your lack of drive now.

You would not be running into these issues if you did have those skills here and now. This is what has gotten people ahead for centuries, and IT is no different in that respect.

Simply being "good" in your area is great in and of itself, but to get beyond good, to reach the upper echelon, you are going to need to change.

People cry about how the world isn't giving them what they want, fuck that, you think you can do better, do better, but do it in such a way that it doesn't marginalise others, so that they _want_ to teach you, so that rather than coming off as high and mighty because you know it all, you come off as being a real hoopy frood.

A while ago I asked my friends, my new friends not the old mob, what it was that they saw was limiting me, and it was simple, I was very judgmental, and I had a complete lack of "common" humor.

Why does this matter? cause >50% of people are "common men" so I'd get along fine with the upper grade elites, but most people were not at my level. Rather than basting myself with humility it meant trying to find social techniques (that I never got in school being a geek and all.. ) and learning from scratch how to react around people, and since I realised all this I have been thousands of times more successful as a person.

If you want me to mentor you, I will, look me up on msn (my msn is in my profile).

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Old 2nd July 2008, 12:04 PM   #57
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With regards to attitude and money... Well i think they go hand in hand.

Im on a slightly better pay package working as a helpdesk support tech. Im currently studying to get my MCDST then MCSA. I already know everything in the MCDST course... But without the qualification its hard to convince people that i do. So i guess its a case of playing their game... Get the Cert to keep them happy, continue learning to keep myself happy.
Once you're at a certain level of Sys Admin there's only 1 step up. And that's a management role where all those certificates mean squat. I was like you in 2003-2004 and I stepped up to a IT management role in 2005 without any extra qualifications (I do have 2 degrees) although have kept up to date with IT and technology. I look at the current debian servers and giggle inside at how easy it is (I grew up in slackware).

But yeah... that's why there's no role models in the Systems Admin area. They all move on to another area.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 12:34 PM   #58
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I work for as an IT officer doing contract work for businesses around my town. I've got a degree in IT, but although I can do most basic things, there's still a lot I need to learn.

Why? Because it's so damn hard to find an IT job WITHOUT EXPERIENCE. No one wants to train anyone anymore. Everyone expects you to know everything despite the fact that you don't know everything. So most people either go do a course (like me) and learn the theory, but not the actual practice, and so get flustered with big problems because it's not working 'in theory.' Or you go do unpaid volunteer work, which is really frustrating when you need to have money but oops! the thing that takes up the majority of your day is not earning you squat cash.

I personally think that I.T. needs to be taught better, whether that's earning certificates, or people being able to be trained in I.T. while still making something that resembles money.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 12:45 PM   #59
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Elvis - If you want what you want, by the sounds of it you need to devote some of your time towards learning how to influence/persuade people, and how to make more contacts easier.

I don't give a flying fuck how good you are at configuring servers and setting up applications that are tailored for clients, if you don't know how to convince people or make contacts (not just within the IT industry) you're antiquated and your ability to get things done will diminish over time - as is shown by your lack of drive now.
I can only go on what others have commented on, as this is the sort of thing you can't judge yourself. One common thing all of my previous C*Os have said is that my people skills are far better than that of most IT folk. Indeed, despite my firm stance on certain issues, it's always me who gets pulled into meetings with the board, meetings with shareholders, meetings with vendors. I'm the "face of IT" for most businesses I'm involved with. It's me that's in the CEO's office giving the updates, and not the IT managers and CIOs.

But with that said, I'm certain I'm not as "flexible" as some. And by that, I mean I don't put up with stupidity or laziness. Some see that as being harsh, I'm sure. But generally speaking those that do are the sorts of people I'm not interested in. Also generally speaking, CEO's are the sorts of people who are tired of the bullshit spun to them by CIOs who constantly blabber that "everything's OK and running smooth" when things are quite evidently on fire. In a desperate bid to look like they have everything under control, some people will lie through their teeth to keep up appearances, rather than admit there are problems and get on with fixing them. Again, this is where I'm different. I tell the truth. I don't care if you're helpdesk or a CEO. You'll get the truth (and always with diplomacy, I should add). Typically speaking, it's only the people at the very, very top who appreciate such a thing. The layers of middle management typically see it as a threat.

While I applaud your gusto for changing the world, the odds are against me. My complaint on IT as a whole is bigger than my own back yard. This whole country, and yes, even the world, is facing a pretty huge problem at the moment. Sure, I can make a difference in my 0.01% neck of the woods (and for now, I still strive to do so). But the poisonous attitude I see every time I walk into new businesses is growing at a rate that seems to be far quicker than those with any integrity left can seem to reverse.

Don't take my ranting here as any sort of guide to how I communicate with my superiors, nor my business partners and clients. Again, I work fairly high up in a Fortune 20 finance company right now, and have a firm footing in some big industries here in architecture (think: Tesltra/ANZ stadium Sydney, Suncorp stadium Brisbane, Beijing Olympic park for the 2008 olympics - these are locations I built the IT infrastructure to design and develop) and film and special effects (I've put my bit of tech into parts of a Harry Potter film, Ant Bully, and others). Not a single one of these jobs would have been mine if I didn't have the people skills first to get in the door, regardless of my technical skills.

Four letter words and raised voices get you nowhere in this world. A calm head, a cool attitude, and an ear that can listen to people's problems without jumping the gun and shoving pre-contrived ideas down their throats is the way to success. But again, the people I know personally who meet that criteria and have the integrity and skills to match, I can count on one hand. Conversely, I meet snake-oil salesmen every day who speak smooth and fast, and with a forked tongue. These are the people leveraging other influences outside of the job at hand to get the work, getting paid, and pissing off before it's all delivered properly. Sure, we can change our neck of the woods. But the industry as a whole grows much quicker than anyone seems able to save it currently, and it's the mediocrity of the people in it, as well as the acceptance of mediocrity by people who don't know any better that's letting it down.

I know first hand what change I personally can make in my little pond. But when you're one tiny pebble, the oncoming tsunami is hard to beat. Finding other pebbles to join me is not much use either, when the current attitude in professional IT can pretty much be summed up as "meh, I got paid".

Last edited by elvis; 2nd July 2008 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 12:56 PM   #60
Jazper
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Originally Posted by elvis View Post
I can only go on what others have commented on, as this is the sort of thing you can't judge yourself. One common thing all of my previous C*Os have said is that my people skills are far better than that of most IT folk.

But with that said, I'm certain I'm not as "flexible" as some.

While I applaud your gusto for changing the world, the odds are against me.


I know first hand what change I personally can make in my little pond. But when you're one tiny pebble, the oncoming tsunami is hard to beat. Finding other pebbles to join me is not much use either, when the current attitude in professional IT can pretty much be summed up as "meh, I got paid".
Ok, on one hand you're saying you're this big force in the IT industry, on the other hand you're saying you're just a little pebble.. If you honestly love what you're doing as much as you say you do, then you have to be prepared to make the changes necessary to get what you want to get.

You say you're a brilliant problem solver, you've worked on the Beijing 2008 Olympics network solution etc GREAT, but you know what? I'm going to be an ass now - you don't know shit.

Because what you've been doing up to this point has gotten you to where you are, which by your account may be successful in your IT world, but the bottom line is it hasn't gotten you what you want, which means you've unequivocally failed at reaching your goals and have taken it upon yourself to blame the world for your personal failing.

Why aren't YOU doing something about it? And I don't mean just where you are, I mean globally - you want to be a Tsunami, BE A TSUNAMI don't be a pebble. The people who have the ability have the responsibility to take action.

Be the change you want to see in the world - Ghandi

Last edited by Jazper; 2nd July 2008 at 1:28 PM.
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