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Stories, insights, and tips on how to stay balanced (and get ahead).

 

Shall We Play a Game?

The last 3 years of my IT staffing/job placement experience have been heavily focused in the Simulation and Gaming industries in Orlando. It's been 3 months since my initial blog entry, (as such I desperately need a new entry to appease my one loyal reader), so I think it's time to provide a little insight into these sometimes similar but different industries.

Consider today’s entry an intro to a multi-post series comparing and contrasting the Simulation (Mostly DOD) and Video Game industries. I’ll examine Simulation and Gaming separately and provide details on my experience supporting each from a client and candidate perspective.

  1. Job Titles/Roles (to include Compensation)
    I'll Focus on core technologies utilized (C++, Java, real-time distributed systems (DIS/HLA)), network programming (TCP/IP, UDP), 2D/3D graphics (Flash, Photoshop, OpenGL, DirectX, Multigen, Maya, 3D Studio Max), job titles/functions/roles, as well as a basic discussion of hourly/salary rates.
  2. Culture/Fun Factor
    Most people know (or think they know) the stereotypes on both sides. Are they true? This will be a head-to-head match-up of flip-flops vs. wing tips, Starbucks vs. Folgers, Medal of Honor vs. FCS, backpack vs. briefcase. This will truly be Game room vs. War room.
  3. Career Outlook
    What does the future hold for the professionals in or aspiring to be in each industry (Career opportunities/growth, stability, etc.). What role does “War” play; how about the economy? Are either or both recession proof? I’ll also give final thoughts on the similarities and differences of the two industries.

So….stay tuned over the coming weeks (hopefully not months). This will be “A Titan against a Titan”. WOPR vs. PS3 (or XBOX 360 if you prefer). Please post your comments or specific details/topics you would like me to cover in this series.

 
 
 

Be Needed to Control Your IT Career Destiny

Have you asked yourself this question lately? "Am I needed?" If you haven't, then you should. The single best thing to be is needed. No matter what job you have, if you are needed there is a better chance of you keeping it.

Technology is needed and always will be. The day that we no longer need the internet is the day that I am tying down my horse and buggy to a post outside my cabin like Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. So, if technology will always be necessary, then the need for IT professionals will always be there. Even with this undeniable reality, there are many IT professionals concerned about their jobs. I believe it is because many have forgotten how to make sure they remain needed, to control their own destiny. How can you make yourself indispensable? Here are a few, easy ways to get there. 
 

  • Learn something important. Is there a really essential skill that is make or break for your company? If so, buy a book about it, learn it, and master it.
  • Work harder. If your manager starts walking around wondering who he should cut, you would rather be the crazy busy one, than the one on Facebook because you have nothing to do.
  • Be better at what you do. Find the smartest and most productive person on your team and make being better than that your goal. When push comes to shove, the person who is most needed is the person who stays.  If Phil Jackson could only keep either Jordan or Pippen, he was keeping Jordan. Pippen was great, but Jordan was better.
  • Be pleasant. It's simple. A positive attitude goes a long way. There is a reason this question is included on reference check forms. Think about it. Only in Office Space does being rude get you a promotion!

Your goal is to be needed, to be invaluable, and to be necessary. These are trying times, but you do have control. Take the steps to control your own fate. Make yourself essential.

image by Eddi 07

 
 
 

IT Quick Tip: Protect Your Little Black Book Using debunk2

If you're like me, you've probably come to rely on Outlook's address auto-complete feature as a pseudo contact book.  You start typing the name, or part of the email address, and Outlook matches your text to a previous entry.

Auto-Complete Contacts are Only Stored Locally, Watch Out!

Unfortunately the auto-complete function is only available on the PC that has Outlook.  Even worse, the cache file that stores those thousands of accumulated contacts is stored locally on your machine - which means if anything happens to your computer, you may not be able to recover that data.

Secondly, the contacts stored in your auto-complete are inaccessible via remote access - either through the webmail login or using your synched mobile device.

Store Auto-complete Contacts in Exchange for Safety and Accessibility

A solution is to extract that data and merge it into your Outlook contacts making it accessible remotely, stored server-side and properly indexed by contact name.

Outlook hides this data in a little-known cache file that's not immediately accessible.  Fortunately, you can use a smart litle program called debunk2 to locate the data, and export it to a CSV file.  You can then import that CSV in to your Contacts using Outlook's import function. Let me know if you find this tip helpful!

Image and another helpful article from windows-help-central.com

 
 
 

Where Have You Gone...US Jobs?

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?  Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you." - "Mrs. Robinson" written by Paul Simon and performed by Simon and Garfunkel.

"Where have you gone U.S. jobs?  Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you."  - "U.S. Jobs" written by Tim L. Bosse.

11.6 million unemployed Americans.  The number of job losses have cast a very dark and somber mood on Americans.  What can the country do to reverse the curve?  Is the pending stimulus package going to save America?  The answer to that question is long, complicated and speculative.  It's a fact when jobs are created, it does move the economic engine forward.  We need to save and create new jobs to kick start the economy.  The stimulus package is intended to create jobs in construction, technology, education and healthcare. I believe the government should work with the private sector and develop a Jobs Creation Program.

The government can lend capital responsibly to small and large enterprise companies so they can invest in developing their services and products.  IBM was once thought of as an organization where you could have a job for life.  Let's make that a reality in America.  Whether you're 18 years old or 100, let's create the opportunities and put our skilled talented labor pool to work.  Ford Motor Corp. used to have a slogan that said, "Quality is Job 1."  My slogan will be "Creating Employment Opportunities is Job 1."  The Government (Federal, State and Local) must put down their political swords and work together in a cooperative manner to create public and private sector jobs.  Look at the words I just used....Public, Private, and Cooperative.  We can do this America because we are smart and have great resolve.  Let's assess state by state, industry by industry, and develop short and long term job creation plans.  Short term will help lay the foundation and long term will secure the future. 

Let's Act!

Image by abraaten via wordle

 
 
 

IT Networking Event Report: RESTing with Jeremy Deane

At a recent meeting of the New England Tech Professionals Network, we were fortunate to have Jeremy Deane of Collaborative Consulting deliver a presentation entitled, "Implementing REST, and RESTful Web Services."

Jeremy is a Technical Architect with 12 years of software engineering experience in leadership positions. In addition, he is an accomplished speaker and frequent contributor to the SOA Institute. The talk was attended by 25 people, and included an excellent slide-deck and demo. It spawned some deep conversation and networking opportunities for all involved.

An increasing industry backlash to the mounting complexity of the WS-* SOAP specifications is resulting in many organizations considering RESTful Web Services. In fact, a recent poll by Information Week found that 58% of IT professionals believed that SOA introduced more complexity and resulted in cost overruns. Some industry pundits, such as Tim Bray echo this sentiment declaring WS-* an embarrassing failure. We'll keep an eye on REST and the oppportunities it brings to the development community.

photo by House of Sims

 
 
 
 
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