Greg mentions the Linux Kernel, X.org, KDE. Gnome, and LibreOffice. These are all worthwhile ongoing efforts with strong communities. With large communities come mentoring, camaraderie, and often financial help getting to open source conferences.
But these five projects aren’t the only one that need (and deserve) more help. At the end of the article, Greg says:
“Pick your favorite application. They can all use the help, especially from users who know how the programs work.”]]>
Randstat likes to throw out bullet points liked these:
“While more than a quarter of employees are ready and waiting for greener pastures, a majority are committed and optimistic about their company’s future and their career prospects,” says Randstat. “Most employees (61%) expect to grow their their career with their current employer. Just over a third of employees plan to seek a new position within their current company or organization, indicating employees’ loyal intentions will grow with their current companies if opportunities for advancement exist.”
These aren’t the kind of things we necessarily think about when we’re interviewing for a new job, but that tend to come up after a year or two, possibly after an even longer period.
It might be a good idea to read this report while you’re doing your job search, but in today’s market, unless you already have a job and are looking for a better one, you probably won’t. But if you’ve been in your current position for a while, you might want to read Randstat’s report and think whether you’re better off staying where you are or whether you should be looking for another job (or a promotion) within your current company or looking for another job elsewhere.
Think of this as your version of the employee evaluations that employers like to fill out about you quarterly or annually (or both).
Turnabout is fair play, right?]]>
How long have you been using Linux/FOSS?
I have been using FOSS for the last 10 years.
How did you first learn about Linux?
I first learned about Linux about 15 years ago when a friend of mine installed his computer with Red Hat.
Then 5 years later I started out on my own offering IT solutions and website design to small firms. I was trying to do a web portal using a CMS and I was shopping for a robust CMS to use. The ones that I saw online were very expensive and proprietary. When I asked a friend of mine from the Netherlands (Joost Dam) if he knew of a cheaper one, he was horrified that I was actually thinking of buying a CMS.
He promptly pointed me to SourceForge and the rest is history. From then on I was able to see the possibilities that open source provided for me and others like me to offer cutting edge solutions to clients and earn a living using the tools available.
Joost also gave me a number of books, including the LPIC 1 Bible, so I got to learn more about open source and Linux.
Tell me about the IT work scenario there – salaries compared to U.S.?
The work scenario in Kenya is very competitive. You cannot compare the salaries to what you have in the US. We have a large pool of highly educated people in Kenya and we actually export our labor to all the markets in the world — including the US, where we have given them a President
We are currently building what we call the Africa Silicon Savannah, a techno city called Konza City. This new city is 60 KMs from the capital, Nairobi, and will host major global players in IT, with research and business outsourcing as the key drivers.
IBM last week launched its first research lab in Africa right here in Nairobi and we see a lot of other major global players setting up shop here.
How about if someone from the U.S. wanted to set up an IT-related business there? Hard? Easy?
Setting up a business here is pretty easy nowadays. The Government has gone out of its way to ensure that starting and operating a business is easy. There are tax incentives and the infrastructure is in place. We are currently in the process of creating an even better operating environment, and foreign companies are very much welcome.
How about connectivity?
About 7 years ago, the East Africa coast was the only place on earth without a submarine fiber optic connection to the Internet. Today we have 4 cables landed at the Kenyan coast, with terrestrial fiber already in place all over Kenya.
There is a project underway with World Bank financing that is going to connect every village to the Internet through fiber. We have probably the highest per capita connectivity in Africa; if not we must be in the top 3. More and more people are connected on mobile devices using mobile networks.
Kenya is the global leader in mobile money transfer, owing to the success of M-Pesa, which transacts billions of dollars worth of cash every year.
With M-Pesa, you can send money to your grandmother in the remotest village in seconds, and you can pay all your bills, pay at the supermarket till, and buy a beer at your local.
What about government regs and hurdles?
These have been reduced a great deal. There are a great number of reforms taking place. We have a new constitution which guarantees more freedom and democracy. The Government is now in check. More importantly, the Judicial system is more free and has gained more confidence from the public.
Through the Ministry of Information and Communication, all one needs to do is walk into the Permanent Secretary’s office, sometimes without an appointment, and you are sure that someone will listen to you.
How did you hooked up with LPI, and how long ago?
I started offering LPI training about 6 years ago. Then 3 years ago I got involved in ict@innovation, a program of FOSSFA (The African FOSS Foundation) and GIZ (the German aid agency). Ict@innovation is a program that aims to build capacities in African SMEs to offer quality FOSS solutions through training and certification.
Here I was managing the Certification pillar and this is what brought me closer to LPI. When the opportunity to represent them in East Africa came along, I jumped in. This is my 2nd year representing LPI in East Africa.
Are you having much success with LPI in Kenya?
What we have for LPI in Kenya and the wider East Africa is a lot of untapped potential. We are therefore investing a lot into marketing and advocacy. We see us realizing this potential in the coming years, at least 3 years to come.
In the long run, there is a lot of interest being generated regarding Linux and FOSS. More people are getting to know Linux and FOSS. For instance, the Software Freedom Day event is one of our major marketing events. We are therefore investing a lot in it to generate more and more demand for FOSS solutions.]]>
“As always, focus, patience and discipline should be core components of any investment process.”
So says Paul Dravis, and that’s great advice.
Quoting from the bottom of his weekly newsletter:
Background of Paul Dravis
In other words, he just might know a little bit about investing.
He’s also a simple, clear writer. Even if you don’t know anything about investing, Dravis is not hard to follow. And if you look up words or concepts you don’t know (Wikipedia is your friend), before long you might find that you do know a little.
Sooner or later you might even find yourself thinking, “Maybe I should invest in (a company a friend mentioned that just came out with an interesting new product).” And maybe you should. Not all investments you make will be big winners. Not all will be losers. As long as you pick more winners than losers, you will end up with more money than when you start investing.
How much more? “That depends” is the only realistic answer. Stay careful, stay conservative, remember that a deal that looks too good to be true usually is, and sooner or later you’ll have enough cash on hand that if you get tired of working, you’ll be able to afford a few months without working. Or, as I said earlier, to start your own business.
Whatever you do, if you invest consistently and carefully, you will almost certainly make a little money at it. Maybe not Romney money, but he was born to wealth and you probably weren’t, so you may need a little extra patience. And focus and discipline. But with those tools, plus a little research, which you can easily learn how to do, your investments can almost certainly produce a noticeable addition to your earned income.
Keep on investing year after year, and even if you don’t have any outstanding successes, sooner or later your money will double, and eventually the doubled amount will double, and not too much longer after that you’ll start getting grumpy about the amount of income tax you owe.
But try not to run your blood pressure up over taxation. Isn’t it better to have a high enough income that your tax rate seems too high than to have a low enough income that you don’t pay any income tax at all?]]>
Security aside, as plants become more automated, there is an ever-growing need for people (like you) who can program and maintain the computers that control, the sensors that feed information to those computers, and the switches, valves, relays, and motors those computers and the many PLCs attached to them turn on and off and regulate as necessary. But to do this, you need to learn things you may not have learned in your programming, computer science or IT management courses.
Become an electrician and learn ladder logic
To work with industrial plant controls, you need to deal with high voltages safely. In other words, you need to become an electrician. You will probably need some classroom education (check your local community college; it’s lots cheaper than private trade schools) and to serve an apprenticeship. You will also want to learn ladder logic, which is the way electrical (as opposed to electronic) schematics are typically written. Some of the electrical training may seem simplistic to you, but don’t think it’s not important. Dealing with 480V or more is lots more hazardous than dealing with the low-voltage circuitry inside a PC. There is no room for error. Everything must be done right, the first time and every time.
A good place to learn about local education and apprenticeship possibilities is to go to the National Electrical Contractors Association website and find a contractor near you that specializes in industrial and commercial work. Then call that contractor and tell them you’re interested in possibly becoming an electrician, and that you already have some computer training and experience. You may be happily surprised at the warm reception you get from some contractors — and if you don’t get a warm reception from the first one or two you call, don’t get discouraged; call some more. Sooner or later you’ll run into someone happy to help a bright person like you — and who might even be willing to hire you as an apprentice.
The main thing is, you’re looking outside the office and server room box. You’re looking at industrial plants where you wear a hard hat and ear protection.
Not everyone is suited for work in a refinery, a paper pulp plant or an automated industrial bakery. But if you are, you might find yourself in a whole different field than you thought about when you first decided you might want to make computers your career. And it can be a fun career, too, especially if you enjoy working with machinery like the automatic toilet paper machine you can see in this video:]]>
Oh. I fell asleep. Is Ubuntu loaded yet? It looks like it is.
We’re in Chapter Two now, and if you’re doing a dual-boot installation for the first time, pick up the book and do a little reading or you might risk whacking the other operating system on your computer, along with all the software and data that goes along with it. Not good!
This is where Ubuntu Made Easy shines. It gives you accurate, complete descriptions of what you should do, and when and how you should do it. Every minute spent reading can save you up to an hour of cursing and redoing or undoing mistakes.
Much Ado About Applications
Some years ago I wrote a book called Point and Click Linux! (which is now totally obsolete) in which I gave only the briefest instructions on how to use popular Linux applications because I didn’t want the book to get too heavy or intimidating. Ubuntu Made Easy is thicker and wordier than my book, and it goes into more detail than I did about how to use LibreOffice, Audacity, Gimp, and other other useful programs you can download (for free) from the Ubuntu servers.
Between the basic information about how to download, set up, and run Ubuntu Linux and the application use instructions, this book is a decent deal for $34.95 (paper) or $27.95 (ebook), which are publisher’s prices you can easily beat with a little shopping around.
But where is the command line?
Ubuntu Made Easy is entirely about pointing and clicking. Nothing wrong with that, especially since Ubuntu Linux has gotten to the point where it is a fully-functional desktop operating system suitable for use by great-grandmothers and toddlers and everybody in between. But for professional work? You’d better learn how to administer Linux from the command line now that you’ve got Ubuntu Linux running on at least one computer in your home or office.
In fact, to teach yourself what you need to know to handle even the most basic, entry-level small business sysadmin job, you should have two or more computers running Linux and at least one running Windows so that you can create a network and learn how to administer it.
This is when you buy a copy of Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition or a similar tome and start scratching your head as you learn the ins and outs of Linux (and Unix) by working with your own little network.
But to start? Ubuntu Made Easy is all you need, and Ubuntu is just about the easiest desktop Linux variant to use and learn from until you’re ready to hit that command line and become a Linux professional.
PS – This article, by Lisa Vaas, is “must” reading if you want to get into IT security work: Transform Your Puny Weakling Tech Muscles into InfoSec BRAWN! I mention it because “How do I learn IT security?” is one of the questions I get asked most often.]]>
Winkler is the author of Spies Among Us, Zen and the Art of Information Security, Corporate Espionage, and co-author of Through the Eyes of the Enemy. He has been quoted in Forbes, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Planet Internet, and Business 2.0. He knows what he’s talking about. You can’t go wrong following his advice.]]>
Jesse Newcomer, Mobile Development Manager with Homes.com, says, “We have a Windows Phone app for Homes.com, but we don’t have new projects planned for the platform. Having worked on all three mobile platforms I do prefer the Windows development environment due to the superior Visual Studio IDE and debugging features. However, with the rapidly developing mobile environment the time/resource investment in developing a Windows Phone app is not justifiable for us. With limited resources and time, we see a better return on developing for the vastly larger user base of iOS and Android.”
James Cropcho, Chief Technology Officer at Fashism, says the number of devices is a big factor, “but so is knowing who is using them. If the app is for Windows7FanSite.net a Microsoft client is a good bet, but otherwise likely not.
“Also consider that developing a great native mobile app is pretty damn hard and costly, so Microsoft: you have to really make me want it. Otherwise I’ll stick to the platforms with the people on them.”
Ow! “…platforms with the people on them.” That is a major punch in the gut for Microsoft — and this isn’t from a guy who works on WeLoveLinuxAndHateWindows.com, but someone who works on the kind of consumer-oriented Web site that is almost certainly visited heavily by Windows computer users. And Homes.com isn’t an obscure geek site either. Hmmm.
But not everyone has given up on Windows Phone. From Simon Lee, CEO of Locassa Ltd: “We’re an iOS agency at heart but I have to say I really like the UI and foresight that Microsoft are taking with their platform. The UI is clean and Microsoft have always understood that developers are the ones who make or break a platform, something Google, and even Apple, sometimes miss. We are still waiting for Nokia to send us the free device we were promised (*nudge*) but can’t wait to see what we can do with it! Anyone who says Microsoft is too late to the party hasn’t been watching closely enough.”
From Chris Maddern, CEO at AppLaunch, an online tool to help indie developers get their Apps in front of reviewers:
(This is) something that we recently surveyed our customers at AppLaunch about. The result came back as a staggering 87% no (~800 responses).
A summary of the key reasons were:
- not a big enough addressable market
- wrong perceived demographic (I.e. boring big biz types)
- yet another development environment and language – likely requiring new hires as almost no startups have Microsoft.net in their stack
- lack of confidence that they will succeed this time around after several ‘failed’ OSes
Interestingly, a large number of those developing for Windows Phone had received money, development or in-kind benefits from Microsoft directly to fund the creation of their WinPhone Apps!! (~30%)
From Brian Geary, Marketing Coordinator for AndPlus LLC, a
mobile development company in Worcester, Massachusetts:
It does and it doesn’t make sense to develop for Windows Phone. As of today, Windows Phone doesn’t hold much market share when compared to iPhone and Android in the United States. (Android with 51%, iPhone with 34% Blackberry with 8% and Windows Phone with just 4.5%) But in my opinion, we are going to see a shift in that trend, where Android and iPhone will still be far ahead of the other operating systems, and Windows Phone taking over Blackberry’s stronghold in the number three spot. This surge in the Windows Phone user base will most likely attract developers to the operating system and only strengthen the Windows phone even more.
Another factor that is coming into play is Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft is planning on releaseing Windows 8 tablets before the end of 2012. This is important to Windows Phone developers because Windows 8 and the upcoming Windows Phone 8 are going to work hand and hand with one another. So today, it may not be a great idea to develop strictly for Windows Phone, but it should definitely be a strong consideration for developers in the near future.
That’s a good point about the soon-to-be-released Microsoft tablets. In other words, even if you’re not interested in developing for Windows Phone today, it’s wise to keep an eye on it, because there’s a good chance that it might yet have enough users that your apps had *better* run on it.]]>
Suddenly, in the face of wind and power outages, the cloud turned from a marketing elixir into real computers with hard drives and power supplies and lots of wire connecting them to the Internet. Except that without power they just… sat there. The didn’t answer http requests. Not even https got through!
The reality is that some (but not enough) hosting services had redundant connections and power — indeed, in some cases entire redundant cages — so things went on pretty much as normal. And power, Some had backup generators that roared to life immediately. Some did not.
I don’t know about you, but if I was a CEO or other manager to whom the IT head reported, and my servers were out due to lack of power backup or — better yet — 100% redundancy, heads would roll. And my angry finger might wander around the IT department until it lit upon you.
Yes, puny little you, in your corner, trying not to be noticed as you worked on the new failover plan your boss (who was just fired) asked you to draw up just a little late…
And the Boss of Boss’s gaze lit upon the paper you had in your lap, and asked, “What is that diagram?”
“It is our new failover and outage prevention scheme,” you replied.
The Boss took it, looked at it, turned it over (since at first he had tried to read it upside down), and said, “I see. Get your things together, Smathers or whatever your name is, and move into the corner office that became vacant three minutes ago, for you are our new IT manager. Failover! I like that idea. Failover!”
And with a too-hearty slam on the back, you were launched into the ranks of management where you could not only afford a hybrid car but were darn near expected to have one.
Failover. Yes, it was all about failover. When the chips are down and the storm howls overhead, you must have redunancy, because then not just you, but also the Boss of Bosses can be happy and calm, and instead of running around trying to placate Bod members, you can go off together (because you have lately become friends) to Sonia’s Restaurant of Fine Food and Beautiful Waitresses Looking for Husbands, where you can enjoy a lovely stroganoff along with several strong vodka drinks. And the attention of several beautiful, single waitresses.
Ah, failover. Isn’t it wonderful?]]>
There are, of course, plenty of books, practice exams, tutorials, and other study aids available. Some are free and some cost money. Read what LPI has to say, think about your skills, your budget, and how you learn best. Then, and only then, set out a course of study — assuming you need one at all; if you’re been working with Linux for any length of time, you may not need to study to pass some of the more basic LPI exams.
And now, a friendly word about Red Hat
Red Hat’s training and certifications are absolutely top drawer. You can know nothing about Linux, take your Red Hat courses, do some hands-on practical work on your own, and within a couple of years you will be competent to handle most Linux admin tasks — and not just on Red Hat, but in general with a little poking around in different distributions, because different Linux distributions aren’t all that different from one another.
If your employer wants to send you to a Red Hat class or pay for some Red Hat certification exams, don’t say “I dunno….” No, young troop. Jump up and SALUTE! If your bosses are willing to invest in you, say “thank you” graciously and take them up on their kind offer.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is the most common corporate Linux distribution. That’s as it should be. Its very name tells you it’s Enterprise Linux as opposed to desktop Linux or even cereal bowl Linux.
But RHEL is not the only Linux distribution. And it’s entirely possible that a Linux-ignorant HR person will look at all your hard-won Red Hat certifications and say, “I’m sorry. We’re looking for someone with Fedora experience.”
You can sputter and your face can turn red, but there is no way you can penetrate that level of stupidity. Just turn and leave — and be glad you didn’t end up working for a company where morons hold respnsible positions. Which leads to a caution:
If a company uses Linux, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s run by smart people.
Hard to believe, but true. On the hiring front, you know and I know that experience and knowledge trump certifications any day of the week. But many HR people and managers don’t know this. Or at least will run resumes through automated sorting system that kick out anyone who doesn’t have Linux Mint experience. And in the world of automated resume sorting, Ubuntu experience just won’t do. Sorry.
Stupid? You bet! But what are you going to do about it?
Answer: invest in at least a few LPI exams, and make sure your resume lists every Linux distro you’ve used, and every major program you’ve worked with on those distros.
With any luck, these tactics will help you get by HR and management gatekeepers and put you in front of an actual front-line manager who knows what he or she is talking about and won’t waste your time with stupidity.
It’s a hope, anyway. And LPI exams are a great aid in fulfilling the hope of getting you in front of someone who can actually hire you — or a few rungs up your career ladder, give you a raise or even promote you.]]>