More Pay and You're OK

The Gartner Group has a new report that says roughly what our upcoming Redmond magazine salary survey says: IT is immune to our current economic malaise. Most shops plan to add staff and, as the old laws of supply-and-demand state, this demand will cause wages to increase.

Salaries are already going up, but for now they're roughly on a cost-of-living basis, at an average increase of 3.6 percent. The good news? Bonuses are also up, so get your speech ready!

Hot areas include network engineers (more on this in our next item), database admins, Web programmers and enterprise architects.

How is your shop doing in hiring and raises? E-mail me at dbarney@redmondmag.com. We'll post your comments (using first names only) in an upcoming newsletter.

Should You Be in Networking?
Our previous item points out that IT has been relatively recession-proof of late. But if you really want to avoid economic catastrophe, you might want to go into networking. There are currently some 60,000 networking jobs unfilled, according to IDC.

I was scratching my head over this, 'til I remembered a couple of huge trends. VoIP and unified communications both rely on powerful, efficient networks. And as Web applications take off, the networks to access them must have enough capacity and reliability.

Are you seeing this in your shop? Share your experiences by writing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Another Google Gotcha
You might think I pick on Google a lot, and I do. There's a reason, though. Google has power, and with power comes scrutiny. Just look at what a U.S. president goes through. Every decision is scrutinized (sometimes not scrutinized enough) as a way of keeping this power in check.

Google is as close to a president of the Internet as you can get. So when Google admitted that it tracks our Web moves and sells this information to marketers, I was concerned. In fact, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo -- the Web's Big Three -- all do this!

And using deep-packet inspection, companies can learn exactly what we do on the Web (are you getting nervous yet?). Fortunately, the Big Three don't do deep-packet inspection. I'd like to keep it that way.

What about you? How much should Internet companies know about you? And does Google have too much power? Thoughts welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Final Google Item for the Day
This is funny, but also speaks to whether Google is respectful of our personal privacy.

It seems that an Aussie gent lost his bloke. To commemorate his mate's death, the 36-year-old Bill got snockered and passed out in front of his house, just in time for a camera-laden Google van to drive by. The photos were posted on the 'Net, much to Bill's chagrin.

Is anything in public view fair game to be posted on the 'Net? Should people having heart attacks and clothing malfunctions or getting mugged be put on a Web page? And what if this happened to you? Tell us what you think by writing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Linux and Thin Clients, Midori Maybe, More
Rod gives some advice to another reader who mentioned using Linux for thin clients:

For Timothy who said he would use Linux to create a thin client, check out Thinstation. Way back in 2003, we made a major move into server-based computing. We converted a boatload of Win 95/98 PCs into thin clients by booting from a CD or thumb drive that reformatted the hard disk and installed Thinstation. For the few systems that didn't work because of driver issues or when one of the PCs died due to old age, we didn't spend time trying to get it to work -- just replace with a Wyse thin client and move on. It was a great way to embrace Citrix without replacing all of our client workstations all at once.
-Rod

George chimes in on Microsoft's Midori project, a brand-new, built-from-scratch OS:

What a concept! Building an OS from the ground up instead of three to four retreads! When I see it, maybe I'll try it. Until then, I'm sticking with XP, Mac OS and Fedora. Vista and its spawn are NOT going into my toolbox.
-George

Speaking of Vista, John adds fuel to the fire:

Sunday, I bought my wife a new laptop, with Vista. I spent three evenings playing find-the-right-driver. Here is how it went. Sunday I powered up and thought, "Maybe Vista isn't as bad as they say." This was up until I tried to install a three-year-old application that depends on a dongle for authentication. After installation, the screen declared: "HASP not found." So, I went to the Internet and found stories of how others had made this software work on Vista, after they got the "HASP not found" error. I followed their procedures. No gain. I called, but couldn't reach a friend who used this same application. So, I sent her an e-mail.

Monday evening after work I started on it again. My friend had sent suggestions, which I tried, but still no success. Tuesday evening brought more of the same, except that it appeared that Vista was seeing the dongle, even though the application wasn't. I also succeeded in finding and installing an upgrade to the application. The message changed, but the meaning was still the same. More correspondence with the friend. Wednesday evening when I got home, my e-mail had a message from my friend and an attached update to the latest driver I had installed. When I ran the update, the application worked. The dongle was correctly associated with the application.

That was three-and-a-half evenings lost getting Vista and my application to play well together. From the comments I have read, this is typical of people's experience. As long as you stick to Vista and Office 2007, your new system runs well. Try to run old software or old hardware and, as they used to announce in the Navy, "Stand by for heavy rolls."

-John

In celebration of Patch Tuesday, Leo shares his patching process down to the hour:

Here is our routine following Patch Tuesday:

  • Wednesday (PT+1) 0100 hrs.: Synchronize our parent WSUS with Microsoft.
  • Wednesday (PT+1) 0500 hrs.: Synchronize our child WSUS servers with our parent WSUS; hopefully, synching has completed.
  • Wednesday (PT+1) 1300 hrs.: Approve patches in WSUS for installation on test systems after child WSUSs have completed syncs.
  • Thursday (PT+2) 0400 hrs.: Patches install on test systems 0400 (Thursday is a scheduled eutage day, 0300-0600).
  • Wednesday (PT+8) 0900-ish.: Approve patches in WSUS for installation on production systems.
  • Thursday (PT+9) 0400 hrs.: Patches install on production systems 0400.

Usually, a few systems don't get their patches when they are scheduled to, so we tidy these systems up on PT+16. If all goes well, we will have a Thursday off before the next round of patches. Somewhat time-consuming but we have it working pretty well.
-Leo

And Eugene puts the Olympic-sized Blue Screen of Death at the opening ceremonies in some perspective:

Whether or not it is real (looks real to me), this event is a testimony to the skill and planning behind it. There is always going to be failures in performances, you can count on it. What apparently happened was a solitary failure, with a very snappy backup take-over. That is the stuff of legend.

Anyone who believes that another platform would not suffer this should be fired. No platform under those conditions would have come through perfectly, and any platform would have needed a backup plan. If you think that an Apple-based performance system doesn't have backup hardware, you are fooling yourself. I've run both Mac and PC under performance conditions and you must always have a backup/switchover plan in place.
-Eugene

More of your letters coming tomorrow! Meanwhile, share your own thoughts about the topics covered here by leaving a comment below or e-mailing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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