Shot in the foot

The IT shortage is going to hit very hard.

Once we’ve farmed everything out and can’t seem to get it back together, and use local talent, once nobody goes into the fields of study required, what’s going to happen?

I’m starting to see a lot of IT workers getting really burned out and leaving the field. These are guys(and women) who studied computer science, worked through the trenches of field technician hell, suffered the slings and arrows of first tier support, rode the wave of the dot-com boom, and crawled through the muck of the aftermath of the bust.

We worked at so many places, getting servers to do interesting things, take over tons of manual work, solved interesting problems, developed and implemented “best practices”…

Talking with a lot of cohorts lately, I keep hearing the refrain of the same song, one that says that it’s not understood by business even after all the educating, it’s thankless, the hours and demands are endless, you are always on-call, always coming to the rescue, the money never gets better, there’s never enough help, and there isn’t much of a career path anymore.

I’m seriously hoping that these are not steady trends. I’ve seen all of this in working in many places, but it’s scary to think that it’s so widespread.

Aunt Jemima

After I heard about the recall on Aunt Jemima brand pancake mixes, I saw a really interesting background article at Obscure History.

I always thought of Aunt Jemima to be a silly product name, and a hearkening to old-fashioned days when the shadows of slavery and repression were still fluttering along the walls.

I know that some of you who drop by here on occasion don’t necessarily get the underpinnings of the Southern American dialect except where it is displayed on silver screens, so the reason the name seems silly to me might need an introduction.

In the plantation part of the south, Aunt Jemima would sound like “Ain’t Je Mama” — “Not your momma”. During the times of slavery and during the period where integration had not taken a foothold, the vision of a black houseworker named Aunt Jemima would bring up the idea of a slave who did all the housework and child rearing, but whom the children were constantly reminded that she isn’t “mother”.

I wasn’t aware of a huge chunk of the company’s background before they were bought by Quaker Foods, another brand known for an extreme close-up of a character who is meant to bring up feelings associated with the American past. This makes me wonder if they will be making an offer in the years coming for Wendy’s or maybe even the Sunbeam bread company or maybe even Martha Stewart.

mired in mediocrity

I was reading about Mrs. Sparrow’s woes in finding out that she’s “only” a B-list blogebrity…. Whatever being a blog-ebrity might be worth. I took the test, and It says that:
C-List Blogger
I’m a C-lister! Just like in birth order, I’m stuck in the middle. Average. Blah.

Looking at it again, in order to hit the A-list, I’d likely need a steady supply of gadgets to review, write bagloads of articles on “blogging for bloggers” and “how to make money by writing your own blog”, and eventually corporatize the whole blog here.

Doesn’t sound very original or thought-provoking.

Thanksgiving week catch up

Here are some stories that I was going to write about last week among the working, extra travel, and general lazing about:

  • Schoolboy’s lifesaving MythBuster moment The importance of separating true science from collective Hollywood fiction has come into its own. After revealing positive aspects of playing video games (including venting your aggressions, building problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination), we are now finding good excuses for watching geeky shows on television. Having seen the episode of Mythbusters dealing with the idea of getting electrocuted by the Metro track, this kid knew exactly what not to do, and saved a life. He was very brave, even at the peak of geekery.
  • Babbling Babelfish sparks international incidentTechnology can help us in a lot of ways, especially when dealing with hard science, mathematics, etc. There are some areas that aren’t nailed down quite as well, and one of those areas is in language translation. The dictionary translation software can help you out greatly, but one really should at least know some of the basics of the target language, especially if the communication is legal, governmental, or really, has anything to do with business. These guys were down a translator, and decided that Babelfish would make a good stand-in.
  • Clean, carbon-neutral hydrogen on the horizonAn exciting 288 percent efficiency gain has been made by a new process for creating clean hydrogen from cellulose. I’m stoked about this!
  • If Gmail Had Been Designed by MicrosoftA fun look at a screenshot of Gmail, walking through User interface traditions used by Microsoft to create something awful. This is brutally truthful and rather hilarious, especially if you have ever done web design.
  • Residents reject rude roadTo the road signage crew: Thou shalt check thy spelling before placing road signs henceforth! By the way, you will all need to update your address books. I now live at 2389 Dolphin Waxing Lane.
  • Quaid’s scareDennis Quaid’s newborn twins got a horribly large overdose at the hospital, which is incredibly scary. The article says that they will be alright. As a parent, I know that something like this can keep you up at night for years afterward. I hope that they are well and safe, and that nurses everywhere are mindful and alert when metering out meds, and also that Dennis and Kimberly have patience and understanding in their hearts.

Generations: belief systems

I was reading an article by Jenny about the possibility of your kids choosing to follow a religion that is entirely different from your set of beliefs.

I’m pretty sure that this comes up with every parent, and has been going on for a long time. The phases that kids go through as far as trying to find their identity socially, and trying out lifestyles of friends that they make along the way, and out of just plain rebellion just seem to call out for trying on psychological and religious worldviews that seem to counter what has been set forth in the home… Especially if it is done rigidly.

We are entering the second generation of kids that will have our highly advanced mass communications available. It was a big huge deal when my dad was young to know someone who had their own television set, even though there were only three channels, and those only broadcast a signal for a few hours a day. Now there are hundreds of 24/7 channels, movies, recorded programs, and the the whole digital gold mine of the internet. If someone has thought or believed something, you can bet that there is something out there, and it’s a billion percent easier to find and explore than it would have been 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago.

When the kids decide to explore another religion (and they WILL), I would say that it’s a good idea not to overreact. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others, it’s a good exercise. If you are incredibly strict about your belief system at home, this will not deter the kids in the least. It will only make them careful to hide it from you. I’ve seen that one a million times, and that was back in the youth of my generation.

When I’m thinking of these kinds of questions, I try to remind myself of my primary function as a parent. That helps to keep things in perspective. That primary function is to nurture them, and to help them attain all the skills that they will need when they are on their own in life.

If they are not allowed to explore themselves or their environment, they will not be able to grow. Simple as that. I hope that all of your kids at least read about other belief systems.

It’s funny that this comes up, because as the holiday displays show up all over the Retail Kingdom, My girls have started asking questions about different holidays that they are hearing at school…. and I have been using these questions as a launching board into (very brief) overviews of different beliefs. Thursday evenings’ discussion was on the ride home, after K asked, “Do we celebrate, um… Hanukkah?” I know a lot of parents whose answer would either be a simple “No”, but I take these as good opportunities for growth for the both of them.