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Dirty Duty On the Front Lines of IT 166

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the he-said-duty dept.
snydeq writes "Jobs may be scarce in today's economy, but there's no shortage of nasty IT work — as the third annual installment of InfoWorld's Dirty IT Jobs series demonstrates. From the payroll cop to the coolant jockey to the network sherpa who has to squeeze into rodent-filled spaces and deal with penny-pinching clients, these seven jobs provide further proof that dirty duty abounds on the front lines of IT."
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Dirty Duty On the Front Lines of IT

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:54AM (#31817750)

    I fix the horribly shitty code written by offshore Indian "developers".

    The crap and stupidity I encounter from them daily is far worse than dealing with rodents, or cramped spaces, or spending months on the high seas.

  • Dirty is Relative (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Petersko (564140) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:56AM (#31817778)
    If anybody thinks their IT job is dirty, they are sorely in need of a reality check.

    I have relatives that run pig farms.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:58AM (#31817838)

    It's amusing that these guys are sometimes lumped in with actual programmers under the terribly wide "IT" catchall. I'd liken it to calling garbagemen "sanitation engineers", but that's probably a bit mean.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:01PM (#31817876)

    With a name like that. But ...

    Bonar works with companies whose email isn't getting through to customers, thanks to overzealous spam filters. CEO and founder of EmailExpert, Bonar has to convince ISPs to let his clients' legitimate emails past their filters, while persuading his clients not to bend the rules.

    Dude, if your clients are going to "bend the rules" then they are spammers.

    Deal with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:05PM (#31817938)

    I take offense to programmers thinking they are "software engineers" when in fact many do not hold engineering degrees.

    I chuckle every time someone says they are an engineer. Really? You went to Hollywood Upstairs Programming School?

    And yes, I realize some OLDER person will get on this thread and say "I'm a train engineer - a real engineer - unlike these punks with engineering 'degrees'"

    Anyway, the moral of the story is, don't berate people's positions, making yourself seem better, when in fact there are many people more qualified than yourself.

  • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:10PM (#31817996)

    So, is it cheaper to hire idiots to write most of the code and then hire someone smart later to fix it?

  • by eln (21727) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:14PM (#31818042) Homepage
    Interestingly, one of their so-called "dirty jobs" is a guy who narced on his company to the BSA for using single-user software licenses on networked computers. Sure, misusing software licenses is wrong, but some guy sicking the much-maligned BSA on his company is hardly an example of the poor downtrodden IT guy.
  • Re:FTA: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:15PM (#31818052)
    Adam West thinks that is funny [youtube.com].
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:17PM (#31818088)

    "The geek personality is very different," says Bectel. "I've worked in a lot of different markets, and techies have much higher expectations for coverage than virtually any one else. It's because they're so passionate about what they do, and they expect everyone else to be equally passionate about it."

    The one line explanation of /.

  • by WindowlessView (703773) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:17PM (#31818098)

    > So, is it cheaper to hire idiots to write most of the code and then hire someone smart later to fix it?

    Doesn't the question answer itself? What's cheaper in the long run - install plumbing and wiring *while* the house is being built or afterwards?

  • Payroll cop fubar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:27PM (#31818248) Homepage Journal

    If, as the article relates, Jennifer Hoffman had to call the data center and walk them through the process of manually restarting the one, single, solitary payroll server, a few items come to mind:

    1) The people doing the upgrades without considering their impact should be shot on sight. Anyone who has worked more than a week in a network environment knows, or should know, that when you are considering an upgrade to anything, you have to find out who else is impacted by the upgrade.

    2) Relying on said single, solitary server for payroll is just begging for disaster. For a highly critical task such as payroll, having one point of failure is beyond stupid. One deserves what one gets if the server dies.

    3) The person who was fired but was still able to log time so they got paid was smart, the people who administered user accounts and security were not. Basic rule when someone is fired/let go/whatever is you disable their account. Immediately. Whomever in IT let this little gem get by should also be shot.

    4) Having only one person who knew how to run the payroll software was, like issue 2 above, beyond stupid. Does no one use the bus principle any more? For the uninitiated, if someone gets run over by a bus, can they be replaced by someone else with minimal downtime? Are their tasks documented? What about quirky procedures that need to be done?

    These are just basic questions I had when I read that job. My other question was, what company did she work for so I can introduce myself to them as a "Risk Mitigation Specialist"?

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:32PM (#31818332) Homepage

    If an educational institution can't afford monopolyware then PIRACY is not the answer. If they can't pay their own way helping perpetuate the Microsoft monopoly, then perhaps they should not help perpetuate that crap to begin with.

    A kid doesn't need to learn the Brand X version of a particular sort of software.

    That's just nonsense perpetrated by middle aged idiots that couldn't adapt to something new if their life literally depended on it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:41PM (#31818462)

    I fix the horribly shitty code written by offshore Indian "developers".

    The crap and stupidity I encounter from them daily is far worse than dealing with rodents, or cramped spaces, or spending months on the high seas.

    I am an Indian developer in USA. The stupidity of general American developers around me is astounding. I guess I can generalize and say American developers are just stupid and incompetent.

  • by spmkk (528421) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:45PM (#31818524)

    A kid doesn't need to learn the Brand X version of a particular sort of software.

    That's just nonsense perpetrated by middle aged idiots that couldn't adapt to something new if their life literally depended on it.

    The trouble is, a kid DOES need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software, because the people he'll be working for/with use it and if he doesn't know it, they'll hire someone who does. In a sense, his life does depend on it.

    For all the fervor of the FOSS hype, here in the real world people need to make a living, and they go to school to learn the skills they need to do that. Beg, borrow or steal if you must, but if you are a school, your ultimate responsibility is to teach the skills that enable your students to succeed in the framework of a sometimes-inconvenient reality.

  • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:05PM (#31818808) Homepage
    because "Hi, I took a semester of photoshop my freshman year of high school" will totally get you a job in the real world. Middle school and high school students just need basic tech literacy and first exposures. Going to college or trade school is what's going to land you a job, and that is where you need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software. Yes, there are exceptions to that (myself included, a couple years back), but the sorts of low-paying, under-the-table, tech jobs a high school student is going to land generally afford them the right to use whatever tools they feel comfortable with; because whatever local business or charity they're working for doesn't know jack-all about tech anyway, and will listen to whatever their new PFY says like it's the gospel truth.
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:21PM (#31819090) Homepage Journal

    So, Word '97 is the same as Word 2007?

    XP is the same as Vista?

    How about instead of teaching how to use a single version of an OS or software suite, they teach kids how to use a word processor, and more general stuff about using a computer?

  • by Imagix (695350) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:22PM (#31819106)
    I strongly disagree. For starters, your third solution, "Steal", is not an acceptable solution in a school. Ever.

    Second, a kid does not need to learn Brand X of a particular sort of software. They need to learn concepts, not specific implementations. So they should learn what a word processor is good for. Whether it's MS Word, or OpenOffice, or iWork (or pick some other word processor). Irrelevant. Learn what a word processor does. (Repeat for presentation software, spreadsheet, etc) It will make them more versatile in the real world. Additionally, the second option in there is free, thus solves the original problem of "we can't afford the licesnes". I have no idea what they need Creative Suite for. That's an even bigger sledgehammer than MS Office for putting in finishing nails.

    Yet another advantage for OpenOffice, since it is free, the kid can easily take a copy home and use it for homework there too, and not inflict a large licensing cost on the family too.

  • by david_thornley (598059) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:33PM (#31819308)

    My observations: There are some very good Indian developers. There are some very cheap Indian developers. My observations do not include any overlap between the two.

  • My observations show roughly the same thing. My observations also show that roughly the same pattern applies to American developers, a fact that most (not necessarily you) tend to forget.
  • Its Missing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KingPin27 (1290730) on Monday April 12, 2010 @03:39PM (#31821210)
    They are missing a fairly dirty job in IT... Help Desk / Service Desk / Catch All Desk / fix it its not working desk..... Spend a year here and see what you think of your sanity and cleanliness after. Most of these people wouldn't know about network problems or pr0n infesting spyware unless the Help Desk dealt with it first.
  • Re:Mod parent up. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Monday April 12, 2010 @03:47PM (#31821396) Journal
    Speaking of Marketing, I've got to register some serious objections to this gem in TFA:

    The dirty part? Techies often play a little fast and loose with the truth. But it's the marketing hag who catches hell for it.

    TFA goes on to berate techies for claiming something is ready when it isn't, etc. I don't buy it. Most techies I know are too truthful for their own good, partly because of the b/w nature of our world, and partly as an allergic reaction from cleaning up too many overpromise/underdeliver SNAFUs we inherit from Sales and Marketing types. I've been on the techie end of that equation too many times, and although you can take my unconfirmed anecdotal data as you wish, my guess is that most here have had similar experiences.

    Hypothetical conversation between techie and marketing hag:

    MH: So, I'm like, trying to put together a press release and a flyer about OurLatestCoolthing1.0, and I was hoping you could like, help me with the technical parts.
    T: Yeah, sure. Happy to help.
    MH: Oh cool. So, like I talked to your manager, and he said that OLC v1.0 is fully Web 2.0 and cloud compliant, and is guaranteed to save companies 50% of their IT budget. Then he ...
    T: What? No. That's just wrong. Are you sure he said that?
    MH: [puzzled look] Yeah. I like just got done talking with him, and he said to talk to you, because you could like explain it better.
    T: Oh. [mental note to speak to the boss man] Yeah, well you probably don't want to say "Web 2.0 and cloud compliant", because that doesn't make sense. There is no "Web 2.0" or "cloud" standard per se, and so there's really nothing to be compliant with ...
    MH: [scribbling furiously] Wait, what? Standard? What do you mean?
    T: There is no "cloud computing" standard. It's just a buzzword. You can't be compliant with it because ... [notices the MH's eyes glazed over] Okay, say something like this - "OLC 1.0 leverages Web 2.0 technology to bring the power of cloud computing to your fingertips."
    MH: [eyes light up] Oh! Good! I could use that! [scribbles] Okay, "OLC 1.0 leverages Web 2.0 technology to bring the power of cloud computing to your fingertips.
    T: You probably don't want to guarantee any specific level of savings, either. Have you talked to Sales about that?
    MH: Okay. Great, thanks! [leaves cubicle, then sticks head back in for one more question] Oh, by the way, how many engineers do we have certified on this?
    T: Right now? No one. We just finished building the platform, and we haven't finished writing the training material yet. Why?
    MH: Oh. How many will you have trained by like the end of next week?
    T: Uhh, none. Not until the training material is finished. Talk to the technical writers and trainers.
    MH: [worried] But like, how many will you eventually have trained?
    T: [shrugs] Well, all the inbound tech support guys, for starters, and then ...
    MH: Oh! Right! Good! So like, how many of them are there?
    T: Eight guys at the moment, but ...
    MH: Great ... thanks! Bye!

    Half an hour later, the phone rings. A sales guys calls up to ask about the OLC v1.0. He just saw the latest marketing press release, and is really glad to see that it is "Web 2.0 and Cloud compliant".

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday April 12, 2010 @03:53PM (#31821496) Homepage

    Interestingly, as you read the write up, it turns out it's the managers lying their asses off that she has to cover for and actual geeks that let her know she was lied to. I guess the managers lied when they told her they were geeks too. That happens a lot when MBAs are allowed to manage geeks.

  • by operagost (62405) on Monday April 12, 2010 @04:53PM (#31822408) Homepage Journal

    With what money, you self-righteous scumbag?

    The people's tax money.

    It's not a for-profit corporation that's making money at the expense of another corporation's loss.

    Not if it's a public school. In that case, it's a government organization run at the consent of the people using our tax dollars and is not above the law.

    Smith says he approached his superiors and the district's IT department and explained why that was wrong, but to no avail.

    So what was he supposed to do next? Pay for the software out of his pocket?

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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