Farewell Houston!

Today I learned that my time in Houston is at an end. I’ll admit that I’ve had a pretty good time here. I’ve made a few more friends, attended my first rodeo, and eaten more tex mex than I ever want to again. While I would like to stick around and stay staffed, I’ll have to join my colleagues on the bench and wait for a new assignment. All this stuff is exciting or course because I’ll be going to a new city and jumping into some new work and of course learning more about my craft.

I’ll be back one day Houston, there are is still a few things I need to see before I’m done with ya!

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Someone needs to put a stop to American Idol

Of all the shows that shouldn’t be on TV I think American Idol ran its course after Season 1 and even then I thought it was a terrible show. Year after year we hear people singing crap and then America votes to see who stays or goes. The sad thing is that this crud keeps on making headlines in places like CNN and the NY Times on who got booted. Is that really news? Do people care that much?

Not only is the show kinda crappy with all their supposed “cliff hangers”, it takes up the time slots of really good shows like House or Bones and who knows what else. I think I’ve complained about this horrid show before but that was probably about 300 blog posts ago. Anyway, thats the rant for tonight. Gotta finish up some emails and watch South Park.

Catching up on FOAMY

I’ve blogged about Foamy before but its been a long time since I’ve actually seen it online since I’ve been busy. For those of you that don’t know about Foamy, go look it up on YouTube. I swear its some of the most hysterical stuff that I’ve ever seen. There is the old staple of illwillpress.com that shows all the new stuff but if you want to go waaaaaaay back you have to hit up friendsoffoamy.com. They have the most extensive archive of Foamy vids anywhere on the net.

There are some other cartoons that I deem pretty good that my wife and others have found. Some are good and some are ok. Strongbad is pretty decent, there are a few that stand out that I can’t get enough of. Of course there is always Happy Tree Friends, thats just violence taken to a whole new level but good lord its funny. I especially enjoy the one thats setup like a music video for Fall Out Boy.

I need to start finding more entertainment online. There’s always episodes of TV shows I never see online but finding the time to watch them is still challenging. I’m feeling creative, might be time for another blog post about something totally random.

The first skill of a consultant…….

Hmm…. there are so many skills thats consultants need but after observing consultants for about a year now I can safely say that the most useful and cherished skill is WRITING! For the most part I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of writing since I got into consulting a little over a year ago. I got a small taste of that when I used to do a lot of projects for one of my former employers with tons of documents flying everywhere with instructions on how do crap I designed.

This doesn’t compare to the amount that I’ve done recently. In college I could pull 10 page papers out of thin air and I must say that this skill has come in handy. There are numerous status reports, deliverables, etc etc etc that need to be produced weekly while at a client and it only gets worse as time goes on. The better it looks, the more they want. It almost comes to a point where you’re doing more crafting of bad ass power points than actually writing down instructions on how someone should perform their new job or document what they did to help someone on the phone. But the point is that writing skills are very essential to the business world. Whether you’re in consulting advising mega corporations or part of a small company, being able to convey your point of view and selling an idea or telling a story on how good or bad things are going are paramount in my view. This may be more important than the advanced quantum physics you took in college. While also important (well only if you’re going into NASA or something), if you actually discover something being, able to tell people about it is what gets you recognition and gets you even more work and funding to find the next best thing or to tell an even more compelling story in the future.

So my grand advice to the masses (that don’t read my blog) is when you get the chance, brush up on your writing skills. This more than anything will help you in your career. Anyone from admins to CEO’s need this skill to advance themselves and their agendas to the masses to make more of the lean green (or whatever color they use these days for paper money in other countries other than the USA). I’m guessing my next rant won’t be about brushing up on bad ass skills to be successful in this fun world we live in. Maybe I’ll talk about my Wii or something…. Super Smash Brothers Brawl anyone??? 😉

Information Technology – A Tale of Two Paths

My career has spanned a total of 7 whole years, I can’t even put a full decade on my resume but I don’t think I really want to anyway because that just means I’m getting older which isn’t a good thing, although having the decade on my resume shows how much experience I do have. But anyway already I digress……

My whole career has been in Information Technology and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only 2 basic forms of IT, 3 if you count management but thats a different animal in itself. Now there are many levels to the 2 basic forms but when you come down to it there is only Support and Development. So what does this all mean and whats the point? I’m just doing a usual rant about something random and I just happened to pick this. Anyway…..

Lets start with numero uno since thats the one I’m most familiar with. For 6 of my 7 years I was in the IT support field. That meant helping people from far and wide and from all different levels from Partners to lowly admins with the computer problems. A lot of people that I know are in this field because lets be frank here, people just don’t know how to use their computers and always find new and interesting ways of screwing up their workstations. There are many levels, call support, field support, etc etc but it all boils down to helping the end user and being their punching bag as they bitch you out and tell you it was working only 5 minutes ago although they neglect to tell you they were installing some weird freeware game to pass the time between emails. This is the lowest cost area of IT for the most part but its also one of the most critical since support keeps the lights on and everything humming at a nice smooth pace. I was part of this workforce for a while and it was quite enjoyable except for the dealing with the mad people part. You really get to know the people that make the money and learn about the business which is all very important if you ever want to break out of IT support and go on to greener pastures like Consulting 🙂

The second area that IT falls under is development. When I talk about development its the actual creation of stuff like hardware and software or setting up infrastructure and things of that sort. I’ve had to deal with developers a little later in my career and for the most part they create some really cool stuff. These are all the technical folks who in school took stuff like advanced math, particle physics and the like. Development requires taking all the ideas that people give them and making them into something useful, yet eye pleasing and cool. Their type of works requires lots of hours and stimulants to keep the midnight oil burning because they work on deadlines. The people in support have deadlines too but they don’t have to deliver solutions within a budget and make it sing and dance. Development is interesting because they create something out of just some ideas. I admire these people for the things they have to learn to actually create computer programs. The farthest I’ve ever gotten was doing a Flash website with some Action Script but thats nothing compared to some of the complex programs being built for large corporations.

So now what? Well this was just my basic opinion of what IT is divided into. There are pro’s and cons for each work force. If you’re the brainy type, development might be for you, if you’re more a people person try support. Although keep in mind that IT will always be viewed as over head cost so IT is sometimes one of the first areas that people start cutting or sending to India. I was fortunate enough to be in a position that couldn’t be outsourced to some other foreign land and I’ve used the skills and knowledge that I gained in my current career. So for anyone thinking about going into IT, think about it a little to see what work force you’d much rather be in. I’m more of a support guy but thats because I prefer playing with the cool things that developers create rather than trying to create it myself.

For my next blog post, maybe I’ll start my consulting skills tips or something. There aren’t that many of them if you’re just starting out and I’m not management so I can’t say anything about that just yet but who knows…. Time to go get some lunch with my wife 🙂

Career Books

I’m an avid book reader but mostly I read science fiction stuff because I’m a geek like that but thats besides the point. I decided to look around at some other sections of the book store besides the usual areas like the science fiction, travel, and comic sections that I normally hit up. I decided to hit up the career section since I am a person that has recently changed careers from doing regular IT work to being an IT Consultant. I normally go to Barnes and Noble or Borders for my book needs (I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on books over the years) and I was surprised that there weren’t that many books on the different types of careers that one can go into. I found a lot of books about being an Entrepreneur, getting into business (like that isn’t broad), or nursing. There were also a lot of things about changing careers or trying to make your career better but not really anything about an actual career.

I find this interesting because you can’t read up a little on the different types of careers that you can get into. If you want to get into a career in IT, most likely you’d be directed to the IT section and all the fun books that teach you how to code and how to use different operating systems. That doesn’t tell you anything about the type of career you could possibly have in the IT field. The same thing goes for Consulting. There aren’t any books that I’ve seen so far that have anything on what the consultants life is like. I know that there are differences depending on the company that you join since everyone is a little different but no one ever tells you what its really like. There are all types of skills that you need to be a consultant but no one ever tells you what they are until you’re actually doing the job. I’m all about on the job training but maybe a little warning on what types of skill you need would be helpful.

Maybe I should try and write a basic book on what its like to be a consultant in IT and the types of skills that you’ll need. It would be really basic and generalize a lot of things in terms of the type of training that would be required, the things that a person should focus on and what not to succeed. Hmmm…. nah I don’t have the time to write something like that, maybe I’ll just write some blog entries since I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I used to in recent years. Well I think this is it for this week, or month, depends on my laziness factor.

9 Years today

Today is March 22 which means its the anniversary of when my wife and I started dating. This is of course a totally separate anniversary that we like to celebrate in addition to our wedding anniversary. It’s quite hard to believe that its already been nine years since I started going out with my wife. It seems so long ago when we met in college and then went on Spring Break during 1999 to Orlando. We started going out after that really fun Spring Break after having an awesome time at Disney and Universal Studios. I don’t know if its romantic enough to tell my kids one day but its one of my fondest memories.

As for today we’re just taking it easy. I took yesterday off because it was Good Friday so I didn’t have to work, today is our anniversary and tomorrow is Easter where I will be looking for the Easter Bunny and his lovely colored eggs. I can’t wait for Friday, its going to be super sweet since not only do I get to see the Yankees play but I get to finally see Dolphin Stadium.