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Old 01-02-2013, 09:42 AM   #1
sundialsvcs
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Career Thoughts: "What Clouds & Tablets Mean To You" (and it's not pretty ...)


I guess I'll cut to the point: "You're basically fscked."

Let me explain ... (These are entirely my opinions.)

Last Christmas (2012), over 17 million mobile devices were activated, and over 6 million "apps" were subsequently downloaded. (The verb was not "purchased," since the preponderance of those apps were free, and those that were not, almost-exclusively cost less than $1.00 (USD). It wasn't the year for "the microcomputer," nor will it ever be again.

It also wasn't the year for "software," except for "software as a service (SaaS)," which also has huge implications for those of you who now make your living administering "one-off" web sites for "one-off" (say...) e-commerce efforts by companies who up to now imagined that theirs was the only or the only bleeding-edge company on the planet.

It will never, ever, be the year for "the mobile app." Apps can be generated, certainly well-enough to meet the actual revenue-demand for them. And the price-point is forever fixed at a one-time payment of $1.00 or less ... and you can't "buy fries with that," even once.

The entire computer industry is fast undergoing a transformation consisting of an adoption of the economy of scale. One company with a staff of less than 20 people can and does host 12 million websites. (A mere four years ago, that number was 1 million.) Meanwhile, the preponderance of web traffic is very quickly shifting to commercial providers (such as Facebook and many others), partly because the "only" web search service that anyone actually knows about, Google, is blatantly shifting to "if you want to show up, you must pay for it" instead of objective search. (If you're billing yourself as an 'SEO maven,' throw that in the bit bucket: it's strictly '$EO' now, and there's nothing you can do about it.) E-commerce transactions are predominantly handled by third party providers such as PayPal, and in any case, it's not magic any more.

What does this mean to you? Exactly what the abandonment of steam locomotives (in favor of diesel) meant to a generation shortly before yours. Railroads jettisoned more than half their work-force, which had up to that time been ruled by the necessity of building "back shops" every 100 track-miles or so for the purposes of refueling, dumping ashes, and making minor or even major repairs to the steam behemoths. (They couldn't travel much longer than this distance without stopping.) But meanwhile, the railroads, fifty years later, were hauling nearly three times as much revenue freight.

There is, and for a time there will continue to be, a massive over-supply of people whose skills (in my opinion) are no more in-demand than are those who know how to adjust a locomotive's steam valve gear for optimum performance. These people include: Linux system administrators, PHP programmers, SEO experts, JavaScript programmers, and even the creators of custom page layouts and CSS tricks. By and large, it's no longer particularly important just how to get a web-page to look good on "Firefox and IE-8," and Microsoft's next incarnation of IE will matter zero at all.

"Holy sheet! He's talking about me!!" Yes, sir or madam, I most definitely am.

Railroads only want to haul freight. And that's all that they ever wanted to do. Steam locomotives were an unquestioned necessity for 150 years, but as soon as a superior way of "to haul freight" appeared, they were scrapped without apology. Likewise, the companies who are your clients and employers today only want to do whatever their business is ... not to hire you, and certainly not to require you as they are obliged to do now. Their business isn't "to build or to host a website." It's to sell widgets, to sell services, and to successfully attract qualified leads which subsequently do "convert" into revenue-producing contracts. Everything that you actually do is overhead, and most of that overhead can today be replaced by superior means. Read it and weep, but deny me if you can.

A very, very fundamental paradigm shift has occurred once again in your chosen industry, and it will very quickly mean, for a great many of you, that your job will disappear without replacement. (There's a country song about that, of course.) It will happen early, when you've got several decades of wage-earning time still to go and no way (at first blush ...) to earn them. I can tell you from personal experience right now that any Monster ad that's showing up right now for these once-prized "core" competencies will hit six or seven hundred resumes coming in for just one position, and it will only continue to get worse.

You're going to have to reinvent yourself, and you're going to have to do it in a world where your former technical wizardry is not prized, is not heavily sought after, and certainly is not venerated.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 01-02-2013 at 10:00 AM.
 
Old 01-02-2013, 05:57 PM   #2
unSpawn
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This thread too seems more suitable content for your LQ web log...
 
Old 01-03-2013, 09:46 AM   #3
sundialsvcs
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I know nothing about that facility. Hmmm...
 
Old 01-03-2013, 10:56 AM   #4
ntubski
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
It will never, ever, be the year for "the mobile app." Apps can be generated, certainly well-enough to meet the actual revenue-demand for them. And the price-point is forever fixed at a one-time payment of $1.00 or less ... and you can't "buy fries with that," even once.
Do you think build-your-own-app software is going to have more impact than build-your-own-website software?
 
Old 01-03-2013, 04:32 PM   #5
sundialsvcs
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Originally Posted by ntubski View Post
Do you think build-your-own-app software is going to have more impact than build-your-own-website software?
My gut-feeling is: "yes." But: it's different. It's not that the app has more impact than the website. It's that the website is, to the extent that it's not homogenized, simply banished.

People are throwing-away the notion of "a web site" in their drive to "get things done," which is all they really wanted to do from the beginning. They're throwing away "custom programming," too, along with their willingness to pay for it. After all, businesses know all about how to compete against other businesses who are equally able to do the same thing ... the market-difference being "we do it -er than they do."

It's a nasty two-stage knockout punch for the people who have based their careers on the notion that they are somehow the possessors of arcane but irreplaceable secrets. One incredibly-small company can now in a matter of days(!) deliver satisfactory results without spending ... without needing to spend ... a single thin dime on "custom" anything. Because the business requirement isn't really "custom" at all.

The mobile app has, virtually overnight, replaced the "website" because: people don't have to "search for" an icon underneath their thumb; they don't care which one they picked because none of them cost them anything, "as long as it works." They've found a direct path between their true need and a way to fill it ... and in so doing, they've obliterated the once-"unique," once-"arcane" jobs of .. .

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 01-03-2013 at 04:34 PM.
 
Old 01-04-2013, 10:13 PM   #6
Binary Mantis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
A very, very fundamental paradigm shift has occurred once again in your chosen industry, and it will very quickly mean, for a great many of you, that your job will disappear without replacement. (There's a country song about that, of course.) It will happen early, when you've got several decades of wage-earning time still to go and no way (at first blush ...) to earn them. I can tell you from personal experience right now that any Monster ad that's showing up right now for these once-prized "core" competencies will hit six or seven hundred resumes coming in for just one position, and it will only continue to get worse.

You're going to have to reinvent yourself, and you're going to have to do it in a world where your former technical wizardry is not prized, is not heavily sought after, and certainly is not venerated.
I think we're now living in a society where redeveloping our skill sets needs to become the norm. Changes happen so rapidly if we're not running to catch up the world will just spin from right out under our feet. It used to be that people went to school for several years to study their career choice and then worked in it for 40-50 years, maybe changing once if they felt they made a mistake. I think going to back to school every 5 years or so will become very common in the coming years.
 
Old 01-04-2013, 10:54 PM   #7
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I currently live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Its a run down town that once had a booming steel industry and now has fskall for jobs. I caught 2 criminal cases as a youth and had to "straiten up and fly right". So I did. I got a degree in electronics engineering and got myself a job operating ion implanters (particle accelerators) at one of the Intel factories in Arizona. When I started that job I told my co-workers that this place would be a ghost town in 20 years. It'll look just like Pittsburgh I said.

The last factory I worked at is closed forever. I'm now a cook at the Olive Garden.

Life's a bitch but I had a plan B so my family eats and has insurance.

Adapt and overcome.
 
Old 01-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #8
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What you are discussing is the "commoditization of everything". A number of science fiction writers have taken up the idea of what to do with people when industry no longer needs anyone to do anything. It's an interesting thought. To your point, I got into IT during the Golden Age leading up to the dot com bust. I could see where that path led and did what I could to keep my daughter out of the industry.

OTOH, Linux should be doing better than it is in the commercial environment if you're (we're) right, shouldn't it? I can understand the need for system and network admins, but it seems a little odd to also pay for an OS, word processing, and so on. Fancy new desktops only have so much value to a corporation. At some point, chasing the newest look can't have much value.
 
Old 01-07-2013, 09:17 AM   #9
sundialsvcs
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I suspect that Linux is doing quite well in the commercial environment: it is called Android. You don't administer anything, don't touch anything, use whatever it has on it, and get whatever you don't ... for free. Or maybe you pay $0.99 one time to buy a complete application with free updates forevermore. Companies don't buy computers and don't contract for custom software or extensive customization. "Time sharing" has quite abruptly become the new norm on the back-end, while a literally throw away machine is in the hand.

And what that means, for hundreds of thousands of people who had become quite accustomed to pulling down $120,000 a year and who regarded that with a smug sense of entitlement, is ... Olive Garden. Or worse. They don't need steamfitters anymore, nor people who know how to hammer a locomotive connecting-rod out of a steel billet, nor custom gunsmiths, nor people who know how to use PHP and AJAX to do anything at all.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 01-07-2013 at 09:18 AM.
 
Old 01-07-2013, 10:21 AM   #10
Quakeboy02
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No-one has to administer the network, setup mail systems, look after corporate security, stuff like that? It's been awhile since I've been in a corporate environment, but I'd be surprised if an IBM or an HP has such a cowboy approach to protecting their IP.
 
Old 01-07-2013, 01:55 PM   #11
linuxpokernut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
I suspect that Linux is doing quite well in the commercial environment: it is called Android. You don't administer anything, don't touch anything, use whatever it has on it, and get whatever you don't ... for free. Or maybe you pay $0.99 one time to buy a complete application with free updates forevermore. Companies don't buy computers and don't contract for custom software or extensive customization. "Time sharing" has quite abruptly become the new norm on the back-end, while a literally throw away machine is in the hand.

And what that means, for hundreds of thousands of people who had become quite accustomed to pulling down $120,000 a year and who regarded that with a smug sense of entitlement, is ... Olive Garden. Or worse. They don't need steamfitters anymore, nor people who know how to hammer a locomotive connecting-rod out of a steel billet, nor custom gunsmiths, nor people who know how to use PHP and AJAX to do anything at all.
Of course my ultimate point was if you pay the people admining the software double what you pay the people manufacturing the hardware, both industries can and will move overseas, leaving America completely out of the picture (comparing it to the steel/automotive industry). There is now phone support and a skeleton crew for IT departments.

That in turn reduces the entire world economy, because the number 1 consumer now has less power to consume (money).

Its a good thing for me most people aren't able to handle the stress of being a line cook I suppose.

Last edited by linuxpokernut; 01-07-2013 at 02:13 PM.
 
Old 01-07-2013, 04:50 PM   #12
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Change, adapt, survive. Who's to say some of my skills as an admin wouldn't work with cloud? The car may have replaced the horse but it could have been argued that there are more jobs post horse than before. The blacksmith now might use a welder, he still works with steel, still is in demand and probably still has more job security than you would like to admit. The gunsmith now does a weeks worth of work in 10 minutes with the push of a button on the CNC machine. With the confidence in our political environment can't run his CNC fast enough to keep up with demand.

Linuxpokernut may work for Olive Garden now, but that may just be a temporary position (or he may be quite happy and pulling down more money than you would expect). I worked for Novell supporting the Netware Client at one point, to say my employment opportunities are limited now and skills can't be learned is a rather pessimistic outlook.
 
Old 01-07-2013, 04:57 PM   #13
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Its a good thing for me most people aren't able to handle the stress of being a line cook I suppose.
Early in my work life I had someone tell me "The only form of job security is doing something no one else wants to do." Sometimes I wonder how close my job is to something else nobody else wants to do....
 
Old 01-07-2013, 05:59 PM   #14
sundialsvcs
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Early in my work life I had someone tell me "The only form of job security is doing something no one else wants to do." Sometimes I wonder how close my job is to something else nobody else wants to do....
I cordially suggest that you should be very seriously considering: "how close is my job to something that somebody else has already done?"

Look ... I've been in this very strange (and yet, endlessly captivating) business for thirty years now , and I always rolls with the punches because, heck, all of this is "just the latest twist" to me. I'm not trying to tell you all to just roll over and die. But, what I am saying is that "'the economy of scale' has just kicked-in with a vengeance." So, if you count yourself a skilled gun-smith, meet Eli Whitney. If you think you have a long future with the railroads because your skills have been in-demand for 150 years, your employer really only wants to haul freight.

So what I am saying here is: I am not "clueless" with regard to "where you're coming from." Quite the opposite ...

"The economy of scale" can be succinctly summed-up in pig-Latin: Actum Ne Agas: Do Not Do A Thing Already Done.

The essential question, therefore, is not whether-or-not the task at hand needs to be "done," but rather, whether-or-not it has already been, good 'enuf "done." And this just happens to be a profoundly important difference.

My 101-year old(!!) great-aunt just got an iPad. She stubbornly refused to have anything to do with PCs or Macs ... but it took her approximately 1.5 days to enthusiastically(!!) start to do what she (always) wanted to do with this device. As of now, you could not pry the thing out of her very-much-alive fingers. And the point here is not that she has somehow in her second century of life turned into an "Apple fanboy." No, the point is that the obstacles (which she never understood or therefore cared-about to begin with ...) have finally been removed.

The real point of "concern," though, goes beyond this: even though my great-aunt is now satisfied with regard to her surface interactions with computers, the same principle of "economy of scale" also goes infinitely deeper. There is, at whatever level you care to name, a nexus of common functionality that can be "dealt with but once, and by-the-way dealt with really well, and thereafter sold to X-million more-or-less identical business cases." No one, forevermore, is going to accept the notion that, in order to reach the Holy Grail Of (say...) E-Commerce, they must pay you to embark upon a Voyage of Discovery.

How long will it be before someone asks, "Why am I spending $X million a year to 'maintain my network security' when there are Y-hundred identical businesses, just in my own home town, who are doing the exact same thing?!"

And unfortunately ... it's an impossibly good question.

"Interchangeable parts are here." And, as it turns out, the US Army never needed "a gunsmith." They only needed "a gun."

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 01-07-2013 at 06:00 PM.
 
Old 01-08-2013, 03:14 PM   #15
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I cordially suggest that you should be very seriously considering: "how close is my job to something that somebody else has already done?"
I always worry about being replaced by a shell script You bring up some good points, the thought needs to be in everyone's mind "what do I do next?" Most computer jobs are not an end product, you are providing efficiency to someone else. The company you support goes out of business, gets swallowed by a larger competitor, decides to outsource your job, boss changes and doesn't like you, etc all will matter to your employment. If Cloud is able to achieve all the hype and they are able to outsource your job what do you do? I believe part of the whole equation is where you live, is the city/area you reside growing or in decay? What opportunities exist? You can be the best boat captain out there but if you live in Wendover Nevada, and aren't willing to leave, you might have trouble finding work.

Just some thoughts about cloud, Do you trust your provider? What security constraints are in place? What controls are in place? What happens when things go down? (don't kid yourself they go down). Does cloud give you any advantages over your competitors? Does cloud give you any disadvantages? What happens when performance isn't as expected? What is involved in moving to another provider? What if you want something the cloud provider is not offering? Does your current applications and processes fit in the cloud?

I've been to the Redhat summit, Oracle World, and IBM world and they all talk cloud, they all have a solution for you, private or public, they all want your money and it's all supposed to be click 3 buttons, get a coffee and it's all wonderful but not a single one of them goes into what happens to your existing infrastructure, nobody goes into cost, nobody goes into what you have to have to support cloud. Most of them have a hard time communicating what cloud is, it's just wonderful and all the cool kids are doing it so you should too. Delving deeper into their talk and confusion you start wondering am I already doing cloud? My servers are virtualized, applications can run and move between them, applications can scale, workloads can change, at what point am I in the private cloud? What are they trying to sell me that I don't already have? Is there a magical point where I can put cloud on my resume?

I guess in the end if the IT gods swallowed my job and spit me back into the world to do something else I'd look into being a machinist, similar thought process to many computer concepts. Seismology also has popped up on my radar, got a brother-in-law that wanders around the country driving expensive vehicles, rides in helicopters, drills holes in the ground and blows things up so all the data generated can go back to get analyzed to see if there is oil or gas under the ground. I don't have the body to be an underwear model anymore so that's out... who knows, I've been laid off before and it's possible to be laid off again.
 
  


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