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Old 2008-03-19, 07:25   Link #21
SeijiSensei
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I had a small manufacturing company as a client who had bought a complete system to handle the entire process from taking orders to making the products. The developers had nagged us to upgrade the server software and claimed we couldn't take advantage of some new, and desired, features in the system without the upgrade.

They proposed upgrading the production server that controlled the manufacturing arm of the business over a weekend. I balked and told my client that we needed to give them another box to install it on and test it out. Of course, the software developers reassured my client that they could easily accomplish their tasks over a weekend. My client took my advice; getting the prototype server up and running ended up taking two weeks.

I justified my entire year's consulting fees and then some on the basis of this decision alone, as the alternative would have been two weeks of no revenue. I didn't need any certification to know what made sense and what didn't in this case.

I don't have any certs, and at my age I'm not going to get any either .
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Old 2008-03-19, 23:53   Link #22
Kyuusai
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hobbes_fan, what kind of experience/skillset do you have now? Not just professional practice, but personally. Some insight on what you want out of a job and why you're wanting to switch to this field might also be helpful.

That might make a difference in what other recommendations we could make, in terms of studying, gaining further experience, and effective training.

Now, speaking of training and experience, it's time I hit the books, myself.
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Old 2008-03-20, 00:06   Link #23
grey_moon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
Now, speaking of training and experience, it's time I hit the books, myself.
hee hee tbh I always hit the books if I haven't done something for a while or doing it for the first time. Nothing more horrible then the sinking feeling of something going wrong because of over confidence. I tend to do stuff in test enviros first so I catch myself.

My main rule is document, document, document....

Some people keep saying that I'm shooting myself in the foot as it makes me easy to replace, but I say if I do my job well I should be easy to replace, but my bosses would never want to replace me!
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Old 2008-03-20, 00:23   Link #24
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grey_moon View Post
hee hee tbh I always hit the books if I haven't done something for a while or doing it for the first time. Nothing more horrible then the sinking feeling of something going wrong because of over confidence. I tend to do stuff in test enviros first so I catch myself.
Dangit, if I'd known that it was set up the way it was I would have read up on it.
I'm a big believer in testing first, but it wasn't applicable in this case, as I was making routine additions to the live network and just missed a piece I didn't know existed. Still should have caught it, but mistakes happen (Heck, my boss is impressed that I was able to do it at all, so I guess I'm still ahead).

Quote:
Originally Posted by grey_moon View Post
My main rule is document, document, document....

Some people keep saying that I'm shooting myself in the foot as it makes me easy to replace, but I say if I do my job well I should be easy to replace, but my bosses would never want to replace me!
Amen to that. Documentation is one of the main things missing from my predecessor's work, and I've lost countless hours back-tracking (in his defense, though, I clearly saw that he was overworked and hadn't the time to do it right).

Documentation makes you more replaceable, yes, but dangit, this is modern IT. Rotation happens all the time. Unlike most, my company will likely never desire to get rid of me, but I'm certainly not staying there forever. I can't do the disservice of declining to document to my employer or my successor. I operate on the "hit by a bus principle": If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, would they be able to figure things out fast enough to continue business as usual? I expect the same of my co-workers.

And heck, if a job grows large enough you might need your own documentation to keep up. The a** you save could be your own!
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Old 2008-03-20, 01:59   Link #25
grey_moon
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Opps I forgot to tie my documentation rant into the topic. If you do something in practice depending on the subject you will learn a great deal of it. Some things like subnetting you will learn ~ 70% of examinable stuff (hey the 30% is learning how to quickly check your numbers under pressure without a calc), but others like TCP/IP protocol you will learn about 2% ().

By documenting what you have done so that another person can easily understand and pick up from where you left off, you should find yourself learning a lot more then what you would normally use. Kinda like how by teaching you learn more yourself.
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Old 2008-03-20, 05:52   Link #26
Furuno
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Hmm i don't know too much about networking and how it is in another country. Anyway i agre to the other people that say that certs is the easiest way for the HRD to know about your skill. I know certs won't really represent that cert holder abilities but, like Phantom-Takaya said two reasons. "Common" people won't understand it even if you explained the whole thing to them.

For example, a SCJP simply tell those people that you can create some application with Java.

In my country, the situation is kinda like this :
Degree > Certs/Exp.
It's all degree in my country. However in here, "friendliness" factor also comes into count. If you have a good reputation with somebody in the higher-ups. It's most likely you'll be hired regardless of the other thing. I've been freelancing all this time only by relying on my reputation since i don't have any degree or certs yet.

Fortunately, in my college course, they included two certification program. For those prefer software engineer will be granted (of course after passing the test) SCJP and MCPD. I don't know what they'll get in network engineer course tough...
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Old 2008-03-20, 07:53   Link #27
Vexx
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Pardon me while I cringe a bit ove the use of the word "engineer" to describe those two programming certs..... okay, carry on (that's a whole different topic).
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Old 2008-03-20, 11:38   Link #28
hobbes_fan
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see I really don't want to go to university again. I've done my 4 years of being broke, eating instant noodles almost daily, and having barely enough money for petrol for the car. With a mortgage and stuff I can;t afford to invest another 4 years of study and no income. I'm prepared to go entry level positions again and ideally that's what I'm hoping these certs will open up those doors to enry level T positions as the change will be refreshing and the average entry level position pay I can still live a normal existence.
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Old 2008-03-20, 14:04   Link #29
Vexx
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And that's an *excellent* reason to seek certification as the working fields of value evolve.
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Old 2008-03-20, 20:00   Link #30
Ledgem
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On the subjects of documentation, what do you guys recommend? I need to document the processes for my current multimedia work. The documentation is expected to include a brief tutorial on the usage of the programs and the overall workflow. Since I've tied a lot of hardware together and the grid computing software is rather finnicky I also feel that it'd be worth documenting how to maintain that.

In my opinion it's important to document and include an explanation of what's going on, so that the reader can gain an understanding of what's going on. That understanding could also help them to troubleshoot something that you didn't account for or didn't document. However, my boss wants the documentation to be simple and light (as he put it, something a fifth grader could understand). I'm considering making two versions, a simple directions document and an explanation-intensive version, or just including the explanation in a smaller text size... or should I just go with their request and not even bother to add in the explanations?
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Old 2008-03-20, 20:26   Link #31
Furuno
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As for documentation (oh yeah, i HATE documenting my work), i'd prefer to make an easy to understand docs rather than the explanation-intensive one. Well, at least you have to explain about what's going on a little bit but i think you should avoid technical words that "common" people will likely unable to understand. For example, rather than saying "node" you'll say "computer" or else...

Easy docs also easy on me too...

But if your superior asks you for a certain type of docs, then i think you should go with that...
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Old 2008-03-20, 21:06   Link #32
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
On the subjects of documentation, what do you guys recommend? I need to document the processes for my current multimedia work. The documentation is expected to include a brief tutorial on the usage of the programs and the overall workflow. Since I've tied a lot of hardware together and the grid computing software is rather finnicky I also feel that it'd be worth documenting how to maintain that.

In my opinion it's important to document and include an explanation of what's going on, so that the reader can gain an understanding of what's going on. That understanding could also help them to troubleshoot something that you didn't account for or didn't document. However, my boss wants the documentation to be simple and light (as he put it, something a fifth grader could understand). I'm considering making two versions, a simple directions document and an explanation-intensive version, or just including the explanation in a smaller text size... or should I just go with their request and not even bother to add in the explanations?
When management wants something that's different than what's needed... so long as they don't conflict, I do both. If you're the only one who knows how to do it, then you're being paid to be the expert, and in your expert opinion you need to document in in more depth. Placate your boss while doing the right thing, and it won't be painful for him to say you were right when he realizes it later.

I've found that documenting things on simple hyperlinked pages can make it easy to integrate a simple overview with "buried" detailed data and instructions to prevent the amount of content scaring off some one who is frightened by large amounts of information. Toward that end, I use MediaWiki for internal documentation, and it makes life MUCH easier.
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Old 2008-03-21, 17:59   Link #33
Epyon9283
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Documentation is a (dreaded) part of my job. I'm 100+ pages into writing a test plan. Its painfully boring work.
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Old 2008-03-23, 03:58   Link #34
grey_moon
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@hobbes_fan - I'd only do it if your work will sponsor you to do it part time and give you time off to study under pay. Imagine 6 to 9k GBP for the yearly course fees, ~4 to 8 weeks additional leave. No tax, now for a normal wage person, I call that a pretty decent bonus...

@Ledgem - Have you considered using a wiki or a CMS like Joomla with a document management module?
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Old 2008-03-23, 13:37   Link #35
Ledgem
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An offline wiki would probably be a good way to go about it although I'm not sure how to set one up (and my HTML skills aren't much beyond swiping code from other webpages and making relatively minor modifications). But Wiki coding is open source/free, isn't it? Perhaps that'd be the way to do things.

I'm not sure how to use CMS files as my web browsers open them as if they were code, so maybe they should be avoided. Never heard of Joomla, but perhaps I'll check it out.
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Old 2008-03-23, 14:30   Link #36
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I'd avoid joomla. There are a ton of security issues with it. I tried setting up mediawiki once at work but gave up after the reason for setting it up disappeared.
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Old 2008-03-23, 20:26   Link #37
Furuno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epyon9283 View Post
I'd avoid joomla. There are a ton of security issues with it. I tried setting up mediawiki once at work but gave up after the reason for setting it up disappeared.
Definitely agree. I've seen a lot of site with that Joomla icon that have been massively spammed everywhere.

But, since if it's only for internal offline documentation, might worth a try.
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Old 2008-03-24, 13:58   Link #38
Ledgem
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I've started looking into setting up wikis and it seems like there are quite a few ways to go about it. Does anyone have a preferred program, service, or method? So far I've stumbled across Deki Wiki but haven't installed it yet, as I'm not a fan of installing random programs and having them gum up my system. Aside from packaging the file into a ZIP archive I presume there's no way to have multiple Wiki pages stored in a single file (like a .mht) and be openly accessible through virtually any web browser, so I'll have to have multiple HTML files in a folder. Does anyone know of a program or Wiki manager that allows for pages to be created offline? (I'll test with Deki in a virtual machine, I suppose)

edit: Deki Wiki is rather interesting; the installer is actually a virtual machine (VMware type). Incredibly, that 295 MB installation zip unpacks into a 1.11 GB system! It's based on Debian is configured by your host OS through a web browser. That's incredibly unique and a cool showing of potential uses for virtual machines. You could install the source yourself, but this way you have an entire Wiki server set up and essentially preconfigured. The VM is set to have a bridged net connection, meaning that it takes on its own IP - other systems see it as its own computer. Beautiful. (And of course, I'm enamored by virtual machines so this is even funner.)

The only problem seems to be that the Wiki can't be taken offline and it requires that the virtual machine be running. That wouldn't be a huge issue except that it requires a host with an x86 processor, while nearly all of my work machines are RISC-based. Even though VMWare Server is free, requiring people to get that and set it up instead of being able to just send them the documentation might be asking too much. I could easily run the Wiki from my one x86 system but in the event that the network is taken down I don't want to have the process of simply accessing the documentation be too difficult in itself. That kind of defeats the purpose of it.

It also loses points because it apparently doesn't support Opera. (BOOOOO!) It also doesn't seem to support Safari just yet, only IE and FireFox (although Konqueror didn't seem to have any issues). The support seems dependent on something called Xinha, and Xinha doesn't support Safari or Opera yet. Looks like I'll have to edit the Wiki through my other VMs.

Edit2: Deki Wiki allows you to save pages as PDFs (accessible by using the "print" buttons that are inserted in the Wikis). That would satisfy my desire to have an offline version of the Wiki. I think it'll be workable!
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