It amuses me that millions of people can watch Bond movies and be amazed at the gadgets from Q division, then act horrified when they find out the NSA (and every fucker else) has 99 different ways to hack into a PC including embedding shit in VGA cables, USB cables, RJ45 ports, etc etc etc
It amuses me that so many people think you have said something profound and intelligent when you say “And Bill Gates walks into a Shanghai sneaker factory, and everyone is a millionaire, on average….” into a conversation about cost of living and inflation and average wages.
It amuses me that when people discuss distasteful stuff like paedophilia or incest or bestiality, they think that evil abusers + poor victims = 99% of all cases, and not just the 1% of all cases that were so unhappy about it they complained, when there is no particular real reason for only these crimes to be comprised only of abusers and victims, which doesn’t add up, for every other crime there is a whole milieu of activity that may well be criminal, but all the participants are quite happy to carry on partaking.
It amuses me that merely asking for a scientific proof of something before making a law criminalising everyone is equated to being either an apologist for that thing or worse still a believer in that thing.
It amuses me that at 14:07 hours someone can be quite happy to live in a certain place, talk to a certain person, buy a certain product, and at 14:08, though nothing FACTUAL has changed one iota, except that someone just got some extra data that they personally were not aware of before, they are no longer happy about anything.
It amuses me perhaps most of all that despite the fact that we now live in a 24/7 world of IT, and despite the fact that my job is field engineer, and my office is manned 24/7 and I am on call, the traditional 2 week fuck all happens Christmas and new year hiatus still applies, and January will be as dead as it always is in IT, when there is zero technical or physical reason for this seasonal hiatus, yet, when it is over, suddenly everything is going to be very very very urgent all over again.
I’ve spent that last couple of days talking to a couple of guys determined to better themselves, and to this end they are investing a considerable amount of their own time and own money to get Cisco and Microsoft certification.
So they turned to me, as someone actually earning money in this field, for my opinion, it wasn’t what they thought it would be, as inevitably you can’t discuss employment and salary without touching on the wider economy… but… here is what I told them.
At my level / role / position, you can’t really extrapolate to other roles / levels positions, sure, a full set of Cisco and MS certificates will be the kind of thing the guy pulling a solid high 5 low 6 digit salary will be holding, and sure, that guy will have forgotten more about such subjects than I will ever know, but….
You can’t say with any authority that having all those certs will guarantee you that sort of job at that sort of salary, but you can pretty much guarantee that if you do have (the full set) them, nobody is going to offer you MY job at MY pay scale, even if you were happy enough to take it.
So, despite it being the same field, that guy with all the certs, and me with decades of field experience, actually don’t have much in common, any more than the guy who fills the ATM at your local bank branch has in common with the regional accountant for that same bank.
At *my* level, I tend to see the same faults over and over and over again, do the job 12 months and you have probably seen them all at least once, that doesn’t really give you/me a good basis for assessing the value of the full set of certs, or the capabilities of someone with them… however….
Two other things that are not necessarily congruent are a body holding a full set of certs, and that same body actually having a functioning brain…. I have *literally* had conversations with people holding said certificates doing the remote while I am on-site, and I have had to repeat myself three fucking times to explain the concept of a fucking “air gap”, eg the cable ain’t plugged in / there is no electrical or data connection, ergo no data is going to pass between these two items, eg the thing you are talking about cannot fucking physically happen.
So of course the obvious parallels here are to our leaders, our bosses, our CEO’s, our bankers and economists and politicians.
They are all certificated up the wazoo too, but, we only notice the ones with the certification who can’t do the fucking job, because they have the certs but not a functioning brain.
I *do* come across those who have the certs *and* a functioning brain, in fact quite a lot of my fellow employees and colleagues fall into that category… but I recognise that I am in the minority in being able to say that, if I worked in retail for instance I would not be able to.
Which brings us back to our two chaps pursuing certification.
They are in place X career / employment wise, and they hope these bits of paper will put them in place Y career / employment wise, because, being brutally honest here, these are about the only options on the table.
Statistically speaking, they have as much chance of making it to that high 5 low 6 digit salary in a place Y career as they do of getting a job alongside me, but at least the path they are taking has an established procedure, the path I took looks like nothing more than random chance / luck / chaos theory at work.
Speaking factually, the guy who took a chance on me and gave me the job was worried, even after spending a couple of weeks at HQ boning up on their shit, because the only way he could asses me was to ask me a couple of questions, just like an exam, just like a cert…. and my answers were correct, but slow in coming, because I was running through them in detail before actually speaking.
Meanwhile the guy who has spent two weeks with me making sure I knew their shit told the other guy “he’ll be fine” – “you sure?” – “yup”
Which very very neatly highlights the problem with certs.
Cisco and MS particularly try to address this by making the exams *hard* as in you get hundreds of questions that cover all areas of everything, but then you get a vicious feedback cycle, and the tuition then becomes cramming and committing to memory type learning, rather than real understanding type learning.
So I will get guys who hold ALL the certs telling me that the noise, signal and attenuation numbers for the line, which are measures in dB, which is a logarithmic scale, don’t really matter, because the coursework is concerned with how for example a xDSL connection works in theory, but to understand that properly you have to understand the telecomms side of things and the cabling side of things to, which these certs don’t cover.
This started YEARS ago, I am one of the last few that experienced a secondary school eduction that featured “Chemistry” lessons, and “Physical Chemistry” lessons (ditto physics etc) where you actually went into the chemistry lab and attempted to replicate what you had learned from the books in the classroom based chemistry lessons.
I won’t even bother trying to number the amount of times or regularity with which I would sit there in the class just not getting any of the shit I was being taught, sure, I was hearing it, and could muddle through when coaxed by the teacher, but none of it was sinking in or making any proper sense, I wasn’t actually LEARNING…. then we would go to the lab, try and replicate that stuff physically, and suddenly it all just fell into place and made sense, made so much sense that my brain took it, processed it, and ran with it, so for example we were being taught at 13/14 about the various bonds and structures of the various forms of carbon (this was before buckminster) and it became obvious that these were like the tiles on a floor, great, but what happens at the edges, if you print all these out of paper and cut the paper in half you get all messy sticky out bits, aha, teacher says, surface chemistry, this is a whole other field of chemistry, go to university if you want to study THAT…
You see the problem here.
You end up with certificates up the wazoo types, which is a bit like those that persevered in classroom chemistry, they’re good, but there is little true knowledge and understanding. Ther can fire up the CAD workstation and simulators and design a car.
And the me types, haven’t got a (relevant to Cisco or MS) piece of paper to wipe my ass with, but, within the limited roles of responsibility that I have, eg a grease monkey for t’intertubez, I’m a good guy.
Nowhere is there an Issigonis, a Chapman, a Brunel, and more importantly, nowhere is there the kind of guy they would employ and work with on a day to day basis….
Which makes it really difficult, getting back to the two guys pursuing certs, to know what to say, or advise them, or even just how much truth in required when answering their questions… at what point does truth become non-helpful.
There are the territories knowledge and skill wise where I work now, I can’t go much higher, it gets rarefied real fast, and the level of effort I have to put in rises real fast, and the remuneration for all this extra effort and so on is not an up front deal, so where is the incentive, given I can live on what I earn now, and work basically fuck all,
Let’s take device X, call it a Cisco box.
One of the factors limiting the quantity and quality of certified guys available to connect to that box is your budget, that is pretty much as it has always been, but, it is now a global marketplace, if I want to start a new business ISP that always has 10 x CCNP + 2 x CCIE + 1 x CCT on 24/7 availability I can go out and hire that, and I don’t care if they are Chinese or Indian or Brazilian or Martian, except the ping times might make things difficult for the Martian.
It’s no big deal.
One of the other factors limiting the quantity and quality of certified guys available to connect to that box is the physical connection, there has to fucking be one.
If the box is dead swap it out or reflash the config or IOS, if it is a cable or switch issue again someone has to go onsite, and again ultimately if there is 3g coverage all you need is a guy with a 3g tethered laptop connected directly to device X, and some remote control software.
Yes, there are middle grounds, there are times when the ideal solution is to get a certified network security guy on-site with direct physical access to the switch layer, but these cases aren’t the bulk of it.
The bulk of it is the hands on guys on site need to be good enough all rounders, to ensure that the cubicle guys with all the certs can connect and do their thing.
Right there, it isn’t just a case of certification = salary any more, it is a case of do you wanna effectively be your own boss on the road every day to a different physical site, or do you wanna be a cubicle guy.
The potential employer has two good reasons not to give the guy with all the certs the field job, one, he is overqualified so will prolly walk for more money, and two, it is not exploiting his abilities in return for the maximum revenue for the company.
What do I tell these two guys, who clearly haven’t even considered being the red stapler guy in the cubicle in return for this high salary.
Which job is more resistant to both emerging technologies, eg cisco going from command line to just checking some radio boxes in a GUI, and virtualisation, eg not a physical router layer but a virtual one, and to the ongoing financial pressures of outsourcing?
Under certain circumstances, that 420 second ping to Mars vs the 0.15 second ping to Mumbai might not be a show stopper, if the Martian is willing to work for 10% of what the agency in Mumbai is asking.
Would the certified guys be willing to relocate to Mumbai and take a 90% drop in salary to keep their jobs?
You see, the other thing, because I tend to see the same shit over and over again, I get very good at it, the certified up the wazoo guy may spend 0.5% of his time coming across these issues, but I spend 90% of my time on them, so within a year *I* am the expert with the specific experience, and because we are only talking about that small sub-section of all that the certified up the wazoo guys know, it’s my specialist subject, and they think I am hot shit.
I get to shine….. without trying.
Big fish in a small pond…lol
You see why I think I have (while it lasts) a great job.
You see why trying to advise these two other guys is so difficult, and despite their ambitions, I do not envy them one bit.