Thursday, 21 May 2009

Career Changes

I've been in the IT gig for 12 years now. I've seen the changes in the way computers are used, their prominence in business and at home change immensely. I started using Netscape Navigator to browse the net when a 14.4kbps modem was high speed and saw ADSL 2+ hit our humble homes (not to mention cable and everything else!). But now I feel it's time for a change.

But change to do what? This is where I find myself at the moment - caught in a quandry between what I already do and am not happy about, and knowing I want to do something different but having no idea about what I want to do. Whatever I do I'll be successful in - I'm not concerned about that. I'm more just confused - as if there are too many options out there for me to choose. I recently re-read Steve Pavlina's blog <- specifically that post there - How to Discover your Life's purpose in 20 minutes. I haven't gone through the exercise yet, but I have every intention to - well once I'm somewhere quiet and peaceful where people won't see me cry :-)

Because I've been thinking about this a fair bit, I've noticed there are people around me who feel the same way, yet refuse to do anything about it. They are putting up with an unsatisfactory and lame occupation that brings them no joy and certainly no meaning to their lives. Why bother I think to myself - and ask them when I have the occasion. It's like being in a relationship which is completely unsatisfactory - where one or both partners are not happy and the synergy between the couple is broken. The synergy between myself and IT is broken. I no longer want to fix computers/servers/networks. 

So what do I want to do? There are many wonderful tools out there for trying to decide what to do with your life. I've been trying them out - looking for something that will help me discover the underlying desire I have for my life. Ideally I'd like something with appointments or some sort of pattern to it. Currently things happen in a very laissez-faire sort  of way that I find annoying and unfulfilling (in addition to the actual tasks I'm performing).

One of the tools I'm going to use is very simply to write what down what I enjoy - what I'm interested in and what I think there is a market for. No point doing something that I won't get paid for - even as my own boss I want to have a certain income at any point and I think that's important too. Understanding my own worth is something that I have to work on - how many of you out there know how much you are worth? My experience has been that most people settle for less. Those that have an exact understanding of what they are worth are often seen as arrogant or demanding and potentially they are both at times. There are, naturally, those folks who take it to the next level and are kidding themselves. But there are a *lot* of people being paid vast sums of money for what they do so why shouldn't we want what we're worth? It's crazy not to.

I'll keep you updated with my progress on this - it's going to be an interesting ride. Let me note for the record too, that I'm very grateful for the work I have right now - without it life would be even more challenging!

Windows 7 RC - ongoing thoughts

I've been playing with 7 for a few weeks now and I have to say, I'm both impressed and annoyed by it! Odd in a way, but here is the reason for such a strange dichotomy. It's notably faster than Vista and handles pretty well. The crappy PC I'm testing it on runs smoothly and is usable for my daily tasks which is terrific. It has given the box a new lease on life and the only cost has been an upgraded video card. The driver support so far has been good and everything works.

Now for the bad - I recently joined the system to my Windows Server 2008 based domain and the log on time - from boot to three finger salute and login blew out enormously. I checked a variety of things that it might have been - often I find that DNS issues cause slow downs here, but my DHCP assigned IP addresses use my 2008 server as their primary DNS server so it isn't that. The system is on a gig network, and both server and client have gig networking cards in it. At first I thought it was only initial log in problems, but I have now come to realise that it does it *every* time. As I started a deeper investigation the hard disk that the system resided on failed which throws yet another variable into the mix. I'm yet to add the system back to the domain.

After the re-install (which has worked flawlessly) the system has run very smoothly and I'm very happy with it. I look forward to further updates for Windows 7 - particularly flash which doesn't seem to work. Software I'm using successfully with it includes Microsoft Office 2007, latest Firefox and Chrome and Adobe Reader. The interface is quite nice - I have the Aero effects on my crappy PC still handles it pretty well. Turning them off does give a noticeable speed increase. I look forward to putting it onto a more powerful system and seeing what it can really do.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Windows 7 RC - First Thoughts

Being a Technet Direct member is a great thing. I downloaded Windows 7 RC yesterday, burned it to a DVD and then started encountering difficulties. My test machine is a whitebox Celeron 2400 with 2GB of DDR RAM and 3 Western Digital hard disks. This wasn't the problem. The onboard video card and network card are, however. The initial installation of 7 blanked out as it booted - the LCD monitor I have was unable to display the horizontal resolution so it turned off. Eventually I got to a point where I could see stuff and I installed Windows 7.

After installation, the same problem occurred - no video. So I plugged my PC into a venerable 17" CRT monitor and I was able to see things on the screen. Unfortunately, after changing the video settings, the damn thing did exactly the same thing again when I plugged it back into the LCD. So I found myself an NVidia GX5500 or something similar - nothing special but does the job. So I can see Windows 7 in all it's glory, except that it doesn't recognise the onboard NIC so I replaced that too. Yay! Now I have networking. Time to use this baby for some actual stuff - better install Office 2007.

Part way through the installation - BSOD. Gone. Unrecoverable error. Reboot - same thing. After several tries I gave up and re-installed the system. We'll see how it goes this time :-)

On the plus side, Windows 7 is much quicker than Vista could ever hope to be. I mean, it's actually usable on a Celeron 2400! Resident memory usage is quite low, under 500MB which leaves plenty for actual software to run! Exciting I know. Further updates to follow once I get it re-installed.