Archive for March, 2011

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Low-Tech Tools for Your High-Tech Toys

Angus MacGyver could take seemingly insignificant every day items and combine them in such a way that he could foil any villain’s nefarious plans. All MacGyver needed to make a hang glider was a paperclip and a piece of tissue paper (okay, well maybe he needed more than that, but you get the point). If the show took place today, MacGyver would have a lot more tech tools at his disposal, but he’d still need some low-tech stuff to make it all work.


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Even though the technology we surround ourselves with is far and away more advanced than anything made 10 years ago, it’s still based on some pretty basic underpinnings. If you want to keep your gadgets functioning, your tool set may resemble the improvised tool set of an Army field medic more than that of a Star Trek character.

What would your luddite-like kit contain? Gather a paperclip, tweezers, tape, and assorted hand tools and it could easily look like a pile of junk. It turns out, though, that these very items are essential to keeping all of your gadgets running. Seeing these basic tools next to your high-tech toys is like seeing a ridiculously expensive Rolex timepiece with a Velcro strap. It’s a very odd combination, but it’s what works.

Without the right tools, your next repair may resemble an episode of MacGruber more than MacGyver. Find out which essential low-tech tools you should keep handy for your high-tech toys in our slideshow.

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Ipad Application Developers On Their Toes!

Apple iPad was launched in April 2010. And we are in October 2010; the iPad is just 7 months old, simple math! But it just doesn’t look like an older gadget. It hasn’t lost its charisma yet. Seems like it was launched yesterday itself. The fad over iPad is still burning hot and smoking. The stunning fully touch sensitive sleek glossy looking mini tablet PC has become everyone’s fetish and entered everyone’s gizmo wish-list. It has made everyone’s virtual experience fun on its rich 9.7 inch display. Its marvelous graphics leave one stupefied. This new craze of owning the iPad has indirectly benefited iPad application developers hugely in terms of revenue as the demand for newer, advanced applications is escalating on daily basis.


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The Apple iPad also holds the capacity to run iPod and iPhone applications on it smoothly. Probably another reason, why people went drooling over it, making it one of the most extraordinarily famous devices across the globe developed by Apple Inc. Later, came the area of dynamic and function rich applications developed for the world-famous tablet PC available for its owners, exciting them enough to ask for more.

Ipad users then started seeking applications for every little function. Therefore, the employees at iPad application development sector have been on their toes 24*7 to build, create, develop and market fresh applications in market. With the feature of getting customized applications easily made, most users also contact and hire iPad application developers for developing an application that suits their needs. Yet, one needs to be aware to pick the right candidate as their iPad application developer. If the wrong one is hired, you will not only be dissatisfied with the app but also lose your time, money and energy. Thereupon, hire someone who is experienced, professional, and skilled. Someone, who will understand your requisites and build an application matching them,. The benefits of hiring your personal application developer are that the programmer will dedicatedly work only on your project; you have to make no other investment but that of the development and get full support in return.

Hiring a developer from an outsourcing company may also be considered. As programmers of outsourcing companies have all the capabilities, understand and overcome complexities, offer professional services with guaranteed quality and provide deliveries on time. You will hardly get this kind of professionalism from any other iPad application programmer. And with the constant competition to survive in market, developers at an outsourcing company make sure they stay up-to-date with all the advancements taking place in the sector.

EBay Buys GSI Commerce for $2.4B

EBay on Monday announced plans to buy e-commerce company GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion.

The move will help it better compete against traditional e-commerce sites like Amazon as eBay moves away from its online auction roots.

“We intend to lead the next generation of commerce innovation. The acquisition of GSI, which offers the most comprehensive integrated suite of online commerce and interactive marketing services available, will significantly strengthen our ability to connect buyers and sellers worldwide,” John Donahoe, eBay president and CEO, said in a statement. “Combined with eBay Marketplaces and PayPal, we believe GSI will enhance our position as the leading strategic global commerce partner of choice for retailers and brands of all sizes.”


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The combination of eBay, PayPal, and GSI will create “new ways for retailers and brands of all sizes – from sole proprietors to large merchants – to drive innovation, engage customers and help people shop anytime, anywhere and on any device,” Donahoe said.

As part of the deal, eBay will sell off 100 percent of GSI’s licensed sports merchandise business and 70 percent its ShopRunner and Rue La La business because “these businesses are not core to its long-term growth strategy,” eBay said.

“These assets will be sold to a newly formed holding company, which will be led by GSI founder and CEO Michael Rubin,” according to eBay.

EBay will loan that holding company $467 million and retain a 30 percent stake in Rue La La and ShopRunner.

EBay said the deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

In December, eBay acquired online German shopping club brands4friends for about $200 million.

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How Students Use Technology to Cheat

Academic dishonesty—ahem, cheating—has only gotten easier in the digital age. Students have Wolfram Alpha, Google, and crowdsourced question-and-answer sites like Quora at their fingertips. Students have cameras on their phones that let them take pictures of a test in an instant. Even Microsoft Word has built-in functionality that helps them game the system.


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On the flip side are teachers, who are using their technological know-how (and sometimes just their common sense) to catch students who try to cheat. Tech-savvy professors, younger teachers, and instructors with online social lives don’t have much trouble keeping up with all the ways students use the Internet and mobile devices to try and cheat. It’s happening both in traditional face-to-face classrooms and in online distance education or e-learning programs, where instructors have to be even more vigilant and tech-savvy about proctoring exams, verifying IP addresses, and monitoring how and when work is submitted.

There’s an old saying that students who cheat in their academic work are only cheating themselves. Today’s professors still largely agree with this statement, with one telling me that it’s like weight-training: “I can give them the information and I can coach them through the process, but if they don’t put in the work, they will never see results.”

Several college students confessed to me how they or their friends are pulling a fast one on their teachers. But after talking to even more professors than students, I’ve found there’s little that’s actually getting past them. Page through our slideshow to see the top 10 ways students are cheating today, and how their professors are catching them.

10 alternative careers for burned-out IT workers

So you’re thinking about leaving IT — but you’re not sure what to do instead. Here are a few alternative fields where you might be able to use your talents in more satisfying ways.

I recently wrote an article that caused a bit of a stir. That article, 10 reasons for quitting IT, brought to my inbox an onslaught of email agreeing with my reasons and/or asking for advice on where to turn. After giving it some thought, I decided I would take a stab at a follow-up article to try to address the question “What should I do instead?” Here are a few possible alternative career choices for admins and consultants wanting to get out of IT.

Some of these ideas might make perfect sense, whereas others might make you say, “Huh?” Either way, look at them as suggestions that are related to your current field — which you may or may not have already thought about. The relation to IT might be a bit of a stretch in some cases, but for others it will be quite obvious.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Auto repair
This might sound a bit crazy, but modern vehicles more and more depend upon computers. In fact, without the computer at its core, the modern vehicle wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of what it does. From emission control to hybrid power to brake control, automobiles depend upon computers. These computers are nothing more than embedded systems that depend upon another computer to troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair them. And since most IT admins and consultants love the thrill of fixing things, becoming an automobile technician makes perfect sense. Granted, you will need to get the proper training to make this leap.


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2: Teaching
The educational system does not have enough good teachers willing to go the extra mile to help future IT pros understand the career they are about to embark on. Does that mean you should step into education so you can beat it into your students’ heads that they will suffer immeasurable frustration during their career as a consultant or administrator? No. It does mean, however, that you can prepare them for the challenging road that lies ahead. And many of you will certainly understand how much difference it would have made in your lives if someone had helped prepare you for the challenges you have faced.

3: Working for a smaller company
If you’re unwilling to completely leave the field of IT, you could step down from that fortune 500 position and join a much smaller company. Having a much smaller network to deal with, few computers, and users who don’t have that same attitude toward you will remove a world of suffering from your shoulders. You could even step into the not-for-profit world and really feel wanted and loved. Although the NFP field has its own set of headaches, they aren’t nearly as intense as they can be in the upper echelons of capitalism.

4: Architecture
This is another career that would require more education. However, you like numbers. You like the order and design of the world around you. And you could learn CAD more quickly than you learned subnetting. Architecture is one of those fields where the sky could literally be the limit. You could spend some time in the great outdoors, you would be using the numbers you love so dearly, you would have a modicum of control over your own fate (perhaps being self-employed), and you wouldn’t have to deal with downed networks, fail-over, end-users, and lazy programmers.

5: Programming
You’ve spent years dealing with bugs, bug squashing, and software in general, so why not join the developer ranks and start coding yourself? Most of the programmers I know are good, although quirky, people. Some of them live singular, solitary lives, work long hours, and are dedicated to what they do. The biggest difference between programmers and admins/consultants? Programmers’ stress and headaches are specific in nature and tend to involve only one or two major problems (code won’t compile, features need to be added, etc.). Now I won’t kid you into thinking that programming will be an easier, less stressful route than consulting or administration. But you won’t have to deal with the avalanche of problems coming from nearly every corner of every building you walk into.

6: Writing
One of the biggest downfalls in the world of computer software and hardware is its documentation. Because software and hardware are ever-evolving markets, the minute you put out a book or manual, it’s out of date. That means those manuals must always be updated, renewed, refreshed. Take those skills of yours and build a brand for yourself. Write the manual for a piece of software, hardware, or protocol. Or find a blog to write for. There are millions upon millions of computer users out there, and most of them have no idea what they are doing. The world needs good writers of computer manuals and how-tos, because we know the manufacturers aren’t creating these documents.

7: Management
Not that you would ever see me working the management side of the coin, but this field is a good fit for a lot of administrators and consultants. This is especially true for consultants who have had to run their small shop or one-man show and keep the ball rolling. Those types have the necessary marketing, management, and communication skills necessary for management. But understand this: You will be trading one set of headaches for another.

8: Research and development
Companies thrive on research, and that includes tech companies. What R&D departments don’t need are people who have no idea what they are talking about. As an administrator or consultant you have been out in the trenches. You know how things do work versus how they should work. You are fully aware of the real-world needs versus the company-created needs. A voice like yours could be of incredible value to a company creating the next big thing in IT. Of course R&D tends to live only in bigger companies, so you would have to make your way though the mounds of resumes already piling up on the HR desks. Figure that out, and you might have a perfect match.

9: Cosmetology
I know, I know. This one might seem crazy on the surface, but give it a chance. First, there is an elegant mathematic to the art of hair design. I did a short stint in the field and really enjoyed it. Not only are you dealing with real people with real issues (some issues a bit bigger than others), but you see instant results when you are done. There is no sitting around and waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you (as is inevitable in IT and consulting) no dealing with budgetary constraints or security holes, no horrific hours, and no cloud!

10: Farming
I couldn’t resist. Based on the amount of readers who truly wanted to pull way back to their “roots” and be farmers, this seemed like the perfect way to end this piece. Farming might well be one of the single most rewarding professions in the history of professions. Yes, it’s hard work, yes there is very little money to be made. But man, is it a good way to reclaim yourself. Digging in the dirt, creating the very things that sustain life… what more could you ask for? If you choose to go this route, I would highly recommend you bank a nice nest egg first, because you won’t get rich off the fat of the land. Your soul might, but your bank account? Not so much.

Taking a break
Naturally these ideas are all subjective, but everyone has a skill other than IT they can bank on. Even if it’s not the most marketable, profitable, or manageable skill known to man, you have something you can turn to when IT or consulting loses its luster. And who knows, maybe a break from the field is all you need. Go be a farmer for a few years and then, if you need to, come back to IT. Don’t worry — admin and consulting work will still be here. You’ll probably have to play a massive game of catch-up, but you’ll get back into the race more quickly than you think.

Other alternative professions?
This is a just short list of possibilities, but there are plenty more. What other careers do you think might be well suited for those who are thinking about leaving IT? Have you ever switched fields only to return to a tech job? Share your thoughts in the discussion.

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Our 2011 salary survey IT compensation is down but not out

For the fourth straight year, TechRepublic has partnered with training provider Global Knowledge to conduct one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of IT professionals. As always, our goal is to measure the current state of IT compensation, job satisfaction, and the development of important skills. The result is our 2011 IT Skills And Salary Report, which is available as a free PDF download for TechRepublic members (registration required).


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This year’s survey reflects the fact that the global economy is seeing uneven job growth and recovery, as the average salary of the 12,000 IT professionals we surveyed was $79,579 — down 3.2% from our 2010 survey ($82,115). At the same time, most of the different types of benefits — from PTO to health insurance to 401k — were also down a few percentage points from 2010.

However, it’s also important to keep these decreases in perspective. The average salary is still up 8% from our 2008 survey ($73,900). In terms of benefits, many of those (especially health care) took a jump in 2010, so they may just be settling down a little bit from those leaps.

There’s also a lot more information in this survey beyond just the big compensation numbers (right). Some of the highlights include:

* Salary by primary job function
* Salary by job role
* Salary by industry
* Salary by region
* Salary by certification
* Job satisfaction stats and details
* Stats on promotions
* Correlation between training/certification and salary
* Feelings about current compensation level

As you look at the data in our 2011 survey, remember that salaries vary greatly based on industry, geography, and especially the number of years on the job. Basically, that means that some of you are going to compare yourselves to the averages in this report and be disappointed. However, before you go demanding a raise from your boss, make sure you network with some other IT pros in your area to get a better idea of what the going rates are in your local market.

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