Tuesday, December 30, 2008

livin the tech life

I'm tell'n ya, sometimes it's sweet and sometimes it's sweat. The tech life depends upon your point of view and your training. As Linuxville is not the most popular destination it takes on the persona of a resort town. There are seasons of crowds and seasons of emptiness. Linux is great on the server as most system admin will attest, but on the desktop Linux is still suspect. Actually the big difference between Linux on the server and desktop is the purpose and the GUI. Linux as a desktop has not filtered down into the majority of the computing public of users. Typically most PC users are Microsoft Windows oriented. Some know of Linux, most have no clue. If you have a PC powered by Linux, you just can't go to your local PC shop and ask for help. Chances are they have no experience with the Linux desktop. It is a pretty common occurrence. It is no different for home PC users or business users. All the problems that typical users have with their PC's or networks require a MS oriented technician to fix it. If you follow the logic, there is a synergy type relationship between the short comings of MS Windows and the technicians needed to fix them.

What about Linux based techie's?? The hardware part is the same no matter the OS, but Linux is.........well don't try it because if you get use to it, you will be spoiled. Seems once I set Linux up I don't have to mess with it for long stretches of time. I tend to forget what I did or how. If I had a continual practice of tweaking and fixing like I had with MS Windows I would be good at fixing. All my friends plus the jobs I seek have MS Windows PCs'. How can you ever get good at supporting Linux? Also seems Linux doesn't need that much fixing (once set up).

In the MS side of the PC world you can aspire to be a system admin, or user support tech. In the Linux world, system admin is the thing, you do it all (fewer users). That leaves software support and there is so much software out there. Business software is one thing and popular general use software is another. It can be difficult to place yourself to get exposure and training and experience. The reality is that you can't do or know it all. A greater problem is that you may not like the more needful and well paying tech work available around you. I think I fall into this category. After 24 years of electrical drafting I don't think of selling my soul to learn the depths of a new profession in PC support as a younger person might. I am a tad bit selective choosing not to constantly break new ground. So, I stay with what I am familiar with; CAD, graphics, open source software for general use,PC break/fix, desktop support, the Linux experience, and some MS Windows stuff.

My biggest hurdle is getting enough experience to hone my computer skills and make the work flow techniques to troubleshoot problems second nature. Some techs have a memory for facts, methods and experiences. This is a great value to techs. My dad could listen to a car, almost know what's wrong with it. Experience is big. A huge problem to techs is ego. A big self is not good for any situation or relationship. A little tempering makes for good business. Don't turn dependence upon your skills into a worship session. You should appreciate that folks rely on you, instead of that better person lurking in the wings. Don't you know there is always someone better!!

I think the human drive for perfection, excellence, and experts is over emphasized. Most of us reside between average and very intelligent. Many, many people hold this concept, in spite of our networks, being able to google for solutions, and think tank with peers. We still want go-to-people, gurus, prodigies and know-it-alls. This one person solution results in one thing, stress. To endure stress, work well under pressure, pays very well. To be skillful and under the constant squeeze makes you a star. Careful even the sun won't burn forever!

The user side of the tech life in Linuxville is still under development. Everything is in place, just needs users to use it. Not having a marketing machine behind it means folks are not worried about profits in the next quarter or risking the farm or bilking the investors. It is truly amazing Linux and open source software exist. Success here is measured in convinced and appreciating users not figs on the spreadsheet. Of course if Linuxville was filled with perm residences instead if vacationers my income would be a little better. Yet, I appreciate all who are curious and adventurious, come by, come in, Linuxville will always be open.

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