Monthly Archives: June 2005

IT – Use the Force

  • NYTimes: Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out (Neal Stephenson)Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out.  If the “Star Wars” movies are remembered a century from now, it’ll be because they are such exact parables for this state of affairs. Young people in other countries will watch them in classrooms as an answer to the question: Whatever became of that big rich country that used to buy the stuff we make? The answer: It went the way of the old Republic.

While IT people already think of themselves as the Jedi of the world, a big part of the reason students are shunning tech fields is because of the lack of entry level jobs.  As the US outsources tech jobs to other countries, more experienced tech workers are forced to take lower pay and do more work.  Students in college see the low level of jobs and look elsewhere for a degree.

I think there is also a prevalent notion that every IT job is the same and that IT people are replaceable by each other.  If you know networks, you know programming and desktop support.  While IT fields are related by their platform (computers), they should be thought of as similar to medical specialities.  If you have a brain tumor, you want a neurologist to help you, not a general practioner or a heart specialist.  Since people view IT people as interchangeable, they think they can have fewer of them to do more varied work at less pay (because IT knowledge isn’t seen as valuable).

Creationism – An Excuse to Be Lazy

  • Richard Dawkins – Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorantThe creationists’ fondness for “gaps” in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.

The rise of this Creationism/Intelligent Design theory really bothers me – not that it is out there, because I think it always has been, but the fact that it has actually impacted the circulum at some schools.  Public schools are funded by public money and should teach issues which are based in the educational process which has been around since Socrates.  Our country was founded on the principle of freeedom of religion and separation of church and state, yet many want to ignore theese freedoms if they apply to their own agendas.  Teaching a religioiusly based theory (and I use the word theory lightly) in public schools puts children who are not of that belief system in a difficult place.  Using public funds to do so is even more of a travesty.  If you want to teach this to your kids, do it yourself, outside of school, and esspecially outside of a science class.

Vignette v7 Infrastructure

We have an HP MSA 500 as a storage array connected to windows fileserver, the VCM, and the Oracle Database server via SCSI.  The VCM is also connected to the fileserver and the database via a gigabit ethernet connection.  A cluster of Java application servers sit connected to the VCM and fileserver.  In front of the App Servers are the Windows 2003 web servers.  We have the ability to add more web or application servers as needed to increase performance.  The network these servers is on is gigabit and they are protected from the Internet by a Cisco firewall.

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Vignette v7 VCM Install

We have completed the Vignette infrastructure plan and the Vignette v7 VCM (Vignette Content Management) installation.  I am fairly pleased with the infrastructure so far, but the VCM installation doesn’t look as good as it initially did.  As we’ve been designing the CDA (Content Delivery Application) system, we’ve noticed that the consulting company was not as careful in their design as they should have been.  Especially considering our lack of experience with the product and our reliance on their recommendations.  There were some indicators as we were proceeding through the project, but we had to forge on since we didn’t have the time to learn how to do the project ourselves.  The most glaring problem is the lack of robustness in the content types they set up – they don’t even allow the basic functionality we had under v6.

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