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Your Information Technology Career: Beware The Comfort Zone

I’ve seen it happen time and again to programmers, network engineers and administrators, and other IT personnel.   They get a solid IT position, a good-paying job, and they get comfortable.  They stop keeping up with the latest technologies, they stop studying, they no longer keep their CCNA, MCSE, and other industry certifications up-to-date…. and then one day, their comfortable job is gone.

Maybe they get laid off, maybe the company moves and they don’t want to move with it… but for one reason or another, they’re in the worst position possible.  They have no job, and they have allowed their IT skills to deteriorate to the point where they are no longer employable.

If you’re in IT, you must be constantly learning.  You must continually take the long view, and ask yourself three important questions.  First, where do you want to be in three years?  Second, what are you doing now in order to reach this goal?  And finally, if you were laid off today, are your current skills sharp enough to quickly get another job?

That third question can be the hardest of all to answer honestly.   I’m reminded of Microsoft announcing years ago that they would no longer be recognizing the MSCE 4.0 certification, since the network operating systems that certification was based upon would no longer be supported by MS.  (Keep in mind that this change was announced months in advance, giving those holding the MCSE 4.0 plenty of time to earn the latest MS certification.)

Some MCSE 4.0s just went nuts.  Microsoft’s certification magazine printed letter after letter from angry MCSEs saying that their company would always run NT 4.0, and that there was no reason for them to ever upgrade their certification.

This wasn’t just denial.  This was career suicide.  Let’s say that their network never moved from NT 4.0.  Let’s also say that they got laid off yesterday.  Would you want to go out into the current IT workplace and have your most recent network operating system experience be on NT 4.0 ?  I sure wouldn’t.

The fact is that you’ve got to continue studying, continue growing, and continue learning new things if you want to have a successful long-term IT career.  If you plan on studying only one topic, getting into IT, and then never cracking a book again, you’re entering the wrong field.  And for those of us who have been in it for a while – again, ask yourself this question:  “Am I prepared for what would happen if I were laid off today?”  And if you’re not, do something about it!

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August 4, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amsterdam Museums

The Netherlands is affectionately known as ‘the land of museums’ and Amsterdam alone has over 42 museums displaying a vast array of history and artefacts.  Visitors interested in art, sex, erotica, hash, torture, maritime transport, diamonds, religion, the holocaust, beverages, flora and fauna, theatre, archaeology, science and technology are all well catered for.

The most touching, true story and personal account is that of Anne Frank’s house located at Prinsengracht opposite 296.  Anne Frank was a 14-year-old Jewish girl growing up during the Second World War.  The house, now a museum open to the public, is a reminder of what happened to so many Jewish families during the holocaust.  Visitors are able to walk through the house and even climb up to the secret annexe where Anne and her family hid for so long from the Nazi’s prior to their capture.  During that time Anne kept a diary which a family friend later had published, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.  For more information about living in Amsterdam during the years of German occupation, An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum is about a young Jewish woman living in Amsterdam prior to her death at Auschwitz.  More information about the Jews and their history may be found at the Jewish Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) at Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4.

Other more shocking but on some accounts, humorous, artefacts may be found in the Torture Museum, located near Muntplein on the left bank of the Singel canal.  It is a small but confronting documentary of human cruelty displaying instruments used on prisoners throughout the medieval times for crimes we would today regard as petty.

The Tulip Museum also on Prinsengracht (112) just over the bridge from Anne Frank’s house may offer solace after appreciating such terror as that experienced by Jewish families during the holocaust and medieval prisoners.  The tulip is the floral symbol of the Netherlands and the museum presents the history of the cultivation of the tulip including the tulip mania of the 17th century.

On a lighter note, the Sex Museum – Temple of Venus is located just in front of Centraal Station on the way to Dam Square consists of a rich collection of art, photography, sculptures, plates and other wares displaying the beauty of human sexuality.  Once in the mood, the Erotic Museum in the heart of the Red Light district is sure to provide pleasure if not a good laugh.  It displays a series of John Lennon’s lithographs, erotic photography, and an adult version of ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarfs’ is projected in a separate room.  There is even a vending machine holding the most unusual condoms for sale for those who wish to purchase in public!

The Hash, Hemp and Marijuana Museum at Oudezijgs Achterburgwal 148, presents convincing displays about the various constructive uses of hemp such as fuel, clothes and paper.  According to the museum, one hectare of cannabis plants can make the same amount of paper as four hectares of forest.  The hemp seed also produces oil which is good for many things including human health.  Once upon a time it was illegal not to grow a plant of cannabis for the government and it is only due to international pressure that it is officially illegal in Amsterdam.

If the controversy proves too much or information overflow builds up a thirst, the Vodka Museum at Damrack 33 in front of Centraal Station features the history of Russian Vodka.  There is an amazing collection of old vodka bottles in timeline order in addition to a wide selection of vodka from all around the world for sale in shots on the spot at the elegant Museum bar.

A bigger thirst may send visitors to the Heineken Brewery further out at 78 Stadhouderskade.  Brewery tours are held each weekday in the morning for a donation which is given to several different charities.  Amsterdam’s brewery was Heineken’s first, opened in 1864, and the tour guides visitors through the whole brewery process including the old brewing facilities and a beer museum.  Cold beers are served in a large drinking hall overlooking the city at the end of the tour.

After a short break in the many coffee shops all over Amsterdam, art lovers should never miss the opportunity to view Vincent Van Gogh’s Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, which is home to the world’s largest collection of the most important Dutch artist of the 19th century in chronological order.  Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is close by on Paulus Potterstraat 13.  Other art museums include Rembrandthuis Museum on Jodenbreestraat 4-6 and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s largest at Stadhouderskade 42.

These are just some of Amsterdam’s museums but of all, the Amsterdam Historisch Museum at 92 Kalverstraat is the best designed.  The former orphanage exhibits 700 years of the city’s history with a focus around the Golden Age of Amsterdam in the 17th century.  It was during this time that the city flourished as the richest city in the world.  Some of the exhibits even included actual traded goods which contributed to its success of the time.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Travel & Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Polished Diamonds, The New Technology

International Trade and Industry Institute Tohoku Institute of Technology and Application of Diamond developed a rapid low cost diamond polishing technology.Diamond is the hardest known material, and has high thermal conductivity. Therefore, they are not only making jewelry with precious stones, it also has important industrial uses. Since about 50 years ago, the first man made diamonds at high pressure and high temperature conditions created after the synthetic diamond powder has been widely used in the manufacture grinder diamond blade and cutting blade.

About 20 years ago, the Japanese developed a method using Chemical Vapour Deposition of synthetic diamond technology. Through this technology, can produce a few to tens of centimeters square diamond. This diamond coated film can be applied to the surface of ultra precision machining equipment, electronic components, radiators, can increase the performance of mobile telephone two to three times the high frequency SAW filters in the direct sunlight is still visible under the diamond flat panel display and can work at 700 C when the diamond semiconductor. Chemical precipitation of diamond production (or CVD diamond) products will be used in various industrial fields. Therefore, the synthesis of diamond chemical vapor deposition, or CVD diamond, estimated to form a 1 10 trillion yen worth of trades.No fixed form class diamond carbon (DLC) is a less than 0.1 microns thick diamond films with very smooth surface, its application in the lubrication field is developed. And is expected to have many industrial uses of thick CVD diamond film surface is rough. The thicker the film surface becomes rough and uneven film is one third. The CVD product can not be uneven surface, so thick diamond film must be polished.

Like jewelry, like diamonds, industrial diamonds have been polished before sale. As the old saying goes: “to rule Yi Yi.” CVD diamond polishing with diamond polisher needs. However, there is an important problem to solve. Polished relatively softer (hardness of 100 or 110) single crystal to use is very hard (111) diamond powder. In CVD diamond polishing, the polished surface of CVD diamond devices because of the same hardness (111) are subject to the same degree of wear. Here, polished CVD diamond is a very costly process.To avoid this problem, it has developed a method of polishing CVD diamond: with hot metal plate in a vacuum pressure to make diamonds, graphite, making it the surface becomes smooth. However, this method is very difficult, because of the need in a vacuum to operate under high temperature conditions. Diamond can be laser cut, but the cutting edge is still too rough.This application by the Institute and the development of new diamond polished solve all these problems. Titanium alloy plate at room temperature under normal pressure in the diamond to diamond, as smooth as a mirror. Titanium alloy sheet is sintered alloy (TiAlX, X for chromium, manganese, etc.) made. The titanium alloy was synthesized by mechanical alloy.

Synthesis machinery, including steps to join the raw material powder ball for more than 100 hours of grinding machine to form a very fine alloy powder. Then the alloy powder by pulsed discharge sintering and for some time. To form the aluminum into the titanium material, its microstructure is one micron in diameter, composed of micro grains.Synthesis by mechanical alloying into melting into the legal system than with a more refined structure, and the almost non existent gap between components to its degree and the hardness is about twice the casting material. And its intensity increases with temperature increase. Their strength at 600 C. At room temperature, higher than 50%. This feature make it a polished diamond capabilities. CVD diamond and the rough surface grinding of titanium alloy devices in a small range of contacts, the friction heat generated by the temperature can rise to 1000 degrees Celsius.

Grinder were important rife with diamond in titanium has a strong affinity for carbon, so that decomposition of the contact point of the diamond, titanium carbide and titanium form. Titanium carbide rotary mill was removed to form a mirror like polished diamond surface. If the rotating disk made of titanium alloy hardness at high temperatures in the lower, or steel instead of titanium alloy pressure on the diamonds, diamonds rough surface of metal materials can only be filled without achieving its purpose grinding.Titanium alloy mill, a 4X8 mm CVD diamond can be worn in 5 minutes, a mirror smooth. Wear a small grinding machine, so this method than using the diamond grinder cheaper.This photo taken with an optical microscope showed the air and at room temperature titanium alloy grinder grinding a minute a dark part of the CVD diamond surface has not been polished, bright parts have been polished. In the grinding process of ultrasound imaging can be used to avoid film rupture or monitor off.Not only CVD diamond, sintered diamond tools, and single crystal diamond is very easy to use this intermetallic compound made of polished rotary grinder. This approach is expected to be a cheap and high precision diamond machining technology.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment