Career advancement is easier in cities
I absolutely agree with RS’s comments on gaining IT employment (Letters, 10 September). The sad fact is that experience and knowledge count for nothing, unless you have acquired those little certificates in a subject that is probably not relevant for the actual work you will be doing.
For example, where I live the only computer course I could find at the local college was on Cisco networks. But how many small and medium-sized companies outside of large cities use Cisco networks?
I do not live in a large city, and do not really want to move to one. I could do an MCSE in Windows Server, but employers do not seem to value that one.
I cannot get a day release from my IT job, so doing a degree course is out of the question too. Anyway, my employer does not want me to have any more qualifications, because then they would probably have to pay me a decent wage or face losing me.
Most leaks are accidental
While the threats highlighted by the recent Lords Science and Technology committee report should not be underestimated (Report divides internet stakeholders, 20 August), most media coverage of the findings failed to acknowledge a significant reality – that the vast majority of data leakage is a result of accidental not malicious activity.
When confidential data is lost it is usually through human error, either by an employee accidentally emailing it to the wrong people or removing it via a USB key, iPod or CD.
While the majority of businesses now have technology in place to protect themselves from external threats, far fewer are adopting measures to combat the greater threat posed by their own staff.
Calls for legislative changes to help tackle online crime should not go unsupported, but companies should also carefully assess the most critical risk to their business and take the measures necessary to protect themselves.
Stephen Partridge, Adobe
Use the green tools to hand
In the meantime, there are a multitude of free solutions that will accommodate companies’ needs. We use Wake On LAN tools from Depicus to turn on our PCs at whatever time we need – GUI or command line options are available – and then use the Windows command “shutdown -m -f” in a simple batch file to turn them off again, both of which are called via a scheduled task from our distributed servers. There are also VBS/WMI scripts that you could use for remote shutdown too.
Ade Worley, ICT manager
Format fears are overblown
I think that you overstate the case for standardisation of data formats when archiving (Archivists hurt in war, 20 August). My feeling is that the likelihood of not being able to access a Word 2000 or Word 2003 document in the year 2107 is not very high.
In your article, you state: “Meanwhile, Sun has a plug-in that lets Word users read, edit and save in ODF”. This sums up the position very well. As long as there is a need to read different formats in new or old documents – design specs of 1980 nuclear systems, for example – there will be companies that step in with free convertors, even if Word 2107 does not offer this facility itself.
Discoverability requires a capability to examine documents in whatever format they are. Standardisation of formats might make this easier but will not remove the need.
Barney Haye, Essential Computing
Geeks are relics of a bygone age
It is more than disappointing that the industry’s current pace and energy is not being communicated to the nation’s sixth-form students (IT fails the A-level test, again, 3 September). Instead, the geek stereotype remains the natural default.
Educators and businesses need to do more to address this misconception and give the next generation of workers an accurate and up-to-date image of IT professionals. Faceless, introverted IT employees hiding behind the support helpdesk are a relic. Now, more than ever, companies demand business-savvy strategists to find new ways of using technology to provide a competitive edge.
A strong IT manager is not only a technical specialist, but a strong communicator with business acumen. The geek is dead, long live the technical consultant.
Attractive and interesting industries, particularly the media sector, are increasingly demanding IT specialists as convergence presents new commercial opportunities. But is any of this filtering down to the classroom?
Julian Divett, FDM Group
Make it easier to access data
The draft best-practice framework for sharing personal data issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to be welcomed, particularly its proposals regarding access (ICO launches info-sharing consultation, 15 August).
As things stand, members of the public who want to know what information is kept about them have to trawl around scores of organisations to request it. The ICO recommends that organisations provide a single point of contact for people wanting to access their information, and to make people aware of this facility.
I believe we should go even further: individuals should be notified, by right, about what information is held about them and informed whenever it changes.
David Porter, Detica
Firms need PCI DSS help
I am sure many businesses are relieved that Visa has acknowledged the difficulties of PCI DSS compliance (Visa relaxes PCI stance, 20 August). Compliance can certainly be challenging, and especially so for wireless LAN (WLAN) users.
The retail and hospitality industries, two major users of WLAN technology, are now having to reassess their networks in light of PCI DSS and are struggling to secure their systems. The best way to help firms comply with PCI DSS is for vendors and resellers to promote the standard whenever possible. There are some simple ways to secure a network, and it is often just a case of educating customers and showing them how to protect their network from all angles.
While so far only two wireless network vendors have joined the PCI Security Standards Council – of which we are one – it is to be hoped that others will follow and so ease the transition for their customers.
Bryan Hall, Colubris Networks.
Printers may pose a risk
Mike Dinsdale of Brother UK missed the point when he said there might be concern about the fine particles getting into skin pores and into the nose (Jury still out on laser printer pollution, 3 September).
The problem with ultrafine particles, those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, is they will get into the lungs where they can cause premature death. These potentially harmful fine particles are referred to by the US Environmental Protection Agency and other national environmental programmes as PM2.5. While it is not likely that the particles from one printer will adversely affect health, those particles, along with particles currently in the air or soon to be emitted into the air, combine to adversely affect human health, especially in the young and elderly.
As a retired air pollution agency executive officer, I believe this issue needs to be studied further to determine the concentrations workers are being subjected to.
Computer hobbyists have much to offer
Another obstacle to gaining IT employment is that most employers do not value computer hobbyists who have done lots of work with computers in their free time (IT graduates still lack practical experience, 10 August).
These people often have lots of practical skills in servicing computers, designing web sites and working on open-source software projects. They are also more resourceful and better at looking outside the box than most people who just gain their knowledge about computers through institutionalised education. But a high proportion of employers only want people who have gained their skills in a commercial environment.
A friend of mine decided to teach himself web site design and ended up developing sites for two local organisations as voluntary work. In a job interview at an IT firm, the interviewer asked him, “Did you do this in a commercial environment?” Self-education and voluntary work meant nothing to this interviewer; he was more interested in corporate bureaucracy such as managing deadlines and budgets. Consequently, my friend did not get the job.
SaaS prices are too high
SugarCRM continues to innovate and has a significantly better model than Salesforce.com (Sugar sweetens CRM for non-techies, 3 September).
As an early Salesforce customer I loved the solution but for a 20-person deployment it was costing almost $17,000 a year. I replaced Salesforce with SugarCRM’s open-source platform, which we run internally, and spent the savings on marketing and sales. If I wanted to have the solution hosted, I could do it with SugarCRM or an open-source hosting provider.
Long-term, I feel that on-demand software will be important but prices will have to come down.