Career Opportunities

Helping to build the career you deserve!

A weekly ComputorEdge Column and twice-weekly podcast by Douglas E. Welch
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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Career-Op: All the same

After having worked for a variety of companies, both large and small, I have noticed that regardless of the market, the position or the profitability of a company, they all tend to have very similar problems. Despite high flying reputations of employee empowerment, unique projects or amazing perks, the daily reality for the rank and file employee is much the same no matter where you go. In fact, you find more similarities than differences whether you are working in computers, shoes or entertainment.

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** Make a name for yourself at ** RoundTable
Live Event

Sept 3rd 1:30pm (Pacific)

So Exactly what are we going to be covering
A trick on how to use the Microsoft Word / Blogger editing tool plug-in with any Weblog
We will show you how to use Dave Winer's new OPML Editor in a collaborative way
We will show you some tips and tricks using FeedBurner, Pubsub and Technorati to make you more productive
We will also highlight and cover a variety of RSS News Aggreators in ways, that we think will save you time
We will also demonstrate some publishing tools that you may not be aware of.

Signup Today

We will be using Windows PC based GotoMeeting WebConferencing tool and can accomodate 200 people.

We want to thank GoToMeeting for sponsoring the event and would encourage you to try the product for free for 30 days.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Career Opportunities: The High-Tech Career Handbook reaches 100th podcast

September 2005 brings 2 major milestones for Career Opportunities: The High-Tech Career Handbook, hosted by Douglas E. Welch of Los Angeles, California. Friday, September 2, 2005, brings the 100th episode of the podcast, which focuses on the specific ins and outs of a high-tech career, and September 24th, 2005 will mark its 1 year anniversary.

The podcast has proven popular with people in all avenues of the high tech world, from beginners to those with years of experience because it offers a realistic look at a chaotic and constantly changing work world. Each week, Welch produces two episodes drawing on new and archival material from his print column, Career Opportunities, which has appeared in the San Diego-based Computoredge magazine for 9 years.

A 20+ year veteran of the high-tech world, working at a variety of companies including Walt Disney Imagineering and Hollywood Online, Welch started producing his shows within weeks of the initial creation of podcasting, joining a short list of 10-12 other podcasting pioneers such as Adam Curry's Daily Source Code and Dave Winer's Morning Coffee Notes. Current estimates put the number of podcasts around 9,000 in a wide variety of topic areas.

The Career Opportunities podcast is a member of the Tech Podcasts Network (, a cooperative group of technology-related podcasts dedicated to promoting the best in technology programming. The podcast, including archives of all 100 episodes, is available on the web at Listeners can easily subscribe using Apple's free iTunes music software and their new podcast directory by searching on Career Opportunities.

Podcasts are niche, radio-like programs which computer users can download to their computer or MP3 player for listening. Unlike radio, though, the user has total control over which shows they choose and when they listen to them. Listeners can also "subscribe" to podcasts, which allows new shows to be downloaded to their computer automatically. Visit the Wikipedia entry on podcasting for more information. (

Monday, August 29, 2005

A rare warning - Avoid web hosting

UPDATE 8/30/05: As of this morning, my logfiles have been restored, including the logfiles for the past 6 days. Tech support had originally told me these would be lost. I have received no notification of what happened. -- Douglas

Regular readers will note that it is a rare occasion when I warn you away from any book, software or vendor, unless I believe there is a danger of it costing you money or reputation. Unfortunately, this is one of those times.

I moved to web hosting a few months ago after requesting recommendation from friends and peers. I needed a bigger monthly bandwidth allotment due to the growing popularity of my podcast, Career Opportunities. Additionally, after a month or so with them, I set up sites for several clients. Over the last 2-3 weeks, though, I have become very dissatisfied with their service.

The first issue was a small, but annoying, difficulty in setting up my custom 404 error page. The domain hosts a variety of information on everything from high-tech careers to gardening to photos. I set up a custom error page that allows users to do a search of the entire web site or click a link to go to each of the major sections. After attempting to set up this page myself, and reading the FAQs, I contacted the 1and1 technical support line. After several emails and calls, including getting incorrect information on setting up the page (I am using their MS IIS hosting plan, not Linux, but they told me on numerous occasions to set up an htaccess file) I finally got someone on the phone the seemed to know what they were doing. Unfortunately, they made the problem worse. Now, instead of the default IIS error page, or my custom error page, users simply get a message 'The file specified could not be found." Now, the default IIS error page is fairly useless in itself, but it is certainly better than this.

A week or so later, I set up a client on the 1and1 Exchange hosting platform. This is a critical need as the client's email server had crashed beyond repair and they critically needed to restore their email services. After working my way through a relatively complicated setup procedure I had everyone working. With days, though, 1and 1 suffered a 12-14 hour outage on their Exchange servers. As you might imagine, this client was quite concerned and their displeasure was not limited to 1and1, but also to myself, who recommended the company. Mail was restored, though, and seems to be working fine at this time.

Then, when the client wanted to add web hosting services to their contract with 1and1 we discovered an entirely new problem. Initially I was told that I would have to destroy and re-create all the current Exchange accounts in order to move the domain names from the Exchange servers to the web hosting servers. This was, of course, unacceptable due to down time and the potential for lost mail, so I escalated the issue to a supervisor. Luckily, he was able to direct me to a, quite cumbersome, procedure, that would allow me to move the domains without totally destroying the Exchange mailboxes. As I was working through the process, though, I eventually discovered that I would have to setup the Exchange accounts all over again, even though I did not lose the existing email.

Finally, as a podcaster, and as a podcaster who recently started accepting advertising, my web site statistics are very important to me. In fact, I get paid for my advertising directly in relation to the number of times my podcasts are downloaded. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered that on August 23 that all logfiles for my web site (and other MS IIS hosted sites at stopped. Despite a number of phone calls and support emails I have not been given any information when these logfiles might be restored, although I have received, rather vague, mentions from the support techs that there was indeed a problem on their end.

As this is taking money directly out of my pocket, it seems my only recourse at this time is to move my site, yet again, to another web host and hope that their service and support are of a higher quality. I am terribly disappointed with service and support and wonder if their ubiquitous advertising in many major tech publications has led them to grow faster than they can support.

Barring an immediate and satisfactory resolution of these problems, and some explanation of their sub-standard service, I advise you to avoid hosting services.

Please send me your recommendations for web hosting services that provide MS IIS hosting services (I have a few small ASP programs on the site) and a large monthly bandwidth allocation (I current have 25 GB/month). Podcasting is a tremendous user of bandwidth. Please leave your recommendation ass comments to this post, so that others can benefit from your experience, as well. I would also like to hear about your experiences, good and bad, with hosting or any methods that might assist me in resolving my problems.

IT certifications?

Here is another good discussion on SlashDot regarding the need and worth of IT cetifications. If you are looking for a wide variety of views on the subject, this would be a great place to start.

What's the Point of IT Certifications?

erica_ann asks: "Fact: You can have the knowledge without having to pay to be Certified when it comes to computers. Another fact: Just because you have the certification does not mean you actually know the material as well as someone who is not certified. You might just be good at taking tests. So what is the point of getting IT Certifications? To have a piece of paper?"

(Via Slashdot.)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Career-Op: Keeping it going

Working as a freelance computer consultant can certainly have its challenges and its rewards, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep my career moving forward. Over the last several years, I have had various complications and interruptions that have effected my ability to continuously develop my career. While these complications certainly haven't brought everything to a halt, they have forced me to be creative about how to continue my work, especially when everyday live intervenes.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Career-Op: Other People's Problems

It can be a hard lesson to learn, but when you succeed in your high-tech career, or life in general, there will be those around you who are less than enthusiastic about your success. Call it fair-weather friends or simple jealousy, but it can be difficult when those who supported you in the past suddenly show a different side,. Worse still, these people can cause you to doubt your own actions, even when you think you are doing what is best for you. Pressure from friends and acquaintances should never drive you to make career decisions that aren't in your own best interest.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Career-Op: Despair

Of all the feelings you can have about your high-tech career, you should never feel despair. Too often, though, this is exactly what I hear in people’s voices -- a sense of despair. For whatever reason, high-tech careers tend to generate these feelings far out of proportion to other avenues of work. Many high-tech workers have concluded that their work, and their lives, will never change, no matter how hard they try. Let me say to them, and to you, this is sheer nonsense. Even the smallest action can put you on the road to alleviating your feelings of despair or avoiding them altogether.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A nice letter...

Ben Maddox sent along this very nice email yesterday and was kind enough to let me share it with you.

Thanks for your kind words, Ben!

If you have comments or questions that you would like to share, please post them as comments here or email them directly to

I have really enjoyed your podcasts. They are done very professionally. I am just starting out with my career with computers since I am still in college.

I have listened to your podcasts for at least a month, and have dug up some older ones which I really enjoyed.

Thank you for producing something so useful.

Ben Maddox

Career-Op: The Little Things

As we begin another year I am starting a project with all of my current clients. I am making a big effort to address some of the smaller high-tech problems that have lingered over the years. Sometimes, in the heat of fighting the big battles, we just don’t have the energy to address the smaller problem, which can often be much more difficult to resolve. Now is the time, though, to finally solve all those nagging issues and make everything work like it should.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

David Allen "Getting Things Done" Webinar

Regular readers and listeners will already know that I am a big fan of David Allen and his "Getting Things Done" method for organizing your life and work. On August 18th, Allen will be presenting a free 'Webinar" via Microsoft's LiveMeeting software. I just signed up and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for methods to gain some more control over the enormous amount of the "stuff" that must be addressed every day.

You can register for the event by clicking the link below.

David Allen Online Webinar

Speaker: David Allen, Management Consultant and Executive Coach, The David Allen Company

Seminar Overview:  A completely new way to think about work, time management, and personal productivity.

Ineffectively dealing with this "knowledge work athletics" lies at the heart of much of today's stress in the workplace, and Mr. Allen provides the keys to success in getting control of it, instead of being buried by it. Your competitive advantage lies in your ability to deal with surprise, and Allen's methods for Getting Things Done provide for the clarity and focus required in the 21st century to "keep your eye on the ball" while at the same time maintaining a sustainable, healthy balance of life and work.

In this seminar you will learn:

The keys to success in getting control of “knowledge work athletics”
The clarity and focus required in the 21st century to "keep your eye on the ball"

About David Allen

Widely considered one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity, David Allen’s 25 years experience as a management consultant and executive coach have earned him the titles of “personal productivity guru” by Fast Company and “One of America’s top 5 executive coaches” by Forbes Magazine.  His international bestselling book “Getting Things Done” is the gold standard in its field. His company, The David Allen Company, is recognized as the world’s leader on personal productivity, providing businesses, institutions and individuals with fresh insights and systems to better win at the game of work and business of life.

About The David Allen Company

The David Allen Company is a professional training, coaching, and management consulting organization, based in Ojai, California, USA. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by providing the world’s best information, education, and products that enhance personal and interactive productivity.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Career-Op: Perception

In a high-tech career, it is sometimes the perception of your work that matters more than the quality of your work. As disturbing as it might be, you can often be perceived as aloof, arrogant or incompetent, even when the facts don’t bear out that conclusion. Human beings are complicated and confusing animals so discovering what is coloring their perception of you and your work can be a daunting task. Still, unless you want to find a new job, you are well-advised to address any issues regarding how you are perceived in your company. Remember though, that perceptions that people voice often have no relation to what is actually bothering them.

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Career-Op on In The Trenches with Kevin Devin

Kevin Devin over at the "In The Trenches" podcast and blog used my column from August 8th, 2005, 3 excuses for doing nothing, as a jumping off point for a discussion on his show this week. He also said some very kind words about Career-Op.

if you haven't listened to In The Trenches yet, I highly recommend you swing by and check it out.

Being Flexible in IT

Sponsored by and

We talk about some important intangibles tonight. No huge list of tool lists, sorry. Inspired by a recent podcast and article from Douglas E. Welch of Career Opportunities: The High Tech Career Handbook, how often are you asked to do things not strictly within your job description? If and when should you draw the line? We also have another professional development segment and an Admin-to-Admin segment from Robert Kloosterhuis.

(Via In the Trenches.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tell me what you think!

As I approach my 100th podcast (set to occur sometime during September) I am making a new call for feedback about both the print column and the podcast.

I would really like to know what you think about Career Opportunities, how you use the information and how I might improve it.

I am also interested in knowing how many people are reading the column, listening to the podcast or both. I will generate an actual poll for these questions sometime in the future, but I would love to hear your comments, either directly to, as a comment to this blog entry or in a message to the Career-Op mailing list.

Thanks for reading/listening to Career Opportunities!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wiki for Business? You bet!

I have now had the experience of using a Wiki information system for a variety of purposes and I am entirely sold. If you need to build up and information source with other people, it can be the easiest and fastest method.

Anyone can edit a wiki page to add or change information, but you can put the wiki behind a password to limit access. One friend is using an internal wiki to collect and share information on the myriad of procedures that staffers must use to process loans with a variety of banks.

This posting from LifeHacker, links to a particularly good article from Information Week magazine on wikis and their use in a business environment.

How To Use Wikis For Business

Over at Information Week, there is a very nice overview/tutorial on the use of Wikis in business. Wikis can make for a good, inexpensive collaboration tool or content management replacement, and this article may help decide if a wiki is right for you.

(Via Lifehacker.)

Career-Op: Say Yes

When dealing with your clients in the high-tech world it is so much easier to say "No" than "Yes". I am pretty sure it has something to do with my years in corporate IS/MIS/IT departments, but, over the years, I have found myself becoming more and more of gatekeeper, determined to keep new technology from complicating my job and my client's life. Despite whatever noble intentions I might have had, though, this year I am more determined to say "Yes" to my clients as often as possible.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Interesting book: Return on Customer

This book was highlighted in a recent Random House newsletter I received, It isn't available from my library yet, but the information on the Random House Web Site intrigued me enough to check it out in the future.

If you have read this book, let me know what you think about it. You can post your thoughts as a comment to this blog post or use the Career Opportunities Mailing list to share your thoughts with other members.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Career-Op: 3 excuses for doing nothing

In a high-tech career, there are often many reasons why work doesn't get done -- money, politics, understaffing, ignorance and more. The more shocking reality, though, is the myriad of excuses we give ourselves for our lack of productivity. When morale is low, mergers are in the air or you are going through your fifth manager in as many months, you might find yourself justifying your lack of energy in many ways. Your company isn't the only one suffering, though. Your excuses will come back to haunt you when the time comes for the ax to fall. The following 3 excuses are recited again and again at most companies and they result in much more lost productivity than any of the other issues combined.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Career-Op: Solving the right problem

As a high-tech careerist, you will often be called upon to solve some intractable problems. In fact, these projects will often be the ones that will make your career. Nothing boosts your resume quite as much as solving a problem others may have found unsolvable. Of course, these same projects can also be the most troublesome. Sometimes you can find yourself trapped in a no-win situation that has very little to do with technology and a lot to do with human nature and the nature of business.

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Subscribe via iTunes 4.9: iTunes Podcast Page Special Event - August 13th, 2005 - RoundTable Special Event

Podcasting Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

You Are Invited to a Special Roundtable Event!

Saturday August 13th at 1:30 PM (Pacific Time)

The Network - in conjunction with - will be having a special Roundtable in a live, interactive discussion using the GoToMeeting multi-media web conference application . We'll demonstrate all of the coolest Podcasting Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices - as only the team at can. Material you'll find nowhere else: like discussion of recording setups and traffic management, or easy steps to BitTorrent enable your Podcast, plus tips on Tagging your MP3 files. We will cover the steps to get your Podcast ready for advertisements , and suggest applications that you can use to collect the information you are going to need.


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