I told you a few weeks ago about my cohort that annoys the hell out of me with his constant talking. As much as he annoys me, I do admire one aspect of his management style. He cares. He wants to make sure that his people have relevent marketable skills if they were to leave the company. The world is a scary place right now, and as someone who has been through the collapse of the Dot-coms in the Bay Area, he knows how to mitigate the risk one will be jobless for a long stretch of time. You mitigate by keeping your skills current.
Many of the network guys at our company have no Linux skills. Since this is a critical skill to have in the job market, he has spent considerable time putting together and deliverying training materials to his team. He is doing a stellar job with it really.
Yesterday, he was putting together the next round of it when we started talking about how it was going. He said they seemed interested, were attentive and were asking questions. I asked him the all important question – “are they playing with Linux on their own?” A couple of keystrokes later as he looked up the activity in the test environment, he had the answer. No.
I don’t care how many books you read and tests you pass. Hell, I don’t care how many certificates you have on your wall. If you have not touched the technology and broken it and rebuilt it, you cannot claim you are learning it. You cannot claim experience in it. You cannot list it on your resume. But, people do it all of the time, and it becomes the game for the hiring IT manager to filter out those who can talk the talk versus those who can walk it. Again, this is something both my cohort and I emphasize constantly with our staff.
My cohort, being the geeky guy he is, put the following into his latest training presentation:
“Neither RFC 1149 nor RFC 2549 may be used as LDAP transport layers. RFC 3514 compliant packet will likewise be rejcted.”
I don’t expect you to understand this as I am going to explain why this is hilarious.
Data travels on the network via packets. (Yes, I am making this very simple, so bear with me if you are a technology geek.) RFC 1149 is the protocol for transporting data packets via carrier pigeon. It is a joke. An old networking joke. And, there are plenty of write ups about the efficiency of this transport method (at least 50% reported data loss, for example). RFC2549 is the protocol for transporting data with quality assurance via carrier pigeon. It’s the updated joke. RFC 3514 is security protocal to reject “evil packets” of data. Again, another old networking joke. If you try to use any of these protocols in Linux, they will usually reveal themselves as jokes. (Geeks like to perpetuate jokes by actually taking the time and building them into the software.)
His approach is similar to a teacher who creates a test where the instructions of the test are to read all of the questions, sign the back of the test and turn it in. The goal isn’t to see how many of the qustions the kids can answer, but if they are paying attention to the directions. This is my cohort’s same approach.
At the end of his lessons, he always encourages the network guys to go our and try these in the test environment. I guess we should know next week, how much research these guys did on the material. He is already trying to decide his approach if no one comes back to him about this one. I suspect it will be some smart ass comment asking where they found carrier pigeons to try out this way of data transport. For their sake, I hope he is having a good day when they reveal they haven’t test it or even researched it. When he’s angry, he talks a lot more than usual. I guess that may be their punishment.