computer trends

JeffBeall
JeffBeall used Ask the Experts™
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The position I had at my former company was eliminated, and I was there for 9 years. So I haven't been looking for so long, and I'm trying to figure out if I have become obsolete.

My main strength is fixing computers, but when I look for jobs I see mostly programming.
Is there still a market out there for knowing operating systems and fixing sick PC’s, or should I try to make myself more valuable with programming or security?
 I thought with security, it would be where you setup a secure environment, and then you wouldn’t have much to do, so it might be a lot of contract work. I would like to work for one company, but I don’t know if that is really available any more.
Any thoughts?
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There is still a lot of work out there for your expertise. You don't really need to get into development. If you are looking for work perhaps try getting involved with a temp agency, and make sure your resume is up to date, and they can probably place you with a good company where you can use your skills.

Author

Commented:
When this first happened, I thought I would enhance my strengths, so I got the book to get certified with windows 7. So I have been doing that, it's just as I was looking, I started having second thoughts when I see a lot of programming jobs.
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Awarded 2011

Commented:
I think if you have some time and resources, some additional certification in software areas will certainly increase your options and will be a plus. I work for a very big company - its main business is not IT - it outsources 100% of hardware-related positions (folks who are fixing PC's) but it does have a few programming folks and software people on the staff. It may not matter that much - still outsourced positions are much more vulnerable - even though folks may keep their places within their companies, but they are moved around all the time. There is certainly a lot for work for people with your expertise, but additional knowledge in software would not hurt for sure.
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There is certainly a lot of jobs in programming if you're looking to learn a new field. But there are also plenty of jobs in the system administrator field (as I am) and keep/enhance your skills. I have my MCTS (Windows 7, Configuration) and I would definitely recommend going after that cert if you're looking to stay in your area.
AshokSr. Software Engineer

Commented:
As far as a permanent (or long term like more than 5 years) job, those jobs are not there any more.  You might be lucky to get very long term position if you accept bottom salary.

Getting into programming job for very first time is not easy.  You will have to decide which programming language you want to learn.  Another problem is that most companies want people with more than one or two (or even four) different programming skills.  Not to forget that job market for this job has lots of competition and interviews are very difficult.
I am not trying to discourage you in anyway.  I have been in your situation when I was looking for my very first programming job.

If you have any particular (specific) question, just ask.

HTH
Ashok
AshokSr. Software Engineer

Commented:
By the way, if you want to really learn something quickly that will last forever, I would suggest you learn Android Programming (Java).

Which cell phone do you use?  (Android / iPhone / Blackberry???)

If you have Android cell phone and Windows computer, you have everything you need to become an expert in Android.

HTH
Ashok
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Commented:
I would agree with Ashok, this is definitley a growing area right now, and would probably need more  people at least for some time. But you need to get Java background for it. So you'll anyway need to start with Java.

Author

Commented:
I didn't think you were being discouraging, Ashok, it sounded more like being realistic. Which is what I would prefer.
I was thinking of trying Java when I had the thought that I should try programming.
If I do try Java, is there a good friendly source to learn?
I say friendly, because I don't know if I'm good at programming, and I would be very new to this.
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Commented:
I used to study Java with this book; it is comprehensive, but I don't think it assumes any programming background:
http://www.amazon.com/Java-Complete-Reference-Herbert-Schildt/dp/0071606300/ref=dp_ob_title_bk
AshokSr. Software Engineer

Commented:
JeffBeall,

1) Download Eclipse IDE (they have multiple versions available, you may try to download the latest or download Eclipse Hellios (3.6.2) which is older version I am using).

2) Download Android SDK

3) Start with HelloWorld application

4) Learn Java syntax and basic (many resources on Internet, like YouTube, Google search "Java Tutorial", etc.)

Only fast way to learn swimming is to jump in the water first.
Only fast way to learn programming is to jump in and start learning, do not be afraid.

HTH
Ashok
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Commented:
Top Expert 2012
Commented:
I would ask some of the Java experts on EE for advice on how to start.  It's a fairly easy syntax, but has a lot flavors and implementations.  It is definitely is one of the most popular languages, and it is multi-platform.

If you already understand hardware, you might leverage that into a support role that gives you a chance to learn scripting, and then you can transition to programming, if you like it.
AshokSr. Software Engineer
Commented:
I have been programming for more than 15 years.
I am good in Java, but Android was totally new to me.
While I was unemployed, I learned Android and developed my first application in two months and it is on the Android Market
@
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ashok.tapecalc

then I developed another and it is also on market @
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ashok.instantdial
My second app took me one month to complete.
I can now add this to my resume when I am searching for Android job.

Ashok

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the suggestions and help. one thing I thought of as I read the comments.
How long do you estimate it takes to learn Java? I understand it's hard to guess, not knowing me, but if you had to guess an average time, for an average person, what do you think?
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Commented:
I may sound a little bit old-fashioned but especially if you never did any programmimg before, I would at least read a few beginning chapters of some good book on java - like the one I mentioned above, just to give you very general idea what it is all about. Then when it comes more to reference stuff, of course internet is much better. But in the very beginning some narrative to get the very basics about java virtual machine, compilation, even some beginning stuff about objects and object-oriented programming may be really useful and requires little bit more calm approach than, say, 10 minutes Youtube movie.
It will also give you some minimal ability to be aware of some basic critical words at the interview.
Of course it is true, after that most of the experience  is just practice.
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Awarded 2011
Commented:
I think in a couple of months of rather intense work  you can have some basic idea and can also talk intelligently about it
Sikhumbuzo NtsadaIT Administration
Commented:
Another skill you can pick up for free is learning Linux, you can start from beginner to Intermediate and Expert right here on the internet.

There is so much technology built on Linux, (VMWare, RHEV 3 from Redhat) these are some of the major players in the industry right now and their systems are built on Linux.
Glanced up at my screen and thought I had coded the Matrix...  Turns out, I just fell asleep on the keyboard.
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2015
Commented:
If you decide to program, my suggestion is to focus primarily on understanding the fundamentals of programming--not so much a particular language. If you get a good foundation for understanding how a computer does what it does, and you gain a firm grasp elementary concepts like loops, variable assignments, references vs actual values, etc., then switching between languages will equate to nothing more than learning a handful of language-specific quirks and (potentially) learning a new syntax. My career has been primarily .NET (both VB and C#), but I have no doubts that I could quickly jump into Java or even something like FORTRAN or COBOL if I had to because of the foundation I built in my earlier stages of learning. (Admittedly, I started off on a Computer Science track at the Univerity. However, I'm not saying you would have to do that--not that picking up a few CS textbooks would hurt either!) If you focus too much on a specific language, then you will lock yourself into that language/technology and you will end up in manager land talking about the "good old mainframe days" (sorry boss!). Food for thought  = )

Author

Commented:
Thank you so much for all the help. I didn't expect some much feed back, but I am very grateful for the help.

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