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Databases at dawn

Choosing a database product to keep all your important data safe can be a very simple task, or a tremendously complicated and fractious ordeal. It is easy when you don’t have a choice. Many applications are written to work with only one database. When you choose the application, the database is chosen for you.

Why IT certification matters

It is one of those inevitable facts of life on a technical mailing list that one day someone will post a job advert. It is another fact of life on a mailing list that nobody will respond to the advert itself

Throwing out the Windows desktop

For people who don’t use Windows, the day that Microsoft’s grip on the desktop is broken can’t come soon enough. The reason is simple: the technical divide created by the dominance of one operating system means that people who choose to use something different face constant discrimination

Where are all the women?

I was brought up to believe that men and women are created equal. Then I hit puberty and the issue became a lot more complicated. Later, at university, I was exposed to the feminist movement which, to be honest, left me more confused than ever. Though it created a heightened awareness of the issue of gender equality, it became difficult to separate dogma and ideology from real problems

Windows vs Everything Else

Ever since the first vi user met the first emacs user, the IT industry has been plagued with intense debates about very little. No fact or rational argument will convince either side they might be wrong. As the discussion depends on what the participants believe, these are often described as religious debates

Pity the poor project manager

If your project manager is a real monster, just think about how you would react in the same situation. The monster could just as easily be you

Hype, er, visors

One of the things I love about the IT industry is the constant hype. There is always some new idea or silver bullet that will fix everything. The hype can provide endless hours of amusement and it can be great fun to watch the clash of the old with the new, the believers versus the Luddites. And of course it provides great mental exercise — deconstructing the hype, trying to understand it, trying to debunk it and trying to see where the hype is real.

The joy, and pain, of documentation

When I was renting a piano for my daughter recently, I found an obvious spelling mistake in the lease agreement. This provided great amusement for the rental agent — he had been using the same contract for 20 years and I was the first person to point it out. Unfortunately for me, it was a bitter reminder about one of the key problems of documentation — nobody ever reads it