Are you a dinosaur?
There are several theories about what happened to the dinosaurs, which,
for those who were sleeping in class, became extinct about 65 million years
ago. One of the most common theories is that a large asteroid struck the
Earth, creating a blanket of debris in the atmosphere that caused a catastrophic
climatic change and killed off many living things.
The Internet and the World Wide Web are asteroid-size developments for
those of us who've been working in the data processing profession for more
than 10 years.
In the federal government, staying abreast of technology is perhaps
more difficult than in industry. After all, in the commercial world, it's
not that difficult to justify some small, skunk-works type of project to
get good, hands-on exposure to a new technology.
But most agencies discourage unauthorized innovation. And there are
a maze of other obstacles software may not be available, the new technology
may not conform to authorized standards or the computers available are too
old and slow or, more likely, don't have enough hard disk space and memory
to explore the "latest thing."
Most supervisors and managers in government got there by being good
at what they were doing before they were a manager. In the technology business,
that was most likely programming. The mental abilities that apply to programming
in older languages apply to the newer technologies as well. Analysis, logic,
deductive reasoning and a controlled, step-by-step approach are still needed.
Are you doing all you can to become conversant in the new technologies?
Take this little quiz and see:
* Do you know how to find the IP address and DNS settings of the computer
you commonly use at work?
* In the past 6 months, have you removed the cover of a PC and successfully
inserted or removed a piece of hardware?
* Have you installed the Windows 2000 upgrade yourself?
* In the past month, have you been able to provide a correct answer
on a technical topic to a friend or co-worker?
* In the past 3 months, have you downloaded and actually tried a trial
or free version of any software development environment or tool?
* In the past year, have you written a batch file, script or program,
* The last time a new project started at work, did you ask for a technical
assignment, however small?
* The last time a peer review of software or a database design was conducted,
did you participate?
* It's 10 o'clock, do you know where your Web server is? If you don't
know, do you know how to find out?
* Do you know the version of the Web browser you're using and what your
security settings are?
Give yourself 10 points for each "yes" answer. A score of 90 to 100
says you're staying current and probably moving forward. If you scored 70
to 80, it's time to start getting more active technically. But if your score
was 60 or below, give some thought to whether you really want to stay current and if you do, get busy!
Bragg is an independent consultant and systems architect with extensive
experience in the federal market. He welcomes your questions and topic suggestions