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Technology Sectors that are Hot or Heating Up Now? 378

Posted by Cliff
from the searching-for-that-next-career dept.
unemployedCoder-in-retraining asks: "As a recently "leisured" programmer, I'm very interested in trying to turn misfortune into opportunity. This means using this career discontinuity to bone up on the latest-n-greatest in the hot sectors of the industry, to offer a better chance of a finding another great job. Of course, then one asks: 'What's Hot?' The Telco/Switching sector seems to have flatlined (Nortel and Lucent as examples). Cable and DSL access device and service development seems to be struggling. Wireless 3G networks seem to be having a hard time in North America. And yet, we here that a recovery is underway and that the technology sector as a whole is picking up again. So I ask you: 'Where?' In what sectors? What are the most important new technologies to learn to enhance employability? Somewhere, somebody is hiring or will be soon. What do I and other victims of the slowdown have to know to 'get back in the saddle' in the near future?"
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Technology Sectors that are Hot or Heating Up Now?

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  • Don't chase trends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by csb (23046) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:05PM (#3708431)
    By the time you figure out what's hot and train for it, it won't be hot any more. Just do what you like to do, do it well, and put yourself in a position where somebody will recognize you for it. Chasing trends will only exhaust you.
    • by selderrr (523988)
      I will depend heavily on the trend, and the trendsetter. If you want to chase a trent set by some small town startup, you're probably fucked indeed. If you follow a trens set up by a donkey with enough cash momentum to give that trend a huge initial push, you can hook up and ride along for quite some time.
      A few examples are .Net, XBox, java, 3D games, palm stuff... most of these started as a gadget that turned into a trend which turned into a full blown sector. Some of these will survive, some will die out.

      Hey, the poster asked for interseting job opportunities, right ? He didn't ask for an interesting or valuabble job !
      • Chasing trends quite simply *will not* get you anywhere. Of course, neither will merely "doing something you like".

        Today's employer is looking for a well-rounded individual with a diverse skillset that includes a "working knowledge" (which appears to be the 'cname' for "I know of it, and if you give me a book and 3 days to read it, I can convince people who don't know much about it that I'm an expert") of the trends, but also a more traditional background. (ie: systems administrators should know some form of Unix, and be able to fake their way through Windows... Programmers should know C, C++ or another "commonly accepted industrial-strength" programming language... On TOP of that they can know the latest buzzword OS to hit the market, and whatever odd new language has been thrown into the fray.

        Having a well-rounded body of knowledge that includes both the 'classics', and the 'top 50' shows that you can be grounded and keep up at the same time.

        Optionally, you can follow the path that an increasing number of people seem to be following. Abandon the computer field for a bit. Look into occupations that seem to be suffering from a shortage of qualified workers. (Interpreters, home health care workers, etc.) If you're really at a loss for "what to learn" (there's so MUCH you should never find yourself asking this question.) then you just might find it a relief to get away from this particular industry for a while.

        That said--I would suggest that you don't spend much time chasing the trends at all. Bone up on the 'classics', once you get those entrenched in your mind it's a very short leap to figure out where the path leads from there.

        -Sara
    • by hendridm (302246)
      > and put yourself in a position where somebody will recognize you for it.

      Why the hell didn't I think of that?! 8 months of unemployment and the answer is that simple!

      Studying what you like doesn't work unless what you like is a current "hot trend". I think this industry requires chasing hot trends, unless you are lucky enough to get "job security" (I heard about such a thing once in a magazine article).
      • by JordanH (75307)
        • Why the hell didn't I think of that?! 8 months of unemployment and the answer is that simple!

          Studying what you like doesn't work unless what you like is a current "hot trend".

        This is simply not true. Being into something that's a "hot trend" will find you with a lot of others. If you don't like it, you won't stand out.

        There is always work for people who are good at what they do. An important ingredient in being good at what you do is enjoying what you do.

        It's just that simple.

        Now, if you can find something that's hot and that you know you really enjoy, then throw yourself into it. Seems like that's going about it backwards, though.

        If you still need direction on what to study, all jobs require good communications skills and good organizational skill. You could work on those areas, if you really want to focus on things that will help.

      • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @04:34PM (#3708961) Homepage
        Studying what you like doesn't work unless what you like is a current "hot trend".


        Buzzzt! Guess again. Try counting up all the actual programming jobs using the "hot trends"; this number will be *far* lower than the "other" programming jobs out there (no... don't just look at Monster... I mean all potential programming jobs). There are many shops underserved with regards to the meat n' potatoes apps that a lot of "good" programmers snub their noses at, so these shops end up with money-grubbing consultants who swoop in and leave crap behind. Commit yourself to *high* quality and helping (yes, really HELPING) businesses thrive. Fix their existing systems and build quality new systems, and you'll go far. Sticking to the bleeding edge stuff (i.e., .NET) will drive you crazy and lead you off many "lemmings cliffs."

        • (* There are many shops underserved with regards to the meat n' potatoes apps that a lot of "good" programmers snub their noses at *)

          Care to name some? I might be in the (horrible, nasty, lowdown) market again in a few weeks. (Temp jobs are easier to find these days. Nobody want to invest in permies right now.)

          Besides, there is probably a *reason* they are being snubbed. For example, small companies often like to skip paychecks, making IOU's. Been there done that.

        • Buzzzt! Guess again NOT. Most things sell "by the trend". A lot of people made money programing Java when it was hotest, a lot of contractors will make huge revenues from companies adopting .net.

          The other day i was in a meeting with some CEO of a programming firm with many clients. What they do i follow the TREND. He claimed that ".net will require a lot of $$$ from companies adopting it, and that (they) will be ready for it! Huge profits to be made".

          Believe me, you can make lots of money by just following the trend. Companies will adopt .net because their contractors or programming department will tell them they need it. And Microsoft will be leveraging their "hard earned" 40B plus their monopoly to make sure the argument wins.

          This is just an example. The trend make you eat extra food. On the other hard, you have someone like me, which tries to make sense out of this. End result: they make money and do not help producitivity. I don't make much money and do save money. Yet, they are the heros during the "revolution" and they only care about me when they want to "cut costs".

          It's really simple:

          STEP 1: adopt whatever crap is on the IT mindshare at the moment. Adopt it fast and act as you believe it's true
          STEP 2: PROFIT
          STEP 3: PROFIT
    • Technology and the jobs that it creates has always been subject to boom and bust times. Examples:

      Railroads....not really high tech by todays standards, but it was once "the next big thing." Once there were a lot of railroad companies, then the bottom fell out. A lot of them went away, and a lot of jobs with them. The strong companies survived and went on.

      Automobiles...there were once dozens of car companies in the US. Now there are but a handful, but those companies provide tens of thousands of jobs, many of them very high-skilled.

      Calculators...The calculator revolution in the 1970's popped up after Intel produced, almost accidentally, the first microprocessor. Initially it was just going to be a calculator-on-a-chip, but later they realized just what they had produced was more than just something that they hoped one manufacturer would use to make calculators. The calculator business grew very big, very fast, and crashed about as quickly.

      There is something, skill-wise, in each of those times that workers were able to adapt for later use. Just give it some time and you will notice the door opening for the next opportunity, even though they all appear to be closed for good right now.

  • Wrong Forum (Score:4, Funny)

    by brad3378 (155304) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:05PM (#3708434)
    Sounds more like a thermodynamics problem
  • by selderrr (523988)
    not that I can tell if the technology is any good, but if I lock you up for 10 days with 5 managers and a horse, both you and the horse will come out with eye-stare, mumbling '.NET is cool, .NET is the way to go...'

    this assumes offcourse that all 5 managers are as brainwashed as possible, but that's probably the easiest part.
  • pornography (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:08PM (#3708451)

    Porn has always made money, and always will. So if your morals are OK with it, go be a gearhead for a porn site or publisher.

    I don't remember who said it, but I once read a quote that was along the lines of "The whole of computer science is nothing more than methods for increasing the efficiency of generating, storing, transmitting, viewing, and enjoying pornography." Heh.

    Or, to update the recurrent slashjoke:

    • Step 1: Satisfy people's base urges in an easy and discreet manner.
    • Step 2: Open merchant account.
    • Step 3: Mega-Profit
    • Re:pornography (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LinuxCumShot (582742) <lcs@noSpaM.rabien.com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:28PM (#3708531) Homepage Journal
      The adult website market is too crowded, hard to get in an make money, and you have to deal with people stealing your photots. Other websites and users, and the gov't is more interrested in protecting music and movies than your smut, so you are on your own. Plus after 8 years of no worring about indecency, Dubya is back at tossing people in jail for fisting and such... plus the script kiddies and xxx password sites steal your bandwidth... its a tough business... and then your wife leaves you because you dicked on of your models...

      No my friends, the money is in the back end, servers and such, image viewers... supply the porn indusrtry with what it needs and the money will come rolling in... only down side is you won't actually get to see/touch the naked people.
    • Re:pornography (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tranvisor (250175) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:36PM (#3708553) Homepage
      Come on, give credit where credit's due.

      The Step 1,2,3 joke is from a Southpark episode. Specifically, "The Underpants Gnomes".

      The original joke was that the gnnomes buisness method was:

      Step 1: Steal Underpants
      Step 2: ??? (None of the gnomes could remember)
      Step 3: Profit!!
      • by dubl-u (51156)
        But that episode didn't air until 1998. Clearly they stole it from here:

        Step 1: Get market share
        Step 2: ???
        Step 3: Profit!!

        Which was the business plan of 92% of VC-funded internet companies starting in 1996.
  • AI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Astin (177479) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:09PM (#3708452)
    Where I'm working (large financial institution) they're starting to look into AI as a means of predicting market movement and trends. One could see this as becoming key in other areas as well. Any field that tries to predict chaos or long-term trends could potentially be looking into this.

    Of course, there's the danger you'll invent a supercomputer that takes of the world and sends killer robots back in time to kill the leader of the resistance. This naturally would lead to his psychotic mother trying to kill you and you ultimately sacrificing yourself to save the future. Something to think about.
    • Re:AI (Score:3, Funny)

      by jesser (77961)
      Where I'm working (large financial institution) they're starting to look into AI as a means of predicting market movement and trends.

      If your AI predicts that AI is the hot field for the next few years, do you trust it?
  • Adult Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LinuxCumShot (582742) <lcs@noSpaM.rabien.com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:09PM (#3708455) Homepage Journal
    Good times or bad times, the adult industry is unaffected. And they are always the first ones to adopt new tech...
    • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:14PM (#3708477)
      And they are always the first ones to adopt new tech...

      ...especially if it vibrates.
    • (* Good times or bad times, the adult industry is unaffected. *)

      That is not true. In paycheck-poor times one simply pastes new heads on old bodies using a pixel editor. You don't have to pay to get head images. (Cheapskate Geek Tip #74)

      Also, I wonder what will happen to the porn industry when people can buy porn simulation software that can generate/render infinate variations? Want 3 mellons instead of 2? No problem! It is hard for real girls to compete with that (except maybe at Chyrnobol).

      • Aah, but someone has to write the porn simulation (or should I say stimulation) software. Someone has to produce the hardware. You see, there will always be something to do in the adult industry. Plus, they ARE the first ones to use new technology. Long distance telephone, VHS and web-video are just some of the examples of where the porn industry has been way ahead of the rest of the market.
        • (* Aah, but someone has to write the porn simulation software *)

          Yes, but one person might generate enough images to put 10,000 other porn workers out of work. It is kind of like how computers put calculator clerks out of business. Supposedly the long-term trend is away from low-tech jobs to higher tech jobs. But, the problem is that they are going to India. I think the U.S. is becoming a Nation of Managers. If you are not a good manager, you are hosed. Low tech gets automated, high-tech is exported to India, so what is left is PHB's to manage everything else.

          That one porn software job might be interesting, however. "Boss, I need to study a few more live models to get scene 4 juuuust right."

  • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:10PM (#3708457)
    I've been reading the book Next (my father reccomended it. He's a businessman so it's at that level. It did have some interesting stuff though, like explaining the conflicts of interest that most financial advisers are involved in and how you can get more accurate estimates of profits just by reducing their estimates by 10%.

    So that can help to explain why what you're hearing isn't matching up with reality.
    • Also the job market tends to lag behind the economy a bit.

      People who are currently employed are feeling secure enough in their current position to start spending more, so that's helping to speed the economy up. But companies 1) don't need to start hiring more employees because they can just make the current ones work harder, and 2) hiring someone is a longer-term commitment, and it's not necessarily clear yet that the economy has picked up for good.

  • by gTsiros (205624) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:10PM (#3708458)
    Short one: If we knew, we'd be doing it.
    Longer one:
    I can't tell you what...but you can start using your imagination trying to find something that people would use frequently.

    And now for some brainstorming:

    Whatever you do, a good marketing dpt. will make it look better. This is sad.

    Not "one" thing there is. Ok, yoda speak, but what i want to get to is that people need to fill gaps in the business...some people do this...some people do that... coding is fun , ok, but if everone only coded, it'd be dull.

    Look which /. subjects seem to get most attention. I consider these subjects "hot". Do this with various other publications, and since we all have seen how satire foresees reality, start with the onion ;)

    storm's out.
    • Look which /. subjects seem to get most attention. I consider these subjects "hot"

      DON'T!!! before you know it, you'll be pouring hot grits into your widened asshole.
      Oh he meant the articles... My bad.
    • (* Look which /. subjects seem to get most attention. I consider these subjects "hot". *)

      "The most attention" often seems to go to what is the most controversial or bashes Microsoft (which they probably deserve).

      BTW, I see a huuuuge gap in remote GUI's over HTTP technology (see Andreeson browser interview topic messages), but nobody seems to care. Businesses keep trying to make HTTP browsers act like VB/Delphi GUI's for biz forms, but the existing standards suck at it.

      Why is it that I see a giant market for such and nobody else does? Is it because their DOM+JavaScript skills are hard-won and they don't want to start over? I am missing something?

      The remote-GUI issue could serve as a case study for what takes off and what doesn't.

      (Sorry to keep bringing up this subject, but it both fascinates and frustrates me.)
  • Support! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NullStream (121401)
    There are always open and varried opportunities in the ever strong field of technical support!
  • Maybe you'd be better off doing what you like, and quit chasing buzzwords.
  • by ComaVN (325750)
    I have heard the economy is starting to pick up again for months, yet no real signs of improvements show up. Probably the same for the job market for some time.

    My advice: lay back, have a beer, meet new people and do interesting things with them, and when cash runs out go flip some burgers or something. In a few years time, when things look better, they'll come running for you again.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:13PM (#3708472) Homepage
    Just look at the stock market. Biotech is the future, my friend. In the new annual ranking of the Nasdaq 100 index--made up of the 100 largest nonfinancial companies ranked by market capitalization--seven of the 13 companies added were in biotech. The new entrants include such familiar names as ImClone Systems (IMCL ), Cephalon (CEPH ), Sepracor (SEPR ), and Invitrogen (IVGN ); they replace 13 faltering tech, telecom, and Internet outfits, including onetime stars CMGI (CMGI ), 3Com (COMS ), and Palm (PALM ). All told, biotech companies now represent 12.7% of the market capitalization of all the companies in the index, nearly triple the share they held only two years ago.

    Sounds an awful lot like the Internet bubble all over again, I know. And in one sense, it is: The high market capitalization of many of these stocks suggests that investors are paying a lot in anticipation of future earnings that may never materialize. It costs tens of millions of dollars and can take five to 15 years to get a drug from the test tube to the clinic--and many drugs simply don't make it.

    In several ways, however, this boom is different. The industry is more mature than it was a decade ago, when it last rose and fell. New alliances, new products, and new financing should combine to produce lasting growth in this once-turbulent field. There are some 300 biotech products in Phase III testing, the final stage of human experimentation before seeking Food & Drug Administration approval. The FDA issued 32 approvals for biotech drugs in 2000, a 45% increase over 1999. Sales of biotech products rose from $16.1 billion in 1999 to $18.1 billion in 2000, an increase of 12%. And there were 22 profitable biotechs in 1999, up from 17 in 1997. In addition, there is a distinct lack of bearded linux hippies in biotech, making it a much more attractive market segment to the general public.

    Furthermore, unlike many Internet companies, the biotech companies are targeting clear and existing markets. Many Internet companies devised products without knowing whether there were markets for them. Others, such as Yahoo!, aimed for ad revenues that proved far smaller than hoped. Biotech companies don't have that problem: A drug for arthritis or cancer, say, has a huge market. If their drugs work, the biotechs will make money.

    Excitement in biotech will likely get another boost when the climate for initial public offerings improves. There are 50-100 biotech companies waiting to go public, says Oronsky. That's where casual investors should be especially careful. Some of today's most promising biotechs will undoubtedly fall short of the hype. Unfortunately, that's one way this boom won't differ much from the last.
    • Re:Bio-informatics (Score:5, Informative)

      by Paul Johnson (33553) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:34PM (#3708549) Homepage
      Biotech is increasingly an IT-intensive industry. Some of the biggest iron in the world exists to crunch biotech problems, mostly related to protein folding and drug interactions. They also generate huge amounts of experimental data that has to be managed and mined. Finally there is a lot of automated lab equipment for parallelising those bits of it that still involve real chemicals and real biology.

      The field here is wide open. Lots of university biology departments are spinning off companies to make innovative new sensors, so you can get involved there. Or you can go and manage a Beowulf cluster for a big drug firm. Or anything in between.

      Paul.

    • (* Yahoo!, aimed for ad revenues that proved far smaller than hoped. *)

      Yahoo just seems to be making stupid decisions. I see almost *no* subject-based targeting in their geocities ads. I don't remember a single computer-related ad in my IT-related websites (such as my anti-OO site). It is already classified as a computer-related site in their system.

      Further, they are killing thier own "children". They are starting to "clean up" older sites that have not changed, regardless of the number of visitors.

      The cost of storing and transmitting webpages will continue to drop over time. (The only cost that might rise is content disputes, like DMCA stuff.)

      Thus these two factors:

      1. Better targeting ads

      2. Continuous drop in storage and transmission costs

      Should make things like Geocities viable. True, #2 is long-term, but they could do #1 now.
    • Of course, the CEO of first company you listed, ImClone systems, was just arrested and charged with insider trading for notifying his friends (including Martha Stuart) and family that the company's cancer drug wasn't going to be approved prior to the information becoming public, enabling them to sell off the still-valuable stock.
    • ...is not from corrupt, ImClone-style insider trading, but from the long-term outlook for patented, exclusive medical therapies.

      There's a large, general outrage at the overall cost of medical treatment and within specific socioeconomic groups HUGE outrage at the cost of perscription medicines. It's not felt (as much) by the middle class due to their generally good, employer-provided medical coverage.

      However, I predict a time in the next 20 years when the cost of medical treatment across the board (doctors, hospitals, medicines, and so on) will be so high that political pressure will be brought to bear to severely regulate the costs associated with medical treatments if not to begin socializing medicine.

      What's this got to do with biotech careers? Biotech right now is hot as a sector because of the promise of developing amazing new treatments that are proprietary, patentable and licensable for HUGE profits. However the money will dry up quickly if government begins to socialize medicine.
  • web services (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bilbobuggins (535860) <bilbobugginsNO@SPAMjuntjunt.com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:14PM (#3708475)
    web services.

    i know it sounds like a trendy buzz-word but i think it's here to stay and some seriously cool stuff will start to happen soon (look at Google).
    at any rate, if you can walk into a potential employer and say 'I can convert your current software into a remote API for access by your clients in a multitude of languages' I think you have a pretty good shot at a job. at least, this is what I would be trying to learn if I had time.

    Oh, and being able to throw around 'SOAP' and '.NET' a lot doesn't hurt too much either ;)

    • Re:web services (Score:4, Informative)

      by tzanger (1575) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @03:38PM (#3708788) Homepage

      i know it sounds like a trendy buzz-word but i think it's here to stay and some seriously cool stuff will start to happen soon (look at Google).

      The web is dead [xwt.org].

      I didn't create this tech but I am using it to replace shitty HTML+Jscript+prayers+sacrifices web-based interfaces. There are some other guys like XWT too but XWT is simple, straightfoward and fast. It essentially projects UIs -- do you forms locally (on the client machines) but all your business logic sits on a server where it belongs. Talkes XML-RPC and SOAP. Very cool. Way way way better than what I would call traditional "web services."

    • I honestly think Web Service is not going to get anywhere. Not that I do not support Web Services. I like Web Services and have been using them for several years (really).

      But I am getting the feeling Web Services is technology that is nice to have but not necessary (at the moment). People are fighting other battles.

      I honestly think the IT industry is going to go back to "traditional" programming and skip the other stuff. It seems to me that IT is in a contraction phase. And that is resulting that software is going to be moved to Java and the .NET runtime. Or more generally put, the era of runtimes since we seem to have CPU cycles to waste. This is not exciting stuff, but something that will take at least 10 years to complete. And during this phase to "runtimes" things like distributed processing (a'la BeoWolf) will become mainstream.

      After that who knows? But definitely software is entering a boring phase. So if you want excitement go west young man, go west!
  • by donnacha (161610) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:14PM (#3708480) Homepage


    IsMyJobHotorNot.com

  • Bioinformatics (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Using IT to crunch the genome, protiens, protien-folding, creating treaments by targeting specific molecular recpetor sites, etc. Definitely the next hot area and mostly wide-open from an IT perspective.
  • One word (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mfos.org (471768) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:17PM (#3708487)
    Security, this is the big one now
  • Biotech? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cr0sh (43134) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:18PM (#3708493) Homepage
    This may be the next big thing, but right now most of what the usual geek could get into seems mostly hype. What I am talking about is the field of Bioinformatics. From what I understand, Bioinformatics is basically "data mining of biotech databases" - more or less. I know there are a few books available on the subject (including one by Oreilly). The main problems with "breaking into the scene" is most positions, when offered, require you to have some kind of science degree (biology related, generally) - even though it is just data-mining. I tend to wonder if it is because you really have to know the terminology behind the data you are looking through (maybe), or if it is just such a young field that the employers thinks they need such people right now.

    It is something I would like to get into: I live in Phoenix, and the city is trying to get something going here called the "International Genomics Commission" (IGC - the "C" part I am hazy on) - basically a huge research lab for biotech, etc - so far, it is seemingly being sucessful. Anyhow, I haven't got a chance in hell of possibly getting onboard "early", so to speak, because not only do I not have a degree in any bio science area, but I don't have a degree at all (ok, I take that back, I do have an Associates, but from a tech school - read: Near Worthless). All I do have is 10+ years of professional experience in software development and database applications - but I am not sure that will count for much, at least at this point in time.

    Another area to consider: Alternative Energy Research - I am not talking solar, etc - but more on funky engine and prime mover designs, etc - I am seeing more of this stuff crop up all over the place.
    • Re:Biotech? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lictor (535015)
      As someone working in Bioinformatics, here are a couple of quick opinions on your post:

      Bioinformatics is *NOT* "just data-mining". Certainly, data-mining of genetic information is one aspect, but its far from being the whole field. There are lots of really interesting problems besides just "how do we deal with this huge genome..." Protien secondary structure prediction, tertiary structure prediction, computational pharmacokinetics (and biomolecule docking problems) etc... there is just *so* much more to the field than data mining.

      The other thing is that this is only going to be "hot" for a limited amount of time. Bioinformatics is here to stay, but right now its on a huge trendy upswing. Drug companies are throwing millions of dollars at it in hopes of developing an 'in silico' drug testing lab... sooner or later they are going to realize that there is still a LOT of basic science that needs to be done before this happens. People working in bioinfo in industy are getting some pretty ludicrous salaries these days (yes I'm jealous... I'm in academia), but it ain't gonna last. Like any other flavour of the week there will be a huge bursting of the bubble, followed by a nice levelling off.

      If bioinformatics *interests* you, then I would highly recommend pursuing it. Its a very rewarding area, and it offers you the opportunity to work with people from many different disciplines. But if you are on the "Bioinformatics == $$" bandwagon... you're going to end up dissapointed.
    • Re:Biotech? (Score:3, Informative)

      From what I understand, Bioinformatics is basically "data mining of biotech databases" - more or less.

      Not quite. That is a part of it, but there is more to it than that. For example, an experimental technique called microarray analysis was developed in 1998 for finding expression profiles for thousands of genes at once. Companies manufacture "chips" with thousands of spots on them, and each spot has a specific piece of probe DNA on it, chemically bound to the chip substrate. You take a biological sample with unknown mRNA, attach a dye to the mRNA, and expose the chip to your sample. The unknown dyed mRNA hybridizes only to the specific probe sequence that one spot on the chip has. You then rinse the chip, put it in a fluorescence scanner, and whammo, you know the intensity of mRNA concentration (i.e. the level of gene expression) in your sample for thousands of genes in the genome. Just doing this for one or two genes used to be a lot of work. Repeat this procedure with a bunch of chips (mitosis phase, day of treatment, patient, etc.) and you have an immense pile of expression profile data to sift through! But somewhere buried in there may be a good lead for a drug target that can be teased out with the right statistical algorithm. So a niche market exists for good gene expression analysis software, which is what my company makes. There exist only a few customers for software like this, but they're all biotech and pharmaceutical companies (and some universities) for whom the cost of the software is trivial. We have a large market share built up by word-of-mouth. So life is pretty good right now for us.

      Bioinformatics doesn't automatically mean easy money. The field has already seen companies fail (e.g. DoubleTwist). And it seems like everyone and his brother is trying to form a dot-com style bioinformatics startup. I personally know two guys who are busy launching startups that are bound to fail. The time to start a bioinformatics startup was 1998-1999 during the dot-com boom. Now it's too late. Being in a trendy field won't save you if you have no product to sell.

      I know there are a few books available on the subject (including one by Oreilly).

      The O'Reilly book has some good information, but keep in mind it is mostly targeted toward the biotech researcher (the end-user) and not the programmer who is developing tools for biologists to use. It tells you how to use the software that's already out there. They have a Perl book out too, again targeted at biologists. There is a lot of string manipulation in bioinformatics. But there is also a lot of numerical analysis which is not exactly Perl's strong suit. In theory, a biologist who understands statistics well and knows how to do his own ANOVAs and clustering can probably do everything he needs to do with Perl and Excel. Thankfully for us, most of the people with expression data to analyze are not quite as industrious as that. :)

      The main problems with "breaking into the scene" is most positions, when offered, require you to have some kind of science degree (biology related, generally) - even though it is just data-mining.

      First of all, like I said, it usually isn't just blind data-mining, there is also some intense numerical analysis. Second, if they've got a clueless HR dept. who demands that programmers have some sort of bio degree, they're completely Dilberted and going under soon anyway so it's no big loss to you. A general biology background is easy to pick up. If you skim through a college-level textbook and learn how DNA/RNA works, what open reading frames, promoters, and introns are, you're basically all set as far as that stuff is concerned. You'll still need to learn about how to interact with the messy public databases out there (GenBank, Homologene, UniGene, LocusLink, Gene Ontology, etc.) that suffer from missing or incomplete data and/or non-unique identifers. You also have to cope with the lack of data format standardization in the industry and the proliferation of oddball formats to be parsed. Familiarity with all that stuff is much more important, and a biology degree doesn't help you much with it. And good programmers are way too rare for us to be picky about who's got a bio degree. Of the programmers here, not a single one is a biologist (actually, all the programmers here have physics and EE backgrounds). If you interview here we won't even talk to you about biology. We ask people simple programming questions, like how to raise two to a small integer power (to generate a bit mask, for example). You'd be amazed at how many people immediately convert the 2 to floating point and call pow().

  • Defense is way up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lingqi (577227) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:19PM (#3708497) Journal
    Try Northrop Grumman / Lockeed Martin / Boeing, etc

    as for the pure, pure computer area -- i think people are returning to the "core business". (chip wise)

    LCD is another area;

    wireless is picking up a little steam (look at how many DSL routers there are!), as well as other marginal stuff -- HDTV, PDA, etc...

    cellphone and pda integration is considered to be inevitable by some -- so cellphones are not "flatlining", they are just not exploding as they were before.

    at the same time digital imaging (cameras / miniDV camcorders) are sparking a huge thing within flash market -- look how the size have doubled time and again: imagine how much $$ of R&D / engineering went into that

    home entertainment (xbox / ps2 / cube) is also kinda hot -- sony expect to sell a LOT of ps2s by christmas -- and ppl are gearing up for that too.

    there are a couple more -- can't think of them off the top my head though

  • One word: forensics. Between Enronesque corporate investigations, the kiddie porn scares, and the emphasis on "cyber security," there's lots of opportunity there. But don't do it unless you have the stomach to be the guy that helps put some teenager playing with a website in prison, because at the end of the day, that's what the computer crime "units" seem to enjoy most.
  • Small Business (Score:3, Informative)

    by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix.ne t c o m . com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:22PM (#3708505)
    I would argue small business, based on what I have seeing. Big business has jumpe on the e-commerce bandwagon, but for the most part small busniesses have not yet really touched its potential.

    I am not in the consulting industry, but I believe there is quite a lot of business to be had by aproaching the right small companies with the right plans. If I were "leisured" at the moment, which I am not, in addition to looking for a real job, I would aproach some small businesses in my area with "solutions" to get started in e-commerce, or e-customer service. My mechanic, who can barely use a mouse has just setup a site, and plans to offer information about his high quality used car inventory. If you had a simple turnkey site for a market like that, there is a decent living to be had. Now kep in mind, you probably cannot charge the $95 an hour you used to get. However, there are many low end turn key systems to be sold. 40 dealers/mechanics at $1000 a site would be the equivilent of an entry to mid level programmer in my market. How many small mechanics, or used car dealers are there in your area? Used cars are just an example, I am sure you can come up with more on your own. It helps if you have an "in" with at least one business of the type you intend to go after to get your foot in the door.

    Anyway, if I had a few weeks ahead of me where my employment was uncertain, I'd identify a market like that, and go after it. This is also a market where open source can be used to your advantage if you approach the situation correctly.

    Hope I have gotten some thoughts going,

    -Pete
    • I worked in consulting for 4 years and we avoided the small business customers for a very important reason. The problem with a small company is that they go through the same hesitation and concern over spending thousands of dollars that a big company would do over millions of dollars. You end up having to work just as hard for a substantially smaller return.

      Now, that's as a consultant. Consulting implies a certain amount of custom work, which is what kills you in the smaller businesses. If you could develop some product that's useful to a lot of small businesses, then you might have some potential to make money at it. Think of something like quick books, a product that lots of small companies use, that's relatively cheap but is sold in large enough quantities to be profitable.

      So, what you need to do is identify a need in the market. The trick is not inventing the next big thing, it is simply finding an unaddressed need. You've probably stumbled accross a few of these in your past work; meeting people who are doing things a complex way because they have no idea there's a better way. Find those things and provide solutions to them.

      The thing that's different though in developing a product is that you, as the "leisured" programmer are taking on the risk of it. If you are billing somebody by the hour, if something goes wrong, you can still eat. If you make some product and nobody buys it, you are screwed. This means that, in addition to being able to develope software, you need to have the talent or be able to hire the talent necessary to sell your product to people.

  • Web services. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by case_igl (103589) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:24PM (#3708516) Homepage
    I see lots of growth in Web services and entertainment. There are lots of companies transitioning to membership based models now, and that generates a lot of work to build those subscription systems and management tools.

    I just hired four new developers at my company, so I will give you some pointers for actually getting in the door once you have found a company to interview for:

    #1 - Accept the fact you'll most likely make less money than your last position. Times have changed in most markets. I hired for four positions and had 150 resumes (not counting the throw them in the trash right away kind). Lots of people I interviewed were looking for salaries that were gone with the 1999 dot com frenzy. Don't mentioned your MBA or Masters in CompSci fifty times, either.

    #2 - Don't accept less money than you're worth. With #1 being said, don't short sell yourself either. Companies are getting away with murder when they hire right now because the market is so bad for those out of work. You want to come across as someone who is WORTH every penny you ask for. How to do this? Focus on things at your previous jobs that increased efficiency or saved your company money. As an example, someone I hired told me about how they cut their company's bandwidth costs by 30% by installing a proxy that used mod_gzip on everything going out. Companies will pay for people who will not only save them money, but FIND them ways to save even more money.

    #3 - Be assertive, but not forceful. People who call me every two days to follow-up annoy the heck out of me. It sends a signal that you're desparate and don't have other options. Definately send an E-mail thanking the person for an interview with a couple BRIEF thoughts. If you call back more than once and don't hear back, don't waste your time chasing the job.

    #4 - Focus on MY needs, not yours. I don't want to hear about how you are really heavily involved in open source, or have this web site you help maintain on the side that gets uber traffic. Things like that spell distraction to me. Review the Web site or product catalog of the company you are going to interview for. Do a Google search and read recent press on the company. Try to get an idea of what challenges the company is facing and apply your past project experience directly to that.

    #5 - Dress and act appropriately. Don't show up in a suit unless it's an executive position and you're in an area of the country that requires it. Being overdressed makes you look out of place, and tells me you haven't been in circulation or interviewed much. Comb your hair, take out those nose rings (unless you're a graphics person, haha), and ask questions. If you don't understand something you're asked, say so. Nothing is worse than watching someone try to fake their way through an answer.

    #6 - Base the business on the numbers and the market, not the Herman Miller chairs. Our office isn't super deluxe. It's pretty spartan, just a couple floors of cubes and Costco desks, tables, etc. But we're profitable for over a year, have over three million users, have positive growth, and have been in business on the net for over six years. You won't find a good job that will last if a company spends more on their office than their payroll.

    #7 - Avoid the startup...This one is more of my personal experience, but most people I know are sick of hearing about startups. Hearing someone works at a startup in most cases sends up warning signs. You're better off working for a smaller, established company that is challenged by it's growth and needs quality people. You'll learn a lot more when you don't have to worry if your paycheck will be coming next month.

    Just some thoughts from the front lines of a smallish Internet company in Seattle...Hope this helps!

    Case
    • Okay, I'm going to blow my mod priviledges in this thread to ask you a followup question:

      #1 - Accept the fact you'll most likely make less money than your last position.

      #2 - Don't accept less money than you're worth. With #1 being said, don't short sell yourself either.


      How do we, as developers, get a good hold on this? Should we put any stock at all in those online "salary comparisons" that say a person with job X in market Y makes $Z?

      Part of my problem is that I'm relocating to a new market with a significantly higher cost of living than my old place. So I don't know if I should be asking for about the SAME as my last position, figuring that the market difference will make that "lower," or go even LOWER than my old salary and live like a peon.

      That, and how does the salary requirement influence you? Do you require it on resumes/monster searches, and just toss out the ones that have unreal demands? Personally, I'd rather just interview and then discuss what a reasonable salary would be if it seems like a good fit.

      • How do we, as developers, get a good hold on this? Should we put any stock at all in those online "salary comparisons" that say a person with job X in market Y makes $Z?

        Salary comparisons online lag pretty far behind the real job market. The data they are using is always at least six months old, and I'm sure many of the online sites are using data older than that.

        A better source would be cost of living comparisons between cities. That will give you a starting point. I relocated from the East coast 3.5 years ago to Seattle, and that's what I did.

        Part of my problem is that I'm relocating to a new market with a significantly higher cost of living than my old place. So I don't know if I should be asking for about the SAME as my last position, figuring that the market difference will make that "lower," or go even LOWER than my old salary and live like a peon.

        The employer lives there, and they know what it costs to live there. So don't feel bad about asking for more than you "feel" worth in a market like that. Just make sure it's in live with how much you were making over the cost of living at your old position.

        That, and how does the salary requirement influence you? Do you require it on resumes/monster searches, and just toss out the ones that have unreal demands? Personally, I'd rather just interview and then discuss what a reasonable salary would be if it seems like a good fit.

        I've asked people to submit salary requirements with resumes, but honestly less than 5% of people are willing to do that. Usually the last couple questions in an interview I ask to get a handle on a "range" that someone would be comfortable with. If someone says their low end is, say, 90K and they have only a year or two of experience, that's a pretty good indicator it's a waste of my time (when hiring entry level positions, especially).

        I think it's important people be honest about their expectations. You don't want to waste your time if you can't make $x, but you aren't qualified for $y. So say you'd like to make between $x and $y and then you'll arrive at $z.

        Again, I'm not suggestion you shouldn't earn enough to feel happy and comfortable. I'm saying that to get that kind of salary in this job market, you need to sell yourself well.

        A good tactic is to ask for a real world problem they are facing right now, and give them your 30 second "from the tip of my tongue" solution. If the person interviewing comes away from it with a couple new ideas it will help get you in the door.

        Good luck!

        Case

    • I see lots of growth in Web services and entertainment.

      Thanks for your thoughtful posting. I'm curious whether you mean you are seeing lots of growth now, or you simply mean you are predicting growth. I have not seen much growth yet. Of course, it depends how you define web services, but I'm talking about opening up a company's data to its customers via services written using serverside J2EE or .NET.

      There's certainly a lot of interest in web services, and some very large companies are promoting it as the next big thing, but I wonder how much of that interest has been realized in terms of broad based investments by customers. According to the Gartner Group [webservices.org], by the year 2004 Web services will be the primary method of delivering corporate software solutions. That's a pretty bold statement.

      Regarding your job interview advice, your advice is pretty sound, except:
      #5 - ...Don't show up in a suit unless it's an executive position

      That's possibly true in certain places but it's a very bad rule of thumb. Better to always wear your best suit. Do you really want to work at a place where people look down on you for being well dressed? How silly.

      #6 - Base the business on the numbers and the market, not the Herman Miller chairs

      You don't always know where the furniture came from; my brother's medical clinic has these $5000 leather sofas that he got for like $300 each--slight damage in delivery or some such, and he's got an eye for bargains. Personally I'd be put off if they didn't have decent ergonomic chairs and keyboard holders; it's such a good investment. I might still take the job and then lobby for (or just bring in my own) better equipment, but nonetheless it's not a good sign.

      #7 - Avoid the startup

      Well if we all did this, what a boring world it would be. Startups are a great opportunity to learn all about business, which the typical tech person doesn't necessarily get working at a larger company. Plus, you get to do more stuff, e.g. if you're a database programmer you might also be involved in installing and admin'ing the databases until the company got big enough to hire a dba. It's all in what the individual is seeking, and the original question was about trends to jump on, not how to find a stable boring position.

      -Terry
      • Yeah, honestly, the "appropriate" dress for an interview is always something I struggle with.

        The best advice I ever got (from a recruiter) is to try to take a look at how their own people dress, in advance - and copy their style.

        (If, for example, you see most of the employees dressing casually - with only management in a suit and tie, then you're probably fine just dressing up with a plain shirt and tie, and no suit. That is, unless you're applying for one of those management positions.)

        Much depends on the age of the people interviewing you, IMHO. I've been to places where the dress was quite casual - but the management was made up of older people who expected that all interviewees would show up in a suit and tie, and freshly polished dress shoes. Anything less told them you weren't the type who "goes the extra mile" to make a good impression, and that was a negative.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:24PM (#3708519) Journal
    Bioinformatics.

    Just north of Washington DC area there are almost 200 companies that are working in the bioinformatics area s. Subject knowledge is good of course but even better is knowledge of Perl. O'Reilly even has 2 books Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics [oreilly.com] and Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills [oreilly.com]

    Then there are companies that are doing lots of work regarding facial recognition.

    Hope this helps.

  • http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/27/002523 2&tid=99 [slashdot.org]

    Much of the comments from that story apply here.

    :^)

    Ryan Fenton
  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:26PM (#3708528) Journal

    People are starving for inexpensive, easy to setup, wireless. Some day we'll be able to just slap a $20 antenna on any suburban rooftop and log onto a network. Until then, there are a lot of people looking for "solutions". Move fast if this excites you. Entrepreneurs [geekspeed.net] are already moving on it.

    If this doesn't turn you on, exploit fears of terrorism. That could include surveillance, security, privacy issues, encryption... anything spook-related.

    Of course, you'll be lucky to get something you actually like in this economy.

  • Even though M$ is doing to well with their X-Box, video game makers are doing great. They have three new consoles to develop for. They Geforce3's are also becoming mass market. That means developers can pull off tricks with the progamable pixel pipeline that they couldn't do with the fixed function pipeline.
  • Information security is probably the hottest segment of the market right now. Penetration testing, intrusion detection, common criteria. There are a ton of different things that you can do in the field, and there's LOTS of demand. Plus, since there are a lot of positions as government contractors available you have a bit more job security than you would have as a contractor for the commercial market.
  • Walmat's real hot right now. They give you a uniform and everything.

    Oh sorry, you meant coding?
  • by Micah (278) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:45PM (#3708584) Homepage Journal
    ...like GNU Enterprise [gnue.org].

    As people continue to see the light and increasingly prefer Free Software, and want to keep their data in a more open system, projects like this should skyrocket in use, and people that know them well should be more valuable.
  • The Economist has been going on for months in a row about the end of capitalism as we know it and has even run articles in which The Economist of London's staff reporters have said things like-- perhaps capitalism was never appropriate for many parts of the world.
    In case you hadn't heard, Taiwan's chip fabs have gone renegade and are pushing the ultimate limits of nanotechnology in a period of months rather than the twenty years drawn out schedule set by IBM. I'm talking about the 65nm fab being built in Singapore as we speak. See the last few months of EETimes if you want some scarry stories. Yeah, that was nanotech, it went by so fast you hardly even saw it, eh?
    While investment bankers are being charged with corruption, Wall Street is below where it was before the Gulf War and Israel is loading nuclear cruise missles onto a fleet of submarines in an effort to beat India and Pakistan to the headlines of being the second nation in history to use nuclear weapons for offensive purposes.
    Who is suggesting to you that things are suddenly going to rebound?
    Oh, did I mention that Taiwan students have stopped attending the TOEFL in vast droves and are now going to grad school in mainland China instead of the US? So much for that strategic partnership. And you can guess what this is going to look like a few years down the road when the chips market has been totally commoditized and relocated to mainland China and Taiwan has de-facto reunified by popular consent from within Taiwan. Americans are going to be like --when did everything suddenly change? Well guess what, it's changing by the minute and much of it is the seeds of bitter fruit that we Americans have ourselves planted with decades of irresponsible government that has allowed the sickness of monopoly to put our economy in grave danger.
    I suggest you look outside of anything that has to do with software or hardware for money. For entertainment though --hey don't touch that dial babe. PCs are the entertainment value of choice and value is what we're all going to need lots of.
  • or for gov't contractors. I am just out of school, and found a well-paying job with a bunch of old guys. There is going to be a lot of people retiring in this sector over the short term.

    Oh, and the job is interesting.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:52PM (#3708608) Journal
    Ratbert: "I'm going to interview successful people and write a book of their tips. I'll start with you, Dobert."

    Dogbert: "Set your alarm clock to go off every hour. Keep a big vat of 'Jell-O' by the bed. When the alarm clock goes of, stick your head in the 'Jell-O' and yell, 'Boy, I'm tired!'"

    Ratbert: "Thanks!"

    Dogbert (thinking): "Beware the advice of successful people; they do not seek company."

    Seven Years of Highly Defective People, p. 137.
  • I currently for a software security company, and I believe security is a hot future.

  • by justanyone (308934) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:57PM (#3708625) Homepage Journal
    Find a subject or area that interests you, and follow up on it by finding an open source project (see Sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] for good ideas).

    Basically, find a module on CPAN that is neglected, or look for some idea that hasn't been done elsewhere, work on it and post it to the web, and get your claim to fame!

    Another great idea is to help out with the CJAN (sourceforge has the project) and bone up on your Java skills, converting ideas from CPAN into Java and posting them on some kind of CJAN site. You'll

    • get Java experience,
    • help the community,
    • prove you can program well,
    • prove to a future employer that you know something, and
    • prove you're motivated to do good work you're not afraid for other programmers to use/read.

    Some other ideas:

    • Don't be afraid to brag on the resume,
    • practice answering the top 50 interview questions believably, with good and truthful answers,
    • post your resume on lots of job boards,
    • create a kickin' homepage,
    • find old documents like howto's that you've written that are generally usefull to everyone and post them on your page,
    • don't forget to wax your car! It's summer!
    -- Kevin
  • by fidget42 (538823) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @02:57PM (#3708628)
    is that they tend to cool off, and the hotter they are the faster (and farther) they cool. I would really recommend a more "tempid" area for work, as those jobs will be around for a while. Network administration may not be sexy, but I have yet to see a network that can manage itself.

    I personally work in embedded systems development. While the pay may not be at the top of the curve, you will not find a more challenging area nor will you find a brighter group of developers. The best thing is that your skills are kept sharp for when the industry heats up again (i.e., You can do what on a 486 with 128K of memory?).
  • by jdh28 (19903) <jdh28@ b i g f o o t .com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @03:00PM (#3708638) Homepage

    Copy protection seems to be a growth industry at the moment.

    john

  • The Next trends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Reeses (5069)
    Well, if you look at the market, and see what's getting the most press. This is the stuff that's liable to wind up the most growth heavy in the next few years.

    I look around and I see this sort of stuff:

    3D gaming/interaction (3D physics, 3D modeling, AI programming, heavy interactivity)

    Bioinformatics (All that lovely gene stuff, Getting that stuff to work with standard hardware, etc.)

    And the final processes of Businesses going online with ERP, and B2B and B2C interfaces combined. Lots of companies are getting very tech heavy, looking for ways to cut costs, and leverage their current tech investment to the max. Sadly, this will ultimately wind up with lots of people getting laid off.

    And those are three pretty heavy areas I see. Of course, as a tech person, especially a programmer, you need to sit down and think really hard how much longer your skills are going to be relevant. That age-35 discrimination stuff is probably creeping up soon, so it might be worth looking into Project management, or being a technical manager, which we all know there needs to be more tech savvy managers, especially managing a tech department.

    And that's my guess.
    • Security - Learn how to hack, then how to prevent hackers, you'll be in demand.
    • P2P - Decentralized computing, not filesharing stuff (don't piss of RIAA), but collaborative productivity amongst teams
    • Web services - Vendors are telling people they need it, creating demand, and you can supply it
    • Grid computing - Too many unused PCs out there in the Internet and in companies, find ways to leverage them
    • Bioinformatics - Not sure if there are a lot of jobs, but it's an exciting new area, but most seem to require some life science background as well
    • Embedded - Lots of open jobs in this area in Orange County, CA. We are making more and more gadgets that all need customized software
    • Portals - I'm not talking about Yahoo/Lycos/Excite here, I'm talking about linking and integrating disparate systems in companies and their partners into 1 common portal, better learn Java's J2EE and JCA
    In essence, anyway or anywhere you can make people (especially in comapnies) more productive and profitable you'll be in a hot sector.
  • Plastics.
  • ...to finally learn C.

    Seriously.
  • And move into management. As a manager one said, "Details don't matter."

    Learn how technology applies to businesses, then make that your business. In the world of business, people that understand technology and business issues are rare, valuable commodities. Managers who've got tech and business cred are more valuable that you'd ever understand.

    Think of it this way: would you rather be the guy that hand-coded the unified password repository, or the guy who's team of people defined and implemented company-wide technology standards, and created a stable computing base for the next 10 years?

    The answer, of course, is the first one!

    But still, it's a much different feeling to say "Wal-Mart kicked the cr*p out of everyone because of the logistics system we came up with is the sh*t." than it is to say "I single-handedly delivered a php-based dynamic website in 2 weeks."

    In short, ignore the technology, and concentrate on the business end. You'll be more useful, and you won't worry that your skills are eroding.
  • Computer Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EpsCylonB (307640) <eps@NOSPAm.epscylonb.com> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @05:07PM (#3709074) Homepage
    The computer game industry is worht more than the film industry worldwide, it is predicted that it will grow year on year for the next five and there is a specific lack of people who have experience or specific training (cause none really exists).

    Downsides are that it is very competitive, only 10% of games released make money. It is very difficult to make headway in the industry unless you work for a publisher or a well established software house.
    • Re:Computer Games (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tazzy531 (456079)
      Also, I've heard it is a VERY difficult field to get into. You either have to know someone in the industry or proven yourself. I talked to one of the recruiters at EA Games and they actually scout the online community forums for people that have modded games and have been successful at doing so.
  • At least according to Active Media Research [marketresearch.com] and the folks at MIT Technology Review [technologyreview.com]:

    Mobile Robotics: The Next Revolution [marketresearch.com]

    • I'm a mobile robotics person. That report sounds fishy to me. Sure the robotics people (Activmedia and MIT) are going to hype robotics as being the big thing in 5 years, they have a vested interest in that happening. I think they have been saying very similar things for at least 10 years, and as of yet there are very few mobile robotic household equipment. Sure, the solar lawnmower and indoor vaccum cleaner robots are around but I've never met anyone who was seriously interested in something like this. Sony has some of the new "entertainment" robots that are the closest thing, but they are still way expensive and not very useful.

      I mean really, listen to the tone of this quote:
      " In the next three to five years, intelligent networked mobile platforms and manipulators will permeate the fabric of our society just as computers do today."

      Be wary of anyone advertising to know the future, especially when they predict enormous growth in their own sector of buisness.

      That said, I do think there is a good future in mobile robotics in general, but if you're looking for "hot" jobs right now it's ridiculous to look for opportunities in that industry. I've yet to hear of a company aside from military robotics, Activmedia, or iRobot that needs genuine mobile robotics people. Sure there are AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) for factories and such, but that technology is so large that I don't think it stands a chance in the home market. (Maybe their software would be helpful though?).

      Well, my $.02.
  • I've been scanning the job postings on Monster.com and other sites, and one thing that comes up repeatedly is a need for JD Edwards or PeopleSoft administrators (with experience), or administrators for CRM (Customer Relations Management) packages.

    Personally, I think both of these types of software packages are just "fads" right now - but they cost so much for corporations to implement that they easily justify hiring an additional person to keep them running.

    If you're one of the few people lucky enough to have received some training (or hands-on experience designing forms or supporting) either ERP or CRM software, you're missing out right now if you don't leverage it to get a good-paying I.T. job for the next couple years. After that though, don't be surprised if this stuff fades away again.
  • Ideas (good ones!) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:09PM (#3709250) Homepage

    1. Local and state law enforcement agencies out there need a really good, common, mobile and intercommunicating records management system. There's nothing on the market today that's close to being decent.
    2. Someone needs to solve the problem of "a different data collection/review/production system in every shop". This area needs standards (based on best practices) like a newly birthed baby needs oxygen. Yes, this solution will put many crap consultants out of business, but at least you'll get their money and can laugh all the way to the bank. Also helps the overall economy like a mofo.
    3. Somebody needs to write a really good P2P mechanism for collaboration on document/code review.

    My personal hope is that all the above will be developed as open source projects, but certainly, a good programming group with drive could make some very good money off these ideas as well.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @06:10PM (#3709254) Journal
    My grandfather once told me:

    "Be an undertaker, kid. No matter how bad things get, you will always have customers."
  • I'm suprised no one mentioned yet... but the Fibre Channel industry is one of the few segments of the computer industry that is actually growing these days. (see here). Storage in general will probably grow (or at least not significantly decline) for a long, long time. A quick search on Monster shows a lot of jobs out there. [theregus.com]
  • A better question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hendridm (302246) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @08:11PM (#3709562) Homepage
    Where can I get an IT job in the U.S.? Anyone? I have applied for EVERYTHING here in the Midwest (meaning ALL IT jobs I've come across and anything else in the newspaper, even bank tellers, secretary positions, retail stores (damn college degree), and I can't get anything).

    I'm quite aware the Midwest is years behind the rest of the planet in everything except antique automotive storage techniques, but I am willing to relocate. Where should I go?
    • by GriffX (130554)
      DC area. The tech firms (and the wind-down of the last administration) burned off a LOT of people in all sectors. Housing is, if not cheap, getting plentiful again, and I'm seeing many more jobs advertised than I was even six months ago. When I got roundfiled by a tech company right after 9/11, it took me about 4 months to find a job. Now I'm doing exactly what I did there - web design and graphics - full time for a university here in town. There are jobs out there.
    • Where can I get an IT job in the U.S.?

      Juneau or Anchorage Alaska. The state gov is almost always hiring tech workers (esp programers), and there's loads of private sector work too. The cost of living is a bit high though. Just my two cents.

      Here are some links:
      http://classifieds.juneauempire.com/classi fieds-bi n/classifieds?portal=&temp_type=detail&property=JU NEAU+AK&classification=EMPLOYMENT&maxrec=30&date=t oday
      http://notes3.state.ak.us/WA/postapps.nsf/Jo bsByTi tle?OpenView

      Maskirovka

  • Wrong question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by evilpenguin (18720) on Saturday June 15, 2002 @08:31PM (#3709607)
    I see that others share my sentiment about this. The question is the wrong question. Learn and master the fundmentals. If you are into hardware, learn your electrical engineering. Master it. If it is software, learn the fundamentals of programming, systems design, algorithms, threading, etc. Learn a few fundamental languages (for the *nix world I'd say C, C++, Java, perl, shells, and then maybe some others that extend your world-view, such as lisp, scheme, and smalltalk). Learn how to express solutions for common problems in each of these languages.

    I see so many programmers coming up these days whom I describe as "tool-junkies." They are programmers who know how to solve problems with one library collection, one integrated compiler suite, and nothing else (and, yes, I am referring mainly to Visual Studio, but there is a Java "tool-junkie" culture too -- Java programmers who can't work outside of their only IDE).

    If you find yourself using a library without the slightest inkling of what must be happening in that library it should send warning flags up in your head. You should be able to write anything any other programmer could write. If you can't imagine how to even begin, you may be a tool-junkie. (Note that I am not saying you would have to write it as well as any other programmer -- obviously skills vary -- but you should have some idea how to tackle the problem, because you should have seen and solved something like it before. Genuinely new techniques are extremely rare. For the most part in programming you are making a symphony of familiar tropes, not breaking new ground.)

    Learn fundamentals, not buzzwords, and maybe you won't find yourself looking for another job involuntarily.

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