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Ask Slashdot: Old Dogs vs. New Technology? 515

Posted by Soulskill
from the tips-from-an-all-star dept.
xTrashcat writes "I am 22 years of age and have been working in the IT field for over a year. I try to learn as much about technology as my cranium can handle; I even earned the nickname 'Google' because of the amount of time I spend attempting to pack my brain with new information. Being 22, it is, I speculate, needless to say that I am the youngest of my coworkers. If there is a piece of software, hardware, a technique, etc., I want to know everything about it. On the contrary, nearly all of my coworkers resent it and refuse to even acknowledge it, let alone learn about it. For example, we just started buying boxes from a different vendor that are licensed for Win7. A few months later, we decide that a computer lab was going to get an XP image instead of Win7. After several days worth of attempts, none of our XP images, even our base, would work, and it left everyone scratching their heads. We were on the verge of returning thousands of dollars worth of machines because they were 'defective.' I was not satisfied. I wanted to know why they weren't working instead of just simply returning them, so I jumped into the project. After almost 30 seconds of fishing around in BIOS, I noticed that UEFI was enabled. Switched it to legacy, and boom; problem solved. My coworkers grunted and moaned because they didn't have to do that before, and still to this day, they hate our new boxes. So in closing, I have three questions: What is the average age of your workplace? How easily do your coworkers accept and absorb new technology? Are most IT environments like this, where people refuse to learn anything about new technology they don't like, or did I just get stuck with a batch of stubborn case-screws?"
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Ask Slashdot: Old Dogs vs. New Technology?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:29PM (#40569649)

    That will prove you are qualified.

    • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:55PM (#40570725)

      We're talking about basic level IT support people. A monkey trained to hit a simple, repetitive sequence on keys could get first post on Slashdot.

      • by schnell (163007) <me&schnell,net> on Saturday July 07, 2012 @01:20AM (#40573455) Homepage

        Here's the deal, "xTrashcat." You are about to read several hundred posts here that explain why you're young, why you're an idiot, and why you need to just keep your head down and follow process and not rock the boat.

        F**k these people.

        Yes, you're young; and yes, you don't get what it's like to be in the trenches for many years. And yes, you also don't understand why ad hoc but smart answers may not be scalable and thus turn out to bite you in the butt.

        But you know what? You seem to like your job and have enthusiasm for it. Maybe that will last, maybe it won't. But if you do keep that enthusiasm, you will never be one of the people responding to your post and telling you what a stupid a**hole you are for trying to fix a problem without shipping the boxes back to the vendor, telling the users to fill out the XP-239 form in-quadruplicate, and taking a smoke break.

        And you know what? Liking your job and wanting to always be learning new things as a result will make you much, much happier than all the people telling you how stupid you are. Also, with that attitude - you may end up being the boss of those people, and they will be complaining on Slashdot 10 years from now about how their PHB always wants them to learn things and fix stuff but "it's not their job"... so please keep it up. The world needs more people who actually like their jobs and try hard to do them well.

        • by bdsesq (515351)

          What will really happen is that after a while they will bring all the problems to you.
          "He can solve it. Why should I do the work?"
          Be careful what you wish for. And don't resent them for doing it.

          I just retired after 40 years of being like you.
          It never gets old. But you do!

          Live long and prosper.

  • Age (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:30PM (#40569683)

    You sound 22.

    • Re:Age (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:39PM (#40569801)

      Agreed. Drop the attitude, and focus on doing your job. If you're truly better than everyone else then it will show. If you run around with your nose in the air telling everybody else how great you are then you'll be kicking rocks down the road in no time flat. In other words, grow up and worry about yourself.

      • Re:Age (Score:4, Insightful)

        by xTrashcat (2677843) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:57PM (#40570083)
        Actually, I am very quiet about the work that I do. I was not trying to sound sarcastic, snarky or otherwise arrogant; those were honest questions. My willingness and motivation to achieve come from me, and not a need to feel better than others.
        • Re:Age (Score:5, Informative)

          by AUlm27 (1703616) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:12PM (#40570253)
          Ignoring the culture of your workplace for one minute I would say that a big problem for you is that you really think those are honest questions, and they're not. Those guys were all you at one point, and there are a great deal of things going on in their lives that they feel returning the machines is easier b/c troubleshooting them is a less valuable use of their time than just ordering something else. If you really care, this should tell you something about them, and your response to it should be to leave it alone, I assure you that will work itself out in a near-future, just not right away, which brings me to...

          The culture of your workplace is bad, super-bad even. If everything you say is to be taken at face value and you are the only one willing to put in the time troubleshooting an issue then what's happened is those guys have most likely been worn down by the bureaucracy of their environment. I'm certain, b/c it's the nature of things, that they were like you once, or at least half of them were; excited about technology and what's new. Another commenter made the point that if you are in a workplace that is still forcing XP images onto more than a few sparse machines then there are much bigger problems, and again that should tell you what happens to people in that place long term.

          Almost no one is going to start out with that attitude, so if you really care about them, or at least about the culture you're working in, you should think much harder about how did they get this way; not why won't they learn anything new now. It may mean that you need a 5 year plan that involves you getting all the experience you can and then leveraging that to get a job somewhere else, or it's almost certain you will be just like them in 10-15 years.

          Don't judge the people around you, learn from them. Try to empathize with them and it may really prove out to be the most valuable thing you have ever done. It is a good idea to find people who you want to emulate and to look up to, but it can be even more valuable to find people around you whose fate you are desperate to avoid and try to discern what happened then don't do that.

          I wish you a lot of luck! In closing, you really sounded like a jerk, and I don't think you meant to, so re-read your post and try to think about it from another point of view.

          • Re:Age (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:38PM (#40571161)

            That was a really awesome reply, and really struck a nerve with me.. I am slowly realizing why a lot of the people do the things they do at my workplace, and though I thought it at first to be wisdom and age.. it is also because they've been knocked around and burned a lot in their earlier years trying new things. I'm not as far off from the path of the OP and makes me really think.. I should take a much more objective approach to them, rather than assuming they have more years experience and are ultimately right (even if they are 95% of the time). Thanks for that!

          • those guys have most likely been worn down by the bureaucracy of their environment.

            Got my vote.

            Don't judge the people around you, learn from them.

            Learning helplessness is bad advice.

            • Re:Age (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @08:44AM (#40574927) Homepage

              Don't judge the people around you, learn from them.

              Learning helplessness is bad advice.

              You clearly weren't paying enough attention. He wasn't simply suggesting that the OP follow their path or do what they say unquestioningly. "Learn from them" was meant in the more intelligent sense where one can learn from both good and bad examples. In particular, he comments:-

              It is a good idea to find people who you want to emulate and to look up to, but it can be even more valuable to find people around you whose fate you are desperate to avoid and try to discern what happened then don't do that. [my emphasis]

          • by stanlyb (1839382)
            Or maybe, these guys know how to configure XP, but intentionally did do it, because they HATE WinXP? Did you consider this scenario? Honestly, if my boss tries to force me to work under WinXP, i would anything, or if i am clever enough, i would do NOTHING to help him... Think about...
        • Re:Age (Score:5, Insightful)

          by s.petry (762400) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:38PM (#40570563)

          Look, it's rather simple. Being able to Google does not make you an architect or engineer, and it does not mean that someone else is lacking. Architecture and Engineering requires wisdom, which is not something you get with Google. Quite the contrary, spending so much time fishing for random bullshit reduces your wisdom.

          Let me explain that statement a bit: Goodie that you can Google an answer, fish for a few minutes in a BIOS and fix a problem. It's not an exceptional event, and the fact that you had to do that means that your people complaining may be correct. You pay vendors and data center people to perform tasks, and the vendor in this case failed to provide what they are contracted to do. You fixing it does not correct the problem, so who knows what you get in your next batch of servers? Will you be able to find the next BIOS setting that's messed up? How about someone else finds the problem, and you look like a tool since it's something you think makes you special?

          When I was your age, I knew that I was smart and invaluable. 10 years later, I learned how big of an idiot I was, and 10 years after that I repeated that thought process. Experience is where wisdom comes from, and being able to zoom out and see the bigger picture comes with that wisdom. Right now, you are proud that you can put a Band Aide on something, later you may be able to actually solve problems and design solutions.

          Google does not make someone smart. In fact the opposite has been proven over and over. It inhibits your memory from working properly and makes fact sorting extremely difficult. Sure, I use it as a tool at times but rely on experience wisdom and instinct much more than Google. No, I'm not going to cite anything, go google it you lazy bastards!

          Lastly never rate people by how smart you think you are, but rather what they believe they are smart at. You will learn a whole lot more that way, and probably get along much better with people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drooling-dog (189103)

          You remind me of myself when I was 22. Good luck with that.

        • by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:54PM (#40571299)

          That comes with age. There's also a certain level of need to just get stuff done. At a certain point USING knowledge becomes the overriding concern, and you have so many tools in your toolbox that one more becomes less and less useful. You also begin to find that there's very little that is really new under the Sun in most fields. As a software engineer I see fads in languages, dev tools, databases, etc, and hear all about how some new guy is sure that it is a whole new revolutionary better way to do stuff. Often some new tool IS useful, but it is also often something that existed 30 years ago that everyone has just sort of forgotten about and it got renamed/reinvented and we long ago learned what its limitations were and moved on to other things (probably when we were 24 or so...).

          There's also a certain factor of luck in terms of poking around at stuff. Yeah, you did debug something in a snap, which is good, congrats. OTOH I might look over your shoulder tomorrow and spot something you missed too. I don't know the guys you work with, but they probably managed before. Maybe they're bumblers, and maybe they just missed something. Ironically the more secure you become in your knowledge the easier it can be to miss some small detail that you 'know'. Today I was totally thwarted by some stupid piece of bad design in python that caused a webapp I was deploying to balk at reading a file. My associate figured it out, somehow. Python's split() function is just stupidly designed. Being an old Perl guy from way back I assumed NOBODY could be that stupid, but yes they can! He doesn't know perl from beans and thus less knowledge = solution. Ironic, but it goes that way sometimes.

          One thing is for sure. I learned back around 26 not to be cocky, lol. That's a danger to avoid. Maybe I'm hot shit, but I never ever speak ill of anyone or brag about anything nowadays. It works. Only the VERY best of the best get away with the cocky routine for long... ;) (not saying you're cocky, just remember not to get that way).

        • I'm about to have lunch with a 75 year old retired electrical engineer that sounds like you and is still keeping up with developments in a variety of fields.
          I'd probably be in the same boat as you if I wasn't surrounded by scientists (right up to the general manager) that are interested in new things and not just following the Standard Operating Proceedure all day then clocking out.
        • Re:Age (Score:5, Interesting)

          by StormyWeather (543593) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @01:21AM (#40573459) Homepage

          Excellent topic. I went to work at a startup at 23, and had a similar mentality. I almost got fired on multiple occasions, but the uppers couldn't figure out whether to pat me on the back or get a restraining order. I originally applied to be a Unix administration because "I knew linux!!11" Actually I knew HPUX, and IRIX pretty well too at the time. The hiring manager kind of laughed and said I could work in tech support, and they would evaluate me. After a month in tech support I got tired of not having any documentation so I set upon documenting every damn thing on the planet, and then for good measure I used an open source search engine to make intelligent indexes of the docs, and provide relevant scored results. Sounds great right? Well the owner of the business actually sat on my desk for an afternoon just discussing how awesome it was. His conversation with me that day was longer than any conversation with any engineer or below employee he ever had. I was tickled pink, till the next day when the guy that hired me called me into his office.

          He handed me my first write up. I had 1. Installed unauthorized software on company equipment without authorization. 2. Put project level hours into something that wasn't authorized as a project, and 3. unrelated to this I had also installed bash on the sco aquiring server, and compiled vim, gcc, less, and a whole host of tools to make SCO not suck tremendously, and he proceeded to blame the segmentation faults the server had been having weekly since before I was hired on my rogue freeware tools.

          Now, at the time I was devestated, and thought he was the biggest douchebag on the planet. After all the owner had loved what I had done, and was pleased as punch, he even said he wished other people took that sort of initiative.

          Ten years later, I understand at least a bit where the manager was coming from. They were trying to track down the problems with the server, and had implemented a code freeze, and at the same time everyone in support, and some folks in technology were starting to run bash as their primary shell, and put the path to my OSS utilities in their paths. Since the server was much easier to work in with these tools the server was being put under even MORE load. The project I created shorted everyone in the management chain all the way up out of the kudos, including my manager, his manager, and the guy that hired me. The project manager would have definitely approved the project since he was always griping about documentation, but I took him out of the loop, and made him look stupid when he didn't know the search engine existed when his boss asked about it, and made both of my superiors look like they didn't know what the hell was going on (even if that was the reality). Also the software I installed was on an old junky machine in the corner of the data center, but the problem was that it was on the primary network where PCI data flowed, not a great place security wise to be putting anything like that.

          With that being said a week or so later I got promoted out of tech support and in to InsallShield developer(remember them?), and field implementation engineer. In retrospect I think this may have been because my project was too popular to fire me, but management wanted me as far the fuck away from their data center as possible.

        • Re:Age (Score:5, Insightful)

          by strikethree (811449) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:13AM (#40573893) Journal

          I am exactly twice your age and I run across similar issues with people. From experience, let me tell you this:

          Take a group of 12 people. Out of that 12, 4 will be "adventurous" in their thinking and 8 will not be. Of those 4 "adventurous" people, 2 will not be satisfied with a surface answer and will almost always dig deeper.

          If the percentages you are seeing are not like this, you are in an abnormal group.

          Do not denigrate the group of 8. They are necessary for stability against the chaos that the group of 4 will cause from time to time. Their focus is different than yours but it is valuable.

          It sounds like you are one of the 2 that will not accept surface answers. Be very careful. You are an agent of chaos and you will get fired. You are outnumbered and the group of 8 will likely denigrate you even though you are just as necessary as they are. You bring about change.

          Be humble and be smart and you will go far. Be arrogant and smart and you will starve. You (and I) are nothing without others.

    • Re:Age (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:05PM (#40570175)

      Exactly.

      From TFA:

      After almost 30 seconds of fishing around in BIOS, I noticed that UEFI was enabled. Switched it to legacy, and boom; problem solved.

      But do you know WHY that setting was that important?

      The best admins learn that tweaking individual machines is a fast way to burn out. Standardization is best. Even if it means that some systems are considered "defective" because they don't meet the standard.

      • Re:Age (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#40570747) Homepage

        More over, why in the hell would you be loading XP (soon to be EOLed) on new hardware?! It's quite possible some of the new hardware doesn't have drivers written that support XP. At least that's more true of laptops that desktops. Regardless, you just took a perfectly valid investment in new hardware and butchered the hell out of it. If anything other than Windows 7 isn't supported, good luck trying to get HP or Dell to acknowledge a buggy on-board video subsystem. Doesn't matter if if you're right and they're wrong. If it's not supported, they have every legal right to refuse support and RMA of hardware.

        Dumb dumb dumb!

        • by denobug (753200)
          There are still a plenty of software packages (some with various versions still in production) that can run on XP only. That's a headache only getting worse with Windows 8 coming.

          The trouble starts when Microsoft slow down the upgrade path. Software developer gets complacent. Shortcuts were taken. Now it is hard to upgrade 12 years since XP first hit marketplace.
        • Re:Age (Score:4, Informative)

          by toygeek (473120) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:02AM (#40573631) Homepage Journal

          The other problem is that this issue that he "solved" with a BIOS tweak is that if one of those computers has a problem, some tech says "hey I'll just reset the BIOS" and all hell breaks loose. IMHO, sending the machine back was the right thing to do. Mr. Google did good for the present situation, but in the long term there may be further issues. And like you said, DigiShaman, they shouldn't be loading XP on anything except 6 year old machines that supported it new.

          I'm 35 now, have been in the IT biz since I was a teenager, getting paid for it. I really thought I was hot shit. Back in the day, I was, VERY very good. I once fixed a problem in 5 minutes that a more senior tech had been banging his head against for 2+hrs. I was 21 or so, he was in his 40's. I knew the fix, and could see the issue from my workstation. I offered a hand within the first few minutes. He declined. I waited another 2hrs and asked again. "Sure". Fixed. I didn't gloat about it, externally, but I sure felt good about it. But, I wasn't special. I thought I was, then, but I realize now that I just had that bit of info that he didn't.

          Another time, when I was about 18 I offered to fix a priinter for a guy also in his 40's. I was really pushy about it. In fact, I was probably being a dick about it. I was so full of confidence. Eventually he said "F*** YOU!!" and stormed off. He fixed it. It was years later before I realized what a jerk I'd been.

          xTrashcat, you've got youth and *inexperience* on your side, and those are both good things. Nobody's told you what can't be done yet. So, in your eyes, anything is possible. That's a valuable perspective! But be willing to see it from the eyes of someone 20 years your senior. Perhaps sending those machines back wasn't such a bad idea. You might have saved the day today, but next month... it might bite you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:31PM (#40569689)

    Whatever, your work place is like, the answer is "No." Different workplaces are different. If your workplace is terrible and you can't make it work for you, leave. But be warned, your new place might be worse, maybe a lot worse.

    • Perhaps his next environment will be the same...and the one after that....and perhaps the fourth as well.... Maybe by the fifth he'll wonder if the issue isn't the workplace or culture, but more between the ears of the viewer.

      I'm not saying he's not a brilliant, young up-and-comer that can do no wrong and has to fight the righteous fight against the entrenched evil old men that are ruining the world around him.... But I would say that sounds a lot like half the movies coming out of Hollywood. If he's tha

  • Good for you. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdastrup (1075795) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:32PM (#40569707)
    So you learned the 80/20 rule and you happen to be in the minority. Your questions are all irrelevant. Word of advice - if you want to stay employed, stop showing off, because your bosses will probably be in the 80%.
    • Re:Good for you. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:41PM (#40569845) Homepage Journal

      Horrid advice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        So he managed to twiddle with a BIOS. Big fat hairy deal. There's nothing "new" about that. It's just a basic systems integration issue. It's nothing that anyone that has built boxes or installed an OS hasn't already seen before.

        It's not really that special and neither is the annoying twit.

        Beyond this kid being obnoxious, age doesn't seem to be the issue here.

        • Re:Good for you. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Antipater (2053064) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:54PM (#40570035)
          You're really missing the point. He's not patting himself on the back (much). He's wondering why nobody he works with seems even to want to adapt to changing tech. He KNOWS it was an easy fix, and the fact that nobody else could get it is boggling his brain.
          • Re:Good for you. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin&lunarworks,ca> on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:01PM (#40570139) Homepage

            Not only could no one else get it, they all moaned and complained "we never had to do that before" after he showed them.

            So not only are they unwilling to adapt on their own, they seem to take umbrage at being shown something new.

          • Re:Good for you. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Jhon (241832) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:11PM (#40570245) Homepage Journal

            "You're really missing the point. He's not patting himself on the back (much). He's wondering why nobody he works with seems even to want to adapt to changing tech. He KNOWS it was an easy fix, and the fact that nobody else could get it is boggling his brain."

            It's not as simple as that. If you've a shop with thousands of workstations deployed and you add another point of failure (simple bios setting in the TFA's example) on PCs that may be deployed for years, you've got yet ANOTHER thing that can go wrong if the bios settings get lost. I'd like to see $help_desk walk someone through changing the bios settings. That machine is going to need a visit from a $pendy tech. And, oh yeah -- update the SOP for new PC deployment and make sure everyone signs off and follows it.

            In a SMALL shop, this isn't really a problem. It's not unlikely that there's as many different hardware flavors as there are total PCs. But in a LARGE shop, PC UNIFORMITY saves time and money.

            It's enough to justify the groans from his co-workers...

            • by ATMAvatar (648864)

              Except the bios tweak was only necessary because they absolutely had to re-image to WinXP. That was the primary failure that snowballed to dicking with BIOS settings. Putting an outdated OS on newer hardware and expecting there to be zero issues is foolish.

              The correct course of action moving forward is to create a standard Win7 image and use that instead. Of course, an even better course of action would have been to get a couple test machines in their target hardware configuration and do testing, then cr

              • by geekoid (135745)

                Clearly they have an XP need. I'm guessing unsupported business critical Application, of a wide dispersal of Access 97/2003 apps. Some large organizations have over 10,000 access application on their network.

                Based on the limited info. in his story, I would suggest Win 7 and then use Windows Virtual PC - XP Mode.
                Works really well.

        • Re:Good for you. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:04PM (#40570809) Homepage Journal

          Beyond this kid being obnoxious, age doesn't seem to be the issue here.

          Of course age is not the issue. Some of the most flexibly-minded people I know are in their 70s and 80s and some of the most rigid thinkers are twenty-something.

          The fact that he tells this story about his workplace, and then comes away thinking the whole thing is about age shows just how much he has yet to learn.

          He might as well have put the same question regarding the race or nationality or gender of his co-workers. It's BS in any regard. Age is not the issue. Wisdom, patience, insight do not get used up. In fact, the longer and more often you use them, the more likely you are to have a full supply.

    • by sarysa (1089739)

      So you learned the 80/20 rule and you happen to be in the minority. Your questions are all irrelevant. Word of advice - if you want to stay employed, stop showing off, because your bosses will probably be in the 80%.

      Agree and disagree with this. The bosses will probably love the OP, want to keep that person around. You're not going to have many friends though. The 20%ers seldom do.

      With that, I'll add this note: Don't lose your passion for your job, but don't invest too much into the interpersonal side of office culture either. You're a natural workaholic so keep that up. But have balance. Find a reasonable place to draw the line and live for your weekends. (unless you truly think your bosses take such a shining to you

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:32PM (#40569709)

    When the older guys have kids and a family, spending all their energy on work can be hard. Older people should have experience, younger people should have drive. Working together, you can get amazing things done.

    • If a seasoned tech can't fiddle with the settings on a PC to determine that there's a setting which can get the thing to boot WinXP, they're (to be frank) worthless. This sounds not so much like a knowledge issue, and more like some "techs" who have poor problem-solving skills and go by the book for their "troubleshooting".
    • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:12PM (#40570257) Homepage Journal

      Learning new stuff is hard? Really?

      I'm 37, with 3 kids, 6, 2-almost-3, and 3 months. I'm always looking into new things I can learn, because I enjoy it. Do I manage as much as I did before kids? No, but I still do some. I consider it a hobby. Pretty much everybody has a hobby outside of playing with their kids, and this is no different.

  • Not just age (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:33PM (#40569725) Homepage Journal

    There are lots of people who do not perform well in their jobs, for various reasons. Age may be a red herring, as I've seen the behavior you describe in both old people and young people. (I was 19 when I started my career, so it is not "needless to say" that you are the youngest in your office. I am 34 now.)

    I recommend that you not waste time psychoanalyzing your coworkers for underperforming. Instead, I recommend you take exploit your willingness to get to the bottom of things and simply earn a reputation for being the guy who can actually fix things. This will pay off in $$$, or should, if you handle it right. Alternatively, blaming your coworkers' failure to do this on age, or even fixating on that issue at all, is likely to earn you a reputation for being a cocky and arrogant young jerk that nobody wants to work with. Remember, I was 19. Don't do it. :)

    If you have this level of attention to detail, one thing you might want to watch out for later on is a perfectionism that might cause you to obsess about investigating things even when there is no payoff. Watch out for letting yourself get trapped into jobs that don't have a payoff, whether that payoff be in monetary or in some other type of satisfaction. It's okay to work for a reward besides money; it's not okay to let yourself obsess and waste time that could be spent doing something you like better or that brings you better rewards.

    A book I recommend for you is Leadership and Self-deception. The format is "business parable," which always comes off as silly and preachy, but the concepts in it are sound and useful as you discover and deal with mental blocks on the job, in others and also in yourself.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      I agree and disagree. Same age and also at age 19 started working my ass off. However sometimes psychoanalyzing your coworkers can spot other things.

      I have one worker roughly the same age who always seems to struggle with certian tasks. eventually I figured out while he has some education and vocabulary he can't read very well. So he can read a simple document without noticeable delay if you give him a list of part numbers and quantities he struggles massively with it even if it is relatively straight f

    • Re:Not just age (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:54PM (#40570037) Homepage

      Call it what it is: the guy is ageist.

      This is textbook ageism. Coworkers are douchbags and all older than him, so he assumes it is *because* they are older since that is the stereotype. Then he extrapolates that to be a sign that all older people are dinosaurs and obsolete.

      I'm 32, by the way. Old enough to be discriminated against?

  • Where is the link to your facts?
  • Woof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:34PM (#40569735)

    I am 37 years of age. I, evidently (and spuriously) enjoy the usage of too much extraneous, needless, and unnecessary punctuation; however, I'd like to relate a little story to you.

    My co-worker, not much older than you, has absolutely no idea how to use the command line. He doesn't know what Perl is, or Bash. To his credit, he can write a little SQL, but we worked together on something recently that took us an hour to fix after he'd banged his head against it for a couple of days. It's okay, it takes time to learn shit.

    You solved a problem your coworkers didn't. Good for you! You deserve a pat on the head for a job well done. IT is a field where all colleagues benefit from sharing and learning from one another. It's not an age thing. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you can appreciate it.

  • Age is a protected status in the US. You're going to get fired by HR if any of the old guys here you talking about how they suck because they're old.

  • My office loves to tinker, and loves to solve mysteries of why stuff is broken, or kludge together temporary and permanent solutions to new problems. Whether it's salvaging a dead server by splicing it with spare parts from a distant relative, or cobbling together a visual basic script to run a strange setting on 300 workstations all at once, or figuring out that we need to turn the coffee pot back on to refill the water tank before brewing the next pot (my own discovery which still earns me accolades from
  • google (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:35PM (#40569755)

    Actually, they call you Google because we have to wade through a lot of garbage to get to the relevant data when you speak.

    (That summary was 3 times as long as necessary.)

  • I have always been the disruptive influence, everywhere I've worked. I don't like answers like, "that's just the way we've always done it", they've never gone over well with me.

    That said, you have to learn how to do it politely. You are still going to annoy people, but generally people feel good doing the best job they can. The folks that really don't like you...well, they aren't worth worrying about.

  • 46 years old

    We are all extremely curious and have great google fu. Of course, we are halfway through our Windows 7 rollout, so we wouldn't have put an XP image on that machine. We would have used a new Win7 image.

    I am the manager and only employee in the department. Pretty easy to calculate that average (46/1)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:39PM (#40569797)

    I'm one of the OLDEST in my department, yet I'm the one who learns new tech the quickest. In a previous job, it was invariably the older/experienced techs in the department that could pick up new stuff quickly, simply because they've been "picking up new stuff quickly" for a couple decades, whereas the recent high school/college gratuate whose first computer at age 4 was more powerful than my first computer post-college never had to learn arcane things, they've always been 'easy'.

    Yet yes, there were/are young 'uns who are perfectly adaptable.

    Age DOESN'T matter. It's just that most of the 'adaptable' older IT workers have 'adapted out' of front-line IT by now, so it's the less-adaptable ones you young 'uns see in the front lines.

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:39PM (#40569805)
    Just keep doing what you're doing. Your coworkers will appreciate all of the amazing talents you bring to their table. You'll be the toast of your workgroup and your team will celebrate your successes. That or you'll never be asked to come along to the after work beer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Who wants to have a beer with those people?
      I prefer beer with people who are actually interesting.

  • "What is the average age of your workplace?' 45
    "How easily do your coworkers accept and absorb new technology?" Most absorb and implement it very quickly.

    Are most IT environments like this, where people refuse to learn anything about new technology they don't like, or did I just get stuck with a batch of stubborn case-screws?" Depends on the organizations culture.

    You seem bright, eager to learn and motivated. So I suggest:
    Finding work where that is celebrated, or go to a company that is in what field you w

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:40PM (#40569821)

    There seems so much wrong with your post.... the first thing this "old dog" would have checked is if these new boxes had a standard BIOS or running UEFI. Sounds like you have a lot of incompetent people working in your shop. I probably would have questioned the move back to XP in the first place... why? Was it a legacy software issue? Was it something that could not be solved by using compatibility mode or re-compiling the software? Did anybody bother to do a proper business case, and perform a risk assessment, including the possibility that the newer hardware may not have suitable drivers, for example?

    Also, at 22, perhaps you still don't understand how stupid you sound when you make sweeping generalizations about "old dogs" and their ability to cope with new technology.

    Your office also sucks. If that is what passes for IT, I'd suggest HR purge them and hire former Geek Squad employees, as they are probably better at the work (and I say that seriously, though I am loathe to ever let them touch a PC of a friend or family).

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:41PM (#40569829)

    Here's the thing - in a large enterprise, if you have to touch *every* box to make a change, that's a significant time sink and not a good use of personnel. What did you do, throw the switch, see it worked and immediately go to the pointy-haired boss to tell him?

    Are your co-workers really groaning because they won't learn something new? Given we're talking about BIOS settings, that seems unlikely. It's possible you just have a bunch of lazy, disgruntled co-workers; but it's also possible they know stuff about your workplace that you don't. If we're talking about a large enterprise - if the boxes you guys ordered don't work with the setup you want to use, something went wrong. Either the order itself was incorrectly filled, or the person choosing the hardware didn't actually take into account every factor he should have.

    I learned a whole heck of a lot in college; but I quickly found out most of the stuff I needed to know for work couldn't be learned anywhere but on the job. Don't assume you know everything.

    • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:31PM (#40571099) Journal

      [...] if you have to touch *every* box to make a change, that's a significant time sink and not a good use of personnel. [...] if the boxes you guys ordered don't work with the setup you want to use, something went wrong.

      This is the important part.

      It's good that you figured out what was wrong so quickly. Now, which is cheaper for the company: Having you go through 30 boxes today and however many boxes tomorrow and change the settings before they can be imaged with XP or return the 100 boxes to the vendor and have them change them? That depends on the situation--will those machines, in general, be running XP or is it just this lab? Will Windows 7 boot in legacy mode? Which is the best way to go so we don't have to configure each machine we send out separately, which takes valuable and expensive personnel time?

      Fun example: My roomate works for a company that makes fishing reels. They have a policy that they will repair issues with their reels for the life of the reel--send in the reel that's dirty and broken and they will fix it or send you a new one. She briefly worked fixing reels, something she really enjoyed. She loved disassembling it and figuring out what was wrong, fixing the problem, reassembling the reel and making it work like new. She was a dedicated worker, coming in and working hard all day fixing reels.

      The problem was that when a reel came in, she would set about fixing it. Sometimes she would take the entire day to do so. So the company, paying her $12/hr, spent $96 to repair a reel which cost $50. Sure, the cost in parts to the company was cheap: a penny screw or rubber washer or something like that. Meanwhile, only one reel was fixed that day and there were 9 more waiting to be fixed.

      She would complain about her "lazy" co-workers who would "fix" five reels in a day by guessing that fixing it "would be too much work" and would just order them a new one. She would complain about her boss that was on her case about fixing more reels in a day--didn't they understand that tearing these things down and putting them back together took time?! Even when they explained it to her that she was costing the company more money by doing what she was doing, she just couldn't seem to understand that it was sometimes cheaper to send them a new one than to fix the old one and the ability to estimate how much time it would take to fix the reel was an important skill.

      Eventually, the company moved her out of fixing reels and put her in a different position where she has excelled.

      So the point is that figuring out what was wrong is a good thing. But, in the bigger picture, it might have been more cost-effective for the company to return the computers and get ones that were correctly configured for their needs than paying someone to reconfigure the machines themselves.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:42PM (#40569851) Homepage

    If you're in a place that's buying new computers and loading Windows XP on them, you're not the problem. The final date for new Windows XP OEM installs was October 22, 2010. There are still people running Windows XP, but you shouldn't be installing it on new hardware at this late date.

  • It's not a matter of age. I know a lot of 20-something engineers who're the same way, they aren't interested in knowing anything about what's under the hood. Myself, I'm pushing 50 and want to know all the details and pick up the newest stuff (even if it's not useful, it's helpful to know it so I can provide solid examples to managers of why it's not useful). Some people like to learn and experiment and investigate, some don't.

    I'm also guilty of the same attitude at times. I treat my Windows 7 work desktop

  • It could be that your coworkers don't want to spend time learning new things. It could also be that they understand the magnitude of effort required to change systems more than you do. It sounds like, in the case of the new computers, you solved a problem they didn't solve - good job! In general, there may be circumstances in which it does not make business sense to invest in new systems.

    When you write things like "after almost 30 seconds I fixed the problem" you sound cocky. When you say things like "
  • I'm 50. I've worked in a lot of different shops, as well as for myself. Not all shops are like you describe, but some of them are. Most are a mixture of different personalities. There are some people who are like your co-workers. They find a comfort zone and stay with it. Age doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. I am one of the older people in my shop, but like you I want to dig into things and solve problems. There are younger members in my shop who just plain don't seem to understand h

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was like you when I started working in IT (oddly enough at the age of 22), I'm 35 now and the best advice I can give you is do amazing things with humility and always try to see things from others point of view before jumping into action. And yes, it's not easy because at the core most geeks tend to want to act on problems right away.

    I ripped into everything, always trying to show that "things could get done if you put your mind to it". The trouble is you start to learn that some battles aren't worth the

  • The irony is that when you get a bit older you'll realize what stupid questions those are.

  • There are a lot of places like that. There are other places where nearly every individual thinks they know everything because they know a thing or two about a given subject (be it computers, physics, law, etc). I'm about 10 years older than you. After working at a couple of different places my take away has been:

    1) Try new things and don't be afraid to fail.
    2) Don't be afraid to stop and re-evaluate if you are doing it wrong.
    3) Be humble.

    To answer your questions:

    1) Probably somewhere around 35.
    2) Very easi

  • I am 51. You know the old dog that sits right across where you sit. Now get back to work, you will be lucky if you still have a job on Monday. You better have that task done when I come in on Monday morning. Work all week-end if needed. I won't wait until next Thursday as per your inflated estimates.

  • Some businesses are conservative and rightly so, momentum is slow and precise, changes are incremental and measured. Think mainframes churning through Cobol from the 60's. Bleeding edge things come and go and so do the problems they bring, but what works for years will generally keep working if left to its own devices. As for your company, there may be a business case to build a lab with XP (say most of your customers have XP). It doesn't excuse why your coworkers didn't take the initiative of figuring out
  • Well. I am 37. Formally I am not really an IT guy (PhD in physics). I am not the youngest and there are a lot of people who are younger than me and are less open to learning something new (on IT or otherwise). My priorities changed a little since i was 22.

    1) You have to accept that you are doing things which must be maintained by your coworkers. The number of skills involved in maintainign somthing decreases the chance that it will be maintained exponentially.

    2) There is a reason for sending back a batch of

  • Don't be a dick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:53PM (#40570025)
    There are two ways to get ahead in your career: a.) know your shit, and b.) don't be a dick. Either one will let you keep a job, and maybe even advance, but if you really want to get ahead in this world, you need to master both skills. Like most 22 year-olds, you appear to have focused your entire life around column a, and haven't put any effort into column b.

    And for fuck's sake cut the old guys some slack. They probably know all kinds of obscure shit about making boot disks, compiling the OS from source, mainframe backups, configuring zfs, or whatever new and exciting knowledge there was to glean for IT workers back when they were 22.
  • by jon3k (691256)
    It's the same everywhere. Nothing is universally true, but I would say it works out like this:

    80% of young guys (sub-30) are interested in learning new tech, 20% aren't

    80% of guys over 30 have no interest - they have an established family and home life and are done "learning". 20% are still interested.
  • by Nethead (1563)

    Learn the ins-and-outs of RS-232 serial communication. I'm in my 50s and had a contract job a bit over a year ago at Clearwire bringing on-line new data centers. We were sent to various cities and instructed to bring up dozens of pieces of new equipment freshly installed. The first way you're going to talk to most of this data center stuff is via serial console, at least enough to get it talking IP. Because I had spent many years supporting terminal applications (where terminal means VT100 or a Wyse dum

    • by Xiaran (836924)
      There are other industries that still make heavy use of 232 and 485. I used to work in security monitoring, access control and fire alarm and control. There is a metric butt ton of 232 and 485 cable in the world that runs all that stuff. Alarm monitoring and (especially) fire monitoring/control care about one thing and one thing only : It has to be reliable... not sexy... not new... reliable or people burn to death.
  • > If there is a piece of software, hardware, a technique, etc., I want to know everything about it. On the contrary, nearly all of my coworkers resent it and refuse to even acknowledge it, let alone learn about it.

    I doubt that they resent *your* interest in learning about new technology. There's nothing wrong with that in isolation, and it's difficult to imagine your colleagues resenting your enthusiasm by itself.

    Also, you mention "nearly all of my coworkers" - that implies many people. In any social

  • I've worked with tons of people in my IT career (roughly 15 years now, mostly with a Fortune 100). The cross-section of "elite" people who had the knack and enthusiasm for tech wizardry and learning were all ages, all genders, all races, etc... and pretty even distribution at that. Those who couldn't handle tech and learning well were also evenly distributed. Trying to correlate various factors and put people in categorical boxes is not only a nasty, frowned-upon behavior, but it leads to fewer friends, fewer opportunities, and greater inaccuracy in all things. I like to appreciate or dislike people for exactly who they are. :-)

    Check your demeanor in how you deliver answers and solutions... everyone has their own sense of pride and don't like to hear condescension... negative reactions to your solutions may really be negative reactions to smugness. Also, "new" is not always "better." If something new actually sucks, commiserate with your coworkers about how MS Ribbon is Fischer Price crap, etc... and it will help build rapport. You'll be seen less as the new-stuff-addict and more as truly a source of tech-wisdom.

    If you're truly the tech badass in your team, that means you can participate in sharing and mutual bettering with the office-politics-badass and the communication-badass and the customer-relations-badass, etc... If you're missing/wanting to get into great discussions and mutual knowledge sharing on cutting edge stuff, check out your local 2600, Makers, Hackerspace, programming language user groups, etc...

  • by Greg Hullender (621024) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:05PM (#40570827) Homepage Journal

    "The problem with learning everything about a system is that once that system becomes obsolete, all that work was wasted. After doing that a few times, we all drift toward learning the minimum required for the immediate problem. When that's not enough, we're grateful to have young folks around who still want to learn every little detail."

    I was 20 when a 40-something programmer told me this. I told him I hoped nothing like that ever happened to me, but he just chuckled. I'm 53 now, and something much worse happened: I became a manager! :-)

    My advice: do it while you enjoy it, and take pride in it while you can. Try not to rub it in when you manage to save the day; be modest and people will shower you with praise.

    --Greg

  • by RMingin (985478) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:01PM (#40571889) Homepage

    Generally the larger the IT department, the more resistant it is to change, the slower new things are adopted, and the more paperwork/hoops there are to deal with.

    Conversely, the larger the IT department is, the less often things break, the more plans there are for failover, and the more hands there are to make light work.

    You work with dinosaurs. I was in a Fortune 500 IT department 3 months ago, and their main desktop support guy and I were learning UEFI and GPT so that we had it for later. The "decision makers" were just approving our long-term plan to move from XP to Win7 Pro 32bit. 64bit was verboten until next year, possibly later, because some important line-of-business software was not 64bit ready.

    I now work a mile down the road, and am the entire IT department. I am free to adopt anything and everything I can justify. I'm slowly moving all the machines from XP to Win7 64, but beyond that have few plans to 'get crazy' simply because I don't have time to implement anything exciting.

    Also, these are all generalizations and anecdotes, generalizations are never correct, and anecdotes are worth what you paid. Enjoy.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @09:59AM (#40575257)

    Instead of "tweaking the bios," why didn't you convince someone to let you put VMWare ESXi on a server somewhere, and run XP there via the vCenter client? Or put Virtual Box on everyone's system where necessary to run the legacy XP? Another alternative would be to cobble yourself up some Windows Server instances on Amazon and accomplish what you were trying to do from there, VPNing into your local network if necessary to get to any floating licenses your company needed.

    Dang inexperienced kids. Now a 54 year old guy like me would have known all that. :)

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:12PM (#40576779) Homepage Journal

    Being 22, it is, I speculate, needless to say that I am the youngest of my coworkers.

    I hope, though unnecessarily, given the evidence, clearly visible as it is, that you're also one of among the worstest writers.

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