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Ask Slashdot: Do You Run a Copy-Cat Installation At Home? 308

Lab Rat Jason writes "During a discussion with my wife last night, I came to the realization that the primary reason I have a Hadoop cluster tucked under my desk at home (I work in an office) is because my drive for learning is too aggressive for my IT department's security policy, as well as their hardware budget. But on closer inspection the issue runs even deeper than that. Time spent working on the somewhat menial tasks of the day job prevent me from spending time learning new tech that could help me do the job better. So I do my learning on my own time. As I thought about it, I don't know a single developer who doesn't have a home setup that allows them to tinker in a more relaxed environment. Or, put another way, my home setup represents the place I wish my company was going. So my question to Slashdot is this: How many of you find yourselves investing personal time to learn things that will directly benefit your employer, and how many of you are able to 'separate church and state?'"
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Run a Copy-Cat Installation At Home?

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  • I'm lucky, my org has a very cool education policy in IT and we can learn pretty much anything that makes us better at our jobs. It helps that I'm a self-taught kind of person and don't want classroom training, though :)
    • Re:None. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:59PM (#45748541) Homepage Journal

      Same amount, for pretty much the opposite reason: I work for a Fortune 500 who punishes employees for taking college classes after hours, pays absolute shit, contradicts their own policy regularly, and treats their employees like criminals a third of the time, children another third, and indentured servants for the rest.

      Fuck them, anything I learn on my free time is for my benefit, not these assholes.

      • Re:None. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:12PM (#45748641) Homepage Journal
        I don't have a bad work environment, but I do separate 100% work from home 'play' time.

        I mess around with tech/computer projects quite a bit at home, but they are only ever directed at my personal interests or projects I'm working on at home. Any help they give me in my work capacity, is purely accidental and un-intended.

        When I walk out of the doors at work and the door hits me on the ass on the way out, I don't give work another thought till I cross that threshold again. They don't pay me for my free time.

        I'll spend working hours and any other paid hours for work related education, no problem. But my personal free time, is the most valuable thing I have. And I give the majority of each week to work related hours, so anything outside of work hours, I prize and cling too as highly valuabe as MY time. Time for me, time for my family.

        I often reject OT hours and pay in lieu of my personal time. It has to be very much needed, and paid for...again, I don't work for free. If I didn't have to work to earn money for a living, I certainly wouldn't be crossing the threshold of a worksite again, so, why would I give my personal time up so easily?

        • Exactly.
          I try to make it a one-way gate: I have no problem using the stuff I learn on my own time at work, but I don't take the stuff I do at work home. This has the added benefit that since I have this personal policy, I'll never get into the situation where something I do in my spare time infringes on something produced for work -- if there's ever a conflict, I can show that work was gaining the expertise that I had already used elsewhere, not the other way around.

  • Next job? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yendor ( 4311 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:46PM (#45748391)

    I learn things in my free time in order to beef up my skills for the next employer since the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.
    Anyone notice you only ever get more responsibility but never more renumeration to go with all that extra work?

    • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:16PM (#45748673) Homepage Journal

      I learn things in my free time in order to beef up my skills for the next employer since the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.

      Anyone notice you only ever get more responsibility but never more renumeration to go with all that extra work?

      Yep, that's been largely true for at least the past 2x decades.

      The days of having a single job for life, raising through the ranks, to get more pay and better positions is long gone. It was ending as MY parents were working, and it certainly hasn't existed (with VERY few exceptions) in my work lifetime.

      You work somewhere, get experience...2-3 years hop to a new job. After that for awhile..I jumped into contracting...never looked back.

      If you're gonna work in an environment with no job security and no company loyalty (today's W2 market), you might as well contract and get the bill rate to go along with it.

      • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Yahooti ( 3401115 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:56PM (#45749027)
        Maybe I was just lucky but I stayed with my last job over 40 years. Retired last summer and a large reason I stayed so long is because I loved my work. So much so that I created a 12 node networked Linux system at home to learn more so I could have more fun at both work and home. The knowledge gained at home did help me get a few better raises though eventually I was promoted to a position not requiring those skills. Now, it remains my main hobby and is the thing helping me enjoy all of this spare time.
        • by jon3k ( 691256 )
          That's awesome, and congratulations on your retirement. I'm ~11 years in, and I hope in 30 years I can say the same thing.
      • by jon3k ( 691256 )

        The days of having a single job for life, raising through the ranks, to get more pay and better positions is long gone

        Not true at all. I've been at the same place for almost 11 years. Started out answering helpdesk calls and I'm the IT director now with six employees and I make 3.6x (I just did the math) what I made when I started, not including car allowance. Not everyone gets to eventually be the boss, there's not management positions. Anyone who thought that was ever the case is wrong. There are a million examples of people moving up through the ranks, most promotions happen from within organizations, not from outs

        • Re:Next job? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:41PM (#45749419)

          There are a million examples of people moving up through the ranks, most promotions happen from within organizations, not from outside. Just look at the new Ford CEO.

          Which is exactly why companies eventually collapse under their own weight. Companies are first and foremost a hierarchical organization. This automatically makes them a political organization, and where politics goes, groupthink goes. After that it doesn't take much to make the leap to mediocrity. Any group of individuals that is capable of working against this trend is going to leave and start their own company, and reap the benefits for themselves. End result is that the only people left are the ones who cant think for themselves, and an organization that spends a great deal of time and money reinforcing their own prejudices. The only real way out of this is a massive upheaval, like a hostile takeover, or a bankruptcy, and even those tend to be temporary solutions.

      • Just remember that you're going to also have to figure out how to handle all the marketing, capital investments, accounting, collections, legal, HR benefits (health, retirement), etc. that your employer would have previously handled for you. If you can figure out how to do it more efficiently and effectively than them, then you'll end up with a bigger take-away from that billing rate, but either way you'll be dealing with a LOT more than you are now.
    • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Touvan ( 868256 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:49PM (#45748971) Homepage

      What this industry needs is a professional organization and standards (or a trade union, but professional organization would be better). Alas, we are awash with folks who have been duped into libertarianism, and it's obsessive individualism (I gotta do ME, man), a tired ideology that prevents natural tribal grouping for mutual benefit. A locked tight political gambit for sure. Still there are signs that the craziness is ending.

      • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:14PM (#45749189) Journal
        I.T. people are like oracles. We are entrusted with a lot of information and we can usually see the bigger picture, even a bit into the future. You are never going to get them to unionize because they feel the cons outweigh the pros.
      • Re:Next job? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:50PM (#45749491) Journal

        Unions funnel all the money to the most senior 1% of employees, and pay is not related to merit at all. Fuck that.

        I'm an adult, perfectly capable of being responsible for my own career. I've made mistakes, and I've made good moves, and I've gotten lucky, and I've gotten "OMG get me out of here". That's life in the real world. But I kept my tech skills current, and my non-tech skills growing, and I now I make many times what my first job paid.

        But then, I'm good at what I do. If I were in the bottom 20%, you bet I'd be all in favor of a system that ignores merit for seniority.

        • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by furbyhater ( 969847 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @06:42PM (#45749935)
          Unbelievable, all these shortsighted and dare I say dumb replies really make the GP's point for him. Of course it is better to operate as a group because it gives you an advantage, and you can bet that the exploiters around got the memo and are operating as a group. Even if you think you're "among the best" you lose a whole lot of bargaining power by going solo just out of some sick kind of narcissism. That you've been brainwashed to this point by propaganda instilled into you since your youth is a truly scary thought.
          • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @06:57PM (#45750071) Journal

            No, we know what unions actually look like in the real world, and it's different from what they look like in your head. The compensation of airline pilots is a good example: the top few % make really good money, but typical starting pay is around $20k, and the average pay really isn't that good for such a technical specialty. Union and non-union auto workers take home about the same pay on average. And unions are utterly crushing to the spirits of those of us who want pay to reflect merit! There's no significant advantage to be had that compensates for that terrible downside.

            • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Saturday December 21, 2013 @03:52AM (#45752345) Homepage Journal

              As the GP pointed out you are assuming you are one of the best so will get promoted/more money. You are also assuming most non-union places will recognize your brilliance, which isn't the case.

              In Europe unions are usually welcome at companies. They understand that happy and well treated workers are more productive and produce a better product/service. Rather than fight them, which basically says "fuck you, peon", they try to treat people like the valuable asset they are.

          • Yes this is absolutely right. By unionising it doesn't matter who's the best anymore. We can all be mediocre and get away with it. Mr Excellent won't be on any higher pay than the rest of us and won't be promoted any faster either, because we are one, and we can't leave anyone, not even Mr Slack behind.

            I had a good analogy for how it works at my workplace. It doesn't matter how good you are, or how fast you are, all that matters to your pay grade is your breath of experience and the years attended (I won't

            • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

              I think you both overestimate the averaging affect of unions and massively underestimate the level of meritocracy existing in current organisations. I'm not saying unionisation is perfect or even necessarily the right solution for IT work, merely that the union world is far less horrible than you suggest and the current world is far less of a utopia. The Google's of the world will still hire the best they can get their hands on under unions and the most important merit you are currently rewarded for in any

      • by ScottCooperDotNet ( 929575 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @06:06PM (#45749645)

        A number of people in Dev and IT in general started with nothing but their curiosity and have achieved success. The first thing these guilds do is put up barriers to entry to protect the existing workers, which would lock out new blood and new ideas. It's OK if you're not a fan of meritocracy, but I sure wouldn't want to work for or with someone like you.

    • Re:Next job? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:06PM (#45749121)

      ... the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.

      This is not strictly always true. If the company you are working for is doing well and isn't in the business of cutting for the sake of cutting, then you CAN get a raise if you can articulate the accomplishments and value you add AND (this is important so pay attention) you _ask_ for a raise.

      If any one piece of that chain isn't true, your chance of getting a raise is slim. You actually have to accomplish some things and add value. You DO need to be able to explain them and why they add value. Example: "I added new automation which saves us 20 man hours per week. This has allowed us to be more productive and save the company money." You must remember that this isn't a game where everyone gets a trophy just for competing. This is the real world where if you want to be shown you are valued more, you need to add more value. Just showing up isn't enough.

      The whole asking part is an art that few possess. You need to be prepared for what happens if they say no and how you will react both immediately and in the days afterwards. It wouldn't hurt to have other job opportunities you're pursuing in mind. If you can have an offer in hand, then that's even better because you're negotiating from a position of power.

      This is a game of chess, so don't play checkers. Changing jobs for raises is not a good long term plan to do frequently.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      I learn things in my free time in order to beef up my skills for the next employer since the only way you can get a raise is to change jobs.

      That should not be your only reason.

      You should be learning for several reasons.

      First, its' professional competence - if you ever join any professional organization, they all have mandates for continuing education. I.e., you must always be learning new things, if nothing else than to keep current. You cannot let your skills go stale - learn new things, technologies, and

  • Investment... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The way I see it, I invest personal time to learn things that will directly benefit my next employer....

  • by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:48PM (#45748423)

    I have a couple machines at home that run tomcat and apache (and others that I can't afford a license to) to test out configuration ideas and to wade into new technologies and new versions prior to the POCs we run through. That way I can be the leader in these efforts at the office, instead of everyone fumbling around.

  • Lab environment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:48PM (#45748427) Journal

    Most of the places that I've worked don't invest properly in a lab environment and so the only "learning lab" is the production systems. You really need something that you can break and leave broken for days, weeks, or even months. You need something that you control 100% and you aren't answerable to anyone else for its status. A home lab is very attractive in that respect.

    • Re:Lab environment (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:09PM (#45748617) Homepage

      You can do this inside of a lunch box today. I have a friend that has a complete production system with 2 SQL servers, 2 app servers, and a failover/load balancer all in a lunch box. he brings it to work and tinkers during compiles.

    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      That's what I have encountered throughout most of my career. Those that actually do have a "Test Lab" want it used exclusively to test configurations before implementation in Prod. You're not to be poking around or causing break/fix situations.

      Until recently I've had my own home lab made up of some cast off servers and the like, but I've gotten lazy the last few years. I still have equipment, including security cameras and the like, but never seem to get around to playing with it like I used to.

    • by rvw ( 755107 )

      You really need something that you can break and leave broken for days, weeks, or even months. You need something that you control 100% and you aren't answerable to anyone else for its status. A home lab is very attractive in that respect.

      You need virtualbox! I use it for testing our webapps, created an almost identical copy in a local VM. Installing new modules can break things really bad, and before trying anything I test this in a VM. I use Ubuntu Desktop as VM, not the server variant. This has big advantages (for me) over using a server VM. If needed, I can cut the machine off the internet, and use Firefox to do everything locally. I installed a mailserver, then routed all mail so it stays local. The website can mail to existing customer

  • Anything you do with that is company property. Or, rather potentially their property. Courts usually side with employees, but that's a costly court battle.

    However wherever possible, I would create the software needed, then put it up for license by the company in the hopes that others would licence it too, so I can make some money on the side. Of course, generalizing it so it wasn't too targeted and generalizing so it did not run afoul of the IPA.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      Learning how to use tools effectively is not the same thing as developing software for the business at home. I've often done the former, but never done the latter. If you want something for the office, you pay me. Up front.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:51PM (#45748457)

    chances are you have some oldish hardware from the last 5 years that you can run vmware or hyper-v on and roll any instances you want to fool around

  • by Capt James McCarthy ( 860294 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:52PM (#45748469) Journal

    I found it easier to start my own company. Yes there are painful trade-offs (wearer of many hats), but if I'm putting sweat equity into something, I'd like to be the beneficiary. I get to dictate direction and scope, and feel so much better about my future.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:16PM (#45748681)

      I found it easier to start my own company. Yes there are painful trade-offs (wearer of many hats), but if I'm putting sweat equity into something, I'd like to be the beneficiary. I get to dictate direction and scope, and feel so much better about my future.

      I am doing this too. The down side is that there is NO natural separation between Church and State. You have to work to set aside free time - and when you work from home even doubly so.

    • By EOD today I'll be officially employed as my own company. The issues that OP presented are quite common. While I also run a home lab I have also seen the advantages of being in the directorial position. I think that too many tech companies out there are not run by people with sufficient experience. Recently I was doing some interviews in the Boston area (before deciding to start my own company) and the companies that seemed to be doing the best were the ones that were staffed by veteran senior developers
  • by microTodd ( 240390 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:55PM (#45748493) Homepage Journal

    This was an interesting question and I feel like I can give an interesting answer. I'm self-employed, in that I'm the owner of the company. So for me there is no separation. My "work" laptop is also my beefiest and hence my primary laptop. I can dictate how our lab environment is built out.

    To address what you talk about with my employees, generally speaking I'm pretty lenient with what they want to use and do (no porn no pirated software, that's pretty much it). I give pretty much free reign in the lab. I do this by having a development VM server and allowing a dev to spin up pretty much any VM he wants. I got an MSDN subscription to cover all the various MS OS flavors, but I see lots of ubuntu and OpenSolaris VMs too.

    The bigger issue for me is not computing resources, its time. You have to show me that your research efforts are worth our time. If we're building a J2EE project on top of Ubuntu with mysql, I will question why you are doing a python tutorial on the company time, for example.

    For me personally, since we're a small company and cashflow is tight I personally follow a "10% IPA rule". No more than 10% of my time can be spent on non-Income-Producing-Activity. I try to make sure 90% of my time is directly billable to revenue and not spend more than 10% of my time beyond that. Maybe larger companies with bigger profit margins can handle more, but we just can't right now.

    I certainly encourage people to learn new things and I can see the value of doing this out of left field. (For example, last year I decided to finally really learn functional programming, and it gave me a huge positive impact on my vanilla Java/Perl/JS/etc coding). And since most engineering talent is the geeky sort who love to learn for learning's sake then its a positive morale influence to let people dabble. But when I can see the cash flow report every month then I can see where the PHB/clueless MBAs get nervous when you spend too much time doing research and learning.

    Now, when you mention security being an issue.....well, can't help you there. Most large companies have fairly brain-dead security policies so there's not much you can do about it.

    • by rwyoder ( 759998 )

      For me personally, since we're a small company and cashflow is tight I personally follow a "10% IPA rule". No more than 10% of my time can be spent on non-Income-Producing-Activity.

      I wonder how many other Slashdotters thought "IPA" meant something else until they read on. ;-)

  • will benefit both your employer and yourself in the long run. Especially if it help keeps your profession entertaining and fresh, because there are a lot of cool technologies to explore, and more are being devised every day.

    Exposing yourself to new ideas and approaches will make you a better IT professional, especially if you're a developer. It will help clarify what sorts of things you enjoy, which can help you decide if/when it's right to jump ship, and make it easier for you to land the next job

  • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:56PM (#45748507)

    Wait 'till you have kids and your tinker time drops to zero.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:06PM (#45748597) Homepage

      The solution to that is do not have kids. Honestly unless you really want the single most expensive hobby in the world, raising kids, just do not do it.
      People claim, Legacy: and being remembered... Bah, after 2 generations you will be completely forgotten and your grave never visited. Dont waste precious time and money on children.

      This is from a guy that raised 4 kids. Yes I enjoyed my kids, but if I was able to go back in time and kick my teenage self in the nuts 30 times to keep me from ever having children, I would do it in a heartbeat.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:18PM (#45748699) Journal

        What do your children think of this viewpoint?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That just sounds sad. Your kids would never been born. I feel bad for them, and for you.
      • by hodet ( 620484 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:21PM (#45748723)


      • if I was able to go back in time and kick my teenage self in the nuts 30 times to keep me from ever having children, I would do it in a heartbeat.

        If you have time travel capability, I would put forth that you take a quick jaunt to the future first and obtain some Vasalgel (aka. RISUG) [], which is very likely to be both more effective and less painful than massive testicular trauma. That would make your trip into the past much more likely to be successful.

        Oh, and grab some Vasalgel for the rest of us while you're there in the future, please...

      • I can tell you are not from an Asian family and not a good parent because because all your children have fled instead of staying around taking care of the elderly and ensure assets and trusts stay intact.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I recently visited the grave of my forefather, who came over to the U.S. in 1749. Not every legacy is forgotten. In the end, what my wife and I have contributed to the world is our son and daughter, and the impact we (and they, and their descendants) have on the lives of others. Work is just a means to support that.

        (And about how long do you think your employer is going to remember you once your job has been outsourced to Elbonia?)

      • From a guy who was sure he wouldn't want kids, didn't have them, and has no regrets, I hear ya!

      • Yeah, this .... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:52PM (#45749509) Journal

        I mean, if you're really the type who spends a lot of time wishing you had kids and have big ideas about all the fun you'll have teaching them new things, watching them grow up, and you look forward to attending all the little league sports games, piano recitals, and school functions -- by all means, have a kid or kids and don't let me discourage you!

        But I know I'm in the same camp as "Lumpy" here.... Got married to a woman who insisted she wanted a kid (or kids) badly. Got talked into the whole thing, with a lot of suggesting that I "wouldn't really have to do much of the work anyway, as long as I was going to work full-time and making most of the money". Not long after we had the kid, things disintegrated. She fell into a state of depression, left me (initially took the kid too, but pretty much handed her back to me after a month or two, deciding she couldn't handle it). So after a messy divorce, I was stuck raising my daughter pretty much on my own. Eventually got re-married, but to a woman who already had a couple of kids of her own, so now I've got 3 to worry about.

        Honestly, it's one of those things where I take the responsibility very seriously, and feel a sense of "duty" to make sure the kids grow up as successful as possible. But if there was some kind of time machine or way to wind the clock back and do it all over again? I would have certainly made different choices.

        I have a buddy who is adamant about the idea that every man should strive to accomplish things that leave something behind that outlasts them. (In fact, he got into woodworking after having a long career in I.T., because he got disgusted with the throw-away nature of all the work put into I.T. related projects. Today's hot new software is discarded tomorrow, and even entire programming languages become obsolete by declaration of a big name company like Microsoft, almost on a whim. He felt that with woodworking, it was possible to build physical pieces of furniture that would last hundreds of years and be used and enjoyed by generations long after his death.) Of course, this also means he sees great value in becoming a parent. I get that, but I also don't feel that need to create people OR things that outlive me? Once you're dead, you won't know the difference anyway, right? Often, I feel like the time (and money) needed for parenting is time/money I could have been doing something more personally rewarding -- especially with kids who are generally ungrateful for what they're given or have.

        I think you definitely want to have good, true friends... Nobody wants to wind up alone, or have nobody else to care for or about. But having kids isn't always the best avenue for that. It actually runs counter to the ability to make and keep good friends, IMO, because your time and resources are stretched so thin taking care of the family that comes first.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          You are the only person that has commented that has a clue as to what I meant. Thank you.

    • by hodet ( 620484 )

      Heh, I can relate. I still make the time, the unfortunate part is that it is usually late at night when all other stuff has been taken care of, which is not the best frame of mind for learning. For me learning new stuff on my own may benefit my employer, but it benefits me far greater. It isn't work if you love the stuff.

      Oh to get up on a Saturday morning with a fresh pot of coffee and a fresh mind to tinker. :-)

    • by unimacs ( 597299 )
      That can be true when they're really young. However, my son is now at an age where we can both learn stuff that will help me in my career and can have fun doing it. Lego Mindstorms or Arduino stuff is a blast.

      For that matter things like swimming, sledding, snowball fights, etc are all worthwhile diversions that I can participate in freely as an adult with kids. I don't consider it time lost at all.
    • Wait 'till you have kids and your tinker time drops to zero.

      Isn't that what having a wife is for...?

      • Chances are the OP is not making enough to have an one-income household.

        But in a two-income household, that is what in-laws are for. Free child care, free housing etc. (at least in most Asian societies this is widely accepted)

  • I do the same and I consider it fun. I guess that's why I like what I do. Does it benefit my employer? Well certainly, but it benefits me too in terms of job performance, confidence, and job satisfaction. I tinker with things that I think are fun. The experience that you gain will take your career in that direction.
    • by hodet ( 620484 )

      This is the truth. I have always found that the best in my profession love what they do. The ones always whining about not enough training on the job or in class are the ones that are least effective. They have no joy in their heart for this. You want to learn? Then go, learn. There has never been a better time then the present day, with all the resources we have right at our fingertips to engage your mind.

  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:00PM (#45748549)

    It's not just benefiting your employer, learning benefits you too:

    Directly by keeping your mind active and engaged.

    Directly by allowing you to experiment with ways to do things that might not be allowed in your work environment.

    And not the least of which - it's "RBT" (Resume Building Technology) - While you may not be able to claim you did xyz on the job, you can at least indicate your familiarity with the technology.

    With so many HR departments acting as gatekeepers - the first person who looks at your application may be someone who only knows to look for the correct buzzwords... when you can legitimately claim to have some knowledge of buzzword x, you improve your chances of getting in the door.

    Then, when you talk to someone in the actual interview, you can mention that this is research you do on your own time - to improve/hone your skills.

    If that doesn't get you points with the hiring person, well, you're likely interviewing for a place you're going to HATE.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:03PM (#45748563) Homepage

    It's easier to get forgiveness than permission. so I have a separate setup that is not on their network that I simply plug into to do my bidding and experiments. If I am learning new skills for them then they can pay me to do it.

  • Spend as much work time as possible developing your personal projects. Just don't let them know about it.
  • If you're not investing your energy in your personal time in furtherance of your mastery of your craft, you're doomed. The world will swiftly leave you behind and it's nobody's fault but your own. The coding skills you have today are obsolescent in 18 months. It may be wise for your employer to invest in your continuing education and foolish to not do so, but it's not the employer's responsibility. It's yours. You made the choice to be in a line of work where very little is permanent.

    If you're not comfortab

    • That's maybe true for coding, which can largely be done inexpensively for the most part, but there's a lot of IT work where even if you WANTED to do it at home it's cost-prohibitive to do so.

      While it'd be nice to have a three tier fiber channel & 10G SAN in my house, I can't afford one. Freebie products like OpenFiler and the like don't cut it because while some of the concepts are on display, there's a shitload that's not in it nor is what you kind of need to know, like the actual management interfac

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:04PM (#45748575)

    ... but if they want to take advantage of my skill set, the end product will end up looking like what I do at home.

    Being in the engineering (electrical) field, most of my software projects have been voluntary. Need something done? I can do that. Oh, you wanted it done on Windows? Sorry, I don't do Windows. I know my way around Linux or some other *nixes. If that's not suitable, find someone else to do it. In some cases, after a few months of playing with point and drool with no progress, they come back.

    Most of the challenge in what I build is the domain knowledge. My skill set with tools and environments (the proper ones) is sufficient to get the job done with minimal fussing over those issues. People who agonize over the language, IDE, or O/S of the day are making more trouble for themselves. Since at the end of the day the domain problem is still staring them in the face.

  • by bmajik ( 96670 )

    At home, I want my technology to serve me, and not take up any of my limited time.

    I don't screw with it unless I have a particular itch that I want scratched.

    That said, my work environments and home environments couldn't be more different.

    At work, I work on Visual Studio. So I have windows machines with more hyper-V guests in them, running nightly builds of CLR and VS. Plus other ones for IIS/SQL to host test apps on.

    At home, I run

    - 1 windows workstation (turned off until I run a network drop over to it.

  • I separate. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:08PM (#45748607) Journal

    I have a life. A wife who loves me, an ex that hates me, ingeniously dramatic kids, engaging friends. I feel slightly bad that I'm not investing extra time to stay at the profession's bleeding edge. But I genuinely prefer the company of warm bodies, music, games, conversation, food, physical work, and laughter.

    So I doff my hat to all you die-hards with the ambition and drive to advance our profession, and I thank you. But that's not for me.

  • Sometimes wives don't understand that work is something that the husband enjoys and wants to think about outside of work. A lot of people don't even want to think about work except to complain.

    Very often a wife is intimidated by male passion when it is directed at anything other than herself. Invest a little effort into letting her know that she is the center of your universe, but you enjoy having fun with other things, too.
  • I rebuilt the whole damn Kerberos/LDAP infrastructure at home, including multimaster replication, and integrated Mac, Solaris, Linux, BSD and Windows boxes into it.

  • by flymolo ( 28723 ) <flymolo&gmail,com> on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:16PM (#45748683)

    My home projects tend to be on the peripheral edge of my work. I proof of concept stuff. I try a new library that might turn out to be useful. That's the best balance for me. If I pitch it at work, I have to promise return on the time. This makes my creative projects stressful. If I play with it, it fails or it doesn't. Either way I've learned something, and haven't had to worry about deadlines.

  • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:17PM (#45748685)
    A lot of the time, - maybe even most of the time, my personal skill building exercises will benefit my organization as well. I'm OK with that. There are so many posts on slashdot about people finding themselves unemployed or in danger of being unemployed because their skills are out of date. I prefer not to rely on my employer to make sure my skills are relevant.

    Plus, it's fun.
  • I do what I do... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dave Voecks ( 3197515 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:25PM (#45748759)
    because I have a genuine interest in solving problems. That interest doesn't stop at 5pm. I don't feel the least bit "used" that I use my own time to tinker, and learn no things that ultimately benefit my employer. I feel much more satisfied learning things than I would if I spent that same time watching a lot of TV. That's also the same reason I listen to audio books while working out. Learning things IS my hobby.
  • If work won't invest in lab space,time or training, I won't invest *my* time in doing what they should be doing. I do have my stuff, but I learn what I think will benefit me. Sometimes that happens to be the same as my work is about at that moment, but almost always it's something that I find interesting at that moment.

    If work asks me to check out stuff at home, I tell them I leave home to go to work and when I'm done working I go home again. I'd like to keep the two separated. They know I have stuff go

  • Luckily at RBI I had 3/4 spare pc's I could convert to test/linux boxes then again i worked in a small team and had a director as a boss. At home I am just setting up a hp microserver to run a small virtulised hadoop cluster. I also have done the formal Cisco CCNA to expand my knowledge and to help with being a full stack developer.
  • by __aagmrb7289 ( 652113 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:43PM (#45748917) Journal
    Of a job that pays well, because you are expected to be a professional that is continuing to improve your own skillset? There are many, and development is one of those.
  • but nothing my employer does interests me in any way , so I spend my time learning about things I am interested in, not what would benefit them.

  • I quit working for "The Man" 5 years ago and now work for myself. I find that I work twice the hours, at least, but I also take regular learning tangents and am free to follow them wherever I wish, and often times they add to my general knowledge and allow me to offer different, new services and such. I find that I do a lot of "me" learning in-between projects and it not only helps me grow but also allows me to clear my head for the next project.
  • Not sure I get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cfulton ( 543949 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @04:52PM (#45749005)
    Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Researchers almost any professional has to keep up with the literature and new developments in their field or fall behind and become irrelevant. While some, might sometimes, be given some time at work to learn and keep up with advancements they are all (the successful ones anyway) reading journals or learning new techniques on their on time. I am not sure what makes developers feel like they are different and should be compensated for keeping up with their chosen field of endeavor.
    • by Flammon ( 4726 )

      Are you saying that I should increase by hourly rate to $250/hour so that I can work for 2 hours and do research/whatever/post on /. for the 6?

  • I think most of us have various setups at home for learning/experimenting, partly because its fun, partly because its a good way to get a better job and partly because our employer doesn't give us proper development environments!

    Its been a long time since I've worked at a place that has a proper dev->staging->production setup.

    I'm glad the op didn't use the term "lab" which always seems to be clueless people trying to get a CCNA, rather than people actually interested in their trade.

  • It has been said that the person we work for is ourselves. You just happen to sell your skills to your current (next?) employer.

    If you wish to remain relevant, then you need to stay up to date.

    Where and how you do that perhaps depends on your current network skills and the access you have to materials outside of your current employer.

    Can you VPN outside of your employer network?
    Can you proxy through your employer network?
    Can you read a book/kindle at your desk?
    Can you install appropriate tools on your emplo

  • by the_scoots ( 1595597 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @05:19PM (#45749233)
    Our workplace has been pretty laid back about people experimenting with whatever they would like once we got set up with Amazon. Want to try out anything new, just remember to shut down the services when you're done. We're limited to what Amazon has available, but for a web and app focused business, we have a ton of options available.
  • For me, a copycat installation would just be a Linux box and a code repository. Most of my machines run some form of Linux, but most of my own projects aren't large enough to bother with much in the way of revision control, so I don't usually do that part of things.

    When I'm writing something for myself, it tends to be in areas that I don't get to cover at work (playing with C++11 features, graphics, audio, etc). While I'm not making any kind of attempt to specifically better my professionally-useful skills
  • I work for an IT hardware reseller (mostly; we do some new stuff too), so scrounging up some lab boxes or test beds usually isn't a problem. I've got one in our rack right now that I fire up to mess with VMs via Hyper-V, rather than adding a bunch of extra load to our ESX cluster. And we mostly deal with smaller development projects, not spending months building huge software packages, so it's generally not too hard to grab a few hours of downtime here and there to read and experiment with stuff. Our dev te

  • Mostly, because the hardware is getting more and more powerful - and I don't "invest" as much money in my personal hardware anymore as I used to do.
    Thus, spare hardware (and dev-VMs) at work (which we have plenty) are faster than VMs at home.
    Plus, if we can show a benefit and it will add to the bottom line (or save a lot of time), we do get a project, time and a budget to build it - on current hardware.
    We do have a guy (he's now retired, but still contracts for us...) who has his complete build environme
  • As someone else commented earlier on here, you should *always* really be working for yourself, not anyone else. You may be employed by someone else to carry out a specific set of tasks for them -- but what's wrong with those crossing over into the larger set of things you take a personal interest in and want to do on your own time anyway?

    I don't think I've ever gone as far as to try to duplicate a complete computer/network environment I used in the workplace? But certainly I've set up machines with softwar

  • I have always had interests in both software and hardware tinkering. When I had a job doing hardware tinkering though I became much more interested in software tinkering at home and rarely did much with hardware. Since I became a programmer what I want to do at home is build things, real objects with my hands, not sit in front of a keyboard.

    And then there is the fact that on the rare occasion I do feel like doing a software project at home, my worplace is unfortunately a mostly Windows shop. I prefer Lin

  • by qbzzt ( 11136 ) on Friday December 20, 2013 @10:49PM (#45751299)

    I get paid to use them for the company's benefit, but I could use them to get a different job or do projects on the side. Also, I often learn things that aren't related to my job, and then I just happen to find a use for them.

    So I don't mind spending my own time to improve my skills, as long as they aren't skills that are specific to the products of one specific employer.

Friction is a drag.