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What’s a magazine Grandad?

June 9th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Work · No Comments · Work

I have been reading the trade paper Computing, or similar publications for more than 20 years. At first I felt it was a good idea to keep up-to-date with industry goings-on as I was in an IT job within a major computer manufacturer.  Now its more out of habit than anything else.

The industry has changed a lot in the last 25 years and the technology has too, but some things remain constant and they can be found in the letters page.  Every publication has topics which recur in its letters page on a regular basis, often with exactly the same comments and arguments being repeated.  Someone only has to write to the Guardian complaining about cyclists and the letters page virtually writes itself for a week or two.

Anyway, the Computing letters keep returning to a couple of topics: older IT people complaining that employers do not value experience and put programmers out to grass when they reach 40, contractors complaining that they are expected to pay tax on their earnings, and recent graduates complaining that employers  do not value qualifications and only want staff with years of industry experience.  The fact that two of those are mutually exclusive only makes it more fun, and everyone is 100% sure of their own opinions.

I suppose it is fitting that IT workers are totally binary in their outlook.

This week there was a classic example of someone with their own totally arbitrary and idiosyncratic approach to interviewing: always a fertile ground for twattishness.  I met a manager once who proudly declared how if anyone came to him for an interview and had a briefcase he would always engineer a situation where he could get a look inside. He was very proud of this technique but never explained how it would help select a new member of staff or why it was better than examining their skills, acheivements or experience.

This week's arbitrary interview technique is as follows:

A question I have always asked when interviewing candidates for IT jobs is: 'which computer magazines do you read?' if they don't read any, they are unlikely to have the degree of interest needed.

I do hope that he has to be interviewed by someone soon, proudly lists all the magazines he reads and is told that since he is still dependent on paper-based information sources he is unlikely to have the degree of engagement with new paradigms needed.  If they can manage to throw in the phrase "but magazines are so 20th-Century" all the better.

It did get me thinking about computer magazines though, and I borrowed my boss's copy of PC Pro to have a look at it.  Three-quarters of it seems to be devoted to measuring and rating different computers, processors or video cards to see which one is marginally better than another this week.  Since most companies settle on standard computers and try to keep to the same standard for years, it looks like wasted effort to keep up-to-date with incremental changes in hardware which are mainly of benefit only to gamers.

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