Are certification programs a scam?

I have never really worried whether I was certified or not. This Computerworld article gets right to the point:

Depending on whom you talk to, certification programs are either borderline rip-offs that provide little useful knowledge, or valuable hiring tools that make it easier for IT execs to pick the most promising new employees.

Available from vendors focusing on their own products, or outside organizations offering multi-vendor training, these certificate programs are expanding to fill the many specialized technology subsets that have multiplied along with the growth of data storage and other IT areas.

Now this isn't to say that I don't have a few IT certifications under the belt and didn't receive some benefit from them. One of the most intensive IT certifications of recent years was in IT security and another to "please" the crowd was a certification for migration to Microsoft's Server 2003. By the time I was done with those certifications though, I didn't know enough to get the job done.

IT and Personal Goals for 2007

For the most part, I usually say "no" to making New Year resolutions and IT predictions. I never really get things 100% completed to say I've resolved those things that I previously promised. I have yet to ever fully predict what is just around the corner for IT (actually it almost usually turns out better than even my most optimistic predictions). However, no matter the time of year, I always have goals that I strive to meet.

The following are some of my open source IT goals for 2007:

  • Return of the Geek. Outside my "day job", the past year has been filled with freelance projects designing and hosting sites for various clients. As I wrote a few months ago, the whole experience of working outside of work for cash has led a bad taste to my mouth. When you really don't need the money, why do it? For 2007, I rather spend my time contributing to open source projects such as Drupal. I've been a wall flower for too long and I think the core developers would like to see wall flowers not be wall flowers.
  • For sites that I own, I need to do a better job of installing the betas and release candidates. For example, when I started CMS Report it was with Drupal 4.7 Beta 1. I'm sad to report that this site is still using Drupal 4.7. It's very hard to contribute to open source if you're not willing to go on the edge with some of your production sites.

Drupal and Joomla comparison

On a recent visit to Drupal's forum I found another post with both Joomla and Drupal in the subject line. Making comparisons between Joomla and Drupal are very common these days as they are currently considered the top two open source content management systems (CMS) out there. The forum post written by Steve Burge contains a link that takes you to a comparison table he did between Joomla and Drupal.

The botnets are coming to a Windows PC near you

The November 20, 2006 article "Spam surge linked to hackers" from eWeeks is a must read. Unfortunately, I can't find the actual online version of the article in print.

The article discusses the increasing complexity hackers are using botnets running on tens of thousands of hijacked Windows computers to spread spam. The article focuses on the research by SecureWorks regarding the malware trojan called Troj/SpamThru. Some scary unique features have been identified with this trojan including:

Creating E-government the right way

Computerworld and the National Policy Research Council (NPRC) recently completed a study ranking the Websites of state, county, and local governments on usability and other criteria. In the study, Michigan's site earned top marks.

According to the article, the "the e-government report card is based on an extensive examination of 11,227 official government Web sites." Sites were judged on 25 criteria, including "whether people could use them to pay taxes, bid for contracts, find government jobs and complain to local officials about concerns such as potholes." Also included in the article was a report card summarizing other top e-government performers among city, state, and local sites.

What separated the winners from the losers?

Getting eAccelerator 0.9.5 to run correctly

Over the weekend, I upgraded the server that hosts CMS Report with the latest stable releases of MySQL and eAccelerator. The upgrade from MySQL 4.1 to 5.0 was easy compared to the upgrade I made a year ago from MySQL 3.23 to 4.1. This time around I also have use of CPanel which meant I could make the database upgrade with at least one eye closed. My journey with upgrading from eAccelerator 0.9.4 to 0.9.5 however took a lot longer.

I've been using eAccelerator 0.9.4 since it was released early in 2006. I've gotten into some trouble in the past by those smarter than me when I tried to explain exactly what eAccelerator does and does not do. To play it safe this time around, I'll give you the summary of what eAccelerator does straight from eAccelerator.net:

SitePoint: I Have Never Met a Boxed CMS I Like

Wyatt Barnett in his Sitepoint article, "I've Never Met a Boxed CMS I Like" makes some very valid points about content management systems straight out of the box. Take note that he isn't just talking about commercial products but also open source systems. His first complaint about "boxed" CMS:

The first issue is that the very nature of a CMS is not easily boxable, without creating an application that tries to do everything for everyone and fails at doing most things particularly well. The tasks required for content management are generic, but every organization has a far different focus when it comes to how that content should be managed and how it thinks about that content. I have lost days of meetings trying to help subject matter experts understand that an article, according to this system, is really a page. Trying to make a generic application to handle this for all comers is a very, very tricky prospect.

Sadly, his post doesn't really offer a solution. I assume building your own CMS is the only alternative to the boxed version. But I have to ask, who really has the time? I think there are some obvious reasons you see so many capable software developers are using open source software such as Wordpress, TYPO3, e107, Alfresco, and Drupal for their Web presence.