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Controversy was recently courted as Southern California Edison (SCE) prepares to cut their own staff while looking to meet their staffing needs with offshore employees skilled in the field of “IT” or Informational Technology. This has been the second major utility company in the United States to take this path towards providing services to its consumers while holding current rates at consistent levels. SCE does not disclose the exact numbers of expected lay-offs, but the LA Times reports that it is in the hundreds.  Utility companies tell their consumers that these moves are necessary as a hedge against inflation and to keep their services at rates that their customers can easily afford. Critics claim that the use of foreign workers is the first step to using an entirely foreign workforce and promoting large scale unemployment amongst American citizens. Often this has been seen as a conflict between national and international workers for the same jobs, salaries and careers.

It has been noted that this State of California utility company, much like other corporations that hire foreign workers does so primarily when there is a shortage of national citizens that can perform these jobs well. IT workers that are brought in with H-1B Visa work permits usually are college educated and hold expertise in technical areas and studies that local employees may not be especially trained in. Once again, critics decry the fact that these employees are not hired directly. On shore contracting companies operating in the continental United States are directly hired by the utility companies. These contracted companies then serve as “middle-men” and hire a wide range of foreign workers with H-1B paperwork so that they can move to the United States. The workers then perform a variety of jobs instead of American workers who were either born in the country or have achieved American citizenship on their own.

Needless to say, the amount of visas issued in a given year is a concern for U.S workers in various fields but particularly in Information Technology. As large corporations stack the employment deck with foreign workers who put in the hours for a fraction of the pay-rate for local employees, local IT professionals are finding it more difficult to find work nationally.  They encounter rejections, endless interview processes or low –ball offers from companies and recruiting agencies looking to fill positions at a bare minimum cost for coveted skill-sets.  


Meanwhile, an H-1B worker is a worker brought in on a temporary basis with a visa allowing them to work freely in the United States. Much like a student or travel visa, it is issued for on a calendar oriented basis.  Applicants who successfully renew the visa for an extended period of time can expect to work in the United States for up to ten years.  Although U.S companies hiring these employees may pay them less than their local employees, the salaries earned by H-1B Visa workers are almost always higher than these workers would earn in their own country of origin.

Both sides can agree on several issues. When it comes to these H-1B Visa workers, their assignments are generally of a contractual nature and require them to reside in this country for a period of months to years. However it is also an accepted fact that while they are in this country, they are responsible for paying rent, utilities and all other living expenses. As residents of the United States on a permanent basis, they are also liable for taxes on any salary they have earned while living here.

Dr. Norman Matloff, a professor at the University of California, Davis and writer on political matters believes the shortage to be fiction. In his writing for the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, he claims that “there has been no shortage of qualified American citizens to fill American computer-related jobs, and that the data offered as evidence of American corporations needing H-1B visas to address labor shortages was erroneous. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) agrees with him and describes the situation as a crisis. Likewise, other studies from Duke, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Georgetown University have disputed that in some years, the number of foreign programmers and engineers imported outnumbered the number of jobs created by the industry

Technology is wonderful. It helps us run our businesses and connects us to the world. But when computer problems get in the way of getting what you need to get done, you can go from easygoing to mad-as-a-hornet in 3 seconds flat. Before you panic or give in to the temptation to throw your computer out the window, try these easy fixes.

5 Common Computer Problems

  1. Sluggish PC

A sluggish PC often means low disk space caused by an accumulation of temporary Internet files, photos, music, and downloads. One of the easiest fixes for a slow PC is to clear your cache.

The way you’ll do this will depend on the Internet browser you use:

  • Chrome– On the top right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see what looks like a window blind. Click on that. Click on ‘History’ and hit ‘Clear Browsing Data’.
  • Safari– On the upper left-hand side, you’ll see a tab marked ‘Safari’. Click on that. Scroll down and hit ‘Empty Cache’.
  • Internet Explorer– Click on ‘Tools’ and scroll down to ‘Internet Options’. Under ‘Browsing History’ click ‘Delete’. Delete files and cookies.
  • FireFox – At the top of the window click ‘Tools’ then go to ‘Options’. Select the ‘Advanced’ panel and click on the ‘Network’ tab. Go to ‘Cached Web Content’ and hit ‘Clear Now’.

Another blanket article about the pros and cons of Direct to Consumer (D2C) isn’t needed, I know. By now, we all know the rules for how this model enters a market: its disruption fights any given sector’s established sales model, a fuzzy compromise is temporarily met, and the lean innovator always wins out in the end.

That’s exactly how it played out in the music industry when Apple and record companies created a digital storefront in iTunes to usher music sales into the online era. What now appears to have been a stopgap compromise, iTunes was the standard model for 5-6 years until consumers realized there was no point in purchasing and owning digital media when internet speeds increased and they could listen to it for free through a music streaming service.  In 2013, streaming models are the new music consumption standard. Netflix is nearly parallel in the film and TV world, though they’ve done a better job keeping it all under one roof. Apple mastered retail sales so well that the majority of Apple products, when bought in-person, are bought at an Apple store. That’s even more impressive when you consider how few Apple stores there are in the U.S. (253) compared to big box electronics stores that sell Apple products like Best Buy (1,100) Yet while some industries have implemented a D2C approach to great success, others haven’t even dipped a toe in the D2C pool, most notably the auto industry.

What got me thinking about this topic is the recent flurry of attention Tesla Motors has received for its D2C model. It all came to a head at the beginning of July when a petition on whitehouse.gov to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states reached the 100,000 signatures required for administration comment. As you might imagine, many powerful car dealership owners armed with lobbyists have made a big stink about Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO and Product Architect, choosing to sidestep the traditional supply chain and instead opting to sell directly to their customers through their website. These dealership owners say that they’re against the idea because they want to protect consumers, but the real motive is that they want to defend their right to exist (and who wouldn’t?). They essentially have a monopoly at their position in the sales process, and they want to keep it that way. More frightening for the dealerships is the possibility that once Tesla starts selling directly to consumers, so will the big three automakers, and they fear that would be the end of the road for their business. Interestingly enough, the big three flirted with the idea of D2C in the early 90’s before they were met with fierce backlash from dealerships. I’m sure the dealership community has no interest in mounting a fight like that again. 

To say that the laws preventing Tesla from selling online are peripherally relevant would be a compliment. By and large, the laws the dealerships point to fall under the umbrella of “Franchise Laws” that were put in place at the dawn of car sales to protect franchisees against manufacturers opening their own stores and undercutting the franchise that had invested so much to sell the manufacturer’s cars.  There’s certainly a need for those laws to exist, because no owner of a dealership selling Jeeps wants Chrysler to open their own dealership next door and sell them for substantially less. However, because Tesla is independently owned and isn’t currently selling their cars through any third party dealership, this law doesn’t really apply to them. Until their cars are sold through independent dealerships, they’re incapable of undercutting anyone by implementing D2C structure.

In recent decades, companies have become remarkably different than what they were in the past. The formal hierarchies through which support staff rose towards management positions are largely extinct. Offices are flat and open-plan collaborations between individuals with varying talent who may not ever physically occupy a corporate workspace. Many employed by companies today work from laptops nomadically instead. No one could complain that IT innovation hasn’t been profitable. It’s an industry that is forecasted to rake in $351 billion in 2018, according to recent statistics from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). A leadership dilemma for mid-level IT managers in particular, however, has developed. Being in the middle has always been a professional gray area that only the most driven leverage towards successful outcomes for themselves professionally, but mid-level managers in IT need to develop key skills in order to drive the level of growth that the fast paced companies who employ them need. 

What is a middle manager’s role exactly? 

A typical middle manager in the IT industry is usually someone who has risen up the ranks from a technical related position due to their ability to envision a big picture of what’s required to drive projects forward. A successful middle manager is able to create cohesion across different areas of the company so that projects can be successfully completed. They’re also someone with the focus necessary to track the progress of complex processes and drive them forward at a fast pace as well as ensure that outcomes meet or exceed expectations.

What challenges do middle managers face in being successful in the IT industry today? 

While middle managers are responsible for the teams they oversee to reach key milestones in the life cycle of important projects, they struggle to assert their power to influence closure. Navigating the space between higher-ups and atomized work forces is no easy thing, especially now that workforces often consist of freelancers with unprecedented independence. 

What are the skills most needed for an IT manager to be effective? 

Being educated on a steady basis to handle the constant evolution of tech is absolutely essential if a middle manager expects to thrive professionally in a culture so knowledge oriented that evolves at such a rapid pace. A middle manager who doesn't talk the talk of support roles or understand the nuts and bolts of a project they’re in charge of reaching completion will not be able to catch errors or suggest adequate solutions when needed. 

How has the concept of middle management changed? 

Middle managers were basically once perceived of as supervisors who motivated and rewarded staff towards meeting goals. They coached. They toggled back and forth between the teams they watched over and upper management in an effort to keep everyone on the same page. It could be said that many got stuck between the lower and upper tier of their companies in doing so. While companies have always had to be result-oriented to be profitable, there’s a much higher expectation for what that means in the IT industry. Future mid-level managers will have to have the same skills as those whose performance they're tracking so they can determine if projects are being executed effectively. They also need to be able to know what new hires that are being on-boarded should know to get up to speed quickly, and that’s just a thumbnail sketch because IT companies are driven forward by skills that are not easy to master and demand constant rejuvenation in the form of education and training. It’s absolutely necessary for those responsible for teams that bring products and services to market to have similar skills in order to truly determine if they’re being deployed well. There’s a growing call for mid-level managers to receive more comprehensive leadership training as well, however. There’s a perception that upper and lower level managers have traditionally been given more attention than managers in the middle. Some say that better prepped middle managers make more valuable successors to higher management roles. That would be a great happy ending, but a growing number of companies in India’s tech sector complain that mid-level managers have lost their relevance in the scheme of the brave new world of IT and may soon be obsolete.

 

 

 

Tech Life in Colorado

CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Colorado as the third best state in the nation for business. Colorado is also the home to a bunch of federal facilities such as NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command, United States Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, and Fort Carson. On top of the beautiful mountainous scenery and sunny weather, tech life has been brewing steadily in the last decade in Denver and Boulder.
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. ~ John Locke
other Learning Options
Software developers near Denver have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Colorado that offer opportunities for Cisco developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Level 3 Communications, Inc Broomfield Telecommunications Telecommunications Other
Liberty Global, Inc. Englewood Telecommunications Video and Teleconferencing
Liberty Media Corporation Englewood Media and Entertainment Media and Entertainment Other
Western Union Company Englewood Financial Services Financial Services Other
Ball Corporation Broomfield Manufacturing Metals Manufacturing
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation Greeley Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
Molson Coors Brewing Company Denver Manufacturing Alcoholic Beverages
DISH Network Corporation Englewood Media and Entertainment Media and Entertainment Other
Arrow Electronics, Inc. Englewood Computers and Electronics Networking Equipment and Systems
DaVita, Inc. Denver Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Outpatient Care Centers
Blockbuster LLC Englewood Media and Entertainment Media and Entertainment Other
CH2M HILL Englewood Energy and Utilities Alternative Energy Sources
Newmont Mining Corporation Greenwood Vlg Agriculture and Mining Mining and Quarrying

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Colorado since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Cisco programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Cisco experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Cisco programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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