[Haifux] MCTIP computer technician course

Michael Vasiliev mycroft at yandex.ru
Tue Feb 22 02:48:04 MSK 2011

On 02/20/2011 09:23 AM, Orna Agmon Ben-Yehuda wrote:
> How about starting your CS BSc instead? The open U is free for all,
> even if you do not have the bagrut yet, and the Technion has special
> programs for good students - some start at 16 or earlier.
I'm replying to this reply, since I did not get the original letter
(ugh, again!), and can't figure out whose mail server is to blame.

Even though more than good 13 years passed since I was in that exact
situation, I'd like to share some insights, based on nothing else but
actual experience. Let's say you are, like I was, a young hacker in his
teen years looking for a job. You have some computer, network, linux,
and programming knowledge, and lacking relevant experience, you're
looking into persuading the employer in your abilities. You are, like
all people have a resource, time, which you want to invest wisely.

First of all, if you think that a prospective employer would take a teen
off the street, with or without courses and let him manage expensive
equipment and business-critical data, you're so wrong. Wrong, wrong,
wrong. I cannot emphasize it any further. Unlest that employer is your
close relative, the best you're looking at is laying LAN cable or
assembling computers from parts, both below minimum wage (sic!). The
kind of jobs you have the lowest chance to make a mistake at, from the
employer's view. Delegate-able, mundane, tiring, minimal possible loss
jobs. Worst part of it, these are also available right now, without any
courses. Nowadays, every business is an information business, and were
IT business a Zen monastery, that's the kind of jobs you were doing in
your first year. Except that in Zen monastery, you get to learn later
on, and here you're not. Every job you can get, you can continue doing
for the rest of your life, because there's no shortage of the same dull
tasks, and every single one of these jobs is both a career dead-end and
a constant insult to your intelligence.

Let's talk courses now. These credit-less courses are on the level of
advanced OS user at best, the programming ones are on the level of
novice programmer, it's nothing you don't know already. They're thriving
since the days of the hi-tech bubble, and only during these crazy days
they were somewhat effective. Back then, with the shortage of hands and
abundance of shareholder's money, you could actually get a position
doing absolutely nothing of value whatsoever. All course graduates hired
back then found themselves unemployed when the bubble burst. But people
still try the "easy way to high-tech salary". Isn't that the all-around
marketing slogan? That's how it will be: the course will be filled with
naive people who don't know two bits about computers and want to switch
from another field, unrelated to exact sciences. By offering yourself as
a lowest bidder in terms of knowledge you'll get, on these courses
you'll be taught by (surprise!) -- a lowest-bidder lecturer, which is at
best a university or college student or dropout, an unlucky jobless
teacher, or, in vast majority of cases, a "graduate" of the very same
courses on minimum wage. I was both the "student" and "lecturer" in
similar circumstances, and I feel bad for doing both. The kind of nasty
feeling if you have personal ethics for your vertebrae column and know
that despite your best efforts, you're doing a half-arsed job. Pardon
the wording.
This budget you describe can pay tuition fees for one year of proper,
regular CS university courses or a university preparatory program you
could use to improve your school grades. Or you can study for a
psychometric exam (best of such study is, surprisingly, not a course,
but gathering course books of all your friends and sitting on your butt
solving them with pencil, eraser and stopwatch in the privacy and
comfort of your own home, which is another lesson I've learned the hard
way). Time and budget permitting, try to get into excellent student
program in your school, that will get you university courses for a
credit to use later. Try to get the best grades you can while still IN
SCHOOL, or improve the one you already have.

To summarize: I've been on that very road, and I cannot say anything but
"don't waste your time taking such courses". It's nothing but ripoff and
a complete waste of your precious time. Please, I'm begging you. I
wholeheartedly wish someone persuaded me otherwise back then. Make your
decision on a field and work relentlessly towards getting a proper
degree. If you can't figure out what field you like, but you think it's
something from exact sciences, start with math(preferrably) or physics.
Both can give you a solid math background, a hardcore skeleton of your
knowledge, a basic science firmware for your brain you can use for
switching to any field of study. Math courses in university are unbeaten
in being accepted everywhere for credit towards exact sciences degree.
Math is the language of science, and the only way to speak it is
speaking it fluently.

Army is still a part of your life, and the same principles apply. If
you're stuck out of your field, don't let your brains go limp. Continue
self-education on any opportunity you get. Browse university websites
and borrow their programs. Read, read, read. If you can't carry a book,
solve math exercises out of university books or crosswords in another
language. Invent exercises for yourself. You won't regret the effort.
The neurons in the brain reorganize to better solve everyday tasks, the
same way muscle cells do. Exercise makes perfect. I'm not talking about
a majority but literally all people complain about hardships of going
back to school after an army or a study break. Continuously remind
yourself about your long-term goals. Evaluate your past and present
usage of available time and instruments, your progress towards these
goals. Don't be afraid to go over the same things over and over.
Summarize, write down and re-learn useful things you inevitably forget.
Learn how to learn effectively. Every person has strengths and
weaknesses in information gathering and processing, learn how to exploit
yours. Read books about thinking and learning. Read books that make you
think. Aggressively limit investment of your time to study proprietary
technology. It's out of your long-term interest. It will be gone,
abandoned by its very creators, before you could benefit fully from your

One thing to remember: Even the best teacher is always secondary to a
student. It's like one and zero. A student studying alone is a still a
good student. A teacher can as much as double his student's personal
investment. A teacher without a student is nothing. Best teachers
motivate and allow their students to learn on their own and they need no
advertising. A word of mouth will suffice. Your own will is the
cornerstone of your knowledge.

Heh, what started as an innocent letter turned out to be a personal
manifesto. I wish you the best of luck, perhaps I'll meet you on DEFCON
one day. Make your decisions wisely. Hope the read wasn't too boring. Dixi.


>     Hi,
>     I consider these days to start learning computer technician course.
>     This course is MCTIP by Microsoft, + free Linuxcourse.
>     Total of 252 + 64 hours, + Microsoft and LPIC 1 + 2 exams.
>     The price is 11,700, including everything.
>     Do you have any idea whether I should study the course?
>     You know what the price range for similar courses?
>     Any advice?
>     Thanks, Amichay
>     -- 
>     --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     "the debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus
>     control"
>     Bruce Schneier
>     _______________________________________________
>     Linux-il mailing list
>     Linux-il at cs.huji.ac.il <mailto:Linux-il at cs.huji.ac.il>
>     http://mailman.cs.huji.ac.il/mailman/listinfo/linux-il
> -- 
> Orna Agmon Ben-Yehuda.
> http://ladypine.org
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