The Biggest PAX

It seems like almost every newsletter is about PAX or some other convention. Well, over half the months of the year have conventions, and the other half of the months have a convention coming up soon, so that's how it is. Some of our listeners express fatigue with constantly hearing about conventions. Others listen because that's what they want.

Whether or not you like conventions, you have to understand. Conventions are the place where our people, the geeks, convene. The same way that capital cities are where government happens, conventions are where geek happens. This year PAX Prime is four days and bigger than ever. It is the singular gaming event of the year. PAX is the Mecca of all gaming culture. As usual it is next weekend, which is Labor Day weekend in the US. We are doing one panel entitled Bad Games on Monday in the Wolfman Theater from 12-1pm. Be there in spirit, if not in person.

Also, the day prior to PAX, Thursday August 29th, we will be attending the Sky High Tabletop charity dinner. It still isn't completely sold out. If you are tired of fighting over tiny gaming tables in hotel lobbies, this is a great alternative. You were going to spend money on dinner anyway. Why not pay a little more, have all the money go to charity, and get yourself a comfortable place to play games all night? 

Grand Prix Finale

The final round of the FRC gaming grand prix will begin when I return from PAX. If you want to participate, make sure you pay attention to the forum thread. I guarantee that the final round will not have the scheduling difficulties of the previous round. It will be very easy for every person who has a web browser to participate.

Ask Rym & Scott

Not sure if this is an appropriate question for the newsletter or as a podcast topic or not at all.
I was wondering what your opinion was on professional career changes which involve re-education and require going back to University for full time education as a mature student.  Specifically in IT and CS area.
The reason I ask you specifically is because both you and Rym are in the industry that I am considering.
I don’t know if you’ll get through the following wall of text but any opinions or advice would be helpful.  Imagine if you were going back into university at your current age to see if it makes sense.  Do CS and IT employers look down on mature graduates?  Do new graduates get paid ok or taken advantage of?  How many years does it take before you start being paid a comfortable income?

... Text wall removed by Scott...

- Pradyumn

This question is vary hard to answer because the IT and CS world varies so wildly. With some professions, the work is pretty similar no matter where you go or who you work for. With computers, it's all over the place. You could work for a start-up that pays less money and more equity with 80 hour work weeks. You could work for a big boring financial company getting paid cash and be very bored for exactly 8 hours a day. You could work for a fashionable media company that has no set hours, lets you work from home, and pays decently. You could go freelance and do only as much work as you like, or as you can get.

Also, keep in mind that CS and IT are incredibly broad terms. The specific skills and technologies you work with really determine what your job will be like. Even though I can program just about anything, people will only hire me to do jobs using technologies I am already experienced with. An expert at Microsoft SQL or Oracle can really only get database admin jobs at big corporations, since only those companies use such systems. Someone who knows Ruby can really only get web development jobs at hip start-up type places, since that is the only kind of place Ruby is used. The technology you specialize in will determine the nature of your work and the culture of your workplace.

Geography also matters a lot. If you live in or near a major city, many more opportunities will be available. If you live in the sticks, you will not have much choice of where to go or what to work with. You will also get paid a lot more in a major city. Even though the cost of living is higher in cities, the increased pay more than makes up for it. If you are really concerned about money you want to live in the sticks and work from home for a big city company. If you have city money in the sticks, you will be very wealthy.

Lastly, I'm not a fan of the word re-education. You are in a position where you already have a profession, and you want to replace it. Well, you aren't forgetting everything you know about your current job. You are just adding technology knowledge on top of that. It's not easy, but if you can find a job combining both your existing knowledge and technology, you will be kicking ass. I know quite a few people who have knowledge of technology and law, or technology and biology. There are few jobs that make use of both skills, but nobody else is qualified for those few jobs. I highly recommend trying to combine your existing knowledge with technological education to achieve awesomeness.

Book Club - Stasiland

The current book club selection is Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall. Rym read it already, I have to start on it. It is very relevant to current events in the United States of America, and other places around the world. Expect the episode sometime in September.

New Podcasts

There probably won't be any new podcasts from us until September. Here are our best recent episodes to hold you over until then, including everything about our trip to Australia.

New Videos

Rym doesn't feel like posting entire panels in one video anymore. He's experimenting with just putting pieces of the panel up as short clips. Most likely because it is a lot less work to edit and upload a tiny clip than an entire video. GeekNights Presents Utena also continues.

Forum Weather Report

It's a sandstorm, everyone take cover! Some forum members have old or dead e-mail addresses in their profiles. Those users will all be temporarily banned until they inform me of their correct e-mail address. Also, I have seen some people register for the forum who give reasons like "I want to be able to post comments." That doesn't look like something a spam bot would write, but it's also not quite good enough. If you want to have your panel application accepted put a little effort into writing your reason, perhaps actually mention GeekNights or something a bot couldn't possibly know.

Thing of the Newsletter