Dominic Connor

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Dominic Connor used to boss IT pros and quants around in banks, and now recruits people for less crappy jobs in the City.
Register Roundtable at the Soho hotel

CIOs: Want to get onto the Board? Just 'running' IT isn't enough

Reg Events For our third round table a few weeks back we took on an issue dear to the hearts of IT execs: getting a seat at the decision making top table. And who better to talk through this one than a roomful of CIOs who were on their own firms' boards. Your first tip for moving up is to stop saying "the business". Stop saying it now and …
Dominic Connor, 05 Dec 2014
android tongue

DROIDS - everywhere! Is Apple really even in the game any more?

DroidCon 14 Reg bad-boy Dom Connor was walking the halls at DroidCon recently - this is what he saw ... DroidDrones Flyver was among the exhibitors at DroidCon 2014, where it unveiled an API that works with your Android phone to control a drone. It's also selling a bundle of sensors, battery and processor that's light and cheap enough to …
Dominic Connor, 04 Nov 2014
Register Roundtable at the Soho hotel

How do Reg readers keep their vendors in line?

Reg Events It's difficult to speak openly about how to squeeze the best out of your suppliers. On the one hand, you always suspect there's more you could be doing. On the other, you don't want to give away your secrets. So, last month we gathered a team of senior IT execs from an eclectic mix of large corporates, government departments, …
Dominic Connor, 27 Oct 2014
The Tardis: Oooo-eee-ooooo © BBC 1963, Courtesy of BBC Worldwide

Doctor Who and the Dalek: 10-year-old tests BBC programming game

Doctor Who has been pressganged into the BBC’s “Make it Digital” push to help kids understand computers rather than just playing with them. Its answer: an educational video game. The cunning plan is to sweeten the task of understanding basic coding by sneaking it into something that is fun, in order to reach the kids who don’t …
Dominic Connor, 20 Oct 2014
Smiling child with head in hands

BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV

Comment The BBC now has a policy of attaching an educational theme to each year that will be rammed into as many programmes as possible and will run across all of its channels and websites. 2014 was the centenary of WWI, as anyone with functioning sensory organs knows, and Auntie Beeb has decreed that in 2015, we will learn to code, …
Dominic Connor, 01 Sep 2014

Google hops into bed with Brit red-top: Cooks up 'draw an app' coding compo for kids

Comment British red-top The Sun is running a campaign to “Get Kids Coding” in collaboration with Google that demonstrates failures of judgment and technology that have reduced my family as well as some Reg staff to helpless laughter. The tabloid is, of course, a contentious choice for promoting any academic activity - teachers mostly …
Dominic Connor, 14 Aug 2014
Register Roundtable at the Soho hotel

Why do Reg readers deserve the big bucks? Here's why...

Reg events The Register recently gathered together some of the great and good in an attempt to work out what is going on in corporate IT. Here's what happened next... In the aptly named Sandra Blow Room of London's Soho Hotel, my role was to provoke conversation on the subject of IT governance and the structures by which large scale IT is …
Dominic Connor, 07 Aug 2014

Join me, Reg readers, and help me UPGRADE our CHILDREN

Appeal The venerable Royal Institution - of Christmas Lectures fame - has at last got funding to do something about Computer Science education in the UK. Starting this autumn, schools will get to nominate kids who don’t just read the words but hear the music of algorithms, logic, complexity in time and space, data structures and the …
Dominic Connor, 13 Jun 2014
cake

Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

As your body staggers down the winding road to death, user interfaces that require fighter pilot-grade eyesight, the dexterity of a neurosurgeon, and the mental agility of Derren Brown, are going to screw with you at some point. Don't kid yourself otherwise – disability, in one form or another, can strike at any moment. Given …
Dominic Connor, 17 Apr 2014

The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

Cobol is the language most associated with mainframes, especially the IBM System 360 whose 50th anniversary is being celebrated or at least commemorated this week. But when COBOL was first spawned in the mid-1950s, it wasn’t intended for programmers. It was aimed instead at “accountants and business managers” – basically a Stone …
Dominic Connor, 08 Apr 2014
Sinclair ZX80

Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Part One Almost overnight in the early 1980s, hordes of British kids embraced programming, as did many adults, delivering the most IT-literate workforce in the world. It was a big reason why the nosediving economy of the '70s and '80s didn’t crash and burn. Well, that or Thatcherism, you choose. Why BASIC? In the early 1970s and early …
Dominic Connor, 06 Nov 2013

The 10 most INHUMAN bosses you'll encounter: A Reg reader's guide

Your boss could well be a barely restrained psychopath. Indeed, it is probable that he is the living incarnation of Cthulhu himself. Or he may be a bumbling incompetent who'll sink your career along with his. You, the downtrodden techie, need to learn how to deal with him - and fast. First, stop thinking of him as a person …
Dominic Connor, 05 Nov 2013
Tojiro Senkou 15cm kitchen knife

A short, sharp tool kit to get you to the top in financial IT

Congratulations, you’ve started moving up the food chain. But there is still a long way to go. Having been an occasionally competent head of IT at a midsize City firm after working my way up, I’d like to share with you things I should have known then. These are the lessons I’ve learned at some cost to both my employers and …
Dominic Connor, 02 Jul 2013
The Playmobil bank set, complete with armed robber

How City IT is under attack from politicians, diesel bugs, HR

Comment The stupidest thing I’ve ever said was “if it was a jet, the tower would have collapsed” on September 11th and I feel the same about RBS. As I pass it most days, part of me expects to see crowds outside, perhaps including the police and TV camera crews, because I can’t understand why it still functions. The Reg has covered in …
Dominic Connor, 27 Jun 2013
Resignation_videogame_02

When to say those three little words: 'I am quitting'

Feature My despair as El Reg's resident job expert is that you people sometimes can’t even follow basic simple advice. For example, when I wrote about pay cuts, some arts grad commented that he’d immediately quit. I shall type this slowly so you understand: You... quit... when... it... suits... you. Not out of spite, not for revenge, …
Dominic Connor, 17 Jun 2013

Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

Feature You choose your degree when you’re still a child, even though at 16 or 17 you may not feel like one. When I look back at some of my own teenage decisions, I shudder, and you will too when you think back to your younger years. But perhaps, armed with the advice below, you can avoid the common pitfalls and stumbling blocks on the …
Dominic Connor, 14 Jun 2013

Think you're ready to make a big career bet? Read this first...

Feature Disclaimer: Before taking any of my advice be aware that I once bet my career on OS/2 and that in all my careers articles my ambition is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made. The Politburo at The Reg wants me to stick my neck out and show some trends in this “future” thing that young people seem so keen on nowadays …
Dominic Connor, 31 May 2013
interview_suit_and_tie

So you want to be a contractor? Well, here's how it works

Back in the heady days of 1984, working on the development of Microsoft Unix (yes, that was a real product, AKA Xenix), we needed to write an Ethernet driver, but none of us really felt up to that. We needed to hire an expensive specialist. And so I met my first contractor, who turned up in a far better car than anyone else and …
Dominic Connor, 20 May 2013
shutterstock_interview_sidey

Is the IT industry short on Cobolers? This could be your lucky day

Let's make one thing clear: your previous jobs are not the reason why you were hired. You were hired for having skills that bosses need. People are employed because they are needed to do things that must be done, not because they can do something that is merely desired. It’s not all bad news. The current Big Data hype means …
Dominic Connor, 01 May 2013
Ferrari F430. Photo © by Rudolf Stricker

IT salaries: Why you are a clapped-out Ferrari

As a tech careers writer I regularly receive noise about the UK IT “skills shortage", which makes as much sense as saying there’s a shortage of Ferraris. I know this because, according to Blighty's Office for National Statistics, the average weekly pre-tax pay in “computer programming, consultancy and related activities” in 2012 …
Dominic Connor, 12 Apr 2013

Spotting a Big Data faker as you set up Big Data for someone

Having read my last Big Data piece, I fear that some of you will try to blag your way out of the declining Oracle/Java/VB market without the legs to support what’s on your CV. This article is not for you: it’s for the poor souls who have to catch you out whilst trying to get in someone who’s at least mildly competent. There are …
Dominic Connor, 28 Mar 2013

Reg man bested in geek-to-geek combat - in World War 3 nerve centre

Geek's Guide to Britain During the Cold War, Neatishead in Norfolk was theoretically the worst place in the UK to live: the nearby RAF base would be target Number One if the Russians nuked us. This was brought home to me in a guided tour by a retired officer, whose old job was to run Blighty’s air defence. Standing in the 1980s-era Cold War control …
Dominic Connor, 28 Mar 2013
Apple iPad 4

iPads in education: Not actually evil, but pretty close

Analysis Education in the USA has long been a stronghold of Apple, the venerable Apple II being cheap and tough enough to survive in that hostile environment, skool. But Apple’s gouging of UK consumers meant the prices were so high back in the day that it was worth flying to New York and paying air fares hotel and taxes to buy the beast …
Dominic Connor, 26 Mar 2013
Apple Power Mac G4 Cube

Apple share-price-off-a-cliff: Told you that would happen

I was allowed to write this piece because in November I wrote to our glorious editor after a London Quant's Group seminar to say that the price of Apple shares would tank sooner rather than later. As you all know, that’s just what happened - from just shy of $800 to the mid $400s. The reason I don’t make all that much money out …
Dominic Connor, 25 Mar 2013

Help save the endangered QUANTUM OWL, pleads Reg man

Tin rattler I’m sitting in Faraday’s lecture theatre where electricity was first demonstrated, taking part in yet another Royal Institution near-death experience. You need to drop your simplistic idea that the RI is about the Christmas Lectures we all know and love: it runs by far the largest UK science outreach programme, hitting around …
Dominic Connor, 25 Mar 2013
Wrapping Tidal Enterprise Scheduler around Hadoop

I used to be an Oracle DBA ... but now I'm a Big Data guru

As the demand for Oracle skills fades along with VB and as even Java loses its shine, the smart developer is looking at what will pay the bills for the next decade. As an ITpro you have to bet your career every few years and Big Data is too obvious an opportunity to pass up. The problem being that it’s not a single product that …
Dominic Connor, 20 Feb 2013

Where were the bullet holes on OS/2's corpse? Its head ... or foot?

Part two My last piece on OS/2 was in part a mea culpa, a history of my part in its downfall. However, I can't claim all the credit. In fact, if I'm honest, there were hundreds of reasons why OS/2 failed, and most of them had nothing to do with me. So, here are some of the real corkers. Once upon a time, IBM made extraordinary money out …
Dominic Connor, 26 Nov 2012

IBM insider: How I caught my wife while bug-hunting on OS/2

Part one The unholy alliance of IBM and Microsoft unleashed OS/2 25 years ago with a mission to replace Windows, Unix and DOS. Back then, I was a foot-soldier in that war: a contract bug hunter at Big Blue. Here’s how I remember it. By cruel fate, an even crueller editor has decreed that a quarter of a century later I must write an …
Dominic Connor, 23 Nov 2012
Sweatshop with boss, c.1888

How to spot a terrible tech boss within SECONDS

Part 2 Having been an occasionally competent manager I know that nowhere in the spectrum from micromanagement to management-by-email suits everyone. In fact, you people don’t even know what sort of boss you want. Your imaginary “manager I like” is really just the opposite of your most hated real-life superior, but what's missing is the …
Dominic Connor, 12 Nov 2012
shutterstock_interview_sidey

Mmm, what's that smell: Coffee or sweat? How to avoid a crap IT job

Part 1 Do not try picking up a girl with the line: “You’re not as fat as my current girlfriend; if you sleep with me I’ll drop her as soon as she’s finished painting our bedroom.” Trust me on this, it doesn’t work. It should set off alarm bells in anyone's head. Yet during job interviews, hopefuls are told things like: “We’re ditching …
Dominic Connor, 05 Nov 2012

Is running IT for the Olympics the worst job in the world?

It's going to be the Worst Tech Job in the world ... or the best. It all depends on how the Olympics IT works this summer. Michele Hyron will be either in front of a Parliamentary committee explaining why the tech at the Olympics was a fiasco, or enjoying a well-earned rest - because she is ATOS's chief integrator for the Games …
Dominic Connor, 23 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

How to screw LIBOR and alienate people

The financially illiterate arts graduates MPs who tried to question Bob Diamond last week never stood a chance of getting down to how it was possible in the first place to screw with the single most important set of numbers in finance. So if you know an MP or someone at the Financial Services Authority, pass this on to them. …
Dominic Connor, 10 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

So, that vast IT disaster you may have caused? Come in, sit down

The RBS computer fiasco gives me an excuse to write about a sideline I have in interrogating IT professionals who are suspected of doing bad things. Sometimes it is quite hard to objectively tell the difference between incompetence and malice. In fact it is rare that either are the root cause of the worst screw-ups. The most …
Dominic Connor, 03 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

Do you work in IT at RBS? Or at the next place to get hit ...?

Those nice people at RBS have provided me with a worked example for how you can best get through fan-hitting situations without having to take up minicab driving or going to work in local government. What I’m writing applies to the any of the very worst of screw-ups, when technology has gone so wrong that the IT director cancels …
Dominic Connor, 29 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

Quitting your job? Here's how not to do it

You can't take it with you... There is a tradition of “off-site backups” for handy bits of code and data that you’ve worked with at your current employer. At most firms you could fit every line of source code together with a complete customer list on the free USB stick you got at a conference. This is a really dumb thing to do …
Dominic Connor, 29 Mar 2012
The Register breaking news

You're crap and paid too much for the little work you actually do

You’re not getting paid as well as you should. I know this not only because you’re bothering to read this, but also because most techies are crap at extracting cash from their employers. It shouldn’t shock you too much to learn that I, as a City headhunter and former contractor, focus quite hard on money - so here's a few ideas …
Dominic Connor, 21 Mar 2012
The Register breaking news

Think your CV is crap? Your interview skills are worse

The applicant stared like a rabbit caught in headlights at the interviewer. shutterstock_job_interview_in_story Image via Shutterstock He did not have a clue how to answer the question, so he decided to mumble something unintelligible because it would help him sound more clever as he racked his brain. Was it a fearsome query …
Dominic Connor, 17 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Why your tech CV sucks

No, really. Your CV really, really stinks. I read these things for a living and the quality varies a lot more than it should considering what you are selling. Over the next few years you are asking to be paid more than the cost of a Ferrari and the desk space, computer kit and coffee you use over that time means you cost at …
Dominic Connor, 10 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

PowerPivot: a new spin on understanding your business

The Catch 22 of business intelligence is that to understand your business, you have to deal with vendors who want to “understand your business”, better known as “see how much we can charge you”. You then have to hope that something you don’t know might be really valuable. The most useful results are surprises not suited to the …
Dominic Connor, 26 Oct 2011
Java Toaster - sunshine toast

Put down the Java manual

Apparently, there is a perceived shortage of C# and Java programmers. Certainly a good percentage of all job ads are for these languages. That’s good if you already have these skills, but a much weaker signal when deciding what to learn if you’re a newbie. As far as I can tell you’re not allowed to graduate from high school in …
Dominic Connor, 04 Oct 2011
The Register breaking news

How to go from the IT dept to being a rogue trader

How to be a rogue trader As a City headhunter I’m repeatedly asked to explain how lone traders find themselves flushing billions of dollars down the toilet. Rogue traders can pop up just about anywhere, and so I’ll share this curriculum for you to follow, which is not specific to any bank: this is just the way it works. Being a …
Dominic Connor, 20 Sep 2011
The Register breaking news

No wonder CompSci grads are unemployed

Opinion Recently a director at a huge bank asked me “Do British students learn algorithms?” At first I thought he was joking, but even though he was paying three times what the average new grad gets paid, he felt despair. Because of similar experiences I was surprised to read that only 17 per cent of CompSci grads from last year haven’ …
Dominic Connor, 01 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

Should you lose your religion on your CV?

Comment Your CV should tell prospective employers who you are - but should that include details of your religious faith? I headhunt science grads for banks, and recently received a CV with the applicant's religion right at the top. We’ve always told people not to do this for purely pragmatic reasons. Whatever your religion, there are …
Dominic Connor, 30 Nov 2009
The Register breaking news

Bear squeeze blues: How to destroy a bank

Comment With the banks apparently unable to cope with the markets anymore, the poor dears, short selling has been banned to protect them. HBOS is being taken over cheaply, even compared to what a mortgage bank is worth in this rotten market. Allegedly, "spivs" conducted a whispering campaign, and used short selling to make money out of …
Dominic Connor, 29 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

Furse should not resign, she should be sacked

Comment The farce of the London Stock Exchange not only crashing but failing to get its systems up and running again should surprise no one. Well, no one except LSE boss Clara Furse, who demonstrates little understanding that technology is crucial to her business. I’ve worked for members of the London Stock Exchange and everyone …
Dominic Connor, 13 Sep 2008
Microsoft .NET logo

Microsoft launches student Java and LAMP challenge

University computer science departments are rapidly becoming Microsoft-free zones, as Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) combine with Java to become the de-facto standard environment for students of programming. Microsoft knows from history that this will be fatal in the long term, hence its decision to extend free availability …
Dominic Connor, 21 Feb 2008
The Register breaking news

How to lose $7.2bn with just a few Basic skills

Special report As I swept through Kent and Calais on a Eurostar last week, the financial markets again threw some entertainment my way in the shape of the SocGen debacle. My last Reg piece explained that the credit crunch was partly fuelled by VBA and that is what appears to have happened again. However, Eurostar trains don't have Wi-Fi, and …
Dominic Connor, 31 Jan 2008
Microsoft Office logo

Viva VBA - alas

In the early 1990s when Visual Basic (VB) first infiltrated Excel to become Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), it helped push Microsoft's then-fledgling spreadsheet so far ahead of others that most people today are not aware many competitors even existed. Lotus Development - since consumed by IBM - turned down a chance to …
Dominic Connor, 21 Jan 2008
The Register breaking news

Original thinking in a derivatives market

Analysis At some point in the latter decades of the 20th century, someone sat down and thought: wouldn't it be nice if all the money in the world was controlled by scientists rather than accountants and nice chaps from Eton? Now, as we march headlong into the 21st century, full of sub-prime fallout, to a decent approximation, what we're …
Dominic Connor, 07 Sep 2007
The Register breaking news

Exceptional C++ and More Exceptional C++

Book review This pair of books brings together a variety of small but annoying puzzles mediated by Herb Sutter through the news:comp.lang.c++.moderated newsgroup. However, any irritation is in a good cause. Each puzzle illustrates an important point in C++ that many of us still get wrong. An early example is exception safe programming, …
Dominic Connor, 26 Oct 2006