Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer writes about jobs and technology. He started as a videotape editor back when there was videotape to edit, then joined the news desk at Dow Jones News/Retrieval, the company's first online product. He produced The Wall Street Journal's first multimedia CD-ROMs and published his novel, "September," in 2006. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, their fierce terrier, and a schnauzer who wonders why she ever left California. He's a member of the Project Management Institute.

4 Morphing Technology Jobs

Posted In Looking in Tech
Butterfly
Earlier this week, ZDNet listed “four classic IT jobs that are moving to the back burner:” mainframe programmers, systems administrators, help desk technicians and SMB IT managers. While it’s true these roles are being changed, there’s still work to be done in each area—it just may get done in a different way. Probably the most obvious job on the list is mainframe programmer. Changes in the way data is hosted and accessed have de-emphasized the need for mainframe software, and… continue…

IRS Wants Tech Workers to Pay Taxes on Those Free Meals

Stop Eating
The vaunted free meals offered to employees by the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter are getting close attention from the Internal Revenue Service, which says free food is a taxable fringe benefit. The Wall Street Journal reports that the IRS has been seeking back taxes from some employers who haven’t been withholding them on the value of the meals. Last week, the agency and the Treasury Department said taxing employer-provided meals was one of their top priorities for the… continue…

Women Gain in Video Game Jobs, Just Not Tech Roles

Women Creating Art for Games
The proportion of women working in game development is growing, though they’re more likely to occupy design-related roles than engineering jobs, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In part, the issue lies in the number of women who apply for the more technical positions: They’re far outnumbered by men. “The resumes are almost always predominantly male,” said Andrew Tosh, president of GameSim Technologies in Orlando. The Orlando area is home to a number of game-development companies, including EA Sports. Click here… continue…

Where College Students Can Find Mentors

Posted In Looking in Tech
Mentor
Tip of the Day Mentors can help college students find the right niche in technology and link up to a ready-made network of industry contacts. So where do you find them? School mentorship programs are an option, but they won’t always do the trick. Sometimes you’ll have to look beyond your college campus. To start, check out trade associations at the state and local level. They often offer programs for students including discounted memberships, scholarships, conferences, mentor-matching and networking. Click… continue…

Boston Employers Scramble for Web Developers

Boston Financial District
An increasing demand for Ruby on Rails skills is making it more difficult for Boston-area technology employers to hire Web developers and engineers. Exacerbating the situation is a concerted effort by many companies to keep current employees onboard. “I think what’s happened is there are a lot of people who are turning to (Ruby on Rails) as new developers trying to learn it, but as far as the folks who are more seasoned, they’re not even getting to the point… continue…

Networking’s About What Happens AFTER You Meet People

Posted In Looking in Tech
Getting Coffee With a Colleague
Tip of the Day A common myth has it that networking is all about meeting people. Truth is, it’s more about what you do after you’ve been introduced to someone. In other words, how many people you know isn’t as important as how well you communicate with them—or what you do for them. You need to consistently communicate. It makes no sense to get all that great personal contact information and then not talk to a person for a year.… continue…

New App Helps You Determine Your Cultural Fit

Posted In Looking in Tech
Good .co App
Good.co calls itself “a revolutionary new self-discovery engine and social network” for people who want to be happier at work and find more meaning in their career. Its app—available for iOS—works by presenting quick quizzes that help you “get to the core of who you really are.” (Click on the app below to try it out.) It’s not all about self-enlightenment, though. The company believes that by measuring different traits of your personality it can help match you to a… continue…

Study: Some Workers Prefer Robot Overlords

Posted In Looking in Tech
Robot Boss
We’ve seen a lot of stories lately about how many jobs traditionally done by humans could soon become the domain of robots. Now comes a study from MIT that says while we don’t like the idea of being replaced by robots, we may not have a lot of trouble working for one. Researchers at the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab—CSAIL for short—found that human workers preferred it when robots were given control over manufacturing tasks. Click here to… continue…

Valve Is the Favorite Employer Among Game Developers

Half-Life
Game developers would rather work for Valve than run their own studio, according to a survey by the International Game Developers Association. There’s good reason the company behind Half-Life and the game platform Steam is so popular, says GameSpot. Among other things, it has an informal hierarchy (people “don’t have bosses”), an open vacation policy and strongly encourages collaboration. Valve’s also a private company, meaning it doesn’t face the same kind of investor pressure that companies like Electronic Arts do.… continue…

Some Companies REQUIRE Employees to Take Vacation

Posted In Looking in Tech
Beach
You’d expect it to be good for morale, but apparently it’s also good for business: Some companies are insisting—even forcing—their employees to take time off. One is Quirky, a New York startup that closes down one week during each of the year’s first three quarters. CEO Ben Kaufman told Business Insider that his employees tend to work in 90-day sprints, during which pressure slowly builds, “culminating in an extremely stressful and magically productive final 2-3 weeks of a calendar quarter.”… continue…