Priorities

I am being laid off by my employer, IBM. Jobs in the Netherlands move to lower-wage countries like Poland and India, while IBM changes course towards a “cognitive” future in which there is less interest in the traditionally skilled technical IT jobs.

Unparalleled (because forced) job cuts in the Netherlands are the result of that change of focus. Almost 10% of the IBMNL work force is sent away in a “re-balancing” operation and I am out of a job per November 1st.
On an intellectual level I understand the reasons for this. It is nothing personal and it also has nothing to do with the appreciation of my performance. I have scored among the top 5% of IBM Netherlands employees during my performance reviews of the last couple of years, which is quite decent for someone aged 55 in a technical role. Nevertheless, I am affected personally and my close circle is affected too.

This requires a shift of focus for myself. I am the sole provider of income for my family, so I will have to work hard to find a new job ASAP. For that to be successful (i.e. get a similarly paying job as my current one at IBM) I have to refresh the deep technical knowledge I once had ready at my fingertips and which has mostly gone unused while I managed a global helpdesk for one of our customers during the past several years.

I am sacrificing one of my desktop computers to an install of CentOS 7 and will spend a lot of time training for a RHCE re-certification.
As long as I still work for IBM (seven weeks), I have access to Safari Books Online where I can freely access and use the available course materials which prepare for the RHCE exam. This will of course affect the time I can spend on Slackware. I commonly spend nearly every after-work hour on packaging, scripting and assisting people online and via email. That stops now. I do not have the luxury anymore of exercising my favorite hobby this extensively and I will work toward the goal of getting (re-)certified for at least RHCE and if possible, for some of the RHCA sub-exams as well. And achieve this goal before December 1st. I really need to be re-employed by that time.

That’s all I wanted to share with you for now. You’ll have to ride this one out on your own for a while.
I also cannot promise that – when I have found a new job – that I will be able to provide the levels of support that you may have gotten used to. I am being drawn out of my comfort zone with no idea of the efforts a new job will require of me.

99 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. Hey, Eric. You have my sincere condolences for your getting “re-balanced” out of a job that supports your family. Sometimes, a comfort zone is the worst place to be, unfortunately. You’re going to ace that RHCE exam, and any company that hires you will be very fortunate to have you. All this coming, of course, from the guy who just may have asked the stupidest question anybody ever asked you. Wishing you the best of luck in whatever you do. Richard



  2. Eric,
    All my support and solidarity in this difficult moment! Of course providing for yourself and your family is the absolute priority.
    I hope and I am confident you will get it sorted out because of your high level of competence.

    Luigi


  3. It is sad to hear that. I’ve moved two years ago from Poland to UK just because in PL companies like IBM treat you as a slave and pay you twice less for the same job (Linux Systems Admin).


  4. Hard times, indeed.

    I believe you will go through that. And even become happier with what you will manage to obtain.

    I wish you luck and success in short time.

    And can’t avoid to hope seeing you back in the slackware game soon too 🙂

    Never give up!


  5. Hi Eric, sorry to hear about your circumstances. I’ve had several periods of change over the last few years and even though there may be better possibilities ahead, comfort always seems the easier option. Good luck to you and your family.


  6. Sorry about the circumstances.

    Would you mind clarifying, what exactly does «Jobs in the Netherlands move to lower-wage countries like Poland and India, while IBM changes course towards a “cognitive” future in which there is less interest in the traditionally skilled technical IT jobs.» mean?

    Are you suggesting that the workforce in India and Poland are less skilled?


  7. I wish You all the best Eric! I was in the same situation that You are now. And I hope You will find new job very fast. Even here in Poland we have similiar situation… but that’s another story. I wish You all the best, becouse Your work for Slackware is outstanding!



  8. Sorry to hear about the forced job change. I hope you get back on your feet again soon! Hopefully employers will look at your extensive Slackware experience favorably.



  9. Jubal, you really think I implied that? If you have an inferiority complex, no need to vent that here.
    I said, IBM has become less interested in the traditionally skilled people here in the Netherlands (and in all of the western world basically) so they are letting a percentage of us go. In parallel to these lay-offs IBM is hiring people with _different_ skills to help make the transition to a company that develops cognitive solutions and is successful at that, too.


  10. Hi Bob, I add my best wishes for you. I know you only reading your blog and appreciating your commitment to help people wishing to have fun with Slackware but I have a great opinion of you.
    I know what meaning to be in your situation having experienced that, am glad seeing all comments showing support to you (except a silly one).
    My Best wishes, if you don’t get time for Slackware I understand but don’t miss to make a good goulash sometime 🙂
    Big hug
    Silvio Arnone


  11. So much sadness in the comments. As an ex-IBMer myself, I can tell you there is life beyond the blue walls! Tech is a good industry to be in right now, including OSS. There are lots of companies who want to “do open source”, but you’d be amazed at how many techies don’t quite grok it.

    Your next company will be lucky to have someone with your skills.


  12. @alienbob: no need to be on offensive: my complexes are a bit more… complex than that. And I do understand the pain and the bitterness, being let go is always unpleasant (and sometimes being spared ends being just as unpleasant); I’ve been in both positions in the last seven years.

    I’m not living in Poland for a long time now, preferring milder climate, and it hardly gets more western in Europe than the place I’m living in, so I really have no ax to grind.

    I’m working directly with a bunch of extremely brilliant Indian people (along with a bunch of Americans); I have had the pleasure to work with people from a rather large number of countries, and I’d like you to consider a thought that perhaps the divide between “a western world” and “the rest” is a bit artificial (and the way you phrased it looks very close to casual xenophobia in eyes of uninformed witness – at the very least you came out rather patronising).

    (and if I may suggest something, the job market in Ireland is pretty good so far)


  13. Hi Eric,
    So sad to learn about this news. I hope you get a new job soon. As for IBM, is their loss as they let go such a capable worker.

    Good luck with the recertification and with the job search. I will pray for you.

    Eduardo



  14. Fear not people. I will cut down on Slackware activities but not abandon you. There will still be package updates and new releases of liveslak ISO images, just with a lower frequency.


  15. Jubal, my team has consisted in part of Indian colleagues for the past 9 years. I value them just like my other co-workers. They’re people “just like us” but with a different cultural baggage.

    And no, the difference between the west and the rest is not artificial. Many companies (not just IBM) consider the west as a market where there’s no growth and human resources are costly. Whereas the non-western countries (BRIC countries in particular) have been showing double digit growth and at the same time labor cost is cheap there. For a global player it makes sense to fire the expensive resources and hire the cheaper ones. This is a divide which has nothing to do with xenophobia and it was not patronizing. You just do not see the big picture.
    Never mind, I will not spend another word in reply to your posts.


  16. Let me also be clear on this: I do not feel anger towards my employer. It is a fact of life that big companies see their work force as pawns in a bigger game. If you think otherwise and you are working for IBM, you are working for the wrong company. As an IBMer you have to be a realist at all times. Chances are slim that you will reach your pension working there if you are just an average guy.
    I’ll tell you this: I have had a great time working for IBM and the opportunities I found at IBM will enable me to move on and find something which is also interesting and fits my needs and interests. And I am grateful for all that they let me do. My opportunities have only been limited by what I chose to do or not do.


  17. Cripes, I’m sorry. A friend of mine was laid off from IBM last year, when they went to all contractors. Want me to put you in touch? I can keep my ear to the ground, but a lot of the gigs I’d hear about are in the US.


  18. Hi Eric,

    I’m very sorry to hear about this upheaval. Best wishes in your career search!

    For whatever it’s worth (not much) it’s not lost on us in the Slackware community what a luxury it is to benefit from the magnitude of your volunteer contributions. You owe us nothing, and whatever/whenever you’re able to contribute further is gravy as far as I’m concerned.

    Best regards,

    Dave


  19. Sad to read what just happened to you.
    I wish you the best for the future.
    Thanks again for not only the impressive development work on Slackware but also for the sharing with/support to the community.



  20. Hi, Alien!

    You will have good luck in your new journey.
    All you have done for this community certainly will be considered.

    And very soon you will be happy with your hobby.


  21. i just read your email.. .sorry to hear about the forced job change. Perhaps somehow all your work with Slackware will lead you to something even better… GL


  22. Let me say thanks as well, Eric, for all your work that I’ve been a beneficiary of as a Slackware user. Hope things work out well for you and your family.


  23. As a long-time Slackware user, I very much appreciate all of your work Eric. I completely understand your priorities. I hope everything works out well.


  24. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Bob. Bob, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid.




  25. Eric, did you ever consider using your packaging skills as your main job? These skills are rare and there are other people that have made it their main jobs and are able to contribute more to their communities, e.g. dotdeb.org, remi rpm http://rpms.famillecollet.com/ , etc. I wish that you consider it and are lucky to find a good way to monetize it, for our benefit!


  26. Speaking as someone who has been a “victim” of “rebalancing” (nice euphemism!) in the past, I know how you feel.
    Don’t worry about us Slackers, we’ll cope…somehow…without you for a while. Thanks for everything, and best wishes for the future.


  27. Pingback: “I am being laid off by my employer, IBM. Jobs in the Netherlands m… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)

  28. Pingback: Regarding http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/priorities/ it’s a lot wo… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)


  29. I’m very sorry.
    Jebal not worry because it’s extreme left (homosovietus) at the very coarse. As in Poland they say “Taki mały pikuś”
    You have a great skill


  30. Pingback: Links 11/9/2016: 20 Years of KDE, Budgie 10.2.7 Released | Techrights

  31. Sorry to hear that, Eric. You are great, as we all know, and you will get through it soon. Go for RHCE. My family has been there too, when my father, one of the pioneers in TI here, was dismissed from RBBr one year before his retirement. It is all right now, as it will be with you and your family. My sincere wishes of success, Eric!


  32. Am very sorry to read what has happened. All my sympathy. Hope you’ll find a job you like very soon.
    Do not share your enthusiasm about the policy of IBM. Feel they did a stupid thing to fire you. They can easily hire a new employee in Poland or Ireland or anywhere else but they can’t hire someone with your knowledge and experience and skills. They are wrong to feel that “you are just an average guy.”
    Wishing you all the best.

    Hou de moed erin!


  33. The issue with involuntary lay-off in the Netherlands is that IBM must abide by dutch law. They are not able to point at certain people and say “I want to keep this one because we need him”. Dutch law enforces a “mirroring principle” which protects younger employees from a “last in, first out” move. The law dictates that the company must create a matrix of functional groups and age groups and in every cell, the same percentage of people is laid-off: the ones with less years of employment are the first to go onto the list. This ensures that the age diversity will not change because of the lay-offs.
    So my manager would not have been able to keep me from getting fired.


  34. Sounds like “there shall be XX percentage of afro-european lesbians in the parliaments on each EU country and the rest shall copy the principle”…
    I thought you are a bit younger. To loose a job at 55 is a challenging turn of events. I do not know, how it is in Europe, but in Latvia it is a bit tricky.



  35. Sad to read this… As you say, now companies search in wester-world only for having less payed workers than before.
    I cant’ help you in your serch for a new job; i only can thank you for your work and all the time you have dedicated to you slackware stuff.
    And, if one day you’ll be in central Italy, i’ll be happy to meet you and your family and to prepare a good meal with *good* wine.
    Un saluto Eric…
    Paolo





  36. Man , i hope you encounter a nice job , if possible related to computers , because you like too this.

    Thanks for all this years providing KDE packages and other nice works, like the slackware live.



  37. Sad to hear that, Eric. I wish you all the best for your current job search. Funny thing, I’ve spent the last summer getting further acquainted with CentOS, since I’ve found an IT company nearby in Nîmes who needs a Linux trainer with CentOS knowledge. I bluntly admit I’ve always liked CentOS. If you need help with CentOS, the mailing list at lists@centos.org is probably your first address. The guys there are an extremely competent and helpful crowd, and more often than not, you’ll get an answer by Johnny Hughes or another CentOS maintainer himself. And for what it’s worth, here’s my personal Github repo for CentOS, with notes and scripts hodge-podge. https://github.com/kikinovak/centos

    Cheers from the hot South of France.

    Niki


  38. A man with your skills will be a great signing for any company. Thank you for your more than great efforts so far. I wish you nothing but success in the battles to come.


  39. Hi Eric,
    I come from Poland and I am very sorry of your loss.

    I hope you will find even better paid job very soon!

    Best regards, MM



  40. Howdy Eric,

    I can empathize with your situation, my last JOB was with a company that got sold, leaving every staff member without a job. The owner was the only one who survived. You are a smart intelligent man, and I know you will land on your feet just fine. I do so appreciate all that you have done, and that which you will do. You have helped me many, many times, more than I can count. Good luck.

    Owen


  41. The joke’s on IBM; you’re one of the people whose work I have silently admired from behind the screen for years, and I’m absolutely convinced that six months from now, every technically-competent person from IBM is going to regret “re-balancing” people like you. I’m sure things look even more terrifying to you now, but if you don’t have the skills to cope with it, I don’t know who does.

    Good luck with the job hunt!


  42. Eric —

    I am sorry to hear this.

    Your essential contributions to the Slackware Community cannot be overstated.

    Your Packages and Support have made Slackware usable for me and for numerous other Slackware users.

    Not to mention the contributions I know you’ve made ‘upstream’ that we don’t necessarily hear about in the Slackware Community.

    I am sure you’ll land on your feet.

    Any Company that is lucky enough to ‘land’ you will be better off for adding you to their team.

    Thanks for all you have done and I am sure all that you will continue to do for the Community in the the future.

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    — kjh





  43. btw Eric, I’m certain that any recruiter worth his/her salt upon seeing in your resume that you’re a member of the Slackware Crew and checking out alienbase.nl would offer you a job on the spot.

    In my experience, in many quarters acquainted with Linux, even familiarity with Slackware brings instant respect.


  44. Eric, I have no doubt that you will find another (hopefully better) employment for your skills, so I encourage you to see IBM’s decision as an opportunity, rather than a threat – but I am sure that you didn’t wait my advise to acquire this state of mind 😉

    I wish you the best.

    Didier







  45. A friend said for you to send your Résumé in this site. Hth
    In time, I live in Brazil and I assure you the employment is not here, maybe they moved the other “RICS”. We are in strong crisis right now and for the next year at least, maybe two… 🙁


  46. DofA, Weber, thanks for your concern. I will send my resume when I know the kind of company and job. I have not yet made the decision to publish my resume “to the world”.


  47. Damn, Eric…

    I’m very sorry to hear of your career troubles. I really, really feel your pain, though. I’ve been unemployed/under-employed since 2008. I’m finding that the job industry in the U.S. is very discriminating toward older technical workers. Even with a Cisco cert, I’ve had no luck finding work in my area. All the jobs seem to be going to the youngsters (19-20 year olds); most are part-time with no bennies in this area. Sad.

    My original career (RF Communications/Audio electronics tech) disappeared from these shores around the mid-90s, so my 25+ years experience in that field is for naught.

    I wish you all the best, my friend. You’ll come out on top, I’m sure.

    Regards,

    ~Eric L.


  48. Hi again,
    I would send you link of job, and description. I dont have influence on decision , but what I know i am sure that you will get job. Pls send some email so I could response to you with details. Job is in Amsterdam Sloterdijk.
    Best,
    V


  49. So sad to saw this post here.

    I hope you find another job since as possible, please be open to a career in startups and other private initiatives; with your skills you will have no trouble to work and get a fine reward for your work;

    THANK YOU, for all your work on Slackware.

    From an slackware fan, since 1999.
    Best wishes for you and your family!


  50. Hey Eric! I’m so sorry to hear this 🙁 but i hope everything will work out for you in the near future 🙂 P.S Love you hard dedicated work on Slackware for all of us users out in the world!



  51. You might want to become an ACM member if you aren’t already. I believe ACM members get access to the Safari books. (Perhaps you need to subscribe to the digital library too; I’m not quite sure of the details.) There’s a special membership rate for those who are retired or have lost their jobs.


  52. Very sorry to hear this. Your Slackware packages have been and continue to be a great help, so thanks for your your hard work on these – it is much appreciated!! 🙂
    I don’t know the work situation in the Netherlands but I can’t imagine someone with your skills not being in high demand in the job market. Very best wishes for the future, Aaron


  53. Hi Eric,

    Sad to hear that you are experience such trouble. However I person of your skills is really in demand. I work for the International Livestock Research Institute and we are looking for a person to lead the are of research computing and scientific software development. If you would be interested please send me an email to c.f.quiros@cgiar.org


  54. I’m so sorry for the bad news. In a very minor scale i know what is that. Eric, stay on focus. You are a very valuable professional and your inmediate task is to discover the real best place for you. I’m sure you will get a big bunch of job offers, because there are o lot of people who knows that technology tendencies are not stated by fiction writers and weak mass manipulators, there are people able to apreciate yout skills and get the best of them and give the best reward to you. This is for getting better. My best wishes for you.




  55. Hi F. – thanks for your offer to introduce me to Amazon, but I am not willing to move. I know that that limits the jobs I can get but me and my familiy are firmly rooted here in the Netherlands.



  56. Hi, Amazon also has an office in the Netherlands, but I wasn’t sure what sort of development we do there, but apparently there’s some cool AWS and WorkMail stuff that may interest you.
    https://www.amazon.jobs/en/locations/netherlands?job_count=23&result_limit=50&location%5B%5D=netherlands
    Let me know if that’s something you’d be interesting in pursuing and we can talk more via e-mail (it’s probably easier/faster if I recommend you to HR)
    Cheers, F.




  57. So sorry to hear the news, too bad you couldn’t outrun the ax. Take your time, get your smarts back, and don’t forget to write to let us know how you’re doing.
    The small army of folks you’ve ‘trained’ over the years can pick up some of the slack (American slang pun intended.)


  58. Sorry to hear that. It is shame that there are relatively few Slackware jobs. Here in Croatia one can hope for either Red Hat or Debian job, latter is found in academic and some government networks.

    I have been changing jobs frequently. Among other things I worked as enterprise apps developer, doing web apps most of the time. In these Cloud days, companies still have data which can’t trust to someone else, and need apps to expose some of it to outside world.

    I feel that moving some packages into ‘official’ Slackware would improve the situation. Like database connectivity (ODBC and JDBC), Microsoft and Oracle interoperability, etc. I have been using Red Hat previously, deployed apps on it lately. There is nothing special about it, it just offers some software for enterprise users, which is also available for Slackware, although not through official repositories.

    Support could be provided by third parties, if there is interest, I am sure. Certification is important, but also expensive and not everyone wants it.

    Speaking of RH certification, I have been working with Red Hat partner company. Those guys say it is tricky. For example they give you a misconfigured server and no access to repository or installation media. You need to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. A friend went through it couple of years ago. It is also expensive,


  59. Life comes first Alien. We all hope you find a new gig quickly so the bills are paid and slack is back in your blood. 😉 Take care.


  60. Hi Eric,

    it really shouldn’t be a problem to find a new good job for a skilled person like you. Good luck!

    Also, I was under the pressure to switch to CentOS last few months. And, after the testing period, I can say that there is no replacement for Slackware. Not sure, but maybe you can find a new job that could provide you income while promoting Slackware? I would really be interested in using Slack on virtual servers (Hetzner for example).

    Best,
    Aleksandar


  61. Hi Eric!
    I asked for my facebook friends to send any IT jobs in Netherlands. Just one replied.
    The link to the company was in the comment, at URL field.
    This time I send here, for ease: https://www.idexx.com/corporate/about-idexx/locations.html
    The openings sections shows some offers in Hoofddorp city. I really don’t have any more info about them.
    He works in the same company here in Brazil in IT department.
    Hth!


  62. Update:
    I have been offered a job at ASML, the company where I currently am stationed by IBM as the Helpdesk manager.
    The new role will be technical and leading, no more enduser support. Still need to receive an actual labor contract so have no 100% certainty and I do not know what salary they are willing to offer.
    That information should hopefully land in my Inbox this week.



  63. Hi Eric,
    Glad to hear that your troubles are coming to an end!

    @everybody
    I think – and I hope that many will agree – that we can help a bit by donating 10-15 USD/EUR a month to offset Eric’s expenses with keeping the servers (that we all use) running and online. I’m sure that people who sent messages have already done this, but the more the better …


  64. I know how that feels. I was in IT and got laid off at 58. No chance to find something else. Glad to hear you have a prospect at least and hope it pans out.


  65. The world we live in, some would say it unfair , i will refer to it as life doors always open for those that push on! Warning long winded oblique inferences below.

    After completely giving up on the grind in a major BIG city in the IT sector and moving to another european big city, and deciding that is was best to grow with our then new born and then the second new born. By completely throwing caution to the cosmos/wind. That was a SOLID 5 years as super daddy! I can attest to FULL disconnection nothing but books and play and cleaning and cooking and just being happy to be happy, coupled with the fact I have never graced ANY social networks at all. I was just not that interested in that world, so full disconnection was cake and it was ever so healthy! it is what i call ‘normal life’ .

    Now when I came out of the hatch 5 Years later i needed to get my IT bearings back, ENTER slackware -> and you! You have gifted me with immense confirmed resilience to excellence and tenacity to get it working >>>> as i just was moments before this flipping “slackpkg upgrade-all” etc. 🙂 twas excellent all the late night-ers i put in, As a OLDER person being like your self slightly younger but still same age framing.

    Enter a new life step being able to command a super deluxe position with CONFIDENCE behind it, not only in myself as I firmly believe you have to feel like you are the BEST with-out being overbearing fool. you just have feel it about yourself and it naturally gets conveyed. i digress ….. i entered what is the juggernaut of Technology/IT/Retail/etc like IBM but ever so different on the other side of the pond technically but same none-the-less. This came from following READING/RTFM/ etc. I am firm believer that if you have a question 99.99% of the time it has been asked, so scour for the answer. and Slackware was the guiding light to getting my chops up to par again.

    diatribe done.

    I would like to say that, you sir are tremendous in respect to giving your time to those who know and those that will never know and reap the efforts as it goes, and talent is immense

    you have nothing to worry about, it will work out as you wish or better if you never give up and keep the momentum moving in a positive vertices.

    respect.

    _metic


  66. Better start your own business man or join an existing business model like Amway which has been very successful since 1959! Forget about being at the mercy of employers. You are just a number to them. Your existence matters not to them because your goals and passions are not their concern. Their only only concern is their profit and your situation matters not to them. That simple, really!


  67. Cristian – I hope you are just joking, or else you are a troll when you consider Amway a viable or even ethical business model. It’s just a legalized pyramid scheme.

    To start your own business you need something to sell. Something you created or built yourself, or a product that you can be a cunsultant for. Not every person is able to start a business and make a living off that. So I will pass at this age and with a family to take care of.

    About big businesses to whom you are only a number – that is factually correct, of course. It is the very nature of big companies. But you overlook that you can (and should) make that company work in your favor as well. That is possible, and even required if you want to do something with your life. Big companies are not pure evil.


  68. I understand your point. I only speak from experience. I have witnessed the lifestyle of our Amway team leader who has been very successful since 1991 when he quit his sales self employment after three years of having built his Amway business. He now has 24 hours a day to do whatever he wants with his wife, travel with her wherever he wants, whenever he wants, drives two quality cars paid for in cash, lives in a house financed with cash and not with mortgage and makes over $250,000 per year from Amway. That simple. So, to me, it is real. It is a viable business. Anyone can make it work. Whether it works or not for someone is just a matter of that person’s personal perception and the outcome of that choice made based on the perception. Amway is a viable and ethical business model since its opening in 1959. 57 years in the making can’t be wrong!




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