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.