Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hacked by an MCSE!

The 1977 edition of the Websters Collegiate Dictionary lists many definitions of the word hack. Taxi is one definition. Taxi driver is another. Its (principal?) meaning nowadays, "to gain access to a computer illegally" wasn't even on the list in 1977 (the year Apple was founded). Times change.

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) design and implement infrastructure solutions based on the Windows operating system and Microsoft Windows Server System software. It is not a trivial matter (or expense) to obtain this certification, and it used to be worth something. Times change.

On a recent trip out of town, I took a taxi to the airport. Instead of a recent immigrant from the third world with limited knowledge of English, my driver looked and sounded a lot like me. After some pleasant chit-chat, I discovered that he was an MCSE, driving a taxi after being laid off from work at a government contracting firm. Once we crossed the Potomac into Virginia, he got lost, and I had to tell him where to go. Out of pity, I gave him a nice tip ("There, but for the grace of God, go I...").

On my return, my experience was more typical. When I got into a taxi at the airport, my driver was in a turban and flowing robe. He was from Karachi, Pakistan. His English was enthusiastic and hard to understand. But even though he was a stranger in a strange land, he knew the fastest way to get me home, which is no mean feat even for a DC native like me.

Question: What is the difference between an MCSE hack and a Pakistani hack?
Answer #1: A Pakistani hack knows how to get where I want to go today.
Answer #2: A Pakistani hack is climbing the ladder of success.
Answer #3: By taking a job from a third-worlder, each MCSE hack helps restore the balance lost by the movement of technology jobs offshore.

Times change.

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