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Reporter's Notebook: PDA power trip

Our continuing coverage of the CIO Decisions conference being held this week in Carlsbad, Calif., includes a few tidbits you might have missed.

Does the coin bounce on the bed?

CARLSBAD, Calif.--Understanding the business is the No. 1 priority at Crossville, Tenn.-based MasterCorp Inc. , first time attendees at the conference. Before you climb the corporate ladder at this resort housekeeping services provider, you've got to attend MasterCorp's management "boot camp."

This management training program, a requirement for all potential managers who oversee more than one site, is not your average classroom and online management training program. You must first pass the physical test, in which the manager wannabe must thoroughly clean five resort condominiums in one day. We're talking detailed cleaning of kitchens and toilets, making beds, dusting and vacuuming. If you can't handle the physical boot camp, most likely you won't be able to handle a management job either. "I like to call it beducation," said one IT steering committee member (and boot camp survivor).

CIO Decisions 2006 coverage

Job getting tougher for IT execs

Senior IT execs honored with midmarket leadership awards

Bracing for the next Katrina


Bringing a CEO mind-set to IT


Reporter's Notebook -- Day Two


Playing hardball with your vendor


Forget skill sets, find yourself a board to sit on

My PDA is better than your PDA

An invitation-only training session sponsored by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. spurred a number of conversations about the pros and cons of personal digital assistant (PDA) devices.

William Danuloff, CIO of The Gorman-Rupp Co., a Palm Treo user, and Barry Kadets, CIO of Gem Group, a loyal BlackBerry user, compared toys with great interest, rattling off a tick list of features the devices did or did not have: instant messaging, GSM support, a stylus. Is one better than the other? Not really. It's simply a matter of fit. Either way, both CIOs would be lost without their PDAs. Still, they agreed the devices are not perfect: For one, your CEO will always know where to find you. Second, the screen and keyboard are miniscule. "It's a given that I will have to use my reading glasses," Kadets said.

Résumé writing revisited

Z Resource Group Inc. managing director Martha Heller's session on managing your career included a crash course on résumé writing -- what works and what doesn't.

What's likely to get you passed over? A laundry list of your technical skill sets. Bad news, Heller said. It's likely the hiring manager doesn't understand it or doesn't care. Instead, highlight your human resources skills. "Talent retention is extremely important," Heller said. "Your ability to attract and maintain a team of top talent is worth highlighting." It might also help to sprinkle your résumé with hot buzzwords such as compliance and risk management.

File this under: Damned if you do, damned if you don't

As director of information technology services at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan, attendee Scott Arnst's efforts to secure the school's systems are often at odds with a university's core principles of free expression and academic exploration. And students are much more willing to voice their displeasure than employees of a private company.

Arnst said that a general protocol as simple and understandable as blocking all users from visiting child pornography Web sites can cause trouble -- especially when a professor of sociology at the university is doing a research project on child pornography and needs the freedom to visit such sites during his research.

And often, when Arnst makes a change to the school's system to enhance security, such as switching student profiles from default administrators to users, students attack him for curbing their freedom to download peer-to-peer software. They don't understand that he is trying to protect them from spyware and adware that compromises their privacy and interferes with their ability to do work.

"I get blasted by the student newspaper," Arnst said. "We didn't want them to be administrators because students install every piece of spyware and adware. Then a student who is trying to do a paper suddenly gets 25 pornography pop-ups while he's trying to work. I get blasted for trying to make them more secure."

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