By offering incentives to maintain training and education through our ‘Certified Practicing Member’ continuing professional development program, providing our members discounts for training providers and offering financial members peer-reviewed discussion forums where issues can be discussed and questions can be asked, ITPA offers financial members all the things that I lacked when working on my car — and I am sure that with those resources (albeit for car audio installers) at my fingertips, the end result would have been a lot better.
Like many cars from recent years, the stereo in my car is heavily integrated into the vehicle itself — embedded in the car’s centre stack fascia, it has links to the built-in sat nav, and the factory set-up includes a bespoke amplifier and a large number of audio channels. All with a custom digital control set-up.
“I’m still not getting the link to the Information Technology Professionals Association,” I can hear you muttering.
The stereo in my car is (was) a complex environment, which although loosely based around ‘standards’ was largely bespoke.
Despite all this, I figured “You know what? When the original factory amplifier died a few years ago, I paid a professional a lot of money to resolve that issue and, honestly, I’m a pretty intelligent sort of person, and it’s all direct current, positives and negatives, a few RCA connectors for good measure — how hard can it be?” I figured I’d save myself a few dollars, spend some time doing something interesting (it’s techie/geeky, it’s in my realm of interest, right?) and fix it myself.
First stop — fixing the subwoofer. It had been already dying for a while, producing a lovely buzz, and I figure I’d fix it at the same time. I did some research, found the information that I thought I needed, and purchased a new subwoofer. Then found I also needed to grab new speaker wire (“the existing stuff is too thin and won’t carry the current you want for a sub”).
All good so far, right? I got to learn something, spent a little bit of cash, and now I just throw the subwoofer into the car, right?
Not that simple. Getting the existing subwoofer out of the car required that I remove:
- the backseat base cushion (just unclips, easy)
- the backseat backrest (requires the removal of four hefty screws)
- D-pillar trims (two layers each side, and at least one broken clip produced)
- the parcel shelf trim (secured by no less than five hidden clips)
Two hours of work (and some comments that would result in a caller to a radio station getting dumped) later, I got to the subwoofer — held on with five screws (the rear-most two being close enough to the rear window that I had to go and buy a short screwdriver to remove them). Five may sound like an odd number — that’s because the subwoofer is glued to a separate plate.
And then I found that the new subwoofer didn’t fit (the hole for it in my parcel shelf being very slightly too small). I was out of time that day, so I put everything except the subwoofer itself back in place.
Almost a week later, having done some additional research, measuring, etc, I had a plan of attack. I’d use a shifter (because, not being a car audio installer, I didn’t have the right tools) to bend the parcel shelf downward in strategic locations, so that the subwoofer’s cage (which was what was fouling on the hole) could slip through the hole and I could secure it.
That was successful until I realised that the holes from the previous subwoofer were very slightly misaligned to my new subwoofer — I fixed this by drilling four new holes offset from the original ones. With the parcel shelf bare and rear seat removed, at least running a cable for the subwoofer was easy — there were even convenient clips for holding cables as I ran it under the carpet and down to the amp.
There’s a lot more to the story that I won’t bore you with, but the summary is that I spent a lot of time either researching things I didn’t know or have the contacts to find out about, and making mistakes (most of which I learned from, and none of which, thankfully, weren’t recoverable from). At a conservative $100 per hour for my time (a standard figure used to cost resources in many businesses), I would have saved money and problems by employing an expert to do the work for me.
The same can be said of the IT Industry. Sure, you can just be a generalist (and almost certainly will be one early in your career) and use Google to find domain-specific information (like I did with my car stereo), but evaluating the responses you get on Google for correctness, value and applicability can be hard — Google doesn’t ask for qualifying information around your initial query.
As more and more IT services become commoditised, being able to show that you are keeping yourself trained and educated will be key to your survival in the industry. As a financial member of ITPA and by keeping yourself educated (taking advantage of the training discounts we offer), you’ll be able to achieve and maintain our CPM status, which will show prospective employers that you’re dedicated to keeping your knowledge up to date. With our member forums, you’ll have access to a body of experts who can help you with issues by either giving you answers, pointing you in the right direction or even asking questions that you hadn’t considered yet.