After Hours

The Weekly Round-Up: Apple's fab news and Nasa tech support

Plus don't bother doing an IT degree...

When a company like Apple suddenly puts up a statement on the front page of its website, as it did this week, that reads:

"Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget. Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes."

…you can bet people will get excited.

People got very excited. The Round-Up was one of them.

The Twitterweb exploded with anticipation, bloggers passed out from exhaustion, posting long, speculative articles and the mainstream press panted with unseemly expectation at what the announcement might be.

And, thus, when a trembling Round-Up checked back the next morning, the front page of the company's website read:

"Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget. Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes."

Was the Round-Up caught up in some horrific Groundhog Day scenario where it was kept interminably on tenterhooks in expectation of some monumental announcement from Apple?

Who cares? It was still going to be glorious.

Was Apple finally going to get around to launching a cloud-based iTunes as long predicted by one silicon.com columnist?

Was the company going to release iOS 4.2, the eagerly awaited update for the iPad and other devices? Truly it was an exciting 24 hours.

Then the news broke and it was all over bar the crushing realisation that it was about being able to buy some old music that nearly everyone on the planet already owned.

Yes, The Beatles had arrived on iTunes.

The Round-Up even played the announcement backwards to see if there was a hidden message. Nope. That was it.

For years the absence of the biggest band ever has been a glaring hole in the iTunes content catalogue. Jobs has finally got around to fixing that hole.

The Round-Up assures you, dear reader, that is the first and last Beatles lyric pun you will find in this article. There have been far, far too many over the past week.

The final word goes to Ringo Starr, who said in the Apple press release: "I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when The Beatles are coming to iTunes."

They're finally in there but my goodness it's been a long and winding road.

Ooops. Sorry...

The Round-Up always wanted to be an astronaut: the excitement of lift-off, the cool spacesuits, space walks, and eating food out of a tube while spinning weightless cartwheels.

Oh, and dealing with old-fashioned hardware and installing local area networks.

Yes, indeed: as well as the heroism of spinning around the Earth at 17,500mph, the astronauts of today have to pitch in with a bit of tech support, including setting up a network on the space station and doing software upgrades.

And as for old-fashioned tech? Any hardware that makes it onto the space station has to be tested to make sure it is safe and that everything will function properly in zero-G, which means the hardware they get to play with can seem years out of date to us innovation-obsessed Earthlings. This also explains why you rarely see astronauts queuing up for the latest gadgets at your local electronics store.

This week silicon.com caught up with a real-life spaceman who gave us the lowdown on the life up high, where even typing can be difficult: "We use foot loops that allow us to park our feet - if you put a finger on the computer and you don't have something to restrain you, you can float away," our man in the sky explained.

Typing so powerfully that you float away from your desk? Not a problem you'd usually get sitting at your desk, unless you are typing something really, really exciting.

Finally this week, a bit of advice for would-be technology jobseekers - don't bother with the IT degree. Seriously.

Already got one? That's a shame as it might even hold you back. Sorry about that, but don't shoot the messenger.

According to a report by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, IT graduates are faring far worse than their peers when it comes to finding a job.

While total graduate unemployment stands at 8.9 per cent, IT graduates are facing unemployment rates of 16.3 per cent, proving your IT degree isn't worth the dusty cardboard tube it's rolled up in.

With innovation and tech development occurring at a frighteningly fast pace, the skills you learn over a three- or four-year course may be obsolete by the time you emerge blinking into the big, bad corporate world.

When asked whether graduates needed a technology degree to have a successful career in IT, silicon.com's CIO Jury panel of leading CIOs from the private and public sectors was unanimous in its verdict that it wasn't necessary.

Employers are looking for 2:1 degrees but they are more interested in aptitude and attitude so graduates with a strong self-awareness, team-working, drive and ability to perform.

A business qualification is preferable to a technology one, particularly for a leading role in the IT department in the future.

Then again, perhaps a degree in Creative Writing might be a good qualification for anyone writing project specifications, or BSc in Sports Science so that you can bend over backwards to accommodate the 10 U-turns the CIO demands in the course of any IT project.

What's more, the crusty, old fogey who told you that computers would never be made smaller than a large house was talking out of his SaaS.

The jury warned that many IT degrees are being taught by people with either no experience of the business application of technology or with experience that is incredibly out of date.

The moral of the story? Forget the IT degree, choose a course in English or economics, hang out with the cool kids and 10 years after graduating you'll be a CIO...

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