From the experts: What is a Systems Administrator?

System administrator jobs are for those who love to stay on top of new technologies, comfortable maintaining a multi-user computer system and take responsible for the upkeep of all computer systems. Rather than us telling you, we caught up with two System Administrator experts, Bozhidar Yurukov and Alejandro Merino Cimiano, and asked them all about what a job in the industry entails.


What skills are needed to be a System Administrator? 

“be prepared to learn new technologies and tools”

Bozhidar felt it is the blend of working in a team whilst also being prepared to work solo which is crucial to the role of a System Administrator “I think the most important general skills are to be able to work in a team but also to investigate the issues and tasks you have and to be prepared to learn new technologies and tools”  Read more →

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Ever thought about the tech behind your daily commute?

When you’re on the train or Tube in the morning, bleary eyed and waiting for your morning caffeine fix to kick in, chances are you’re thinking about your busy day ahead or what to have for lunch – not picking apart the technology behind the different aspects of your commute.

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But the clever technology that goes on behind the scenes is what allows you to get to work quickly and conveniently – and it’s a lot more fascinating than you might think.

Phil Young, Head of Online at Transport for London (TfL), spoke exclusively to Dice regarding their innovative and ever-evolving technology: “We always look to put our customers and users at the centre of everything we do”.

Young also explained to us the importance of free open data, stating: “Getting the latest travel information direct to customers when and where they want it is key to enabling them to make the best possible journeys, avoiding delays or closures. 

“Millions of Londoners use apps powered by our free open data, alongside our website, to check the Tube, find a bus or see how the roads are running. In an age of digital innovation, the opportunities that providing free open data can present are incredibly exciting and seemingly endless.”

The tech wizards at TfL are ultimately the backbone of our daily commute – so, here we look at three of their most fascinating technologies and the science behind them…

What happens when you scan your Oyster card?

oyster-cardMillions of Londoners rely on their trusty blue Oyster card to get around the city each day; but it’s just a regular card with a microchip in it, right? Well, not exactly…

The first Oyster cards were launched in July 2003, and operated with a basic MIFARE microchip. However, these had limited computing power and security concerns were soon raised when, in 2008, a team of Danish researchers were able to clone other people’s ‘smartcards’ and essentially travel on the underground for free. Security experts also highlighted the fact that the same microchips were being used in ID cards that allowed access to thousands of secure buildings and locations, meaning that public safety was being put at risk.

So, what changed?

The original microchips were replaced with the more advanced radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology – the same used by near field communication (NFC) in our smartphones. Basically, the card acts like a tiny computer inside your wallet; when the card is placed near the RFID reader, it creates an electromagnetic field between the two, allowing data to be transferred to the card identifying the start or end of your journey, and writing data back to the reader.

The latest Oyster cards have their own operating system, file structure for storing data, and encryption capabilities. But the really clever bit is that these computers don’t need a power source – the reader transmits energy to the card in the form of radio waves, generating power produced by electromagnetic induction. This gives the microchip just enough energy to allow access to the data inside.

Did you know…?

Many commuters are unaware that each Oyster card has its own unique number, and that TfL holds journey and transaction data about every Oyster card for up to eight weeks (although full registration details are held centrally, not on individual cards). Over the last ten years or so, Oyster card data has been increasingly used as an investigative tool by the police, who first have to request access from TfL. It also means you can check their website to see what journeys you have made with your card over the past eight weeks, and whether you’ve been overcharged by faulty readers. And if you’ve been undercharged? Well, we’ll leave that one to you…

How do escalators really work?escalator

Funny things, escalators – we don’t really appreciate them until they stop working and we have to take the stairs, but they’re a vital part of our daily commute. In fact, since the first escalator was installed at Earl’s Court in 1911, there now are 430 throughout the Tube network, compared to just 167 lifts; so, ensuring that these heavy-duty machines operate smoothly and stay in top condition is a major priority for the TfL team.

Like all escalators, Tube escalators have a pair of chains at their core, looped around two pairs of gears. A 100-horsepower electric motor drives the top gears, which in turn rotates the chain loops; as the chains move, the steps always remain level. As well as this, the motor also moves the handrail – a rubber conveyor belt configured to move at the same speed as the steps.

But what’s special about tube escalators?

Tube escalators aren’t like your typical escalators in stores and shopping centres. They operate 20 hours per day, 7 days a week, carrying millions of travellers each year at speeds of up to 180ft per minute – which means they’re under a lot of pressure!

These impressive machines also have full suppression, communication and fire detection systems built into them, which have to be tested and approved before they can be made available for public use. With approximately 15,000 moving parts in a typical escalator, maintaining them is an ongoing task and work can take months to complete.

Here are some (genuinely) interesting facts about Tube escalators:

  • Escalators in tube stations carry on average 10,000 people per hour, or around 1.3 billion each year.
  • All escalators have to be refurbished after 20 years and replaced after 40 years.
  • Over the course of its lifetime, a typical escalator will travel the equivalent distance of going to the moon and back.
  • The longest escalator is at Angel, measuring 60m long with a vertical rise of 27.5m, while the shortest is at Stratford, coming in at just 4.1m (meaning you should probably take the stairs!)

How does Wi-Fi on the Tube work?wifi

Just a few years ago, we never would have dreamed that we’d be able to send messages while travelling on the Tube – let alone access the internet! But in an age where people are used to constant connectivity, and with the 2012 London Olympics having prompted the need to help large volumes of travellers get around, Virgin Media’s Tube Wi-Fi network has now become a standard part of people’s daily commute.

Thanks to this high-speed internet connection, commuters can now use Wi-Fi enabled devices to catch up on emails, find helpful information or check social media on their way to work.

Wi-Fi hotspots are designed to provide access in ticket halls and on platforms, so don’t expect to connect when you’re going through tunnels or between stations; but as soon as you reach the next Wi-Fi enabled station, your device will automatically re-connect. This means it’s advisable not to try activities that require continuous connection, such as downloading large files or conference calls – some things are best left for the office!

Did you know…?

Those who have contracts with EE (Orange and T-Mobile), Three, Vodafone, O2 and Virgin, can access the Wi-Fi for free at 253 stations – that’s an impressive 95% of the Tube network. Tourists (or those on other contracts) can still access it, but they’ll have to pay for the privilege – perhaps that Tweet can wait, after all.

According to the Travel in London report, provided to us by TfL…

A total of 26.6 million trips were made on an average day in 2014, some 2% higher than the previous year and 8.2% more than in 2008. By 2041, it’s predicted that there will be a staggering 5.5 million more trips made each day.

This strong year-on-year growth has been a consistent feature of the last decade or so and is expected to continue in future years.

With more and more people using the Tube, developing plans to accommodate this growth and maintain and support London’s economic success will continue to be a major preoccupation for TfL. There’s bound to be continuing technological advances as the years go by… watch this space to find out how they work!

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What Is an IT Contract Job?

The 10 Most Valuable Questions to Ask Your Interviewers

IT contract jobs can be the perfect change if you are currently working as a full time IT professional, but feel that your life would benefit from a more flexible way of working. IT contractors are usually posted at a company for around 6 months, helping out on a large project in a specialised niche. If you do decide to change your circumstances and transition into becoming a contractor rather than full time staff, then look below for more information on becoming an IT contractorRead more →

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RM – At the heart of educational ideas

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RM consists of three distinct businesses: RM Education, RM Results and TTS. As a group, we’re here to improve the lives of educational users from early years all the way through to professionals.

Whether it’s technology for schools or exam boards, or the educational resources you could find in a primary school, we help teachers teach and learners learn. Because that’s what each of us loves to do.
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A Look at Andl


It’s not often that you come across a project that has grandiose aims but Andl blog is such a project. It’s a single man project by a commercial developer David Bennett from Melbourne Australia.

Andl is a new Data language and aims to replace SQL. Initially it’s limited to SQLite and PostgreSQL but the method used to implement it should work with other database servers. So what does it look like? Here’s a code example that runs a query to display an organisational chart from this data.

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30 years of Kainos

30 years

Kainos is a high-growth IT services company providing digital technology solutions and agile software development to enterprise customers. The company employs over 800 people worldwide. To celebrate its 30th Anniversary, Kainos showcased some highlights of the last 30 years in an animated video. Take a look and see what they’ve been up to.

For the full article please click here.

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When the going gets tough


This whitepaper looks at the risks and opportunities associated with business growth in the new digitalised economy, and highlights why now is the year to stop firefighting and put the spark back into your IT strategy. The whitepaper was drafted as a thought leadership and advice piece to reflect Sapphire’s extensive experience working with smaller businesses, and assisting them with their software challenges.  Sapphire Systems is an established global provider of world-leading enterprise resource planning, financial management, and business intelligence software. Established in 1993, and with offices in the USA, UK, Australia and Asia, Sapphire offers 24×5 support as standard and has extensive knowledge and experience of global implementations.

To read the whole whitepaper please click here.

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Stuck in a limited IT Role? There is another option…


Ask around and you’ll find that IT isn’t always the best place for free thinkers. At least that’s the story told by thousands of IT professionals who feel trapped in limiting roles. Over and over, you hear the same complaint: the employer wants them to focus on one small part of a project and isn’t open to suggestions. With so many bright, creative people out there, with so much talent to offer, these employers are surely missing a trick.

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An interview with Paul O’Connell: Founder of Uprise tech festival


Paul O’Connell is the founder of the impressive Uprise Festival – a unique tech festival spreading across Europe. Dice – IT Recruitment Specialists – caught up with him to hear his thoughts on the tech industry as a whole, as well as the festival.

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What advice would you give to young professionals bidding to break into the tech industry?

The greatest and most rewarding experience is just diving into the scene and joining a small company in any way you can. You will be doing more roles than you thought and it will give you a taste of what fits your taste. Startups approach new recruitment from a attitude and aptitude first rather than experience and education. So the opportunity is there for you if you go for it.

Where do you see the tech industry heading in the future?

The tech ecosystems refresh themselves every 6 months and new crops of companies and technologies break into the scene so it’s difficult to predict futures in a short term arena. I think that we will build more integrated personalisation into tech. This field of interest is opening out more than any other and offering as many entry points as possible to anyone with an interest is key. If we nurture talent and help existing companies, we can enable more companies to participate in building the personalisation of the future.

So, how was Uprise festival born?

UPRISE was launched in March 2015 answering a need from startups and universities on creating an entry point for talent wanting to get into these growing companies.

I sense Uprise has a uniqueness to it, please can you expand on what you feel makes it so?

We set ourselves apart since we focus on these growing, bright companies. We give them the opportunity to shine. Startups are the focus not the product. Other tech events and conferences seem to offer less and less to attendees and companies participating. We want our expert workshops, interactive panels, games, Djs and our big startup marketplace the core of the festival not if a high visibility speaker is attending.  It’s not filled with corporate logos and marketing booths.

Tell us about the last festival in Amsterdam – was it a success?

Amsterdam has been our home for the first year and it was a hotbed of success. We have attracted over 277 Startups displaying, 15,000 attendees, 60 Workshops, 20 interactive sessions and retained a 37% success rate on startup hires from the festival. We’ve had strong support and sponsorship from Startup Amsterdam, Rabobank, and Facebook who have championed the festival.

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What do you expect from the event in Dublin?

Dublin will be a very different affair and deliberately so. We are reaching out to more Startups from Europe and beyond to come to Dublin and benefit from our event from our Investor index to workshops and expert panels and networking events. It’ll be a great opportunity to show the world great products and talented teams.

Who is the festival for? Do you expect people to come from far and wide, or just Dublin?

The festival is for anyone that wants to get into tech and for tech companies to get more support for their products and ideas. Dublin is where we are hosted but we reach all over the world for attendees and companies who want to see what’s the newest trends and who are the people to keep an eye on. Large companies come to get involved and lend their expertise and the public comes to sign-up for the apps and products they will be using in the future. The newest tech has never been as approachable.


How can people get involved and secure entry?

We have limited two for one tickets now available for the most value ticket price that currently exists for a tech festival. We want to get more people into tech and find out what’s happening.

Visitor tickets available here for and startups can apply here.

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Best Jobs for Experienced IT Professionals


When you have been working in IT for a while, it is likely that your skills would have spread to more than just simply IT and tech, you may instead find yourself interested in management, business development or product development. Senior IT jobs can still be hugely involved within the tech industry, and you will need a long and successful career in IT behind you in order to be considered for these roles.  Read more →

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