Interview Redux

I had my first true, honest-to-god, technical interview yet in this entire “find a new job you like” process. I’d already been through an HR screen and a design/analysis phone tech with this company and managed to do well enough on those to get invited in for an in-person grilling. I’d been to one of these back in September and came away unimpressed with how that particular company screened candidates. I’m a big fan of Joel’s “Smart and Gets Things Done” approach and today was at least similar to that, at least in part.

The initial part of the interview, probably 45 minutes, dealt with the CLR and .Net in general, mainly aimed towards the architecture of the framework, garbage collection and whatnot. Overall, with the exception of one stupid glaring brain fart regarding boxing and unboxing, I think I handled it pretty well. I knew enough ASP.Net to at least not sound like a bumbling idiot even though I’ve got precious little experience in it. Once this part was done, we moved to the whiteboard.

The first task was to code up a sort method for an array which I proceeded to screw up reasonably royally. In the end it was close, but it certainly wasn’t complete and given such an easy task, I was a little bummed about that. Once that was done, we moved on to design of a hypothetical scenario and I got that done but it was ugly on first cut. We discussed how it could be better and of course, you never think of that when you’re standing at a whiteboard with not only your interviewer but also three other random guys from the company in the room behind you. One thing I didn’t like about the whiteboard part of the interview was the emphasis on syntax over semantics but overall, it was a decent experience (EDIT 12-19-2007: I’ve given this some more thought and while I think it definitely is more important to focus on the semantics in a whiteboard coding experience, the truth of the matter is that I got something fairly fundamental wrong so bringing that up probably is the right thing to do, just in case I have no freaking clue what I’m doing.)

Once that was done, we discussed the job, what it would be like, I expressed reservations over being a consultant which I’m still working through and that was it. I think this would be a cool company to work for. They are supposed to be in touch next week and we’ll see where we stand at that point.

Monday is an initial discussion with a startup which I’m pretty excited about. Of course, I know next to nothing about it other than what I’ve read on their web site but I think a startup fits my style a lot better. This is all just an adventure anyway.

The Fun of Job Searching

I’m slowly (and by slowly I mean, not really at all) starting to think about looking for a job. I’ve been off for almost a month now, I’ve accomplished quite a few things at home, got some starts on other things that can be continued on nights and weekends, and I generally feel like I’m getting close to returning to the land of the worker bee. One thing I’m running into is that 95% of the posted jobs on the big boards suck. And not just suck in a “That job will clearly suck” sorta way, but in a “The recruiting firm couldn’t be bothered to write a decent description because they know this job really sucks” sorta way.

At the very end of this suckage highway where the road drops off the end of the world, we have job descriptions like this. A job description that amounts to “Winforms and C#” does not exactly get me all hot and bothered enough to send in my resume. How does a recruiting firm stay in business when they can’t be bothered (or don’t know enough English, more likely) to write a half-ass description of the job along with maybe just a couple of the benefits?

While that is not common, it’s not far from the average of these jobs on Dice. In 30 days of irregularly surfing through the postings there, I’ve run into exactly 2 jobs that I didn’t immediately equate with an anal probe. On top of that, you are almost always dealing with a recruiter. You have no idea what company the job is with until they get your resume. Are companies that pressed for resources that they can’t put up their own add on Monster? These are not the companies I want to work for.

Speaking of recruiters, how does a recruiting firm get anyone interested when all their job postings look like this? The job description is “Need 2yrs up programming with C#”. Really? What is up programming? Is that really a description or more of a requirement? How desperate would you have to be to basically send in your resume blindly to something like that? Isn’t it completely obvious how much that job must suck that they are perfectly OK with their recruiter completely mailing it in? In the end, I’m sure they stay in business because there are people out there who blast their resume out to every single job posting on Dice and see where their shit sticks. Like dating in college, it’s about quantity, not quality.

I’m sure that there are plenty of decent recruiters out there (I’ve worked with exactly 1 good one and I think he got tired of dealing with me) but overall, recruiters seem to suck balls on average. It’s too bad that they have a monopoly on most of the jobs.

All that said, if you’re willing to wait and willing to do a lot of searching on your own, you can find decent jobs. I have 3-4 right now that I’m doing research on to see if I’d want to work there. I’ll probably apply to at least 2 of them and see what comes out of it. The plan right now is to have gainful employment on January 1.


That is the result of a long 11 months of nurturing one satsuma orange tree. It bloomed in late January after dropping all its leaves, causing me to think it dead. In March, little green oranges showed up. We lost a couple over the summer but in the end, we got 18 oranges that have a great taste.

Satsumas are actually easy to grow in North Texas as long as you can bring them in when it gets to 25 degrees or colder. I’ll probably replant this one in a 20 gallon container this week and then hope that we get another good crop next year.

I’d like to try my hand at other citrus but need a greenhouse to really have much luck in DFW.

Thanksgiving Return

Back from Thanksgiving, writing has been at a standstill because of the holidays and lack of technological type stuff in rural Oklahoma.

We ate turkey but not these guys.


Signs of the Apocalypse

The interweb is a big, big, big, really large, big place, a place where I never cease to be amazed at sites that amaze me. I’ve been surfing the web for a long time and I see things that make me queasy, things that make me mad, things that make me go Hmmm but rarely do I find a site that so totally alters my view of reality as this one.

I’m flummoxed. I really am completely dumbfounded. Gah.

Where’d My Writing Vibe Go?

Beats me but the last couple of days have been off-kilter. For one thing, my sleep habits are wacking out, not sure why but I’ve been up at 3 the last three or four days including a 3 hour session this morning that was actually quite productive. On top of that, I haven’t seen much to write about and yesterday was almost completely worthless at home.

That said, you may have heard in the enews lately about Amazon’s next big thing, Kindle. It’s a device for reading ebooks, one that sounds all snazzy and cool at first. They have apparently made it much easier on the eyes than previous tablets, more like a book they say. Of course, there’s one huge 800 lb gorilla hanging out over there in the corner. You see him? The one with the mad pointy eyes and the bunch of Chiqutas at his feet? Yeah, that’s the one.

See, the dealkiller problem here is that Amazon is treating these books as if they were CDs or DVDs, i.e. protected by DRM. Which is fundamentally idiotic. I’m sure that this came up in their roundtables, they are, after all, a bunch of smart people. But apparently it wasn’t important and they decided that after you buy one of their ebooks, you can’t sell it, give it, or loan it to anyone else, lest you be shot, dunked in hot oil and drawn and quartered.

Why in Dog’s name would I want a book that I couldn’t share? This is a fundamental disconnect. And it’s why ebooks, as long as they are implemented with DRM attached, will never succeed. Call me a codger but technology is about communication, not the restriction thereof.

For a far more entertaining and creative take on this entire mess, go read The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts).

Some People Can Coach, Some Can’t

So San Fran is down by 7 with under two minutes to go, they have a 4th and 10 on the 28 or so. If they kick a field goal, they still have to score a touchdown to win. As a coach, you have a chance to send a message to your players that you aren’t giving up, even if the season seems lost. Instead, Mike Nolan kicks a meaningless field goal. I just don’t understand why you’d ever do something so dumb if you really are trying to win. Even if you have all your timeouts, I can’t believe you have a better chance of recovering an onside kick over making a fourth and ten from the 28. Even if you don’t make it, you have the opponent at the 28 with all your timeouts.

As it is, you just look like you’re not trying to win.

Days 11 and 12

The last two days have been very productive. Today was almost completely focused on the design of the web site, something I struggled with a couple of weeks ago. I gave up on doing a column design since CSS doesn’t really support that very well and went with an all horizontal layout. It feels cleaner and it was certainly easier to do. Because my mad design skillz are far more sad than mad, it took most of the day but I’m learning a ton about CSS and Plyons in the process so it’s a good thing.

Yesterday, I finished up the scraper and parser for the stats. It’s run the last few days with no problems so things look good there. Tomorrow, I’m going to try and hook the two into a single application.

I still have to decide whether or not to go back in and change all the table names in the database. I need to spend some time in the morning figuring out how big of a pain in the ass that will be.