Archive for the 'Work' category

Tricks of the Trade by Matthew Baldwin

November 22, 2009 9:25 am

Here are some interesting job hacks that were mailed in to Matthew Baldwin…  These 3 apply to me :)

Desktop Support

When desktop support technicians resolve a ticket, they are usually required to document the cause and solution to the problem. Supervisors see these records, so you have to be professional, but can usually get away with using the acronym “PEBKAC” in situations where the user caused the initial problem. PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.”

Software Tester

Because developers don’t expect testers to read through their code, doing so is a quick and easy way to find possible bugs. Look for comments like “// HACK” or “// fix this crap later.”

Technical Support

When helping someone fix their computer over the phone, and you want them to see if all the cables are plugged in correctly, don’t ask, “Have you checked to see if the cable is plugged in?” because the customer will always say, “Of course I did, do you think I’m a moron?” Instead say, “Remove the cable, blow the dust out of the connector, and plug it back in.” The customer will most likely reply, “Hey, it’s working now—I guess that dust really builds up in there!”

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My thoughts on/experience with brain teaser interviews

November 15, 2009 11:28 am

I was reading this article, and it reminded me of a terrible interview I had looking for a job after graduating…

Some years ago, someone at Microsoft noticed that they were having a bit of a Resources problem. A Human Resources problem to be specific. There were a whole lot of job openings (thousands, in fact) and a whole lot of applications (hundreds of thousands, in fact), and no easy way to match the right applicants with the right jobs. So they decided to reinvent the Job Interview.

Traditionally, job interviews are used to ascertain two things: how competent the candidate is and how well his personality (or lack thereof) will fit in with the organization. With their introduction of Job Interview 2.0, Microsoft included both of those features and added one additional: how the candidate responds when presented with asinine, utterly pointless, and completely ridiculous brainteaser questions.

Of course, common sense tells us that a candidate who enjoys solving silly riddles would most likely enjoy solving a silly riddle at a job interview. The same can be said about pepperoni pizza: chances are, if a candidate enjoys eating pepperoni pizza, he will also enjoy eating pepperoni pizza at a job interview. Both are facts which, while completely enthralling (no way, you like pepperoni pizza, too?!), are equally as irrelevant when determining whether someone would make a good programmer.

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The American Airlines/Mr X/Dustin Curtis Fiasco

November 5, 2009 6:56 pm

I’ve been following this fiasco as its come out (via HackerNews, for me at least) and a blogger has fired back!  The tubes are an unfriendly place if you run your mouth enough I guess..

Back in May of this year, a then 21-year-old designer named Dustin Curtis wrote a blog post called Dear AmericanAirlines in which he redesigned (read: moved some pixels around in Photoshop) their homepage, called them names, called into question their business strategy, and then called for the firing of their entire design team, “[who are] obviously incapable of building a good experience.”

Setting aside the arrogance of an article centered on an unsolicited JPG of the easiest page of a site to tackle—he “spent a couple hours redesigning [their] front page”—I’m amazed that anyone purporting to be a professional interface designer would assume a night of Photoshop earns them the right to be smug. It’s easy to “design” when you’re unencumbered by things like metrics, creative direction, business acumen, sales experience, actual functionality, enterprise scale, or any thought about how a site with millions of page views and users has to function. It’s easy to look at their site versus your comp and go, “See, mine’s better. You guys must really suck at this.”

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What I think I’ve learned in high school, college, and on the job

October 1, 2009 8:18 pm

OK, so I’m cleaning my mess of a room and I come across a few notebooks of stuff from college. I start looking through them and realize what I got out of college. Here is a very non all inclusive list of what I’ve learned, and where I learned it.

What I learned in high school

  • How to get by without working too hard

  • How to interact and communicate with pretty much anyone

  • That I want to be an entrepreneur

  • PHP and VB – Certainly not in school. But I did learn that I wanted to create things. When I was a kid I played with Legos, actually when I was a freshman in high school, I did a history project in Legos too. But I knew that I wanted to build things, and both of my parents are systems programmers, and they pushed me to use computers and I found out that I’m pretty good at programming.

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The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security

February 9, 2009 4:59 pm

There’s lots of innovation going on in security – we’re inundated with a steady stream of new stuff and it all sounds like it works just great. Every couple of months I’m invited to a new computer security conference, or I’m asked to write a foreword for a new computer security book. And, thanks to the fact that it’s a topic of public concern and a “safe issue” for politicians, we can expect a flood of computer security-related legislation from lawmakers. So: computer security is definitely still a “hot topic.” But why are we spending all this time and money and still having problems?

via The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security.

This is a very high level list of security concepts that no programmer should be without.  While it is extremely important for programmers and software engineers, it is probably more important for management.  Since they have the final say in funding and project approval, it is important for managers to understand these concepts and require their implementation.

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