Too Many Secrets

One of the great things about the Internet is how easy it has become to post and find job listings.

One of the horrible things about the Internet is that once you put your resume on one of these sites you can never ever truly get yourself removed.  Take it off one site, you’ll find it on another.  Get it off all the sites, you’ll discover that many placement companies have already saved a copy of your resume and contact information.

The only way to really be safe is, each time you start hunting for a job create a new email address (there are dozens of free email companies) and when you are done, abandon that address.  And get a throw-away phone.

Anyway, I’ve never done that, and in fact I’ve always used an address on a domain I own (this one) and I use it for everything.  So, despite having a job and not being on the market, I get emails, probably a dozen a week, about positions I might be interested in.  The one thing all of these emails have in common is that they lack details.  What’s even worse is that even if I were to respond and talk to them about the job, details would still be missing until I actually walk in the door for the interview.

What details?  Simple stuff, like the name of the company.

See, if I get an email that says “.NET Developer position, 6 month contract, may go perm” I’m not really interested.  I have a job, not a contract, and that just doesn’t make me want to consider jumping ship.  If it said, for instance, “.NET Developer position for, 6 month contract, may go perm” I might want to go to that interview anyway, because, you know, working at Amazon might be awesome.  Even if it isn’t something as awesome as Amazon, a company name means I can look them up and see if it’s something I want to be involved in.  “.NET Developer” for a technology company, I’m intrigued.  “.NET Developer” for Joe’s Country Plumbing and Septic Tank Repair… not so much.  Sure, hiding the name might help get applicants for the latter, but it is also going to lead to disappointment for most.  Better to be honest and actually talk to people who want to work for the smaller company.

Once upon a time, I got an email about a programming job.  The details I got were that it was “a small company” and the position was for a “.NET Developer” and required experience with “data warehouses”.  I went around and around with the recruiter trying to get more details, but she never gave any and so when I finally agreed to interview it was more out of exhaustion than excitement.  I walk in the door and discover, oh by the way, the company is Hi-Rez Studios.  Um, what?  If the recruiter had lead with that piece of information, I’d have been chomping at the bit and probably brought in samples of my work and been a lot more prepared.  Instead, everything I’d gotten lead me to believe it was going to be another endless stuff dull job like the one I was leaving, and I walked into the interview cold and shocked, dumbfounded and stuttering.  I did manage to get a second interview, but damn, a little warning next time would be nice.

Another bad part is often a recruiter won’t tell you the name of the company until after they’ve submitted your resume.  Problem is, many companies, when dealing with recruiters who get paid a commission for placement, have rules about excluding double submissions.  So you might actually have the most awesome job listing in the world ready to submit me for, but if a competing recruiter has already submitted me then all you are going to do is get me excluded.  Sure, you asked me where I’ve been submitted to try and avoid this, but your competitors use the same tactics so I don’t know where I’ve been submitted.  And no, I’m not going to use just one recruiter when looking for work.  Why should I limit myself just because you want to keep secrets?

And you know what?  Stop putting things like “solid company” and “great work environment” in your email because it’s in EVERY email.  You cheapen the meaning by using them for every company, especially when it’s marketing and not necessarily true.  Of course they all say that.  No company is ever going to say, “Tell them we are a large unwieldy mass of middle managers who micromanage with lots of unpaid overtime.”  Not gonna happen.

Is a little openness and honesty too much too ask?

Patient Zero

It has actually been a while since I finished reading Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, but I was waiting because I didn’t want to gush about a book I was giving as a gift to someone who might actually read the blog (as unlikely as that is).  Plus, I forgot.

Patient Zero follows Joe Ledger, a cop who has recently been offered a position with the FBI.  Just days away from his move he gets involved in a multi-agency bust of some suspected terrorists, one of whom doesn’t stay dead.  He is then approached by the Department of Military Sciences and told of a possible plot to release a virus that turns people into zombies.

Most zombie novels these days start after the end of the world, or are set within the fall.  Patient Zero is about trying to stop the zombie apocalypse from happening.  Another great aspect of the story is that it follows not only the people trying to stop the zombies, but also the people trying to start it.

This book was good.  Very good.  Couldn’t put it down good.  I blew through it, and so did the wife, and she’s not a fan of horror books or movies.  I’d gladly recommend it to just about anyone.

The Last Christmas

As promised, here is my holiday short story.  It begins like this…

He hadn’t thought of himself as anything more than Santa Claus in many years. Since he’d been passed the mantle he’d just enjoyed the magic of the position. He spent three-hundred sixty-four days of the year in his village workshop, with just one night out to deliver toys to all the girls and boys who still believed.

It was a dwindling list of names, but more so this year. Around April the list very nearly cut by half in a single day, and steadily it had fallen until around mid May. After that is dropped in chunks every now and then with one more sharp decline in early October. By December first, when the village usually kicked into overdrive to finish all the toys, there we barely more than a hundred names left, less as he loaded up his sleigh on Christmas Eve.

… you can read the entire thing here.

A Dream Deferred

Langston Hughes once posed the question in a poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?”

The search for a new job is never easy.  The hardest part of it is finding work you love to do in an industry you love working for.  Over the past four years I have learned that one thing I love to do is program, and more specifically, I love programming dynamic tools over programming static solutions.  You see, I’d rather give someone a tool they can use to get their own answers than to give them the answers.  When you give a person answers, later, if the specifications change, you have to give them new answers, but if you originally gave them a tool, then they can tweak the tool to the new specifications and get their own answers.

A couple of weeks ago I had a job interview.  It was literally, my dream job.  As best as I could understand it from the interview I had, they wanted tools integration between purchased applications that would allow them to pull customized reports to support job functions.  This is pretty much exactly what I have been doing for the last four years, and I loved doing it.  My only problem in my last position was that I didn’t like the industry: telecommunications.  But this new job, being as I said it was my dream job, was in the gaming industry.  A company developing an MMO was looking for someone to do tools integration, custom reporting and web design.  I nearly messed my pants.

So, I suppose you can imagine my disappointment when I learned that of the seven people who interviewed for the position, three were asked back for a second interview and I was not one of them.  Now I am faced with a couple of weeks of interviews for companies in industries at least as uninteresting to me as telecommunications, and all doing work I’m not particularly enthusiastic about doing.

What exactly does happen to a dream deferred?  I guess I’m about to find out…

Unrealistic Requirements

Back in 1998, I had just graduated from college with a degree in computer science and was looking for a job.  I had previously worked in technical support and hardware installation.  I had also done some Novell network administration.  What I really wanted was a programming job.  There was a job posting that I recall quite vividly.  One of their requirements for the position was “5 years experience with Java”.  The problem was that the first public release of Java was in 1996, 1995 if you worked on Sun boxes.  In order to have 5 years of experience with Java (1993), you would have had to have worked at Sun.  There was another posting that asked for 10 years with Java, a feat not possible unless you had a time machine and repeated a few years since the project that would one day become Java began in 1991.

In the last ten years, things really haven’t changed.  Really.  I just saw a posting today asking for “20 years experience with Java” … 2008 minus 20 equals 1988… so they want someone with 3 more years experience than the guys who invented Java.  Its frustrating to be looking for work and have to deal with crap like that.

Even more exasperating, however, is having positions require samples of your work.  Seriously?  I’ve been a programmer for the past 6 years, and in those 6 years I have worked on exactly ZERO projects where I was not under and NDA and taking code samples with me couldn’t be prosecuted as theft.  I have 6 years of experience, but I have no samples of my work because it would be against the law for me to have them.  Sure, I could send them samples of things I have done for myself, but I honestly don’t think WordPress themes and a party invitation managing webpage I wrote are going to be all that impressive to someone who is considering me for a senior level .NET/C# position.

I can only say… would you really want to hire someone to work for you under an NDA if in order to get the job they were willing to break the NDA of their previous job?  That’s like being the other woman who’s lover leaves his wife and then being surprised when he cheats on you too…

Some times I really wish I could put aside my morals for personal gain.  It would make getting a new job so much easier.

Real Guitar Hero

As much as I love playing Rock Band and potentially playing Guitar Hero (when they stop being dicks and let me use the Rock Band Guitar), I’ve been toying with real guitars for much longer.  Its a love/hate relationship.  I love the idea of playing the guitar, but I hate the idea of spending a lot of time at it.  I can play a few songs, and my fingers know where they are supposed to go for most of the chords even if they don’t always find the exact position without me looking down at the fretboard, but overall I’m never really disappointed in myself because I know my lack of ability comes from my lack of dedication.

That just might change, though…

I present to you, dear readers, Guitar Rising.


I`m smarter than you!

Before continuing, and before you get offended, lets specify exactly who “you” is before I explain why I’m smarter.

I’m redesigning the layout for this page using CSS and DIVs to accomplish what tables do. Why? Because if you do it with DIVs and CSS instead of tables, later on you can move objects around your page using the CSS instead of redoing the entire godawful thing.

So, I want to have my page, which has 2 columns (the articles and the menu) to appear as though its on a white “stripe” down the page. I ran into a snag while doing it, and I searched all over the internet trying to find a solution to it only to find a large amount of people offering incorrect solutions and/or people saying it couldn’t be done. If you, the reader, fall into the group of someone who either provided an incorrect solution or told someone what I did could not be done, it is YOU who I am smarter than.

Now.. what did I do?

See, the snag I ran into was this… it looks simple. You just make a DIV with a white background position it absolutely, then put the content in it positioned relatively. Easy, right? No.

This is the snag. When you position the articles relative to the white box, when you try to position the menu, it positions relative to the articles, not the box. (Relative position means its relative to the last non-auto positioned object.) Since the articles are of variable length, I can’t use negative positioning to do it relative to the articles.

So, you say, the articles are always longer than the menu, just position the menu absolute and leave a margin on the side so it “appears” to be in the white. No.

Do me a favor, on the menu, click on Fiction, look at the page, then come back here.


Okay, see how it looked good? It didn’t when I did what you were just saying (and what almost every post out on the net suggested). See, Fiction one day may be longer than the menu, but for now the list of fiction on the site is not. So, when I did the suggested method, it resulted in the menu exceeding the length of white.

Surely, you say, there must be other solutions? Why not put the menu in a white DIV too and position them both? Well, you see, if you do the articles and the menu totally separate, you lose the ability to do a white “stripe”, as one will invariably be longer than the other.

Well, you now say (and many of you did, out on those help forums), why not use one of the many tricks to just place a white block that extends the full length of the page? That doesn’t work either. See, some browsers don’t (and according to the standard, shouldn’t) support a property of height: 100%. At least not how you might imagine. Sure, it goes to the bottom of the browser… but when you scroll down, the white has stopped.

Okay, you say, you give up, I’ve tried all your solutions and they all fail. But the page looks right, so, how did I do it?

The articles are in a div that has a white background, so that there will be white extended as far as the content goes. And the menu is positioned absolutely so that it appears in the white stripe. But wait, did I say that didn’t work? Yes, I did. By itself, this method does NOT work. However, before all the other DIVs on the page, there is one called whiteblock. This DIV has the same absolute position of the article content div, but it has a specified length of 1400px, which just so happens to be just larger than my menu. So when the content of articles isn’t longer than the menu, the whiteblock shows down to the length of the menu (its drawn first, so is logically on the bottom, only showing when nothing else is on top of it).

In theory, my menu won’t change too often, and when it does, I need only adjust the height of whiteblock to maintain the look of the site.

Voila. To all the people who said it couldn’t be done, or provided incorrect or incomplete answers… I’m smarter than you!

A Work In Progress…

I’m not really looking for work. The company I work for is doing okay… and by okay I mean that on any given day we could either go bankrupt or close the deal on a project that would leave us all set for life. But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking. I’m always looking, its the nature of the IT beast.

So here is my resume. I recently reworked it because I needed to send a copy off to a posted position, so I figured I’d slap it in a news bit as well.

The Job Hunt Continues…

Yeah, I know I have a job, but when your job sucks you look for another.

The most annoying thing about looking for a job in an “economic downturn” isn’t the general lack of jobs, it when you get all excited because there are 5 jobs posted in a single day that you can apply for, but as you look more closely at the job position descriptions it dawns on you that what you are really looking at is 5 contract/staffing companies all trying to fill 1 position.

Slurp my butt.

You think the least they can do is just post the damn company name, or all of them cut and paste the exact same description so that I don’t have to fire up the Crays down in the Batcave and hack the federal government applying all of my best detective skills to determine that its a big waste of time to send out 5 resumes, especially when they are all offering different hourly rates for the same job.

It should be illegal for a company to use more than one contract agency for a single position. Either that or it should be illegal for two agencies to use the same website to post the same job.

Just as an example… here is one, two, and three postings for a single job. I know, because I called and talked to each of these agencies. Its. The. Same. Job.