Monday, July 31, 2006

Month in Review

Since I’ve been a bit quiet of late, I thought I should do an overview of the assorted miscellany that’s been going on. So, in no particular order, I present to you the month in review.

Since I got my laptop a couple of years ago, one thing has never worked. I could never get wireless to work properly in Linux. This was due largely to the fact that the card which came with it was a Broadcom. We tried everything including ndiswrapper. Not even my friends who write kernel modules were able to get it to work.

A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and got a new wireless card from Netgear. Within 30 minutes, it was up and running. The drivers aren’t native, but I had zero problems with the ones from MadWifi, so now I can start using Linux more regularly again.

Ironically, I read that the next kernel is supposed to have built in support for Broadcom wireless cards. Go figure.

I had a meeting with some headhunters last week, so I have more eyes out there looking to place me in a F/T position since I am tired of contracting. It ended up being a longer meeting than I was expecting because I ended up talking to several of them. Hopefully something positive comes out of this especially since I had to wear long sleeves and a tie in 95 degree weather. =]

The above is also what caused me to miss the TIGAR awards. However, I consider that a legitimate reason. Sorry, John.

I am, however, pre-registered for Ohio Linux Fest. If you’re in the area and are free that day, register and attend. It’s a decent conference.

I was without power one day and without cable and telephone the next because we were having a tree removed from the back yard since it would have fallen over before too many more seasons had passed. You never realize how much you need email until you can’t use it.

As some of you have noticed, I added RSS to the website and blog a couple of weeks ago. It surprises me the number of hits that it gets per day. I honestly didn’t think there were that many people who read this.

Also, in order to make the growth of the site a bit more orderly, I rearranged some things on the back end. It shouldn’t impact anything you see, but it will make my life easier as I continue to add things to the site. If you find anything broken, please let me know.

The last bit of news is that the weird referrals to the site continue. At one point last year, for some odd reason, I was getting referrals from a German porn site. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to know.

This month, the #2 referrer (just behind Google) is a site called dvd4arab. Apparently there is a link to me in one of their threads. I don’t know why they’re linking to me, just that they are. I can just see me having made some DHS list now because of the people visiting my site. Now all I need is some religious fundamentalist site linking to me, and I could have a great trifecta of weird referrers.

Well, that just about covers everything that has been of moderate interest for the month but has gotten lost in the shuffle. This month has just been kind of busy in a grind way instead of lots of exciting things.

Current mood: neutral
Current music: American Express – Find a New Way

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

You know, with all of the things going on both where I am and around the world, there are any number of things that I could rant on or discuss or give my opinion on.

I’m not going to do that tonight.

Instead, I think I’ll just say something that (I hope) is a lot more positive.

Last week, I got a card in the mail from a good friend of mine that I don’t get to talk to much anymore. It was a wedding invitation.

I’d just like to say congratulations and that I wish him well even though I won’t be able to make it to the ceremony. I hope it works out well, Tony. You deserve it.

Current mood – not bad
Current music – The Wreckers – Leave the Pieces

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Interesting news… and a rant.

I realize that I don’t rant here much. Generally most of the “negative” things I have to say are said in a joking manner. There are, of course, exceptions, but the vast majority are said tongue in cheek. This one, however, is completely serious and something that I view as a real, honest problem.

I would also like to apologize in advance for being a little long-winded on this post.

Before we get to that, though, let’s do the news part. There will be plenty of time for the rant afterward.

The news is that the people who thought that Ken Lay, the one responsible for the Enron debacle, would get away without any jail time were absolutely right. He has died of a coronary before his sentencing could take place.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. Part of me is surprised. Part of me isn’t. Part wanted to see him face sentencing and part of me just kind of shrugs at the way it turned out. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out before too long. It just seems kind of ironic to go through the whole trial and have him die basically right before sentencing.

I think part of me feels like they should pass sentence anyway just so we can draw this to a close. Not that it really matters. It’s just that it seems like the ultimate loose end.

In other, probably less interesting news, I have added an RSS feed to the blog and website. I figure that I update often enough that it is warranted.

Now, on to the rant.

I have maintained that I have almost no problem in dealing with accents. I’ve worked with, been friends with, and known people from all over the world. As long as we can both speak English (or enough of another language that I understand), I can communicate with said person without a whole lot of trouble.

There is, however, a certain company that is making me seriously reconsider this position. I think it’s the same company, anyway. If it isn’t, then it’s a really disturbing trend.

About every two weeks, I’ll get a call from a recruiting firm that says they saw my resume online. This in itself is nothing abnormal, and I have no problem with it. In fact, I am looking for a new full time position now that I am finished with the magazine and the fact is that I am kind of tired of contracting because constantly looking for new clients gets old after a while.

The problem is that first, it sounds like they’re using voip (judging from the delay and static) and second, that the person on the other end of the line is Indian with an accent so thick that even *I* have trouble with it.

They start out by asking me inane questions like do I have any experience in an IT setting which can be answered by simply *glancing* at my resume. Of course I have no experience. My resume just has software developer and network analyst/system administrator positions on it for no reason. Please take the time to at least look at what you’re calling me about first.

Next, in the midst of trying to answer their questions, I will tell them that I can’t understand them (which is true) and ask if they could contact me via email instead. Instead of doing so, the person on the other end just keeps on with their script.

This annoys me. I restate my request and they keep going, so I inform them that since they do not listen, I have no desire to do business with them and hang up.

A couple of weeks later, it all happens again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, this is bad for a few reasons – first, communication is important in any relationship (business, friendship, romantic, etc). In a business setting, the person you have dealing with the general public should be able to speak in a manner which will be easily understood *by* the general public. This means that they speak the same language (in this case English), they speak at an understandable speed, and with an appropriate (or a “generic”) accent.

Doing this cuts down on a great deal of communications overhead and is a lesson that has been learned by everyone from the phone company and telemarketers to brick and mortar stores. Unfortunately, however, it does not seem to have been learned by a lot of technical companies. Here’s a hint – the same rules apply to you too.

Second, placing someone whom you know will not be understood by your target audience in a position which deals with them extensively shows an extreme lack of respect for your intended audience. In this case, if a company does this while they are trying to recruit me, they are not going to be able to do so. At all.

Third, the chances are that, if you continue to act in this manner, word will get around and it will be very difficult to connect with more customers (in this case, potential employees).

Like I said before, I think that this is the same company that has contacted me in the past. If that is the case, then they really need to get their act together. If not, then this is a disturbing trend.

Having said that, if anyone is interested in hiring me to work at a (mostly) sane company where the employees are treated with some measure of respect and not like instantly replaceable cogs in a machine, feel free to contact me. I am more than willing to listen and will relocate for the right opportunity.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I just saw an article in The Register about a poll of developers about the quality of various IDEs. Their conclusion? That Eclipse and NetBeans come in dead last.

This survey made me shake my head. It was an extremely poor excuse for a “study”. Why, you ask? First, they polled a whopping 1,200 people (that’s like asking 5 people on the street what they think of a local issue and calling it an official poll). Second, there is almost no way at all that the people they asked had experience in all of the IDEs that they listed. There were eleven IDEs listed covering a pretty wide variety of languages.

Here’s a hint, people. Looking at a pretty screen for five minutes is no way to say one IDE is better than another. You need to have actual experience in using them.

It really looked like a high school popularity contest. I just wondered who funded Evans Data Corp’s little “study”.

Do I think everything about Eclipse is perfect? No. My main complaint is that the Auto-Complete list takes too long to appear a fair amount of the time whereas on Visual Studio, it appears by about the second character of a member function/variable that you type. Is this a huge problem? Not really. I just hate digging through docs to get the proper order of arguments.

This sort of thing really makes me wonder who actually takes these “studies” seriously. They really aren’t worth the time it took to do them (though I am sure that the groups that do them are compensated *quite* well for their trouble).

Current mood: annoyed
Current music: Deadsy – The Key to Gramercy Park

Monday, July 03, 2006

Well, this evening was certainly interesting. I went over to the neighbor’s house to watch the fireworks. There were many pretty lights (many of which hurt my eyes – being photosensitive can be a real bear at times), lots of whizzing sounds, and a lot of smoke.

I even managed to get hit squarely in the chin by a falling ember. That’s always fun.

Then came the last firework of the evening. The roman candle was lit. It then proceeded to fall over and orient itself toward the crowd of us. Nine screaming balls of colored fire rocketed toward us (and their house, and the cars, and my house, and the other neighbors’ cars…).

People scattered. It was nuts. Several of us almost got hit, and a few of us changed direction only to have the pyrotechnic pursuer curve along the same basic path. Talk about a great close to the evening. heh

Their daughter wanted to set off fireworks last night, but now that she’s been chased by the last firework of the evening, she has declared that she doesn’t want anything to do with them anymore. I’m sure she’ll be ready again by next year =]

Current mood: amused
Current music: Roxette – The Look

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I have met yet another example of a company that I have no desire to work for in the last week.

I was told by a consulting company that part of the requirements before I even got an interview was to turn over my client list. I spent the next 5 minutes telling her that there was no way that was going to happen and she spent it trying to convince me that it was a standard and acceptable practice.

Sorry, people, but that’s not the mark of a company looking for new employees. That’s the mark of a company looking for new clients and wanting to weasel them out of other people.

My FAQ just got a new entry.

Current mood: amused
Current music: INXS & Jimmy Barnes - Good Times