Monday, August 25, 2008

Nearly Half of Employers Have Caught a Lie on a Resume

Half of the employers in this survey have caught candidates lying on their resume, with some of the more outrageous lies being:
  • Claimed to be a member of the Kennedy family
  • Claimed to be a member of Mensa (duh!)
  • Claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had
  • Claimed to be the CEO of a company when the candidate was an hourly employee
  • Listed military experience dating back to before he was born
  • Included samples of work, which the interviewer actually did
  • Claimed to be Hispanic when he was 100 percent Caucasian
  • Claimed to have been a professional baseball player
Those beats the guy I interviewed two years ago who claimed to have developed with Spring 5 and Hibernate 6 :)

Just as interesting are the keywords that employers use to search for candidates (SDLC, e-commerce and n-tier are no longer in vogue!):
  • problem-solving and decision-making skills (50 percent)
  • oral and written communications (44 percent)
  • customer service or retention (34 percent)
  • performance and productivity improvement (32 percent)
  • leadership (30 percent)
  • technology (27 percent)
  • team-building (26 percent)
  • project management (20 percent)
  • bilingual (14 percent)

Build your own Charging Station

A couple of months ago I saw this DIY charging stand:

What is a charging stand? Its a place where you can plug in all your gadgets for charging overnight.

If you think about it a "typical" family has lots of gadgets, say a mobile phone for every member of the family, mp3 players, gameboys, iPhone for daddy, portable DVD players, laptops, etc. Instead of having chargers lying all around the house I could see a dedicated charging station as a useful way to tidy things up.

As one of the comments to the above charging station points out all of the chargers draw power even when their gadgets are not plugged in, so it would be a useful improvement if the charging station turned off when no gadgets are connected.

The Agile Elevator Pitch: It's all about Low Risk

I recently saw a technically-focused manager, who was talking to a marketing person, point to an early version (sprint 1) of an application and say:

You see, agile means you don't get everything you wanted.

The remark surprised me since this manager had been heavily involved in the planning of the application, including prioritising which functionality got built every sprint.

This got me to thinking once more how I often have to describe agile in 30 second "elevator pitches" to non-technical people. In the past I've tried to describe agile using terms like "hyper-productive environments" and "delivering increments of functionality", but that never seemed to convey the meaning behind agile. More and more agile seems to me to be all about risk, so I think my elevator pitch is evolving into something like:

Agile is a set of low risk practices for delivering working software within the usual constraints of project management (scope, resources, time and quality).

What do I mean by low risk? The opposite of high risk :) High risk practices include spending too much time on analysis, not recognising that requirements will change as people get a chance to interact with the application, trying to build a complex solution based on possible future requirements instead of just what you need for now, putting people in strict roles instead of allowing them to freely interact with each other, and many more. Of course a project may still succeed using high risk practices, it just has a lower probability of doing so.

So back to the remark that started this train of thought. How would I respond to "agile means you don't get everything you want"? Simply: Regardless of whatever practices or methodologies you use you are still constrained by the usual project management variables (scope, resources, time and quality). Agile or not you will have to make choices.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Verizon gives someone the Libshitz

When I was living in New York it was TimeWarner Cable that often made my blood boil with their poor customer service and lazy attitude to fixing their broken equipment, but TimeWarner is not alone in dragging out issues.

The sad story of Herman Libshitz who, when he tried to upgrade from AT&T dial-up to Verizon DSL, was told by Verizon they couldn't do it because his last name contained a naughty word. It turns out their account software had some sort of profanity filter, so Verizon managers suggested Mr Lipshitz deliberatley mis-spell his name instead of going to the effort of requesting the development team in India make a change to the account software.

As a side note, I've often hoped for the opportunity to write a profanity filter. The actual implementation should be just a basic list matching algo, but it will be fun putting together a list of profane words, variations (e.g. one of two character differences), multiple languages, etc!

Buzzword Survivor - 36 hours straight of meetings!

How many meetings do you think can you handle at a single stretch? Do you think you can sit through 36 hours of vendor presentations - and pay attention- with only 10 minute breaks between presentations? Only the most experienced meeting facilitators will survive Buzzword Survivor and share in $10,000.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

DoubleClick (Google) to serve ads using Silverlight

Google looks like getting first mover advantage in the Silverlight advertising space. Silverlight is of course a Microsoft RIA technology, so MS looks pretty foolish in not leveraging Silverlight for such an obvious use earlier than a major competitor.