September 26th, 2013
Nicholas Carr's latest entry in his Realtime Chronicles predicts where technology will lead us once we're enmeshed in the Internet of Things:
People are forever buttonholing me on the street and saying, "Nick, what comes after realtime?" It's a good question, and I happen to know the answer: Ambient Reality. Ambient Reality is the ultimate disruption, as it alters the actual fabric of the universe. We begin living in the prenow. Things happen before they happen. "Between the desire / And the spasm," wrote T. S. Eliot, "Falls the Shadow." In Ambient Reality, the Shadow goes away. Spasm precedes desire. In fact, it's all spasm. We enter what I call Uninterrupted Spasm State, or USS.
In Ambient Reality, there is no such thing as "a shopper." Indeed, the concept of "shopping" becomes anachronistic. Goods are delivered before the urge to buy them manifests itself in the conscious mind. Demand is ambient, as are pricing comparisons. They become streams in the cloud. [...]
Of course, this assumes that you have enough income to be worth providing goods and services to even before you even realise you might want them or even need them. Those with less impressive credit scores will find themselves on call 24/7, bidding every day in the hopes of landing an opportunity to spend a morning delivering the sandwiches and umbrellas to their betters.
[Zero Hours link via MetaFilter]
January 27th, 2013
Philippe Dubost, a web product manager seeking a new job, built himself an online resume that looks a bit familiar:
(That's just a section of the page: the whole site is much better.)
It's cute, but five or ten years from now if Amazon have moved into the online resume business then we'll all have real pages like this and none of us will find it at all amusing.
Imagine potential employers paying us in items from our wishlist rather than with money.
March 13th, 2012
I think I'd have responded the same way Grig Larson did to this job interviewer's question…
Riddled (from Grig Larson)
Not too long ago, I applied for systems administrator job. The interviews were going very well, and I had to return twice because they flew people in to meet me. One of them was a guy who, God love him, seemed like a great person but his interview skills were a little hackneyed. [...]
"If you had to move Mount Fuji," he asked, "how would you do it?" I recall thinking, "why is he asking this? What does he mean by Mount Fuji?"
"You mean, Mount Fuji, the volcano in Japan?"
He looked confused I asked. "Er, yes. How would you move it?"
What he didn't know was I was a science fiction author as well. I spent a lot of time asking odd questions like these. [...] But like a writer, I had to have a principal motive of the protagonist.
"Why?" I asked.
The man chuckled as if he had never thought about that before. "Just how would you move it?"
I felt I didn't explain my question. "I mean, who is my customer? Why does he or she wish to move Mount Fuji? I mean, to move Mount Fuji seems like the middle of a plan; it's a verb that has an end mean. Like, does my client want the rubble? Do they want to move it 10 meters to the left? What drives such a vast plan?" [...]
… which means it's probably just as well that I haven't had to undergo a job interview in almost fourteen years now. If that's the state of the art in interview questions then I'm destined to be a long time unemployed if my current job ever goes away.
November 12th, 2011
Remember when Apple made TV adverts styling themselves as opponents of Big Brother. Judging by a recent Employment Tribunal finding, that stance is inoperative:
Crisp, who worked in an Apple Store, posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a "private" Facebook page and outside of working hours. One of his colleagues, who happened to be a Facebook "friend", saw the comments, printed the posts and passed them to the store manager. Crisp was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.
The employment tribunal rejected Crisp's claim for unfair dismissal. [...]
Despite having "private" Facebook settings, the tribunal decided that there was nothing to prevent friends from copying and passing on Crisp's comments, so he was unable to rely on the right to privacy contained in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (covered in the UK by the Human Rights Act 1998). He retained his right to freedom of expression under Article 10, but Apple successfully argued that it was justified and proportionate to limit this right in order to protect its commercial reputation against potentially damaging posts.
I'm not saying that the tribunal's findings are wrong in law: apparently Apple Retail's 'social media policy' emphasised that employees were forbidden from posting unfavourable opinions on the company's products on social media sites, so on the face of it the ex-employee was in breach of this policy.
My problem is threefold:
- With the tribunal, for apparently holding that even though the employee used Facebook's privacy controls to restrict access to his comments the fact that someone could have copied-and-pasted the text of those comments negated his right to privacy. By that logic, if he'd been talking to a couple of friends in a pub or in his home, the fact that one of his pals could have surreptitiously recorded his comments using their smartphone renders those comments public too. This is a terribly bad idea.
- With Apple Retail, for trying to gag their employees outside working hours. I don't doubt that their social media policy bans derogatory comments from employees. I just think that a) they shouldn't be trying to control what employees do when they're not at work, and b) they need to distinguish between genuinely public expressions of dissatisfaction and private letting-off of steam.
- With the little shit who ratted on his 'friend' to his Apple Store bosses.
[Via The Register, via Risks Digest Volume 26: Issue 60]
June 2nd, 2011
Another week, another epic cover letter:
From: Thomas B——-
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 10:37 AM
To: James S——
Subject: RE: Written Test
When a big picture thinker with nearly 20 years of experience in IT sends you a resume and cover letter like mine and says that he can help you win a client that is pulling in 1.3 Billion per year, here's what you don't do:
- Set up an interview with a couple of in-the-box thinking Microsoft drones with questions on minutia.
- Hand him a test to see what his "style", attention to detail, and problem solving approach is.
Here's my style: I am certain that I can run circles around your best developers with my own, original, incredibly efficient model; but more importantly, I am a director that can help them run circles around their own current misguided misconceptions. But I am thankful for this lesson, as I have learned that I need to add a cover to my cover letter that reads: If you are an in-the-box thinking Microsoft house, and you find yourself regurgitating terms like OOP, MVC, TDD, BDD, Cucumber, etc…, without really understanding what it all means and how much it is actually costing your company to have bought into that industry pushed bullshit, then DO NOT contact me. I'd save you too much money, and you obviously do not want that.
So the question now is: Did I pass the test?
The answer is: Fuck yes I did.
PS. You forgot to attach the quiz.
Do this: Print out a copy of it, ball it up, and throw it at your own forehead, because that's what I would do if I were there.
May 24th, 2011
December 12th, 2010
The Redundant Public Servant has been so busy submitting job applications lately that he found himself quite unable to change gear when the time came to draft his family's Christmas round robin letter:
Mrs RPS has had significant experience of leading and change management over the last year should have been Mrs RPS has had to deal with an increasingly grumpy husband who is losing his job.
RPS Daughter 1 has a strong track record of achievement in key aspects of the person specification was where I meant to say RPS Daughter 1 has continued to get great grades at school.
Son of RPS has demonstrated his commitment to personal and professional development through his pursuit of a comprehensive learning plan should really have been Son of RPS appears to have an active university social life so far as we can tell from what he writes on Facebook.
RPS is now looking for a new opportunity in an organisation which shares his commitment to excellence and passion for customer service was a convoluted way of saying His Nibs is being made redundant, any chance of a job?
June 3rd, 2010
Christopher Andrew, MI5's official historian, on job satisfaction:
[Andrew...] also claimed that the human resources consultants employed to discover the levels of job satisfaction at the British domestic intelligence service had found that there was "only one organisation they had investigated that had higher morale: the publisher Mills & Boon".
Which does rather beg the question of which other organisations they had investigated.
January 29th, 2010
If you were the Duke of Milan's Human Resources manager, would you recommend hiring this guy?
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
November 23rd, 2009
A fine demonstration of the art of customer service jiu-jitsu.
October 18th, 2009
Researchers from the National Centre for Social Research, commissioned by the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), sent three different applications for 987 actual vacancies between November 2008 and May 2009. Nine occupations were chosen, ranging from highly qualified positions such as accountants and IT technicians to less well-paid positions such as care workers and sales assistants.
[...] The report, to be released tomorrow, concludes that there was no plausible explanation for the difference in treatment found between white British and ethnic minority applicants other than racial discrimination.
It also finds that public sector employers were less likely to have discriminated on the grounds of race than those in the private sector.
The employment minister is concerned. The Conservative who chairs the relevant select committee thinks "this was a good exercise by the government". British Chambers of Commerce advisor Abigail Morris questioned whether a study of such relatively limited scope could produce useful results, then went a step further:
[She questioned...] whether the government should be involved in using a "sting operation" to uncover racism in the middle of a recession and whether it was worth the money. "Business is struggling with the worst recession for a generation. Is this really the time to be wasting government resources and the time of hard-pressed companies with fake CVs?" she asked.
- If the government shouldn't be doing this, who should?
- Presumably the alternative to a 'sting operation' is to send employers a simple form containing the question "Do you discriminate against job applicants who you think may not be of Anglo-Saxon origin?" with a single Yes/No box to tick.
- In the depth of the worst recession for a generation, it's a fair bet that every one of those 987 posts received a good number of applications. I seriously doubt that the burden of receiving three more applications made a significant difference to the amount of time the firms spent winnowing the pile of CVs down to an interview shortlist.
August 31st, 2009
There's nothing quite like a good sysadmin rant:
[Quoted from an article by Farhad Manjoo arguing that corporate IT departments are too ready to block the use of cool new software and web sites:]
You might argue that firms need to make sure that people stay on task – if employees were allowed to do whatever they wanted at work, nobody would get anything done. But in many instances, that claim is ridiculous. My fiancÃ©e works at a hospital that blocks all instant-messaging programs. Now, she and her co-workers are doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals – they've been through years of training in which they've proved that they can stay on task even despite the allure of online chat. Can anyone seriously argue that the hospital would suddenly grind to a halt if they were allowed to use IM at work?
Can you guarantee that the content of such IMs would never contain confidential patient data that could be seen by someone else on the same IM program on that network that has no need, and therefore no authorization to see that data? Can you guarantee that the IM program you want to use would allow for multiple levels of security and access restriction? Do they support SSL and/or Kerberos? Can they tie into LDAP? Do you even know what some of the data leakage issues are for IM in a medical situation, and the time, work, and money required to properly handle them so they don't get reamed by a HIPAA audit? Does any of that even exist in your world, or is this yet something else you know nothing about, and therefore think there's no difference between what you do at home, and what is required of the network that doctors and nurses use at a hospital?
The entire post is well worth a read. First, because it's both hugely entertaining and approximately 500% better thought through that Manjoo's article. Second, because it reinforces one key point that tends to get overlooked now that a large proportion of the workforce has a computer and an internet connection at home: running a corporate network that is operational throughout working hours whilst providing technical support for hundreds or thousands of users scattered across multiple sites is nothing whatsoever like using and maintaining a computer connected to the internet at home.
All told, it's a fine read.
[Via Tao of Mac]
August 7th, 2009
Avoid This Job carefully selects only the oddest recruitment advertisements and proceeds to skewer the bizarre metaphors and ludicrous requirements that somehow make it past the proof-reading stage and into print.
Take my favourite of the posts I've read so far. A firm searching for an 'HR Guru/Rockstar Recruiter' included this immortal phrase in their ad:
With this trapeze act, you won't have to worry about your dressing room being next to the elephants' pen.
August 2nd, 2009
July 24th, 2009
Paul Graham on Makers and Managers:
There are two types of schedule, which I'll call the manager's schedule and the maker's schedule. The manager's schedule is for bosses. It's embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you're doing every hour.
When you use time that way, it's merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you're done. [...]
July 7th, 2009
I'll bet the Jobcentre staff had fun writing up this vacancy:
A Job Centre is advertising a "witch" vacancy with tourist site Wookey Hole, in Somerset, for Â£50,000 a year. [...]
Wookey Hole staff say the role is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch and do the things witches do.
The good news: male wannabe witches are welcome to apply.
The bad news: that Â£50,000 salary is pro rata, with the successful applicant will essentially working over the summer, at Halloween and at Xmas. Not quite the bonanza it looked at first sight.
[Via Making Light]
June 23rd, 2009
Apparently Oprah Winfrey has treated her employees to a holiday:
Oprah Winfrey is, even as we speak, on a Mediterranean cruise with an estimated 100 work colleagues and their families. The billionaire chat show host paid more than Â£500,000 for an all-expenses-paid 10-day holiday that takes in Malta, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Spain. Doesn't this generosity make Oprah the best boss in the world? And shouldn't all bosses follow her example? The answer to both questions is no, and here are 10 reasons why.
- The office Christmas party is bad enough. Imagine a 10-day office party that you can only leave by diving overboard to likely death.
June 19th, 2009
The City of Bozeman, Montana apparently wants to know everything there is to know about job applicants:
[A waiver statement applicants must sign gives...] the City permission to conduct an investigation into the person's "background, references, character, past employment, education, credit history, criminal or police records."
"Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.," the City form states. There are then three lines where applicants can list the Web sites, their user names and log-in information and their passwords.
Could it be that this is actually a cunning plan to identify potential employees who are too gullible to let within a mile of the city's computer systems?