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An open letter to all recruiters

On behalf of all candidates

Posted in Misc, Business, Career, Personal life

Dear recruiters,

Sometimes you call. In this call you offer the supposed perfect job opportunity to work in the outstanding perfect company: The company has amazing benefits, the salary is great and the environment is outstanding.

Sometimes you are serious and focus only about the position. Sometimes you are friendly and love to talk about your dog. And, of course, sometimes we can notice that you don’t want to talk. That’s ok, everybody has the right to be different. And we all have bad days. Personally, I prefer the friendly ones. Only because they make me believe that I am the most special person in the world. And when you call me in my bad day to make me feel special, you totally won. But the serious ones are good too.

There is only one thing: Apparently you have some issues on matching my profile with the job offers you are presenting to me.

Allow me to explain.

Most of the offers I get from you are “C# Developer”. And yes, I know C#. But the problem lies in the field and also the projects. Mostly this kind of position would lead me to work in a company where I will go very deep into C# and never see anything else. For example, some company where I should work on a system to control, let’s say, traffic lights. Would I work there? Maybe. But it's not a good fit.

See, I am a web person specialized on the ASP.NET stack. In my line of work I need to understand a bit of front-end so I can make a good quality back-end, matching them together in a nice result for the client. This is what I have been doing most of my career. If you doubt just check my Linked In profile. Go to my specialties and certifications so you will see that they are mostly focused on web.

But it's alright, I still like you.

I believe it’s not your fault. You might have goals to reach and you might not have enough time to check a a lot of profiles thoroughly. All of this is understandable. And it’s ok for me as I can say that I am not interested in case you offer something which is not a good fit.

But I care about you. I care about the time you are devoting with me and other candidates which are not a good fit for the positions you are presenting. We know that every candidate you interview who is not a fit makes you lose money (time = money). And your company is losing money as well.

So, here is the advice: Try to understand the position you are going to offer and also try to learn a little bit more about the candidates before the call. And don't shoot e-mails crazily about random job offers only because there is one key word matching. It's not about keywords anymore - it's about meaning. Of course, sometimes I would be motivated to change everything. It can even happen that, some day, I will really be interested to work programming for NASA and see my code going to other galaxies.

But not yet.

In my perticular case, I am focused on web. After all, I am a web person. And since I am a web person you can talk with me about websites developed and I will gladly listen to any offer you will present related with the ASP.NET stack.

Sincerely,

Davidson Sousa

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How philosophy is related with business and why we should care about it

Who do you think is able to make more damage - a bad teacher or a bad doctor?

Posted in Misc, Business, Career

Back in 2003, when I was starting my unfinished business degree, I had philosophy classes. Probably I was one of the few enjoying to listen to things we thought we would never use in our lives. Don’t get me wrong: Philosophy is a very cool topic. The main problem was the mentality we had at that time – We were all aspiring to become executives in some company right after the university. In addition, as far we thought, an executive doesn’t need philosophy.

That was a horrible mistake, but I will get to that later.

One day our professor turned to the class and asked a question which I will never forget. “Who do you think is able to make more damage – a bad teacher or a bad doctor?”. The whole class answered what seemed obvious: The doctor. The professor asked why and we all said that a doctor’s mistake could cost lives while a teacher’s mistake can just make a person not understand some subject.

The right answer is the bad teacher and it’s simple to understand why: While a bad doctor will make the mistake a couple of times before his license will be revoked, a bad teacher can stay in the school for decades teaching badly, damaging the education of hundreds of students. In the end, we would have many uneducated people wandering around the job market. And, in the best case scenario, the bad teacher will have his license revoked only after an entire year of work with, for example, 40 students.

We were all surprised with the explanation and we understood at that moment how important a good education is.

Now, I believe you might be confused about why I mentioned that an executive not needing philosophy is a horrible mistake. Let me explain.

Philosophy is the study of problems related with existence, moral values, knowledge and the mind. The advantage of the philosophical thought is the way the problems are treated. Mostly the philosophical thought is overloaded of logic and rational thought, which differ itself from the religious thought. And what an executive must be in order to succeed?

Logic and rational.

Mostly, in the corporate world, the companies are targeting the “bad doctors” – those professionals who didn’t bring results. For example: Developers who were unable to deliver some project; Designers, who couldn’t finish some art in the way the client wanted; Testers who couldn’t identify some bug in the project. And so on. Firing any of them would be just the easy way to solve the problem but, since we should be logic and rational, there are some points that we should consider. After all, philosophy teaches us how to deal with any situation – personal or professional:

  1. Why were they hired if they lacked knowledge?
  2. How did they get the materials/documentation? And from who?
  3. Was the environment good for them to work?
  4. Does the department have high number of hires and dismissals?

As you can see it’s no easy task to identify the problem. If I would be in this position I’d start to investigate the department itself. In that way I could:

  1. Be sure they really had the knowledge to join the company
  2. Check if the materials/documentation was giving full condition for a good work
  3. Know if the environment was motivating enough for success
  4. Check if the department has a low rate of hires/dismissals

Why? Because it could be a case of “bad teacher”. Or bad management, if you prefer.

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Leave the office! See what you need to work anywhere you want

Do you know those days you don't want to be in the office? Here is what you need to work anywhere you want!

Posted in Misc, Workplace, Tutorials, Career, Personal life

When I started my career as software developer all I could have was a big desktop computer. It was an Intel Celeron 300 MHz with 32 MB of RAM and a HDD of 4 GB. Such beauty would never let me to have the mobility I am able to have today, although I am still far from being as mobile as I want.

But what do you need to become a “work anywhere professional”?

The basic checklist is this:

  • A nice place
  • Good devices
  • Internet connection
  • Tools
  • Concentration

Now, let’s talk about each item.

Place

The place must be nice, preferably with a table where it's possible to place all your devices (more on that later), and calm unless you have a good concentration level (more on that later). Most of people think of places like Starbucks or McDonalds but, actually, it would depend on the kind of work you do and how connected you must be. For a writer, who doesn’t need to be online all the time, work in the woods would be a nice thing. But for a software developer, who depends on internet connection, it would be a bit more complicated.

Good devices

The very basic is a notebook and a mobile phone with a good data plan. In my particular case I have a 17” Lenovo as main computer and a 10” ASUS Transformer as side computer. If I am traveling or going to a place where I know I will need a computer, I take the ASUS. The keyboard is comfortable enough to write and the touchscreen replaces in a very nice way. In addition, I have Visual Studio Express here and it works fine for me.

Another thing to keep in mind is battery time. My Lenovo can work up to 3h with Wi-Fi turned on while my ASUS works up to 10h in the same conditions. Given that I assume I will not find sockets anywhere I go a good battery time is very important. Not to mention that I can it also to recharge my phone, at least to keep alive for longer time (if necessary).

Internet connection

You have 3 possibilities here: Connect over Wi-Fi, use your mobile data plan and share the internet with your notebook or work offline.

It’s clear that Wi-Fi is the best alternative here. However, you can’t expect to find free Wi-Fi with a good speed anywhere. And I am not even talking about how unsafe that would be. Connect over mobile and sharing the internet to your notebook is to be the best option if you have a good (big and fast) data plan, except if you are on roaming.

Tools

The idea here is to have everything to make the transition from your portable machine to your stationary machine as seamless as possible. Except, of course, for some software you can’t install on both due hardware limitations.

Assuming that you have internet connection, you can make use of tools like a private VPN, online file services (OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive), online repository (TFS Online, GitHub) and others. As a developer, I consider all of them important, although I don’t have a private VPN. Yet.

Concentration

The best here is to be self-aware: If you know how much concentration you are able to have in the moment you decide to leave the office, you will pick the perfect place for you. For those who can work only in a silent environment a Starbucks would not be the best place.

Conclusion

My case is a very specific one. I love what I do but I am far from being workaholic. But sometimes I need to work on something small or go somewhere where I could use a computer. Today, for example, I started this article watching children play indoor soccer in the morning. It was noisy, messy and I was using my ASUS on my laps. Luckily, that place had a good internet connection and I could save this text in my OneDrive in order to finish on my notebook later.

Keep something in mind: Find balance. It doesn’t matter if you have an outstanding data plan if you are abroad most of the time as you will need to use roaming. Or even, you have the best of everything but you can’t concentrate in a café.

And remember: The best alternative is always the alternative that suits you.

 

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Ship of fools

by Ted Kaczynski (based on Plato's allegory)

Posted in Misc, Workplace

Published by OFF! Magazine, a zine produced by students at SUNY Binghamton and edited by Tim La Pietra.

Once upon a time, the captain and the mates of a ship grew so vain of their seamanship, so full of hubris and so impressed with themselves, that they went mad. They turned the ship north and sailed until they met with icebergs and dangerous floes, and they kept sailing north into more and more perilous waters, solely in order to give themselves opportunities to perform ever-more-brilliant feats of seamanship.

As the ship reached higher and higher latitudes, the passengers and crew became increasingly uncomfortable. They began quarreling among themselves and complaining of the conditions under which they lived.

"Shiver me timbers," said an able seaman, "if this ain’t the worst voyage I’ve ever been on. The deck is slick with ice; when I’m on lookout the wind cuts through me jacket like a knife; every time I reef the foresail I blamed-near freeze me fingers; and all I get for it is a miserable five shillings a month!"

"You think you have it bad!" said a lady passenger. "I can’t sleep at night for the cold. Ladies on this ship don’t get as many blankets as the men. It isn’t fair!"

A Mexican sailor chimed in: "¡Chingado! I’m only getting half the wages of the Anglo seamen. We need plenty of food to keep us warm in this climate, and I’m not getting my share; the Anglos get more. And the worst of it is that the mates always give me orders in English instead of Spanish."

"I have more reason to complain than anybody," said an American Indian sailor. "If the palefaces hadn’t robbed me of my ancestral lands, I wouldn’t even be on this ship, here among the icebergs and arctic winds. I would just be paddling a canoe on a nice, placid lake. I deserve compensation. At the very least, the captain should let me run a crap game so that I can make some money."

The bosun spoke up: "Yesterday the first mate called me a ‘fruit’ just because I suck cocks. I have a right to suck cocks without being called names for it!"

It’s not only humans who are mistreated on this ship," interjected an animal-lover among the passengers, her voice quivering with indignation. "Why, last week I saw the second mate kick the ship’s dog twice!"

One of the passengers was a college professor. Wringing his hands he exclaimed,

"All this is just awful! It’s immoral! It’s racism, sexism, speciesism, homophobia, and exploitation of the working class! It’s discrimination! We must have social justice: Equal wages for the Mexican sailor, higher wages for all sailors, compensation for the Indian, equal blankets for the ladies, a guaranteed right to suck cocks, and no more kicking the dog!"

"Yes, yes!" shouted the passengers. "Aye-aye!" shouted the crew. "It’s discrimination! We have to demand our rights!"

The cabin boy cleared his throat.

"Ahem. You all have good reasons to complain. But it seems to me that what we really have to do is get this ship turned around and headed back south, because if we keep going north we’re sure to be wrecked sooner or later, and then your wages, your blankets, and your right to suck cocks won’t do you any good, because we’ll all drown."

But no one paid any attention to him, because he was only the cabin boy.

The captain and the mates, from their station on the poop deck, had been watching and listening. Now they smiled and winked at one another, and at a gesture from the captain the third mate came down from the poop deck, sauntered over to where the passengers and crew were gathered, and shouldered his way in amongst them. He put a very serious expression on his face and spoke thusly:

"We officers have to admit that some really inexcusable things have been happening on this ship. We hadn’t realized how bad the situation was until we heard your complaints. We are men of good will and want to do right by you. But – well – the captain is rather conservative and set in his ways, and may have to be prodded a bit before he’ll make any substantial changes. My personal opinion is that if you protest vigorously – but always peacefully and without violating any of the ship’s rules – you would shake the captain out of his inertia and force him to address the problems of which you so justly complain."

Having said this, the third mate headed back toward the poop deck. As he went, the passengers and crew called after him, "Moderate! Reformer! Goody-liberal! Captain’s stooge!" But they nevertheless did as he said. They gathered in a body before the poop deck, shouted insults at the officers, and demanded their rights: "I want higher wages and better working conditions," cried the able seaman. "Equal blankets for women," cried the lady passenger. "I want to receive my orders in Spanish," cried the Mexican sailor. "I want the right to run a crap game," cried the Indian sailor. "I don’t want to be called a fruit," cried the bosun. "No more kicking the dog," cried the animal lover. "Revolution now," cried the professor.

The captain and the mates huddled together and conferred for several minutes, winking, nodding and smiling at one another all the while. Then the captain stepped to the front of the poop deck and, with a great show of benevolence, announced that the able seaman’s wages would be raised to six shillings a month; the Mexican sailor’s wages would be raised to two-thirds the wages of an Anglo seaman, and the order to reef the foresail would be given in Spanish; lady passengers would receive one more blanket; the Indian sailor would be allowed to run a crap game on Saturday nights; the bosun wouldn’t be called a fruit as long as he kept his cocksucking strictly private; and the dog wouldn’t be kicked unless he did something really naughty, such as stealing food from the galley.

The passengers and crew celebrated these concessions as a great victory, but the next morning, they were again feeling dissatisfied.

"Six shillings a month is a pittance, and I still freeze me fingers when I reef the foresail," grumbled the able seaman. "I’m still not getting the same wages as the Anglos, or enough food for this climate," said the Mexican sailor. "We women still don’t have enough blankets to keep us warm," said the lady passenger. The other crewmen and passengers voiced similar complaints, and the professor egged them on.

When they were done, the cabin boy spoke up – louder this time so that the others could not easily ignore him:

"It’s really terrible that the dog gets kicked for stealing a bit of bread from the galley, and that women don’t have equal blankets, and that the able seaman gets his fingers frozen; and I don’t see why the bosun shouldn’t suck cocks if he wants to. But look how thick the icebergs are now, and how the wind blows harder and harder! We’ve got to turn this ship back toward the south, because if we keep going north we’ll be wrecked and drowned."

"Oh yes," said the bosun, "It’s just so awful that we keep heading north. But why should I have to keep cocksucking in the closet? Why should I be called a fruit? Ain’t I as good as everyone else?"

"Sailing north is terrible," said the lady passenger. "But don’t you see? That’s exactly why women need more blankets to keep them warm. I demand equal blankets for women now!"

"It’s quite true," said the professor, "that sailing to the north imposes great hardships on all of us. But changing course toward the south would be unrealistic. You can’t turn back the clock. We must find a mature way of dealing with the situation."

"Look," said the cabin boy, "If we let those four madmen up on the poop deck have their way, we’ll all be drowned. If we ever get the ship out of danger, then we can worry about working conditions, blankets for women, and the right to suck cocks. But first we’ve got to get this vessel turned around. If a few of us get together, make a plan, and show some courage, we can save ourselves. It wouldn’t take many of us – six or eight would do. We could charge the poop, chuck those lunatics overboard, and turn the ship to the south."

The professor elevated his nose and said sternly, "I don’t believe in violence. It’s immoral."

"It’s unethical ever to use violence," said the bosun.

"I’m terrified of violence," said the lady passenger.

The captain and the mates had been watching and listening all the while. At a signal from the captain, the third mate stepped down to the main deck. He went about among the passengers and crew, telling them that there were still many problems on the ship.

"We have made much progress," he said, "But much remains to be done. Working conditions for the able seaman are still hard, the Mexican still isn’t getting the same wages as the Anglos, the women still don’t have quite as many blankets as the men, the Indian’s Saturday-night crap game is a paltry compensation for his lost lands, it’s unfair to the bosun that he has to keep his cocksucking in the closet, and the dog still gets kicked at times.

"I think the captain needs to be prodded again. It would help if you all would put on another protest – as long as it remains nonviolent."

As the third mate walked back toward the stern, the passengers and the crew shouted insults after him, but they nevertheless did what he said and gathered in front of the poop deck for another protest. They ranted and raved and brandished their fists, and they even threw a rotten egg at the captain (which he skillfully dodged).

After hearing their complaints, the captain and the mates huddled for a conference, during which they winked and grinned broadly at one another. Then the captain stepped to the front of the poop deck and announced that the able seaman would be given gloves to keep his fingers warm, the Mexican sailor would receive wages equal to three-fourths the wages of an Anglo seaman, the women would receive yet another blanket, the Indian sailor could run a crap game on Saturday and Sunday nights, the bosun would be allowed to suck cocks publicly after dark, and no one could kick the dog without special permission from the captain.

The passengers and crew were ecstatic over this great revolutionary victory, but by the next morning they were again feeling dissatisfied and began grumbling about the same old hardships.

The cabin boy this time was getting angry.

"You damn fools!" he shouted. "Don’t you see what the captain and the mates are doing? They’re keeping you occupied with your trivial grievances about blankets and wages and the dog being kicked so that you won’t think about what is really wrong with this ship --– that it’s getting farther and farther to the north and we’re all going to be drowned. If just a few of you would come to your senses, get together, and charge the poop deck, we could turn this ship around and save ourselves. But all you do is whine about petty little issues like working conditions and crap games and the right to suck cocks."

The passengers and the crew were incensed.

"Petty!!" cried the Mexican, "Do you think it’s reasonable that I get only three-fourths the wages of an Anglo sailor? Is that petty?

"How can you call my grievance trivial? shouted the bosun. "Don’t you know how humiliating it is to be called a fruit?"

"Kicking the dog is not a ‘petty little issue!’" screamed the animal-lover. "It’s heartless, cruel, and brutal!"

"Alright then," answered the cabin boy. "These issues are not petty and trivial. Kicking the dog is cruel and brutal and it is humiliating to be called a fruit. But in comparison to our real problem – in comparison to the fact that the ship is still heading north – your grievances are petty and trivial, because if we don’t get this ship turned around soon, we’re all going to drown.

"Fascist!" said the professor.

"Counterrevolutionary!" said the lady passenger. And all of the passengers and crew chimed in one after another, calling the cabin boy a fascist and a counterrevolutionary. They pushed him away and went back to grumbling about wages, and about blankets for women, and about the right to suck cocks, and about how the dog was treated. The ship kept sailing north, and after a while it was crushed between two icebergs and everyone drowned.

© Ted Kaczynski, 1999

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How to reduce the size of a word document by optimizing the images in 5 easy steps

Very useful in case you get a huge .doc / .docx full of images

Posted in Misc, Tutorials

Some time ago, I got a word document with around 36 MB and a request to resize this file in order to be lighter as it be sent via e-mail. The first thing I thought was the obvious: Why not compact the file? I use 7-zip, which is the best compression utility I have ever used. It did not work as expected since the file went down to 30 MB.

The problem 

When I’ve opened the document I could see that it had only 10 pages, each with 2 images. So it could be possible the images were way too heavy, meaning, not optimized for internet or text documents. Do you know those people who take a picture using all megapixels of the digital camera and start to send those 4 MB files to everybody? This was more or less the case.

The solution

It’s simple: All we need is to reduce the dimensions of the images in the word document. But I am not saying about simply resizing, but editing. By editing we will be able to reduce every of those heavy images into something more acceptable. For that, I will use my favorite image visualizer, the XnView.

So, with the word document open:

  1. Right click on the image, select “Save as picture…”, define a name and save itd

  2. Open the saved image in the XnView

  3. Click on the menu “Image” and then “Resize” (or Shift + S)

  4. Choose the appropriated size and press Ok. Here is a bit tricky since it depends on the width/height the image actually should have according to your word document

  5. Save the image (File -> Save or Ctrl + S)

I’ve used 800 x 400 with this image and its size decreased from 7 MB to 65 KB. Now it is only about deleting the huge picture from the word document and add the new resized one. The result is a document with 78 KB, which is much better to send around the internet.

Note: This problem is going to happen if you insert the images by drag & drop. If you use the menu (Insert -> Pictures) the image will go through a process of optimization and the document will not be so heavy.

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How to drive a web developer crazy in 20 easy steps

Be sure this works all the time. But don't do it unless you want people to hate you

Posted in Misc, Career

Let me tell you something: Once upon a time, I wanted to be a biologist. That was a long time ago. Then things changed and I became a programmer. Not bad for someone who wanted to make research the whole day but did not have enough patience for the results.

Little I knew about the problems I would face as programmer. In addition, they are quite different when you move from desktop to web development. A very common problem for web developers is dealing with the design team. We understand they follow the requests of the client but in 100% of the cases they just think we can do miracles with their graphics while creating the website.

Rafael Mumme, from the .net magazine, wrote an amazing article about the 20 things that drive web developers crazy. They are so real that I’ve seen at least 20 of them in the last 2 projects I was working on:

  1. Add rounded corners to every single element on the page. While you're at it, add shadows and gradients too.
  2. Use the same PSD as a starting point for every project. Hide unused layers, but don't delete them. Make sure your PSD is at least 100MB.
  3. Use sIFR on every piece of text. Bonus points if you choose a font that's very similar to Arial.
  4. Never use the same dimensions on elements. Give each a different font size and colour (for black, use #000000, #111111, #121212 ...).
  5. Use a lot of breakout images with transparency. Web developers love graphics breaking out of boxes and columns. Bonus points if you add text wrapping around images.
  6. Add a modal window. At least half the site should happen in a modal window.
  7. Add a Facebook Connect button. It's just a button. How hard can it be to implement?
  8. Hide important PSD layers. Later, tell the developer that they missed a hidden element.
  9. Create buttons with rollover, active and clicked states. Then don't tell anyone you've done this. Create a separate file for them and send it on at the last minute. We love surprises.
  10. Tell the developer about some fancy functionality you read about somewhere on a blog. Then tell them to build it, because, if you saw it somewhere, clearly it's possible.
  11. Add a carousel. Oh yeah, and make sure it's a full-screen carousel.
  12. Use Lorem Ipsum instead of real copy. And make sure the reserved space is not big enough for real copy.
  13. Randomly merge PSD layers. Why not? (But don't merge too many. It'll take you further away from the magic 100MB target).
  14. Name all your files 'final', plus a date and a random letter (final-2010-12-01a.psd, final- 2010-12-01r.psd, final-2010-12-02b.psd).
  15. Don't worry about making changes once everything is signed off. When we're done with a page, send another, completely different version of it. And tell us that those changes are necessary and essential for user experience.
  16. Don't name or organize your PSD layers and folders.
  17. If you're designing a form, forget about error and success states. We'll squeeze that stuff in somewhere. We love guessing your intentions.
  18. When you're designing a website, don't invite any developers for brainstorming or design meetings. Make sure we're the last ones to see the layout. Show it to the client first, so it will be too late to introduce even a modicum of sanity into your work.
  19. We should hang out more, so during QA don't use bug tracking software. Come sit with us for an entire day and point out changes you want made over our shoulders. Use the opportunity for some impromptu design updates as well.
  20. And finally, this is the most important thing: don't learn anything about HTML, CSS, JavaScript or browser issues. The less you know about it, the more important we seem.

Image from ShinyShiny.tv

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What is a deadlock?

How many times have you faced a deadlock like this?

Posted in Misc, Fun

According to wikipedia, a deadlock is a situation where in two or more competing actions are each waiting for the other to finish, and thus neither ever does. It is often seen in a paradox like the "chicken or the egg". The concept of a Catch-22 is similar.

Or, if you prefer a visual explanation, this is a deadlock:

Deadlock

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