// Internet Duct Tape

Bridging the gap between business and technology

Posted in Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by engtech on October 16, 2006

Fellow WP blogger Mr. Angry has an excellent post on bridging the gap between the business wants and technological realities. The best products always come from people who are passionately working on something they will actually use, but that doesn’t put food in the fridge. Instead we’re left with two different camps — the People Who Know the Problem and People Who Can Solve the Problem. They speak different languages, and the act of translating is fraught with danger, frustration and attempted murder charges. Mr. Angry gives the following 5 steps:

  1. Play dumb and treat the person you disagree with as an expert (Socratic Irony). Eventually, they’ll talk themselves into a corner.
  2. Clearly articulate the central problem you’re trying to solve before trying to solve it.
  3. Avoid analysis paralysis. The right amount is however much it takes to execute the project successfully – don’t stop too soon and don’t go on too long.
  4. Articulate what is going to be delivered in a way that’s clear enough for the business side to understand yet precise enough for the development side to deliver on.
  5. Don’t let emotions rule when confronted by ignorance. Walking away is always the right response no matter how satisfying you think it might be to strangle them.

>> How does an angry analyst deal with difficult customers?

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Life in the Trenches – Getting Out Alive (by guest blogger AJ Valliant)

Posted in Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by Guest Blogger on October 13, 2006

This post is by a guest blogger.

This is my first guest column by friend and fellow blogger AJ Valliant. AJ is a regular writer at Beats Entropy. I wasn’t expecting something of this quality, and I’m sure you will enjoy it.

In an inexplicably poor lapse of judgment (ET — one of many), engtech has recruited me to write a column relating my experience as a former arts student trying to make a living in the cold, heartless and geeky IT world. I can only assume this is a misplaced gesture of friendship, or some repressed blogocidal urge; either way I agreed and will attempt to drop some knowledge. I do internal technical support and problem co-ordination for one of the largest corporations in the world with no background other than a B.A. in psychology.


How to be a successful Web2.0 company

Posted in Startups and Business, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on September 28, 2006

In “Web Too.Many” I lambasted and flamed the Web 2.0 bubble of start-ups that are receiving far too much attention. One of the criticisms readers had was that it’s easy to flame, but harder to suggest improvements (very true). AU Interactive has a much better post on the subject than I could ever write where he covers 10 rules of what’s needed to be successful as Web 2.0.

  1. Make it easy
  2. Professional visual design and copy text
  3. Open data formats (plus RSS everywhere)
  4. Test it
  5. Rapid prototype (release early and often)
  6. Do something special
  7. Use open frameworks (corollary to #3)
  8. Plan for scalability
  9. Keep abreast of developing trends
  10. A list of what does and doesn’t work in social software

Looks good to me. It still suffers from the assumption that “popular == successful” and leaves out the so-basic-yet-so-crucial:

    • Make money

      >> 10 Things That Will Make Or Break Your Website

      Startup Lessons – Viral and Scaling

      Posted in Digg, Startups and Business, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on September 22, 2006

      In the Art of Distribution, Guy Kawasaki also covers distribution vs viral (you want both) and scaling which is a *huge* issue for start-ups.

      A small case study on viral. I write an article about a web service called ScheduleWorld because it can do something I want to do: synchronize all my apps with Google Calendar. The owner and I were no way involved before I wrote about it. I wanted to do something, found his site by search, found it could do what I wanted, and wrote a guide about it as link bait for my blog.


      Startup Lessons – Distribution Channels

      Posted in Links, Startups and Business, Technology by engtech on September 22, 2006

      Guy Kawasaki covers one of the most basic premises that all engineers forget about: distribution channels. We get our heads down and so focused on getting these things out of the fab bug free (for hardware, software is more flexible), that we might forget things like “do we have an operations team?” and “why would a Huge Market trust someone little like us?”.

      It can be summed up with two things:

      1. It’s all about the money, and only the money.
      2. It has to be win/win.

      UPDATE: I wrote a response to the Art of Distribution expanding upon viral and scaling.

      >> The Art of Distribution

      Web Too.Many: The Internet has no clothes (Bubble 2.0, not porn)

      Posted in Startups and Business, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on September 20, 2006

      Read/Write Web has an article called the Social Bookmarking Faceoff where they compare several start-ups that do social bookmarking (but they aren’t the first). I didn’t read it. You don’t need to read it either. Why? Because the stats speak for themselves:

      On Friday I hit the front page of del.icio.us.

      • Took about 100 people bookmarking article for it to make the front page.
      • Generated 762 views on the first day, 1566 views from Friday to Tuesday.

      On Tuesday I hit the front page of furl.net (#2 behind del.icio.us based on Technorati, #3 behind del.ico.us and StumbleUpon based on Alexa — stats from RWW)

      • Took about 10 people bookmarking the article for it to make the front page.
      • Generated 21 views.

      Conclusion: there’s barely room for a number one social bookmarking app, not to mention a number two.

      I’m the first to admit that’s a very weak analysis, but with some poking around there’s other evidence.

      The evidence mounts, plus fun games for the whole family…

      Gwabs Desktop Battler

      Posted in Games, Startups and Business, Technology by engtech on September 09, 2006

      gwabs desktop battlerIt looks like Cambrian House is doing pretty well with their concept of Crowded-source Software. They already have several products developed.

      One of the products is an online computer to computer fighting game called Gwabs. I’m impressed with how rapidly they go from idea to development. I decided to spend the $9.95 and support them (hey, they gave me an X-Box and a t-shirt). The pre-order deal looks pretty good, as it gives you an unlimited free play account, plus a pimp cane. Talk about knowing your demographic.

      After the break, a trailer of the game in action.


      Building a Culture for Recruitment

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on September 06, 2006

      Joel has another great article on the subject of hiring. He notes the conundrum that the people you want to have working for you are rarely the ones who are available on the job market. His major points are:


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      Blogging as Unofficial Corporate Representation

      Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Links, Technology, Workhacks and High Tech Life by engtech on August 11, 2006

      John Battelle has a good piece up where he transcribes a recent conference panel with Matt Cutts from Google, Jeremy Zawodny from Yahoo!, Niall Kennedy from MSN, and Gary Price from Ask. Good points were made about how company bloggers become the voice from the company – intentional or not.

      Blogging has disrupted the media gatekeepers. Anyone can be a gatekeeper with the click of a button. Audiences are smaller, more dispersed, and more specific. As people take the media into their own hands there has been a positive backlash from corporate “public relations” as they scramble to find the new media sources: bloggers.

      People blog because they have something to say, they want something to do, or to generate attention. As the mainstream media shifts bloggers go from reporting news to being news (case in point, this post). This is where the backlash turns from positive to negative because rarely do they want or desire the attention from “being news”.

      “My exercise in figuring out where the line was repeatedly crossing it and then be told that I crossed it. Lawyers have come into my office three times.” — Zawodny.

      Is that the position a blogger wants to be in with their employer?

      >> John Battelle’s Searchblog: Blogging for the search engines

      CrunchBoard – Another Job Board for the Tech Industry

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Technology by engtech on August 04, 2006

      TechCrunch, a notable blog about start-ups, has created a forum for high tech job postings. It’s targetted towards software / web2.0 start-ups, as you can see from the categories: Admin/Office, Design, Executive, Other, Product, Programming, Sales/Marketing, Venture Capital.

      They’re charging companies $200 to post a job listing. It’ll be interesting to see if this takes off, as it is missing key features like sorting by location, search inside postings, etc. The $200 fee to post should guarantee quality posts. Being part of the “CrunchNetwork” should guarantee it enough page views to be worth the posting fee.

      At the moment there is only one non-California job posted by a company in New Zealand.

      I think perhaps they launched the announcement too soon. It is functional but it is missing many key features to even get listed with the competition, not to mention differentiate itself from them. As one of the commenters on the TechCrunch announcement said: “It’s 2006!”.

      >> CrunchBoard – The Job Board for the Tech Industry

      >> Techcrunch � Introducing the CrunchBoard Job Site

      Emurse.com online resume builder

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Technology by engtech on August 01, 2006

      It looks like there’s a pretty slick web app on the market at emurse.com.

      The blog looks like it’s under active development and the feature list looks complete:

      • Create resumes using expert advice and an easy to use builder
      • Style your resumes and download in DOC, PDF, RTF, ODT, HTML or Text
      • Manage multiple resumes.
      • Make changes simply and easily.
      • Send your resume out via email, fax or ground.
      • Track where you’ve sent each resume, online or off.
      • Stay on top with reminders, updates and thank you notes.
      • Create a resume webpage, http://yourname.emurse.com
      • Create resume sharing groups with friends and co-workers

      There’s no indication of a usage fee, so enjoy it while the enjoying is good. This is a market space where even a piss poor application seems to turn a buck.

      >> emurse.com

      >> screencast walkthrough of using the site

      How to Interview a Programmer // The Curmudgeon Coder

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on June 21, 2006

      Admittedly the author’s original title was “How to Interview a Java Programmer” but I thought it was applicable to any kind of programming job.

      • what is a bit and a byte
      • primative data types and their sizes
      • data structures (Map, Set, List, Array, Tree, Graph, Stack, Queue)
      • basic OO terminology (polymorphism, encapsulation, interface, inheiratance,
      • overloading, overriding, pass by referrence, object, class, abstract class)
      • database experience (relationships, common database problems, and joins)
      • software design (coupling, cohesion, design patterns, tiered architecture)
      • write code

      This is a pretty good guideline for any programming job, even verification with modern HVLs using OO methodology.Note: he mentions using the “Reverse a string in place” question, which I already covered here.

      >> The Curmudgeon Coder

      >> Part 2

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      The Art of Recruiting, Part II // Guy Kawasaki

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on June 17, 2006

      Guy Kawasaki is hosting a really good article describing how to run handling interviewing for a tech company. The best point I tihnk it makes is find out how your best interviewers are and have them interview everyone. “Best” in this case is “measured by the retention rate and the eventual performance of the people we hired”.

      I cannot stress this enough:

      A curious thing about our interviews: We were VERY hard on the candidates (particularly the Tech interviews), but instead of resenting it, the candidates uniformly were impressed and wanted to work for us. They knew that if they joined, they’d be joining a top-notch R&D group.

      Signum sine tinnitu–by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Recruiting, Part II

      How to Hire Talent // Life of a Software Program Manager

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on June 17, 2006

      lifeofaprogrammanager talks about some of the issues involved with hiring talent. Here is my take on his suggestions from the interviewee's point of view:

      • Evaluate Problem Solving. Given a problem where you don't know a solution, how do you go about solving it? When you're in the interview chair this can throw you for a loop (oh no! I don't know the answer!), but what is key is to recognize they're questioning your thought process. Start asking THEM questions.
      • Hire Smart People. All other things being equal, they are going to hire the smartest person who meets the minimum criteria.
      • Admitting Ignorance. If you don't know the answer to something, then admit it rather than try to spin wildly.
      • Communication Counts. You will probably be asked questions based on projects you have worked on in your previous jobs. The interviews may not have the same background, so one thing you can practice before an interview is brushing up on how you would explain these projects to someone who is not familiar with them. It is always a good idea to keep a library of the publically available technical briefs / product documents associated with things you have worked on.
      • Career Goals are Good. Knowing what you want and having an idea of how you are going to get to where you want to be gives a clear picture to the interviews that you are serious about your profession.
      • Another tactic that I recommend is differentiating yourself from the other candidates with the questions you ask the interviewer. Someone who asks a lot of interesting questions is going to stand out more than someone who asks nothing.

       Life of a Software Program Manager: How to Hire Talent

      Hiring: The Lake Wobegon Strategy // Official Google Research Blog

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on June 11, 2006

      This is on the flip side of what I usually cover on the Career Search side of things, but it talks a little bit about Google's philosophy when hiring new employees.

      • New hires have to be better than the mean of the existing employees (so that the mean is always increasing or at least staying level, this is hard to do if you don't have a good means of generating statistical data on existing employees and candidates)
        • An interesting aside, good people want to work with good people and bringing in someone who isn't at par can effect the existing workforce.
      • Hiring manager shouldn't be responsible for choosing the candidate because they will almost always rather have someone than no one. Google takes the approach of finding good people first then finding projects they will fit in to once they have been hired.

      Official Google Research Blog: Hiring: The Lake Wobegon Strategy

      Developing 1.0 // Rands In Repose

      Posted in Links, Startups and Business, Technology by engtech on June 11, 2006

      One of my favorite comments is when he talks about having a great programmer on the team who is busy building infrastructure when they're trying to ship a 1.0 product. Whether or not the product exists will be the sole thing that defines if the company will still be around in the future, and you really have to wrap your head around the "do it right, but do it fast" no frills mentality. Which, if you think about it, is a better way of working in general. How much extra work do you generate for yourself? Things to think about.

      1.0 is developing the first version of a new product. It's what all those start-ups are busily doing right now. They're working on some 1.0 idea that's good enough that a handful of bright people will forgo their lives in support of the chance of being right… SEE, we had a great idea… We're bazillionaires and we were right.

      The Rands 1.0 Hierarchy is an upside down pyramid of Product, Process, People and Pitch that can topple at any moment.

      • Pitch – the Great Idea
        • Fact #1: You're in a hurry. You're a fool if you think you have exclusive rights to your pitch.
      • People – the people to build 1.0 but more importantly your engineering culture
        • Fact #2: No one is indispensable. A great way to topple your fledging pyramid is to hire folks who are not getting the product done with a sense of urgency. Get 1.0 done and then worry what's next.
      • Process – how things are done
        • Fact #3: Process defines communication. It doesn't have to be good, it doesn't even have to be universally agreed upon on, it just has to be stuck in a place where every can see it.
        • Fact #4: Each layer shapes and moves those near it. If your pyramid is not constantly adjusting to keep itself upright something's wrong.
      • Product – something to give to a neutral party
        • Fact #5: You don't have a company until you have a product. This state of constant change is the leading cause of start-up burnout and it's also the reason you've got to get that product out. The perspective of the neutral party is essential validation because you're nuts.
        • Fact #6: The lower the failure, the higher the cost. If the pitch is wrong then you're screwed.
        • Fact #7: What you're really building in 1.0 is a lasting, interesting culture which, if you're lucky, continues to produces great products.

      Rands In Repose: 1.0

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      Bloggers Need Not Apply — why you’ll fail the job interview because of your blog

      This is an interesting article on blogs from the point of view of people who are interviewing candidates. They talk about how blogs can be easily found by doing a search on the candidates name and how some candidates clearly mention their blog in their resume.

      While the article doesn’t go into any true detail, it does cover some salient points like:

      • how blogging gives interviewers more information of a personal nature then they would normally have during a job interview
      • how the focus of the blog may skew their opinion of the candidates’ experience and/or interests
      • how even if the blog is sanitary when talking about previous workplaces, co-workers and dirty laundry that there is the implied risk that may not always be the case
      • how there is an underlying suspicion that time will be wasted maintaining their blog instead of working

      The overall gist is that interviewers feel that having a blog at all is a negative on a candidate’s application.
      Chronicle Careers: 7/8/2005: Bloggers Need Not Apply

      Related Posts

      Be prepared for interview questions

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Technology by engtech on May 02, 2006

      When going on job interviews, keep in mind that if it is on your resume, then they will ask you questions about it. Have a friend with a similar technical background take a superficial glance at your resume and say what stands out. During the interview process you will most likely have someone who is only glancing at it and will only ask the questions that most readily jump out.

      The corollary to this is that if you are listing your achievements based on perceived importance rather than chronological order, then they you will get asked questions about something that was not fresh in your mind. Either be prepared by reviewing these older achievements, or by gracefully redirecting the question to a more recent projects (which might be unlikely to happen in a nervous situation).

      Another common theme is that they are going to ask you questions from 10,000 feet. On large projects where you may know the specifics of one area very well, they will ask you overall questions where you had better be prepared to say something to explain the general and work the way down to the narrow features you are comfortable with. Keep in mind that when you are being interviewed by someone, the focus of their interview will most likely be on the areas THEY are comfortable with, not the areas that you are comfortable with.

      If you are going through a cyclical interview process you may start with a technical interview with someone in a similar position and then work your way up the hierarchy of command. As you move up each level, the questions will be more general and you have to be prepared to discuss things at a higher level than what may be specifically required for your job position.
      Some questions for ASIC Verification positions that have thrown me for a loop because I wasn't prepared:

      • Describe the interfaces on project X? Have to explain it from a systems point of view.
      • What process geometry did you use with your last project? Have to understand the big picture and the general flow of semiconductor manufacturing.
      • What fab did your company use with your last project?
      • If the company is a start up, be prepared to answer some questions about why you want to work for them.

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      Peter’s New Jobs and BrainHunter — Finding Work in Ottawa

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on April 26, 2006

       I've been trying out Peter's New Jobs for a week and I'm very impressed with the service.

      A tool designed for job searchers

      Currently monitoring over 8,000 web sites, we scan each site, identify the NEW jobs that have been just posted since the previous day, record the link and job title and package them into a clean, easy to read email and send it to you each day, Monday to Saturday. It's that simple.

      Don't waste your time

      Just think about trying to track 100 of your favourite companies. Spending only 3 minutes per site means almost 5 hours/day just checking for jobs. PNJ tracks over 8,000 sites, the equivalent of over 350 hours of searching and packages it all up into a neat summary that you can review in less than 30 minutes each day.

      The "hidden" job market

      Many of the jobs captured by PNJ never appear on the public jobs boards like Monster or Workopolis since companies must pay to post on them. In today's market many companies simply rely on word of mouth. PNJ gives you the double advantage of tracking this hidden job market and knowing about them as soon as they are posted.

      Only new jobs make the list

      There's nothing more frustrating than wasting your time pursuing old job postings that you mistake for new jobs. That's something we all understand and hate. Our daily list includes only new jobs posted since the previous day! If the job is on our list, you can be certain that it's a new posting for the company, there's a job description and that it's less than a day old.

      One thing I've noticed is they get a lot of jobs from BrainHunter.

      Brainhunter is dedicated to helping employers and job seekers make best-fit connections. We are a one-stop shop specializing in providing high-growth sectors with pre-screened, top-tier contract and permanent hires.


      Brainhunter.com list of engineering job skills

      Posted in Hiring, Job Interviews and Resume Resources, Links, Technology by engtech on April 26, 2006

      When you set up an account on BrainHunter.com, this is the list of "engineering skills" you can choose from.

      • ANSYS
      • API/ANSI
      • APQP
      • ASIC
      • ASIC Design
      • ASIC Verification
      • ATM
      • ActiveX
      • Aerospace Industry
      • Air Photo Interpretation
      • Airborne Geophysics
      • AutoCAD
      • Automation / Controls
      • Automotive Industry
      • BiCMOS
      • Bidding / Quoting / Estimating
      • Budgeting / Finance
      • Building / Construction / Commissioning
      • C/C++
      • CAD/CAM
      • CATIA
      • CMOS
      • Cadence Design Tools
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil / Structural Engineering
      • Computer Automated Design / Drafting
      • Contract Experience
      • Core Logging / Field Mapping
      • DSP
      • Datamine/Arcview/Geolog/Geosoft
      • Design Engineering
      • Documentation / Reports / Procedures
      • EMI
      • Electrical / Electronics Engineering
      • Environment, Health & Safety
      • FEA
      • FIRMWARE
      • FMEA
      • GIS Mapping
      • Geology/Industrial Minerals
      • Geology/Petroleum/Tar Sands
      • Geophysics
      • Geophysics/Electromagnetics (EM)
      • Geophysics/Gravity/Radiometrics
      • Geophysics/Induced Polarization (IP)
      • Geophysics/Magnetics(MAG)
      • Geophysics/Well Logging
      • Gold / Diamonds / Base Metals
      • Gold / Diamonds / Rear Earth Minerals
      • HDL Design Tools
      • HTML
      • Hardware Engineering
      • Hydroprocessing
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Java
      • Jedec Standards
      • LINUX
      • MEMS
      • MS Projectintranet
      • Maintenance Engineering
      • Management / Supervision
      • Manufacturing / Fabrication
      • Material Handling
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Mentor IC Design Tools
      • Mining / Geological Engineering
      • Mining / Mineral Processing Engineering
      • NC
      • Network Engineering
      • OOD
      • Oracle
      • PCB
      • PERL
      • PLC
      • PPAP
      • PRO – E
      • Packaging
      • Petrochemical Industry
      • Pharmaceutical Industry
      • Planning / Scheduling
      • Plant Experience
      • Plastics Industry
      • Process Control / Improvement
      • Procurement / Purchasing / Logistics
      • Project Management
      • Quality Control / Quality Assurance
      • REALTIME
      • RF Design
      • RF Test
      • Remote Sensing
      • Research & Development
      • SONET
      • SQL
      • Sales / Marketing / Technical Assistance
      • Scripting
      • Simulation
      • Site / Field Experience
      • Software Engineering
      • Specification
      • Standards / ISO / QS
      • Steel Industry
      • Stress Analysis
      • Structural failure analysis
      • Surpac / MapInfo / Gemcom / Discovery
      • Synopsys Design Tools
      • Systems Engineering
      • Teaming Concepts
      • Telecommunications
      • Testing / Evaluation / Analysis
      • Training / Development
      • Trouble-Shooting  / Problem Solving
      • UNIX
      • VHDL
      • VLSI
      • Verilog
      • Visual Basic
      • Visual C++