In the first post I wrote on this incarnation of this blog I talked about why I had stopped blogging before: because the inertia of other blogging systems made it too hard for me. Then I came upon blot.im (where this blog is hosted) and I found it was as easy as dropping a text file in a folder in Dropbox. Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking about this (shocking I know).
The guys at Basecamp came up with a very simple way to blog as part of their Hey email service. It’s called Hey World and it’s as simple as sending an email to email@example.com from the email composer. Needless to say it’s not full-fledged blogging like many would think of but boy is it a ridiculously simple way to remove friction from writing online. If you want to throw out some ideas it can’t get any easier than that.
March 7, 2021
Not only did Apple make up for their stupid mistake of initially taking Charlie Brown Christmas off of TV but they did one better by putting it on the only network with no commercials. Good job Apple.
March 6, 2021
Today on macstories.net they released their list of Best Apps of the Year and they awarded Best Mac App to the new code editor Nova from Panic. In his notes Alex Guyot calls out the preferences window in Nova and how nice it is compared to Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code. He notes how nice it is to have a graphical settings window compared to Sublime Text and VSC which require you to edit JSON settings files by hand:
On that note, just having a Preferences window is a minor victory — most other popular code editors these days don’t even bother to support such a simple macOS affordance as this. Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code, the two popular editors I’ve most recently coded with before Nova, both store settings as a series of JSON files which you can edit to change settings. I wish I was joking.
I can’t speak about Sublime Text (though I hear that one does require editing JSON files) but in Visual Studio Code that is not required. There is a settings tab that looks like this (here I’m searching for any settings that have the word “keys”):
Huh. This doesn’t look like JSON to me. Does it look like a Mac app? No, I have to admit it doesn’t but that isn’t something that really bothers me as I use Visual Studio Code because it’s cross-platform and that’s more important to me than a native preferences window. Just makes me curious the last time Alex actually used Visual Studio Code. I can’t recall a time literally in years where I’ve had to edit JSON settings by hand.
March 6, 2021
Software Development Interviewing in the 21st Century
I came across this video while looking at videos about French Bulldogs. Turns out Tony is a software developer and while he has some videos about his Frenchie he also covers tech topics. This particular video is about finding (or not finding as it were) software jobs in 2020 but his rant near the start about how tech interviews go really made me laugh but he’s right, it’s really gotten out of control.
For most people looking for jobs you’re not going to remember (if you ever learned in the first place) how to write data structures or analyze algorithms using “Big O notation”. Yet these types of questions are happening during many interviews. This leads to many people “learning” just enough to answer the question vs. really knowing what they’re talking about.
Here is a perfect example:
It is a pretty abstract and very esoteric concept that the vast majority of people will never hear about, or care about. BUT it is known as being a common coding interview question, and therefore it’s one of the things I have spent some time learning all about.
The author is correct, it is pretty abstract and it is very esoteric. It’s taught in computer science programs as part of a “proper education” but the reality is most people won’t need to do this type of analysis in the majority of programming jobs (just as those same people won’t be writing their own data structures from scratch). So why is it such a common coding interview question? No idea, it’s just one of the many terrible ways companies attempt to do interviews these days.
Don’t get me wrong. If the job requires this type work then find qualified candidates by asking these questions. But if you’re conducting interviews for coding e-commerce sites? You’re going to be better off asking more appropriate questions to that vs. trying to trick people. You’re also going to find better candidates because you’re going to (hopefully) ask questions appropriate to the job vs. some Ivory Tower ideal of computer science.
I remember one interview I did for a company in Chicago that is an SAP Hybris consultancy. I was expected to sit and code in real-time with two guys sitting staring at me. What did they want me to code? Code to generate the Fibonacci sequence. This was a company writing Java code for e-commerce sites using Hybris and these guys were asking someone with decades of programming experience to do a college assignment, while staring at me, expecting me to use an IDE I had no experience with. It was ridiculous. This is not how you conduct interviews. Ask me how I would solve a performance problem. Ask me how I would design an object hierarchy for some new feature. Don’t ask me to sit in front of you doing a college assignment.
In my own experience I’ve found it much more useful to ask pretty easy questions with a few harder ones to make sure you’re not bullshitting me. Then I concentrate on character questions to see how you’ll fit in the organization and I find out more about you and how you would solve various types of problems. Interviews are tough for everyone. Don’t make them harder and lose good candidates by doing stupid interviews.
March 6, 2021
Socializing in the COVID era
Came across a couple of quotes from this article that I found very interesting in regards to how we’re expected to socialize in the COVID era. The article is about college life but this extends all the same to “adult life” where so many are working from home now and all interaction is done remotely. Zoom and its friends are fine for a lot but when it comes to doing social things with them I’m not a fan.
There’s also the lack of spontaneity — chatting over Zoom requires setting aside time, which is already in short supply for many students. Grabbing a quick coffee on the way to class or running into an acquaintance in the library is off the table. “At school, I could see someone, and even if we talk for five minutes walking from one place to another, it fits better into your schedule,” Marszalek says. “Now, if I want to talk to someone I have to text them, which is effort, and then schedule a time when we FaceTime.”
For one, when you’re spending a full day on Zoom, socializing on Zoom doesn’t always feel like a break — it feels like yet another thing you have to do on Zoom. Emma Marszalek, a junior at George Washington University who spent the semester at home in New Jersey, hasn’t attended the movie screenings, trivia nights, guest performances, and other virtual events that her school has put on. “As cute as it is… I can’t bring myself to go onto another Zoom meeting,” she says.
We’ve tried to have virtual happy hours and such at work but it just doesn’t work. It feels forced and taking in part in something like that just feels plastic and fake. Looking forward to the day when we can gather in person again. It’s hard to believe we’re a year into this. Feels much, much longer.
January 18, 2021