LinkedIn – Lesson #1

My battle against recruiters continues with a strange and random request from LinkedIn.

I consider rejecting unsolicited LinkedIn mail my sisyphean punishment for some mysterious crime I did not commit. An ever-present tide of human ignorance washing against the grainy shore of my day, snuffing out what little hope I had left that the entire population was not – at some fundamental level – simply a dipshit.

It is no wonder, then, that I grew weary of replying to people who couldn’t do their job. The ever-persistent advance of this multi-headed hydra was eroding my enthusiasm for being a twat. Apathy was winning.

Another day, another email, and I replied with a terse “contact the manager”. A little while later, I was surprised to find the following response:

> Who is the GM?

Now, I’m no expert on LinkedIn (hell, I rarely venture from my own profile), but I certainly know how to click a link when I see one. Several, in fact. Sometimes in a row. So when the information you’re after is fewer clicks away than finding your inbox, you should probably just take the easier option. But if this is something you need to be told, I guess there is probably a greater concern here, right?

Instead of giving him a real answer, I decided to be a complete dick about it and go ahead and create this handy little video tutorial. Take note, LinkedIn trawlers.

I think my passion has returned.


Bad Reviews: Going to Brown Town

Signor Marrone e inaffidabile

I found a can at the back of the fridge with an expiry date of 26th of October, so I did what any reasonable person would do – I drank it.

I stumbled across this can of instant coffee while raiding a friend’s fridge. Although I’m no stranger to ready-made coffee, I was genuinely intrigued as to why someone felt the need to import a (canned) dairy product when we have so many cows right here in Australia more than willing to squirt out a few quarts of deliciousness.

Despite all recommendations to the contrary, I went ahead and decided to drink it.

The Packaging

Except maybe the words "trust me"
Nothing says ‘trust me’ like a full-faced beard. Nothing.

The can itself is what initially piqued my interest. The packaging features a stereotypically fat Mafioso winking suggestively out from the label, holding what is presumably a well-made espresso. Nothing says “quality coffee” quite like sticking it in an aluminium can and shipping it 7000 kilometres across the ocean.

Our protagonist (Mr Brown) is the visual amalgamation of several of the biggest Italian stereotypes of the last 100 years. I imagine a very jaded graphic designer typing “terrible Italian clichés” into Google images and shoehorning in as many results as possible.

The Opening

You be the judge!
Bad coffee or toilet water? You be the judge.

There’s always something very off-putting when you lift the tab and don’t hear that refreshing KSSHHH sound associated with (most) other canned drinks. Judging by how much the can expanded upon opening, there was a whole lot of trans-continental pressure inside. Were they keeping something out, or keeping something in.

A precautionary peek inside revealed the familiar brown hue of cheap coffee/watery diarrhoea. I gave it a tentative sniff and was relieved to find that it at least smelled (mostly) like coffee. I figured it was probably best in the long-term to pour this out into a glass. Should things turn bad, I’d at least be able to see why.

Mr Brown *was* one of the Reservoir Dogs
Seemingly innocuous so far. Laugh it up, Mr Brown.

The Tasting

Ignoring the floating white flecks of (probably) milk-powder on top, I took a mouthful of the very-watery coffee drink and committed it to my digestive system.

Past the lips, over the tongue, through the gag reflex, and down the gullet.

The drink tastes like it wants to taste like coffee. I was even taken aback a little by the apparent quality. Once it washed past my tongue, though, all semblance of arabica had vanished, leaving nothing but the stale taste of week-old soggy cigarette butts and dirty pipes. I repeated the feat to ensure that I was not mistaken. I was not.

I choked down the rest of this coffee/cigarette drink out of spite.

The Verdict

Honestly, given the wide array of instant coffee out there, I’m surprised that bad instant coffee drinks exist at all. Moreover, why are they being imported? We Australians are perfectly capable of churning out abysmal products without overseas help.

I did enjoy the experience of drinking what is normally a two-step breakfast for me – coffee and cigarettes. Mr Brown is probably working on his pitch to Sanitarium’s Up and Go team right now. A true meal replacement for champions.

Signor Marrone e inaffidabile
Italians – Made in Taiwan


It didn’t have to be like this

Welcome to Cancer Council Victoria’s latest campaign against cervical cancer.

Although I enjoyed the absurdity of the video, a few questions remain:

  1. What was the author trying to convey with their selection of background music? Romance? Sleaze? Seems too slow and deliberate for just a bit of the old in-out.
  2. Why did Joey McStudsalot go straight for the prize? Cool your jets, soldier, you’ve got all night. We’re listening to the same soundtrack, right? There’s nothing more embarassing than finishing before the album, let alone the first song.
  3. What the hell is powering her panties? I’m guessing some type of bio-fuel. I bet there are some sweet government subsidies on that. Probably renewable, too.
  4. Is Nanna Likestowatch dead? Alive? Part of an experimental ASIO project? Whichever it is, it seems like her granddaughter’s hamfisted attempt at getting laid has bothered her enough to pipe-up. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to unhave sex more than my dead grandmother telling me about my potentially-festering loins.
  5. Is McStudsalot a robot? Or at least a futuristic fusion of man and machine? Then how the hell is he still raring to go after getting a lecture on his girlfriend’s nethers by a photo on a mantelpiece? I would’ve tipped off down the street, underwear in one hand and a phonecall to the Scooby Gang in the other.

Hopefully these are all answers we can get straight from the cutting room floor. I expect no fewer than two follow-up videos to this: one from the Erectile Dysfunction Centre, and the other as an episode of C.O.P.S.


“EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY”: Advice to recruiters everywhere

I get a lot of email from recruiters. Mostly because I hate recruiters and the fact they are a necessary evil, but also because they usually contact me by doing scummy, impolite/disrespectful things, like calling me at my workplace on my company phone, or emailing me when I’ve clearly stated not to.

Given the volume of mail I receive is not looking to wane any time soon, I’ve decided to start handing out unsolicited advice to any recruiters ignoring my previous (polite) requests.

You have been warned.

Hi Tim,

I came across your profile on LinkedIn and wanted to discuss a Senior Developer / Leader role I am recruiting for.

The client industry is education and is the largest provider of online distant education. They are looking for a Senior/Team Leader PHP Developer with strong Linux and ideally Drupal knowledge.
You will be leading the development of our next generation of desktop, mobile, social, and email-based online solutions.

Reporting to the Head of E-commerce, you will be working closely with our creative team of graphic designers, user experience architects and analysts to develop a state-of-the-art online student acquisition initiative.
The key deliverables/outcomes for the role is the following:

–       Leading a transition from a Microsoft.NET based environment to an open source environment, specifically Drupal on LAMP.
–       Delivering a Drupal site with approximately 500-1000 products (various types ofeducation courses), on around 20 themes, running on desktop and mobile.
–       Building and leading a highly scalable off-shore team.
The client is based in North Sydney and are looking to pay around the 120k mark.

Would you be interested in this position?
If you are not interested but know someone who would be ideal for this position then please forward on my details and should I place your referred candidate then I will give you $250 worth of vouchers (Terms Apply).

I will look forward to hearing from you.

Many Thanks

First up, this is not a personal email. I get literally dozens of these emails a week. Consider yourself more a sweepstake “winner”. Except that instead of a half-baked and probably flavourless meringue, you get my vitriol mixed in with unsolicited advice. Once again, not personal. I’m just honestly sick of being contact when I’ve explicitly told LinkedIn I’m not interested. Ever.

So, a couple of things:

1) I have my “contact if…” settings on LinkedIn set to everything but “send me a job”. I’m not sure why you don’t see this, but I suppose proper etiquette would suggest that you would check. If one didn’t realise that this setting existed, I think that one should probably play with LinkedIn a little more before using it as a significant workplace tool.

2) As this email is more than likely a blanket mail-merge/LinkedIn spam clusterfuck, I can probably ignore any semblance of sincerity or professionalism. Noone came across my profile. Well, I probably did a little after I finished writing it, but other than that, noone is manually reading this. I once had “Code Monkey” on my LinkedIn resume for 18 months and STILL got job offers. Any company willing to hire some dipshit who doesn’t take their own job seriously doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously themselves.

And now, the job:
1) “Largest provider of online distant education”? They aren’t in Sydney. If they are, they aren’t the largest provider of anything. Except probably bullshit. At least half a dozen international Universities do this (and better), not to mention the FREE SERVICES that are kicking around right now that are growing at mind-boggling rates with FREE CONTENT that doesn’t run on some rubbish platform. Speaking of which;

2) Drupal. I don’t really use it. Actually, most people don’t really use it. It’s kind of like WordPress. A handful of people are “good” at it. A significant number of people can tinker around and “get it to work”. Everyone else just copies and pastes bits and pieces of code until the damn thing stops reporting errors. If this site is the “largest provider of [whatever]”, they don’t need someone who ‘might’ know Drupal, they’re going to want the half a dozen people who know how the platform works so they don’t fuck up someone’s life with a shitty web service. Not to mention the volume of work that they think they can rollout.

3) You can’t be eCommerce and eLearning. Pick one or stop fucking over your userbase.

4) I don’t know what the hell “highly scalable off-shore team” means, but it certainly sounds like a whole bunch of industry wank for “cheapest chumps around”. Highly scalable? My database is highly scalable. My web site is highly scalable. My team is… people. We don’t scale. The point of the word is not just to indicate growth, but to indicate the flexibility of operating at any size. In this case, it sounds like the “highly scalable team” would have to also be happy with lining up for a dole cheque if the “team” can’t hit their presumably unreachable deadline.

Now that I’ve spent this time being a complete dickhead, here’s some advice so you don’t start Mondays with arseholes like me (and maybe actually get useful candidates):

1) Don’t use the mass-mailer. If you do, and LinkedIn is sending garbage to people like me, complain to LinkedIn. They make their money from you, not me. You will have the added bonus of being able to filter out shitty candidates, or people who ARE NOT candidates (i.e. me)

2) Don’t pretend to be contacting me directly if you aren’t. Specifically, don’t pretend to be /writing/ to me if you aren’t. I can tell that shit was copy/pasted from Word. Speaking from a programmer’s perspective, they want to be taken seriously. They also have a rainman-esque ability to notice things you probably ignore. Shitty, insincere emails is a double-whammy.

The job:
1) If you’re going to piss all over people’s bullshit-radars, at least give some indication as to who the company is. Noone cares about “largest manufacturer of devon” unless they can say “largest manufacturer of devon in Europe“. Also, the fact that this claim could be made with an apparent disregard for the market is a slap in the face to all the contributors to the free services currently out there. Poor (or lazy) research is not winning you candidates.

2) If a brief came in to me from some manager at LargestEducatorOnline that read “find me someone to code the largest Drupal site ever, but only give them 120k, plus highly scalable web 2.0 buzzword pancakes”, I would probably stop for a second. Mostly to laugh, but also to check why they think a senior manager running a massive “highly scalable offshore team” deserves only 120k. This screams all types of “I don’t know what the fuck I want”. Noone wants an unexpected surprise from their workplace, especially if it’s “yeah your ‘team’ is actually the array of bendy straws we have in the kitchen. Welcome aboard”. Find out what they want. Tell your candidates exactly that. Holy hot damn – results!

3, 4) I don’t care what type of world we live in. You can’t successfully merge eCommerce and eLearning. The best platforms for learning are currently FREE, and are built on the foundation that “knowledge is free”. Contributors love the idea of teaching, and students love the idea of learning. Trying to screw people out of a few bucks for the (dis)pleasure of a shitty online learning platform is not the way to make friends. My point here is pretty much the same as the above. Learn what your client wants and pass on as many un-wanked details as possible.

Basically, no, I’m not interested in this position. You’ve breached my trust from the outset using LinkedIn’s cruddy mass-mail tool (thus ignoring my messaging requests), not to mention the job description from the company you’re representing is terrible, either because the brief was heinously poor (their fault), or horribly misrepresented (your fault). Everything about this job screams ‘ridiculous’ at best, and ‘scam’ at worst.

Best regards and apologies,

“That is not a meme” – A PSA

Being simultaneously a fan of Richard Dawkins and a fan of talking trash on the internet, it pains me to see people using the word “meme” as if it were the latest Web 2.0 technology.

Here’s a history lesson (from the Wikipedia article) if your only exposure to the word comes from the internet:

Memetics is a controversial theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from the popularization of Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It purports to be an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer.

The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen […] as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. As with genetics, particularly under a Dawkinsian interpretation, a meme’s success may be due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host.

Put more simply, an idea passes from person to person in a similar fashion to the way that genes (combinations within your DNA) pass from person to person.

Why does this bother me, then? Well, I think you’ve probably seen something like this:

This is a meme. Specifically, the use of Fry’s face with the text “Not sure if…” is the meme. What people normally call a meme is actually the image macro style. Annoyingly, this mistake is taking over (and, I guess, becoming a meme in and of itself. Meta.)

Here’s a list of things that are not memes:

  • Random, shitty photos with random, shitty captions
  • You

So remember, when you hear someone say “I made this cool meme”, you can be assured that they are almost certainly wrong.

London 2012 and Muse: Striving towards mediocrity

That was Muse with “Survival”, the offical song of the London 2012 Olympic games.

The song is so tremendously and schizophrenically bad that I’ve had trouble figuring out whether or not Chris Bellamy has completely jumped the shark, or is simply a deliciously evil musical mastermind having us all on. I deliberated writing this post at all, for fear of committing something to public scrutiny and finding out later that Bellamy was in hiding, waiting to tear down the façade and reveal a tear-inducing masterpiece.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Race, it’s a race
And I’m gonna win, Yes I am gonna win
And I will light the fuse
And I’ll never lose
And I choose to survive
Whatever it takes
You won’t pull ahead
Because I’ll keep up the pace
And I will reveal my strength to the whole human race
Yes I am going to win.

I already feel the inspiration welling within me. Except that I don’t, because these lyrics sound like they were crowdsourced from posters on the wall of an ESL college in Gloucester, not a multi-award winning singer/songwriter with over 15 years experience in creating culturally significant pieces of music.

After listening to the song several times further, I came to a startling realisation: the London 2012 Olympics is simply a highly-publicised exercise in British mediocrity. The organisers are testing the limits of ‘bland’ that the world will graciously accept in its stride. This is the only explanation I’m willing to accept.

Not convinced? Tell it to Exhibits A and B:

Source: Getty Images

“Boyfriend went Vegan”

Here’s one of many new ads aimed at promoting veganism (a noble goal, I’m sure) by our good friends over at PETA.


Wait. This isn’t funny or clever, it’s an abomination. If I were vegan, I’d pretend that I wasn’t until this atrocious “marketing” campaign passed and we all walked around like it never happened.

“Remember those ads by PETA?”
“Wha- what? HELL NO. Let’s go eat some cabbage.”
“Rock on, pasty friend.”

Yeah, just like that.

Vegans get all the breaks
The battered wife look is so hot right now

iRiver Story and Mac OS X

I acquired an iRiver Story recently, and couldn’t figure out how to mount the disk on my Mac OS X machine. The device didn’t automount, and it didn’t show up in the attached devices list.

A bit of scrounging led me to the solution:

  1. First, make sure the iRiver is plugged in.
  2. Power the device on, and wait for it to boot.
  3. When the prompt appears for charge or USB connection, choose USB connection.

The key thing to note here (and it was the problem I ran into) is that the prompt appears for about three seconds, which is barely enough time to figure out what you want to do with it. If you miss the prompt, simply unplug and re-plug the device.

© iRiver

As for document management… you can just drag and drop your files into the directories shown in Finder. You can (if you like) grab something like Adobe’s Digital Editions, but at the end of the day you don’t really need something so bloated to manage a handful of digital books.

Watching your Language

Inspired somewhat by Dave Ray’s post “Say Something Nice About Every Language You’ve Used“, I’ve decided to do the same.

Fairly easy to learn, and with an improving OO model, Web development will only get better. Syntax is pretty straight forward and it’s easy to get something working relatively quickly.

Visual Basic
Very simple syntax, and a good introductory language for learning Windows programming.

I like C (and C++) because you can do with it what you will. There’s a lot of flexibility and room to move for whatever problem you have.

It has a similar syntax to C, but automatic garbage collection makes me weep tears of joy.

One of my favourite aspects of web development is putting on my Javascript hat and adding very slick functionality to my site. Simple syntax and a lot of power for overriding default objects.

Very quick to learn the basic syntax, and it forces a separation of code into conceptual pieces that I agree with.

That exercise is actually enlightening. I think focussing on the strengths of a particular language allows you to leverage it for maximum effectiveness. I’m fairly sure I’ve picked up more languages than this in the past, but not with enough experience for any sort of nice opinion. Perhaps next time I’ll just bitch and moan about all the languages I’ve used.