May 21, 2015 David Letterman

While others count David Letterman being on the air for thirty three years, I count from his daytime show in 1980. Six thousand shows over thirty five years, three time slots  and two networks is clear evidence that he knew he was funny. He did not want the biggest audience, he wanted the biggest audience who laughed. He was actually on the air longer than Johnny Carson. There were many reasons Letterman retired, one of them probably that Jay Leno retired first. Now no one can dispute who was better. Time to recognize.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 20, 2015 Domestic Displacement

Someone recommended placing a bottle of wine in a toilet tank to save water. Frankly, I thought they had a more serious problem to think about if they were storing alcohol in a bathroom. They store domestic in the upstairs bathroom and imported in the guest bathroom. I recommend bringing your own glasses.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 19, 2015 Optics On Fiber

It was one of those conversations that you can only have in twenty-first century California. Some guys were trying to prove who was eating the most fiber. The first guy said he ate microwaved instant oatmeal for breakfast. The second guy said he ate boiled steel cut oats. The third guy said he went out in a field of organic oats, grabbed a fistful and just chewed until he was full. It was all very macho and should probably have taken place outside.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 18, 2015 Gerbil Sneeze

It rained a little last week but there is still a drought in California. In order to do my part, I bought one of those water saving shower heads. I installed it but the water flow was the equivalent of a gerbil sneeze. Since I do not have a pet gerbil, I reinstalled the old shower head and just take shorter showers.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 17, 2015 Blumbers

Big 20: Movies

Twenty years ago movies were shot and edited on film, chemically and mechanically duplicated and sent to thousands of movie theaters. If you wanted to see a new movie you waited in line outside a movie theater. You might see it six months later on cable TV. A year later, you might get in your car and drive to a video store to rent a DVD. Maybe you were patient and would wait two years later for it to be on broadcast TV. Hollywood film studios had worked out a profitable production, distribution and exhibition system. Digital technology and the internet would disrupt it.

By the year 2000, you could go to the Netflix website, choose a movie and they would mail a DVD to your house. After you watched it, you mailed it back. No kidding.

Making the movies changed too. Digital special effects went from being a few minutes in a movie to the entire movie. An example would be Silicon Valley’s Pixar. In 1995, the movie Toy Story was made digitally but still distributed on film. By 1999, Toy Story 2 was digitally produced and distributed to theaters. By 2010, Toy Story 3 could be downloaded to your phone. Now, many people skip movie theaters and just watch at home or on their phones. Theaters survive by offering really loud sound systems or ridiculously large screens and selling expensive snacks (some things never change).

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 16, 2015 How Long Is The Contract?

How long is the contract? Is it full time? Candidates tell me stories of recruiters wanting someone who was worked for a company full time for ten years to quit and work for three month contract. Because of the economic collapse over the last thirty years, many jobs last a year at most.

Sometimes an odd numbered contract length like four or eight months indicates someone was hired for the position but did not work out. Maybe it was the candidate or the client so beware.

The irony is that most recruiters and HR are in the same boat and are scrambling from job to job like everyone else. If you want stable job histories, create stable job markets.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 15, 2015 What Is The Rate?

What is the rate? If the client does not say, then it is probably too low. It is probably why the position is open.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 14, 2015 Why Is This Job Open?

Why is this job open? Not answering these questions should be a red flag to a candidate. Is it a new position? If not, who was doing it? Can you talk to them about it? Have they left the company? Why does no one inside the company want to do it? If the advertisement is for a client that is out of town, why does no one locally want to work for that company? If it is posted online, why does no one on the planet want to do it?

Another concern is a posting that is either always online or reposted on a regular basis. It indicates serious turnover through burnout or a mismanagement.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 13, 2015 Where Is The Client?

Despite the Internet, it is still important where the client is located. Unless the position can be worked remotely, the candidate will have to be on site. Is the company located in a dense urban core with no parking but access to public transportation or a suburban office park that requires a car?

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 12, 2015 Who Is The Client?

Recruiters should tell the candidate who the client is. As much as clients want to do background checks on candidates, it works the other way too. Is the client reputable? Are they in financial or legal trouble? Are they going to be obsolete? Are they doing something objectionable?

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 11, 2015 Ninety Percent Solution

A client with a big shopping list of requirements should be flexible when looking for a successful candidate. If they find someone who has ninety percent of what they need, the odds are good that the candidate can quickly learn the remaining ten percent.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 10, 2015 Blumbers

Big 20: Music

Twenty years ago you would buy a compact disc at a music store. You probably listened to it in your car. If you were a serious aficionado, you might have a jukebox that could hold a hundred CDs with a random feature better than the programming of any FM radio station.

Later you might have taken only the songs you really liked and put them on your computer. While you might have burned a CD, eventually you dragged the MP3 files onto your iPod. Now you load them on your phone or just stream them from an online service.

All this destroyed both independent and chain music stores. On the other hand, many music groups gained more control over their work and make money performing in front of live audiences.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 9, 2015 Hidden Hiring

One of the oddest stories I heard this week was the hidden hire. A candidate interviewed off campus and was hired by the company but asked work from home. The candidate found out they were hired to replace a longtime employee who they had not fired yet. The candidate quit and notified the longtime employee. The employee explained the office politics and was able to quickly find another job. He asked the new company to hire the candidate as well. They did.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 8, 2015 Happy Unbirthday

Some recruiters want to know how old a candidate is. It is illegal to ask. Sometimes candidates post it on social media themselves. Some will want to know where a candidate went to college and will look up the information from there. Some are bold enough to ask when a candidate graduated from high school. Others will ask for the last four digits of their social security number, which combined with other information should be red flag for other illegal activities. Recruiters are not helping clients or candidates with these tactics.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 7, 2015 Exclusively Not Yours

Another job hunter horror story. A recruiter contacts a candidate looking and says they must sign an agreement for the recruiter to exclusively represent the candidate. The rate is high so the candidate agrees. It is later discovered that the recruiter wanted to lock in the candidate at the higher rate so they could pitch a cheaper candidate and pick up the difference. The candidate recommended not signing such agreements and to let the recruiters compete for candidates or just go directly to employers.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 6, 2015 Proficient in Blank

The stories started rolling in after yesterday’s unicorn posting. A recruiter put a skill on a candidate’s resume without telling them and submitted it to the client. The candidate found out about it in the interview, pulled out the original resume and pointed to the absence of the skill. To confirm this, the original resume was posted online months ago. What was the recruiter thinking? Was it a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation?

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 5, 2015 Agnostic Unicorn ™ Wanted

The economy is recovering but employers seem to have unrealistic expectations. I call them unicorn jobs. I am not a database developer or database administrator, but I know the difference. Last Thursday a recruiter contacted a database developer for what was called an engineering position at a trendy San Francisco company. Normally they hire young subsidized hipsters who work cheap on the hopes that their stock will turn them into second generation millionaires.  Last week their stock took a serious hit. Why? Because they needed to quickly develop a system to deliver enough accurate information to their advertisers about their users.

Nobody inside the company had the skills or wanted to do this very difficult project. They were going to have to pay a lot of money to an old Silicon Valley company to fix their part of the problem. On the hope of cutting costs, they also contacted a recruiter or job shop to see if they could find someone cheaper.

Last Thursday Recruiter One called a database developer and said they had a position at the trendy company. The developer expressed interest and asked for a contact name and job description.

Late Friday afternoon Recruiter Two from the same company contacted the database developer and said they had a database administrator (DBA) position at the trendy company. The database developer contacted Recruiter One to clarify who was the primary contact for the trendy company and for additional information about the job. A developer and administrator are two very different jobs.

Instead of Recruiter One responding, Recruiter Three from the same company contacted the database developer Friday evening and essentially said to ignore what Recruiter Two said. Recruiter Three said he would send a job description and the name of the person at the trendy company right away so that the database developer could prepare for the phone interview.

Saturday passed. Sunday passed. Monday morning, Recruiter One sent the job description, title and contact info less than two hours before the scheduled job interview. When it arrived, the job title said database administrator not database developer. Everything in the job description was about being a DBA. Even worse, the trendy company was asking for three years experience in a product that was not commercially available until two years ago.

Recruiter Three calls the database developer, who is no longer interested in the position. Recruiter Three says the job title is agnostic. The title does not represent what the job is. The job description is not what the job is either. The database developer thought the whole deal was misrepresented and was very definitely not interested in the recruiting company or the trendy company. The experience was like trying to buy a used car.

Always the stone cold professional, the database developer immediately contacts the trendy company interviewer and says that while the company is very nice, the position is not a good fit.

When things go so wrong, I try to figure out what happened. The trendy company tried to build a global presence without the internal IT structure to support it. They created a job title and description that no one inside or outside the company wanted or could do. The recruiting company staff did not honestly communicate with each other, the trendy company or the database developer. They were going to send the database developer into an interview unprepared. Were they hoping that it would buy them time until they could find another magical unicorn for a candidate? Were they hoping that the database developer would try to fit into the unicorn job?

If you have a unicorn story, I would like to hear it.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 4, 2001 Earthquake

Yesterday a series of small earthquakes hit California, the biggest was 3.8 some eight miles beneath Concord. Just a reminder to be prepared when the big one hits. The best way to protect your home from earthquakes in California is to build it in Oklahoma, where it can destroyed by a tornado. UPDATE: As soon I wrote this, someone notified me that Oklahoma is having earthquakes and tornadoes.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 3, 2015 Blumbers

Big 20: Books

Twenty years ago you could browse in a bookstore but change was in the air. Big bookstore chains like Border’s were threatening the existence of small independent bookstores. Eventually Amazon eclipsed them both by selling physical and then virtual books online. Most information is not in books at all. Online content is searchable, rendering the traditional index obsolete. It sits in bits and fragments all over the web to be found by Google’s search engines.

The good news is that it might have reduced the cost of college textbooks. The bad news is it hurt the textbook publishing companies. I know people who used to work for them who are now selling cheap phones in grocery stores. Not surprisingly, the phones can access old textbooks.

“Career cleanup in Aisle 3.” :-)

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 2, 2015 Heather Armstrong

I am told by many people that Heather Armstrong of Dooce is quitting her long running blog. I do not know her. Never read her blog. It is news because lots of other bloggers are quitting too. People are quitting all over the place. David Letterman is quitting. Jon Stewart is quitting. Craig Ferguson already quit. Perhaps it is a generational thing.

I used to send out printed newsletters. At some point I quit because the web was better a way of reaching an audience. I don’t aim for an audience of millions. No matter what the medium, I write for an audience of one. You. Maybe you were reading Heather Armstrong, but I know you are reading this.

Carry on and keep blogging.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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May 1, 2015 Events To Attend

Here are some events you might want to attend. Check with the respective organizations for more information.

Date: May 7, 2015 6:00PM

Org: STC East Bay

Topic: Survival Strategies for API Documentation

Speaking: Tom Johnson

Venue: Mimi’s Cafe, 4775 Hacienda Dr Dublin, CA 94568

Date: May 13, 2015 6:00PM

Org: STC Berkeley

Topic: Jekyll versus DITA: Bridging the Gap between Tech Comm and the Web

Speaking: Tom Johnson

Venue: Highlands Country Club, 110 Hiller Drive, Oakland, California

Date: May 16, 2015, 8:30AM

Org: STC Orange County

Topic: Standing out in a Competitive Job Market

Speaking: Pam Coca, Rebecca Lyles, Bill Wood

Venue: Brandman University, 16355 Laguna Canyon Road, Irvine, CA

Date: May 18, 2015 6:00PM

Org: STC Silicon Valley Chapter

Topic: Helping the Code Tell the Story: How to Present Effective Code Samples

Speaking: Joe Malin

Venue: IHOP, Santa Clara, 4200 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Date: May 20, 2015 6:00PM

Org: STC San Francisco

Topic: Case study – Information Design: A process for web architectural success

Speaking: Eric Hughes

Venue: Salesforce Community Meeting Room, Rincon Center, on Howard Street between Steuart and Spear in San Francisco

Date: May 21, 2015 6:00PM

Org: STC Willamette Valley

Topic: Agile Panel

Speaking: Jean Richardson

Venue: Tektronix, Building 38, East Dining Room, 3025 SW Zworykin Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97077

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

 

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Apr. 30, 2015 WordPress Anniversary

Ten years ago several people told about a great web tool called WordPress. It allowed me to focus on creating content. I am grateful to Doug Wray and the rest of the WordPress community for their fine work.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Apr. 29, 2015 Laughing Squid Anniversary

Laughing Squid has hosted this website for ten years. They have done a great job of keeping me on the air. Thanks Squid!

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Square 9956 Wooden Buddha

Square 9956 Wooden Buddha. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9902 Shopping Cart Aqua

Square 9902 Shopping Cart Aqua. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Apr. 26, 2015 Blumbers

Big 20: Education

Twenty years ago if you wanted to get a college education, you had to physically attend a lecture on campus. There were a few correspondence courses. Some universities would broadcast their lectures on public television. Others would mail students videotapes of lectures that they would watch and then mail them back. All of this was slow and expensive.

The internet allowed you watch a lecture, take a test and talk to an instructor anywhere in the world. It sped up the process and showed a way to educate billions of people without building millions of college campuses.

Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9841 Chair Gray

Square 9841 Chair Gray. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9808 Sculpture 3D

Square 9808 Sculpture 3D. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9805 Turbine 3D

Square 9805 Turbine 3D. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9799 Chair Purple

Square 9799 Chair Purple. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9691 Brass Q

Square 9691 Brass Q. Copyright 2015 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

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Square 9585 Chair Ivory

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