Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Microsoft Interviews

I led a workshop today discussing interviewing with our internship students. The thing that is interesting is that there are plenty of standard interview questions - "What is your greatest weakness"..."where do you see yourself in five years"...etc, etc.

However, when one starts to look for a higher level job, you get asked harder questions. For example, when I interviewed at one company in my pre-higher education days, I was asked to design a sorting algorithm. Definitely a pain to do, but the interviewer wanted to see my thought process.

I did one of the more difficult ones correctly, and impressed him with it, to the point that he still remembered it five years after I had been hired.

Same type of thing would happen at a company like Microsoft. If they are looking for software engineers or other technical people, they may ask you a few technical questions. One Web site has a list of questions people were asked on Microsoft interviews.

Check out the list here...and be prepared to think.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Your Internet speed

In my CIS 101 course this week we discussed Internet connection speeds.

Of course, in our area, many of the home Internet options are better than other areas even within the United States - the more densely populated an area, the more options we'll have.

Anyway, sometimes you are sold one amount but you don't really get the amount you should - there are many things that can can affect that (including, for example, if you are sharing files in the background, if you have an open wireless connection that other people might be using, etc.).

If you're curious about your speed, you can run a free test online to check what your speed is, and if it doesn't match what you are paying for, at least you know there is something up.

Keep in mind, most home services give you a higher download speed (how quickly stuff gets from the Internet to you) than upload speed (how quickly you send stuff to the Internet).

I have Comcast cable at home, and here are my results. Needless to say, I am relatively happy.

Anyway, there are many of these online, but you can find a good one at DSLReports.com.

Internet Connection Speed test @ DSLReports

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Office 2007 for $59.95

This is a repost from an earlier blog, but worth it, especially if you want a great deal on Office 2007 software.

Microsoft has done something really really good at the moment, especially as far as the students of PCCC are concerned. Microsoft is making the Ultimate version of their Office 2007 software - which includes not only Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but also Publisher, Outlook, Access, and a few others - available at a low price.

The retail price is around $600 - and for students at schools including ours, the price is $59.95, for a legal, full copy of Office 2007. Compare this to the Student and Home edition of Office 2007, which only has Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and goes for $150 retail.

The site linked below does not list how long this offer is good for, but if you were considering buying a copy of Office 2007, here is the best (legal) deal you will ever find.

Web Link:
(Note that even though this is not at Microsoft.com, it redirects immediately to a Microsoft Web site - and I did get a letter directly from Microsoft about this, so I trust it)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trust in operating systems

Microsoft has been in the operating system business for a long time.

That said, there are still reasons to be scared of them.

For example, take this article. Microsoft had to issue a fix to their operating system. Why? They found three "critical" loopholes in their operating systems that would allow someone to take control of your system. This affects Windows operating systems back as far as Windows 2000.

So, when did they find this? About a month ago - January 2009. Windows 2000 has been on the market 9 years, and they are still finding flaws in it (note: this also affects newer versions, including XP and Vista). Just to recap - even if you are doing everything right, your computer could still be exploited. This is why it is critical to install the Windows updates when they come out (typically the second Tuesday of every month).

Thanks to Sue for the heads up!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scholarship Opportunity - 2009 Hispanic Business Council

The Hispanic Business Council Scholarship Foundation is making available scholarships. Last year, one of the students at PCCC received a $1,000 book scholarship. Here are the requirements:
  • The student must be of Hispanic Heritage
  • The student must be a New Jersey Resident
  • The student must be a high school senior entering college as a full time student in the Fall of 2009 OR be enrolled as a full-time college student carrying 15 credits per semester (12 credits may be accepted at the discretion of the HBCSF) and have a current GPA of at least 3.0. The student is required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 in order to qualify for both the Fall 2009 and the Spring 2010 semester award distribution.
The application form and more details can be found on their Web site:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Okay, I broke down and joined Facebook...

So, I've gotten a lot of requests to join Facebook, and I've been very careful about it. To make a long story short, the school's administration once cautioned me about this sort of thing. I had set up an AOL instant messenger screen name specifically for my students, and word of it got back to the higher ups and I was told to not do that.

I think that education goes outside of being lectured to, and that the world is changing so that more informal methods of communication (i.e. Facebook, IMing) are the norm for the younger generation...which, on many levels, I am a part of.

Anyway, if you want to "friend" me there:
here is the link

For the record...much like this blog, it's going to stay relatively professional.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Suck at Photoshop

I have posted this before, but it's definitely worth a revisit, especially since there are now two seasons worth of episodes.

There is a series of Photoshop tutorials (training) called "You Suck at Photoshop". They are very informative and I've learned stuff about Photoshop watching them. However, there is a twist. It's basically half comedy and half training. It's training, but set against the story line of the guy teaching you Photoshop going through a rough time in his life. It's very amusing. My Web Graphics class seemed to like it a lot last week.

It's kind of NSFW (not safe for work) - there is some cursing involved - don't click if you are easily offended!

Link to Site

Monday, February 09, 2009

Linux and Continental

This weekend, a good friend of mine got married in Florida. I flew down on a Continental flight, and they've upgraded their aircrafts to have little computer based systems that include free music, TV shows, movies, and games on demand (note: this may only apply to certain continental crafts). That's pretty cool by itself. However, being a computer person, I was curious about how it was done, and when I flew back, I was among the first people seated. I got to see them rebooting the system, and to my surprise, it was a Linux based program.

I did a little search and it turns out this is more common than I realized. The Linux-based in-flight entertainment systems are pretty common and have been replacing the phones that no one ever seemed to use on the planes.

Definitely an upgrade, and a few games of Sudoku and an episode of Fringe made the flight go very quickly!

Link to story

Monday, February 02, 2009

Do aliens exist?

Do aliens exist? I don't know the answer to that, but I certainly am open to the idea.

One of the ways that people have tried to find proof of alien life is by monitoring and analyzing radio waves from space. The problem is this - there is so much information that needs to be analyzed! If someone had millions of dollars to put in to computer systems to process data, that would be one solution. However, if you don't have the money to do so, there are other solutions. SETI@Home is one of those projects. This project started back in the late 1990's. You download a program, and it runs when you are not using your computer. You basically download the program, and your computer processes radio signals and sends the data back to the main computer. If your computer is on, this is a way to have it give back to the world.

If nothing else, your computer might find evidence of extraterrestrial life!

This is a nice example of distributed computing. Instead of one very powerful computer, you get smaller ones, and split the workload.

Web Link:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl Ads 2009

I remember years ago being excited about the Super Bowl not only for the game, but also for the ads. Many times, the commercials were more fun than the game.

In the past few years, ads have taken various twists and turns...I remember the Bud Bowl commercials from years back...and who can forget the useless e-Trade commercial...

Anyway, this year, the advertisers partnered with hulu.com and all the ads are up there. It seemed like a quiet year, overall.