Thursday, July 30, 2009

Job Seeking Techniques

I am serving on a few search committees for positions at my college and it got me thinking about mistakes people make in the job search process. I also have a Web link later. Let me present the following hypothetical situations that could be reality.
  • Imagine a person applying for a faculty position sending in a 15 page resume. Do you think anyone is going to read it? (Resumes are typically much much shorter, and I doubt Barack Obama's resume is 15 pages)
  • Imagine someone sending a cover letter saying they were looking forward to interviewing...except it lists the name of another college. What does that say about an applicant?
  • Imagine reading a resume for a non-labor position and seeing someone listing their height and weight...why would I care if I were an interviewer?
  • Imagine a resume or cover letter with typographical errors that are so mangled that they are near unreadable at points. Guess what happens to that resume?
  • Imagine a resume arriving for a position that requires a certain degree, and the person doesn't make their degree clear on their resume. Guess what happens to that resume?
  • Imagine showing up for an interview for a highly paid jeans and a t-shirt. What message does that send?
  • Imagine not being on time for an interview...what message does that send interviewers?
  • Imagine being asked about your current job and talking bad about them. Even if it is true, that sends a poor message!
These are all situations that could and do happen. You obviously don't want to be "that person" if you can avoid it.

I saw an article on the Web at some point that details some of the common interviewing mistakes people make, and I thought it might be a decent thing to link.

Link to article

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How to Avoid Me in the Fall 2009 Semester

I've received a few student emails lately asking which courses I am teaching in the Fall. Oddly enough, some of these have come from students I do not know, which I always take as a high compliment.

As far as I know, here is my Fall schedule. The reason I say "as far as I know" is because any of the other full-time faculty members in my department always have the right to bump me from a class if they want to.

CIS-101-M09 Comp Concepts/Applic (this is updated as of 8/6/09)
Tuesday, Thursday 11:45AM - 01:00PM
Monday, Wednesday 11:45AM - 01:00PM
Tuesday, Thursday 05:40PM - 06:55PM
Tuesday, Thursday 10:20AM - 11:35AM
To Be Scheduled
CIS-295-M03 CAPSTONE PROJECT (Web Technology)
To Be Scheduled
CIS-295-M04 CAPSTONE PROJECT (Business Technology)
To Be Scheduled

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Goodbye, Geocities

Ah, Geocities. Back in 1995 when I started really getting involved with the Internet as we currently know it, I had a set of Web pages on my school's server. I had a site devoted to music, and my friend Jeff had a site devoted to Beavis and Butthead, and that was okay back in those days. However, there was some stuff we made available that we didn't want associated with us - for example, in 1997 or so, myself and a few of my friends put up a teacher ratings page for our college (pre-dating, because there used to be a printed list that went around, and we wanted to make it more accessible. In order to do so, we went with one of the free hosts out there, Geocities.

At that time, Geocities was not owned by Yahoo! - they were a separate entity that Yahoo! purchased in 1999 or so. They, along with Tripod and Angelfire, were some of the largest free hosting sites on the Internet.

Yahoo! went through a few stages with Geocities - limiting traffic, adding advertising, and now they've announced they are closing it as of October 2009. I've had a small personal Web site on Geocities for about 10 years now, and I am sad to take it down, but perhaps it is time. All people with Geocities sites were, in the email I received, welcome to move their pages over to the Yahoo! Small Business and "take advantage of terrific features like a personalized domain name and email, even redirect your GeoCities web address to your new site — all for only $4.99 a month for a full year." Blah blah blah.

My other options were to manually download every single page I had, or just let everything disappear and not be recoverable. I cursed Yahoo! as I saved the 40 or so Web pages and files I had up on Geocities. I mean, come on, you can't give me a "download all" option? Really? (And no, it was not an option, the email even told me "To quickly download your published files, visit your GeoCities web site, right-click on each page, and choose Save Page As... from the menu that appears. Choose a location on your computer to save your files, then click OK or Save.")

Yahoo! is obviously hoping to get people to convert over to Yahoo! Small Business, but I've got no real interest in doing so. Between Facebook and this blog, I have enough outlets for my personal and professional lives. Goodbye Geocities, and thanks for a good 15 years.

Link to CNET article

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Site Navigation and other Goodies

(If you are viewing this from Facebook, you'll need to visit to see the things referenced in this post)

I notice some interesting Google searches that end up on my little blog, for example, in the last week, I've had some of the following:

"email hoaxes personality types"
"i am an employee i want free resumes database of employes jobs of biometrist in newzealand"
"how to attract professor"
"she-goat, wolf and cabbage download"

I am not even sure what some of those folks were looking for, but they put those terms in to Google and found my site.

Anyway, just for reference, I wanted to mention some of the things I have set up through Blogger:

1) Email updates: Google's Feedburner service allows you to get my posts via email. It's free, and if you enter your email address in the box over on the left hand side, you can add (or remove) your email subscription. I've copied it here. If you enter your email and then click "subscribe" you will get my posts via email. Feedburner is spam-free, and I don't even see your email addresses without looking really hard to find them.

2) Site search: Up at the top left corner, there should be a text box from Blogger that says "Search" next to it. If you are looking for a keyword from a prior post, you can use that to search.

3) Labels: At the end of each post, you will see an area that says "labels" - these are little keywords I attach to each post. For example, I will label this post with keywords like "Google". If you want to search all things related to one of MY labels, there is a list of labels along the left hand side of the screen, typically about a screen down from the top of the page. Clicking on a label shows you all posts I gave that label to.

4) Facebook updates: I created a Facebook account, and set it up so my blog shows up there as a "news" item. Posts from my blog show up on my wall in Facebook, so you don't need to even remember my Web site address of to get here. You can add me at any time.

I'll be posting my Fall 2009 schedule next week, and also discussing jury duty (I got selected for jury duty for the first time, and it's been an interesting experience - but I am not supposed to really discuss much until the trial is over - better safe than sorry).

Friday, July 17, 2009

MLS fines player for Twitter comments

We all have a lot of thoughts throughout the day - some good, some bad. I am sure we wouldn't want everyone seeing every one of them (...or is that just me?).

After a tough loss, a Major League Soccer forward for the Houston Dynamo, Brian Ching, posted a reaction to a referee's call on his Twitter account:

"Ref in seattle just cheated the dynamo, What a joke. Not even close. Ref is a cheat."

Facebook and Myspace and Twitter and all the social networking apps and blogs have broken down barriers to some professional athletes. It used to be that you didn't really get to see much of a player's personality unless they got a job as a commentator or wrote a book. Now, athletes Twitter (and get themselves in trouble for doing it) during games sometimes.

The interesting part is that Major League Soccer actually FINED Ching for this. Fairly or unfairly, we've certainly seen people lose jobs over actions described on sites like this (a few). This is the first person that I've heard of actually fined over this. Of course, I am sure his contract with MLS says something about not being able to comment publically in a way that damages the league, but it's still an interesting decision, and something I am sure we will see more of in the future.

Link to CNNSI article

Brian Ching on Twitter

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

L Millz and Corporate America

Lastings Milledge is a baseball player who is currently a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also is someone who can teach people a valuable lesson.

Milledge was drafted in the first round of the major league baseball draft a few years ago - twelveth overall This basically means he was judged as one of the top 12 amateur players in the country in 2003. That is talent!

I remember when he was a top prospect with the Mets ... Someone they envisioned being a superstar.

Milledge made it to the major leagues quickly, and was the youngest player in Major League Baseball for a while in 2006. Just for reference, some players drafted in the same year as him haven't made the majors yet. He played decently for the Mets, but despite that, they traded him to the Washington Nationals, in exchange for two decent but not as talented players.

The Nationals are the worst team in baseball today. One would safely assume they would be doing everything in their power to acquire talented players. However, they just traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a less talented player.

Welcome to baseball purgatory, Lastings!

Basically, despite being super-talented, two organizations have given up on him - one of them being the worst team in the league. Why does that happen?

Here are Milledge's comments, as told to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
"Maybe I get too comfortable sometimes around veterans, and I think that maybe might rub some people the wrong way," Milledge said. "I'm just not the typical rookie guy who comes in the clubhouse and sits there quietly. I joke around. If you've been in the game 15 years or one year, I'll mess around and joke with you. That's just the kind of person I am. I like to communicate with everybody, Latins or whites or blacks, whatever. [...]
I think that rubbed people in New York the wrong way. I know I rubbed Billy Wagner the wrong way. But that's who I am."

Now, it's entirely possible that he was stuck with a bunch of jerks on both teams...though unlikely. For two teams to give up on a talented player, it's likely that he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, to the point where both teams gave up on him and got rid of him, and got less talent in exchange for him in the trades.

This is in stark contrast to guys like Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols...they are extremely talented ballplayers as well, but the difference is, they have never been traded. Why not? Because they not only are talented, but they also have gone out of their way to adapt to the culture around them. It's very egocentric to expect a company, or a team, to adapt to you. Companies won't waste their time.

There is a lesson in corporate America here. I see a lot of students who are really good (both in the IT major and outside of it), and some of them are almost arrogant about it. If multi-million/billion dollar corporations are dumping talented baseball players over concerns they have with attitude, what makes you think a company won't get rid of a talented network administrator (for example) because they are annoying...or late...or rude?

With all the things we teach in our classes, this is one thing you can't teach. Be nice. Smile. Avoid "yeah, but...". Take a little crap at first, even if it means staying late or doing something a little outside your job description. Hold your criticism, or give it out in small bits, spun in a positive fashion. If you are going to be at a company for a while, remember, you can't change anything overnight. If all you do is complain that things can be done better, remember that by doing so you are saying that the job everyone else is doing at the company is not as good as your idea. People think that's presumptuous. Eventually, you can start to make changes, but if you come in the door as a pain in the ass, you'll be out the door pretty quickly. It's a delicate balance, to be sure.

I was one of 13 full-time faculty members hired by PCCC in 2003. I was one of 4 that didn't leave or get let go in the first five years. Did I do things I didn't want to do? Yes. Did I do things I wasn't hired for? Yes. Did I teach two nights? Yes. Did I go out and pick up dessert for meetings? Yeah, a few times. If I had given "no" answers a lot, I'd be back at my old company, making a lot more money, but enjoying it a lot less.

Self-righteous is easy. Putting ego aside is hard, and if you can do that, you can help yourself keep a job. Sometimes, when you rub other people the wrong way, and you know why, it's an opportunity. "Hey, maybe I should work on that character defect" is much better than simply saying that "corporate America sucks".

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Are the Koreans behind the latest hack, or was it Jack Bauer?

So...South Korea and the United States are under cyberattack today. Of course everyone is rushing to blame North Korea. However...if I have learned anything from watching 24...this is exactly how to set North Korea up if you want the US to go to war with them (thanks Jack Bauer!).

This is a developing story...more details coming soon I am sure. Was it done by the government of North Korea or another country, or just citizens? How much damage was really done? It looks like the FTC web site was shut down, as well as the site for the US Treasury. Could be much worse.

This is the wave of the future, folks. As we depend more on technology, it will cripple us to lose it. If all cell phones went down, how many people even know where the nearest pay phone is?

AP Article

Okay, I understand now, I really never understood exactly why people in the medical field couldn't just watch TV shows like House, M.D. and just enjoy it. Even if there were minor issues, who cares?

(I love the House, M.D. reviews done by Scott @ Polite Dissent, by the way)

I suppose I got a taste of it yesterday. I was flying back from a mini-vacation on JetBlue, and they have DirectTV. I was watching Judge Mathis (I do like the real-life court shows), and one kid was suing another over a laptop. The way the accuser presented his case made me want to punch the television. He told the judge how his friend had downloaded pornography, which caused the computer to crash. (Does that happen? Sure, but he presented it as if that is the only thing that can happen if you download pornography). Okay, minor issue. The guy then told us how his friend had spilled his beer on the keyboard which "caused the operating system to break".

For the more computer savvy of you, I am sure there are at least two issues in that sentence. The part that concerned me is that the Judge just agreed with him. Come on, bring on someone who knows how to use a computer or something. If I were the Judge, I would have figured this guy was just as likely to have caused the computer to fail with his lack of knowledge about computers. Next thing you know, he'll accuse the guy of breaking his Interweb too.

So, medical people who get irked with House, M.D., I can now relate.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"World Changing Inventions"

There are many things that people think will "change the world" that don't end up doing much or even happening. Sometimes we think "this would be a cool idea", but there are reasons that they don't succeed, or even happen.

I think it's instructive to look back on things and see why.

For example, let's take the idea of videophones. It seemed like a logical progression from phones, right? We started with radio - voice only - and moved to TV - voice with video. Why not start with telephones and move to videophones?

Well, because people don't want to get dressed, or shower, to talk on the phone.

Seems like a great, logical response, but people invested millions of dollars in this technology anyway. Now, though we have cell phones that take video, and we have Web based videoconferencing. Will video phones ever happen? It's kind of doubtful at this point.

Warning: Language as always on is a little, um, raw. article