23 February 2006

Newsvine invites

I have a handful of Newsvine invites to give away. If you'd like one, post a comment with your email address.

Newsvine is a news reading and blogging site that mixes AP newswire content with articles written by users. One of the interesting twists of the site is that they pay contributors a fraction of any ad revenue their articles generate. It'll be interesting to see how this model works out.

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How resumes work

Recently, on Slashdot, someone asked for practical advice on resumes, specifically how potential employers look at them. I've been on both sides of the hiring process, and so I wrote up a guide to explain how resumes, interviews, and the hiring process work.

How companies read resumes

Or, "what happens after I hit send?"

Companies can get hundreds of resumes for entry-level tech positions. The first pass someone will do with this stack of resumes is triage - eliminate the obviously bogus applications.

See, of those 200 applicants, 180 are coming from people that shotgun the same resume to each opening they find. These resumes are easy to spot because: 1) there's no cover letter, and 2) the resumes are keyword soup (C++JAVAFORTRANPL/1LISPSNOBOLPOSTSCRIPTVIC-20!!!)

So, you're in the lucky 20. You wrote a cover letter saying who you are, and you wrote a resume that focuses on the strengths, interests, and experience that you have that apply to the company and the specific opening.

You're now in round 2 of triage. At this point, someone with tech experience will go through the 20 surviving resumes to pick out the best 5.

So you've made it to the top 5 - great! Now, for each of these five, an HR person (or someone filling in for this role) will either arrange for a phone interview or an in-person interview. If it's a phone interview, you should have no problem (you do have a cell phone, right? Put it on your resume so they can call you during the day).

An in-person interview during the week? What if I can't get away from my current job to interview?

When I originally posted this to Slashdot, it was in reponse to the question "they want to interview me, but I can't get away from work to do it. Will the interviewer be understanding?" I address this in the following paragraphs.

The in-person interview will take up a great deal of the company's time. Even if you're only there for an hour, you might be interviewed by eight people. That's eight person-hours of time spent on something other than coding, QAing, or running the things. That's also eight people who have to sync up their schedules to meet you!

So the HR person goes down the list of five possible in-person, and one can't come in during the week. The other four will get interviews, and if none of them get an offer, you might get called back. Alternately, if you have a stunning resume or have demonstrated an ability to walk on water, you might get to meet with the hiring manager later in the day.

My advice is for you to take a personal half-day, even if you are an hourly employee, to do interviews. Alternately, either schedule a 1hr interview around lunchtime, and be prepared to do a second 1hr if more people need to interview you from the same company, or ask for a phone interview. Companies may prefer the phone option because they can get a sense for you without spending 8 person-hours. But if they like you, you will still have to do the in-person interview later.

Last tips on getting noticed

If you want your resume to be noticed, do your homework on the company. Spend an hour researching them - what they do, who they are - and think about what *you* can do for them. With that knowledge, write a 3 paragraph cover letter about why you are interested in what the company does, and how you think you can help. Also, make a customized resume for the company that emphasizes your interests as they fit with the company (this is especially true if you have a lot of experience - it helps you focus and helps the person reading the resume to fit you into their model of what they are looking for.)

Best of luck with your search!

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Updated 27 Feb 06

21 February 2006

How Hitchcock got his start

"It only takes a second" is an industrial safety film with 3 minutes of machine shop and construction site foul-ups, bloops, bleeps, and blunders. Very little blood, but lots of "ooh, that's going to hurt" moments.

(link via Metafilter)

Concerned #114: Friday, February 17, 2006

Concerned is a funny parody of Half-Life 2, done using the game engine and Gary's Mod. There are over one hundred strips at this point, and the writing is great. Here's a favorite of mine: You Got Frohwned

Here are some other particularly good entries:

www.hlcomic.com/index.php?date=2005-05-08

www.hlcomic.com/index.php?date=2005-07-01

www.hlcomic.com/index.php?date=2005-07-04

See the entire series here.

11 February 2006

New Nerf guns: Magstrike and Longshot

Cube warriors rejoice. Nerf is coming out with two new guns this Fall. The Magstrike is a ten round clip-fed machine gun with two clips, and the Longshot is a six-shot sniper rifle with a scope and bipod. From Nerf's press release:


Pump up the action with the NERF DART TAG MAGSTRIKE blaster, the first NERF rapid fire blaster with a clip reloading system! With a rapid firing air pressure system that allows kids to quickly blast foam darts at their opponents and a stock for comfortable blasting and pumping, this awesome blaster brings great fast-paced fun to the popular NERF DART TAG line.


[C]omes complete with two reload clips, 20 TAGGER MICRO DARTS, a scoring vest and VISION GEAR eyewear.... [A]vailable nationwide Fall 2006 for ... $29.99.


The NERF N-STRIKE LONGSHOT CS-6 blaster comes complete with a scope and bi-pod ... [and] reloading clip system. The NERF N-STRIKE LONGSHOT CS-6 includes two blasters, two reload clips, one working scope and twelve MICRO DARTS.[A]vailable nationwide Fall 2006 for ... $29.99.



For an idea of what the Longshot might look like, check out this cool homemade Nerf rifle, the Boltsniper FAR.

Update: I talked to Nerf's PR firm about getting images for these. They won't be available until some time in the Fall. When I get the images, I'll post them.

Update (30 Sep 06): The Longshot and Magstrike are now out. Latest info here.

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09 February 2006

My daikon's fighting technique is unstoppable!


Everything is big in Japan at some point. Last year, it was Razor Ramon HG, this year, the unstoppable fighting daikon. The BBC has more:

"A giant radish is making the Japanese evening news headlines after it was rushed into intensive care in an agricultural research centre.

The daikon radish, a staple ingredient in Japan, became an unlikely object of public admiration when it started growing through a pavement last year.

The resilient radish was then attacked last year by a mysterious assailant. The local town council has since been trying to re-grow the radish from its severed top. It now hopes to extract its seeds or DNA."


Read the rest of the story here.

08 February 2006

LEGO Technic Difference Engine

This is amazing -- Andrew Carol has made a Babbage Difference Engine out of Legos. His writeup goes into design detail and his design choices along the way. Highly recommended. Here's an excerpt:

I finally decided to explore making the machine out of identical adder units working together. Eventually a standard unit organization started to develop. Each unit would add the digit below into itself, also being able to output its own value to the unit above in a likewise fashion. Carry-in would be on the right side and carry-out would be to the left so that numbers could be read naturally left-to-right. The decision to build the engine out of interchangeable adder units was the single most important factor in the eventual success of the project.