Monday, 24 August 2009

General rant on the HP NC6400. Oh, and "Tap To Click" on trackpads suck.

(this was in my Drafts folder, and I don't remember if I have anything
to add to it, so I'll just post it)

I've started bringing the work laptop home and trying to do - uh -
stuff in it. Its a Hewlett Packard HP NC6400, with CoreDuo CPU, 2Gb
RAM, 80Gb hard drive.

A few comments about it:

* The keyboard's not too awful, though I find the keys a bit slippery,
as if coated with Teflon. And yes, it does what it should, but it
still feels and looks cheap.

* It's got a blue "nipple" pointer controller between the G, H and B
keys. It's there, it's weird, and it's staying unused. Never liked it,
and never will.

* The button to turn of the wireless card had me stumped for a few
days, since I had turned it off and forgot what the button was for.
Then I spent an entire weekend trying to figure out why the Windows
system tray icon for the Wireless Network Connection wasn't detecting
any Wi-Fi networks! I didn't get it - this was a new laptop that I
took home the week before, and it detected mine and my neighbours'
networks. It was only when I got back to work that I realised what was
going on: no blue light on the button, no WiFi. A shame that they
didn't have small labels in addition to the button icon, just to make
things clearer.

Having had a Powerbook as my first laptop, I was used to having the
Airport icon in OS X as my main interface to WiFi. Apple laptops don't
have a button for Wi Fi. Actually, they don't have *any* buttons,
aside from the Power button. Okay, there's the Eject CD/DVD button on
the top right, but that's integrated into the keyboard layout.

<#include: usual fanboi rave about how Apple design is elegant,
uncluttered and all that.>

<#include: While mostly true for the hardware design (except that
Super Mouse.."oh, it's got 2 buttons, but we don't actually show it to
you. we like to unclutter it and keep you guessing". fktards.)>

<#digress-heavily: as for OS X... boy, the Finder is such a pitiful
excuse for a file manager. And why the hell is it so difficult to move
a bloody file? Why do I have to copy and *then* delete?>

* The screen is too dim. fn+F9 and fn+10 *look* like they're meant to
control screen brightness but don't have any effect. And coming from a
17" Powerbook, the 14" screen is taking some getting used to. No way
can you have more than one app displayed at a time.

* And then there's the trackpad. By default, two taps in close
succession are treated as a double click. This behaviour has caused me
no small amount of grief.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Dickhead recruiter conversation #1

Recruiter: So when did you finish work?

Me: End of May, it's in the resume I sent you.

Recruiter: So you've been out of work for FIVE MONTHS!

Me: That's just a bit over two months. (you moron)

Recruiter: And what have you been doing since then?

Me: I've been looking for work. That's why I'm contacting you. (NOOO, i've been working on my tan in the French Riviera - what the hell do you think?)

and the clincher:

Recruiter: Your resume looks pretty good. So why haven't you found a job yet?

(At which point I found myself promising to disembowel him at the first chance I got.)

Friday, 7 August 2009

When it rains.... (job hunting chronicles continued)

Had a bit of a productive week in job hunting! I've had a break in active job hunting for the previous 2 weeks because I was studying for my Java certification exam. Got 70%, (65% was the pass score) so my hard work paid off.

Today, did an interview with a recruiter for a contract role with my old company, but in another division. The project, which is just in
the initial stages, post-design, is to build a workflow system to handle news reports so they go to the website and to the print systems at the same time. Funny enough, another part of the organisation already has something like this in place, so why they don't just build on it, I don't know. Possibly a NIH (not invented here) attitude? Anyway, as long as I get paid. LOL. Interview went well, and recruiter said he'll contact the manager and check if they want my resume sent forward. The other funny thing about this is that a friend just rang me last week and said he's already working there! Fun times if I get in, though it'll be such a bitch having to walk 20 minutes from the train station. Apparently there are buses but they are infrequent.

Around lunchtime, got a call from a recruiter I've been dealing with for about 2 months now, but still no interviews from her. She finally tells me the name of the company she sent my resume to, and it's quite a big one. Makes annoying software that I really haven't installed or used in about 10 years. Antivirus crap that fucks up your system, causes unknown or untraceable problems, resource f*ing hog.

They used to make really cool system utilities back in the DOS days, but their main product now is seen by a lot of people as a total pain in the ass, and one to avoid. But, they've got market share, and people still pay for their stuff. They must be doing something right. Anyway, the recruiter says she'll send me a set of questions to work on during the weekend. Insists that I get it in by Monday, even though earlier in the conversation she says I can work on it at my own pace. Then why the fuck does she say I must hand it in by 4pm Monday, even though I asked if I could just hand it in on Tuesday. What part of "at your own pace" don't you understand, you saucy minx/btch? (she looks fit, reminds me of Riot Becki when her glasses are on, so I still keep in touch)

Then in the afternoon, it was with a more recent former employer. This time, the role is to work on the ad-serving system for the entire media network, which comprised of quite a number of sites. Back to working with my old friend SQL Server! (much nicer than MySQL, at least) It's a humongous task, and I was a bit shocked that at the moment, there are only two developers working on this system. For a system that is used by more than a dozen websites, you'd think it would have a bit more resources devoted to it. Anyway, interesting work, looks painful, exciting, not really that sexy (and everyone hates you so they just AdBlock what you create), but it's a definite money-spinner, so it's on the radar of people who matter, like that old guy who used to be Australian but is now American. Couldn't help noticing that the interviewer kinda gave of vibes of the under-appreciated. Twice he mentioned that "this is the part of the company that never gets mentioned in emails sent to the staff".

Opened my Gmail. Oooh, that really shit hot software house that makes "developer tools that you actually use" have sent me a problem assignment to work on. Yay, my resume didn't get knocked back! I was starting to get worried. I'll have to ace this because this company is pretty much #1 on my wishlist. I've so drunk their kool-aid already.

Then in another email I see the set of questions mentioned by the recruiter. Hmm... can I read .docx files? Oh, good, TextEdit can open them. I start reading and it's nearly as vile as their software. Some of it is bullshit - "name all the Software Methodologies you've worked with." WTF? - some are more reflective of the stuff I might end up working on - "how can you implement a licensing system that does bla bla bla..." and "Provide a high-level system architecture that protects against piracy and misuse." WTF? This is a developer role, right? I'm having my doubts about this company already. I don't really want to work for a company that I can't be proud of. And it's in North Sydney! But then, the company is a big one, and might send me in another direction, career-wise. But all software should be free, right? Hahahhaha...

On Monday, I have a 2nd interview with world-famous software consulting firm. Mainly world-famous because of their chief scientist who wrote a great book about 10 (?) years ago, but I'm not really sure what he does now. This company is #2 on my wishlist, but I'm not really sure if they're as fun as #1. I guess that's why they're #2, hahah. Anyway, it's got these super geeky, quite top notch people, allegedly, and friend of a friend who works there always raves about the company. Maybe it's good. I've invested quite a bit of time already with them - first the phone interview (which was really casual and fun), then stage 2 was the programming problem (killed me for a few days, but got it in, though they didn't get back to me til a month
later), and now stage 3 is a battery of tests and an interview (3 hours in total). I'll have to do some studying on the weekend, just so I don't embarrass myself and look like a dill. Good thing is that it's casually attired.. not a lot of interviews in jeans so far; this'll be my first.

Something's gotta come out of all this!!