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Almost a week later

November 13, 2010 21:43 by ckincincy

So here I am almost a week later with my HTC Surround.  Overall my impression of this phone is improving as time goes on.  It just works. 

In my prior post I mentioned that one of the features I liked was the ability to sync wirelessly.  Well, that didn’t pan out to well.  The software seemed to hang a bit.  So the Zune software needs some work.

I found my first bug in the software, and saw some areas for improvement. 

I’ll cover those in specific post because I don’t want it lost in the noise of one long blog post. 

However my overall thoughts are positive.  I love the speech recognition, it just works well.  The responsiveness of the phone is awesome.  The applications for the phone is still a bit weak, but its early.  It takes time to build out a great eco system.

The one thing I did notice is that WP7 apps cost money.  Not many free, high quality, applications out there.  A lot of, what appear to be OK quality for pay apps.  I think this will also change over time as the eco system builds up.  Right now you have a lot of early developers trying to make a few bucks off the early adapters.

I’ll follow up with three post in the near future, one more tonight.

1. The bug I found.
2. Improvements I’d like to see.
3. Applications I miss from my iPhone.

Check back soon.


First Impressions

November 9, 2010 00:01 by ckincincy

imageSo I finally fully representing my license plate, I AM A PC.  I am the proud owner of the HTC Surround, a Windows Phone 7 device.

Having spent the last two years on the iPhone 3G I got to know that device very well.  It wasn’t all bad, but there were things about Apple and its phone that drove me nuts.

I was eagerly waiting for the WP7 launch, and today was the day.

I looked at the two current devices available at the AT&T store.  The Surround and the Samsung Focus.  The Focus felt cheap in my hand.  Just seemed like it would break rather easily.  So I went with the much sturdier phone, the Surround.

After a night of use my first impression is… “Why’d they mimic the iOS 3.0?”  This phone has everything my iPhone had… last year.   No ability to copy and paste, and no global inbox.  Now the good thing is that both of those will be taken care of in updates, copy and paste has been confirmed… and I can only assume the other.  My next impression is that the phone is a lot like any Windows PC you buy, a lot of crap loaded on it.  Thankfully, it is very easy to remove all of the adware provided by AT&T.  Just hold down on it and click ‘uninstall.’  My third impression is that the contact management needs work.  The iPhone struggled here as well, but they gave me the ability to just use my Windows contacts and I was able to easily organize that. 

Finally, my last reaction is that I will grow to like this phone a lot.  It is a newer processor so it is certainly faster than my old iPhone.  One feature that I really like is the wireless sync.  No longer do I have to connect my phone to my PC to sync.  I just have to plug it into a power source and let it sit on my home network and it will sync all of my new songs, pictures, and podcast.  As the application choices grow this phone will be much better, it may even take care of the global inbox issue before an official fix is in place.  The UI is certainly different than the iPhone.  More sliding, less tapping. 

I’ll check back in in due time with a follow up, but that is how I feel after a night of use.


Hotmail or Yahoo, I need one feature from you!

September 9, 2010 23:53 by ckincincy

For those that know me, you know that I am no fan of Google.  I don't trust them in many ways.  I don't trust them with my personal information and I don't trust them to keep features I like or come to rely on.  They have a history of launching the next greatest thing, to only kill it within the first two years.

I've been able to stop using Google for most things. With one exception, email.  The reason being that Yahoo and Hotmail are each missing one feature.  The ability to use my own smtp server.

Both services will allow me to 'send mail as' other accounts, but it is really an email hack.  The actual from email would be the Yahoo or Hotmail address of the account.  The Reply to would then be changed to my personal email.  The problem with this is two fold.
1. Other web servers will sometime see this as spam.
2. Sometimes the "from" that the reciepient see's is, "From user@hotmail.com sent on behalf of user@example.com".  I don't want people to see my main service email. 

So, Hotmail and Yahoo... do me a favor and give me this one feature.  I'm ready to jump ship, I just need your help.


Is a college degree still a reasonable value?

September 7, 2010 23:39 by ckincincy

Alan Stevens posted that very question on Twitter today.

I may find myself out gunned on this one and start a bit of a flame war, but I’m going to tackle that very question.

Let me first lay it out there.  Alan Stevens and I are two very different kinds of people.  I’m a guy who just went to Quaker Steak and Lube and took out 22 defenseless chicken wings.  Alan is a vegetarian.   I’m about as right wing as a person can get.  Alan, not so much.  So we do look at life in a completely different kind of way.

I will start with my story, because my story is relevant to the discussion.  I graduated high school January 17th, 1997.  My son was born January 11th, 1997.  Going to college really wasn’t an option for me.  However I lucked out and found a factory job paying $10 an hour.  When working the over time I was working and after a few dollars in raises I was able to pull in a decent amount of money for a high school graduate. Then the shift of manufacturing jobs out of the United States started taking full effect thanks to NAFTA, which by the way was signed by Bill Clinton though the Republican party was the driving force of this agreement initially.  In 2000 I saw the writing on the wall and I left my first factory job, for my second (and last) factory job.  This job focused on projection screen tv’s.  With the advent of flat screen tv’s and outsourced labor to China, again the writing was on the wall and I took a very strategic move to a very small development shop owned by a friend.  At that point I also enrolled into the University of Cincinnati.  Here I was, a father to three children, a full time job, and going to school half to three quarter time.  The BEST decision I’ve ever made.  I’ve seen my salary almost triple since that moment.  So the boat load of student loan debt I did rack up is earned back each and every year in extra income. 

Could I have done it if I didn’t go to college?  I really don’t think so.  I think I’d be making good money right now, but not very good money. I even have a very distinct memory of a job interview that I had about 2 years into my college education.  I interviewed with the project manager who loved me.  Thought I was the perfect fit for the job.  Then his boss, the vice president of the company saw my resume.  Saw that I had no degree, 2 years of experience, but no degree.  He immediately dismissed me as a candidate.  That was the end of it. 

Alan stated on his Twitter feed the following to a similar argument: “Don’t let HR drones define what’s possible for you.  Look around. There are plenty of examples of success without a degree.”

I don’t disagree in principal on this issue.  I just whole heartedly disagree with the realities of this issue.  The fact is that there are many places that will not hire you if you don’t have that check box checked. 

Now I don’t think Alan is against higher education, and to be fair he said that a few times in the Twitter talk.  I just think the argument being made is flawed.

Do I think that most students going to college today are wasting their money?  Yep.  By far, most are.  We send people to college to just say they went to college and they come out with a business degree.  What in the world is a business degree? This reminds me of a good friend of mine who happens to have been the vice president of a very large company in the area.  He shared with me the one thing that put him on the right course in life to make the significant salary he was making.  His mom never spoke as if college was an option.  It was going to happen.  Then she made sure to tell her children that once they are done with college they better be something.  Something well defined.  A pharmacist, a lawyer, a doctor.  Something that is clearly defined as a skill.   This is now the same thing I am telling my children as they get closer and closer to college.  Go to school to be something.  Even if you go another route you can always fall back to that skill.  You look over to our IT cousins in India.  The children that are fortunate to go to school are raised to go to school for two things. 

1. Be a doctor.

2. Be an engineer.

Also alluded to in the Twitter talk was the driving force behind the problem.  Money.  Colleges do not care about the well being of the student by and large.  They care about keeping their numbers up and getting as much government and tuition funding as possible.  This is where the break down of the family comes into play.  I have four children.  I’m not sure one is wired to go to college. He may turn out to be my smartest child, but I’m prepared to push him toward a career path that doesn’t require as much intellectual understanding, but more of a working with his hands and back.  It is my responsibility as a parent to help my children make the right decision on where to go to pursue the right skill set.

Now the main reason I think college is worth it is clearly pointed out in the stats around college educated folks (taken from the BLS):

image

 

Look at those numbers, if that doesn’t tell a story then nothing does.  Even with the flaws that I readily admit are in the college system, the employment rate and the income level of college educated folks is nowhere in comparison to those that aren’t. 


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Finding Talent is Hard

October 4, 2009 21:31 by ckincincy

At my current employer, I am the round One interview.  I don’t negotiate or care about salary.  I just talk about .NET.  I have 20 standard questions I ask each and every person, then I throw in a few question specific to their resume. 

Now keep in mind these aren’t hard questions to answer.

What is the difference between session state and viewstate? 

What is the life cycle of an ASP.NET page? 

I don’t go into these interviews looking for a person to know every one of the answers, but there are a few that I consider critical.  I just want to measure their depth and breadth of knowledge of the .NET framework.  What I’ve come to realize is finding talent is hard.  So when I browsed to FoxNews.com and saw this article, I know exactly what they are talking about.  You’d think with unemployment hovering around 10% that talented people would be available.

Then when you do find somebody worth hiring, its not a done deal.  Due to the extremely tight market when you find a developer you want, you are battling with other companies.  Even meeting salary expectations isn’t enough, because of the market the employee can pick and choose which company they want to work for, with little risk of letting a good opportunity pass them by. 

Now just so this post isn’t one big rant I want to throw my thoughts out on a few aspects of this topic.

What does this mean for companies?

1. It means you need to be willing to pay top dollar.  This isn’t a market where you can negotiate down a persons salary.  If they say it is going to take 80K to get them on board, then you need to be prepared to pay 80K.

2. It means you better pay the employees you have.  I’m new to my job, and while money was far from the primary or only factor, it was a factor.  Companies need to pay the employees they don’t want to lose top dollar.  This, surprisingly, isn’t a market where a 5% raise guarantees an employee sticking around.

3. The cost of development has gone up.  The out-sourcing movement has had its affect on the market and there is no India to turn to to drive cost down.  Talented workers are expensive workers.

What can be done about it?

1. Training must be encouraged.  As the previous article stated in another way, you aren’t going to take the factory worker and plug them into these jobs.  People like me have been constantly learning for years to get to where we are.  They need to understand that just because they were a lead worker on their factory line, they will have to be the follower in their new line of work.

2. Government incentives.  I think this is a place where a focused tax benefit could come in handy.  Give companies a significant tax break for hiring entry level workers for these positions.  It cost money to train them and their newbie mistakes cost money.  Give companies a reason to hire relatively new people.

3. College for all.  Yep, the small government Republican just said that.  We need to find a way to get more people into college.  We can’t compete if we don’t have the skills to compete.

What does this mean for the worker?

1. Don’t be afraid to look around.  One of the big causes of the tight job market is that people are afraid to switch jobs.  I’ve never been one to play into this fear much.  I know that with some risk comes reward. 

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money.  Lets be real here when I say, they don’t have much of a choice in the matter.

3. Stay up to date on your skills.  This is why there is an allusion of age discrimination in the IT field.  People get comfortable in what they are doing and when technology moves on, they can’t find a job when they need one. 

With all of that being said, my employer is still looking to hire several .NET developers.  If you are interested contact me and let me know.  Going through me, does offer some incentive as I do get a referral bonus.  Not that I’d take it any easier on you in the phone interview, but it sure does make me like you more :-).

[Referenced article in PDF form]


How I Help

September 24, 2009 16:52 by ckincincy

I forget where I found this:

HowIHelp


Maker vs. Manager

September 13, 2009 18:49 by ckincincy

Being new to my current company, one of the big differences I’ve had to adjust to is meetings.  For a while we had a daily 10AM meeting and then occasionally we’d have another meeting at some point in the day.  Paul Graham wrote a great article on the topic that hits the problem well. 

The basic concept is that makers work in 3 to 4 hour chunks.  When a maker gets into work, they really don’t like distractions for three to four hours.  From a programmer’s stand point, this is very true.  There isn’t much you can accomplish in 40 to 60 minute chunks.  Its about that time frame when you’ve fully identified the problem and are ready to start writing some final code to fix the issue at hand.  Then managers work in hour chunks.  Each hour starts fresh with what is on tap.  So a meeting doesn’t really hurt their day because it is just what they need to do that hour.

You can read the source article here.  If for some reason that is no longer available, here is a PDF of the same article.


Job Change

June 20, 2009 21:37 by ckincincy

Well after almost two years at Quality Gold, I’ll be starting a new job on the 29th.  Kind of came out of nowhere, I figured I’d be at QG for one more year before I considered a change, and I turned down a lot of interview request due to this thought process.  However the opportunity that presented itself was not something I felt I could pass up. 

Though I had to chuckle a bit as I put this blog on my resume, and what is the first thing they saw when they came to my blog?  An image about a pr0n star!!! 

This new job has several new challenges and opportunities for me that I look forward to tackling. 

Plus I’ll be working along side the only guy I know who has known my wife longer than I have!  He and I have known each other since the 7th grade, though we weren’t really friends until the 8th and 9th grade.  So while I hope this job change will actually give me a little more time to blog on this site, it very well could have the opposite affect.  Time will tell.


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Lack of Professionalism

April 30, 2009 21:45 by ckincincy

image Being a pretty devout Christian man certain anti-social behaviors in the technical industry hit a nerve with me.  The two that stick out to me the most are pretty obvious, course language and something that I am having a hard time putting into words.  Sexism seems a bit to strong of a word, but it hits on the overall thought that I have. 

Let me also make this clear in that I am allowing for a separation from personal life actions and professional life actions.  If it is your personal time, then do what you want. Who am I to judge?  However when you are in a professional setting I don’t think it is to much to ask for a bit of professionalism.  I wish I could say this is a limited problem, but its not.  Far to many of those in the technical field will drop the F-bomb in a heart beat.  Yes, I didn’t use the word.  I don’t cuss (see the devout Christian man part…).  That word makes me cringe, but lets be honest in a professional setting there aren’t many curse words that make me comfortable. 

While I won’t call the presenter out publically here, there was one time I was at a presentation and before hand I heard the presenter lamenting about not being an MVP.  He didn’t know why.  Technically he was very sound and skilled.  However his language was pretty poor.  I even took the time to email him personally about it.  Never got a reply, but I hope he takes it into consideration.  Then you have the guys at DotNetRocks who have their twice-weekly podcast.  What we generally get is a cleaned up version.  Though they do drop the F-Bomb on occasion and one time they forgot to scrub the podcast before posting on the web.  It was loaded with the F-Bomb. For me a professional setting should remain professional.  Especially when you are in mixed company.  If you know all involved and know their comfort level, that is one thing.  But if you are presenting to a room of strangers, you should keep your mouth in check. 

Then we get to the second part, sexism.  We are the industry that took the porn industry to the next level.  This topic is usually brought up in very subtle comments, however recently a fellow by the name of Matt Aimonetti took it to the next level.  He recently gave a presentation on the Ruby technology titled,(WARNING… graphic images) CouchDB: Perform like a pr0n star.  Just an initial glance at his power point presentation would give most folks a very uneasy feeling.  I really don’t know how this ever seemed like a good idea to Mr. Aimonetti.  He did address the topic publically

What I think is the root of the issue is the makeup of the men in the technology sector.  We were/are the geeks in life.  We were the outcast and failed to really build great social interactions with people.  Most people grow out of that lack of relationship building at some point, but since we are around like minded folks we push this envelope without giving it a second thought.   Or as some of the commenter's put it, ‘still living in their mom’s basement at 35 years old’. 

Can’t we all just grow up a little?


A good cause, can you support?

April 6, 2009 21:57 by ckincincy

image As readers of my blog and friends know, my wife and I are certified foster parents.  In our county the foster care system has setup a non-profit, non-governmental institution to raise money and resources to support foster families and the children in the system. 

It is called Keeping Families Connected Committee (KFCC for short).  One of their big fundraisers each year is a charity walk.  This is my first year in this system and my first year in the walk. 

Can you support me?  Any amount would help, and with the way it is setup I won’t know who gave what.  So if you give, let me say thank you!  If you can’t give, that’s OK!  I fully understand. 

The donations can be given one of two ways.  Either by PayPal (so using your PayPal account or a credit card) or by mailing in a check.

You can get the information to donate here.  Please specify me when you are donating so they can tie it to me, this is a link during the process that says 'insert person or team donating for'.


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