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Becoming a consultant

May 7, 2012 05:00 by ckincincy

Today marks a new day in my career. 

I’m not a wordy individual and don’t want to make this some big dramatic post.  Today I start with Fusion Alliance a consulting firm with locations in Indianapolis and Blue Ash. 

This is a major change in my career in that I am now a consultant. 

I’m looking forward to the new adventure that awaits.

Categories: General | Personal | Work
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Technical Interviews–The Goal

March 7, 2011 08:08 by ckincincy

For the last few years I have been one of the primary people to interview potential new hires.  Interviewing programmers is very difficult because what we do is so vast that knowing it all is impossible.  Over time I learned from the interviews and came down to answering one question.  I will even say that me and a couple co-workers at a previous job got really good at this process.  When we hired a person we knew exactly what we were getting.  If the person was senior, we knew it.  If the person was a mid-level developer that wouldn’t really get much better… we knew it.  If the person wasn’t worth hiring we knew it*.  The results of hiring each has proven our process.

What do you want to figure out about the person sitting next to you?

This can really vary from place to place, but ultimately I have two things I’d like to have answered.

How wide and deep is their knowledge?

How wide and deep is their experience?

What I’ve found is that it is easy for some people to memorize the text book answers.  However figuring this out is very easy, and ultimately answers the second question.  You ask a question and you let them give you the right answer, but then ask them a follow up or two about the same topic.  Generally in relation to how they have used or experienced it on the job. 

Ultimately I’ve found the following process to be very beneficial:

1. 15 minute phone screen.  Is this person worth bringing in for a longer period of time?

2. One hour technical interview that includes a technical code problem. 

I’ve also heard of companies, and I’ve yet to work for one that would allow this, that will give a programmer a simple project to do at home before the face to face interview.

I’ll cover a few things over the next few blog post.  I’ll give a list of programming problems that I’ve seen used and a list of questions that I’ve used.

* Yes, in spite of an entire team of programmers recommending a person not get hired our managers hired them.  Our reservations were soon proven to be accurate. 

Categories: Programming | Work
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Completely Remove .NET Framework

March 6, 2010 06:00 by ckincincy

Last week I came into the office to find my box was completely hosed.  I kept getting a compile error that the webengine.dll could not be found. 

I tried many different uninstalls and reinstalls of .NET but it wouldn’t fix the problem.  However I notice that even though .NET was uninstalled, it wasn’t.  I went looking for a tool to completely uninstall .NET and found this website.

After using that process to uninstall .NET and then rebooting, I reinstalled .NET and was good to go.

Was one of the most frustrating work days I have had in some time, have never been so close to being beaten by a technical problem like this.

Project In Review

November 22, 2009 17:41 by ckincincy

So at work I just finished up a rather large project.  It is live and customers are using it.

What I am going to try and do is recap some of what I’ve done and learned over the past few months so others can learn, and I can easily recall :-)

Some of the post will be rather trivial in nature, so bear with me.

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]

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.

How To Lose Your Job

December 8, 2008 05:51 by ckincincy

I worked real hard to lose my job on Friday, and I'll share with you as well.

Step 1: Stand in Line

Step 2: Donate some money to St. Jude.

Step 3: Call the bosses wife over... and shove a couple pies in her face.

Pie Throw 108

Now, she would have been safe had she not prank called me two days before.

Step 4: Call the boss over... and shove a couple of pies in his face.

Pie Throw 111

Step 5: Call both owners of your company over... and shove a couple pies in their face.

Pie Throw 113

Now my politically leaning ways are known. So just before I pied the owners, they both yelled Obama!  Yes I Can, Yes I Did.


So that is how you lose your job in a matter of minutes, but unbelievably I'm still employed!

Categories: Work
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