Monthly Archives: March 2012

Google Maps Bug

There’s a serious bug in Google Maps.  It is very annoying.

When a store closes, it is not removed from Google Maps!

For example, search for Quizno’s near Times Square.  Most of them are closed!

When Google Maps was first created, the data was accurate.  Over time, stores close.  Closed stores are not removed from Google Maps.  This makes Google Maps less and less accurate over time.

This is a serious flaw in Google Maps.  Stores are not removed when they close.  That’s a serious deterioration in data quality over time.

“Record” Lotto Jackpot

A lot of people are excited about the “record” Lotto jackpot.  It was a statistical inevitability, that a record would be set in early 2012.  Why?

In January 2012, the price of a ticket doubled from $1 to $2.  If you double the price of the ticket, then the jackpot doubles!  That guaranteed that a record would be set.

Even though it’s a record jackpot, it’s still a sucker bet.

The “rake” on a Lotto ticket is 50% or more.  Less than 50% of the ticket sales are returned as prizes.

Even though there’s the accumulated jackpot from previous drawings, there’s also going to be a lot of tickets sold.  It is very likely that there will be multiple winners, sharing the jackpot.

Also, you have to look at the lump-sum amount and not the annuity.  The annuity payout is worth less than it sounds, due to the time value of money.  If you are stupid enough to play the lottery and lucky enough to win, you’d be better off investing the lump sum in gold, than taking the annuity.

Even worse, sometimes the insurance corporation goes bankrupt.  There is a legal precedent that says “If the corporation that provides the annuity goes bankrupt, then the person who ‘won’ the lottery is an unsecured creditor.”

Also, you pay taxes on the winnings.  You’d owe the top Federal tax rate AND state taxes.

It was inevitable that there would be a record Lotto jackpot.  They doubled the price of the ticket!  Even with the huge jackpot, it’s still a sucker bet.  The “rake” is more than 50%.  It is very likely that there will be multiple winners.  You have to consider annuity vs. lumps-sum.  You have to include taxes on the winnings.

“Castle Doctrine”, “Duty To Retreat”, And “Stand Your Ground”

After the murder of Trayvon Martin, there’s been a lot of criticism of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.  Some people are incorrectly calling it a “It’s OK to murder people!” law.  The “Stand Your Ground” law shouldn’t apply here, because George Zimmerman initiated the confrontation with Trayvon Martin.

There are a couple of laws regarding use of deadly force.  These are “Castle Doctrine”, “Duty To Retreat”, and “Stand Your Ground”.

“Castle Doctrine” says “If someone breaks into your home, you can murder them.”  This one is pretty obvious.

One problem is that police sometimes act like criminals.  During no-knock raids, the victim can confuse the police for criminals, and kill a policeman.  The correct answer is “Police should not do a no-knock raid for nonviolent offenses.  Police should only break down a door if someone’s life is in immediate danger.”  A Statist would say “You need a no-knock raid for drug offenses, because otherwise the victim would destroy evidence!”  That misses the point, because “possession of (certain) drugs” isn’t a real crime.

There is a double standard.  If you confuse a policeman for a criminal during a no-knock raid and kill him, you will be prosecuted for murder if other other policemen don’t execute you on the spot.  If a policeman said “I thought he had a gun!” and murders you in a no-knock raid, that’s just too bad and these things happen.

Another problem with “Castle Doctrine” occurs when you have an “illegal gun”.  If you use an “illegal gun” to defend yourself from a criminal, you’ll be prosecuted for “possession of a gun”.  The correct answer is “You have an absolute right to defend yourself.  There should be no State licensing requirements for guns.”  In case like that, I’d like to see “jury nullification”, but that is rare.

“Duty To Retreat” says that you have an obligation to run away.  This can get silly in states with no “Castle Doctrine”.  If a criminal breaks into you’re home, you’re supposed to run away, rather than defend yourself and your property.

Trayvon Martin thought that George Zimmerman was a criminal.  Trayvon Martin was trying to avoid George Zimmerman.  Trayvon Martin was actually following “Duty To Retreat”.

“Stand Your Ground” means that if you see a criminal, you don’t have an obligation to run away.  You can stay where you are, and defend yourself if necessary.

Suppose you see a criminal with a knife coming towards you.  Under “Duty To Retreat”, you’re supposed to run away, and can only use a gun if you’re cornered.  (Presumably, if you see the criminal hurting someone else, you’re allowed to help, but that isn’t clear.)  Under “Stand Your Ground”, you can stand where you are, and defend yourself if the criminal threatens you.

“Stand Your Ground” does not allow you to start a fight with someone, and then shoot them.  “Stand Your Ground” should not apply to George Zimmerman, but a judge eager for an acquittal might take that interpretation.

I’ve noticed negative spin on the Trayvon Martin story.  This story is being used to promote racism.  This story is used to promote the idea “Only policemen should be allowed to carry guns.”  People want to repeal the “Stand Your Ground” law, making it hard for someone to legitimately claim self-defense.

BATS Failed IPO

This story is interesting. BATS is the third-largest stock exchange in the USA. It tried to have an IPO on Friday. It was a high-profile flop.

When a stock is listed for trading, one exchange is chosen for the listing, although shares may trade anywhere.  For example, Coca-Cola (KO) is listed on the NYSE, but shares may trade anywhere.

BATS chose to list the shares for their IPO on their own exchange.

Trading was supposed to start on Friday.  Unfortunately, BATS’ computers didn’t work properly.  There was a surge of orders to BATS for the IPO.  After their server couldn’t handle the load, they halted trading.  They also rescinded their IPO!

This quote was interesting:

The software that failed Friday “was an area that was tested very rigorously over months,” Mr. Ratterman said. The software had a bug in handling orders the way they came in, he said: “That combination hadn’t been seen in the hundreds of tests we’d run before this.”

According to that quote, the reason for the flop was that BATS had defective software.  There was a lot of volume due to the BATS IPO.  This caused a previously-unnoticed bug to crash their server.

I recently worked at a large financial institution.  I did QA on a big new project.  I found lots of obscure bugs in their code.  For example, they weren’t properly calculating coupon dates and accrued interest for Treasury bonds.  “February 28″ plus 6 months is not “August 28″, it’s “August 31″.  That’s one type of obscure bug I found.

BATS has offices in NYC.  If they really wanted to, they probably could have hired me!

Most large financial institutions focus on hiring a lot of mediocre people, rather than hiring people who really know their stuff.  People who are really productive don’t fit into the dysfunctional financial institutions.  If BATS had hired one high-performing programmer, they might have avoided their IPO flop.

The BATS IPO was a miserable failure.  The reason was a software bug.  That’s one example of someone losing a ton of money due to bad software.

Kitchen Nightmares – Chiarella’s

This week’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares was interesting.  (Don’t try to watch it online with the News corporation’s lousy viewer.  Here’s a torrent/magnet link.)

I’m am 99% convinced that the male owner, Tommy, was taking psychiatric drugs.  Look at 5:40, the way he rocks when he’s sitting.  Look at 22:50, the way he’s rocking on the weight bench.  That’s a clear indication of psychiatric drug use.

They did mention “depression”, but didn’t explicitly mention psychiatric drugs.

I’m pretty good at identifying people who are taking psychiatric drugs.  I’m 99% convinced that the owner in that episode was taking psychiatric drugs.  It’s dishonest that “Kitchen Nightmares” didn’t mention that.  It’s impossible to run a business when psychiatric drugs are interrupting your thinking.

Google/Amazon Search Creepiness

Some people have been concerned about Google’s “privacy policy”.  They share information about your searches.

Here’s something really disturbing.  I did a search on my Android cell phone for “Crumbs bake shop”.  Now, I’m getting a bunch of offers from Amazon.com for cookies and cakes.

That’s really disturbing.

Reader Mail – 03/18/2012 To 03/24/2012

Note: Due to a defect in the rawr plugin, the formatting for this post shows up wrong on the blog homepage, but it does show up correctly if you view it as a single post or in a RSS reader.

I'm unemployed again. I didn't want to put up with their nonsense anymore and left. That gives me more time to work on my blog. It's easier to look full-time.


znop commented on About FSK.
Is there no way to signup for this forum? Please resopnd by e-mail

Thanks.

I have "comment moderation" enabled.

Justin commented on About FSK.

Hey FSK what percentage of interviews have you been on where you would say the company suffered from a bozo explosion.

http://wordspy.com/words/bozoexplosion.asp

Google has had a "bozo explosion". That would be one good example.

A "bozo explosion" can occur even in a 10 person startup. If the "lead tech guy" has middling ability, he'll only hire people less qualified than him. Such a startup is doomed, but they can burn through a lot of VC first if they have a slick pitch. One example is the node.js interview. Another example is the job a few years ago where there was a Ruby on Rails disaster.

I give an estimate of 75%-95% of businesses have the "bozo explosion" problem. It's hard to be sure. If a place is really dysfunctional, I won't even get an interview. For example, I now refuse programming tests and quizzes. It's an insult to someone with my level of experience and education.


Somesh commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.
Exactly what I have been saying for a long time. One of my friends has become obsessed wit node.js and express. Agreed, node.js can be useful as a web socket server. but people are trashing Lampp stack completely for node and mongoDB.

I can understand including a few pieces of code to get a decent chat application, but trashing LAMPP Stack for node? Retarded!

Try doing anything that is even slightly memory extensive with node, and you'll see how non blocking it actually is. Plus, the obvious drawback is: when something goes wrong, your only thread collapses and you've got a few days of down time right there, until you can get it back up. Even a simple memory outage can cause the whole thing to crumble like it never existed. In case of PHP, it will simply destroy the worker thread, and declare so.

Node, on the other hand will go down the minute somebody finds even a slightly innovative way to crash it.

And then the whole non blocking function calls, there's a reason we accepted serial processing as a standard and that reason was: coherence.

Somesh commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.

Well in all fairness, LAMPP might have its flaws, but that doesn't mean we have to keep inventing languages.

And node, really? I can crash a node server in a few minutes. It won't just not work correctly, it will crash. When was the last time apache crashed when some programmer just forgot to do some validation? node, boom kaboom.

Now, node has its uses alright, but replacing LAMPP stack, really is not one of them.

Its a realtime framework, let's keep it that way

Notice the two extreme reactions. The people who disagree with "node.js sucks" are very hostile. The people who agree with me seem reasonable.

If you are handling a lot of quick small requests, then node.js may be appropriate. However, you can do non-blocking http calls in C, C#, VB.NET, or ASP.NET.

If you have complicated business logic, using node.js seems wrong.

I'm definitely willing to learn new languages. In the past few years, I've learned PHP and VB.NET and ASP.NET After a few hours of research, I concluded that node.js is hype-over-substance just like Rails. Node.js gives off the same "vibe" as Rails.

"FSK doesn't like node.js. That proves he's an awful programmer." sounds a lot like "FSK doesn't like Rails. That proves he's an awful programmer." I know that I'm competent.

Sebastien commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.

This guy also has good arguments against Node,or having the same language on the back and front-end.

You should check it out:

http://blog.ianbicking.org/2011/03/30/js-on-server-and-client-is-not-a-big-deal/

That was interesting. "You can share the same code on client and server!" makes little sense, because the client and server are doing different things.

However, that guy did give an overall favorable review of node.js. I didn't like node.js, but I only did brief research. Node.js seems best for many quick tasks, but you can do non-blocking socket calls in other languages.

There was another interesting bit in the comments on that thread. It was about nosql. Unless you have *HEAVY* data load, there's not much benefit to nosql. With nosql, you lose transactions and all the other nice things your rdbms does for you.

Master of the Angelical Flute Penis commented on node.js Is VB6 - Does node.js Suck?.

1.) Unified language stack > TOBS (Tower of Babel Stack)

2.) I've seen PHP code so horrible, each Apache spawn would take up 512MB on production. The language attracts fuck-ups the same way cocaine attracts hookers.

3.) Ngnix is single thread and it can hold its own against Apache very well.

4.) Redis is single thread(ish) and, when properly setup, can give AMQP a run for its money.

Can anyone point me into the direction where a LAMP stack can push notifications down to a client? No? No one? Still need those cornball AJAX keep-alives? *chuckle*

Old guard schmucks. Your procedural brains are archaic.

Your name and E-Mail address (yourMom@myFemaleImpaler.nut - not visible to others) lends a lot of credibility to your comment. That's typical for people who like node.js.


John Joseph commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.
Hi

I consider myself well qualified to comment on the issue as I am a VICTIM of psychiatry.I had a fairly successful life as an IT consultant until the age of 48 when I had some problems -probably stress related.

Anyway once in the hands of psychiatrists they relentlessly drugged me using a cocktail of harmful and addictive substances like Ambien,Zyprexa,riseperdal,haldol and many others.All along the psychiatrists never even bothered to discuss issues with me. I also noticed that the psychs and nurses were only too eager to declare me incurably sick and push drugs(Remember Rosenhan experiment).

So primarily from my own personal experience and also from discussions with other "patients" and reading about the history and current state of psychiatry I am absolutely convinced that it is very important the that entire system is critically evaluated.

Brain in a hugely complex and delicate organ and certainly no one (especially the psychiatrists) have no clue as to its inner workings or the mechanics of these "diseases" and the drugs supposed(?????) to cure them. So how can they so confidently ignore all critics and push these drugs which are known to be very harmful without ever , ever considering alternatives.Basically protecting their lucrative jobs and doing the bidding of their benefactors-the drug companies

I've had success with Seroquel. I had an extreme negative reaction to Risperdal, Geodon, and Abilify.


CDK commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.
OK, everyone..Stop, collaborate, and listen..Fighting amongst yourselves is NOT solving anything. Stop spewing the racist ignorance and find ways to celebrate our differences and encourage others in this walk here on Earth.PEACE!

Fedupwithstupidity commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

You are a stupid peace of shit who need to be lynched, how dare you judge a book when you don't even know the story. Travion's family probably has more morals, sense and money than you because your probably supported by your parents or wife, who should divorce you immediately. You sound like a racist you eats rat shit, and if I knew you I would force a pound of it in you mouth and make you swallow it. What world are you from because you are surely not from this one, and agreed with the comment above, yes you should go find a different country to live in because obviously this one is not for you. This country is ran mostly by black people and they surely would make a better one, they make the world go round and most of them are the ones with the money, you shit starter. I done giving you any of my time, you don't even deserve my conversation.

commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

ur a complet idiot you should of been shot moron

This is getting a bit repetitive. Do I need to start censoring or shutting off comments for this post?

I am mostly convinced that it was manslaughter and probably murder. Maybe Trayvon Martin's relatives should do an end-run around the DA, and go directly to the grand jury themselves.

I am confused by the police saying "We can't prove that it wasn't self-defense. Therefore it's a justified shooting." Really? I can carry a gun, start a fight with someone, and if they start beating me up, I can pull out a gun and shoot them, and that's self-defense? If the police can't prove it wasn't self-defense, then it's OK to murder someone?

Also, I believe in compensation-based justice and not revenge-based justice. The correct answer is "George Zimmerman should be forced to pay a % of his salary for the rest of his life, to Trayvon Martin's relatives." They could try a civil "wrongful death" lawsuit against George Zimmerman. However, for murder, in a compensation-based justice system, the victim's relatives could say "We waive the fine. Instead, we'll kill you and call it even."

Goblue commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

If he wasn't doing anything wrong why didn't he just stop and tell him he lived there? The whole thing could have been resolved in a matter of minutes, now a kid is dead.

SAT commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

I do not understand why some of these people are so blind that they cannot see that Zimmeran committed murder. Because the teen was African American, does that give Zimmeran any justice? Apparently it does, because we all know if it were the other way around, the young African American boy would be now sentenced to the chair. What a world....no...what a country we live in today? and the fact that we, the United States, pride ourselves on equality and freedom...God Help Us!

tasia commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

Cops are saying that the pathetic trigger-happy murderer was studying to be a cop. Does this means he is a good person because he was studying to be a cop. Does this mean that a 17 years old who was innocent deserves to be killed. Who says that someone studying criminology or any other law enforcement type of course is completely flawless in his or her behaviour?

Cops have magical powers that no other humans have. George Zimmerman was studying to be a cop. Therefore, he would never confuse an innocent person for a criminal based on the color of his skin, and then murder him. (In case you're sarcasm impaired, I wasn't serious.)

Regarding "Why didn't Trayvon Martin identify himself to George Zimmerman?", this new bit of information answers that. Trayvon Marin was on the phone with a friend, just before his murder. He thought that George Zimmerman was a suspicious person trying to rob/assault him. Travyvon Martin was "acting suspiciously", because he was afraid of George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin correctly identified that George Zimmerman had criminal/murderous intent.

Trayvon Martin had no obligation to identify himself to a crazy person who looks like he's going to assault him.

Did George Zimmerman identify himself as a member of the "neighborhood watch" before confronting Trayvon Martin? Even if he did, any crazy person can claim to be a member of the "neighborhood watch".

Also, that phone call seems to indicate "George Zimmerman punched/pushed/assaulted Trayvon Martin first." That should eliminate any claim of self-defense.

I don't understand why people are criticizing Florida's "stand your ground" law. That law is totally irrelevant here, because George Zimmerman started the fight with Trayvon Martin.

The police and prosecutors are hardcore Statists. Only a Statist would believe "George Zimmeman didn't murder Trayvon Martin.". Policemen and policemen-in-training have magic powers and never do anything wrong.

Also, if it were policeman and not George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin would not have died.

First, policemen would (hopefully) be more restrained and not escalate the confrontation.

Second, policemen would have a uniform and police car. Trayvon Martin would probably have identified himself to real police, or surrendered without a struggle.

Like Jehovah's Witnesses, policeman travel in pairs (and for the same reason, like all religious cults). With two policeman vs. an unarmed teenager, they should be able to restrain him without bloodshed.

Finally, policemen would (hopefully) try a Taser before a gunshot. A Taser is less-lethal rather than nonlethal, but Trayvon Martin probably would have survived a Tasering.

znop commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

Anyone who really thinks that George Zimmerman is going to get off virtually "Scott Free" might as well pray for immortality... It's not going to happen. He going to go to jail or be killed out right eventually. Moreover I love how the pro-Zimmerman chippies are pointing that he's not white but Hispanic instead. I find this ironic because then the potention for the "race card" to be played will be severly hamppered. They are both American Minorities. Unlike pure christian whites -- they kill and rape each other all the time. White folk just don't like like that. We be cilivized.

The likely outcome in a case like this is a manslaughter conviction. That's a minor jail sentence. That will appease lots of people. In a few months, people will move on to the next outrage.

There also is the possibility of a revenge killing. That's what happens when Rule Of Law breaks down.

Katrece commented on State Sanctioned Murder In Florida - Trayvon Martin.

It's take a white piece of shit to comments about, a child that life were taken probably because someone like u hate black people.U dumb white dog I don't dislike white people but I will pray for someone like u.puy urself n his mom shoes what the heck will ur family be going thru...But U will see it again partner..its things I want to sau to u right now but I'm going to save it n my mouth

I already said that "anti-white idiots" is wrong. Some comments are too profanity-laden and threatening violence. I normally don't censor comments, but this is getting out of hand.


Anonymous Coward commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.
I've starting writing software in my teens. As such when I started work I was already good at it.

I've been low balled salary wise several times, despite the boss being staggered over the fact I turn in virtually perfect work.

Like you I've been treated as stupid or not trusted (and after doing wonderful work as well!) and it really does rankle. It rankles bad!

Good luck!

Really treating someone as stupid (they probably don't internally think that) is a form of bullying and harassment. Just if it is intelligence related or work related, these sick clowns can get away with it.

I have no idea if they realize they got a good deal, or if they really think I'm stupid. The other programmer is motivated to talk down my ability, because he's concerned about his own job security.

On the other hand, the other programmer can't talk down my ability too much After I'm gone, he'll have triple or quadruple or more workload.

The only thing I can do is look for a new job. That's one advantage of being a wage slave instead of a chattel slave. In the meantime, I'll do what I can to keep them satisfied.

Justin commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

Veteran programmer advice: This is the industry average FSK. Non technical psychopaths hire technical people with no ability to rank their quality. Its par the course. Since you don't have a degree you really can't pursue a cog position at a place like microsoft or ibm. Have you tried google? Its a hellish interview, but if you got hired it would change your life forever. Another option could be a start up, do you read ycombinator?

Anonymous Coward commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

I can second what Justin has said.

None of my jobs in software have been that good. Some haven't even been sustainable. At one time I did work for a famous tech company, but it was one with a bit of a scummy reputation as regards being employee friendly. A good percentage of my jobs have been unsustainable i.e. you have to leave at some point either due to psychotic managers, excessively long hours or low pay.

Even Google has its disenchanted ex and current employees.

http://www.itproportal.com/2012/03/16/google-gets-both-barrels-ex-staff-member-ms-blog/

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-12/tech/30269535_1_google-engineer-googler-google-platform

Google tend to hire employees that tend hire like employees, with great preference put on university scores. They tend to p*** industry veterans that have done great work in areas such a compilers, 3d graphics etc. and are asked stupid linked list questions in their interviews by 22 year old employees when they themselves have written compilers and 3d engines pushing the boundaries of state-of-the-art.

First, I *DO* have a CS/Math degree from a good university. I also have an MA in Mathematics. (I was ABD for a PhD. I realized it was a stupid waste of time, so I went to work as a computer programmer, ... at the tail end of the .com bubble.)

Actually, I've done both. I was self-taught before taking computer classes *AND* I have a CS degree. I'm able to actually code *AND* I know the algorithms and theory. Unfortunately, most new CS graduates/managers seem to care about buzzwords rather than algorithms.

That's an interesting observation. In recent interviews, I've been asked about "MVC" and "design patterns" and "Agile" more than I've been asked about "Explain the quicksort algorithm." That's disturbing. I used to get asked algorithm questions on interviews, and now I'm only asked buzzword questions. As Captain Capitalism would say, "Enjoy the decline!"

Yes, being a wage slave sucks. However, my current job sucks more than my previous job. First, it's a 15% pay cut. At my previous job, my direct coworkers were decent and respectful. At my current job, my bosses treat me like trash. There are degrees of suckiness. My current job is on the "more sucky" side.

There are semi-decent work environments, and abusive work environments. My current environment counts as "abusive". My only option is to shop around. Yes, most places are abusive, but I only need one non-abusive employer who appreciates me.

Here's a depressing thought. I'm making the same salary as in my first job in 1999! That's after inflation, and moving to NYC from a city with a lower cost of living.

Long-term, "start my own business" is the only way I'll ever get full value for my ability. It isn't as easy to bootstrap a business as it sounds. In the meantime, I'm sticking with being a wage slave (for now).

BeenThereSentIt commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

> Have you tried google? Its a hellish interview,

As Steve Yegge (employee of Google) has commented, the Google interview process is flawed in the fact that you will have to interview there on three separate occasions before you get a job. Flawed in the sense that the employees there only hire people just like them. So if you have just finished a CS degree and the stuff is fresh in your mind, then good. If you are older and have real world experience, it will count against you. Industry veterans that have written whole compilers and 3d engines are asked silly questions about linked lists! The interview process will not at all be trailed to your skills and what you have done.

Given that the interview process involves coding in your own time and having lots of questions fired at you over most of a day (at the least), having to go through the same interview process three times is asking a lot.

Maybe Google can waste vast amounts of time, because they are funded by a monopoly on Internet advertising, which brings in lots of cash, but other people cannot.

Google Chrome is not Google's own work. The HTML rendered is WebKit and was first used in the free browser Konqueror on Linux over a decade ago. Google just came along and used an Open Source component.

Streeview was purchased from an external company.

Google Checkout when first launched was crap and had little support. Over time it has gotten better, but its crappy launch as put a lot of people off.

A lot of other Google projects have failed or bring in little cash.

Android has a lot of traction but it makes little or no money as yet.

Plus not only is the interview process long, but it will be spread over several months. You wait a month to get a phone interview. Then wait 2 months for face-to-face interviews. If you actually need a job anytime soon, then Google isn't for you.

Plus as several people have commented on other websites, the interview in hellish and then at the end of it all, the job offered is a lower salary than they want, in a different location and may not be the job they were hoping for at all. Like many other companies, Google interviews say little or nothing about the job. So you have to spend a lot of energy interviewing for a job, of which you know nothing about.

Certainly the Google interview process was broken. Is it fixed now?

All companies, not just Google, use recruiters. Trouble is, recruiters are usually pretty scummy people. They hit the button, waste your time and care not whether there is any realistic prospect of a job at the end of it.

I did interview at Google twice, a year apart. One thing that impressed me was that on the 2nd interview, the quality of the interviewers (typo fixed) was much lower.

There was one "gotcha" question. It was a few lines of code in Python, but I tried doing it in C. I never claimed to have experience in Python. Also, the Python solution was slower than the one I was trying, O(n^n) instead of O(n!). The question was "Output all permutations of a string, without duplicates, even if the string has duplicated characters."

There was one question that had an obvious O(n*logn) solution. The interviewer insisted it could be done on O(n). He explained the algorithm to me, but I never understood his explanation. The question was "Given an array of integers, represent it as a histogram, a series of 1xn rectangles. Find the largest sub-rectangle." There's an obvious nlogn solution involving sorting, but obviously a question like that has a clever O(n) solution or it wouldn't be an interview question. The interviewer couldn't explain the O(n) solution to me.

Google has one cash cow, the search engine. Instead of returning that cashflow to shareholders, they're using that money to build an empire. That's typical corporate CEO empire-building. It's in the interests of the CEO to expand his empire, rather than having Google just do a search engine and return all that extra money to shareholders.

Unfortunately, Google is just another boring big tech company now. The other big boring tech companies don't have the ability to make a better search engine, because they're just as crippled by bureaucracy.

I once worked for a guy who was a program manager for LiveSearch (now Bing). He frequently said "I worked a Microsoft! Therefore, I know a lot about managing software projects!" It was obvious to me that he was a clueless twit. For example, he wrote his own code for everything. He wrote his own web templating engine instead of using ASP.NET. He wrote his own string library. He wrote his own MFC. He wrote his own build tool instead of using Visual Studio or make. It was such a waste.

In the State economy, a large corporation can survive on inertia. It's one thing to say "We only hire the best and brightest!" It's another thing to actually implement that in your hiring practices.

In a successful startup, you need one or several productive programmers. Then, once you're successful, the parasites and psychopaths take over. The productive people now feel constrained by evil, and leave. A successful business has inertia and it isn't a free market. Once you have some success, you can hang on even with clueless management. One example is Yahoo.

Anonymous Coward commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

I once went to an interview at Microsoft. It was in a foreign country and so the whole process would have occupied 4 days of my time, if everything is counted up (pre-interviews, getting foreign travel money etc.). I had to pay up-front part of the travel costs first and also the hotel bill, which was later refunded.

This interview process stuck in my mind. I had several interviews with employees. All went well. Then an interview with the manager. Again I answered all his questions correctly. Then he asked me another question. I said the correct answer after a while of working out. He then piped up he had to rush off to interview someone else, he re-phrased my correct answer and that was the end of it.

I then had two more interviews. One went well. The other one was with a man with a heavy French accent. I gave my solution on the whiteboard. Man, was that a difficult problem. He then gave his solution with didn't even fit his question!

I was then told I did get the job, because I got one question wrong in my third from last interview! So why was I given two more interviews. In fact I had got that question correct. Also the interviewer did was to re-phrase my correct answer.

So four days of my time were wasted. I was rejected because I got a question correct, which the manager said I got incorrect.

All these clowns had to do with either listen to what I said or be honest. If I was rejected for an honest reason, that would be fine. But they had to be nasty.

BeenThereSentIt commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

I develop and sell my own software. My software has a website with a description of how it works and its unique features. My software, in its area, was practically the first of its kind. Not only was my software the first one out that was both reliable and fast, but my internals went far ahead of anything else had done and, even now, my software has advanced parts nobody else in the world has even managed to replicate.

I still have a profile on one social network that I haven't updated in years and years. But through this old profile, recruiters sometimes contact me. Perhaps I should close it down.

Unfortunately recruiters, even those for big companies, just look for people with certain buzzwords. These buzzwords may be universities or other famous companies.

What is insulting is that the recruiters don't even bother to do the slightest real research into what the people they are trying to recruit have done or are doing.

So how can these people be any good at their jobs? They are only buzzwords searching, without anything real behind it.

I had a conversion with a big company recruiter a few days ago. During the conversation he asked me if I did a certain kind of work. I was offended. I have a whole website dedicated to that kind of work and the work I've put out there is better than the state-of-the-art.

In fact the only other company to attempt to do what I have done is Microsoft. Their code is in a related, but different area to mine. Their code is obviously C or C++ and native. My code is C# .NET. I did have a quick comparison of my code and Microsoft's. My code is far more reliable and picks up everything. Their code is faster, but fails to spot everything. I'm one person (and did this work as a small part of a bigger project - it was an aside) and Microsoft is a huge big company, but I think I've achieved something nonetheless.

The key point is that a recruiter will pick up your resume on a social network and ask you to apply for a big company job, but not actually bother to look at you or your work beyond a couple of buzzwords. It is insulting. You would think recruiters might do things more in depth, rather than flood their companies with a stream of applicants crudely selected on a couple of buzzwords.

BeenThereSentIt commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

Oops, I've posted far too much on this topic. Anyway one more thing.

Companies copy each other. So lots of companies end up with a convoluted, overly lengthy interview process which consists of solving 3 programming problems before interview, one whiteboard interview, another telephone interview and then 1 to 1.5 days of face-to-face interviews whereby as many as two programming problems can be asked per interview. All in all you might have to do 14 programming problems. If you travel from another city, your day or interviews might even start at 8am and you might even have to wake up at 5am to travel to a different city.

The length is getting absurd.

And the cruel joke is that doing well doesn't seem to matter. Maybe the manager is put off if you seem bright. Maybe the manager wants to hire a friend. Maybe you are of the wrong social class. Maybe you have had to go to a certain school.

Certainly I've done very well in a number of technical interviews, but it doesn't not seem sufficient. So I've given up now and just write my own software.

Why bother with so many interviews if technical ability seems to be a disadvantage?

That's the answer to "Why is the economy collapsing?" The leaders are almost all psychopaths. The middle managers are medium skill parasites. The *WORST* thing a mediocre manager can do, is hire someone much smarter than him.

Here's the thought process for a mediocre manager. "This guy is smarter than me. If I hire him, then I'm concerned about my job security. My bosses may decide to fire me and replace me with this obviously more qualified person. I'll make up some excuse to not hire him."

The "best" employee is a mediocre abusable person with middling intelligence. However, in software, the "best" people are 10x-100x more productive. If you're a mediocre middle manager, the "ideal" employee is someone barely qualified to get the job done, but not smarter than you.

Even in a small 5-10 person company, the "tech guy" is more interested in protecting his turf, than in hiring the best employee possible.

I can evaluate someone in a few minutes. I don't need a lengthy interview. However, evil hiring managers can also tell right away, when they're dealing with someone smarter than them. The drawn-out interview process is designed to give an excuse if you want to reject someone, in case someone sues.

In fact, some businesses already have decided they want an H1-B. They have to go through the motions of "finding no qualified Americans" before hiring an H1-B.

BeenThereSentIt commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

I went for face-to-face interviews at Google's office in London, UK. I also had pre-interview questions.

The pre-interview questions were quite difficult, but I did get them correct. I thought there were a bit too hard to ask over the telephone, but I did get the correct answers.

I didn't do perfectly in their face-to-face interviews. I got one question right on my second attempt and for another question I paused to think for about 10 seconds and then the interviewers answered their own question.

At the end of the interviews, a new woman spoke to me. She told me if I didn't get the job, then Google would not contact me with the decision.

Well Google kept their promise. They never contacted me again after that.

At the time I thought this was a bit rough. When I interview for a job, I have the knowledge I won't get the job. I accept that. But what I don't expect is some nasty surprise; some twist; some way to stab me.

Google should have at the least sent me a short email at the time to tell me I didn't get the job. They couldn't be bothered. Or rather the recruiter at the time couldn't be bothered to be organized and couldn't be bothered to make a simple list of names.

Google set themselves up as a lovely company, that treat their employees very well and give them lots of free things. As a courtesy Google should have realized I had given up some my time to see them and they at least owed me one short email.

AC commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

There is a strange concept that companies like Google, Microsoft etc. don't understand. It is a concept of doing a difficult examination and doing it once only.

When I applied to an elite university back in the day, I sat Advanced Level examinations in difficult subjects such as Pure Mathematics, Further Mathematics for example (these are harder than Mathematics in the UK). I got A grades in these examinations. When went to the university interview there were hundreds of available places across the whole university. So there were several available places to me.

I didn't have to re-sit my Advanced Level examinations every time I considered another university place.

Google probably pre-filter candidates by academic scores and previous jobs known to have difficult interviews. So even an the pre-interview telephone stage the pool of candidates is good. If they ask difficult technical questions over the telephone (I don't recommend this at all), then the pool of people actually getting to the face-to-face interviews is so high that probably all of them can do clever stuff far in excess of the actual job they might get.

Google probably do face-to-face interviews for 3 - 10 people for every real job.

So for every 1 person they hire then burn 2 - 9 people. These people will have had to wait months to get through the series of telephone and real interviews and even wait months for the result. But there is only 1 available job.

It doesn't take much to work out that if Google even fill a small proportion of their jobs, they will burn out probably all the very smart software developers in a whole country or state for a certain time period.

Google should get a clue and cache interview results instead of making people sit "exams" every time. Ditto for other companies.

Coward #56 commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

>One thing that impressed me was that on the 2nd interview, the quality of the

>interviewees was much lower.

You mean "interviewers" not "interviewees".

Well of course. That is fundamental consequence of Google having a massive hiring spree, interviewing vast numbers of people (the wasted time funded by a monopoly on Internet advertising and no pressure to get new, useful software out the door), rejecting a load of them that have effectively "passed" the interview and then on the second occasion of hiring finding out that they can no longer find people to turn up and actually correctly answer the questions, as the good batch of people were rejected the first time around! So they hire people that "fail" the interview. The decline has started. Soon they will be like Microsoft and hire a bunch of no-hopers that don't know the difference between a fundamental Computer Science or software concept and some internal Microsoft recommendation.

Have you heard about Google and InfoSpace? Money is nice!!! Check out

http://searchengineland.com/harvard-professor-details-new-insidious-form-of-google-click-fraud-33477

FSK, did you really want to work with these people? Just read the article in the URL above.

Have you got a clue yet?

Adwords is going downhill. The Google Clowns have added a load of silly features. Bloat. Bloat. Bloat. Don't these people have real work to do?

Coward #56 commented on Only Stupid People Work Here.

I live in the UK. One of the reasons I stopped looking for a job years ago is that most jobs over here are only advertised through external recruitment companies.

Recruiters, as a rule, are scumbags. As a former manager of mine once said he felt sick after talking to them.

Recruiters will call you in for an "interview" at their offices even if they haven't even found you an interview yet. If you quibble about it being a wasted journey, they will tell you they have to see everyone they put forward in person. The real interview, of course, is done at the client's office. Well typically in London, people send in CVs (resumes) to at least five recruitment companies if they are serious about getting a job. There used to be hundreds of such companies, if not thousands, in the UK. You might get pissed if you have to waste a day making a pointless journey to a clueless, technically illiterate recruiter just so he can add your name to his database - with no real job on the cards yet.

Secondly if you waste days of your time on an interview at a client site, the recruiter won't owe you the courtesy of telling you you haven't got the job. This is just plain discourteous.

So when a big company decides to use people that used to work full-time in external recruitment companies or have a long background in such dedicated recruitment jobs, then the bias is on messing interviewees around. Just push the "screen and exam" button first, get people in without thinking first.

There's one easy way to handle the "stonewalling interview" tactic. Pursue many simultaneous interviews.

I've turned down 2nd interviews because I already had a job. The 2nd interview was much later than the 1st interview.

(Yes, I meant interviewers and not interviewees. When I go on an interview, I'm also evaluating the other people.)

It is silly that I have to re-prove basic programming competence on every interview. On the other hand, there may be a lot of unqualified fakers out there. Also, it's silly to screen by "# of years experience in language X" rather than overall ability. The only "advantage" of "resume keyword screening" is that it enables unqualified twits to act as recruiters and headhunters.


Justin commented on Real Money!.
Just further proof precious metals aren't in a bubble :)

Anonymous Coward commented on $25B "Taxpayer Gain" From Mortgage Bailout.
OK, a little off-topic but here are two videos that I liked.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsa9RtfwPaM&list=UU-oIdByeQwwH4ULueUV592w&index=7&feature=plcp

Notes: Jay Taylor comments on the correlation of the debasing of currencies and the decline of work ethics and morality. Smart guy. He has nailed the problem very concisely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHc4Vp4I9_I&list=UU-oIdByeQwwH4ULueUV592w&index=1&feature=plcp

Notes: See Ron Paul show the silver coin to The Bernanke. Then it cuts to an old black and white film. It would be funny if it wasn't so sick.


AC commented on VB.NET - No "__DATE__"! And Other Bugs.
System.windows.forms.application.version

10, 000 rows sounds too much to view. You can easily break it up and add your own next and previous buttons. SQL does allow you to return only the first _x_ rows of a result set. Can't remember what it is - where rowcount < 1000 ?????

Really? I thought I tried that.

I was required to load the whole table. In C/C++, 10,000 rows is no problem. I was surprised that VB.NET couldn't handle that.

AC commented on VB.NET - No "__DATE__"! And Other Bugs.

I made a mistake it is

.Application.ProductVersion

Maybe you aren't writing a desktop Windows forms application. If so, it might not be available. You set the product version in the AssemblyInfo file.

The MSDN library was good with Visual Studio 2008. In Visual Studio 2010, the MSDN library has turned to crap. I suspect Microsoft has moved form a desktop application into an HTML browser one and messed up the MSDN help in the process.

AC commented on VB.NET - No "__DATE__"! And Other Bugs.

Maybe you should have as a rule:

1) All employers and companies that use Visual Basic are idiots. All code in VB is rubbish written by clowns.

2) Avoid all companies that have anything to do with Lotus Notes.

I usually use the web-based version of MSDN help, rather than the F1 help. I use Google to search Microsoft's website, because Bing gives horrible results!

VB.NET was more awful than I expected. I looked into putting the version #, but couldn't figure it out. I think I tried that code, but it always came out as 1.0.0.0.

It was better than MFC. However, there were some bugs that made me say "WTF? Seriously?" For example, if I try applying a RowFilter to a DataTable bound to a DataGridView, and there's lots of rows, it can become non-synchronized. I.e., the filter is supposed to show 100 rows but 200 rows actually display. I found an ugly workaround. I kept changing the filter and looking at Rows.Count until it matched!

AC commented on VB.NET - No "__DATE__"! And Other Bugs.

The manifest file contains an application version number, but I don't think it is read from there. I think it is AssemblyInfo. You can set the version number in project properties.

Application.ProductVersion should work if you are using a windows forms desktop application. Maybe it gets messed up if you use the publish feature. I don't use that myself. The more Microsoft functionality gets into the mix, the more likely things are to blow up in your face!


Coward #9 commented on Tech Support Douchebags.
I've worked for scumbags. You have to balance the increasing damage to your mental health by staying there against the need for a paycheck.

Well that is what a friend of mine has said and he worked for years in the software industry.

Good luck. You can either apply for software jobs again. Or perhaps try a different line of work. However when people say that to me, I get slightly offedned as I have so much software experience. Maths teacher perhaps?

Perhaps go for scientific software jobs as the quality of clowns might be higher. Or what about that maths software company in Canada?

Coward #9 commented on Tech Support Douchebags.

As you have some time now, perhaps you can tell us whether we should invest in Sandstorm, Silver Wheaton (they are precious metal middlemen) or go direct for physical in our sweaty paws.

I've already said many times, physical gold/silver/platinum and take delivery.

I'm going to look for another programmer job. I'm also going to work on my blog some more, maybe put back up some ads.

This definitely was an "increasing damage" situation. They weren't just abusive. They were getting progressively more and more abusive.

Joe commented on Tech Support Douchebags.

You need to get a new job man. Spread your wings and fly.

You missed the footnote at the bottom. I quit and am unemployed again. It got to the point where I wasn't willing to put up with their abuse anymore.

It's easier to look for a job when you're unemployed, because then you can meet with every crazy headhunter and prospective employer. It's a numbers game. You have to meet 50+ abusive jerks to find one decent hiring manager.

Many clueless headhunters insist on meeting you first. I have gotten jobs through headhunters, but never through one who insisted on meeting me first.

Bank Stress Test Farce

There recently was a “bank stress test”. It was a nice piece of propaganda. That creates the illusion that someone is watching the banks and making sure they aren’t taking too big risks.

In a “stress test”, you assume a sharp market decline and see what banks are still solvent. There are a couple of big fallacies.

The first fallacy is “How big of a decline?” If you assume a severe decline, nobody will pass. If you assume a lenient decline, then everyone passes.

The second fallacy is “How do you value illiquid assets?” Suppose that bank A owns X and bank B owns Y. How do you know which will decline more, X or Y? Based on what assumptions you make, that affects which banks pass.

That’s the “advantage” of banks owning complicated illiquid assets. It’s practically impossible for someone to look at the positions, and decide if the bank is solvent or not. By hiding under complexity, banks can continue operating even if they’re insolvent. With negative interest rates, if you load on leverage, you’ll profit eventually, even if you’d be bankrupt if you were forced to liquidate immediately.

The third fallacy is “What if assets are already overpriced?” Suppose a bank has an asset on its books for $1B when it’s really worth $0.1B. If the stress test assumes a 50% decline from $1B, that still isn’t realistic.

The real problem is negative real interest rates and the central bank credit monopoly. The incentive is for banks to load up on leverage and take big risks.

The stress test is propaganda. It provides the illusion of responsibility. The results are meaningless. There’s a lot of discretion for the assumptions. If the calculation is strict, nobody passes. If the calculation is lenient, everybody passes.  If the calculation is biased, some banks will pass and not others.

Tech Support Douchebags

At work, they decided to use a 3rd party PDF editor. Allegedly, it has the ability to edit the PDF and save the changes back to our server. I write “allegedly”, because I couldn’t get it to work.

That’s offensive. It’s a buggy POS, but it’s my fault because I can’t magically make it work. “You’re a smart guy! You should be able to make it work!” ignores the fact that I’m experienced enough to recognize garbage. I’m experienced enough to recognize when the tech support guy is giving me evasive answers and trying to emotionally intimidate me.

The other programmer says “They advertise a lot! They must have a good product!” I responded “That only proves they have a marketing budget. That doesn’t prove they have a good product.”

The owner said “Their tech support guy is cool! You’ll like him!” He was a total douchebag. He was stonewalling and avoiding my question.  He was trying to emotionally intimidate me, rather than answer my question.

The owner is a douchebag and the tech support guy is a douchebag. They have the same personality type. Unfortunately, that isn’t the personality type that leads to good software.

I’m mostly convinced that it’s a buggy POS. They have a lot of marketing and evil salesmen and evil tech support. That’s enough to convince evil owners to buy the product.


I reached the limit of the abuse that I’m willing to accept. I’m unemployed again. They were abusive. They were getting worse and worse. Instead of appreciating me, they were getting angry that I wasn’t reading their minds, regarding what features to implement.

VB.NET – No “__DATE__”! And Other Bugs

I was doing a lot of VB.NET in my most recent job.

One problem I had was that my bosses were reviewing old versions of the program.  They were complaining about things I had already fixed.  I decided to put the version number on the screen, so I can always be sure what version they’re using.

In the days of C/C++, I used __DATE__.  The preprocessor replaces __DATE__ with the current date.  This makes it easy to display the compile time and version on the screen.

I was shocked that VB.NET does not have __DATE__!  There is no equivalent!  WTF was Microsoft thinking?

I use the Visual Studio “publish” feature.  It automatically increments and tracks version numbers.  THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO EXTRACT THE VERSION NUMBER.  (You can do it, but it involves jumping through some hoops.)

I wound up using subversion’s $rev$ and $date$ feature.  That’s still flawed, because it shows the timestamp of THAT FILE and not the whole program.  I.e., if I didn’t edit that specific file for a week, then $rev$ and $date$ in that file are a week old.

I know that in C/C++, I can have array of struct with 100,000+ rows and it’s fine.  In .NET, if I put more than 10,000 rows into a DataTable or a DataGridView, VB.NET chokes on it.  WTF?  Why should 10,000 rows cripple the runtime?

VB.NET is better than the old C++/MFC.  If you want a dynamically resizing window, the splitcontainer/anchor/dock feature is nice.

I’m annoyed that some “obvious” feature are missing from VB.NET.  There’s no equivalent of __DATE__!  There’s no easy way to extract the publish version number.  If you put more than 10,000 rows in a DataTable or DataGridView, it starts getting slow.