Category Archives: Rants & Ramblings

Job Interview Feedback

There are many “sorry” emails sent out for every one “congratulations” email after a round of job interviews. If you get one of the “sorry” emails, wouldn’t you want to know why? Perhaps it is poor form to ask why, but the feedback – if you get it – can be priceless. So write a polite reply, thank them for the opportunity to attend an interview and invite their feedback/suggestions for improving your future job applications. You may just get a goldmine of information back.

Here are some basic interview pointers, collected from my notes made during interviews:

1. An experienced interviewer can tell when you are simply giving answers that you think they want to hear. That’s very, very bad as it reflects on your honesty. For example, if I ask you where you see yourself five years from now, “right here” is the wrong answer unless you can convince me.

2. I love asking people what they consider to be their own worst attribute. It’s a trick question that tests honesty. Most candidates fall over this one with an answer like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I am a workaholic”. Wrong answer. Those are positives. That is not what the interviewer wants. Come up with a true negative. Honesty outweighs everything else in an interview.

3. Tell yourself that you will get this job if it’s the right job for you. Then relax. Treat the interview like a friendly discussion. If you are super nervous it is very hard for the interviewer to connect with you and see a potential co-worker behind the wall of nerves. If you appear desperate, that also raises questions.

4. Do not interrupt the interviewer. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? In my experience, about one in four candidates will answer before I finish the question – and sometimes end up answering the wrong question. In the workplace this habit will likely lead to misunderstandings and frustration. No thanks.

5. If you’ve had a bad experience with a previous employer, that is something you want to handle delicately. Every story has two sides. If you tell me that your previous boss was an inflexible and unreasonable troll, I have to wonder what she would say about you. After all, no employer would be mean to their superstar employee. If she was hard on you, I have to assume that you probably deserved some of it.

6. Read up about the company beforehand and prepare a few questions of your own. Trust me, this will lift you head and shoulders above 90% of the other candidates.

Bottom line:
You were invited to the interview, so you already have a thumbs-up from the company. Relax and go have an honest and open chat with the interviewer. That’s usually all it takes to land the job.

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Nice Spam

It pisses me off even more than regular spam. It pretends to be nice. “I’m sorry for contacting you in this manner…”

No, you’re not sorry.

Nobody believes that you are.

Get a real job before you loose what self-respect you have left.

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Fat, Lazy and Stupid

Apparently the most searched for term in Bing is “Google”.

Why?

Most searched for term in Google? “Facebook”.

People open their browsers which default to MSN, where they use Bing to find Google to find Facebook.

“Fat, lazy and stupid” holds true.

I’m no longer sure about “stupid” though. I actually saw someone doing this. She has a degree in accounting, so “stupid” does not apply in her case. It comes down to it being easy enough and what she is used to. It works. Who cares if there is a better way. It’s only a few seconds that she wastes. She did not calculate, despite being an accountant, the total time wasted doing this three times a day, every day for the next 50 years.

So I’ll do that calculation for her, despite being a designer. Say it takes ten seconds and she goes to Facebook three times a day. Assuming she does this on weekends too, she will spend ±152 hours of her life between nowhere and Facebook. If a billion people did this, that’s 57,000 years wasted every single day.

But back to the point:
For those of us trying to sell to this group, assume that your site visitor could not find your site again and probably does not understand or care that you are better than your competitors. On average, she is just glad she found what she wanted to buy. Don’t give her obstacles. Give her a big order button and a pat on the back.

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Google & Privacy. It’s Bad.

I’ve been using the “incognito” mode in Chrome lately, hoping to restrict Google’s spying on my every move. I also have my search history turned off in my Google account. So I was puzzled when I saw dentist’s ads all over the web today. I searched for local dentists a few days ago.

Right at the bottom of Google’s page explaining search history, they claim that they store searches in a separate system in order to prevent misuse and “to improve our services”. Even if you delete your search history.

Oh, OK. My bad. So no matter what, Google may pull up a chair and take notes when I browse the Web. To benefit their advertisers. I see.

I’ve mentioned duckduckgo.com before. They now have image search too. It’s a nice alternative to Google. There is also startpage.com. I’ve never been a Microsoft fan, but even Bing is better.

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Nofollow is Stupid

I find myself “nofollowing” every link I make. Even perfectly “natural” links. It has become a habit and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Google is so touchy about unnatural linking that it seems risky to link without the nofollow attribute firmly in place. As the nofollow epidemic spreads across the Web, normal links will become so rare that Google will have to consider nofollow as dofollow. I’m sure this is not what they intended, but it is frighteningly shortsighted of them to advocate the use of something that will inevitably become useless through over-use.

Nofollow is in the same league as spam filters. It’s old-school problem solving not unlike wrist slapping or patching a buggy piece of software that should never have made it out of beta.

Can we outgrow this mentality at some point, please? True problem solving means aligning your desired outcome with the user’s desired outcome, changing habits so that natural behavior achieves the desired outcome or making the desired outcome profitable.

Or just keep patching that algorithm and hope it holds.

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Work

In the rundown of the elections down here in South Africa I read some comments (complaints really) of South Africans as reported in the press. The number one gripe is unemployment which is very high at 24%. Third highest in the world and eating away at the support for the ruling ANC which has been unable to remedy the situation after 20 years in power.

But it’s not the ANC. There are no jobs because we are not working. It is not the other way around. Bonga, the guy working in my garden on Mondays understands this. He works at my place on Mondays only because he is fully booked every other day of the week. His income is 15 times that of the average South African.

What makes Bonga different? There are thousands of laborers complaining about unemployment. They can’t find work for one day in the week. But Bonga has too much work. He is at the point where he will have to hire help if he is to expand any further.

Employment is not a gift, it is a decision.

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Bitching About Adobe

I own PhotoShop CS4. Re-installing after a computer crash I was informed that the serial number is “invalid”. I tried again. No luck. I assumed it was because I did not deactivate it on my old PC, which I could not do because that PC was resting in pieces.

I contacted Adobe and explained the problem. They simply said that I had an invalid serial number. No further help. No explanation. I protested, but I was getting nowhere.

So I reluctantly clicked the link in the PhotoShop error message to buy a new serial for CS4. After 15 minutes of searching on the Adobe site I could not find a way to buy a serial number for CS4. Around every corner I had CC shoved in my face.

Can the mighty Adobe really be this shortsighted?

I arrived at the only logical conclusion. The Adobe umbilical cord must be cut. For a while I will struggle without PhotoShop. Initially I will have to work an extra 20 minutes every day to get the same work done. I’ll miss PhotoShop and Illustrator, but I’ll be OK. I am convinced that paying for CC now would put me in a far worse situation: Held captive by a company that unashamedly tries to suck every penny from every user.

(Sucking every penny from every user used to be “just good business” in the pre-Internet era. With the level of connectedness we have now, delivering a fantastic experience every time is the new road to profits. People now have a greater ability to talk about bad experiences, like I’m doing here. When bad press piles up it can reach a critical point where the negativity starts to feed off itself and snowballs. Where it becomes popular to hate a company. I fear that Adobe is closer to this point than they seem to realize.)

Update:
If you already legally own CS2, you can download an “end-of-life” version with serial number here:
https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=cs2_downloads

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Inspiration

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
— Chuck Close

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CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator has been king of the hill for a while now. It’s the standard and the one professional graphic designers have to have.

But recently Adobe seems to making a hash of it and, in my opinion, they opened the door for Corel. With their customer database hack and their recent move to subscription-only software, Adobe has dropped the ball. If they had clearly better software that would be another matter, but they don’t. The only advantage they have is that people are used Illustrator. It’s comfortable. They have some customer loyalty that stems from that. Given this, their decision to milk their customers for every dime seems suicidal. Losing customer loyalty is a hell of a lot easier than earning it and it happens much, much faster. Company greed will do it. Perceived company greed is just as bad.

I really hope that Corel sees the opportunity and steps up. I’ve always been a fan of Corel and I use CorelDraw far more than I use Illustrator. It’s just better.

What will it take for Corel to dethrone Adobe?

  • Have the savvy to learn from Adobe’s subscription mess,
  • stop ignoring the Mac community and
  • have massive incentives for schools/colleges to teach CorelDraw alongside or instead of Illustrator.

If Corel doesn’t seize the opportunity, someone else will. Either way, Adobe’s reign is over.

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