Business & Culture Posts
Alternatives and suggestions for candidates and companies to avoid tests
In part one we covered types of technical tests—their relative costs, and why organizations need to understand the costs to the candidates if they want to attract the right type of candidates, and at what point in the process to test.
We haven’t covered alternatives yet. Larger organizations have the benefit of HR or recruitment divisions to bear the brunt of the early cost of the recruitment process—they can call candidates individually to check out interpersonal skills and to make the candidates feel wanted. Smaller organizations don’t necessarily have this, but they do have the benefit of being more flexible. If the brunt of the recruitment process falls on developers (or tech leads, CTOs, or other people in the technical organization) then obviously these organizations are trying to keep the time costs down—every hour invested in recruitment is an hour not spent on coding the company’s money-making product. But these techies are also in a much better position to be able to judge a candidate, and don’t always need to rely on one channel (the technical test, for example) to perform this judgment. They have other alternatives.
Dissecting the hows, whys, and why nots of screening candidates
Because so many of us have experienced both sides of the interview table, the London Java Community has a slight obsession with discussing approaches to recruitment. The nice thing about these conversations is you see both points of view—the candidates and the techies who are responsible for hiring.
Our most recent conversation was (again) about the value of technical tests during the interview process. I’m not sure there’s another topic that generates such diverse and yet all “correct” points of view. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from seeing this conversation again and again, it’s that there is no One True Way to test a candidate’s technical ability. If there was, we’d all be doing it.
Brace yourself: Address exhaustion is coming
IPv6 is the global warming of the computer industry, an impending disaster that most folks don’t seem to be taking as seriously as they should be. We’re well into the exhaustion phase of the IPv4 address space, but most ISPs are still dragging their heels on supplying the wider protocol to the end user.
A conversation with Chris Anderson, Nick Pinkston, and Jie Qi
Manufacturing is hard, but it’s getting easier. In every stage of the manufacturing process–prototyping, small runs, large runs, marketing, fulfillment–cheap tools and service models have become available, dramatically decreasing the amount of capital required to start building something and the expense of revising and improving a product once it’s in production.
In this episode of the Radar podcast, we speak with Chris Anderson, CEO and co-founder of 3D Robotics; Nick Pinkston, a manufacturing expert who’s working to make building things easy for anyone; and Jie Qi, a student at the MIT Media Lab whose recent research has focused on the factories of Shenzhen.
Along the way we talk about the differences between Tesla’s auto plant and its previous incarnation as the NUMMI plant; the differences between on-shoring, re-shoring and near-shoring; and how the innovative energy of Kickstarter and the Maker movement can be brought to underprivileged populations.
Many of these topics will come up at Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference about the intersection of software and the physical world. Solid’s call for proposals open through December 9. We’re planning a series of Solid meet-ups, plant tours, and books about the collision of real and virtual; if you’ve got an idea for something the series should explore, please reach out!
Twitter could be so much better than an advertising company
We can now gather from Twitter’s IPO that it’s fundamentally postured as an advertising company, but its real value isn’t in advertising. Twitter’s most fundamental value rests squarely within data analytics. However, just because Twitter could make a lot of money in advertising doesn’t mean that advertising is where it should concentrate the majority of your efforts or where its most fundamental value proposition lies.
More specifically, Twitter’s most fundamental value is in the overall collective intelligence of its user base when interpreted as an interest graph. Think of an interest graph as a mapping of people to their interests. In other words, if you follow an account on Twitter, what you’re really saying is that you’re interested in that account. Even though there’s lots to be gleaned in all of the little 140 character quips associated with a particular account, there’s a good bit you can tell about a person by solely examining the accounts that the person follows.
Why innovate in the product space, when you can leech money instead?
It is with some amusement that your humble servant read this week of Microsoft’s lucrative business licensing their patents to Android handset makers. How lucrative? Evidently, over two billion dollars a year, five times their revenue from actual mobile products that the company produces. What is harder to discover, unless you do a lot of digging, is what the Android vendors are actually licensing. You have to dig back into the original suit between Microsoft and Motorola to find a list of patents, although they may have added to their portfolio since then through further acquisitions. The thing is that, unlike many parts of the software industry, the cellular portion actually has some valid patents lurking around. Cell phones have radios in them, and there are continual improvements in the protocols and technologies used to make data move faster. As a result, it is a perfectly reasonable assumption to make that Microsoft has acquired some of these cellular patents, and is using them as a revenue stream. Unfortunately, a look at the Motorola suit patent list tells a different story. Read more…
Software and hardware are moving together, and the combined result is a new medium.
The result is an entirely new medium that’s just beginning to emerge. We can see it in Ars Electronica Futurelab’s Spaxels, which use drones to render a three-dimensional pixel field; in Baxter, which layers emotive software onto an industrial robot so that anyone can operate it safely and efficiently; in OpenXC, which gives even hobbyist-level programmers access to the software in their cars; in SmartThings, which ties Web services to light switches.
The new medium is something broader than terms like “Internet of Things,” “Industrial Internet,” or “connected devices” suggest. It’s an entirely new discipline that’s being built by software developers, roboticists, manufacturers, hardware engineers, artists, and designers.
The need to root out old data goes well beyond creating disk space
A couple weeks ago Brian Krebs announced that Adobe had a serious breach, of customer data as well as source code for a number of its software products. Nicole Perlroth of The New York Times updated that to say that the breach appears to be much bigger than thought and, indeed, Krebs agrees. Adobe themselves announced it first, earlier than Krebs’s first report in CSO Brad Arkin’s terse blog post, Illegal Access to Adobe Source Code.
By now, breaches are hardly news at all. All of us pros flat out say that it isn’t a matter of *if* you get hacked, but *when*. Adobe’s is of note solely because of the way that the news has dribbled out. First, the “illegal access” to source code, then the news of lost customer data to the tune of 2.9 million, then upping that to 38 million, but really actually (maybe?) 150 million. The larger number is expired accounts—or something.