ENTRIES TAGGED "interviews"

Putting Developers to the Test

Whiteboards and manhole covers won't find you a great programmer

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re one of the world’s greatest chefs. You are a graduate of the CIA, have run a four-star restaurant, and had your own show on the Food Network. Now you’re interviewing to run the cafeteria at the hottest new startup in Silicon Valley (they’re offering major equity). After chatting for a bit with the CEO, she leads you outside the building. “I want to see how you work,” she says. “Cook me a meal.”

“Ok,” you respond, “where’s the kitchen?”

“Oh, no. I want you to find firewood in the park over there, build a fire ring, start a fire by rubbing some sticks together, then make a spear and hunt down a deer and cook it on the fire.”

I’ve recently had the pleasure of going through the job interview gauntlet with a few companies, and that’s essentially the process that most firms use to evaluate potential employees. They sit you down in a conference room, have someone pose you some kind of programmatic brain teaser, and then expect you to work it out on a white board.

This is so far removed from the realities of what a software engineer actually does today that you might as well be asking the candidate to sketch a portrait of the interviewer. I’m relatively fluent in at least dozen languages, but I don’t try to keep everything in my head at once. If I’m coding in Java, I’m using Eclipse. If I’m working on iOS apps, I’m in Xcode. I constantly hit command-space to autofill method signatures. I hover to get Javadoc. I search the web for code fragments.

Larry Wall says that one of the virtues of a programmer is laziness; do the least work that is needed to get the job done. When you’re hiring a developer, what you want to know is how efficient he is, and how good his code will be. If he can find the solution to a problem in five minutes of searching, it’s better than having to grind for hours trying to solve it without searching. Whiteboards don’t test that.
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Brian Aker on post-Oracle MySQL

A deep look at Oracle's motivations and MySQL's future

In time for next week’s MySQL Conference & Expo, Brian Aker discussed a number of topics with us, including Oracle’s motivations for buying Sun and the rise of NoSQL.

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Innovation from the Edges: PayPal Taps the Developer Community to Build Next-Gen Payment Apps

Innovation from the Edges: PayPal Taps the Developer Community to Build Next-Gen Payment Apps

Developer Challenge offers big prizes for best apps using new APIs

Two enduring tenets of Web 2.0 are “A platform beats an application every time” and “All the smart people don’t work for you.” Online payment giant PayPal took those bits of wisdom to heart and recently announced the PayPal X APIs, a new group of developer APIs designed to enable new applications that can more tightly integrate with PayPal services. To encourage developers to create some awesome applications with the APIs, PayPal is offering prizes $100,000 and $50,000 (in cash plus waived transaction fees) for the best new applications. We caught up with PayPal’s director for their Developer Network, Naveed Anwar, and he filled us in on what the new PayPal APIs bring to the table for application designers.

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Steve Souders: Making Web Sites Faster in the Web 2.0 Age

Steve Souders: Making Web Sites Faster in the Web 2.0 Age

How huge JavaScript libraries, rich content, and lame ad servers are slowing the web down

As much as anything else, a user’s impression of a web site has to do with how fast the site loads. But modern Web 2.0 websites aren’t your father’s Oldsmobile. Chocked full of rich Flash content and massive JavaScript libraries, they present a new set of challenges to engineers trying to maximized the performance of their sites. You need to design your sites to be Fast by Default. That’s the theme of the upcoming Velocity Online Conference, co-chaired by Google performance guru Steve Souders. Souders is the author of High Performance Web Sites and Even Faster Web Sites, and spent some time discussing the new world of web site performance with me.

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David Hoover’s Top 5 Tips for Apprentices

David Hoover’s Top 5 Tips for Apprentices

Finding a Good Mentor is Key

If you’re a senior developer with years of experience under your belt, it may be hard to remember what it was like coming out of college with a newly minted CS degree, and entering the workplace. But as David Hoover argues, helping these newcomers to the workforce to succeed can be the difference between effective, motivated developers and confused, discouraged ones. Hoover is the author of the new O’Reilly book Apprenticeship Patterns, and he says that people coming right out of college may, in fact, be less motivated than someone who has been working for a while.

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Making Government Transparent Using R

Danese Cooper thinks it will be an important tool in Open Gov

With Open Source now considered an accepted part of the software industry, some people are starting to wonder if we can’t bring the same degree of openness and innovation into government. Danese Cooper, who is actively involved in the open source community through her work with the Open Source Initiative and Apache, as well as working as an R wonk for Revolution Computing, would love to see the government become more open. Part of that openness is being able to access and interpret the mass of data that the government collects, something Cooper thinks R would be a great tool for. She’ll be talking about R and Open Government at O’Reilly’s Open Source Conference, OSCON.

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Sequencing a Genome a Week

Sequencing a Genome a Week

Radar Talks to OSCON Speaker David Dooling

The Human Genome Project took X years to fully sequence a single human's genetic information. At Washington University's Genome Center, they can now do one in a week. But when you're generating that much data, just keeping track of it can become a major challenge in itself. David Dooling is in charge of managing the massive output of the Center's herd of gene sequencing machines, and making it available to researchers inside the Center and around the world. He'll be speaking at OSCON, O'Reilly's Open Source Conference, on how he uses open source tools to keep things under control, and he agreed to give us an overview of how the field of genomics is evolving.

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Velocity Preview – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number at Microsoft

Velocity Preview – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number at Microsoft

The psychology of engineering user experiences on the web can be difficult. How much rich content can you place up on a page before the load time drives away your visitors? Get the answer wrong, and you can end up with a ghost town; get it right and you’re a star. Eric Schurman knows this well, since he is responsible for just those kind of trade-off decisions on some of Microsoft’s highest traffic pages. He’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s Velocity Conference in June, and he recently talked with us about how Microsoft tests different user experiences on small groups of visitors.

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Velocity Preview – Keeping Twitter Tweeting

Velocity Preview – Keeping Twitter Tweeting

If there’s a site that exemplifies explosive growth, it has to be Twitter. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is Tweeting, or talking about Tweeting, or Tweeting about Tweeting. Keeping the site responsive under that type of increase is no easy job, but it’s one that John Adams has to deal with every day, working in Twitter Operations. He’ll be talking about that work at O’Reilly’s Velocity Conference, in a session entitled Fixing Twitter: Improving the Performance and Scalability of the World’s Most Popular Micro-blogging Site, and he spent some time with us to talk about what is involved in keeping the site alive.

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