You are currently browsing the archives for the Google category


Google’s brain teasers don’t work – or so they say

A recent announcement confirms what some of us suspected a while back: brain teaser questions don’t really size up a job applicant very well.  In fact, “We found brainteaser questions a complete waste of time“.

So… brainteaser questions are a waste of time.  Google’s rep went on to say that GPA and test scores were a waste of time (and only requested now for recent graduates).  So what do they claim is the best indicator of an applicant’s potential?  Asking candidates how they solved a difficult real world problem.  Actually, more to the point,

.. this has the added benefit of showing the interviewer what the candidate considers to be a difficult analytical problem “rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up,” says Bock.

As intuitive as it sounds, especially for those of us who’ve been on the receiving end of stupid brainteasers and interviewers ‘just making stuff up’, is it true?

Call me cynical, but why should we trust Google?  They’re in a massive war for talent, and it may very well be that something else works pretty well for them in hiring – are they going to divulge that secret sauce?  I would not be one bit surprised if this is some strategic disinformation meant to cause dozens/hundreds of second and third tier companies to abandon their hiring practices and chase the latest Google bandwagon.

“You’re just being cynical! Of course it’s obvious that asking candidates to describe their past work achievements and how they solved difficult problems is the best way to hire!”  Well, yes, of course, but I was saying that 5 and 10 years ago, but that wasn’t the way the world saw things.  Large (and small) companies jumped on the Google/Microsoft fadwagon, and jumped applicants through hoops that even the hiring managers didn’t always quite understand.  So now we’re being told “no, that doesn’t work, this other approach is better!”.  Well.. it might be, for Google.  Or it might not be.  It’s in Google’s interest to hire the best workers for Google, not to tell everyone else how to hire.  It’s actually in their best interest to have weaker candidates working for competitors, and if they follow this advice, that’s what might happen.

Yes, a common rubric to measure all candidates against is probably an optimal balance.  There are likely many companies that aren’t sophisticated enough (or have the resources) to enact this policy, so in some sense, it doesn’t matter too much if they ‘give away the secrets’.  But many of their competitors for talent do have the resources to follow suit.  And they may be hoping that competitors do just that.


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Two way RSS reader?

Been a while since I’ve posted – have migrated some of my recent thinking to Google Plus, but am not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.   It’s great to discover and interact with new people/ideas there, but … you tend to lose yourself over there (both your identity, but also in the sense of getting lost in so much ‘stuff’).

I’ve had an idea for a while about a google+ type aggregator, but only something that aggregates blog owners’ info.  Comments posted there would be posted back to the original blog as well (and blog comments would be seen in the aggregator), but the content would still be housed directly on the individual blog engines.  Would this be useful?

Feels to me like it would be – there are still people that foreswear google+, and other people that foreswear any major social network.  By keeping your content on your blog directly, people can engage with it that way if they choose to, but people who want to consume via an aggregator can do so too.

Thinking about it more, it would almost be like a two-way RSS reader – no, just “two way RSS” – my blog subscribes to the activity from the aggregator, and the aggregator subscribes to the activity from my blog.  I remember reading about Ray Ozzie’s “Two Way RSS” (SSE) back in late 2005 and getting excited, but then nothing coming of it.  This is not (consciously?) where I was inspired from – in fact, I never remember seeing an actual implementation, but the phrase has been in my head for a while, and perhaps this idea is the latest manifestation?

 


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

New Groovy/Grails company

The founders of the Groovy and Grails projects have formed a new services and support company around Grails and Groovy – g2one.com.  Certainly early days for the company (just a few I think) but it looks like good news for both communities.  Having a ‘real’ organization – someone you can pay – will no doubt help adoption with some fence sitters who were not quite sure how serious these technologies were.  I’m looking forward to some cool things happening in the communities over the next year, and now I suspect that g2one will be playing a bit part in that.  :)


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Hard to keep up with evolving web tech!

Whew!  The last several months have brought a flurry of web tech activity, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years.

Apollo/Silverlight/JavaFX all are aiming at reinventing in-browser development.

Yahoo Pipes, Ning, Coghead and some other platforms are giving us new ways to think about web-based development.

The YUI/Dojo/Scriptaculous/Atlas/jQuery/GWT AJAX toolkits – what can I say?  They each bring their own strengths to the front-end development arena.  It’s hard to go wrong choosing any of them, and they all illustrate the point that there’s very little reason to be doing AJAX by hand if you’re doing it at all (and I’d recommend looking at Aptana.com if you’re looking for a decent Javascript editor).

Dojo had introduced an interesting ability – the ability to use local storage.  A local storage API abstracted the read/write to local storage mechanisms, including cookies and Flash.  This Dojo functionality was pretty interesting, and may still be the best way to handle this sort of need in a cross-platform way, due to Flash’s current popularity and installed base.  It will throw up warnings after so many kilobytes of local storage for permission to use that much drive space, which may scare off a few people, but used judiciously, it’s a useful hack.

Google today announced Google Gears, a plugin which provides a local SQLite server, data cache management, and a worker pool to manage multiple worker processes, increasing browser app responsiveness (Firefox, I’m giving you the evil eye).  Some sample code from http://code.google.com/apis/gears/

  try {
    db = google.gears.factory.create('beta.database', '1.0');
  } catch (ex) {
    setError('Could not create database: ' + ex.message);
  }

  if (db) {
    db.open('database-demo');
    db.execute('create table if not exists Demo' +
               ' (Phrase varchar(255), Timestamp int)');

    // Initialize the UI at startup.
    displayRecentPhrases();
  }

I suspect this may be jumped on by many smaller ISVs as a way to provide local data storage and SQL-ish functionality in a cross-platform way.  There aren’t any real broadly supported, viable  options for client-side functionality apart from Windows, which isn’t cross-browser.  From what I’m reading, the Google Gears project is an open source project, which may mean it gets adopted and ported to other browsers besides the current IE and Firefox.  It’s released under the “New BSD” license, whatever that is, so I’m not 100% certain on that part, but it sounds open source enough for most usage.

I suspect I missing a number of other players in the emerging web technology space (Laszlo and Flex come to mind as well), but I’ve been struck by some of the cool developments over the past several months, and the Google Gears announcement today pushed me into posting this just now.

What cool web technologies have you come across recently?


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Embedding maps – google v yahoo

I’ve been a fan of a lot of the Yahoo developments over the past few months – specifically all the openness which has characterized their Yahoo Developer center, the Yahoo UI toolkit, and things of that nature.  I’m looking to build a service which requires an embedded, scrollable map.  As much as I like Yahoo, I won’t be able to use their service, at least to start with (until the project is making tons of money!) because they specifically forbid commercial use.  From their terms of service page:

Personal Use Only. You agree to use the Data together with Yahoo! Maps solely for personal, non-commercial purposes for which you were licensed, and not for service bureau, time-sharing or other similar purposes.

Google’s map terms of use, however, allow for use on any site which is free for the public to use.  Given that they still charge for usage ‘behind the firewall’, they’re probably still making money off this, and flooding the market with mashup apps based on Google’s tech.  This seems like a long term strategic misstep for Yahoo, given that they’re, in my view, far ahead of the game in many other aspects when it comes to reaching out to developers.

Your thoughts?


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Google adsense

I’ve got some sites which have google’s adsense on them.  Just today someone at my office clicked an ad on one of the sites I run (http://www.watchmyspam.com) and I’m now dreading Google banning my account.  Everything here is going to look like it’s coming from one IP address, and I have previously checked my google adsense account from the office computer.  I hope the stories of Google’s draconian behaviour are 1) outdated, 2) exaggerated or 3) not applicable any longer!


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Gmail suggestion…

Not sure if *any* webmail program has this, but what I’d appreciate is a way to report different types of junk mail.  Instead of reporting everything as ‘spam’ (which is a good idea), being able to report mail as ‘phishing attempt’ or ‘contains trojan’ (for example) would help the mail provider analyze the types of emails coming through and treat certain types of questionable mail differently.  While gmail seems to do an OK job of detecting spam, it’s not great, and seems to be getting worse.  I have probably 10000 spams in the spam folder for the last 30 days.  That’s around 300 per day.  I still get another 20-30 per day that make it through.  These share similar characteristics which I report every time, yet they still let it through.  When will gmail learn that email containing all chinese text, which I’ve reported as ‘spam’ for over a year, is, in fact, something I don’t want to read???


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Gmail suggestion…

Not sure if *any* webmail program has this, but what I’d appreciate is a way to report different types of junk mail.  Instead of reporting everything as ‘spam’ (which is a good idea), being able to report mail as ‘phishing attempt’ or ‘contains trojan’ (for example) would help the mail provider analyze the types of emails coming through and treat certain types of questionable mail differently.  While gmail seems to do an OK job of detecting spam, it’s not great, and seems to be getting worse.  I have probably 10000 spams in the spam folder for the last 30 days.  That’s around 300 per day.  I still get another 20-30 per day that make it through.  These share similar characteristics which I report every time, yet they still let it through.  When will gmail learn that email containing all chinese text, which I’ve reported as ‘spam’ for over a year, is, in fact, something I don’t want to read???


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Critical thinking on state of open source software

Keith over at dotnetpimps (see trackback) has written a decent piece on the state of open source software and what it has and what it doesn’t. Really not anything that hasn’t been said before, but nicely summed up.

I’ve had discussions with mark on this topic over years (and with keith occasionally) and Mark’s take (which keith hit too) is that many open source projects lack management. Keith says ‘specs’ which is partly true, but not necessarily the root cause in all cases. I’ll post here some sketchy thoughts on this… and will probably touch on this later again :)

Heh… he actually hits a few nails on the head. I think more the point is that it’s not specifically that they lack a spec. Well, that’s part of it, but it’s a symptom, not the root, I think. The root is there’s not enough of a unified need in the community. The pain of not having easy shared calendars isn’t high enough for people to write something. To the extent that things are written, the pain of them not being interoperable isn’t high enough to do anything about it.

The pain of having potentially having different web browsers to talk to different web servers was enough to coalesce people around the idea of embracing commong HTTP specs.

For example, If the google calendar proves extensible enough, there will be migration to using that as a standard to build other interfaces around. However, the need for most people to have ‘shared calendars’ isn’t that high outside of businesses. And because something’s already written/existing in many businesses (exchange/outlook) the water of software development efforts flows downhill to other cracks in the people’s needs. Does that make sense?

I saw one other thing Keith posted which is correct, but yet wrong (or too narrow)…

I’ve said this over and over again when I taught Linux certification classes at the college level.

“The open source community is great at building things based on a protocol or an RFC.  If you don’t give them a spec, you never know what you’ll get.”

That’s a bold statement I know, but allow me to give a few samples.  The main reason this occurs is the developers don’t have to think about what they are building.
Replace “open source community” with “software developers” and you’re correct.  Name me one set of software developers in the non “open source” arena which have developed great projects/products without a spec.  Not sure you can do it.
At the heart of this whole idea is that ‘open source’ is essentially just a process or philosophy behind building software.  The primary tenents are that the software development should be open for review, possibly collaborative, open to contributions, and some other related concepts.  There’s nothing in ‘open source’ development which precludes developing project requirements, gathering user feedback, addressing specific business needs, etc.  It’s just that the overwhelming majority of ‘open source’ projects are done at a very small scale – tens of thousands of small one-off projects on sourceforge, for example, attest to that fact.  As mentioned, MySQL and Apple are two examples of companies harnessing the positive aspects of open source – transparency, bug reporting, testing, user contributions (whether code or feedback/ideas), increased user base due to lower costs (in mysql’s case anyway!), and combining those positive effects with specific business requirements into a full business model.
There’s no need to be so harsh specifically on ‘open source’.  Plenty of ‘closed source’ software companies have failed and will continue to do so for years to come, because the failure has little to do with open v closed and how well you can )or can’t!) run a business (and Keith knows I know this first hand!)

I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook

Google Earth beta for Linux

I was pleasantly surprised to just learn that there’s a beta of Google Earth v4 for Linux.  I’ve heard some good stuff about Google Earth, and saw it running on a Windows machine once, but had never installed it (even when using a Windows machine).  So, I thought I’d give it a try out today.  It’s very nice!

I won’t go in to all the ins and outs of the software itself – ogleearth.com would probably do a better job than I could.  What impressed me was the linux installer.  Yes, it still required me to run something from the command line – well, two things, really.  One, make the .bin file executable; two, run it.

I was treated to a basic KDE-ish dialog asking which directory I wanted to install in to, and that was it.  It installed all dependancies in to the local directory – much like OS X apps tend to do.  Yes, if there’s a bug in libqt that needs patching, I’ll need to upgrade it.  Yes it was larger than it probably needed to be.  But it worked, and worked flawlessly.  This has been the sort of approach I’ve been arguing for for years, and I know a few others have, but to little avail.  Perhaps a large enough company like Google can bring a bit of practicality to desktop Linux, rather than focusing solely on the theoretically pure way of doing things.

I hope there’s more Linux apps coming from Google and indeed, others who choose to make their software as easily accessible to a larger desktop Linux audience  :)


I'm currently working on a book for web freelancers, covering everything you need to know to get started or just get better. Want to stay updated? Sign up for my mailing list to get updates when the book is ready to be released!

Web Developer Freelancing Handbook



0.28137302398682