Saturday, October 31, 2015

Now you can do "house interviews" by Skype; does anybody remember EDS?


For the first time that I can recall, I got an email offering an interview by Skype, for a contract mainframe position with state government in Raleigh, NC.

I’ve done plenty of phone screenings in the past.  I don’t recall ever being asked to use Skype before.
 
That would mean the candidate needs to spruce up and dress (maybe with a coat and tie for men), and remove any distracting clutter in the room behind where his or her face would show.  The candidate would need to pay heed to lighting (including natural sunlight) and any glare issues.  Possibly a touch a makeup would be needed.

This reminds me of the practice of giving unannounced “house interviews” by EDS (then H. Ross Perot's company -- and Perot hasn't become the subject of multiple movies the way Steve Jobs has) of job candidates back in the 1960s.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Quirks in browsers, telecommunications providers can make blogs fail to load


Interesting little problem on my TV reviews blog, but it shows what happens when blogging packages generate code.  Yesterday, I embedded a video from Washington DC’s NBC affiliate, coded with javascript rather than the more common “iframe”.

Today, when I looked at the blog on Chrome or Firefox on Comcast Xfinity, the blog stopped displaying at the point of embed, while waiting on “nbcwashington.com”.   I walked outside with my iPhone, to get away from my own WiFi and pick up Verizon 4G, and found everything worked normally on Safari.  The circumstantial evidence was that Comcast could not reach the nbcwashington server (all of this seems to happen in Ashburn VA)  but Verizon could.

After returning from an errand, everything was working, as Comcast was picking up the nbc site normally.  I noticed that the nbc “embed” code did not have “div” around it (and “/div”) so I put that in manually, thinking that should stop the embed from hanging the page if the site goes down again.

But I haven’t seen this happen before.  And I don’t think this would have hung in Wordpress, just Blogger.  Somewhere in all of this, maybe there was some "unsafe code" (although C# seems to be the only language that uses this term, as I recall from a 2002 technical college course).

Occasionally, Blogger sites with embeds display the wrong embeds (back one day) when all are displayed together.  Navigating to the individual post gets the right embed.  But I haven't seen this caching problem on Wordpress.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Microsoft lets Windows 10 get in the way of normal Windows 7 and updates this week


This week, Microsoft offered its usual mid-month Wednesday morning (or Tuesday night) Windows updates, but a bit of a twist.

If you go to updates in the Control Panel in Windows 8.1 (or 8, or 7) and “check for updates”, now you get prompted to download and install Windows 10, which I have not checked a “reservation” for.  (I did have Geek Squad put in Windows 10 on my largest computer, with some issues that I have described already).  If you look closely, you can see “Show all available updates” just below, for your current operating system,  But when you check the updates individually and click OK, nothing happens. Furthermore, the "updates were installed on" doesn't show.

To get the updates to install, so that it doesn’t install with the machine logged off, when I can’t tell if it is even working, I had to go to the settings and up the time to do the automatic update to the next hour, and indeed that worked, on a Toshiba Satellite (8.1) and older Dell XPS (7).  In time, the list of installed updates would populate.  But there seems to be no way to do the updates “manually” and watch them the way I used to.

Later Wednesday I found that a Lenovo ultra-book and older Gateway with 7 worked normally, but this could because more time had elapsed since Microsoft published the updates Tuesday evening.


Friday, October 09, 2015

In the midst of debates over family leave and scheduling of hourly workers, one company demands its salaried workers "volunteer" for free weekend production work

 
I see another back-door wrinkle in the paid paternal and family leave debate.

As retail companies give up the practice of expecting hourly workers to be “on call” to come in suddenly when needed, suddenly at least one asks salaried employees to “volunteer” to work weekend shifts to prepare packages for shipment.  That’s Urban Outfitters. ABC News has the story here. Oh, yes, the company paid meals and transportation. It's supposed to be for "team building."

This certainly sounds abusive.  Will people on family leave get out of this while those without it have to work for free (as “slaves”?) 

When at NBC in the 1970s, as salaried programmer I “volunteered” for strike duty filming soaps during the 1976 NABET strike, and was paid double (about eight weeks).

Petula Dvorak weights in on DC’s “legislated humanity” with its proposed (not yet passed) generous mandatory paid leave program for Washington DC residents (see Issue blog Oct. 7) in the Washington Post.   But you have to be “part of a family”.  Everyone belongs.  (As in Martin Fowler’s book, Aug 27, 2014 on my Books blog).  But if you don’t belong somewhere, you pay for someone else who does.  Dvorak denies that this is “socialism”.  The link is here.  No, the world is not one big intentional community.
 
Second picture: This expectant tabby wants paid parental leave, right now.
  

Thursday, October 08, 2015

A few "unpredictable" glitches with loading and viewing Blogger images in Windows 10


I did run into a bizarre glitch when uploading pictures to blog posts yesterday after starting to use it with Windows 10, refreshed on my HP Envy "desktop".

The picture would import, but show on the Blogger panel as an lost connection small icon.  But when the post was browsed, the picture was oversized.  I found I could bring the picture back to normal size by adding the parameters ‘ width=”320” height = “240” ‘ to the HTML code for the picture.  Blogger resequences the parameters to suit itself even when the parameters are coded manually in HTML. Even then, the picture would not show on the Blogger panel for a while.

This did not always happen, as some pictures imported normally.  It seems as though a picture imported into the middle of the page (not on the top line) is less likely to encounter this problem.
The Blogger Help forums indicate some issues with this in August.  Some bloggers said that the pictures would not load at all (circle spinning) and one claimed she had to revert to Windows 8.1 (and that was marked as a “best answer”).  One blogger said none of her pictures, even on old posts, would display (probably unrelated). 

Rumor has it that numerous third part apps are having some difficulty working properly in Windows 10, which may have new techniques for memory caching. 

Update: later Oct. 8 

Later today, I noticed that a failure to display the image even when "fixed" manually can occur when looking at it through https (as when logged on to Blogger), or when the blog is https enabled.  So the bug may have something to do with a kind of "accidental encryption".

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Some Windows 10 conversions may leave some Windows 8 code lying around


I did get my HP Envy with Windows 10 back a second time today from Geek Squad. 

The main problem was that, starting around Sunday, after a cold Restart,  the File Explorer “quick access” started hanging, trying to fill the green bar with “working on it”, and not displaying thumbnails or the proper icons.  If you right-clicked on any file (like to rename) File Explorer hung and could only be resolved by restarting (hard or cold) the system. Oddly, if you continued working about two hours, the problem would start to fix itself.

The problem seems to have possibly been caused by some Windows 8 drivers left in the system and not replaced.  Geek Squad “refreshed” the system, a new option (since Windows 8) that does not affect data files on the hard drive, but requires re-installation of all apps (including Office, Final Draft, Carbonite, all of which require user passwords or product codes).  The computer, after refresh, requires re-entry of all major site passwords and possibly 2-step verification. 
   
Geek Squad also replaced the WiFi drivers, on the theory that one of them might have been causing previous crashes. (So far, so good.)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Tech companies and medical schools want candidates to fit into groups well, and learn empathy


Tech companies are placing much more emphasis on people skills in assessing new hires than a lot of applicants realize, at least according to Fareed Zakaria Sunday morning, as this article in Salon shows, link.  The new focus in the future will be "relationship workers".  Zakaria presented the topic in defense of liberal arts education, which school systems in some countries are starting to drop as kids learn to code. 
   
Companies are looking for people who can recruit and build teams, according to the article.  This is anathema to me, who doesn’t like to be recruited for narrow causes.

This seems to go a little deeper than the “Team Handbook” and “Total Quality Management” seminars of the mid 1990s.
  
Zakaria also reports that some medical schools want their students to read fiction – to get used to thinking about future patients as people with complex social interactions and motvies.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Email to me describes a position of a "recruiter intern"


I did get a curious email job opening yesterday,  about a job for a recruiter intern in northern Virginia.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a position like this before.  The candidate would pre-screen applicants, manage appointments, group interviews, and so on.  The client would be civilian DOD agencies.

I had thought about trying to become a recruiter after my layoff at the end of 2001.  At the time, my leading a double life on the web was more feasible than it could be now. 

I get lots of emails for positions that really wouldn’t have matched my “official resume” even when I was still in the market some years ago.  I did deactivate my resume on Dice. There is an official version online here.  
  
I also at one time thought about doing recruiting solo, but I found out that Dice is very expensive until an agency has some scale and is large enough