Do you want to resume this résumé?

My employer for the last 18 years is waving farewell to me in April. This may explain my sudden uptick in blog posting frequency. My employer is giving me a soft landing with four months notice and a termination package. Part of my package is access to “Career Transition Support” consultants. I have decided to look past their euphamistic service description and talk to them about me.

I have been asked to bring along my résumé for assessment. 

This presents a problem. My résumé has not been edited or added to for nearly 15 years. I’d like to think that my reputation alone would get me any job I would apply for, but I know that’s not true. It is time to build a new résumé from scratch.

I have reviewed hundreds of résumés in the past decade. I think I know what a good one looks like, but I also know I have been focussed on the content and not the form of the documents. Rather than deconstruct and reproduce the traditional form I thought I would articulate some of the requirements I have for my own résumé.

  • I am the first page of my résumé. My first page should mention all of my best attibutes and my starring roles because most people don’t read to page two if they’re not hooked on you by the first page, and the first page is the page that spends the most in front of your prospective employer as it sits on the desk between you in an interview, or on the screen of someone assessing multiple candidates.
  • The front page should state who I am, what I am looking for, and what I am good at. That way my time is not wasted interviewing for a position I don’t want.
  • Anything I did more than five years ago should be summarised to points that could assist me in my future career. This is because my memory of the fine detail of events five years ago is unlikely to impress an interviewer. 
  • Make sure the whole document is short and easy to read. Because no matter who you are if it takes more than four or five pages to explain what you are good at then I’m not hiring you.

Once I have built my résumé, how will I know it is acceptable before I release it into the wild?

  • Get someone I trust, who does not fear offending me, to read and criticise it. Because I can not tell when I have left out necessary detail, used corporate vernacular when plain English would do, or left out some significant gem of experience.

Thankfully Ms J is expert in all of these things and has promised to be merciless.

I still have areas of uncertainty. For instance, I don’t know if I should specify the positions I am looking for. I don’t want to limit my options. Being too prescriptive could eliminate me from consideration for fascinating jobs with hard to write job descriptions. Being too vague about my objectives makes employers unsure if I really want a position. Maybe I won’t be considered for a good position that I don’t mention by the correct keyword.

I guess that’s what a “Career Transition Support” consultant can help me with.


Left click murder on the bluetooth express

Environment:

  • MacBook 13″ Laptop connected to an external display, external keyboard, USB headset, USB backup drive, wireless network, wired network and a bluetooth mouse
  • My home office
    Daytime Population: 1 me, 1 cavoodle, 1 cat

Events leading up to problem:

  • No configuration changes or software updates for over a week
  • Everything working fine when I left my computer to make a cup of tea for 5-10 minutes and returned to find the symptoms below

Symptoms:

  • I can’t left click on anything. Not with the trackpad, not with the mouse
    • This is very frustrating. You can’t easily launch, close or do much that is useful – even to diagnose problems
  • The keyboard still works, so I can type things and use keyboard shortcuts
    • I started to Google Mac Accessibility options so I could accessibility my way around diagnosing this problem
  • I can right-click things

What now?

I began the problem isolation process, poking around, turning things on and off… trying to get to the minimum configuration that showed the symptom.

Until I noticed I had two bluetooth mice.

Crazy! I thought. This Mac has gone insane. I rebooted it and reset the NVRAM and it came back up with two bluetooth mice.

Now, like Agatha Christie, I will reveal to you that one clue that might have made it obvious to you from the beginning.

Cleaners worked on my home office yesterday. They moved my laptop bag so that it was balancing on another bag. I had repositioned it in a safe location when I went to get tea.

Hey, didn’t I put my old bluetooth mouse in my laptop bag?

I hunted around in the bag and sure enough my old backup bluetooth mouse had switched on when I moved the bag. It had been squished so the mouse button was held down.

Coming clean

This is probably something experienced all the time by road warriors with a wireless mouse, but I needed to write it down for google-fu and my future self.

Beam “Slavery to Star trek” to Edinburgh

What use is my dormant blog if not for blegging?

My friend Andreea Kindryd started doing stand-up comedy at age 68 and has recently started performing an amazing autobiographical show. After great reviews at the Adelaide Festival she has the chance to perform “Slavery to Star Trek” at the Edinburgh Festival this year, but she needs some help to get there (and back).

Come along to a performance in Sydney later this month, or visit the Pozible project pageand pledge a little support.

The Lenovo X61 Tablet three years later

In a previous post I had talked about the rate of decay and the usefulness of a fairly shiny new X61 tablet. Now three years later it’s time for a quick update on how it’s travelling.

Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet

As you can see, the tablet is pretty much the same as it was at 3 months old. There are legends about how hard-wearing ThinkPads are. After lugging it back and forth from work, and on vacations, for three years it’s looking like a role model for laptop longevity.

The screen is a bit blotchy with grease now, I haven’t found a good cleaner that I trust to not melt or damage the surface, so I put up with a dirty screen. The screen is also pulled away at the bottom exposing some glue that picks up dust and won’t let it go, but the problem is just aesthetic.

The pen is still held together by sticky tape.

The hard disk is now a 500GB Seagate 7200rpm drive, and I have added 4GB of RAM. The battery is now a non-Lenovo battery that works fine except that the Lenovo power management software courteously questions my commitment to safety and morality every time I log in. The original battery went stone cold dead with error messages from the power management system along the lines of “Get this battery thing outta me NOW! Stat!” when it was just over 2 years old.

None of the keys have come off the keyboard. The marvellous screen-rotating and reversing hinge feels as firm as the day it came out of the box.

The biggest problem is still Vista and the load of Lenovo crapware required to keep it alive. It has always taken a long while to boot and get settled (5-10 minutes), so I’m tempted to start from scratch with Windows 7, but haven’t made the investment in time yet.

Blog moved!

After checking the PHP options and benchmarking hosting & database speeds at spry.com’s dirt cheap hosting against options at the dirt cheap hosting I have at GoDaddy.com I decided to move Brainsnorkel to the garish world of GoDaddy.

While moving I found a couple of things of interest.

  1. That the Freshy2 theme I use has been bequeathed to the open source community by its creator, so I will move to a newer theme when I find one and modify it to taste. (Ignore the WordPress 2.9 incompatibilities for now, ok?)
  2. That exporting MySQL defaults to latin character encoding, and phpMyAdmin defaults to utf8 for import.
  3. That TPG has one of the slowest to update DNS servers in the world:

    sh-3.2$ nslookup brainsnorkel.com 203.12.160.35
    Non-authoritative answer:
    Server: dns1.tpgi.com.au
    Address: 203.12.160.35
    Name: brainsnorkel.com
    Address: 64.79.220.169
    sh-3.2$ nslookup brainsnorkel.com 203.12.160.36
    Non-authoritative answer:
    Server: dns2.tpgi.com.au
    Address: 203.12.160.36
    Name: brainsnorkel.com
    Address: 97.74.215.189

Dear reader

Oh strange new Internet that has such people in’t.

The few very hasty blog posts in the last year is a clear indication to y’all that Brainsnorkel is barely registering in my consciousness. I don’t blog about work, and work is hard at the moment.

Actually, home is hard too.  To make our house bigger, we have to squeeze into one end of it for a while. Hopefully all of this squeezing will be a thing of the past soon. We’ll move back into our proper places and the sardines can move back in to where we’re living.

Enough excuses! Brainsnorkel doesn’t need excuses.

Brainsnorkel needs the dust blown off it.

Given how consuming work is, maybe meta-work is fair game now. It has been in the past.

Battlestar Galactica: A great TV series ends

When I recall very good TV series like Six Feet Under and The Wire I feel could go back and watch the final episode any time for a reminder of the quality of the series and the characters in it. Battlestar Galactica is an excellent TV series, but I think I’ll be watching the pilot episodes, season 1, and not the finale.

Tonio sums up all that was good and bad about the series finale (beware, here be spoilers):
Battlestar Galactica Ends

Here’s my take on the end of the best Science Fiction TV series in history: it hit the right emotional notes, and it was reasonably satisfying, but it was not a worthy ending to the series, and I suspect that as we all go back and watch the whole thing through we’ll find a lot of threads left dangling or essentially forgotten by the writers.

Levelling up

Tomorrow, December 5th 2008, marks the 20th anniversary of my starting work in “the industry.”

This calls for five minutes of reminiscing.

I turned up for my first day of work as a trainee systems programmer at a big Australian bank’s EDP department. I recall being more than a little shocked at having to be at work before 8:06am each day. I was introduced to everyone I’d be working with shortly before being sent off to North Sydney to do MVS and IBM System/360 Assembler training for a few weeks.

At training I learned that the most powerful instruction in Assembly language was the no-op. The coding standard dictated that you sprinkle them throughout your code so that smarter programmers than you could patch your code, in memory, while running by overwriting your no-ops with useful code and then adding a statement to branch to the patch code over the defective instructions.

The bank had some great people. Some were consummate professionals and some were real cowboys.

Towards the end of my time at the bank I was introduced to the pointy-end of the economics of software development and process improvement.

A colleague returned from a long liquid lunch and let me in on the “big secret.”

He said only fools write good code. Code has to break for you to get called in. Being called in gives you overtime and visibility. Overtime is extra money. Being called in is heroism. Develop skill in writing bugs that are serious enough to call you in about, yet easy enough to fix soon after you get into the office. Overtime was paid for in four hour minimum units. Nobody notices people who write reliable code because they never get to perform heroic acts. Notice that the people who get promoted are those that handle high stress situations. Notice that the people handling these high stress situations are generally responsible for creating the high stress situation in the first place.

It was good motivation to find a new job.

Wondering if there is a dog

Some parents of kids in Mr 5’s class have expressed concern that the school-hours scripture classes are a little too “Fire And Brimstone!” Some kids have been coming home from school talking about death and pretty upset about their parents’ prospects for admission into heaven.

We hadn’t noticed anything particularly odd. A Moses colouring activity came home with a light saber once. At age 5 everything looks better with a light saber.

I decided to check out what Mr 5 thought about his scripture classes.

I don’t have this captured perfectly, but you’ll get the gist:

They’re always talking about God and Jesus. Mostly Jesus. They really like Jesus.

Jesus is really powerful. She has some big dogs who can cure blindness by licking people.

Really big dogs.

He hasn’t heard the joke about the dyslexic insomniac agnostic.