Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Well it has been an interesting day. I was called to an interview for a programming job, how shocking is that? Whether or not knowing my arse from a hole in the ground is sufficient for an entry level job, where as most places I've seen, the requirements all CS degree and check list of X years experience in Y, still remains to be seen. I don't have infinitum work experience, I have what experience I've been able to get while following my interests. That's kind of a price of doing things on my own, more practical knowledge than working experience.


The good news, is now that interview is done, now I can refocus my attention back on coding instead of worrying about getting there on time. I've been wanting to push on with an idea I dubbed Cassius, which includes my first shot using Lua's C API instead of Lua itself. Embedding Lua is rather different from Python and the SpiderMonkey JS engine, so it helps test a little theory further. Most of my time of late, has been split between helping someone with an ASP.NET project and absorbing information. I would rather spend time getting stuff done.


Since hearing about all this, my mother has had her strings of being "Fore" and "Against". Mostly fore when she realises my getting this job would mean she would have less to worry about; mostly against when faced the fact, that would mean an end I would be working on my own accord.  My mother couldn't be expected to make up her mind about anything, if my life depended on it 8=).


From what I've been able to gather about the company via my own poking about and through the interviewers, both their questions and their answers to mine, suggests to me that this company would be an excellent business to work for. At least, they passed through my gaze without any raising any red flags. They seemed to be mostly interested in two areas of focus, one of which I'm particularly interested in,and the second one seems to lead towards a technology that I have always wanted to dig deeper into, but never have been able to on my own. The only bad thing that I can say about the company, is that it's about an hour and a half drive from home, but I don't mind that. I'll never quite understand why so many people seem to hate commuting. You just get in the car and go to work, doesn't matter if it's across the street or across the metro area.


Prep work included plotting the trip, getting a hair cut, and ripping open the closet for a suitable shirt. Being me, of course I wore blue jeans and army boots lol. Since I spend most of my free time in front of a computer rather than people, I rarely bother much about hair. As expected, my mother hated the barbers handy work because it wasn't "Short" enough among other things.  I don't even like my hair short, which of course infuriates my mother, and she has been cursing barbers and the like for as long as I can remember. For the shirt, the only one more formal than a plain T-shirt, that didn't need washing was one marked "Technology Specialist". Ma found that most appropriate; I consider it the less than ideal but being unable to dry the others faster, thus shutting her up is a small price to pay. With my luck, getting hired would likely take a miracle anyway, so why worry about the shirt? Brains are more important than appearance when it comes to problem solving.


Ma decided that she wanted to come along, since she had never been out there before; the business being located in Duluth. That's basically a 70 mile / 112 kilometre trip, or a nice hour and a half on the highway. Heck, I remember when you had to drive that far from Newnan, just to go shopping somewhere besides Wallmart! Honestly, I would rather not have my mother along, it's not like I'm five ****ing years old, but try and get that through any mothers head let alone mine. Hmm, that reminds me of once telling my best friend that mothers are mothers, everywhere, when his was driving him batty over packing.


Hit the Interstate early, because while I know what the traffic on the I-85 is like, it has been a veerrry long time since I've been on the I-285. The Interstate is easy to get around, it's just a matter of paying attention to where you are going, and I have a rather long attention span compared to most people lol. The main problem was on the cities main drag, where it seems just like Peachtree city, relying on the street signs is generally a bad idea for getting around. After trying to get there early, I ended up an hour late, courtesy of going past it. Ironically, I marked the last three roads leading up to it as a safe guard, and guess what? Two of them were only marked by the names on the map, when coming from the opposite direction and thus they had different names when coming than going. Which isn't good when it's your first time in the area. On the way home, I noticed several other instances of that with signs, which is just like parts of Peachtree city really. I guess that is also Google Maps in all it's glory \o/.


Getting lost for me, is very annoying. I've got no problems about asking someone for directions, I've just got problems with being late. I intend to go over the map and the directions with a fine tooth comb because either there was an off by one error finding it, or the street sign didn't match what I had seen on the map. Once guided onto the needed road, finding the place was the same process  what Google map had given me for the "Missing road" in question. Next time I need to find some place for the first time, I'm printing the map out several times, at different scales; as opposed to just taking a shorthand note. That way I can at least stop somewhere to check printed maps against the written directions. Interviewing for a programming gig, I would find it sickly ironic, if debriefing myself showed it was an off by one error. On the upside though, now that I know how to get there, I can find it easily... which is a little late to help me much now. In my eyes, being late is a failure and being late for an interview is even worse! For me personally, being punctual is the goal you live by and the only excuse I'll tolerate of myself as a valid one for being late, is something involving an "Act of GOD, dog, or dismemberment", anything else, I'll kick myself over.


Sigh, the one thing I actually wanted to do was make a good first impression. You only get one of those. After how much time I've spent wondering if this opportunity might be a much needed break, some how it figures that such a slip would happen. I seemed to take being late much more seriously than they did, perhaps they cut more slack for an out of towner than I allow myself.


The man that called me in for the interview had me speak to three of the people that worked there. The first one seemed fairly focused on programming stuff and the ability to express it verbally. He basically got me talking about a few bits of specific to coding and some of the projects that I've done. Mostly talking about boring stuff in my book but I can understand the reasoning behind it. When I was in [SAS], I often subjected potential recruits and young instructors to such things. The second person to interview me, seemed more focused on checking my experience, as if he wanted to find where my stronger focuses were. My experience is fairly spread out between languages, so that's likely a lost cause: because I pick the language for the task, rather than e.g. doing everything in XYZ.  Accumulating so many languages, has to be good for something, eh? Like my studies with lisp, I love lisp but it is rarely the ideal tool for getting crap done; particularly in a world written in C. The third person, piqued my interest when he mentioned the dawf and stabs formats, but I can't really say that it was much deeper than that.


I don't particularly like interviews, it's just not my thing. But that's how the world works. Guess things went fair enough with the first person, not so sure about the other two. Don't know the third man well enough to read his body language assuredly. The thing that mostly concerns me, is how much such queries can tell you about someone's practical ability. Going into the interview, I was curious whether or not I would be asked anything relevant to coding, but I would say code had very little to do with it. There's a rather big difference between knowing technologies, and having used it for enough years that you dream in it. Nuts, how many times has perlishness slipped out? :-/.


Modern programming languages are trivial to learn, at least for me. Languages are pretty much like how a knife is in cooking: you use the big one to butcher the hog and the small one to make French fries with. If you know how to use a knives, it's not hard to become proficient with a knife. The cooking techniques dictate the application of the knife to the problem, same exact thing in programming. Only you rarely can eat the results.


One thing they seemed fairly interested in was the distance involved, which is probably a good sign that they noted it. In my book though, it's just a matter of gas money lol. If I got the job, I would just save up and move closer anyway, in order to spend less a month on petrol.

It felt as if my meagre resume got a thorough review, even though it's not really worth much more than the stuff I've managed to learn. Most of my experience comes from my own projects or volunteer work, because no one will hire me without the degree. The only good thing about that, is because I learn things quickly and frequently enough, that there is a fair bit stuff on my resume. In three years, I slurped up like nine languages in the time a friend of mine picked up one language, and he hardly knew enough C++ to even count as knowing part of C. Seriously, sometimes I'm glad that I wasn't the one to go to college.


Going home was fairly easy, just a matter of getting back to the interstate, and looking for the right merge onto the I-85, i.e. going south. Since she was holding the directions, I asked my mother to double check the exit number before reaching the exit in question. Instead of her reading the printed page as directed, I ended up having to do it and having to quickly juggle onto the I-85 North going back towards Atlanta. Bloody hell, someday's you can't get rid of an exit!

I had wanted to get there and back out early enough that we would be on the Interstate before dark, but we actually made it to local roads before dark, and I can practically drive those blind folded, night or day. So now I've just got to put up with my mother dissemination information, which she can't even  manage to quote correctly.

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