pyesetz: (woof)
My membership card arrived today!  I am now a "card-carrying Liberal".  And I still have my membership card for the Free Software Foundation, so I remain a "card-carrying Communist".

At this month's meeting of the riding association, they voted me onto the board of directors!  Since we're now in the off-season for Canadian elections, becoming a director is simply a matter of showing up repeatedly for meetings.  Problem: now I'm supposed to help them raise money for the 2019 election!  I have no experience whatsoever in fund-raising, but I guess I have to do it to get some cred with this Old-Boy Network that I'm still hoping will someday get me a cushy job as a part-time software engineer, hopefully before all my remaining cash runs out.

Next problem: modern fund-raising requires a smartphone, which I don't have (and don't particularly want to get because the fonts are so damn small).  Everyone is supposed to be running an app called MiniVAN to record the results of the voter-contacts.  Maybe I can borrow Wifey's tablet and run it on that?  Or maybe use WebVAN on my laptop?  I'll find out at the upcoming fund-raising training workshop at the riding-president's house.

Another problem: who am I raising this money for?  Some of it is for the national party, which needs it to support the riding associations, buy TV ads, and fly the Prime Minister around on a private jet.  But much of it is supposed to go to the 2019 election fund.  Who will the candidate be?  If nothing changes between now and then, the riding association intends to nominate the same guy as last time (who didn't win).  He seems like a nice and hard-working fellow.

But something is *supposed* to change.  Justin Trudeau promised that 2015 would be the last time that Canada used a first-past-the-post winner-take-all election like the Americans.  Switching over to a proportional-representation system will require either making Parliament 30% bigger or making the electoral districts 30% bigger, which seems to be the preferred option.  Suppose the new district boundaries are drawn so that our candidate is in one riding and the money we raised for him is in a different one.  What happens then?  My guess is that no one really knows yet.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I got a telephone call yesterday.  The caller ID said "GoC–GdC".  I know who that is!  That's "Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada".

This is at least the third time they've called me this year.  I did not pick up the phone the previous two times because I did not want to talk to them.  The message on the answering machine asked me to pleeeease call them back to talk about my tax situation.  But I had nothing to say.  Last fall they mailed me a "Request to File an Income Tax Return" for 2014, followed by a "Second Request to File an Income Tax Return" for the same year, along with a deadline of December 20th after which they would get mad at me.  But I didn't file.  I have no excuse, other than that I did not make enough money that year to be eligible for income tax and I wasn't looking forward to grinding through the paperwork to show them in detail just how bad my year was.  (And 2015 was actually even worse in that regard.)

But yesterday I decided to pick up the phone.  The agent went through the familiar identity-check stuff (I've gotten these calls in previous years).  And then, just before beginning her harangue, the agent checked my current status.  "Oh!  You just eFiled last week!" she said.  Yes, I did that.  "You should not have been called.  I'm sorry to bother you".  So I told her I was sorry that the return was so late — it was all so Canadian!  So now I am officially off the government's shitlist.

I still have to file a business tax return for 2014 (I'll get a minuscule refund), and a US income tax return for 2014, plus Canadian and US returns for 2015 (but no business return because my Company 𝔾 consulting business was officially closed in 2014).

Still, it's good news!  I had told the accountant at H&R Block that I wanted to eFile on Friday because I didn't know how much time I had left before CRA made their next move.  Well, their next move was Tuesday and I was ready for them!  What a stroke of luck that I got it done just in time!  I used to get lucky breaks like that all the time, but these last few years it has seemed that my luck had run out.

* * * * *

I went to a job interview recently.  They looked good on paper — they wanted lots of things that were on my résumé.  But the interview didn't go well.  It began very nicely with a discussion of how everyone at the company likes Liberal politics and WTF is up with Trump down in the States???  But the guy who does their C++ work is very possessive of his code, while their guy who does Python and SQL is going on sabbatical and needs to be replaced.  The company is 7 years old and still having trouble making payroll consistently.  Of course, they want 60+ hours a week like everyone does nowadays in Software.  I told them I couldn't offer more than 20 hrs/wk so that was the end of it.

Now that the government is feeling better about me, perhaps I should join the Liberal Party of Canada and try to get a job through the "old boy" network.  It doesn't seem that there is any other possible way to get a part-time programming job.  The inheritance from my mother-in-law is almost half-gone already.
pyesetz: (woof)
Well, you *knew* I wouldn't let this "warmest Christmas Eve in recorded history" go by without a comment, right?  Every place I've been over the last ten years is in the part of this map that's been described as "the molten inside of a Hot Pocket", which represents temperatures 18°F to 36°F above normal for the day.

Some people claim that Global Warming will kill a billion people, or 14% of the planet's human population.  That's almost big a reduction as the 17% that the planet got from the Black Death.  And, you know, after the Black Death the relative power of Labour vs Capital was improved considerably!  So if you think that people have no power and corporations own everything, just wait until you're negotiating your next raise while all your co-workers' bodies are rotting in the streets!  (Disclaimer: this refers specifically to Europe, where half the people died of plague; fatalities from Global Warming are expected to vary widely across the planet, affecting outsourced programmers in Bangladesh much more than those in Ukraine).

Recently I heard that jobs for computer programmers in the USA are expected to drop by 8% over the next decade, while jobs for software developers (previously called "Programmer/Analysts") will grow by 17%.  Of course, these estimates assume that current off-shoring trends will continue unchanged, but the one thing you can be certain of about trends is that they eventually change.

Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah!  We celebrated our tradition with a Christmas Eve visit to a Chinese restaurant, like all the other Jews.

Did you know that "kwanza" is the unit of currency in Angola?
pyesetz: (woof)
I got only 100% on my citizenship test (because there are no extra-credit questions).  Now I have to wait 1-3 months for the oath-ceremony.

This was a long time ago.  And this was even longer ago.

Now if only I had a Canadian job!  Recently I went to a seminar on SR&ED.  Half the attendees were CEOs at local startups.  I was the only job-seeker.  After the seminar, one of the CEOs gave me a job interview.  A few days later I went for an interview with that company's chief engineer, who is a hard-ass about deadlines.  I thought, "I do not have the health-points for this job".  They wanted device drivers to connect Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to an ARM development board.  I could probably do the work, but I'm just not enthused about working on that team, for no pay, and maybe a share of the booty in six months when the venture-capitalist vultures show up.

Maybe I should be looking for a later-stage startup that already has some VC funding and won't remind me quite so much of working on a pirate ship.


Dec. 13th, 2013 08:44 pm
pyesetz: (woof)
I didn't do much today.  The wind-chill was nasty all day, but most of the things I was supposed to have done were on the telephone.  One item: I was supposed to call one of the local "Chamber of Commerce" type places to ask if they know of any other Job Fairs like the one they held a month ago.  (They had 55 vendors, I handed out 5 résumés, went home thinking there were actually two companies I'd like to work at, but later found out that one doesn't need a software guy right now and the other has run into funding issues and can't hire anyone.)

I was also thinking of asking them where I could find a part-time semi-retired salesman for a "Linux system administration outsourcing" company, because it seems that I could actually form such a venture but none of us wants to be the guy who goes out and hawks the product to potential customers.  One of the nice things about sysadmin is that you really can create virtual full-time people by packaging up a bunch of part-timers (as long as work-documentation standards are strictly adhered to).  Two half-time contractors get paid less than one full-timer, so there's "margin" and "value-add" and all that lovely business stuff.  But I didn't call.

Today, PZ Myers wrote about the first time he asked out his future wife, which reminded me of my difficulties in picking up the phone to ask those two companies from the Job Fair why they hadn't called me back.  (You never know — I once got a job several months after a different job I had interviewed for had funding difficulties, because the interviewer remembered me.  And *that* job led to Company ℱ where I worked for 17 years.)  Professor Myers writes, "She was the brave one when she said yes."  Yeah, if any salesman were to agree to take on this gig, he would have to be a brave one.  Right now I have only one customer (that I would like to replace, or at least augment) and the method I used to acquire that one probably wouldn't work again.  I have no idea how to sell such a service, or how to determine what price the customers would pay for it, or how to find people who should buy it.  If you know that you're not good with sysadmin, then you don't think about sysadmin approaches to solving your problems, so you don't "feel the lack" of a sysadmin on your staff and don't realize that you could benefit from hiring an outsourcing firm.

I had a much easier time asking out my future wife than Dr. Myers did.  I just posted a "mating call" to a University BBS.  She was the only female respondent, so — years later — I married her.  Now if only I had some income to put food on the table for our children...
pyesetz: (woof)

Suppose you need to convince a client to buy your company’s product, so you decide to take him on a hunting trip — and you bring along your dog.  While jawboning to the client about how great the product is, in order to emphasize your company's ability to complete its projects, you shoot a duck out of the sky.  The duck lands in a marsh, so your dog goes and fetches it for you.  As you take the hunk of meat from the dog, you give him a small prepackaged treat and think, “What a stupid trade this dog just agreed to.”  But who is really getting the better deal here?

Suppose instead that you fail to shoot any ducks, so your dog has nothing to do — yet he still gets his dinner when you go home, just like every day.  The dog gets heating and air conditioning, food, vet care for his boo-boos, and an appreciative boss.  He gets fed regardless of whether you end up pulling off that deal with the client.  He got no worries, hakuna matata!

* * * * *

In other news, I gave another lecture at that monthly programmers’ meet-up, which is sponsored by a company that I guess I’ll refer to as “ℙ” on this blog.  I talked about my never-completed doctoral thesis and how it relates to my difficult-but-eventually-completed move to Canada.  (I skipped over the part about how the USA is not actually a “free country” because previous meet-ups clearly indicated that these Canadians didn’t want to hear such talk about our neighbour, friend, and ally The States.)  I talked about the professor that I had hoped would supervise the dissertation and how I had designed the program to match up with his personal proclivities.  I showed some code and discussed how it connected to certain foundational theorems of computer science.

After my speech, a fellow I had never met before, who apparently does not work at Company ℙ, asked me if I was a professor at the local university.  “No,” I replied, “I just sound like one.”  He asked to see my résumé, so I showed it to him.  He was apparently not expecting to see that I have spent the last seven years doing web-monkey work at Company 𝔾, so he never did talk about whatever job he had wanted to offer — which is too bad because the fellow seemed to be quite well off and I could sure use some dough.

The Company ℙ manager asked many questions about my project, but continued to avoid saying anything about possible employment.  My impression was that my presentation had convinced him that I was not a suitable candidate for his own part of the company (perhaps to be called here?) because his group is all about the “awesome user experience” and my program clearly demonstrates that my visual-design skills are not “awesome”.  Damn it, I’m a content guy, not a pretty interface guy!  But apparently there are other positions accessible through the Company ℙ network, so it still seems worthwhile to go back next month.

The Company ℙ guy who’s big on Haskell wasn’t there this month.  In fact, there were less than a dozen people in attendance because so many people were on vacation for August.  But one guy announced that it was his first day on the payroll so he had brought free beer for everyone!  So that was nice.

* * * * *

Doesn’t anyone need a doggie to go fetch a program for them from the marsh after they’ve convinced a client to buy it?  I can fetch really meaty programs and I don’t need especially-fancy treats for them!  And I can and have fetched from areas of the marsh that most doggies wouldn't dare enter.

pyesetz: (woof)
It was about Emacs!  And stock-trading!  And the people I was speaking to didn't like any of it!  And I sort of knew that would happen before I even started!  I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment, because I keep trying to tell people things I know they don't want to hear.

Anyway, here is a transcript for my talk, which you should definitely click on if your preferred reading material contains text such as "Um, oh, okay, so there we go.  All right, so, perhaps if".  Clearly, I am not one of the world's best public speakers.

The timestamps in the transcript do not correspond to the original talk, but to this version (which you probably shouldn't bother clicking on).  I used audacity to reduce the tempo by 40%, which — due to the magic of mathematics — had the effect of increasing the size of the recording by 70%.

In other news, my Panasonic CF-Y5 laptop's LCD died again, so I got a Dell D620 to replace it.  So I had to give this talk using a computer that I had just bought, with an operating system (Mint 15!) that I barely knew how to use.  Considering that, things actually went reasonably well.

I had hoped that the guy from OpenText would be there again, but no such luck.  So, after my talk, I gave my résumé to the Company ℙ guy, but I guess there's no reason to expect any employment interest from him any time soon.
pyesetz: (felix)
Yesterday I did something a little different: I attended a meet-up for software developers.  It was sort of like a furry meet-up in that most of the people present were of the feline persuasion and very few of them said anything.  Basically, a few people played "exhibitionist" and showed off their naughty bits software code to the people playing "voyeur".

One guy showed off his Haskell program for XMPP messaging on multiple platforms, to get around Google's new (evil?) restrictions on IM chats.  I've never used Haskell, but it does seem to do a reasonable job on such multithreaded tasks.

Another guy showed off his shell script for grabbing videos from YouTube and queueing them for background downloading to his laptop.  He said that his mother once complained about YouTube's new advertisements and he hadn't even noticed them because he never actually views videos at their website!  His T-shirt was too short and he displayed some bellyfur whenever he gesticulated (which was often).

A third guy showed off a chat robot he uses to keep his programming team on the same page.  It contained various silly features and inside jokes.  I asked him why his company was hosting these meetings and providing free pizza and pop, but he couldn't really explain that and just mumbled something about "exposure".

After the main meeting, I whipped out my laptop and showed off some code from Company 𝔾's website.  I mentioned that I had processed the data using Lex "because I'm just that old", but the shell-script guy said he also uses Lex, even though he's probably 15 years younger than I am.  I mentioned that I was looking for a new job, because seven years with Company 𝔾 is just too much (the average programmer changes jobs every two years).  One fellow who works at OpenText said that his company was hiring.  I suppose I could do that job, but it's full time and I was hoping for a semi-retired position.  And there's some Windoze programming required.  And they've outsourced their HR department; I was hoping to avoid the cattle calls by schmoozing at a programmer's meeting instead of spamming my résumé all over the Internet.

Dunno yet whether I'll go to next month's meeting.  I certainly have plenty of code I could show off, but... what exactly is the point of these meetings???
pyesetz: (Default)
Welcome, [ profile] shiver_raccoon!  Shiver has signed up to work at Company 𝔾 in his spare time.  Recently “Mr. Bear” wrote Congratulations to both of you! (to Shiver for finishing his first project and to me for finding a productive person to hire).

I'm not really much of anybody in the Furry Fandom.  I don't wear a fursuit, I don't draw in people's sketchbooks, I don't help out at FurCons.  But I hire furries!

Oh, and the qualified respondent to my DailyKos ad has signed up as well.  Now the only remaining issue is the other TorFur fellow, a heath feline who flunked the "Can you still remember how many 1,000-line programs you've ever written?" item on my hiring quiz.  I'd like to encourage him, but he has a long way to go.

Update: Company "Γ" is now renamed to "𝔾"!  The old name looked like a hollowed-out box in sans-serif fonts.  The new name is supposed to be a double-struck capital G.  It is a non-BMP Unicode character, which probably looks like a big fat nothing to those of you with subpar fonts on your computers.  Please leave a comment below if you can't see the 'G'.
pyesetz: (felix)

The subject above is a surprisingly-popular answer for the poll at the bottom of this diary over at DailyKos.  I had originally sent it to TorFur, but the initial response was rather poor (I had been warned that job postings to furry lists usually don't get much of a response), so I reposted it to DailyKos.

In case you're wondering (and who wouldn't?), the [CENSORED] items are
  • Dogbiscuit crumbs and Nutella
  • Wear a diaper and not bathe
  • Cute foxboi
As of today, I'm still talking to one of the TorFur respondents and one of the dK respondents, but so far no one has actually signed up for the job.  So my unblemished record of "always a programmer, never a manager" continues!  I expect that becoming a manager will cause my headfur to go grey overnight, because management is one of those "life passage" things that causes your body to think that you need to start looking older and more distinguished.
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I'm sorry to have offended y'all with my frequent carping about what a crappy country the USA is these days, but I gotta "keep my hate up" until I complete my Northward relocation.  It's not easy to change one's nationality, though Canada is perhaps the least-difficult new country for a USAian to get used to.  Nothing about this move has ever been easy for me (some people are just lucky, I guess).  I have to keep reminding myself what a horrible Sovietesque place the USA has *usually* been, for most of its history, except for brief periods like the one I grew up in.  American historians like to end each of their stories of US atrocity by saying, "and then we learned our lesson!"  No, we didn't, at least not the right lesson.  Like the child who is spanked after being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, the lesson we learned was "don't get caught" rather than "don't steal".  What we learned from Japanese internment during WWII wasn't that discrimination based on ethnic origin is bad government, but that we should try harder not to get caught engaging in such blatant racism.  I'd like to say that what we learned from the Spanish-American War was not to get caught creating a fake casus belli, but these days it seems we didn't even learn that.  I would like my taxes to go to a country that actually is what the USA merely pretends to be: a liberal democracy.  I would like to have a government that often seems to be at least *trying* to do the reasonable thing, rather than one whose last reasonable act (that I can recall) was ordering the National Guard stationed at the airports in Fall '01 to keep their guns unloaded.

After five years of trying, I have managed to clear only one of the roadblocks on the way to my new life as a Canadian.  For some people this would be enough: now I should just emigrate, get an apartment in Toronto like all the other immigrants, then start looking for a job and the other pieces of my new life.  But otiose pride gets in the way.  Some people get their new jobs lined up before they go; why can't I?  Some people find housing that's just perfect for them, why can't I?  When I bought my current house, it met every criterion we could think of, so it was "just perfect".  Our criteria are different now, but I can't find anything in all of Ontario that's perfect enough to justify jumping in the car and driving 600 miles to go look at it.

Things aren't all bad, of course.  Company 𝔾 is willing to continue employing me as a telecommuter to get me through the dark and cold of my first Canadian winter.  My neighbors tell me that housing prices in our area have stabilized somewhat, so things look good as far as getting the price I had hoped for on my current house (about $50,000 less than the going rate around here, since it's somewhat dilapidated).  But with no good news coming in from the new-house search, it's hard to get motivated to prepare this house for sale, or even make it presentable to a house-flipper.  I'd like to pre-sell the house, locking in a price so I know for real how much I can spend.  Then I can say to the kids, as I sign on the dotted line, "Look, kids!  I'm selling the house!  You'd better get started on cleaning your rooms."  But I'm nowhere near ready to do that.  Meanwhile the clock keeps ticking.  My visa (once I get it!) will probably expire in mid-October.  If I can land some academic job then I'll probably have to move in late August.  This is my last summer as an American.  But somehow the move doesn't seem real yet.
pyesetz: (Default)
Date:August 9, 2006

[Name] Industries is a squat building in an industrial area outside of [Town] PA.  The building's entrance leads to a small waiting area containing four plush chairs, a plant, a receptionist behind a glass window, a stairway leading up, and a door with a digital combination lock.  On the walls are framed pictures of the company's products.  In the plant pot there is a diagram showing the layout of the building from the alarm system's point of view.  There is no other reading material.

While I am waiting, a young woman in jeans exits from the locked door and greets the receptionist on her way out of the building  Along with another fellow-employee greeting later, it is the only idle conversation overheard during my two hours at the company.  Either everyone at [Name] uses email for *everything*, or this is a company of taciturn people.

[VP-HR] lets me in through the locked door.  The contrast is extreme: the inside hallways have not been refurbished in quite some time.  I pass by some cubicles, including one that appears to be the official shingle for a one-desk company residing within [Name]'s offices.  The cafeteria has some of [Name]'s machines in it and employees are playing with their own products.

[VP-HR] takes me to [VP-Software], then returns to his own office.  [VP-Software] gives me the "five cent tour".  The QA department seems reasonable enough.  The software development area is extremely dark, with table lamps on some desks; something about the mood in that area brings a smile to my face.  There is no talking.  The production area is not air-conditioned.  There is little or no talking.  There is a ramp leading up to the second floor, but I am told it is "just for storage" and the tour does not include any of the various stairways to the upper floor.

[VP-Software] gets [Director-Software] and we find a conference room.  [VP-Software] is quite talkative, while [Director-Software] says almost nothing.  [VP-Software] repeats some questions from the phone interview.  It seems the job basically involves refactoring some software that has been patched to death over the last five years.  [Director-Software] asks about my first refactoring job back in 1983, and about [a Company ℱ product] (which unfortunately is an engine to help people take tests, not a method of automated QA that he was looking for).

For the "whiteboard" part of the interview, I was supposed to talk about software encapsulation.  I chose [another Company ℱ product], which I haven't worked on for six years.  And it was written in C and [VP-Software] believes C is obsolete and everyone should use C++.  So I'm not sure how well this part went.

[VP-Software] has strongly-held beliefs about software methodology which are more aligned with academic thought than with what the world's leading sofrware engineers actually do.  It is not clear how much a VP's opinion on such things really matters, but [Director-Software] neither supports nor opposes what [VP-Software] says.  After the interview, [Director-Software] can't wait to take his leave and run back to his desk.  It seems he has real work to do.

[VP-Software] brings me back to [VP-HR], who asks typical HR questions ("What do you like in a manager?  What do you dislike in a fellow employee?")  [VP-HR] is proud that people who leave [Name] often come back to their jobs, but the same thing used to happen at [Company ℱ] — I think it indicates a workplace with many minor irritations that are never resolved.  The company's core hours are 10-4, but [VP-HR] disagrees with his own company's policies and believes there is no reason why every employee can't get to work at 9 AM.  (In college I got poor grades in every class that met before 10.)  He also contradicts what [VP-Software] said in the phone interview about [Name's owner] being a conglomerate of troubled companies.  No no, [Name] isn't troubled!  [Conglomerate] bought [Name] as a cash cow!  He downplays the declining-industry aspect of tavern gaming by eliding the differences between [Name] and its sister company [Other name].  I would not want to take this job if it involved frequent contact with [VP-HR], but it probably doesn't.

Useful nugget from [VP-HR]: the refactoring project is [VP-Software]'s baby; he went to [Conglomerate] and got them to authorize it.  Since [VP-Software] is so new, I suspect that [Conglomerate] brought him in as a turnaround specialist.

Overall, the two main demerits I see are the lighting in the software development area (which strongly suggests that no one ever sits back to read a printout) and the VP-HR's attitude towards work hours.  Neither seems a strong enough reason to reject a job offer.  I think the main demerit that I presented to the company is that I am not the strong advocate of C++ design patterns that [VP-Software] seems to be looking for.  I prefer to do what works, what can be maintained, what scales well to large projects.  I expect that I would work well with [Director-Software], if that is what the day-to-day job actually entails.

In my previous email to [Recruiter], I forgot to give as a reference my current employer, [Company 𝔾] of [Town] California [Telephone number].  He recently wrote: "I am really enjoying the rapid pace of progress working with you".


pyesetz: (Default)

April 2017

23 45678


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 26th, 2017 08:37 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios