Creative work

In this note by Cory Doctorow, I noticed that when you make creative work your business, inspiration truly does become irrelevant. The only thing that matters is production. When you’re just cranking the stuff out, it’s all going to level out in the end. You get good at doing that. It’s like flipping pizza dough. One more reason why I never want to make my creative work my business. Sucks all the joy out of it. I prefer to leave that task to my job.


my google interview revisited

when i did interview at google several years ago, i was asked nothing but questions about the C programming language, even though I indicated, and was even interviewd because, I had about ten years of Java programming experience. Needless to say, I was not offered a job. I hadn’t even thought about C in a decade!!

Now from a chronicle story today:

One of the interesting things we’ve found, when trying to predict how well somebody we’ve hired is going to perform when we evaluate them a year or two later, is one of the best indicators of success within the company was getting the worst possible score on one of your interviews. We rank people from one to four, and if you got a one on one of your interviews, that was a really good indicator of success.

That’s a pretty big problem for Google, considering:

Ninety-nine percent of the people who got a one in one of their interviews we didn’t hire. But the rest of them, in order for us to hire them somebody else had to be so passionate that they pounded on the table and said, “I have to hire this person because I see something in him…”

hmm. been there and done that!

Cubicle Scenes from the Trojan War

In a recent episode, the guy from Software Quality Assurance (QA) who does “performance” testing dared to question the mighty Software Architect about some potential issues involving concurrency and race conditions in his code. The Architect retaliated with a blast of detailed questions regarding the QA guy’s competencies in his own field – how he measures such and such, how he balances so and so, how he determines and outputs his outputs, etc … The guy from QA defended himself mightily but eventually toppled under the relentless onslaught of masterful blows to the ego.

He had to relearn the lesson of Patroclus, that even though you put on the armor of Achilles, and even though you feel as strong and as competent as Achilles, and even though you are achieving some victories, still you are not in fact Achilles, and should not even think of approaching the great Hektor.

Timing is Everything

Slogan of the day – it’s no good being right unless you’re right at the right time

Some examples:

Exhibit A) I found a software bug yesterday (this is what I do for a living, so that should be no surprise) but the timing is bad. The developer is in the middle of a big push to get things done and has no time to deal with just any old bug. Fixing this particular bug would help QA, but would not help the developer so much, so she has chosen not to acknowledge that it even is a bug. I will do some workaround for now. In a few weeks I’ll bring it up again and I’m certain that she will then say, oh yes, thanks, I see, and she will fix it. Timing.

Exhibit B) In 1995 the band Swervedriver released a very cool album called Ejector Seat Reservation. Much “poppier” than their earlier albums, it apparently wasn’t what their label had in mind, and they were dropped two weeks after the album was released in Britain. It was never released in the States, being only available as an import. And yet that same year a fairly similar album by Oasis made a huge splash – and Swervedriver broke up. Timing? And being wrong (the label?) at the wrong time?

(When I first heard Ejector Seat Reservation, I assumed it was a very early album, because the music sounds so much younger than MezcalHead or 99th Dream or even Raise. I guess their sound got younger as they got older!)

Exhibit C) How long had Ex-Sen Daschle been working closely with Obama? A year? Two years? And yet he waits until his Senate confirmation to acknowledge his major tax problems? Terrific! So the Obama administration gets off to rocky confirmation troubles (Geithner, Holder, others as well) just like the Clinton administration did … good timing, guys.