Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Interview Acronym Quiz

Here's an idea for your next technical interview - the acronym quiz! Have you ever thought of all the acronyms you've picked up over the course of your career? My first job out of school was as a programmer for a defense contracting company, where I was given an acronym reference book for our domain. I remember someone mentioning an acronym depth competition they had, where the winner was a an acronym 5 levels deep. (e.g. An example of an acronym 2 levels deep is SSA - SCUBA Schools International. 5 levels may have been an exaggeration, but 2 and 3 levels were common, and it was a ton of otherwise useless insider information.

But I digress. This post was about the half-joking idea of adding an acronym quiz section to a technical interview. Of course this has limited value, but it seems useful to answer if you need to go more in depth on a given topic or interview. For example, quickly answer what each acronym means:
  1. SOA
  2. XAML
  3. JAXB
  4. BFF
If your technical candidate didn't get #1, red flag. If they are supposed to know .NET and didn't get #2, red flag. Ditto in the java world for #3. Answer them all, and you just might up end being #4! :)


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Netflix and the case of the missing download selection

So I got a Roku box for Netflix a few weeks back. I was excited, because I feel it's a great next step in the evolution of media deliver. We took a step back for a while there - long ago we had to actually get off the couch to change the channel. Then we got remotes. Thirty years later people were running up to their office computer to change the stream. Definitely not good - especially if we're gonna keep up our American Image.

The good news is that the Roku box and the Watch It Now service works great for the movies they offer. The bad news is that I've watched all 5 of the decent movies they offer. For real. 95% of the movies they offer for their Watch It Now service are either:
a. really old
b. really bad
c. all of the above

Think I'm exaggerating? As an example, the #4 most popular title last week in the Watch It Now collection is "Blushing Bloopers". You can't even *find* that title in IMDB. Other Netflix customers rated it 2.1. Netflix's estimated rating for me was 1.9. Yes, I have exquisite taste; only movies like Slap Shot get a 5 star rating from me. Space Jam was number 10 on the most popular list last week. I did see Dexter in there, which is a must-see IMO for anyone that hasn't seen it.

After my own reaction, I figured a google search would uncover the reason for the skimpy selections, or at least show a thousand other similar opinions, but so far there aren't many people complaining about it at all. For something that's definitely the future, it seems like Netflix is being too tentative in their content offerings. Great - they've solved the delivery problem for another huge potential chunk of the consumer population. But if they're going to succeed, they've gotta offer content worth delivering. I'm sure it's not completely their fault (another case of license extortion?), but they need to solve that problem before they'll get beyond a beta stage of this solution.

So in all, I like my Roku box, but I hope that soon enough I'll be able to waste time watching good TV instead of blogging about bad TV. I'm a busy guy, and I have things to do.