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Comments

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A Short History of Computers In the Movies

Esther Schindler Re:Seconded (165 comments)

>>It would be nice to have an article about retired coders, what they did and their opinions of the dev world now.

Really? Cuz I could arrange that.

about 4 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

How kind of you to say so!

Beer-wise: I am more of an ale fan than lagers, with particular fondness for IPAs and porters. But my attention is on good craft brews rather than a specific type. Or good craft anything; I appreciate good made-by-hand workmanship in any endeavor.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Wow (53 comments)

I have several responses to this comment.

  • Robert Plant wasn't that pretty to start with. Fortunately, he made good music, instead of trying to have a career as a model.
  • "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not." --Yoda
  • My self-worth is not bound to my looks. Nor should it be (even though I was kinda cute when I was young). I judge my value by my skill in my chosen field (whatever that is at the time, whether it's optimizing compilers, explaining how OS/2 system internals work, or sharing advice on using Twitter), in whether I treat others with kindness, and, of course, by how much chocolate I get to eat. So if you were trying to put me down, it didn't work.
  • Oh how sad. With all the wonders that the Internet brings to you, the first and only thing you consider is how someone looks?! Young padawan, the joy, the utter joy of living online, in IP packets, is that we connect to one another based on who we are and not what we are. My gender doesn't matter. My color is irrelevant. What matters is that we can find people who share our interests -- science fiction, programming, baseball, whatever -- and we can be honest with each other (because we don't have to edit ourselves, saying "I have to live with these people" when a family member utters a deplorable statement such as "I like the Dodgers.").

    Thus we get to learn from each other, and our bodies matter least of all the things we bring to the conversation. Thus I could be friends with someone online for years before learning he was in a wheelchair, when in-person it would have been the first -- but least important -- thing I learned about him.

    And you think first about how attractive I am? I'm so sorry. You're missing so much of what online communities can bring.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

Filter it out? Just don't follow them...?

There are companies/"brands" I follow because I find their info cool or useful or they make me say, "How 'bout that!" Sometimes that's the case even when I have no interest in their product... in the same way that I can admire the Budweiser Clydesdales even if I'd never drink their beer. (I am a beer snob.) And there are companies whose stuff I like even though their Twitter feeds are lame. For example, I'm thinking of one quilting fabric company whose Twitter feed is nothing but dumb self-serving ads, and comparing it in my head to another quilting fabric company that regularly shares groovy quilt designs (made with their fabric of course), and asks Facebook fans which fabric they ought to feature in a print magazine ad, and so on.

But if you discover that what they say/publish is not-so-cleverly-concealed propaganda, nothing says you have to follow them.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

Actually, the book tells people to have human conversations. Not to create the kind of awful "branded" Twitter streams we both abhor. I advise people to do the same thing I do on slashdot: Tell other people about things they'll find useful and cool.

Which does not make me a marketing expert. It makes me a communication expert.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Thanks (53 comments)

I'm always friendly. Someone might have chocolate to share with me.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:In 10 years had a total of one submission make (53 comments)

I don't think so much about what interests me. I consider what might interest you.

I looked through a few of your submissions. With a few, you have the germ of something that might work. But you just blurt out the "fact" of the link, like "CNN says bigfoot was found," and that fits into my "weather report" description. Oh, yeah? How nice for them. Instead, tell me what you found and why it matters to me. Why should I care? Why is this amusing or relevant or useful to know?

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Thanks (53 comments)

::glowing smile:: You're welcome.

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

I lost count somewhere around 700 but that was just the paperbacks, and doesn't count the hardbacks. Fortunately for my book budget I am also a frequent visitor to my local library, and every so often I do cull the herd... which is how I keep some of the collections under control. (I also have 400+ cookbooks. And I review a lot on Amazon.)

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

The cats let me think I'm in charge. It's part of their charm.

I'll let you look at all the submissions that were turned down. See weren't they all worthy? Huh?!

about 6 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

Yes, she's hot. She has more science fiction books than you do.

about 6 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

Oh how delightful! Since I don't remember any developer being dick-ish, your memory may be faulty. (Well, one guy briefly was dickish, but I don't think that was you, since he was rather an old fart.) I wish I remembered the name of the guy who gave me his copy of Steven Brust's Yendi, because I've had fond thoughts of that dude for a long time; it led to a lot of enjoyable reading time.

In any case, feel free to connect with me (and Bill!) on LinkedIn or whatnot. We can share gossip about the people we knew! (What a nice Friday-afternoon connection! You plastered a big smile on my face.)

about 6 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

On general TV?

I have to wonder about the demographics of the marketing campaign. Still, that's better than most computer ads of the time.

about 6 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

Oh how wonderful! I did contract work at Prime circa 1990 (designing a test suite management system for the 15 compilers they supported), so I got a major hoot out of this. I have to wonder: Where did they show these ads? To whom?

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name?

Esther Schindler Re:version control (480 comments)

Depends on whether the site was ever public, as opposed to being an in-house app (e.g. on an intranet). But I do like this idea.

about 10 months ago
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When Smart Developers Generate Crappy Code

Esther Schindler Re:oh jeez; let's all discover agile again (195 comments)

Every so often, I feel as though I have to respond to a troll. Not because I imagine I will change his mind but to demonstrate to lurkers that the community rejects such opinions.

Either Sarah is ignorant of this or...

Or I did an inadequate job of summarizing her talk, which was very good indeed. Because the point was not so much "People should talk" (well duh) but "Hack the bad code to see where and how the communication is failing to happen." I am quite sure that Sarah (who is a very smart person) is more than a little aware of the value of communication (in Agile and otherwise). But we both know that bad code still happens, yes? And that people often fail to communicate as well as they intend to? Anything that helps us find those "oopsie!" moments is a good thing.

And ::a little modest cough here:: I've been covering Agile since before it was called Agile. I worked on compiler programming teams in the 80s that instantiated most of what later earned the Agile label. We just called it, "Making sure we generated quality code" and "Helping other people to come up to speed."

about a year ago
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When Smart Developers Generate Crappy Code

Esther Schindler Re:oh jeez; let's all discover agile again (195 comments)

How eloquent of you. We can safely assume that your code quality reflects your ability to communicate and connect with other people. Including your unwillingness to do so under your own identity. (How pitiful.)

about a year ago
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When Smart Developers Generate Crappy Code

Esther Schindler Re:Oh oh, Cumbaya coming... (195 comments)

I married a coder I hugged too. But then we got married before either of us started coding.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Which Buffy the Vampire Slayer Characters are on Your Team?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  2 days ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Are you a Buffy, or more of a Xander? Rikki Endsley looks at seven Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters commonly seen on teams and the unique contributions each brings to projects. For instance:

Angel, the handsome and powerful vampire, is the team member who is either a huge asset or a giant liability, depending on his unpredictable mood. The “rock star” team member tends to get a lot of attention and often appears to be a team leader, but in reality he isn’t as productive, reliable, or valuable as his teammates.

"
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Evaluating When to Kill a Project: What Criteria Do You Use?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a week ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "It happens to all of us. Sometimes, the right way to fix a project is to cancel it. Making the decision to do so, though, has to be more than a gut response. Whatever the reason – at some point, you have to decide whether to keep plugging along, or to pull the plug.

It's easy to come up with a blasé statement like “I evaluate whether my original project statement will ever be achievable. If I determine that the project cannot meet my goals and objectives, we stop it.” But that assumes you know how to make that determination. Here's some advice on how to calibrate the issues to consider in the “Go/No-Go” decision process, whether the project is something of your own devising (anything from a personal coding project to a novel), or a corporate death march.

For example, "Are you dependent upon resources that are outside your control? If so, can you get them under control?"

And Hugo-award-winning CJ Cherryh points out, it might be that the inspiration isn't there at the moment, but you can set it aside to consider later. She adds, “Never destroy it – for fear it will achieve holy sanctity of ‘might-have-been’ in your memory. Being able to look at it and say, ‘Nope, there was no hope for this one’ is healthy.”

What criteria would you add?"
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The Spam Battle Report 2014

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about three weeks ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Like anything else, spam evolves, as do the means by which it gets delivered to your e-mail inbox and the manner in which sysadmins prevent it from doing so. If your thoughts on spam-fighting are a few years old, it's time for an update.

For instance, starting with the good news: According to Kaspersky, in 2013, the proportion of spam in email flows was 70%, which is 2.5 percentage points lower than in 2012. The bad news is that spam that does get through is far more dangerous. According to John Levine, chairman of the Internet Research Task Force's Anti-Spam Research Group and president of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, "The ongoing threat is that spam is now essentially 100% criminal, and it's as likely to try to plant bank-account-stealing malware either directly or via links to compromised websites as to sell you something." As one example:

The content of spam is evolving to become more dangerous in new ways. For instance, Nick Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the security company Barracuda Labs, observes, “One new way we’ve seen are campaigns that use embedded Excel spreadsheets. The spammers break the words into individual cells to bypass the anti-spam tools. When viewed in an email it looks like a typical HTML attachment but it’s much more difficult to analyze."

So, here's the current state of the spammy art, and what you ought to know to fight it effectively."

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Can anyone design a job application platform that doesn't suck?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a month ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Why does it take a half hour and triplicate-input-redundancy to apply for a job online? Why can’t these online application platforms just pull in LinkedIn data and be done with it? Isn’t it easier for these job application systems to just read our resumes and cover letters? Lisa Vaas has techie and business answers to these questions, hypotheses, and more.

...But half an hour later, I’m still fiddling with the thing, tweaking and correcting improperly filled-in fields as my life slowly drains away. I’m not even given a chance to see how the ATS translated my resume to populate its fields. Vaya con dios and fare thee well, job application.

Just from a user experience viewpoint, it’s irritating. . . .Why can’t these online application platforms pull in LinkedIn data and be done with it? Is all this really necessary to apply for a job? Or is it a Darwinian endurance test to winnow out the impatient and those lacking the ability to put up with horrific user interfaces?

A few questions come to mind: Why can’t somebody just create an ATS that doesn’t suck? Also, Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just read my cover letter and resume?

"
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iRobot ships a meeting robot that will attend meetings for you

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a month ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Hate meetings? Now you have an out. Just send the Ava 500 remote presence robot to attend meetings for you. Reports Wayne Rash, the autonomous robot will memorize your office, factory or lab space, avoid running into people and objects, and if HR rules require it, will even avoid running over interns. This robot can pretend to be you, it will bear an image of your face (or other body part) on its Cisco remote presence HD screen, and will even speed with your voice. The iRobot people say it will interact with others just as if it were you. You can make presentations, inspect manufacturing facilities and even discuss your blown bracket in the hallways.

I want one."
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Management Lessons from Heinlein

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a month ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Robert Anson Heinlein was an influential science-fiction author who created great page-turning stories, invented a “future history” that was in some ways prescient, and had a major impact on the SF field. But, it turns out, Heinlein’s short stories and novels also have quite a few good pointers for anyone who needs to make things happen.

The most obvious items that spring to your mind, I expect, are from Lazarus Long, such as this one:

Heinlein’s recurring character, Lazarus Long, certainly offers plenty of management advice. In Long’s first appearance in Methusaleh’s Children, in which another character asks what Long expects a meeting resolution to be, he says, “A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.” That’s an oft-quoted quip, but too often it leaves off the next line: “But presently somebody with a mind of his own will bulldoze them into accepting his plan. I don’t know what it will be.” It was an important thing for me to learn: The plan that is adopted often is not “the best” but the brain-child of the most persistent communicator.

...but it turns out to be a minor example. See if you agree with these, and what you'd add to the list."

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How to Tell Your Client That His "Expert" is an Idiot

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 2 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "It’s a danger for any consultant, and for most inter-departmental internal project staff: To get the work done, you need to work with someone else who supplies expertise you lack. But when the “expert” turns out to be the wrong person how do you tell the client (or boss) that you just can’t work with that individual? It’s possible to do so, but it does take a deft hand. Here's one set of instructions, but surely there are plenty more you could add."
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The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "We all know how important tech standards are. But the making of them is sometimes a particularly ugly process. Years, millions of dollars, and endless arguments are spent arguing about standards. The reason for our fights aren’t any different from those that drove Edison and Westinghouse: It’s all about who benefits – and profits – from a standard.

As just one example, Steven Vaughan-Nichols details the steps it took to approve a networking standard that everyone, everyone knew was needed: "Take, for example, the long hard road for the now-universal IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. There was nothing new about the multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) and channel-bonding techniques when companies start moving from 802.11g to 802.11n in 2003. Yet it wasn’t until 2009 that the standard became official.""
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When the Project Manager Is the Problem

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Project managers need to be great traffic cops, coordinators, and problem solvers. When they do their jobs right, they make everyone around them more effective. But when they’re bad — ouch. They can become the worst sort of bottleneck, and inspiration for a lot of heavy drinking.

The question is: How can you tell that the source of the problem is the project manager rather than the situation in which an otherwise-good project manager finds herself? And even when it's obvious, what can you do about it? In The Cure After Diagnosing a Bad Project Manager, Tim Walker helps you identify when it’s the project manager who’s the problem as well as causes and some useful, non-career-limiting solutions. ("Copy out, then copy up" might have been useful to me in one poopstorm.)

Got suggestions to add to his list?"
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OF COURSE I want a Star Trek Bridge at home!

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Anyone who hangs out on slashdot can be relied on for Star Trek literacy if not fandom. As Carol Pinchefsky writes, "Chances are you've wanted to live on the Enterprise, quaff a glass of tranya and wager your quatloos on a death match. You can't — not until quatloos are legal tender. But if you're Line Rainville, you can have the next best thing: a full-sized basement that replicates the spirit of the NCC-1701." And so, in Fan explains why she spent $30,000 to re-create the bridge of Star Trek's Enterprise, Pinchefsky interviews the woman who made that kind of investment. Admit it: Even if you think this is overboard, you want to peek at the photos."
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The Pre-History of Software as a Service

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Nowadays, everyone uses Software as a Service; it's the one part of cloud computing that doesn't make anybody sneer. But some of us are old enough to remember that we tried this business model before, over a decade ago, and it failed miserably. What changed in cloud computing to make SaaS work today, when few Application Service Providers survived?

Steven Vaughan-Nichols and I worked together at Sm@rt Reseller magazine in the late 90s during the heyday of ASPs (along with Mary Jo Foley, Debbie Gage, Jason Perlow, and other journalists whose names you know), and we got into a discussion about what made SaaS work where ASPs failed. In The Pre-History of Software as a Service, sjvn goes into the reasons... and no, it's not just a matter of virtualization technologies."
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A Short History of Computers in the Movies

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "The big screen has always tried to keep step with technology usually unsuccessfully. Peter Salus looks at how the film industry has treated computing.

For a long time, the "product placement" of big iron was limited to a few brands, primarily Burroughs. For instance:

Batman: The Movie and Fantastic Voyage (both 1966) revert to the archaic Burroughs B205, though Fantastic Voyage also shows an IBM AN/FSQ-7 Combat Direction Central. At 250 tons for each installation (there were about two dozen) the AN/FSQ-7 was the largest computer ever built, with 60,000 vacuum tubes and a requirement of 3 megawatts of power to perform 75,000 ips for regional radar centers. The last IBM AN/FSQ-7, at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, was demolished in February 1984.

Fun reading, I think."

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SF movies teach us project management skills

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Or maybe they don't, but it's certainly fun to pretend to find work inspiration from our favorite SF films. That's what Carol Pinchefsky does in two posts, one about positive business lessons you can take away from SF films (such as "agile thinking can save many a project (and project manager) in a crisis" from Robocop and team motivation lessons from Buffy), and the other, 5 Project Management Horror Stories Found in Sci-Fi Movies, with examples of the impact of poor documentation on Captain America.

It's worth a giggle and, maybe, a thoughtful moment."
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Security hole in ack versions 2.00 to 2.11_02.

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "ack is a grep-like tool that is specifically created to make searching source code easier. One of the features added in ack 2.00 was the ability to have command line options in per-project .ackrc files. This has led to a serious security hole. There is, however, a workaround."
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Why Johnny Can't Write Multithreaded Programs

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Programming for multiple threads is not fundamentally different from writing an event-oriented GUI application or even a straight up sequential application, writes Jim Mischel. The important lessons of encapsulation, separation of concerns, loose coupling, etc. all apply.

But developers get into trouble with multiple threads when they don’t apply those lessons; instead they try to apply the mostly-irrelevant bits of information they learned about threads and synchronization primitives from introductory multithreading texts. Mischel focuses on two things that developers do wrong when writing multithreaded code, and explains how to avoid them.

Here's one of them:

Probably the most important lesson to be learned from the past 60 years of software development is that global mutable state is bad. Really bad. Programs that depend on global mutable state are harder to reason about and generally less reliable, because there are too many possible ways for the state to change. There is a huge amount of research to back up that generalization, and countless design patterns whose primary purpose is to implement some type of data hiding. The best thing you can do to make your programs easier to reason about is to eliminate as much global mutable state as possible.

Think he's on track? What have you you learned about writing multithreaded code that might save the next programmer from teeth-gnashing?"

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12 Things Developers Wish the CIO Remembered

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Every CIO wants to build a development team that’s hard-working, loyal, and devoted to creating quality software. The developers are willing! But they want CIOs to lead them and understand their needs. Andy Lester writes an open letter explaining what developers hope their CIOs keep in mind to motivate them and make them happy.

For instance:
  • We need to be protected from the rest of the organization.
  • We don’t ask for stuff just for the hell of it.
  • Be glad we spend so much time on automated tests.

Read his list, and see if there's anything you'd add, or with which you disagree. (Wait, this is slashdot. Of course you are going to disagree!)"

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How to Keep a Job Search Going Through the Holidays

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Companies don’t hire during the holidays, you say? Corporate hiring managers are all out on vacation? Nobody’s going to get back to you, so you’re just going to go stand in line at a big-box store on Black Friday and dive into shopping mob frenzy? Bah, humbug! The truth is: Companies do plenty of hiring during the last two months of the year, and the rare job seeker who keeps up the hunt is a big fish in a shrinking pond.

It's a lousy time of year to be out of work (I know; I was once fired on December 15th, after paying for presents with credit cards), when everyone else is cheerfully spending money. And, you're sure, all the hiring managers are all off drinking at holiday parties. Except... it isn't true, or not anymore. For example, 62% of recruiters say that hiring decisions increase in November and December or stay the same as at other times of the year. Fifty-three percent of executive recruiters report their interviewing activity stays the same or increases over the holidays. Lisa Vaas offers a few holiday-themed suggestions about what to do during this time period; for example, all those holiday parties? It's a good time to schmooze with people who are a bit more relaxed than usual."
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How To Dissolve the Arrogance of the Young Hot-Shot on Your Team

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "There is no expert as authoritative – in his own mind – as a college kid fresh out of school. Nobody is more sure that he is right about everything, and that he knows the exact right thing to do. Even if that makes the more experienced people on the project roll their eyes in disbelief.

But you have to work with them anyway.

Here's my advice — with input from several experienced project managers — on how to pull that off."
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3 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Began Managing Projects

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "When someone gives you project management responsibilities — not necessarily making you the Big Boss, but more likely the team lead who's responsible for coding as well as ensuring the work gets done on time — you might think those "management" tasks are stuff you can do just by appealing to the good nature of the people around you. And you can, to a large degree. We are basically good, at least among the tech staff, as long as people get our buy-in to the goals and trust us to do our jobs.

But there were some things I learned the hard way, that I wish I could have learned from someone else's advice, such as "when to fight for more time and budget." These are my Three hardest things to learn as a project manager. What would you have put on your list?"

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