TypeQuick: How fast do you type?

It seems many people are measuring their typing speed using the TYPEQUICK online typing test. Not to be left out, I gave it a run:

Number of words typed: 282
Test duration: 3 min
Speed: 94.1 words/min. (470 keystrokes/min.)
Error penalty: 14
Accuracy: 95.0%

Not bad. I’d probably have done better if I didn’t habitually use the backspace key to correct errors — a trait that not only reduces error rate, but also slows me down. About ten years ago I took a typing test that would not let you backspace and would beep every time you typed an error. There were beeps every few seconds. The bad part is, I make lots of mistakes. The good part is, my fingers know about them, even when I’m not looking at the words I’m typing. You’d think my fingers would have gotten better over the years…

Lost in (Google) translation

For the past few days, I’ve been working on importing raw play-by-play data for Japanese baseball. Once the import scripts and queries were written, I needed a way to audit the results. To do that, I needed a source for up-to-date statistics on Japanese baseball players.
Yahoo! provides a rather robust web site for the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Unfortunately, the web site is in Japanese, a language I don’t read or have support for on my computer, so the screen was, for the most part, filled with question marks, as seen below.

Yahoo! Sports NPB Baseball (before translation)
Yahoo! Sports NPB Baseball (before translation)

By using Google Translator, I was able to transform this into the following:

Yahoo! Sports NPB Baseball (with Google translation)
Yahoo! Sports NPB Baseball (with Google translation)

I wasn’t expecting a perfect translation (it would be silly to do so), but the results were certainly entertaining.

  • A “base on balls” is a “giving Annie Oakley”.
  • A “hit batter” is a “giving dead sphere” (the poor batter).
  • “On base percentage” is “coming out base ratio”.
  • “Slugging percentage” is “long batting average”.

If you look at a translated hitter’s page, you’ll see this unusual description of a player’s at-bat:

Two racketeers, empty three swing, medium flying it is cheap, the left ? flying, two racketeers

Who says there’s no racketeering in professional baseball today?

Interview and resume tips (and horror stories)

Andrew Tetlaw, blogger at Dexagogo and author of many great JavaScript libraries, recently had this to say:

Telephone interviews are hard.

They most certainly are, from both ends of the receiver.

Back from 1997 through 2003, I gave well over a hundred technical interviews for a recruiting company. They (the recruiters) would call me up, give me the candidate’s name, resume, and contact information, and tell me about the position they were in consideration for. It was my job to figure out if they were qualified.

About a third of the people I interviewed were not qualified for the jobs they were applying for. Another third were qualified, but not solid candidates. The last third, those members of the lucky pie slice, got my approval to be put in front of a potential employer.

The reasons why people were not qualified varied. Some were over their head (applying for jobs beyond their skill sets). Some thought they knew what they didn’t. Some had barely any IT qualifications whatsoever. This was the 1990’s, after all, a time when paper MCSE’s were flooding the country faster than monkeys attack a truck full of bananas.

In the process of interviewing people, I learned a lot about what to say (and not say) in an interview, and what to put (and not put) on your resume. I tried to educate people to these finer points when I realized they needed some tutoring. Some highlights follow.

If you don’t know anything about it, don’t bring it up.
Me: “So, tell me what you know about [insert technology name here].”
Them: “Uh, I don’t know anything about that.”
Me: “But it’s on your resume.”
Them: “The recruiter told me to put it there.”
Me: “Is the recruiter on the interview with you?”
Them: “No.”
Me: “Then take it off your resume.”

If you put it on your resume, be ready to talk about it, even if it’s irrelevant to the job.
Me: “I see you took a class in robotics in trade school. Can you tell me a bit about it?”
Them: “Well, um, I really don’t remember much about it.”
Me: “Then take it off your resume.”

Read your resume.
Me: “Can you tell me about your experience with [insert product name here]?”
Them: “I don’t have any.”
Me: “It says on your resume that you have experience with it.”
Them: “How did that get there?”

Sometimes, even if it’s true, don’t say it.
Me: “So, why did you leave your last job?”
Them: “I didn’t get along with my boss.”
Me: “Why is that?”
Them: “He was an idiot.”

Confidence is good, but don’t get cocky.
Me: “So, tell me what your biggest professional failure is?”
Them: “I never made a mistake.”
Me: “Congratulations, you just made your first one.”

Be well-rounded. If you’re not, become well-rounded.
Me: “What’s the last book you read?”
Them: “I don’t read books.”

As unbelievable as it may seem, those are direct adaptations of real situations that I encountered over the years.

Do you have any interview tips or horror stories?

PC World’s “50 Best Tech Products of All Time” — how many have you used?

PC World 50 Best Tech Products

PC World has just published an article, “The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time” — a fun walk down memory lane. How many of the 50 products listed have you used? I’ve used the following…

  • Netscape Navigator (my preferred browser until IE 6.0)
  • Napster (sparingly)
  • Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS (I am a dinosaur)
  • Hayes Smartmodem (my first modem was 300 baud, and I remember getting my first 2400 baud modem — it was the first time data loaded faster than I could read it)
  • Motorola StarTAC (thanks to a past employer, before they sued me — long story)
  • WordPerfect 5.1 (funny how “show codes” looked a bit like HTML today)
  • Tetris (who hasn’t?)
  • Palm Pilot 1000 (I was an early adopter)
  • id Software Doom (idkfx, etc.)
  • Microsoft Windows 95 (“Start me up!”)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (see Tetris above)
  • Iomega Zip Drive (100MB seemed like so much back then)
  • CompuServe (my brother used the free hour we got without me being around, and I was so pissed off)
  • Blizzard World of Warcraft (me and my 8 million friends)
  • Aldus PageMaker (it was so impressive at the time)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (so many hours wasted thanks to this device)
  • McAfee VirusScan (preferred by most employers)
  • Apple HyperCard (more powerful and advanced than most realize)
  • Epson MX-80 (love those dot crunching sounds)
  • Microsoft Excel (one of the best things to come out of Microsoft)

What are my three selections which didn’t make it on the list? Continue reading