Oh just fuck off already!
Oh just fuck off already!
Well here’s a new wrinkle on an old scam.
Amazon is still hiring like crazy. But back when Amazon was hiring like crazy and everybody still wanted to work for the company, fake Amazon recruiters would reach out to people who were hoping to get a warehouse job. You worked hard, but they paid well. The scam was, after an initial screening call, you had to send some form of payment to get to the next stage of the interview.
Fast forward a few years – if you are a software developer in the US, it’s a sure bet you’ve been hit up by an Amazon recruiter at least once a month for the past year.
It seems the fake Amazon recruiters have gotten wind of this, and are now pulling the same ploy on software developers. Software developers generally have deep pockets. Though generally software developers aren’t ones to pony up any cash to land an interview, so I’m not sure how the full process works yet.
Since the beginning of June I’ve been hit up by no less than two fake Amazon recruiters, as in, recruiters professing to work for Amazon, with websites and emails from domains that could pass muster at first glance, e.g. amazon-recruiting dot domain.
Ordinarily I won’t give Amazon technical recruiters the time of day, or any recruiter reaching out to represent Amazon — I try to be kind to everyone I meet online, but Amazon recruiters I generally treat like something I found on the bottom of my shoe that I’d rather not deal with, it’s time to buy a new pair of shoes at that point — but there was something that tickled my in-built warning system on these emails; domain name being off, the promises of riches and glory with actual numbers attached. My dealings with Amazon recruiters to date run in to a brick wall the moment I ask about money.†
For these particular outreaches I decided to play along and took the screening call. The calls were brief, mere minutes. Both recruiters were excited for me to talk with them at the office in-person, I would need to pay for my own travel (red flag) and they would reimburse me (another red flag). That I should book the travel to a specific corporate account number (huge red flag). The other recruiter wanted me to book through their corporate travel agency (huge fucking red flag) — and I am going to assume I’d be ask for a credit card number to “hold” the reservation at that point, though I didn’t follow through on that one.
Obviously I didn’t book any travel, and I’m not sure if the booking of travel to a corporate account number is how the scam works, but if it is, that’s a sure way to extract a few thousand bucks from reasonably well off software developers with each hit.
† The first question out of my mouth when dealing with any recruiter is “What’s the compensation range?” and I’ve found that shuts down a good 80% or so all conversations — and it still amazes me that recruiters will either try to play a mental game with that, or get bent out of shape because “all you’re interested in is the money.”
Me: “I want to buy a thing.”
Amazon: “Here’s lots of things that are related to the thing you want to buy.”
Me: “No, I really want to buy this specific thing.”
Amazon: “Ah! Say no more! Here’s other people selling things that are like that thing, with very similar specifications to the thing you want, but ultimately, none of them are actually the very thing you want.”
Me: “Okay, let me buy this specific thing from this specific brand with this specific model number.”
Amazon: “Oh! I get it! You should have said. Here’s all the products made by that company, and also a bunch of knock-offs and items on the grey market that the manufacturer won’t warranty, but the names are suspiciously close to the brand, and some questionable reviews that look copy & pasted.”
Me: “None of these are the thing I really want.”
Amazon: “You’re really hard to please. Why won’t you just give me your #$%!ing money?!?”
BH Photo&Video: “Here’s the thing you want, the price is the same or better than that other store, we also give you a discount if you buy lots of them, we have them in-stock, shipping is also free.”
Me: “Sold. Thanks.”
What I want from a home? I want a home that wasn’t designed by a junior architect that has only ever lived with his parents, or in the college dorm, or a tiny little single room efficiency apt on the trendy upper Eastside.
That’s what I want.
I don’t need my Master Bedroom to be the biggest #!$%^@* #$%!ing room in the entire house just to impress girls I bring back to my place.
I don’t need the laundry in the basement when all the dirty clothes get put in hampers upstairs and I have to haul a hundred pounds of dirty laundry down five flights of stairs. And then a hundred pounds of clean laundry back upstairs.
I don’t need a bathroom with a shower right off the kitchen because my day doesn’t consist of rolling out of bed, doing a 5K then coming home to grab a power juice before hopping in the shower directly off the kitchen, throwing my clothes down the stairwell to the basement, natch, and finally running out the door to catch the L train.
I need more storage in my kitchen that holds more than a few glasses and plates and you can barely squeeze in an efficieny fridge/freezer because all that gets ate in this hypothetical home is Hungry Man microwave meals.
Let’s start with the basics first; don’t let homes be designed by people who don’t live in them in the same way I won’t let a kitchen designer who self-admittedly doesn’t cook who is trying to sell me an $80,000 kitchen but has all the culinary acuity of a deranged hamster only capable of burning a glass of water.
When your workplace Mr Rogers/Ted Lasso facade drops for just a moment…
“I’d reply to you, but I cannot decide whether you’re willfully misinterpreting everything I said or have the mental acuity of a garden snail with a reading comprehension problem.”
Let’s just say that people who state this are those that don’t know me very well.
“Oh, you’d make a great dad” people tell me.
No I wouldn’t.
I’d make a lousy father. I don’t like sharing my toys and I am pretty sure I’d hide all my chocolate bars from my kids.
I reflect on the terrible things I did to my own father’s tools in his workshop. I was like the gremlin that made tools and parts disappear off the bench when you weren’t looking and when they did reappear, they were never in the place you’d expect them.
Over the years I’ve figured out that the world neatly divides in to two groups. Those who are parents or want to be parents, and those that aren’t and don’t ever want to be.
“No, I cannot just ‘close it back up in the packaging.'”
People, parents usually, get quite vitriolic when I state that children of any age are unwelcome in my home, and unsupervised children even less so.
I have a nervous tic whenever a hint of children showing up surfaces ever since “The Great LEGO Unboxing of ’05”
For those that aren’t parents, I don’t need to explain it. And for those that are parents, I probably cannot ever explain it.
And if you cannot understand why people don’t want to quit their stable job and come and work for you for a less than 2% bump in salary, you’re borderline delusional.
Bonus points for then going on to tell me that it is impossible to hire in this market but caught yourself just shy of saying “and nobody wants to work anymore.”
A textbook case of how to lose the interest of a candidate in 5 seconds and get yourself blocked on LinkedIn.
Me: “Thank you for making me aware of this opportunity. I don’t work on anything military related, any product or service designed to maim or kill, or anything that can be easily weaponized. Good luck in your continuing candidate search.”
Recruiter: “Oh really? So what makes you so high and mighty? Must be nice to be able to turn down that much money.”†
Recruiter got himself blocked so fast he should try out for the Olympics.
† It was $120K.
“Hey, connect with me. I’m the craziest/funniest/most popular/successful/most-connected/other-adjective person on LinkedIn.”
Thanks for reaching out but I’ll take a raincheck.
Should I want an endless stream of Instagram drivel, I know where to find you.
This is why it’s always important to look at what an inbound connection has been posting, forwarding and liking before hitting the “Accept” button.
If someone has written a recommendation for you based on how well you can make use of auto-responder scripts to pester your connections with irrelevancy you can pretty much kiss your chances of connecting goodbye.
I just don’t have the patience for that special brand of bullshit that directly sets out of to waste my limited time on this Earth.
Random Person I Am Obliged To Aid At the Behest Of My Wife: “I cannot log in.”
“What is the problem?” I ask over the phone.
Person: “I cannot access my bank account.”
Proceed to diagnose why they cannot log in to their bank account, it takes a while. We establish that the mouse is not working correctly and jumping around on the screen for no apparent reason.
Me: “Can you unplug the mouse and see if it is still jumping around?”
Person: “I did that.”
Me: “Do it again, just humour me.”
Person: “Okay, done. It’s still jumping around.”
Me: “And you’re sure the mouse is unplugged?”
Person: “Yes, I have it in my hand right here. When I move the mouse around it is still jumping.”
Me: “You said you unplugged the mouse.”
Person: “I have two mice. A black one and a red one. Should I unplug the other mouse too?”
Person: “Did that. Mouse pointer is still jumping around.”
Me: “And you are sure both mice are unplugged?”
Person: “Yes, and the mouse pointer is still jumping around. Oh wait, it’s doing it less now, but it is still jumping around. Oh, now it has stopped completely.”
Me: “Can you plug in just one of the mice and try it out?”
Person: “Okay, it’s not working.”
Me: “Describe it to me?”
Person: “I plugged the mouse in to the other laptop and it isn’t working.”
Me: “So you have a dead mouse.”
Person: ” I tried both mice and neither seem to work.”
Me: “Two dead mice.”
Person: “I don’t understand why it moves the mouse pointer on my daugher’s laptop though.”
Person: “I move the mouse and nothing happens on my laptop.
Me: “Where is the mouse plugged in to?
Person: “My daughter’s laptop.
Me: “Can you plug the mouse back in to your laptop?”
Person: “Oh, the mouse pointer on the screen started jumping again before I even did that.”
Me: “So there is no mouse plugged in to your computer and the mouse pointer is jumping around? Is it jumping randomly? Or moving like someone is using it?”
Person: “Well it looks like someone is using it…”
My thought = malware.
Person: “…but as though they have Parkinsons and it is just clicking everywhere. There’s these white circles whenever it shows up.”
Okay, randomly. Wait, white circles? That’s a touch screen problem.
Me: “I don’t think I can diagnose this over the phone. You should probably get someone to look at it.”
Person: “Oh, okay, this only started because the screen was dirty.”
Me: “You have a dirty touch screen?”
Person: “Not anymore, I cleaned it with Windex. It was all smudgy.”
Me: “Yeah, take it to the Geeksquad, they’ll fix it for you.”
“Do you have any more of that beef stew you made?” asked the widowed neighbour I occasionally gave some of my cooking too.
“I have a little. Did you need some?”
“Yes.” she responded.
I went to my kitchen and pulled out from the freezer what remained of a hearty winter stew. “Here you go.”
“This isn’t enough.”
“It’s all I have.” I clarified.
“I have guests over. It’s not worth you giving this to me if there’s not enough for everyone.”
I shrugged, feeling taken aback. “That’s all I have.”
“You’ll need to make some more.”
“I don’t have the time. I’m heading out.” By now I was getting rather irate.
“Well when would it be ready?”
“I just don’t have the time today, sorry.”
Months passed, as I was bringing in the post from the post box someone I didn’t recognise spoke to me. “You don’t leave food for my Aunt anymore.”
“I’ve been too busy with work lately.” I answered by way of explanation making a connection between this person and the elderly lady I use to occasionally cook for.
“That’s a shame. There’s no reason for us to come over to dinner with her anymore without the benefit of your cooking.”
“A real man doesn’t bother getting all this education, he gets out there and starts earning a wage as early as he can.”
My wife rolled her eyes at the dinner guest.
I smiled and said, “Alright mate, whatever. I think I was making more per year when I was a teenager than you are now that you’re in your fifties.”
The conversation quickly devolved from there.
There is no greater sin in this life than selling me a tall, cold glass of Blackthorn cider but in actuality serving me a glass of Wyder’s Pear cider that is flat and then trying to convince me that I do not know what Blackthorn cider tastes like and that the cider is not flat.
There is a special circle of Hell reserved for people like that.
I know. I checked. It’s in the Bible.
“When you bring an offering to the Lloyd it shouldn’t be burnt… something… something.”
Look it up.
Leviticus I think.
He was all about punishing people for cheating and lying.
“I can’t eat here,” said the lunchtime acquaintance, “I’m severely gluten intolerant.”
“Oh really? I’m sorry to hear that. What are the specific symptoms you exhibit?” I asked politely.
“I’m just intolerant that’s all.” he replied.
“But specifically, how do the symptoms present themselves?” I was curious. I was polite.
“I just feel bad.” said the business contact irately.
I nodded sympathetically.
We settled for the over-priced “build your own” salad next door.
We ate our meal over polite conversation.
I constantly diverted away from business discussions and working together.
And ultimately I decided not to pursue any possibility of future business.
Affectation is a metaphor.
P.S. I am actually mildly gluten intolerant but that won’t ever stop me from consuming vast quantities of fresh baked bread and freshly rolled pasta.
People confuse patriot with zealot and become especially confused when labelling themselves or anybody they disagree with.
I have worked with a number of clients over the years, and invariably, after a few months together, they offer me a more permanent role.
Frequently, during those discussions, I ask about my predecessors who filled the role (if there were any) and it is a rare hiring manger, project manager or client who can say something good about the person who was filling those shoes.
They were useless.
They were a bozo.
They were shit.
And that… is why I turned down your offer (no matter how generous) of making this a more permanent arrangement.
And why I didn’t put you on my list of past clients that people can use to verify my work.
And why I won’t be asking you (I always ask) for a short letter of recommendation that I can use when future clients come calling.
The problem with having read the Bible (couple of different editions actually) is that when people find out, they immediately think I am one of them.
Just because I have studied your beliefs it does not mean I belong to your tribe.
I am, however, a great believer in knowing which tune the devil is playing.
We love what you do, it is why we want to hire you.
But if you come and work for us, we want you to stop doing it.
Potential Client: “We’d like to bring you in for an all-day technical interview to make sure you can do the work.”
Me: “Sorry, swamped with too much paying work to give any time to your college hazing rituals. Go find yourself a recent college grad willing to put up with that.”
Well this is interesting…
“As a software developer yourself, don’t you think it is hypocritical to steal someone else’s software? You’re running this WordPress plugin, licensed for only a single website, on multiple blogs. You’re committing piracy.”
“GPL source code” I responded.
“This is a commercial WordPress plugin and theme, you have to pay all the licensing fees.”
“Perhaps you don’t understand what GPL means.” I countered.
“I know what it means! It doesn’t apply here! You’re ripping these guys off!”
“GPL still applies.” I countered again.
I really should take the career advice of completely random internet dweebs that message me out of the blue.
I am sure my life would be just perfect if only I would listen to every idiot with an opinion.
If you are going to ask me to lunch to pick my brains, and bring along your two business partners, and spend three hours exploring my brains, could you perhaps pay for my lunch?
Professional etiquette: It’s not just for other people.
The clincher was that after two hours, nobody had yet reached for the check. I eventually had to throw down a twenty to cover my $9 lunch salad and small bottle of water.
Potential Client (being very serious): “We were hoping for someone who had a bit more experience with developing games.”
P.S. I shipped my first video game in 1978, and they were aware of this.
“Here’s a link to 40 hours of video of an advanced software development class I teach to senior engineers at [name drop of well-known company in Cupertino]. A link to a 30 minute video where I live code a random audience question in class. My github repo of 20+ Open Source projects I authored. My software development blog. My blog I write on startups and marketing. Links to learned articles in trade journals where I talk about leadership, engineering, and solving hard problems.”
“That all sounds great. Before we do a phone screen, could you take this HackerRank test? Should only take a few hours.”
People not in your line of work are not qualified to evaluate you.
Two things to note about the Zuckerberg $45B give-away:
People are upset the money isn’t going to them.
And they are upset they are so socially impotent that nobody gives one wit about their opinions of how the money should be distributed.
At the end of the day, it’s always a downer to realise that nobody gives a fuck about your opinions of how $45B should be distributed unless you actually are in possession of $45B.
I said to a friend “I accidentally baked a cake last night, would you come over and take it away from us?”
To which she responded “What kind of cake? I don’t want to go to the trouble of coming over to get a (free) cake and then find out it wasn’t worth it.”
If you are sat there debating whether you should take freshly baked, completely homemade, free cake when offered, I can only conclude that your priorities are fucked up.
Also, the cake went to a different friend who didn’t hesitate.
For the same reason you won’t tell me why I didn’t get the job, I won’t tell you why I turned down your offer.
It doesn’t do either one of us any favours.
Apparently I have been warned of my erroneous ways.
If I don’t stop posting entrepreneurial and marketing advice on LinkedIn, one my connections, whose last 14 posts were “Solve if ur genius” posts or Facebook-like link-bait celebrity articles will probably have to disconnect from me.
In another “people are arseholes” post I love how I get chastised for “wasting time” watching a two-hour training seminar on how to improve my product marketing.
Meanwhile the person doing the chastising spent the past four days being “sick” from their barely above minimum wage job so they could binge watch two season of Breaking Bad on Netflix.
One of the greatest mistakes you can make in life is showing up to a family gathering and attempting to snark, sass, berate, belittle, backtalk and act like a general arsehole to someone who was once a stand-up comic who also did a lot of improv.
Improv is a good skill to acquire for pitching and sales. You just have to remember to switch off the snark and sass portion.
Your opinions are like your farts.
They only smell good to you.
When I don’t return a pest’s calls: “You should remove nice guy from your profile.”
I’m sorry if you have conflated “nice guy” with “doormat” but that is your problem, not mine.
Social media is an interesting phenomenon.
People are so desperate for validation and feedback from complete strangers they are willing to let others act in a vile or openly hostile manner towards them just to get a like or a comment.
If I comment on a LinkedIn status update (a professional networking website where stirring the pot is a taboo and swearing is looked down upon) and it is left to stand, it tells me one of two things: The person isn’t paying attention or they don’t care (same thing really).
Or my comment is more valuable than their integrity.
Would they rather let something stand that they disagree with and don’t want to see, but be validated by it, than to take action and delete the comment?
P.S. I actively delete (some) comments from my social media posts because I’d rather have no comments than put up with someone’s inane blithering.
Let’s talk about political immigration from one specific country.
The conceit of the average political immigrant is that, given how talentless, mono-lingual, monotheistic, poorly educated, and bombastic they are, they expect that the rest of the world to welcome them with open arms should they choose to emigrate to another country rather than face the political mess that they have created in their own.
When the foreign policy of the country of the political immigrant is nothing more than an absurdly disguised imperialism backed by a jingoism that borders on zealotry, and often religious zealotry at that, when they treat all other countries as nothing more than uneducated foreigners suckling on the teat of foreign aid, when their own immigration policies are so draconian as to exclude most of the population of their closest partner nations, to believe that any other country would welcome an immigrant “just because they are from that country” shows a blindness to how the world works and also to how the world views the average political immigrant from that country.
The average political immigrant from the region is a great believer in “You’re country is in political turmoil, sucks to be you, stay where you belong.”
And unfortunately for the average political immigrant from that region, the rest of the world thinks the exact same thing about them.
I am strong believer that the political immigrants go through the exact same immigration channels that the rest of the world goes through when trying to emigrate to whatever country you choose.
Hopefully you have a useful skill set that will allow you to be fast tracked in, in which case, it should only take a few years of waiting to get your work visa.
P.S. I’m talking about political immigrants from America beside themselves because of Hillary or Trump.
“Hell of a nice guy” in my email signature and on my profile should not be conflated with either “doormat” or “willing to put up with your bullshit.”
Got an email from someone I was previously connected with on LinkedIn stating “Not sure what happened. Maybe LinkedIn glitched but we’re no longer connected.”
I responded with “I disconnected from you. I found you to be annoying.”
Apparently people want you to be honest with them, but then get upset when you are honest with them.
In other news, people don’t handle rejection well.
What I always find amusing on the mathematic “solve if ur genius” posts on LinkedIn is that so many people are adamant about their answer, yet declare they are a CPA, or a CFO, or an investor, or a mathematician.
You really can use these absolutely useless posts as a litmus test to figure out “should I take financial advice from this idiot?”
Sat down after Christmas dinner with my favourite Christmas pudding dessert.
“That’s your third plate of pudding.” said my wife.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “and I’m your third husband. Don’t go lecturing me on the vagaries of moderation.”
Rule of thumb: Do NOT let Justin drink three glasses of the really good port during the festivities.
I read quite a few books each year (at least one a week).
And I love Audible.com because it also lets me listen to dozens of audio books each year.
“You can’t count audio books as ones you’ve read,” said the coffee shop acquaintance, “because you haven’t actually read them.”
“I’ve listened all the way through, to the unabridged versions, how is that not equivalent to reading a book?” I asked.
“Because you don’t remember anything from them. You have to actually read the book, with your eyes.” said my acquaintance forcefully.
“So by that logic, no blind person ever, has ever read a book, either by Braille, or by listening to an audio version of the book.” I countered.
“No, that’s not what I am saying at all. You’re taking my words out of context. I am saying, if you have listened to an audio book, you haven’t actually read the book.”
“And I am saying,” I continued, “that if a blind person only listens to audio books, that by your logic, they have never read a book.”
“No, that’s a completely different situation.”
“Apart from the fact I think your argument is flawed and that you are completely full of shit, would you care to define exactly how the two are different?”
“You have eyes.” said the acquaintance emphatically.
“Yeah, you really are full of shit.” I smiled.
I noticed in the clamouring for equality in the workplace (especially in Silicon Valley), what they usually mean is “equal gender” and sometimes “equal race” but never “equal age.”
We never have government programmes where we concentrate on getting more X in Y. Where Y is “working the face in a boiler-room temperature diamond mine” or “hazardous waste processing facility.”
Recently speaking with the CEO of a company about hiring.
He mentioned that he would like to try and convince me to work for him full-time.
I demurred for the most part, but after a long conversation via email (they were very interested) even though I said “No” at every step of the way, I finally extracted a “probable salary range” from HR.
I was a little confused, because the salary range was far lower than I expected it to be.
When I enquired the HR person assured me that they pay right in the median of the salary range that their market research shows.
It isn’t always about the money but a median salary for the position they wanted to hire me for, given today’s salary market data would reduce my income to about 55% of what I currently make.
But this didn’t explain why the stated median range would be so low.
After a little digging it appears their market research on software developer salaries has not been updated since 1998.
And they had no interest in changing that.
And yet still the CEO lamented it was so difficult to hire good people.
P.S. The CEO was well-aware of the disparity in prevailing market rates for the positions he needed to fill. His reasoning? He was bound by what HR told him.
Apparently I am full of conceit.
A friend asked my fiancee and I to spend four days helping with the on-site organization and catering of their wedding.
They didn’t want a gift, just some time and help.
We were happy to oblige, though I could only dedicate two days to the endeavour due to work committments.
After about $500 of expense (travel, pet sitter for cats, kennel for dog) I dutifully showed up the day beforehand.
On the day of the wedding I was approached and asked “Did I bring a gift?”
“I did not.” I responded.
“It’s a bit much to show up to a wedding without a gift.” I was chastised.
“I paid my own way here, from another state, my wife has dedicated several days to on-site organizing, I will be performing many menial chores and some of the post-wedding cooking. I think that is gift enough.” I explained.
“You should bring a real gift next time.”
“I am the gift.” I responded.
“You’re so conceited.” was declared with much derision.
My future Mother-in-law loves to drive.
Long road trips all over the state.
She pays attention to every road sign.
The stopping distance to the car in front.
The current speed limit
Children and small animals that may dart out in to the road.
The person opening their car door just ahead.
The bicyclist swerving in and out of cars.
I do all the operating of the vehicle.
But my future Mother-in-law does all the driving.
Sat on the couch at my future Mother-in-law’s house when out of the blue she says: “Another new laptop? You only just bought one. You should not go throwing your money away like that.”
I turn and point at the china cabinet over her shoulder. “Not once has anybody in this household been allowed to ever use or even lift one of those decorative plates.”
“Those bring me comfort!” she exclaimed. “And they’re for guests. What does the laptop get you?”
“About a half-million dollars a year.” I responded.
I don’t see many successful people posting inspirational messages on social media networks.
But I see an awful lot of not very successful people doing that.
P.S. I do not post inspirational messages. I post rabble-rousing comments designed to slowly incite a riot.
“You could have let me know you were going to disconnect from me on LinkedIn, I could have taken you off the mailing list.” said the disgruntled, LinkedIn ex-connection.
I showed you the exact same courtesy you showed me when you signed me up to your nuisance newsletter.
I hear a lot of people in SF claiming poverty and that they are starving, whilst their mouth is full of $40 gourmet pizza and their pockets are full of $500 phones.
We as a society place great value in ten people working frenetically for five hours to save the life of a single person who is in pain due to self-inflicted trauma.
We as a society place little value in a single person diligently toiling for years to give the knowledge and tools to ten thousand people to enable them to lift themselves out of poverty.
I am flabbergasted by the kerfuffle that people raise when they do not achieve an equal result when given an equal opportunity.
Equality means equal opportunity, equal access, equal treatment.
Equality does not mean “equal result.”
There are only two types of people in this world that will tell you that you are getting ideas above your station.
People “above” you who are afraid you are going to be better at it (whatever “it” is) than them.
And people “below” you who know you are already better at it (again, whatever “it” is) than them.
There’s only one reason to keep you down and make you feel small – “don’t be better than me.”
The problem I have found with those seeking diversity is that they want diversity of “whatever physical trait isn’t diverse enough” but demand uniformity of thought.
“We should hire more people with this physical trait” isn’t an appeal for diversity.