On Pirates, Rockstars and Job Postings

“Ahoy, matees! Ye good ship [company name redacted] has openin’s for wild, talented, sea-worthy PHPirates an’ web developers t’ join the crew in thar normal behaviors o’ technical adventurin’ ‘n grog consumption. You’ll sail thee vast dataseas, wielding code like a sabre and buildin’ sites to confound and delight even the blackest of beards.”

Thus begins a job posting I recently stumbled across, leaving me to wonder, “Is this what it takes, now?”

Last week over at Indexed, Jessica Hagy put it nicely:


It’s marketing, of course. Just as applicants have to find a way to stand out, so do potential employers. And clearly it worked as I’m sitting here talking about it now.

There’s something about it, though, that’s reminiscent of the EXTREME advertising of the 1990s. Internet meme references replacing unnecessary yelling may be an upgrade but still comes across as tacky.

Why do our developers need to be pirates or rockstars or ninja wizards? Maybe I’m boring but if I’m hiring I want a solid developer, not a caricature.

If I’m a developer (and, hey, I am, so this is an easy hypothetical), I want to know what kind of cool problems I’m going to be asked to solve and what awesome technologies I’ll get to use.  I don’t want to have to parse that information from a bunch of marketing-speak.

The Problem with Third-Party Apps?

I’d been extremely resistant to adopting third-party tools in my development efforts for a very long time. I liked owning my tools end-to-end and I liked writing my own code just for the sake of knowing exactly how it worked. I didn’t even have a Gmail account because I was running my own mail server and didn’t see the need to support someone else’s service.

Eventually I learned my lesson about how good specialization can be. Now I say it’s a stupid lesson to have had to learn but I think you can say that about a lot of lessons.

Now my adoption of third-party tools has brought on a new problem.

I’m a big fan of Trello, as can probably be inferred by my earlier post on working with its API. I’m less of a fan of GitHub but respect that it’s a massively powerful tool, especially for sharing code across a distributed group. Both are tools that I use on personal projects and that my office has adopted internally. And that’s led to some interesting issues with the line between personal and professional in these systems.

It started simple enough. I was subscribed to a GitHub repository by a member of another team in the office so I could provide some commentary on a particular piece of code. I log in with my single GitHub account. Suddenly I’m getting email notifications to my personal email address telling me that, by virtue of being part of the office organization, I’ve been subscribed to repositories for teams I don’t interact with.

Okay, that’s something I can deal with. Attach my work email to the account, route everything from the organization through that, it’s all good.

A few weeks later I get a new email. Apparently someone in the organization decided that we need to have a rule that you must use your real name in your profile and must use an identifiable photo, and my account does only one of those. A few weeks ago this was my personal account, now I have coworkers telling me how I have to use it.

Switch over to Trello and it’s a similar story. I’d used it for project tracking for awhile before my team decided to use it. We had an organization set up and everything was great, as I kept my personal boards in the “My Boards” area and my work stuff was tucked away in its own organization below it. Yeah, it was annoying to get a notification to my phone if one of my teammates decided to do some off-hours work and start moving cards I was on but it was really no big deal.

Eventually the company decided that enough people were using Trello that we’d upgrade to Business Class. All of our boards were moved over to this new business account and one of our team managers pulls up the account to show how everything is grouped nicely under the new business. I pull up my account and find a jumble of work-related boards mixed in with my personal ones. I ask the manager about it, he can’t explain it so he brings over an IT guy. As the IT guy goes to look up whether or not my account was properly added to the business, I know what he’s going to say. “Oh, you’re not using your corporate email? Yeah, you’ll need to create a new account.”

And therein lies my new problem with adopting third-party tools. It seems to be defeating part of the purpose of having all these cloud-based, accessible-anywhere solutions if you have to have multiple accounts for them. Isn’t one of the selling points having everything in one place?

I know a lot of my coworkers have no problem setting up multiple accounts. Clearly that’s the expected behavior. I honestly can’t think of a better way to do it outside of modifying the tools we’re using to allow for accounts to have a split personality of sorts. It just bothers me and I wish there was a better way.

Video Games and Charity

I’ve written about one of my favorite charity events on DetroitHockey.Net before but with Mario Marathon on it’s sixth iteration this weekend, I thought I’d say something here.

Mario Marathon features a group of guys playing their way through the core Super Mario video games, streaming their efforts online in a telethon-like fundraiser for Child’s Play Charity.  They’re about thirty hours into this year’s event and they’ve raised over $30,000.  That puts them at about $378,000 raised over the last six years, with most of this year left to come.

Child’s Play raises money to buy toys, books and video games for children’s hospitals across the world in an effort to provide entertainment for the kids that have to stay there.

In the last fifteen months, my family has spent more time in women and children’s hospitals than we’d ever wish upon anyone and we know we didn’t have it nearly as bad as many do.

The staff at these places are phenomenal but there’s only so much they can do.  No one wants to spend time there but as adults we can justify it.  We know the hospital is the best place to get the treatment we or our loved ones need.

Children don’t always know this, though. They only know that they have to be in a place that can be scary at the best of times and most certainly is not home.

Child’s Play brings a bit of home to the hospital and gives kids a chance to relax as they go through their treatment.  It’s a noble cause and the Mario Marathon guys to a great job in support of it.

The Rebellion Strikes Back?

I’m a big alternate history geek and I recently stumbled onto a thread at AlternateHistory.com asking “What if Mark Hamill had been killed in the car accident that occurred between the filming of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back?”

“Gone The New Hope” covers more than just the possible development of the Star Wars saga, branching out to feature the business of Hollywood and politics.

The reason I bring it up on the anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back is that the the author recently reached May 4, 1980, in his timeline – the release date of his alternate Episode V, titled The Rebellion Strikes Back.

The author had previously noted that he had “accidentally” ended up writing an entire treatment for the second film of the series.  He posted the complete first act on Sunday.

In this world, Luke Skywalker sacrificed himself to destroy the Death Star while Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to escape with his life.  Han Solo is the main character going forward, with edits made to A New Hope to give him more character development.

Personally, I think it’s too awesome not to share.  It brings in a lot of unused ideas from previous drafts of what became our Star Wars movies, as well as ideas that would later be used in the sci-fi of our timeline.


Friday Morning Irony

A friend was just installing Ad Block Plus on a new machine and sent the following screenshot to me:

AdBlock Plea Screenshot

There’s something I find highly ironic about the maker of software that limits publishers’ ability to make money asking for donations to continue doing so.

There are a lot of sites out there that use horrible pop-up ads or ads that autoplay with sound, I’m not denying that.  There are also a lot of sites that use simple, unobtrusive ads, providing a revenue stream for the site that – in the worst-case scenario – provides no use to the user but also does not do any harm.  The latter allows for a bit of a symbiotic relationship between the user and the publisher; the publisher provides content that the user wants and the user may or may not click on ads while viewing that content, providing income back to the publisher.

As I said, there are some aggressive publishers out there, but it’s funny to me that someone who makes it possible to take away income from well-meaning publishers is begging for money to do it.