Flutterby™! : Not Believable

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Not Believable

2005-10-13 02:27:24.868907+00 by meuon 7 comments

I recently (tonight) had to do a long proposal for a project, and part of it was doing a short technical and personal bio. I've already been working for these guys for a couple of weeks doing odd stuff (various servers) and they have been impressed. But when I sent them the 2 short paragraphs on me (one techy, one personal stuff..), they did not believe it and I was not 'fluffing' at all. Looking at it later, I kind of see their point. It's hard to be humble, yada yada...

I'll bet most Flutterbarians are in the same boat. As a significant portion of next years revenue for GeekLabs may depend on this gig, I'd like to get it, but it's too late to change this one, but any suggestions for the next time? What do you do?

[ related topics: Work, productivity and environment Boats Machinery ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-13 15:53:18.773931+00 by: Dan Lyke

I have this problem too. My list runs from optimizing graphics code to threading issues in low level database stuff to hardware for motion control to web apps and back to 3d code. And yesterday I was working through yet another silly API to tie 3d code to web apps for bug and user interface issue reporting.

And... well... despite my being moderately "out there" on Flutterby, the surface of my personal interests and accomplishments is only barely dented on the front page.

One of the things I've noticed about the BALUG mailing list versus the CHUGALUG mailing list is that the folks on the former tend to be much more specialized than those on the latter. But, having worked with some highly specialized folks, I'm not sure that this makes for better problem solving. I think that after a while such people devolve into what the Microsoft[Wiki] crowd calls "Software Architects", people limited to the knowledge of how to plug together the modules that their chosen "solution provider" offers.

This isn't a problem unique to Microsoft[Wiki] or IBM, plenty of open source people suffer from it.

I know that sometimes it's a problem. I can't keep the intricacies of all of the languages I've worked on in my head at one time, so my spool-up in various topics can be a while, and I think it makes it much harder for me to find projects that keep me excited, but there are so many times I can come at a problem from a completely orthogonal direction that I'm loathe to settle down and specialize.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-13 16:19:06.886363+00 by: ebradway

meuon: Mind if I see your paragraphs?

I've had the honor of fielding reference calls from prospective employers for Dan and another programmer I worked with for a while at Cyberflix. I say "honor" because these two people felt I was even capable of judging their abilities. My reference usually boils down to "If I were to put together my 'Dream Team' to create the next great system, regardless of what it is, this guy would definitely be on it!" (meuon's on it as well).

I have been encountering a similar issue as I interview at schools for a PhD program. When asked what my field of specialty is or research interests are, I have to smile and preface with "I'm a jack-of-all trades". I know, from the outside, that GIS and Remote Sensing might seem like very similar fields but at the PhD level, they are apples and oranges:

My MS thesis research is on applications of a home-built remote sensing platform. My PhD work will likely focus on GIS data models. My BS, btw, is in mathematics. Oh, and I worked as a professional software developer for 12 years doing everything from industrial controls to financial transaction processing systems to games. Shrink-wrap to vertical market to custom embedded solutions. assembly with in-circuit-emulators and logic probes to C code front-ending a B-tree database to Oracle PL/SQL.

Fortunately, in the academic world, instead of a one-page resume, I get to keep a curriculum vitae (or cv for short). It can run on to several pages. Also, in the academic world, there are established standards for proving that you know who what you say you know: completed degrees, conference papers presented, journal articles published, book chapters written, grants awarded. All of this is easily traceable - just go to Google Scholar and type in the name. Not only do you get a clear picture on the person's accomplishments, but you quickly get an idea of how significant the work was to other people based on the number of references.

And as Dan mentioned, in Chattanooga you have to be a jack-a-mo to survive. There just isn't enough bleeding-edge work to specialize. Carrying this forward, my goal is to get a faculty position at a school about the size of UTC where they can't afford both a GIS faculty and a Remote Sensing faculty member. That way I get to do both!

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-13 19:55:24.242945+00 by: meuon

The value of a great 'face man': Spent a long lunch, 3 laptops with the other heavy techie and the 'Face' (remember A-Team?) rewording the whole thing. Technically,while Jim and I rock, and everything we said was absolutely technically correct and true. "Face" (Mike B) reworded sentences, tenses and position in subtle but real ways. We verified that what he said was technically correct and not a lie.. and it's a completely different proposal including my 2 paragraphs.

Eric, I'll send you the paragraphs via private e-mail later.. (They are in MS-Word on a WinXP Laptop not in my hands right now), I'd appreciate the feedback.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-13 23:31:06.127594+00 by: Larry Burton

Over the years I have found great value in choosing carfully which of my own horns I blow.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-17 05:37:09.42299+00 by: concept14

Speaking as someone who has made a few hiring decisions, a resume that was way too accomplished for the position aroused my suspicions. Why was this person applying for this position instead of for my job or my boss's job? Did they have an undisclosed flaw that outweighed the touted skills?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-17 20:50:29.884232+00 by: Mars Saxman

what the Microsoft crowd calls "Software Architects", people limited to the knowledge of how to plug together the modules that their chosen "solution provider" offers.

Ouch, is that what they mean? That usage sounds almost deliberately perverse, like "sales associate." In my lexicon, "architect" has always been a step above "engineer", the person who solves the hard design problems and lays out the big structure of the project.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-17 22:16:50.163796+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think of it as analogous to what happens with structures: The architect does the easy part, draws up what the monstrosity looks like and the simple engineering to make sure that the thing will stay upright, but over time the building's engineering staff has to recover the design from the architect's echo and turn the structure into something actually usable.

Usually by the time the building matures the only thing that's left of the design are the gross features of the exterior; for the most part the interior has been ripped out and rebuilt to suit the actual users, and many of the exterior elements have been reworked so that they're actually feasible with cost-effective materials.

See Frank Lloyd Wright[Wiki] et al.