Be Prepared: Personal data mining for your next job search (and some California labor law)

As many of my readers know, I’ve been on the job search the last several months. I’ve come up with a short checklist of things to prepare as you head into the process.

Note that this is useful even if you’re not currently looking, but it may be more pressing when you are. Some of these can be digital, in the note-taking software of your choice (I lean toward Evernote), but a couple may be best in dead-tree form.

Also, with apologies to international readers, this is focused on United States concepts and constructs. Some of them may well apply outside the US, but I can’t say for sure. So I’ll bashfully hope you know your country better than I do.

And here we go.

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Titanic, Hindenberg, and My Management Mindset

As some of my readers know, I’ve taken the last year off from the corporate world. I’ve done some things on my own, sold some things on eBay, and worked as a contractor for a mining pool. Now that I’m back into interviews, one thing I get asked more than ever before is about my management style.

I prefer to think of it as a management mindset, as the style would adjust to each minion’s needs and “work language” for lack of a better term. And despite relatively little formal management training, I’ve come to a coherent and occasionally appreciated position.

You can only be as good a manager as your manager is to you.

A large part of team management is proxying in both directions between the people who report to you, and the person or people you report to. Your reach and control is probably limited — you can’t usually spend more than the budget allows on salary, or eliminate 7am calls for your west coast team because a manager three levels up wants 10am meetings from his east coast office.

But on a more granular level, if your own manager isn’t supportive of what you need for your employees, there’s only so much you can do to make that happen. This is often because your manager’s manager is limited, and on up many levels.

This can be an uncomfortable maxim to present to a prospective or current manager, as some will take it as a personal affront. But good managers (leaders) will understand that it’s reality, and they can’t do more for you than their manager permits (generally speaking). They probably know it even if they haven’t specifically thought about it.

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How not to embarrass yourself when writing about mining (or anything else)

Disclosure: I work with Flexpool.io but I am not writing in any official capacity or with any proprietary knowledge. You should mine with Flexpool, but it’s not mandatory.

Disclaimer: Hashrate rental can be expensive and unprofitable if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing and can manage your risk, check out Nicehash and MiningRigRentals and maybe you too can embarrass the tech media. (Referral links may earn me a little bit.)

This morning, some “news” pieces came out in some of the tech press. Not the big names most people have heard of, but venues with some reach and some expectation of basic knowledge.

The headline from notebookcheck dot net

The “story” was that some unreleased and possibly even non-existent GPUs were mining to Flexpool, the number 5 Ethereum mining pool in the world This sounds pretty amazing, even unbelievable, although after the April 1, 2021 Captains Workspace reveal video on the “RTX 4090” you realize some people will believe anything.

The evidence? High hashrate and workers named “4090TI-Overclock-Test,” “RX7000-Control-Test,” and “RX7000-Overclock-Test.”

The “story” got a lot of coverage, starting at wccftech, spreading to Notebook Check and Digital Trends, and later with a bit more justifiable incredulity from Windows Central and TechRadar. Also seen at TweakTown after this was originally posted.

A couple of these mention later in the article, after breathless references to the scale and/or specs of the cards named and the vast amounts of Ethereum that could be mined by these farms, that it’s unlikely.

How could this happen?

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It’s the most cable-tastic time of the year: Review some accounts you may be able to improve on

Today’s post comes with apologies to my international readers, especially my esteemed non-US Tech Field Day colleagues, who may or may not benefit from today’s quick take that ended up not being so quick again.

As my American readers will know, there are monthly expenditures that are painful and rarely decrease over time.

Some, like apartment rent and self storage, are downright predatory by design–try getting the advertised new tenant rate when you’ve lived in an apartment for a year or more. If you’re lucky, they’ll let you move into a different apartment, pay overlapping rent during the move, put a new deposit down and wait a month or two for the old one to be returned, and then get something close to the advertised rates. And in a recent self-storage experience, I was given two choices on upgrading a storage space: Pay full price (and expect a rent hike within 2-3 months of course), or get the advertised price for the new space as long as I paid full price for the old (soon-to-be-empty) space for three full months.

It’s not all bad though

But you can find unexpected opportunities to save, especially (in my experience) with cable companies, who have a suboptimal reputation when it comes to customer service. Some cellular providers can also work this way, although it can be a bit rougher.

It helps to do some homework first, so here’s what I’d suggest you do.

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Splash Mountain Syndrome – It’s not what you think

A couple months ago my friend Christopher asked his friends about getting comfortable with public speaking. I’ve told this story to small crowds from time to time, but never put it all out there… so here is how I contracted Splash Mountain Syndrome, and what it meant to my public speaking career.

Most of my readers are familiar with Impostor Syndrome, where you doubt you’re good enough to do your job or tell your story, or that there must be someone better out there. Most if not all of us in tech have dealt with this at one time or another, feeling like the turtle on the fencepost.

Splash Mountain Syndrome – It’s not what you think

Image via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Splash_Mountain_at_Disneyland.JPG (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

We’re going to Disneyland

Well, to explain what I experienced in my speaking career at Cisco, we have to go back to spring 2003. I was between jobs, and had gone down to Southern California to spend a weekend with a lady I was interested in. We went to the grand opening of Amoeba Records Hollywood, and also made my first trip to Disneyland.

She stood in line for nearly an hour with me for the Winnie the Pooh ride, so when she wanted to go on Splash Mountain, I figured I shouldn’t start letting her down quite so early in the relationship. So we went to Splash Mountain. The line was faster there for some reason.

As we went up on the ride to the top, I wondered if it was too late to back out. Maybe hop out at the basketball court and walk down, and probably get kicked out of the park. As we got closer to the mouth of the mountain, it became clear that I had no option but to hold on for dear life and deal with it. And as we emerged into the light, my legs clamped on the log car, I closed my eyes, and dropped.

As we walked away, I asked my companion if she’d heard a noise like a small rodent being strangled. “Yes,” she said. “That was you.”

How this applies to public speaking

I can say that it was more distance than drop ride disappointment that kept that from being a long term relationship, but similar feelings happened almost every time I got ready to travel for a speaking engagement.

I’d be eager to sign up for an event, whether a partner conference or partner sales event, Strata+Hadoop World, or Cisco Live. But the closer it got, even if I already had my presentation pretty much committed to memory, I’d start to think I made a terrible mistake, that I would dread the whole trip, that I’d get my first heckler, or that I should just let someone in marketing handle it.

The dread would intensify as I was packing, probably because even after six years of work travel, I still sucked at packing efficiently (I’m still not that great, despite lots of YouTube videos). But I’d still finish up the packing, with a laptop bag heavier than my clothing and coffee bag, and head off to Seattle or Atlanta or Manhattan or Las Vegas or Denver or wherever.

Of course, I’d do fine, entertain people with the fairly unique mix of facts, experience, humor, cultural references, and sarcasm that I became known for, and get good feedback afterward. We’d find a good restaurant for dinner, and then move on to the next adventure.

But the next time a trip came up, I’d go through the same cycle. At least I didn’t make the noise again.

As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing

I think it was a good thing. I’ve seen speakers who are way too comfortable and lose their edge, their connection with the audience, or even their talk track. We’ve all been in sessions where the speaker is there because of title and clout rather than their scintillating message and delivery; I wonder how many of those people have lost Splash Mountain.

Splash Mountain Syndrome helped keep me on my toes, and definitely made sure that I didn’t get so comfortable with my content that I went into autopilot and lost audiences and credibility. It still led to an uncomfortable hour or more leading up to my trips, but I came out of it stronger and more confident.

Have you experienced anything like Splash Mountain Syndrome? Have any tips for people preparing for pulbic speaking? Share in the comments if you’d be so kind.