Interesting links of the week (2022-5)

Here are some interesting articles, blog posts, videos, and GitHub repositories I’ve run into over the last week (January 24, 2022 – January 30, 2022):


Non-Technology / Random


Github Repos

How to have a better interview

How to have a better interview

Over the years I’ve been on a lot of interviews, and I’ve interviewed a lot of people. After talking to a couple of friends about interviews recently, I decided to get my thoughts out of my head and into a post. These are several things I think are important when preparing for, and taking part in, an interview. Oh, and they’re not in any particular order.

I plan to follow this post up with Tips for Interviewers because it’s an area every company can do better in.

Know who you are talking to

This seems obvious, but if you’re in the midst of a job search and you’ve got a dozen interviews spread out over the course of a week or two, it’s easy to get confused. Know who you’re talking to, what they do, and of course, be prepared to answer the inevitable “Why <company name>?”

After you make sure you have a good handle on what the company does and why you want to work there, the next step is to get some information about the individuals you’ll be talking to. I look up recruiters and anyone else involved in an interview on LinkedIn. Seeing any common connections is great, and I’ve used that as an ice-breaker. I also like having a face to the name and knowing a little about their background.

A related tip is, during your job search, pay for LinkedIn Premium. It’s a great way to see who is looking at your profile.

Be a STAR storyteller

Interviewers don’t want one or two-word answers. In my experience, stories are a good way to answer questions and talk about your experience. “Tell me how you’ve failed” is one of those questions that just begs for a story. So does, “tell me about the most complex project you’ve worked on” or “tell me about a difficult conversation you had to have, and how did it go”. Stories work. I would also say you should have multiple stories for each of the hard questions because if you have a series of interviews with different interviewers and they all ask you the same question, do you really want to give them all the same answer? When they compare notes, will they think you only ever failed once, or that you only worked on one complex project? Have a few stories prepared, but don’t rehearse so much that they sound, well, rehearsed.

Now when it comes to telling those stories, I really recommend the STAR method.

Situation: set things up
Task: What was it I was trying to do
Action: What did I do to carry out the task
Result: What was the result

I even had a recruiter tell me once to answer questions in this way because it’s what the interviewers were expecting. It takes a little practice, but it’ll be worth it.

Don’t BS

The last thing you should try to do is BS your way through something you don’t know. A good interviewer will pick up on it pretty quickly.

A little over 20 years ago, I talked to a recruiter who gave me great advice that I’ve remembered ever since: Do NOT hesitate to say “I don’t know”. If memory services, I said “I don’t know” in that particular interview many times.

If an interviewer asks you a question and you don’t know the answer to it, it is absolutely acceptable to answer with, “I don’t know”, BUT I would follow that up with how I would fill that particular knowledge gap. Interviewers want you to show a growth mindset so if you just leave it at, “I don’t know”, it can be a red flag.

Have questions prepared

Almost every interview ends with the inevitable, “So, do you have any questions for us?” When I was young (and dumb) and not prepared, I would say, “Nope, I’m good.” and the interview would end.

That’s a mistake.

What I’ve learned over the years from being on both sides of an interview is that being prepared for this question is really important and can sometimes make the difference between moving on to the next step and not.

I have several questions prepared, and time willing, I’ll ask multiple. There have been times that the questions I’ve asked have kept the interviewer talking for another 15-20 minutes beyond the scheduled time. Now, that definitely leads into the next bullet, so you have to play this by ear.

Oh, as for the last question, I always try to ask what the next steps are.

Be mindful of the clock

Whether they’re asking me questions and I’m answering, or it’s my turn to ask them questions, I always try to be mindful of the clock. I want to make sure I’m answering the question they asked, but I want to make sure my answers are clear and concise, and I’m not just talking to run down the clock.

As the time runs out, and it’s my turn to ask questions, I try to make sure the questions I ask will get me as much information as possible in the time I have left. As I said above, if it keeps them talking and we go over, I’m ok with it.

Look up

If you’re participating in a remote interview (Zoom, Teams, etc.), make sure you’re looking at the camera and not staring at your desk or something else. If you were in the same room, you’d make eye contact, right? Looking at your camera is as close as you can get. It shows you’re present and paying attention. I have a sticky note right next to my webcam that says, “Look here!” to remind myself because I tend to look at my video feed instead and need the reminder.

To be fair, I will let them know that if I’m looking away, it’s because I’m taking notes.

Talk about yourself without rambling

When I’m asked by an interviewer to introduce myself or tell a little about my history, I always start with my current position and work backward.

“I am currently a Principal Analyst for…and I’m responsible for…Day to day I work on, and over the last few months I’ve spent my time working on…prior to this job, I was a Sr. Software Engineering working for…”

I tend to go back 3-4 jobs, but I also try to read the room and not go back too far. Depending on who I’m talking to and whether or not I feel there’s a good connection, I may toss in a few personal things as well like “I also enjoy backpacking with friends and I read a LOT.”

Send a thank you email after

When it’s all said and done, I follow up with an email. If I don’t have contact information for the individuals in the email, I email the recruiter asking them to thank the team for their time and consideration.

I could probably have written another dozen things, but in the end, interviews suck, and these are just a few things you can do to make them suck just a bit less.

Good luck!

Interesting links of the week (2022-4)

Here are some interesting articles, blog posts, videos, and GitHub repositories I’ve run into over the last week (January 17, 2022 – January 23, 2022):


Non-Technology / Random


Github Repos

Interesting links of the week (2022-3)

In the United States, today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Here are some interesting articles, blog posts, and videos I’ve run into over the last week (January 10, 2022 – January 16, 2022):


Non-Technology / Random


Priorities and Twitter

Priorities and Twitter

I joined Twitter on May 30, 2007, not long after its release to the public on July 15, 2006. My first tweet was pretty innocent:

When I first started tweeting, I had a handful of followers, mostly friends from the local conference scene. As I continued tweeting, I met more people, many of who became good friends. It was exciting going to conferences and using Twitter to coordinate meeting people I had only known online.

Those were the days of frequent outages and the infamous “fail whale”, so during one outage, an IRC channel was created where a bunch of us spent time together and chatted. That deepened the connection for many of us.

Twitter was fun, and for a long time, it felt small and intimate.

I remember hitting 100 followers, then 500, then 1000. I always wondered what value people got from following me because many of my tweets were nothing more than snark aimed at my friends. I never tried to be anything more than myself on Twitter. I never tried to be an “influencer”.

At some point though, things started to change, and it became less fun. I tried to keep my following list small, but it still ended up being close to 600 people, a far cry from the couple dozen at the start. My timeline started getting cluttered with retweets and then Twitter started showing me what people Liked. Those things truly reduced the usefulness for me. It became a chore to reduce the noise and increase the signal.

Elections years were never fun on Twitter, and they only became worse as time went by. I ruthlessly filtered and blocked, and tried to use Twitter for productive things, but it was getting increasingly difficult to justify the time I was spending on it. I took a few breaks over the years and it always felt good to step away.

“The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

After a great deal of thought, and after reading So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport along with watching Social Dilemma on Netflix, I decided to take another much-needed break starting on June 29, 2020.

After about 4 months away and not missing it in any way, I finally decided to deactivate my account on November 7, 2020. In roughly 13 years and about a month, I tweeted roughly 21,000 times and had 2,640 followers.

I didn’t make some big proclamation about leaving, I just quietly deactivated my account and went on with my life.

My last tweet was on June 19, 2020, and was also pretty innocent:

That link resolves to, a great email service from the guys who brought us Basecamp.

By the time this post is published, I will have been off Twitter for about 14 months, and except for this post, I haven’t thought too much about it other than to remind myself that it was a good decision. Every so often a friend or a new story will send me a link to something on Twitter. I’ll read it and then close that browser tab. I have no desire to stick around and look at anything else.

I believe social media can be a force for good, and it is all about how you choose to use it. Some people follow thousands and use a myriad of tools to filter the firehose, and I’m sure they get a lot of value from it. Some people use it to ask questions and to help others learn. Some people use it as a write-only tool, only posting, but never scrolling and reading messages from others.

On the other side, some people use it to engage in awful behavior. Some people use it to bully and shame others. It’s a place where people can hide behind their somewhat anonymous handles and snipe at others. It’s a place where blue checkmarks can say some really stupid things and be celebrated for it. Seeing stories in the news about dumb things people have done on Twitter always seemed strange to me. Twitter is NOT (IMO) the real world.

In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport said:

“in an age in which the digital attention economy is shoveling more and more clickbait toward us and fragmenting our focus into emotionally charged shards, the right response is to become more mindful in our media consumption”

There was a time I prioritized Twitter because it seemed important. Its importance in my life has dropped to zero. I do try to be more mindful of how I spend my time, whether it’s on other social media sites, playing video games, reading, or spending time with my family. I have started to put far more emphasis on real connections again, and that feels good. The human brain is not meant to communicate in 280-character bursts with no other context. It’s meant for a higher-bandwidth mode of communication, and that’s what I prioritize.


Interesting links of the week (2022-2)

Here are some interesting articles, blog posts, and videos I’ve run into over the last week (January 3, 2022 – January 9, 2022):


Non-Technology / Random


Books of 2021

Books of 2021

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain

I read a lot, and 2021 was no different. By New Year’s Eve, I had read 53 books during the year. While I’m not going to list them all here, I wanted to call a few out for various reasons.

The first book I read in 2021 is one I think everyone should read: The Diary of Anne Frank. Apparently, I’ve read this before (based on my Goodread’s history), but it felt new to me. I’ve written in a journal almost every day since November 19, 2019, so I really felt a connection to someone who, while under awful conditions, spent a lot of time writing about her hopes, dreams, questions, concerns, and more.

I have enjoyed every one of Michael J. Fox’s books, and No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality did not disappoint. He’s a great writer and his humor (and humanity) come through in his books.

I read Tom Clancy novels for years, and always enjoyed them. Well, at least until Red Rabbit which was a terrible book. I always liked the genre so after finding a great Youtuber, C.W. Lemoine aka “Mover”, I took a chance on his books. I finished Spectre Rising on March 23, Spectre: Origins on March 24, Avoid. Negotiate. Kill. on March 28, Archangel Fallen on March 30, Executive Reaction on April 3, Brick by Brick on March 8, Stand Against Evil on March 11, Absolute Vengeance on March 16, The Helios Conspiracy on March 21, I am the Sheepdog on March 22, Fini Flight on March 27, and when it was released later in the year, N.O. Justice on August 1. To say I enjoy his writing is a huge understatement. 🙂 I’m looking forward to what’s next!

In the same genre, I stumbled onto Jack Carr. Jack is a former Navy SEAL who spent 20 years in Naval Special Warfare doing what SEALs do. As with Mover’s books, I read The Terminal List, True Believer, Savage Son, and The Devil’s Hand in just a few days. I pre-ordered his next book which doesn’t come out until May 2022. Oh, and The Terminal List is being made into an Amazon series starring Chris Pratt! From what Jack says, the series is going to kick ass.

On a more serious note, I really, REALLY enjoyed The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy. It’s a pretty quick read, but thought-provoking.

Another really short read was Jack London’s To Build a Fire. I’ve read a few Jack London stories over the years with The Sea Wolf being one of my favorites. I don’t like the cold, so To Build a Fire struck a chord.

If you’re interested to know what Critical Race Theory is, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction is a good way to dip your toes in. It is written by prominent scholars in the movement/theory, so it’s as close to the horse’s mouth as you can get. My copy is now heavily highlighted and underlined because I believe it’s important to understand, not just pontificate. It was an enlightening read. I don’t agree with any of it, but I’m still willing to understand it. Educate yourselves. Don’t just listen to the talking heads on your news channel of choice.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was outstanding! It took some turns I wasn’t expecting, but I’m glad I read it, and I highly recommend it.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was good, but the ending…GRRR. I won’t spoil it here, but when I hit the ending I’m pretty sure I yelled a few choice words. Her writing style was different and a bit hard to get used to, but again, I’m glad I read it.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury has found its way into my top 5 favorite books. It was so good that I can see myself reading it again in the not too distant future.

Overall, Goodreads tells me I read around 16,000 pages in those 53 books. The longest book I read was Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer and the shortest was Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale.

Interesting links of the week (2022-1)

And, I’m back.

Here are some interesting articles, blog posts, and videos I’ve run into over the last week (December 27, 2021 – January 2, 2022):


Non-Technology / Random