Lombardi – 2006

I told a friend of mine who lived in Austin that we were thinking of moving there, and to keep his ears out. He hooked me up with a friend of his, who had a recruiter contact that was trying to fill a QA role. She hooked me up with the hiring manager, and after a series of missed calls, we finally talked, and it went well.

He hooked me up with his principal engineer. The engineer asked me how I would test a card deck shuffling program. I must have done reasonably well, because the next thing I knew, travel to Austin had been arranged. The plan was to leave on a Friday afternoon, getting to Austin Friday evening. I would interview Saturday morning and early afternoon, have Saturday evening free to look around Austin, and then fly back Sunday morning.

I took that Friday off from work. My wife, baby, and I had lunch at Fresh Choice in San Leandro. It was delicious. Wife then drove me to the airport.

And it was on the plane that I knew I was in trouble.

It started (as it always does) with the migraine headache, feeling like a needle is poking into me just above me left eye. Light and sound start become irritations. And then the nausea starts.

The low-fat Italian dressing I had had at Fresh Choice must have had honey in it. Honey is essentially poison to me.

I used 3 barf bags on the airplane before landing in Austin. Managed to make it to the rental car counter, to the hotel, and I checked in. Threw up in the hallway on the way to my room 3 times. I called the front desk to tell them when I got to my room. I then sat in the bathroom with nausea and diarrhea most of the rest of the night.

I finally got to sleep about 4:00. Interview at 8:00. Woke up at 7:00 and felt slightly better, but the headache was still there. But what could I do? I got dressed and drove to the office.

My first interview was with two engineers. They started asking me questions, but about 10 minutes in, it hit me like a tsunami. Fortunately I found the recycle bin (which had a plastic liner in it) to throw up in. I also soiled myself. Thoroughly embarrassed, I turned back to the engineers, and told them that this was not going to work. They showed me out. I went back to my room and spent 3 more hours in the bathroom before crawling into bed about noon.

I woke about about 3:30 PM, and the headache was gone. Tummy felt much better. I took a shower. Hotel had a laundry room, so I went down and put a load of clothes in.

About 4:30, the hiring manager called me, concerned. I told him that I finally felt better. He said, “Listen, I talked to everybody, and they can all do the same schedule tomorrow. There is also a flight back to San Jose from Austin non-stop on Monday morning. Leaves at 6; gets to San Jose at 8:30. Can you be late to work on Monday?”

First of all, I was blown away that everybody rearranged their schedule to talk to me on Sunday. And that Lombardi was willing to pay for the fees to change my flight and the extra night of hotel.

Secondly, they did not know that I normally arrived at Apple between 10 and 10:15 anyway, so this was no problem.

So I agreed. Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

After I got off the phone, I realized that I was actually hungry. So I ventured out and explored. Ate a pint of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla (not yet available in Northern California). Looked at houses and salivated over the asking prices. Started mapping out neighborhoods with reasonable commutes. Got to bed at a reasonable time and slept very well.

Sunday, I talked to those same two engineers, the previous QA manager, another engineer, and the VP of Engineering. I also met the hiring manager, and the engineer who had given me the phone screen. The day went well, and the rest of the trip was uneventful.

And I got the offer. And I accepted it. We were going back to Texas.


American Bureau of Shipping – Nautical Systems – 2006

A friend of mine, loosely associated with a group of alumni from the university I attended, found out that I was thinking of coming back to Texas, and asked to call me.

We chatted for a few minutes, and he said that he might have a lead for me in Houston, which is where I really wanted to end up.

Soon after, I got an email:

I am a friend of here in Houston.  passed your name on to me and suggested that I contact you.  I am in charge of software development at ABS Nautical Systems, a firm that produces and sells a line of applications software to the marine industry.  We have been growing rapidly over the past year, and I’m looking for someone with management skills as well as the ability to analyze software issues to help me cope with the increasing workload.  I wanted to contact you in case this is of interest to you.

A good place for you to get an overview of who we are and what we do would be on our website, which is www.abs-ns.com.  If you are interested in exploring this further, I can send you a little bit more detail about what I am looking for, and perhaps we can talk on the phone as well.

At the same time, I was sending the hiring manager this note:

I am considering leaving the Bay Area, and Houston is my first choice, since I grew up there and have family around the area. The
primary concern is finding a position. mentioned that you might
be looking for somebody with project management experience, so I
decided to contact you.

Please find enclosed my resume; I would appreciate it if you would
look it over. Even if there is no match here, I really appreciate
your time, and wish you well in your endeavors.

He then sent me this:

Below is the additional detail I’d promised you.  I’ll plan to give you a call during your morning commute tomorrow (between 11:30 – 12:30 Houston time as you advised); let me know if this won’t work for any reason.  Look forward to talking with you.

ABS Nautical Systems builds and sells software for vessel operations to the shipping industry.  Our product suite addresses functional areas like machinery maintenance management, purchasing (of spare parts and consumables), crew management, crew payroll, regulatory compliance, and other aspects of ship operation.  We are headquartered in Houston and have about 35 employees worldwide, with branch offices in New Jersey, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Greece, Germany, Brazil, and Chile.  We are the industry leader in the Americas and one of a handful of major vendors worldwide.

The Product Development department, which I head, is located in Houston and India.  Product design and specifications are prepared in Houston, programming is done in India, and the QA function shared between the two locations.  Day-to-day activities of the Houston development staff include, in no particular order: design of new features; evaluation of bugs reported and/or suggestions received from our product consultants and/or clients; QA of new candidate releases and patches; troubleshooting of client problems escalated from the product support group; and support of our product consultants in with respect to client implementations they are spearheading.  At any given time, it is likely that all of these activities are being pursued in some combination by our six U.S.-based product development staff.

Over the last year, ABS NS has experienced a sharp upswing in our business and in the number of clients and implementation projects, apparently in response to the introduction of our newly-rewritten product suite, which offers numerous advantages over the old product line.  As a result, I am looking for a person who can help to manage the increased number of activities and interactions that the Product Development department has with our product support department (and in some cases with clients directly).  Ability to multitask and handle numerous activities/projects concurrently will be a key requirement, as the work environment, though collegial and collaborative, is fast-paced.  A strong software background will also be important because although I anticipate this person will function to a large degree as a manager, most of the issues in question will be technical and will require an appropriate background to be able to understand what is going on and make sound decisions.  I would also expect this person to become highly knowledgeable in our software product suite and to spend considerable time doing hands-on work with the software, analyzing issues etc.  I don’t have a fixed set of requirements but I’d anticipate that the successful candidate would have at least 10-15 years’ relevant work experience.

We have a competitive salary scale and offer excellent benefits.

A lot to digest here.

I know nothing about the shipping industry (still). 35 employees world-wide, with offices in 8 different countries. Development teams in Houston and India. I would not have been managing them. Growing fast. Pure project management role.

  • I did not want to do project management as a full time job. It’s unclear whether or not I would also be the manager of the development team.
  • I was not really interested in the customers or the industry. (I wish I had listened to that voice a few weeks later…)
  • I was not interested in traveling to India. Most of my friends who had been there had warned me that my allergies and asthma would be a real problem there.

I wrote back:

After thinking about it for a while, and doing some research, I have decided that I am not interested in this position after all. The technology does not lie in an area that appeals to me.

Rather than waste your money flying me out there and putting me up, let’s just cancel this. I do wish you luck, and am sorry for wasting your time. However, I hope that you find somebody, and not just that, somebody who will be enthusiastic about the work.

He wrote back:

I’ve been puzzling through the sequence of events and would like to better understand what it is that caused you to rethink.  I fully respect your decision, I’d just like to understand it better.  Your email below mentions the technology, but as far as I’m aware ABS NS’s technology is quite good and current.  So, partly I’d like to make sure there wasn’t a disconnect somewhere, and partly I’d just like to understand more clearly what the issue was (it might have the potential to be an issue with other candidates as I continue my search).  Would it be OK to give you a call to chat for a bit one more time?

I replied:

Feel free to call if you like.

At the end of the day, if I am going to make this kind of move, I have to work on technology that gets me excited about going to work. While I am sure that there is much to learn in your technology, and that there are many interesting aspects to it, I just am not that interested in what your customers do, and therefore don’t have any excitement over software that is tailored to their needs.

I am getting nibbles from other companies that does have technology I am interested in, and I just don’t think that wasting your money and time on bringing me out there for something I am not likely to take does anybody any good.

He closed with:

Thanks. I fully appreciate your comment about wanting to be excited about the work you do, and your more-detailed explanation helped me understand much better now what the issue was for you. Good luck in your search.

They are still around; they sounded like good people, and I wish them continued success.


Unknown – 2006

Software Engineer job to $100K +

Greetings! I noticed your information online and we are looking to fill a Sr. Web Engineer opening with a well funded startup in the entertainment/toy industry in the Menlo Park area. Company is growing rapidly and has a need for a Senior Software Engineer who has extensive experience developing dynamic web applications in either PHP, JSP or .NET. Ideally looking for someone with website development experience. Company is offering and attractive compensation plan including possible stock options.

1. No previous web experience

2. Looking to move away from California.

3. I hate it when they don’t tell you the company name.



Motorola – 2006

I got an email from a recruiter:


My name is XXXX and I am a member of the Staffing Organization at Motorola.   We have reviewed the resume that you have posted online and would like to invite you to consider opportunities within our Motorola’s Mobile Devices Group.  Currently we have a large number of xProducts engineering opportunities available in our Sunnyvale, CA facility.  If you or anyone that you know have an interest in learning more about these opportunities, please click on the link below and apply to the openings that match your background.  Applying to the link below will ensure that your resume will be reviewed .

To learn more about xProducts please take a  look at the information below.

xProducts and Motorola’s Road to #1

Motorola is a #2 manufacturer of mobile devices. To become #1 and stay #1, Motorola will have to deliver wickedly compelling experiences that are simply and seamlessly integrated into Motorola’s award-winning form factors.

The Global xProducts Group will focus on creating these compelling experiences and the ecosystem around these experiences jointly with our external partnersships. This group will help drive Motorola down the path to #1, with an emphasis on ‘future innovation

The Global xProducts Group will be

  • x-perience driven for the end-consumer
  • x-ternally focused on co-creating experiences and devices with key strategic partners
  • x-celerating the building of new skills required to develop and deliver amazingly compelling experiences

The group will co-create consumer experiences with key strategic partners and develop devices to deliver no-compromise consumer experiences;

Kodak and Imaging Experience:

By incorporating Kodak’s image science and system integration expertise with Motorola iconic mobile device design, the two companies will greatly improve the ease-of-use in image capture and photo management experience of camera phones. Additionally, the cooperation to seamlessly integrate millions of Motorola mobile devices with Kodak home printers, retail kiosks, and the KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery will finally provide an answer to those consumers who desire a quick and easy way to get their images out of the phone for sharing with friends and family.

Google and Search:

Motorola will enable one-click access to Google mobile services on Motorola devices so that the consumers can easily connect directly to Google services anytime, anywhere . By featuring Google on Motorola handsets, Motorola will make it easier for consumers to reach the information they need when they need it and provide a high quality mobile search experience – one familiar to and loved by millions of users across the globe.


Motorola will collaborate with Yahoo to provide consumers with easy access to Yahoo!’s core products and services on millions of Motorola mobile devices. Consumers will have easier access to the types of Yahoo! services consumers know and love. By aligning with Motorola Yahoo! will be providing millions of Yahoo! users with the opportunity to connect to their Yahoo! services on the devices they use

How weird was the world before smart phones. This is a fascinating look at what a company that was basically doomed was doing before the world changed.

I replied:

I am only interested in positions outside of California. If I stay here, I am happy with my current job.

This was x-actly the wrong company for me anyway.