As well documented in this blog, I have applied for many jobs doing baseball statistics analysis, primarily by applying to teams directly. One day, I saw an add for https://www.sports-reference.com.
The first site from their panoply of sports encyclopedia sites was https://www.baseball-reference.com, which is an incredible, indispensable source of baseball statistics, with cross-references and links everywhere and the ability to do very specific searches.
It was originally powered by the online database by Sean Lahman. When I was in a serious fantasy league founded by one the Baseball Prospectus guys, I would download the Lahman database every year, and spend a lot of time rationalizing my own data with it, developing projections, and mapping out my draft strategy.
In 1994, I wanted to do what Sean Lahman and Sean Forman did, but I did not have the time. Of course, I also wanted to develop an automated auction site, but one of my former coworkers beat me to that.
Anyway, I got an immediate rejection letter from Sean Forman himself.
The only reason I bring it up is that I saw this excellent article on Sports-Reference today:
I am going to take a few moments and discuss backing up your computer data. This is something that all experts say everybody should do, but it has not necessarily been easy throughout the years that computers have become ubiquitous.
My first job was working on the Apple IIGS. The first few weeks, I did my work with only floppy disks. My first hard drive was called a “Sider” (get it? Apple Sider? Those 1980’s people were so clever). This thing was loud; it sounded like an airplane when it was running, and it make loud, clunking sounds when you actually read or wrote to it. The linked article said that the capacity was 10 MB, but I thought my first one was 5 MB. And only 3.8 was usable. We were using ProDOS, the file system that GS/OS ran on, but this hard drive had non-removeable partitions for DOS 3.3 (the Apple OS; not the IBM/MS OS), Pascal, and CP/M. You could make those partitions small, but they still took up a lot of space you could not get back.
The worst things about these drives is that their failure rate was pretty high. Mine failed early in my tenure at StyleWare, since it was a hand-me down from somebody who had gotten a bigger more modern drive. I did not yet have a huge amount of source code written, but what I did have was on a floppy disk. We did not yet have file servers on our AppleTalk network, and even if we had had them, the IIGS would not have been able to write to them. I got that drive replaced with a CMS 20 MB drive that was faster, bigger, and quieter.
One January day, Apple sent us a new version of GS/OS (I think they sent us a 15-pack of sets of floppies). While exploring what in the new OS, I found a command-line utility to back up a hard drive to a set of floppy disks. Sweet!
We had hundreds of 3.5″ floppy disks sitting in our storeroom. At one point, it was cheaper to buy them ourselves and send them to the manufacturer producing our packages than it was for the manufacturer to buy them. This changed at some point, so we had a ton of them left. So, I grabbed a bunch, and started the backup.
46 floppy swaps later, my drive was fully backed up, and I took those disks home. The next day, I ran an incremental backup that produced 1 floppy, and I took it home as well.
The next day after that, I arrived at work to chaos. Somebody had broken into our office the previous night. They stole the computers off the desks of four of us, including mine, and they trashed our offices while they were at it. The front door deadbolt had been pushed through the aluminum door frame. It was a big mess.
But they also stole my hard drive. Boss man got on the phone and ordered new machines for everybody, but they were going to take at least 1 day, if not 2, to get there. Two of the other developers started packing boxes to help out our shipping backlog. The other one that was not me wasn’t feeling well anyway, and had called in sick.
I had worked two summers previously doing data entry. For those people too young to know, there was vast system of papers and cards and the like that the industry wanted computerized, and they hired people to take this data off of the paper and type them into databases. I had done that with an private jet airplane broker a couple of summers earlier. Now, I looked around, and saw that we had hundreds, if not thousands, of registration cards that had not been processed. So that is what I did that day.
The next day, we got our new machines, with new 60 MB hard drives (wow!). One of the developers had no backup of his source code at all. He reverse engineered source code from compiled object files on an as-needed basis. The other two affected developers had both old electronic versions of their source plus more recent printouts. They had to type in the changes from their printouts.
I had my 47 disk backup. I ran the restore program, and a couple of hours later, I was back up and running.
After Claris bought StyleWare and I moved to the Mac, I setup a product called Retrospect Remote to back up our source code database, using a tape drive. This lasted a couple of years, but the support of the tape drive was a problem, and if you don’t have a drive, you can’t restore.
We really did not have backups at work at that point.
I finally bought my own personal computer in 1990, and used a lot of hand-copying to floppy disc to back up my own data, as the backup software available for Mac was very expensive. In 1994, I replaced my trusty Mac IIci with a PowerBook Duo 250 with a Duo Dock. The Duo Dock had an 80 MB drive in it. I was using this drive as a backup, but before long, I was also using it as a primary drive, as the Duo itself had a small drive in it.
I was trying to move everything around and set up a more reliable and easier backup scheme, but I got the sequence wrong, and I formatted the Dock’s drive with no backup. I lost all of my financial databases and spreadsheets, source code for earlier projects, and some personal writing projects, both prose and music.
I started being much more disciplined about backing things up and having backup strategies after that.
Fast-forward to 2010: I had Dropbox, and I used it to backup my most critical financial files. I had an external drive that I backed my home directory, or at least, most of it, as the drive was smaller than my home directory. I bought a RAID array to backup everything to using Apple’s Time Machine.
I made the mistake of encrypting the RAID array, however, and when one of the drives failed, I lost the backups completely, so I had a few weeks while I had no full backup while I replaced the drive, rebuilt the array, and then backed everything up to it again.
On Labor Day weekend in 2010, there was a huge wildfire in Bastrop, TX. We weren’t near Bastrop, which got most of the national coverage, but we had a fire of our own in Steiner Ranch in Austin. We had about 30 minutes to evacuate the house. I grabbed a laptop and my external drive, and we left for a few days, not knowing what was going to happen to our house. When we returned, the house was fine. However, this scared me, as there were 24 houses lost in Steiner Ranch that day. If our house had burned, a LOT of my data would have gone with it.
So I started looking for online backup. I settled on CrashPlan, which I had heard about on a podcast. I got it installed and started my first backup. At the time, I had AT&T U-verse, which had an upload speed of 12 Mps. This was going to take a while…
It took months before I had a complete backup. And along the way, it had some problems. It is a Java program, which means the amount of RAM it can use is set beforehand. Well, that setting was too low for my dataset, and I had to Google around until I found the answer to how to increase the RAM. You have to launch a hidden console, and type commands. Don’t know why this is not just part of the settings for the application.
In 2015, Apple introduced Apple Music. One of the features is that you could combine it with iTunes Match and have one big library with everything you already had in the Music app combined with everything you add with Apple Music. This was exactly what I was hoping for, and when it worked, it’s fantastic.
Unfortunately, there were some serious problems. Jim Dalrymple, a famous tech-blogger about all things Apple, had major problems and wrote this article that went viral (“Apple Music is a nightmare and I’m done with it“). Famously, the people at Apple contacted him and managed to salvage most of the lost tracks.
That’s nice when you are a media mogul. I discovered that iTunes had deleted about 2500 tracks. Now, I had the original CDs as backups for most of them, but they were in storage.
Crash Plan did not help me because it had not finished my first backup yet. Time Machine had already deleted the backups with the known good copies of the missing tracks. Fortunately, I had hard drives archived in my safe deposit box. After writing a lot of hacky shell scripts, I managed to restore my music library. I think.
I finally got tired of Crash Plan’s problems, and tried out Backblaze. They were expensive, but were highly recommended. By this time, I had abandoned U-Verse, and had Time Warner Cable/Spectrum/Charter internet, and my speeds were much better. Crash Plan was still very slow.
I installed the trial of Backblaze, and it backed up everything in about 3 days.
There were some gotchas. The default plan only keeps deleted files for six months; you have to pay to keep older versions. Of course as time goes on, that bill grows….
But this is an amazing product.
Now, I use iCloud for critical/recent files, Time Machine backup to a local disk and to a remote server in my house, archive hard drives that I rsync to and throw in my safe deposit box every few months, and Backblaze.
So, when I got this email, I was very excited:
Hope all is well! I have an awesome opportunity in that I think might be a great fit for your background. Backblaze is a world leader in computer backup and cloud storage and they are aggressively hiring a strong Senior Software Engineer who has strong backend coding experience in java. They are located in San Mateo, CA but are also looking to hire 100% employees.
Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Thanks and I look forward to hearing back!
(I assumed correctly that she meant “100% remote employees”).
I responded very quickly:
I would be interested in looking a job description. I am a Backblaze customer and am impressed with the product.
She responded, asked for a resume, and we set up time for a phone call. In that call, I told her that I was basically happy at Indeed, but was very impressed with Backblaze’s technology, and was intrigued by working there.
I then got to talk to a phone screener at Backblaze. They gave me a homework assignment. I had to sign an NDA that I would not disclose details of that homework assignment publicly, but I can say that it was a simple program to use Backblaze’s B2 API to do a simple operation over multiple files. It was a lot of fun to do! I got it done in a few hours and sent it in.
They first had me interview for a position for their Mac client. However, when I found out what the architecture of the Mac client was, I was not super-impressed. The core engine seemed awesome, but the the basic user-interface code seemed very dated.
So, they set me up to interview for a server position. They worked with me to spread the sessions out over a couple of weeks.
The sessions themselves were interesting. The most challenging for me personally was the session testing my knowledge of concurrent programming. I had fun, but it’s definitely not my strong muscle.
After I went through the entire interview, the recruiter contacted me, and said that they would not make me an offer.
I have been thinking a lot as to why that might be. There could be multiple reasons:
My programming skills just weren’t good enough. I already mentioned the concurrent programming session, where I know that my skills aren’t as developed as I would like, but it could be that I did not do well on other sessions and did not realize it.
A lot of people asked why I wanted to leave Indeed. I responded that I was happy there, but I was really intrigued by Backblaze. Plus, with the VP I talked to, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the fact that I hadn’t had a raise since I had been there.
For whatever reason, they did not hire me. I learned stuff during the interview, and generally had a good time, but it’s always disappointing when somebody tells you “No”.
I tried to connect with you a few weeks ago as I was reviewing your profile with the Co-Founder of a company I’m working with. They have asked me to reach out to you on behalf of the company and see if you were on the market looking for a new job.
Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the details to review. Take care.
This was during a very stressful week. This was in the middle of the Texas Ice Storm of 2021, and while we had all of our services and had no cracked pipes, many people I knew were in a heap of trouble. We could not go anywhere because of the ice. We were scared we would lose power, internet, cell service, water, or gas at any point. I was not in the best of moods when I responded, Don Draper-like:
With no information about the company, what kind of business they are in, job description, location, etc., I cannot answer this question.
I am happy where I am. I don’t mean to be surly, but you need a really good pitch, and this is not it. Please give me as much information as you can.
To my surprise, he wrote back:
Thanks for the follow up on this. Happy to share full details on the opportunity and connect on a call once you free up. What is the best email to send things to as far as details? Also can you send over a copy of your resume to review as well.
So I sent him my resume. He also asked for my github repo, which is full of small personal projects, so probably not that useful. Still…
“We believe the next generation of the internet must be open and more secure. Help us build the world’s first peer-to-peer open cloud.”
Akash is the DeCloud for DeFi,and the world’s first decentralized cloud computing marketplace, accelerating scale and price performance for high-growth industries including DeFi,decentralized organizations and applications, and machine learning/AI. With advanced containerization technology and a unique staking model to accelerate adoption, Akash will be a faster, more efficient, and up to 10x lower cost cloud providing unprecedented scale, flexibility, and price performance.
Akash founders Greg Osuri and Adam Bozanich are globally recognized open source developers and among the top 20 programmers worldwide for authoring open-source libraries adopted by organizations including Ubuntu, HashiCorp, and Kubernetes. They lead an expert team with a legacy of successfully implementing developer-focused and SaaS go-to-market strategies that scale.
Take a look and let me know what you think. To expediate (sic) the process feel free to send over a copy of your updated resume, as I’d love to introduce you to the team to learn more.
So, they sell web infrastructure. While that is pretty cool, I don’t think it was better than Helping People Get Jobs. Also, didn’t I already send him my resume? I wrote back:
Thanks for your time.
I am not interested in this technology, nor am I qualified for it. And I am happy where I am.
Good luck with your search!
I guess my obnoxious first reply didn’t hurt me much.
Ever wondered what life would be like if you could actually fly?
I recently qualified a Software Engineer role with major impact to our company and all of our customers. I believe that with your experience coupled with your background working at Indeed and Mozilla, Apple can be your wings to help you fly in your career.
Hope to have the opportunity to tell you more about this!
<NAME REDACTED> Recruiting Backend Software Engineers to join the Apple Pay Team 🍎!
I like Apple Pay. A lot. I especially like paying with my watch. I double click the side button and hold it over the payment terminal, and magic happens.
I was pretty sure the back-end was done in Java and was a lot like the work I was already doing.
So, at this point, why would I talk to Apple?
I had been at Indeed almost 5 years at this point, and although it’s a fabulous place to work, one thing had been bothering me for a while. In those 5 years, I had not received one raise.
Indeed tries to be extremely fair with its compensation system, but I think that they hired me into a level in the software engineering individual contributor ladder which was probably too high for my actual programming experience. Aside from a few months here and there, I had essentially taken a 14 year break from programming, doing things like management, QA, automation, release engineering, and project management. I had never worked on a commercial website, and I barely knew Java. The first two years at Indeed, I felt that I had the proverbial firehose pointed at me. Often, I would get done with work in a given day feeling completely drained as I tried to learn yet something else hard that day.
That being said, I thought I had really started progressing after 18-24 months. But it was taking forever to move to the next level, and my progress through those requirements had not caught up to what I had being paid in my level.
So I was frustrated.
My simple philosophy about interviewing is:
There are a handful of famous tech companies that I will listen to if the job opening is doing something I am interested in. At the time, the list included Apple and Tesla.
There are small companies that have great tech, and which I am deploy interested in or am a customer of.
There are research areas of tech that I have always been interested in. If a company is doing that, and they want to talk, I will talk.
Apple is one of the companies I follow and I really enjoyed working there the first time. And Apple Pay is a technology I am very interested in.
But first, I had to ask if this were full-time or contract/contract-to-hire, and whether this was remote or not (post-COVID, obviously).
The recruiter responded that it was a full-time position. It was remote for now, but working in the Austin Apple office would be an option eventually. So I sent him my current resume. In response, he asked me to schedule a phone conversation on a site called Calendly. This is a pretty cool site, actually. It allows people to collaborate on events asynchronously. First time I had seen it.
The only wrinkle is that this particular week the State of Texas was hit with the worst winter storm in its history. Our house was fortunate; we kept power, gas, internet, cell service, and water the entire week, and had no burst pipes. So I could keep my appointment.
The phone screen with the recruiter went well; don’t remember much, but in these calls, the recruiter usually tries to sell me the job. I did not need to be sold, as long as I was qualified. Apple was a known quantity for me, and the actual programming languages and environments were what I was currently working on.
After a few days, he gave me good news:
Great news 🤗
The hiring team would like to speak with you! Could you provide me with several dates and times of availability for a 1-hour technical phone interview?
We scheduled a time. Of course, with the year it was, I had to reschedule. We had been trying to prepare our house to sell, and the day I was supposed to interview was the day we listed the house. It was a hectic time! I had to delay a couple of more times because of the absolute chaos of listing a house and trying to sell it.
I did eventually meet with an Apple person for a phone call, and it went well:
Great news! It looks like the interviewer and you had a wonderful conversation and we would like to proceed onto the 2nd phone interview stage.
Could you provide me some dates and times of availability for a 1-hour 2nd phone interview?
When I did the one hour initial interview, it was a typical coding interview with a very nice gentlemen. The programming problem was not trivial, but was not particularly difficult. Unfortunately, I got stuck, and did not do particularly well. So, it was not a surprise at all when I got this message:
Thank you for taking the time to Phone interview with the team. The team member(s) enjoyed speaking with you and hope that you had a good interviewing experience.
After serious consideration, the team has concluded that they do not have a fit for this particular position. However, if you are still interested in working at Apple, we encourage you to apply for other positions on the Apple jobs page (https://www.apple.com/jobs/us/), and wish you the very best with all future interviews.
For most of the world, 2020 was two different years, the one before March 12, and the shutdown caused by the Pandemic that really started in the USA on that date. You wouldn’t know it by recruiting activity in my inbox though:
Recruiting contacts 7/1/2019-3/11/2020: 103
Recruiting contacts 3/12/2020-12/2020: 93
OK, it decreased by 10. Over 8.5 months. Is that significant? 🤷🏻♂️
These numbers are from recruiters who mentioned their company names and were recruiting for software jobs. While I did not track these, it does seem to me that the number of random recruiters for low-quality jobs, jobs that were contract and/or limited duration and/or required moving and/or low-paying, etc., did go down.
As for me, I stopped responding to recruiters for the rest of 2020. There were multiple factors:
Indeed had sent us home to work remotely on March 3rd.
Indeed did not lay anybody off in 2020.
My personal life was very challenging in 2020. While nobody got COVID or anything, we had a lot going on, and that took up all available time and energy.
So, without further ado, here is the list of companies who had recruiters contact me.