Classical music and the job search

March 18, 2018 8:37 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn]

Picture this: You’re listening to a piece of classical music on the radio, and it really resonates with you. You want to listen to it again and again, so you want your own copy of it. But your radio doesn’t have RDS, and before you can find out from the radio host what it is, the signal dies, and all you hear is static. How would you know which LP/CD/MP3 you need to go look for? Chances are, you have no idea. All you know is that you heard some beautiful music, and you want to hear it again. You probably can’t tell which orchestra played it – was it the Vienna Philharmonic or the Boston Pops? So when you get to the record store/music download site, what will you do? Look for an enticing “cover” image/album art? Even if you find one that speaks to you and buy it, it may be that when you listen to the recording, it’s not the same. So now you’re out of money and disappointed. And the orchestra you really wanted to support has missed out on a small contribution to their financial well-being.

Now picture this: You’re at work, and you’ve convinced yourself that you need to hire someone to help you solve a problem. The people already on your team can’t solve it, or there is more work than they can take on. You’ve figured out the particular mix of skills a person needs to have to help you. How do you go and find that person? If you have a good network that might be able to connect you to someone with those skills, you probably start there. What happens if you don’t have that (or you come up empty-handed)? You probably talk to your HR people and tell them what you’re looking for, and since the people there are busy and don’t have the time to actually talk to the potentially hundreds of applicants that will be coming, they either call a recruiting firm or post an ad on a job-seeker website. Then applicants (who have been taught the rules of the job hunting game) craft a resume that matches 80% (or slightly more) of the skills you’re looking for (using an Internet service that promises to mimic very closely the applicant tracking system that will be used by the company to filter out “unqualified” applicants). They submit that resume, and the recruiter’s system (or the HR ATS) matches the resume and triggers an email. Then the recruiter (who most likely doesn’t really know anything about the mix of skills you’re looking for – they get paid for fast placement of people) may interview the person to make sure they didn’t exaggerate their skills. They send them on to the HR person, who probably also doesn’t know much about the skills you’re looking for (and that’s quite understandable – after all, HR has to deal with everything from custodial employees to CEOs). You get maybe ten or twenty resumes to look over, and you decide to bring five people in for in-person interviews. None of them turn out to have exactly the right mix of skills you need. So now you’ve lost time and you’re disappointed. And a person out there is missing out on a major contribution to their financial well-being.

What do you see in these two vignettes? What is broken? What is working? How would you change things? What advice would you give and to whom?

Where to look?

February 14, 2018 8:26 am

[This is a re-post from LinkedIn, just in case LinkedIn goes away some day… ;)]

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give an encore of my Agile 2017 workshop, provocatively titled “The Introverted Facilitator’s Survival Guide”. I presented it at ProMatch, and organization of volunteers partially funded by tax money. ProMatch helps people who are looking for work with learning about the current landscape of job hunting, presenting accomplishments, resume writing, interview skills, and networking. I find it a really valuable support system while I’m looking for my next opportunity.

I think about 16 people attended, which was a nice number considering the target audience: introverts. I won’t dive into the details of the workshop here (check my SlideShare for the digest version with most of the takeaways). It seemed to land well with everyone who participated, and at some point, I think we achieved what I half-jokingly called “quantum entanglement” 🙂

After the workshop I was pretty exhausted, but I chose to attend a meetup with the Silicon Valley ALN (Agile Leadership Network) anyway, and there I got to see a bunch of fellow (current and former) ProMatch folks (hi Andrew, Liz, Roberto and Jennie!) We learned from Bernie Maloney about harnessing the power of collaboration, and while I had done the activity from that session with one of my teams at work in the past, we ran through a variant that illustrated different aspects of what typically happens in real life.

After both of those experiences, I reflected on the day a bit, and posted a short blurb on Twitter about my satisfaction with the workshop I had facilitated, and how it seemed to have made a small difference in a few people’s lives. One person shared with me that they had a bit more appreciation for the strengths that their characteristics offer them. I interpret that as having been able to provide a small boost in self-confidence for someone else. And that felt very satisfying.

It got me to thinking about where we look to find confidence in our skills and capabilities. I think I tend to look at the people who are much further down the path of their personal agile journey than me, and I keep thinking “if only”. But yesterday I thought about whether that’s the right place to look. Maybe it would be better to look at where I am a half-step ahead of someone else and can bring them along with me a little bit. I wonder if in my quest for increasing my own skills and capabilities, I’m too focused on looking in the wrong direction.

Which direction do you tend to look?

Can’t start IIS with a binding on port 443?

September 19, 2016 10:15 pm

In case it helps someone:

Getting Event 15005 when trying to start IIS (Internet Information Server) on your machine? In other words, you see this in Event Viewer (eventwvr.msc) under “System”: Unable to bind to the underlying transport for [::]:443. The IP Listen-Only list may contain a reference to an interface which may not exist on this machine.

Troubleshoot using:

netstat -aon | find ":443"

which gives you the process ID in the last column.

Find the process with that ID by using Process Explorer (sort on PID column), then shut down that process.

For me it was Skype (using [::]:443, whatever that notation means – yes, I’m a noob at that notation and can’t be bothered to learn / look it up at the moment)

Windows 7 System Image Restore – Three Days of Frustration

December 18, 2013 10:00 pm

If you ever need to recover a Windows 7 system image onto a new hard drive, I hope you don’t have to go through the same pain I just did. It took me three days to get my main PC back in working condition…

A few days ago Windows finally alerted me to an impending disk failure (after having silently logged the problem to the event log for over three months – gee, thanks Windows!) It was trying to be helpful by encouraging me to make a system image backup before replacing the drive, which I did. That took a while, of course, with 336 GB to transfer. I used an external USB-to-SATA bridge for this. But it took nowhere near as long as the recovery odyssey I ended up with.

My surprises started when attempting to restore this image on a fresh drive. My system has three hard drives, one for the OS and two for data. I attempted to restore the image using a regular Windows 7 install DVD. I had several lying around, but none of them would work. I ended up burning a new one with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 and using that.

The first attempt at restoring took over 20 hours. I had connected both the new drive and the old drive (plus my two data drives) to the system via its plentiful SATA connectors, so it was a SATA-to-SATA transfer, which I expected to go really fast. Nope. And, apparently, having all disks connected and active while restoring is bad, since (as I think I’ve now concluded) that messes up the drive letter assignment of the restored image. Somehow the restored image ends up with a non-C:\ drive letter.

Not realizing that this was the problem, I tried using Acronis True Image Home 2012 to create a fresh backup image of the failing drive, and then restored that. Same problem. At least Acronis didn’t take over 20 hours to restore the data…

I ended up with two things that needed to be done: The boot configuration had to be fixed (as I later found out this was because somehow my original drive configuration had been messed up between creating the original Windows System Image Backup and the Acronis Image backup). On top of that, I had to somehow fix up the drive letter mapping so that C: would once again be C: – and not F: The drive letter mapping problem showed itself in that the OS would boot (once the boot config was fixed), but after logging in, it would be stuck at “Preparing Your Desktop”, and sometimes even get to a blank blue screen. From there I could start Task Manager via Ctrl+Alt+Del, and then a command prompt, which showed me that the OS thought it was living on the F: drive.

Here’s the boot configuration fix (applied by booting from a Recovery Disk or Windows install DVD):

bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
cd boot
attrib bcd -s -h -r
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
bootrec /RebuildBcd

The drive letter mapping was harder. I couldn’t do it from the Recovery Disk (which I also created along the way), nor by the Task Manager trick (halfway “booted” into the user account). I finally found the trick: Boot from the old disk, load the SYSTEM registry hive from the new disk, and swap the value \DosDevices\F: in HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices with \DosDevices\C:

So here’s the boot drive letter assignment fix based on the above trick for modifying the registry of a non-booting system:

  1. Note what drive letter the non-working disk has for itself based on the “boot halfway” command-prompt (F:, in this case);
  2. Boot the working disk;
  3. Determine what drive letter the working disk has (C:, in this case);
  4. Start regedit, highlight the [HKLM] branch, select the
    regedit option ‘File->Load Hive’, and load the file
    ‘F:\Windows\system32\config\system’ under a {dummy} name;
  5. Locate the two registry entries:

    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\F:]
    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\C:]

  6. Rename the value \DosDevices\C: to some other name, such as \DosDevices\Z:
  7. Rename the value \DosDevices\F: to \DosDevices\C:
  8. Rename the value \DosDevices\Z: to \DosDevices\F: 
  9. Highlight the {dummy} branch, select the regedit option ‘File->Unload Hive’, and exit regedit.

I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble restoring an image. I guess the real lesson is “don’t restore the image with any other drives active on the system, and if possible, use a USB bridge for the disk you’re restoring from”. Microsoft, this should be easier!!!