March 2017

Painting of a rock concert with a “Star Wars” twist: It’s Princess Leia on lead vocals, Darth Vader on bass, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo on guitars, Chewbacca on drums, and C-3P0 and R2-D2 on keyboards.

Click the image to see the nerd rock stardom at full size.

Techmeme in the spotlight

There are still times in a conversation with techies when I’ll mention Techmeme and they’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Simply put, Techmeme is the technology news aggregator, and BuzzFeed News has seen fit to write about it and its creator, Gabe Rivera (pictured on the right). “I’d say Techmeme is still really a niche site,” says Rivera, but when the heads of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn read it, it’s the kind of niche that you want to be in.

Using a combination of site-reading automation and human editorial, Techmeme provides people eager to follow the latest technology happenings with listing of current tech news articles. It’s an ever-updating “Page One” featuring breaking tech news stories and commentaries on those stories, from big tech news sites to tech blogs (ranging from big, corporate-funded ones to one-person developer blogs).

Better still, Techmeme leads you to interesting places. Not only do the big tech stories of the moment appear on Techmeme, but so do stories that link to that story. As a result, you get not just what’s going on, but also links to articles that follow up on, expand, provide context for and even counterpoint to that story, resulting in a rich tech news digest. This unique view into tech news is why tech reporter M.G. Siegler wrote that only three elements mattered in tech blogging: pageviews, scoops…and Techmeme.

This isn’t the first time that Techmeme’s been featured in an influential tech piece. In fact, it was due — every three years, the big news deal of the moment publishes a piece about it. Business Insider did it in 2014, The New York Times covered it in 2010, and TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington sang its praises in 2007.

Read the article, and then if you don’t already, read Techmeme regularly!

How to harness Techmeme for your own tech rock stardom

And now, the part you’re really interested in: how to get some of that Techmeme Googlejuice and readership for yourself.

The trick is a simple one: it’s to get Techmeme to mention your blog articles in the “Discussion” section for its stories, or better still, make one of your articles a featured article. Once that happens a couple of times, you’ll notice that your readership will grow from the “Techmeme bump” and if you play your cards right, all sorts of opportunities will follow. It’s worked for me at Global Nerdy, which often gets listed in “Discussion” lists for Techmeme articles and has had a few articles as feature articles, and it’s grown from zero readers in 2006 to over 8.7 million pageviews to date.

How do you get that? I gave away this secret back over a decade ago, all the way back in 2006, in an article titled Jason Calacanis Swiped Our 5-Step Plan for Becoming an A-Lister! It goes as follows:

  1. Go to Techmeme.
  2. Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day.
  3. Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent.
  4. Repeat for 30 days.
  5. Go to a couple of conferences a month.

That’s all there is to it: find featured articles in Techmeme, write something intelligent about it in your blog (don’t forget to link to the article!) and keep doing it. Like a lot of other things in tech, as long as you’ve got the threshold amount of smarts, it’s all about perseverance.

If you take on this challenge, let me know how it goes!

Are you looking for your next great hire?

I’m looking for my next great job! If you’re looking for someone with desktop, web, mobile, and IoT development skills who can also communicate to technical and non-technical audiences, or a marketer or evangelist who also has a technology background and can code, you should talk to me.

If you’d like to learn more, you can:

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Until his resignation yesterday, Jeff Jones was the second-highest ranking executive at Uber, where he held the title of President.

Here’s his full statement on his departure:

I joined Uber because of its Mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long-term.

It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.

There are thousands of amazing people at the company, and I truly wish everyone well.

Jones had been with Uber a mere six months. His prior job was at Target, where Recode reports he was “its well-regarded CMO”, and in addition to being the president of its main ride-sharing business, his was the responsibility “to remake the company’s tainted image”. In order to get lured away from such a position at Target, Jones was probably offered a salary of considerable size and stock options of even greater potential value. Walking away from them — especially well before those options would’ve vested — wouldn’t have been a decision that he would take lightly. There’s also the fact that you can tolerate a lot when you’re one of the top dogs at a place that’s been valued as high as $70 billion.

Many of the stories that you’ll read about Jones’ departure will cite Uber’s problems as his reason for leaving, such as its “aggressive, unrestrained workplace culture” of “brilliant jerks”, bad driver relations, and its infamous discrimination issues as cited in engineer Susan Fowler’s blog entry about why she quit, as well as the firings of their SVP of engineering for not disclosing that he had to leave Google due to a sexual harassment allegation and their VP of product for sleazing at a company party. Accepting those reasons at face value requires assuming that he did no due diligence before taking the position, and read none of the stories about the problems at Uber that were circulating last year, and that he wasn’t explicitly hired to help improve Uber’s reputation.

If you’ve been on the internet over the past five or so years, you’ve likely heard the maxim that people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. This generally traces back to a 2008 article written by Jennifer Robison in Gallup’s Business Journal titled Turning Around Employee Turnover, whose conclusions are based on “Gallup research, which included a meta-analysis of 44 organizations and 10,609 business units, Gallup Polls of the U.S. working population, exit interviews conducted on behalf of several companies, and Gallup’s selection research database”.

“Most people quit for a few explainable reasons,” Robison wrote, and “at least 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.”

She also observes that after a certain point, no amount of money will make up for a bad manager. I understand this completely — I once took a 25% pay cut by changing jobs to get away from a management team that was slowly turning the workplace into something like Italy around the time of the Borgias.

As the number two person at Uber, Jones would’ve had only one boss with no one above him: Travis Kalanick, an almost cartoonishly-stereotypical Silicon Valley Ayn Rand fan. Given Recode’s reports that Jones is conflict-averse, that Kalanick is scrappy, tenacious, and amoral, and that the organization takes its cultural cues from Kalanick, it’s hard not to see Jones’ departure through the “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses” lens.

And once again, because it’s worth viewing if you haven’t seen this video yet:

Are you looking for your next great hire?

I’m looking for my next great job! If you’re looking for someone with desktop, web, mobile, and IoT development skills who can also communicate to technical and non-technical audiences, or a marketer or evangelist who also has a technology background and can code, you should talk to me.

If you’d like to learn more, you can:

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Here’s what’s happening in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas for developers, technologists, and tech entrepreneurs this week.

Monday, March 20

Tuesday, March 21

Wednesday, March 22

Thursday, March 23

Friday, March 24

Saturday, March 25

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Next Tuesday, Tampa iOS Meetup — Tampa’s gathering for people who are new to programming or new to iOS development — will walk through the development of building a guided meditation audio app. Think of it as the 21st century answer to the relaxation tape, CD, or MP3 (depending on what generation you’re in), where a narrator with a soothing voice guides the listener through exercises designed to bring about mindfulness, ease tension, and remove stress.

As we build the app, we’ll cover a couple of key topics in iOS development with the Swift programming language:

  • Error handling in Swift: responding to errors gracefully rather than having the app come to a crashing halt and annoying the user.
  • Playing sounds: Playing both short sound cues and effects, as well as longer recordings.
  • Auto layout: Building user interfaces that adjust themselves to the screen size, from the tine iPhone 4S all the way to the large iPad Pro

Join us, next Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolters Kluwer office (1410 N Westshore Blvd, Tampa) in Westshore for Tampa iOS Meetup’s session on building a guided meditation audio app! We’ll provide food and drink — bring your Mac laptop, and be ready to code!

To register for this event, visit the event page. Registration is free!

What’s Tampa iOS Meetup all about?

As I mentioned earlier, Tampa iOS Meetup is the Tampa Bay area’s meetup for beginning programmers and developers new to iOS development. Each meetup has two parts:

  1. The presentation, where we’ll cover the concepts you’ll need to write the app of the day, followed by
  2. The workshop, where we’ll actually code the app together.

The meetup works best if you bring a Mac laptop with the current version of Xcode (the tool we’ll use to develop iOS apps) installed. If you don’t have one, don’t worry; you don’t need one for the presentation part, and we can form teams for the workshop.

We use the presentation-followed-by-workshop approach because it’s our answer to a question that I’ve been asked again and again, and it goes something like this:

“I’ve been studying iOS development for some time, and I’m still having a problem writing apps. I know how to program specific features in iOS, but I don’t know how to turn a bunch of features into an app.”

It’s one thing to go through tutorials that show you how to program a specific feature. It’s a completely different thing to take the knowledge from those tutorials and then write an app. My goal for Tampa iOS Meetup in 2017 is to show you how to make that leap by walking you through the process of making apps.

Special thanks to our sponsor

Tampa iOS Meetup wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Wolters Kluwer. They provide both the space in which to hold the meetup, as well as the food and drinks! Special thanks to John Wang, my go-to guy at Wolters Kluwer, and source of valuable feedback for my presentations.

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Craig Clayton is one of the heroes in the Tampa tech scene. He organized and ran the Suncoast iOS Meetup here in Tampa as well as intensive iOS coding academies, and he makes a living writing mobile apps. If you’re a Patriots fan with an iPhone, chances are you’ve used his app. He’s been quite busy for the past little while, and if you’re interested in iOS development, you might be interested in what he’s up to…

On Saturday, April 1, Craig will be leading Swift 101: Getting Started, a full-day live online class where he’ll guide you through the process of building a Square Case-like iOS app, using iOS features such as Contacts, SiriKit, and TouchID. By the end of the session, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create apps for the latest version of iOS.

You won’t have to go anywhere to attend — it’ll be an online class taking place on Saturday, April 1, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.. The course will cost US$50 to attend, plus a US$2 credit card processing fee. There’s a limited number of slots for the course, so reserve yours now!

For more information, see the Swift 101: Getting Started page.

If you’d like to get a better idea of what the course would be like — or if you’d like to supplement your iOS development studies — check out Craig’s book, iOS 10 Programming for Beginners. Like the upcoming online course, it’s aimed at beginners, but it’s full of material useful even to experienced iOS developers.

Most of the book, is devoted to building a single application: Let’s Eat, a restaurant review app that becomes more sophisticated and gains more features with each chapter. Each chapter begins with an explanation of the topics that will be covered, and features both clear explanations of those topics, along with step-by-step instructions for turning those topics into working code. Craig does an excellent job of explaining what he did with his code and why he did it. As you work on Let’s Eat, you’ll have built a professional-looking app that uses a number of iOS features, including GPS and maps, the camera, iPad multitasking, iMessage, and even 3D touch. When you’re done, you should be able to take the knowledge from working on the app and apply it to your own projects.

If you’re interested in the process behind the creation of Craig’s book, read his article, Using Kaizen to Improve as a Developer, in which he writes about adopting kaizen, the Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement at all levels of an organization, in all areas.

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Top tips for answering job interview questions

by Joey deVilla on March 15, 2017

Ben Affleck’s interview scene in Good Will Hunting.

Once, when asked the dreaded “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question in a job interview, I answered “Standing on a mountain of my defeated enemies.” Now, the interviewer and I knew each other enough for this joke to work, but that was just fortunate circumstance. Should you find yourself in the same situation, here are some articles on answers to the “five years” question:

The “five years” question is a booby trap that’s meant to trip up interviewees. There are others — and here are The Telegraph’s suggested answers to it and seven other “booby trap” interview questions:

  1. What would you say are your biggest weaknesses? (My favorite suggestion: “Remain silent, and pull an index card out of your pocket that says ‘I over-prepare’.”)
  2. How much money do you currently make?
  3. Where would you ideally like to work?
  4. If you were an animal what animal would you be?
  5. I notice there are gaps in your CV, why’s that?
  6. You seem overqualified, and might get bored here. What do you think about that?
  7. Describe yourself in three words.

Here’s Glassdoor’s list of the 50 most common job interview questions, based on their thousands of reviews of interviews. Make sure that you’ve got an answer for most, if not all, of these:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  6. Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  9. Are you willing to relocate?
  10. Are you willing to travel?
  11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  13. What is your dream job?
  14. How did you hear about this position?
  15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  16. Discuss your resume.
  17. Discuss your educational background.
  18. Describe yourself.
  19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  20. Why should we hire you?
  21. Why are you looking for a new job?
  22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  24. What are your salary requirements?
  25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  26. Who are our competitors?
  27. What was your biggest failure?
  28. What motivates you?
  29. What’s your availability?
  30. Who’s your mentor?
  31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  32. How do you handle pressure?
  33. What is the name of our CEO?
  34. What are your career goals?
  35. What gets you up in the morning?
  36. What would your direct reports say about you?
  37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
  38. If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?
  39. Are you a leader or a follower?
  40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
  42. What are your hobbies?
  43. What is your favorite website?
  44. What makes you uncomfortable?
  45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  46. How would you fire someone?
  47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
  50. What questions do you have for me?

There may come a time when an interviewer who doesn’t know what they’re doing — or worse, an interviewer who knows damned well what they’re doing — asks a questions are that are either subtly awkward or downright inappropriate. This Fast Company article shows you what each of these questions is inappropriate, and how to handle them:

  1. “Many of our employees are young and put in 14-hour days. Are you up for that kind of challenge?”
  2. “Congratulations on returning to the workforce. Given your family, will you need a flexible schedule?”
  3. “When did you graduate from college?”
  4. “Where are you from?”
  5. “How can our company get better at recruiting people of color?”
  6. “Can you tell me about your disability and how it has shaped you?”
  7. “Have you worked with women bosses in the past, sir?”
  8. “Our employees must look and carry themselves in a certain way. Would you be able to arrange your financial circumstances to rise to the occasion?”

Don Georgevich of JobInterviewTools.com has a set of useful videos on answering job interview questions, such as this one on top 10 interview questions, including “tell me about yourself”, “why should we hire you?”, “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “why did you leave your last job?”, and more:

Here’s a Georgevich video that focuses on “tell me about yourself”:

And here’s one about “behavioral” or “identity” questions, which are questions that try to determine your traits, motivations, likes, and dislikes:

Are you looking for your next great hire?

I’m looking for my next great job! If you’re looking for someone with desktop, web, mobile, and IoT development skills who can also communicate to technical and non-technical audiences, or a marketer or evangelist who also has a technology background and can code, you should talk to me.

If you’d like to learn more, you can:

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Here’s what’s happening in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas for developers, technologists, and tech entrepreneurs this week.

Monday, March 13

Tuesday, March 14

This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Alexa & Lex Developers Meetup holds its inaugural gathering at CoWork Tampa, where the topic will be Build Your First Alexa Skill.

An Alexa Skill is a voice interaction capability for Amazon’s Alexa voice service, which runs on various Amazon devices including the Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet, as well as some non-Amazon devices such as the Triby Bluetooth speaker. They’re similar to voice commands to the computer on Star Trek: there are Alexa Skills to tell you what the local weather is, play music, set an alarm or timer, answer health questions with the help of WebMD, plan vacations with the assistance of Kayak, order pizza, check stock prices or your bank balance, and more.

In this first meetup, they’ll do a step-by-step walkthrough that will show you how to create a simple Alexa skill. While knowing how to code will be helpful, coding skills aren’t absolutely necessary. Bring a laptop, and make sure you have an AWS account and an account for the Amazon developer portal. An Alexa device isn’t required — you can test Alexa skills via the developer portal, and there’s an iOS/Mac OS app that lets you use Alexa without an Alexa device.

The Tampa Bay Alexa & Lex Developers Meetup will take place at CoWork Tampa (3104 North Armenia Ave, Suite 2, Tampa) at 6:30 p.m.. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

Ybor Tech’s OpenHack is your monthly opportunity to get together with local techies at New World Brewery and socialize over craft beer (you buy) and pizza (they provide) at Ybor City’s most laid-back bar!

OpenHack Ybor takes place at New World Brewery (1313 8th Avenue, Ybor City, Tampa) at 6:30 p.m.. Pizza will be provided, drinks and other food are available.

Also happening on Tuesday:

Wednesday, March 15

Thursday, March 16

Lean Beer is the evening version of Lean Coffee, where people gather to discuss Lean and Agile practices over their adult beverage of choice. Participants propose discussion topics, discussions are timeboxed agile-style, and the conversation and company are always informative and lively.

Lean Beer for All Things Agile will take place at The Station Grill (1001 W Cass St, Tampa) at 6:00 p.m..

Also happening on Thursday:

Friday, March 17

Saturday, March 18

Want a Tampa Bay area tech event announced?

If you’ve got tech event in or near the Tampa Bay area that you’d like to see announced here, drop me a line at joey@globalnerdy.com and let me know the details!

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