[Baypiggies] Perot at NASA - Sr. Python Developer

Alec Flett alecf at flett.org
Tue Jun 30 23:47:14 CEST 2009

On Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 7:35 AM, Gregory, Travis <tgregory at teksystems.com>wrote:

> Hi All,
> I am sorry for causing such confusion among the group.  Maybe I should
> qualify some things.  These requirements came from our client, Perot
> systems.

I want to say, perhaps I'm in the minority, that if someone posting for a
job wants someone with experience working in the social networking space,
that's a fair request, the same way its fair to request people who care
about interesting algorithms, code quality, excitement about scalability,
etc. I think the social networking space is, like lots of other verticals, a
space that DOES have its own set of issues both technically and on the
product creation side.

A case study: I was amazed recently when a bunch of technical folks I know,
(who will remain nameless) who never use twitter added "twitter integration"
to their application - the integration was basically allowing users to let
the service hijack their twitter account to send fairly content-free
messages +links on their behalf. They thought they were doing the user a
great service because none of them use twitter in a social context.

They held the common attitude towards twitter of "nobody cares that you're
eating french fries right this moment, so stop tweeting about it" and at
some level thought they were raising the quality of people's tweets by
letting them share these links. Instead, for people who really enjoy using
it in an almost purely social/gossipy context (which is most twitter use,
including my own) they were really doing most of their their users a
disservice by twittering impersonal stuff on their behalf.

The fact is, while not everybody cares about it, a lot of folks, like me,
actually do like it when their friends twitter "Boy I just had the best
french fries in the world and now I'm going to nap them off" Yes, thats
actually interesting to some of us, and I'm not afraid to admit it :)

So I guess my point is: you can be technically savvy, have decades of
experience as a software developer, but if you don't have experience in one
particular vertical (or in fact mock it as a craze) that's a VERY reasonable
filter for a hiring manager. If I am a founder or CEO of a startup that
leverages social-network-oriented features to succeed, and my engineers kept
deprioritizing social features because they thought I was just caught up in
a craze, I'd be pretty annoyed with those developers no matter how
technically savvy they are.


> The Must Haves are there to stop the unqualified people from applying.  A
> job description never gives the full story or should stop someone from
> speaking to me.  I have put all my contact information in the email so
> interested parties would be able to contact and speak to me directly about
> the position as I can talk to you about it better than a job description
> can.  TEKsystems has been around for 25 years and we have partnered with
> Perot for a long time.
> If anyone is interested in speaking about this further please contact me
> and I would be happy to speak to you.
> Thanks Again and Sorry for the confusion,
> Travis Gregory
> TGregory at TEKsystems.com
> 408-367-6863
> ________________________________
> 2099 Gateway Place, Suite 700, San Jose, CA, 95110
> 800.351.9543 T 408.367.6863
> F 408.367.6881
> http://www.teksystems.com
> ________________________________
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeff Lindsay [mailto:progrium at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 11:12 PM
> To: Alex Martelli
> Cc: Gregory, Travis; baypiggies at python.org
> Subject: Re: [Baypiggies] Perot at NASA - Sr. Python Developer
> I actually have no idea who this recruiter is, but I'm on this team. I
> have a few cents to add to this whole thing:
> - I think recruiters are lame (sorry Travis, nothing personal?)
> - I think job postings are like online dating profiles: bullshit, but
> give you a *rough sense* of the real thing
> - I think these requirements came from our overworked project lead who
> didn't have time to think a lot about the fact people will tear it to
> shreds
> - This project is a lot cooler than it sounds, but will necessarily be
> full of marketing buzzwords because it's funded by bureaucracy
> - It's also very multi-faceted so a lot of the "musts" stem from the
> requirements of the project, not necessarily desired qualities of a
> single member (if I'm properly channeling the way our lead thinks)
> aaaannd... I guess that's it for now.
> -jeff
> On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 10:50 PM, Alex Martelli<aleax at google.com> wrote:
> > Not that I'm really interested (wallowing in the joy that is working
> > at Google), but I think it might help you to see why somebody like me
> > might not qualify by the silly standards you set out...
> >
> >> Our client is developing a cloud computing infrastructure.  This has the
> >> backing of the federal government and they want to make it the flagship
> >> (standard).  Cloud Computing is their next generation datacenter with
> >> automated load following and virtual space all mapped together.
> >
> > Considering that I've spent the last 4+ years of my life building
> > Google's cloud, one might suspect I'm qualified, but...
> >
> >> Python development (at least 3 years)
> >
> > Check, 10 years should do.
> >
> >> Direct experience with highly-scalable web applications (minimum 5M+
> monthly
> >> unique visitors or the ability to scale to that level)
> >
> > 5M pageviews per month is what we *give out FOR FREE* on the Google
> > App Engine (built on top of the cloud I helped build)...
> >
> >> Leadership experience (managing developers in a highly collaborative R&D
> >> environment)
> >
> > Having spent most of my time at Google as Uber Tech Lead (responsible
> > directly or indirectly for up to a few dozens of developers when I had
> > to, though that was only when we lacked director-level personnel -- my
> > boss, a senior VP, was way overloaded, so I took the people management
> > load off his shoulder even though I'd much rather have been
> > hacking!-), I think I could check this one
> >
> >> Experience with Social Media and Social Networking on the API layer
> >
> > Ah, that's the killer bit: while I've built clouds and managed large
> > groups of brilliant developers doing so, I have ZERO experience on
> > this "Social" silly thing (Google does have Orkut, which runs in part
> > on infrastructure I helped build, but I nevertheless have ZERO
> > experience with its APIs). So, since this is a MUST, even if I _was_
> > looking for a job I would never apply for this one.
> >
> > In fact I'm quite loath to link my future to this "social networking"
> > craze, to the point that I've repeatedly resisted facebook's insisted
> > headhunting (prompted in part, I believe, by friends and ex-colleagues
> > of mine who work there -- they've experienced what it means to work
> > closely with me, even though I have ZERO "experience with social"
> > ANYthing "on the API layer", and must have pressed their recruiters to
> > keep badgering me even after several refusals on my part).
> >
> > It's fortunate that your conditions include this "social blahblah"
> > experience as a MUST, since it means I of course won't apply and you'd
> > immediately discard me if I did (or else it means you don't know what
> > MUST means, which should steer ANY sensible person off this
> > organization, of course).
> >
> >> Experience defining, implementing and refining data-driven APIs
> >
> > Got that (BOY do I ever), but doesn't matter since I lack your
> > (idiotic IMHO) "social" `MUST`.
> >
> >> Experience in open source, both as a developer and an active community
> >> participant
> >
> > Got that, in MANY projects, but again it doesn't matter given the
> > meaning of "MUST".
> >
> >> Agile development in full product life-cycles
> >
> > AND that -- one of my hottest-burning passions, actually.
> >
> >> Nice to have:
> >>
> >> Development of Complex, N-tiered systems, utilizing loosely-coupled
> >> components based on a message-passing architecture
> >
> > Got that and then some, pity it doesn't matter.
> >
> >> Familiarity with OAuth, OpenID and other open standards for
> authentication
> >> and identity
> >
> > Ditto.
> >
> >> Familiar with EC2, AppEngine, and basic cloud computing infrastructure
> >
> > And ditto squared.
> >
> >
> > So -- one single, incredibly silly MUST condition about "social mush"
> > would stop ME from applying for this job even if I was LOOKING for a
> > job (which, let me repeat, I ain't) -- even though I'm WAY qualified
> > or overqualified on EVERY other 'MUST' _and_ 'NICE TO HAVE', *AND* a
> > lot you don't even bother to mention.
> >
> > That's what MUST HAVE ***means***.  If I SELECT * FROM ... WHERE
> > 'social' IN experience AND ... -- it doesn't matter how incredibly
> > well every other aspect matches: if 'social' is *NOT* among the
> > 'experience' set, the row will be entirely and totally discarded no
> > matter what.
> >
> > My best guess is that you, and the people who hired you to post this
> > job offer, are so incredibly clueless that you placed among the "MUST"
> > a condiiton that's actually, at best, "very nice to have" -- not
> > realizing what a HUGE difference that makes to any engineer who
> > actually thinks and behave like an engineer.
> >
> > Good luck -- compared to the job offer you SHOULD be posting, you'll
> > either get a small or mediocre set of candidates, OR people willing to
> > completely ignore what you CLAIM is an "absolutely MUST have
> > condition", OR... lie through their teeth. Looks like you deserve each
> > other.
> >
> >
> > Alex
> > _______________________________________________
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> --
> Jeff Lindsay
> http://webhooks.org -- Make the web more programmable
> http://shdh.org -- A party for hackers and thinkers
> http://tigdb.com -- Discover indie games
> http://progrium.com -- More interesting things
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