I got a LinkedIn connection request this morning from a recruiter from Zynga, who said:

Technical Recruiter at Zynga – *********@zynga.com or 415-603-****
Dont'; be so negative. And I don’t want to connect with you.

Well for starters, I only “connect” on LinkedIn with people I’ve personally worked with in the past, know on a personal level, or a handful of recruiters who have actually placed me successfully at a job, or that I (gasp) respect. Secondly, why not send a LinkedIn InMail instead of a connection request that says you do NOT want to connect? I tweeted a response that got some laughs from friends.

I admit I’m pretty harsh on recruiters, especially this open letter to LinkedIn, and the entire section of my web site dedicated to some of the worst recruiters/headhunters I’ve dealt with over the years. I get a chuckle whenever an interview candidate does their homework on me as the interviewer and they comment on my headhunter nightmares. I’ve even had recruiters reach out and say “Hey, I’m not trying to recruit you, just wanted to say I got a huge laugh at your headhunter nightmares, hopefully I never do that.”

I figured that I should take a few moments to actually explain why I’m so hard on recruiters who contact me.

My first dealings with recruiters was in the spring of 2000, when a recruiter in Los Angeles placed me quite successfully at a startup who, in the midst of the dot-com boom, paid to move me to the US from Canada, and it remains the longest time I’ve spent at any one job.

Once I got down to Los Angeles, you couldn’t even sneeze on the internet without recruiters trying to entice you away to some new “amazing opportunity”. Most of them didn’t even want to bother spending time to build a relationship with me as a potential recruit. And almost all of them say something along the lines of “I’m not that kind of recruiter”. If you’re not a typical recruiter, why are you trying to pitch me on a job opportunity in your second breath?

There ARE Good Recruiters Out There

Enter Luis Rhee. We met through dice.com in early 2006. Luis took several months, a nice lunch, and several phone calls to discuss my career goals, dislikes, and opportunities, and 5 months later placed me at a marketing agency where I was mentored by someone I still admire and respect to this day. Luis and I have remained in contact off and on over the years, and he’s one of the few recruiters that I call when I’m thinking about finding new work.

In fact, Luis and one other recruiter are the ONLY recruiters I trust to give out names of friends who are actively looking for work.

Some Firms Don’t Update Their Info, Though

Then there’s the recruiting agency, Workbridge/Jobscore, that placed me at SendGrid. They took their time, too, sort of, and it’s by far the best job in my career. Except they’ve reached out several times in the past 6 months trying to either recruit me away from SendGrid, or haven’t updated their information to realize I’m no longer at Armor Games, and think I’m a viable contact there to try to pitch recruits for job openings at Armor Games. Either way, pretty slimy, and I’ve had to start tracking down upper management there to get them to knock it off.

Where’s The Beef?

My biggest beef with recruiters? The opening statement on my LinkedIn profile CLEARLY states that I’m not looking for work, and to please avoid contacting me about new job opportunities. But that hasn’t stopped over 30 recruiters from sending me messages on LinkedIn asking if I’m open to a new opportunity. So I recently updated it, and I guess that’s what triggered the nastygram from someone at Zynga.

Dear Recruiters: Guess what? I’m STILL not looking for work. Recruiting attempts will be met with scorn and ridicule and possibly some harshly-worded Tweets in your direction. Also, I only add people I know in real life or have worked with at a previous job, so please don’t try to “connect” claiming we’ve worked together before.

Also, I’m relocating out of California in the summer of 2013. Please don’t waste my time, or yours, trying to convince me to stay in California.

“I’m calling from Slimy McSlimerstein’s Slimy Recruiting Scumbags…”

This past week at SendGrid, our office manager came by my desk and told me someone named “Andre” was trying to reach me. I know a few Andre’s, and asked her for more info, but she said the guy wouldn’t leave any additional information. Then he called back the next day saying that he was in the middle of talking to me and we got cut off, which is interesting since I was in a meeting at the time.

She thinks he tried calling again to reach out to another employee, starting the phone call with “Yeah, can I talk to ____, I have a quick PHP question for him.” And after one other failed attempt, tracked down this employee’s wife online, and sent her a private Email claiming he was a friend of the employee and could he get a cell phone number to reach our employee.

I tweeted (here and here) about these recent events right around the time that someone, whose Twitter profile says she’s a recruiter, started following me. I said that these tactics were “slimy” and she replied with “ouch“, but also favorited the tweet about this “Andre” guy trying to get private contact information. Then I tweeted that a recruiter who follows me “favorited” that tweet, and the recruiter tweeted back saying she hadn’t planned on contacting me, and only favorited it because she thought it was funny.

In Their Defense

It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when you don’t know everything about a particular business or industry. It’s easy to see get angry at bankers getting gazzilions in payoffs, benefits and retirements, as the bank closes its doors. It’s easy to get angry at politicians who cut funding to our favorite things like schools, or PBS. And it’s especially easy to get angry at recruiters who ignore your online profiles which clearly state things like “I’m not looking for work” or “I am not willing to relocate”. Or even more frustrated when a recruiter writes simply to ask for referrals for jobs, and wanting to scream “do your own job and find recruits!”

I actually debated starting a recruiting firm years ago, to do things differently. Build and foster relationships with the recruits, and businesses, use my own technical skills to srceen people, and use my networking and connections to help recruits find jobs they’re going to feel passionate about, not just finding them a paycheck so I get a commission. Then I sat down and really thought about what a day in the life of a headhunter must really be like, and decided to remain in programming.

Recently, I read that programmers and other technology related workers are some of the most private, secretive people who sometimes go out of their way to having private information on the Internet because they don’t want to be harassed about new job opportunities. Workers who focus on Marketing and Sales tend to make themselves as public as possible, where programmers hide behind pseudonyms and Email aliases that give nothing away.

It must be equally frustrating for recruiters to find quality people, especially these days when it seems that only tech companies are the ones struggling to find workers while other industries face massive layoffs and closures. And being unable to reach people has to make their jobs especially difficult.

What’s A Company To Do? Use Recruiters Or Not?

In this day and age though, for we the programmers, jobs are plenty. At SendGrid alone we currently have over 30 open positions we’re trying to fill. One of the biggest problems we have is geography. Our office in Anaheim isn’t easy to get to for all of the talent in West LA or Burbank areas. So we’ve been upping our own game, hiring in-house recruiters, and relying less on outside agencies to find potential candidates.

Should recruiting agencies go die in fire? Nah, I’m sure big corporations need them to attract people to less-than-glamorous jobs. But if you have a fun startup or small business, I would suggest you don’t waste your time: attend hackathons, sponsor them even. Get your name out there. Make your business about something people actually USE, and reach out to them. (We’ve lost count at SendGrid how many employees came from other companies who use SendGrid’s services) Continue to foster a strong trusting culture within your company and your employees will bring more than enough referrals.

I saw someone post about the Pebble Kickstarter project (I can’t remember if I saw it on Twitter or Google+) and without even watching the promo video, I immediately backed the project, my first Kickstarter pledge. I signed up for the Hacker Special, to gain access to the early SDK and one of the devices in August before the September launch. When Kickstarter processed my payment, the funding round had 37 days to go and they had already hit $108,000 of their $100,000 goal. I was excited that they were already funded. I got about the 60th Hacker Special and the rest of the 100 they allocated sold out quickly.

Only a few days later, at the time of this writing, there are 31,516 backers (there were only 31,497 when I started writing the sentences above, that’s how quickly people are jumping on this!), and they’ve passed $4.5M in pledged funding, an average of $144 per pledge. It was interesting to read last night how Eric and his team went through the Y Combinator program to get started, but then fell flat on funding because none of the VC’s wanted to back a hardware project. Were those on the VC panel out of touch, or do they see something that 31,000 other people haven’t seen yet regarding the success? Or are they all kicking themselves for not funding this themselves after all?

The Pebble just makes sense. It has a lot of simple features, and none of the overbearing things that Sony or Motorola have had to overcome. Here are a few thoughts on why I backed the project:

Battery Life
A simple e-ink display should last “7+ days” according to the developers. Frankly, I’m used to replacing a watch battery every year or so, and my current Casio watches are actually solar powered and may never need a new battery. While it’ll take some getting used to plugging in a watch to charge it, doing so once a week is not prohibitive.

Simple OS stack
According to the project notes I’ve read, they’re using a low-footprint real-time OS. Their previous project, inPulse, uses FreeRTOS, and their SDK will be a simple C-based development environment similar to programming for Arduino. Frankly, I’m not interested in having a full Android stack on a watch. If you look at devices by Sony, Motorola and imWatch, you’ll see how thick they are, some of them are half an inch thick. And all of them, if I’ve read their notes properly, may last up to 24 hours on a charge.

Simple UI: buttons
I don’t need a touch screen on my watch. It would add unnecessary complexity to the OS, expense on production, and really isn’t needed. The Pebble is meant to be a simple device. I’m happy with a 4-button control system.

I’m not that into fashion. I could give a rip about the multiple colors they produce. I’ll take the full black Pebble happily. But the Pebble design seems both modern and elegant at the same time. Simple is better.

I’m *really* looking forward to the Pebble. It’s a simple device, and that’s all a watch really needs to be. I don’t need a Dick Tracy device — my phone is a better tool for playing music, replying to SMS/Email, etc. All my watch needs to do is tell me the time, and display high priority notifications.

The enormous backing of the project clearly shows that there’s a market for smartwatches of some degree. I passed on the Sony and Motorola models, as well as the i’mWatch which I saw at Google IO last year, because I don’t believe a watch needs to run a full Android stack to be functional. If I’m going to reply to a text, I’ll use the phone itself; I don’t intend to listen to music from a watch; I don’t need games, etc., on the watch. I need it to tell me the time, it needs to keep good time without needing constant synchronization, and needs to have basic watch functions like an alarm and stopwatch. Everything else is candy.

My biggest requirement in a watch, frankly, is that it stays synced with NTP, which my Android phone handles for me, so updating the watch itself with a new time periodically to correct for drift is the biggest thing for me. And using it as a vibrating alarm clock instead of an obnoxious beeping alarm would be far better for me in the mornings. And if I have to charge the watch one night a week instead of wearing it to bed, then hey, that’s the morning I sleep in.

There are certainly trade offs with such a simple RTOS design, instead of a full Android stack, of course. Would it be handy to have full apps? I suppose it depends on the app, but I don’t envision myself reading Tweetdeck or doing web browsing or playing Crush The Castle on a 144×168 pixel screen. Trying to be “all things to all people” is why Sony, Motorola and imWatch have to charge outrageous money for their devices (granted, Sony recently put their device on sale for about $120, I wonder if in response to Pebble). The flip side is that chances are good that I’ll have to write apps both for the Pebble *and* Android to keep things sync’d between my devices.

When the project hit $1M in funding, they decided to make a design change and make the device waterproof. At $2M they announced that everyone would get access to the SDK early. At $3M they teased us that more news would be coming soon, and they pinged everyone again to let us know they are officially the most funded project on Kickstarter. Now that they’re up to $4.5M, it’ll be interesting to see what other changes they make.

How would I spend their money? Glad you asked.

Lots of people are asking for Bluetooth 4.0 which would give the Pebble far more reach in the market than restricting it to iOS and Android only. The team has even said they can’t support WP7 because WP7 doesn’t support the necessary Bluetooth functionality. That sounds fishy to me. BT4 would make the Pebble more generic for sending/receiving information.

Inductive charging would be amazing, but I imagine the batteries aren’t small enough to be practical.

Personally, I’d love to see them change to a micro USB charging port instead of their planned proprietary plug. In this day and age, it doesn’t make sense to spend money developing and maintaining proprietary plugs any more.

I’d love to be a beta tester for their SDK and Emulator to get a jump start on apps. Releasing the SDK in August for a September release will make developers feel rushed.

And I’d love to hear that they have plans for a marketplace for other watch bands (though they claim any 22mm watch band will fit). I’d love to hear more plans for their marketplace for downloading/buying apps for the watch.

And finally, I’d love for them to explain what the two metal contacts on the lower left edge of the Pebble are going to be used for. And to tell us how thick they expect the device will be.

(by the time I finished writing this, Pebble’s backers are up +200 to 31,706 in the time it took to write this simple blog article)

A colleague sent me a link to a bunch of photos from Facebook offices around the world. In one of the photos, you can read a sign on the wall which says "done is better than perfect" and I've decided that this will be my motto for 2011.

A part of me is a struggling perfectionist, perhaps with a hint of OCD. Everything needs to be p-e-r-f-e-c-t, and as soon as I see something's not going right, I pull a 180, and switch from burn-the-midnight-oil mode to procrastinate-to-the-point-where-it-never-gets-done mode.

I've got so many half-done projects because I begin to see that as a mere human, I'm not capable of perfection. I get discouraged, and I put things off, cast them aside, with the thought of "I'll get around to that a little bit later."

On occasion, I'll try to breath new life into an idea by learning some new technology or programming language, but those also fall flat because, really, as a husband, a father of a 2-year old, with another baby on the way, I just haven't got the time.

My wife worries that I'm demotivated to the point of stand-still to where I'm not even trying to do anything any more, and to some degree, she's right.

So this year, I'm hoping that "done is better than perfect" will encourage me enough to just get something finished for a change. Whether it's learning Python 3 to get my web game at least launched, or a web service or two to communicate with an Android app (even if that means using Google's App Inventor instead of writing the app by hand, so be it).

Facebook has introduced their new ‘f8′ platform which raises several serious privacy concerns. While I’m not a tinfoil-hat kinda guy, these realizations today really raised my ire against Facebook.

The f8 platform will allow web developers to add a ‘like’ button on their sites, and if you’re a content publisher, face it — you’ll WANT to add that to your site. But this HTML iframe will give Facebook access to every site you visit that includes the LIKE button, however those sites won’t be able to *publish* anything on your Facebook wall, for example, unless you specifically permit them to. However, FB will still know you’ve been there, and who knows what they’ll do with that information (they’ve declined to specify what they’ll use that information for). It seems the only

Also included in the f8 platform is a means to set up partnerships between Facebook and groups like Microsoft, Pandora and Yelp which will gain access to any public information you have on Facebook, including your name, gender, profile photo, and friend connections. Even if you set your own privacy settings to opt-out of giving these partner sites your information, your friends could still unwittingly give this information to the partner sites without your consent. To fix this, Facebook says you must manually visit each of these partner sites and ALSO opt-out of their f8 platform settings. To recap, to restrict my public information from being given away, I must:

  1. DE-select a checkbox in my Facebook privacy settings that FB has already turned on without my consent
  2. Find a list of partner applications at Facebook and manually block each application from within Facebook
  3. Visit each partner’s web site and click a “no thanks” link
  4. Convince every one of my hundreds of Facebook friends to do the same. One friend not complying will undo all the work I do myself.

That’s an awful lot of hoop-jumping to protect my privacy. Not to mention the first point that every site that starts including their LIKE button will give Facebook a means to log every page I visit which I have no way to opt-out of.

At launch, only docs.com (partnership with Microsoft to rival Google Docs), Pandora and Yelp are partnered up on f8, but how are we, as users, going to know when Facebook adds a new partner so we can race there to opt-out before an unwitting friend beats us there and unknowingly shares our info? I don’t like the idea of Facebook having dozens or hundreds of partners and now suddenly I have to perform two tasks per partner in order to opt-out.

Granted, this platform will certainly, in Facebook’s words, make web “more open and social.” But at what price? How is my web experience going to be better if I have to lock down my social network profiles and spend time opting out of these partner sites when my friends who do NOT do this work will end up sharing my information any way, without my consent?

In the 90’s, there were tons of computer viruses that would infect a person’s PC and upload their address book to a central location which would then attempt to re-infect those users via Email. This feels eerily similar. Even if I lock down my settings, a friend who doesn’t will sent their entire friends list to these partner sites which will include my Facebook information. How is that a better experience for me?

From Facebook’s own help FAQ’s:

What data is shared with instantly personalized partner sites?
When you and your friends visit an instantly personalized site, the partner can use your public Facebook information, which includes your name, profile picture, gender, and connections. To access any non-public information, the website is required to ask for you or your friend’s explicit permission.

How do I opt-out of instant personalization?
You can opt-out of instant personalization by disallowing it here. By clicking “No Thanks” on the Facebook notification on partner sites, partners will delete your data. To prevent your friends from sharing any of your information with an instant personalization partner, block the application: Microsoft Docs.comPandoraYelp.

In 2005 and 2006, I blogged a LOT. So did my wife. It seems that since our son was born in late 2008, neither of us has had much time for blogging any more, and I think my wife has lost interest in it as other things occupy her time.

Combined with the prevalence of micro-blogging such as Twitter and Facebook status updates, writing out full-length quality postings seems to be quite old-school now. While in the process of migrating my old blog articles back to WordPress, I’m reading through all of them again and finding some oldies but goodies, such as “Reasons to Date a Geek” and “I, Geek, take you, Mini-geek” among others. I also see lots of failed potential such as setting up thedouglasclan.com as a photo site for our family, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve switched from one blog engine to another or posted about new layouts on the site.

Like most full-time employees, I fear blogging about my workplace or what I’m working on, so as not to get dooced which really only leaves a few areas of my life to share that I feel could help others: running a freelance business, web development, marriage, finances, and being a new dad. And since I’m not particularly an expert in any of those areas, I imagine iandouglas.com will be a culmination of all of those topics. I’ll do my best to categorize and tag my ramblings so you can filter out only what you really want to read.