Free Wifi in Amsterdam coming soon

And 36 other Dutch cities I frankly do not care that much about. This story surely must be true, because I read it via an established RSS newspaper feed that I subscribe to on Google Reader. They also have a Twitter account, but somehow the RSS feed seems much better. I don’t buy newspapers any more since you can read them entirely online or in some cases they just hand them to you in the street for free. Nobody wants to buy newspapers and the ads in all likelihood cover the costs any way.

Ads come to the rescue again to provide free wifi. You will have an ad appearing every five minutes, but that’s OK. Why aren’t more countries in the world offering free wifi? Amsterdam is, of course, famous for its coffee shops and the Red Light District. Don’t forget the canals and museums too. The conclusion must be that smoking pot leads to innovation.

I read a comment the other day, and I am paraphrasing: there is no innovation in this country (another country), because you can get rid of people in companies, but can’t  get rid of people in the country. I find this attitude strange and annoying. The guy probably meant something else, but the way I read it, he wanted to have “special” people in his “special” country. The kind of people most companies like. Young wide-eyed kids full of energy, just graduated from college, who claim to have done complex engineering projects during their summer holidays. They don’t need to sleep at all, learn faster than you and can live on old pizza, Coke or Pepsi (I am not affiliated with any of these brands). And most importantly they are dirt cheap salary-wise. When the Google Reader clone project goes live, I am sure we will have a room full of those lovely kids. Plus a few older babysitters. We don’t want the energetic kids to make too much noise and bother the neighbors. Or we will look for an office where we can make as much noise as we want. I will be wearing noise cancelling headphones all day.

Some people insist that you should only hire senior engineers. But how do you know who is a senior engineer and who isn’t? Resumes are definitely no good. Most resumes are full of innocent exaggerations and blatant falsehoods. Recruiters know that, but often they don’t know much about technology. So they ask developers in their company to help them out. If they ask someone like me they end up with simple “Hello World” type interview questions. Hey, it’s all about priorities.

Some companies actually take hiring seriously. They make you do extensive exams. This includes hour long phone interviews, difficult coding assignments and whiteboard sessions. Lots and lots of whiteboard sessions with lots of interviewers. Unfortunately the questions are always incredibly arbitrary, like trivia about the interviewer’s favorite software library.

I used to ask people: how would you design a Google Analytics clone? The reason being that I sort of had to partially implement a Google Analytics clone in the not too distant past. It’s not so hard to do that. Google is not shy about documenting their external APIs. I can’t tell you the details though for various reasons. Now it will be – how would you design a Google Reader clone. If you don’t know what Google Reader is at all, it’s no-go or whatever the actual appropriate term is.

Another approach that seems to work, is to recruit your friends. There are some intrinsic problems with this “hire your friends” strategy. Your opinion of your friends is not exactly objective. What if you get in a disagreement with your friends slash colleagues? You destroy your friendship and lose valuable colleagues in one go. Do you even have enough friends in the same industry? Of course your friends can recruit their friends and those friends can recruit their friends and so on and so forth, but what if you don’t like those second or higher degree friends. You might end up annoying your first level friends.

Why not hire external consultants or outsource all the work? Consultants generally are pretty expensive. Outsourcing, however, is a different story altogether. It worked for Bob from Verizon, right? Personally, I think this last idea might be the best. Outsourcing that is. Also look for the enthusiastic recent graduates to outsource work to. Maybe that was the meaning of the aforementioned comment. Innovation is to be found in those countries that work is outsourced to. I wonder if they legalized marijuana there too. Not that I am recommending it in any way.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend smoking pot. Especially if it’s not legal in your country. Some companies and brands were inadvertently mentioned in this post. I am not affiliated with those nor do I particularly enjoy having anything to do with them.


Roundup for March 19, 2013

Samsung wants to sell wrist watches too, Google chrome books and more.

http://storify.com/inningPalmer/roundup-for-march-19-2013

By the author of NumPy Beginner's Guide, NumPy Cookbook and Instant Pygame. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
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