Light reading update

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Last month I ordered a few books to add to my "programmers" library.

A few days later, I added an extra title to my order:

Because MCPD 70-547 Exam Prep: Microsoft Certified Web Application Developer Exam (by Amit Kalani) was supposed to be published by 30 March, my order was held over, however when 1st April came around and it still wasn't available, Amazon kindly split my order and sent the first three books.

It still wasn't available a few weeks later, so they shipped the Facts and Fallacies book and gave me the option of cancelling my order for the remaining book.

Seeing as I have an exam voucher that expires June 30, I'd like to get some study material before that date to give me a good chance of passing. So I did cancel the Kalani book and I've gone with the Microsoft Press book instead - MCPD Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-547): Designing and Developing Web-Based Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework.

Even if not all the reviews of this book are glowing, at least it has actually been published!

Coming soon - my reviews of these books....

Software on my desktop

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Following on from my list of Firefox extensions, here's a list of the applications I've been using on my work PC:

XP SP3 and Gmail via IMAP with Thunderbird

Saturday, 26 April 2008

I've just reinstalled the home PC (it was running XP Pro through a work license), but as Monday is my last day at UniSA and I plan to keep the hardware, all UniSA-licensed software has to go.

Fortunately, the box came with an OEM license for XP Home, and the timing was pretty good in that XP SP3 is being released. I still had access to a MSDN subscription, so managed to download it a few days earlier than the general public.

Reinstalling was relatively painless, and it is nice to have a nice clean OS again, without years of accrued bits and pieces slowing it down.

One thing I did need to wire up again was getting Thunderbird talking to my GMail account. The basic instructions are listed in the GMail Help Center, but there's also these additional steps to better hook up the Spam and Junk Mail folders.

Job hunting

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

This is a bit of a quick summary of my job hunting this year. While I have been making notes of these things over this period, I felt it best to save them up and post them in one hit.

10-Jan

Met up with Darren Neimke, and had a good chat about opportunities at Readify. Sounded encouraging.

15-Feb

Contacted Darren and he put me in touch with Toni-Anne Collins.

6-Mar

Heard back from Toni-Anne, and had long Skype interview with her. That all went well, and so the next step would be a technical interview.

Also went into Candle ICT to meet with Debbie Hendrie and Rowan. Had a good chat and sounds like they have some opportunities.

I also should mention that Candle are sponsors of the Adelaide SQL User Group, and Rowan is regularly seen at the meetings. Debbie had also provided us with a number of contract programmers previously.

11-Mar

Sent email to Sylvia (UniSA HR) challenging 75% match to position in ISTS. If this is successful, then I would be eligible for a redundancy.

17-Mar

Had 1.5 hour technical interview with Chris Burrows from Readify. Quite gruelling and in-depth. I felt pretty happy, though there were a few areas that I stumbled on.

Talked to Paul Turner about his experiences with Readify. He's now working for SDM and asked if I could send through my resume.

Heard back from Ursula at SDM, and arranged an interview with them

20-Mar

SDM Interview with Emmanuel Bresson and David Sampson. Seemed to go quite well, and had a good discussion about what I'd been up to, and how SDM worked. Certainly a possibility, though they don't have flexible work arrangements.

19-Mar

Contact Andy at Evergreen IT about a VB.NET and SQL 3 month contract. Passed to Sam who then arranged an interview with client - WorkCover SA

25/26-Mar

Ursula from SDM sent me their practical test. I ended up doing it on the Wednesday night. It took a little longer than I was expecting, but probably because I'm not very familiar with the Enterprise Template Library data access block classes. I still have trouble seeing what benefit they give to your app - especially compared to something like NHibernate.

26-Mar

Toni-Anne from Readify called to say I passed their technical interview (which only 10% manage to do apparently) - cool! They want to hire me, but they not quite ready yet. This suits me fine, as I'm still waiting to find out if I can get a package or not from UniSA, and some short-term contract work might be just the thing to fill in the gap between leaving UniSA and when Readify are ready.

27-Mar

Interview with Stuart and Heidi from WorkCover SA. Apparently still using .NET 1.1/Visual Studio 2003 and SQL 7.0. Surprisingly, position is actually 6 month contract, with more of a support focus initially, with some development work in the future. They do sound like a very traditional IT shop. Curiously, their main system was developed by SDM! I asked if they were using any unit testing frameworks (eg. NUnit), but they didn't think they were. I'm guessing they probably aren't doing TDD then!

Afterwards I decided that Evergreen were a little too enthusiastic with stretching the facts about this interview (and I think WorkCover might agree with that sentiment).

Also followed up Sylvia in UniSA HR - sounds like my challenge to 75% match will be refused - I'm not that surprised, it was a long shot. At least that's finished now.

31-Mar

Somehow SDM thought the email with my my practical solution was spam, so they only just found it today. Kind of surprised about that seeing as I've configured SPF for the gardiner.net.au domain. I'm guessing their spam filters need some tweaking?

2-Apr

Had a look at positions listed on SEEK, and decided to send my details to Icon and The Tennyson Group. Heard back from both of them shortly after. I'd had fleeting contact with Tennyson years ago.

10-Apr

Saw Rowan at SQL User Group, and asked about any vacancies. Rang Candle after the meeting and spoke with Calvin who forwarded details of a contract position at ESRI. Also discovered that Debbie had left Candle.

14-Apr

Heard that Education.au might be looking for people (via Rob Farley)

Rang Candle to let Rowan know about Perry Wheeler from Adelaide Uni (but apparently he already had his name), and spoke with Calvin about ESRI position update.

15-Apr

Call from Graham Palmer at Tennyson Group about a position at Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC).

17-Apr

Met with Graham. Really nice chat, and discovered we had some common history too.

Interview with Ernie Sullivan, Leah van Hemert and James Couper at AWBC. Went well, and seem like nice people. They're using .NET 2.0 and TFS, so pretty modern. It does sound like they have a heap of work to do in a short space of time though (eg. they asked of my availability for overtime)

18-Apr

Calvin rang to say that the Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) would like to interview me on Monday.

21-Apr

Interview with DECS at 9am. Nice people, and good environment, with standard work hours. Still using .NET 1.1 and SQL 2000. Planning to upgrade to .NET 3.5 (3.0?) soonish.

Offered DECS position that afternoon and accepted. Will find out if I can cope without generics for a while!

Rang Graham at Tennyson to let him know I was no longer available. Found out that AWBC had also offered me their position.

Heard back from SDM that they decided they needed a junior programmer at the moment.

22-Apr

Sent farewell email to UniSA colleagues. Some kind and generous replies received.

So there you go. I've tried to be pretty open and honest about all the people and organisations I've had contact with during this process. It has certainly been an interesting experience.

I must say that it is quite nice going into an interview feeling like you do have something to offer, and especially in the current labour market where there does seem to be a bit of a skills shortage. It's certainly a different story to when I finished Uni in the mid-90's when graduate programmer jobs were as rare as hen's teeth.

So now off into the world of contracting for a while. I think this will give me a chance to learn a whole lot of new things and provide some valuable experience for the future (especially if the Readify position does eventuate later this year).

Farewell Dat and Jagruti

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

I found out this morning that Dat has accepted a position at a private company in Adelaide. Dat is the brains behind some of our highest-profile applications - AssignIT (assignment submission), SET & CEI & TellUS2 (various survey tools) amongst others.

Jagruti is also finishing up after working on a new application for disability service support. Her new position will (in the short term at least) will be a bit different. She and her husband are expecting their first child very soon!

So with the exception of Michael (who will remain to continue multimedia development) and Gary (who is leaving in a few months), all the developers from Online Services "have now left the building."