Saturday, March 18, 2006

I Could Tell You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

In my last blog, I promised to tell you what I could about my new employers. Well, here we go...

I can tell you -- nothing!

My new employers are very tight-lipped about what we do. I can't even tell you what I do when I work there. Hopefully, some day they will lighten up and give me some room to talk (and maybe I can even score an interview with the CEO for a future blog), but for now I wouldn't hold my breath.

Just be happy someone is willing to pay me to do something on a regular basis.

Now, on other fronts...

About a week ago, I picked up a rumor that Google and Sun were talking acquisition. There were plenty of naysayers to that idea, yet the rumor persists. Rather than discuss how likely the event would be, I'd rather talk about what it might mean as a result.

Sun's biggest revenue generator is still its hardware. I was about to suggest that Google might spin off the Sparc business when it struck me that there was a reason for Google to want some hardware -- you might recall some loose talk about a Google PC? I'm not saying that SPARCstations would be ideal for the purpose, but if you wanted the software arm of Sun and was stuck with the hardware arm, there are worse ways to get to where you want to be.

But, as I said, it's the software arm that would be appealing to Google. Before anyone forgets, Google's top dog was a honcho at Sun once-upon-a-time, and big on Java. It might be that Google has some Java-driven projects that might be more practical if they didn't have to pay license fees on its use.

Then there's this thing called (and the less-open relative, StarOffice). Sun and Google had already entered into a cooperation pact that left quite a few people speculating about a web-based version of Some recent, related, acquisitions suggest to me that Google has already bought the people needed to build a web-office suite; would Google apply that knowledge to a fork of Might Google kill the StarOffice product, and force to go independent, giving its own web-office suite a chance to catch up?

Google clearly doesn't like Microsoft, so I'm inclined to think such a merger would be good for I'd look for Google to offer more developers to the project, but I also think StarOffice might go away, as Google wouldn't have a practical use for it. I also think Google would then use it's new leverage to put serious development effort into a web-hosted fork of the popular open source office suite.

Of course, I have no inside knowledge of any of this. It's just speculation. Don't make any investments without making your routine investigations.

Oh, and have a nice day!

Monday, March 13, 2006

So honesty in interviewing is still the best policy

I take it back.

I last wrote about how much it hurts to be honest in a job interview, and I'm convinced there are cases when that is true. But there are times when honesty is still the best policy. The problem is, it's hard to decide when the time is right for honesty, and so, I'll have to default for honesty. It's in my nature.

See, the situation depends on the question, and on the interviewer. In the question of the other day, it should have been clear to me the interviewer, one of the owners of the company, would be concerned over the cost of training a short-timer. Since she couldn't offer any true incentive for me to stay, I was going to be expensive and not worth the effort. It was foolish for me to tell her I was a potential short-timer.

Today, I interviewed with another company offering an entry-level position. In this case, while the compensation is likely appropriate for the position, it isn't my ultimate goal. One might assume I'd be short-timing that one, too, but the difference is that this company has something to offer: a future. Where the previous company had no opportunity to move beyond what I would have been hired to do, this next company dangles opportunity tantalizingly under my nose. I'd take the low-end offer and stay, seeing opportunity for personal growth and later on I'll get to the financial goals.

So, where honesty cost me an opportunity with the previous company, my honesty with the second company may pay off, while being dishonest would likely hurt miserably.

When honesty happens to coincide with the needs of the employer, honesty is still the best policy. One only has to find the company that has the same needs you have.

Shouldn't be too hard.

Should it?

I guess it wasn't.

After I wrote the above, I had another brief, pleasant conversation with the interviewer, starting something like, "Can you start tomorrow at 10 o'clock?"

Looks like honesty did pay off. I'm again among the ranks of the employed, looking forward to the challenges that come with a new job. It wasn't what I was shooting for, but all told, it might even be better, as I have the chance to prove myself and become a valuable asset to the company.

I'll know more soon about what I can say and what I can't say about them, and eventually you, the faithful reader, will know more as well. I can say this, however: when you're a Former Pundit, you shouldn't be surprised at having to get back on the ladder from the bottom. If you like your work, you'll soon find yourself back where you belong... and I believe I don't belong on the outside looking in. I'm back on the inside, and I'm convinced it'll be an interesting, if not exciting, journey back to the top of the game.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tell them what they want to hear

It's funny what a little honesty will get you.

I was interviewing at a not-to-be-named company that specializes in home PC repair for a simple field technician job. When the interviewer asked me what kind of work I was looking for, I was honest. I told her that, given my experience, I was really looking for something further along than a field PC tech position, but I did need to start putting bread on the table again.

She told me they commonly had techs who worked for them for a few months (to keep their skills sharp, she said) while they were looking for other work. She made it look like this wouldn't be a problem. I was so pleased. Finally, my patience and honesty was about to pay off - maybe not with the job I wanted, but with at least something to hold me until better work came along - and they were good with it!

How naive I was! Even though the rest of the interview was golden, my honesty about my intentions, any other day a virtue, had become a curse. When discussing my application after I left, the staff couldn't come to grips with knowing I did not intend to stay with them forever - as if anyone ever did! It wasn't that I was likely to bolt at the first sign of a decent job, as so many other technicians have done (and will still do) - no, the vote swung against me because I had the honesty to admit what I was going to do, while everyone else simply pretended it wasn't going to happen.

So honesty cost me an opportunity.

I could say I didn't learn my lesson, and that I'll still be a perfectly honest applicant next time.

But then, I wouldn't be honest, would I?