Steve's random ramblings and technical notes

Monday, February 27, 2006

Interviewing Hackers

Interviewing Hackers
Traditionally, one asks technical questions at an interview to verify that a candidate actually knows what he claims to know. Such questions may target professional certifications, specific technical trivia, or code written previously. The primary weakness of such methods is that the candidate has significant control over which claims are open to verification. The candidate may be tempted to bluff, for example, by cramming facts during the few days prior to the interview.

We suggest using technical questions to gauge a candidate's self-study ability. Ask a candidate to solve a programming problem on the spot -- but determine in advance how much familiarity the candidate is likely to have with the given problem.

For example, imagine you ask the candidate to write C code to reverse a string in-place. How do you interpret the candidate's performance? There are three cases:

1. If the candidate claims to be a expert, you can expect convergence to a correct solution with negligible trial and error.
2. If the candidate is somewhat familiar with the problem domain, it's hard to know what to expect. It is not clear how this uncertain kind of questioning provides useful data to the interviewer.
3. If the candidate is unfamiliar with the problem domain, you are tapping his ability to learn new material. When a candidate is denied access to a domain expert, self-study ability can be revealed.

Hence, the interviewer must carefully select programming assignments using data uncovered by traditional technical inquiry. On one hand, a candidate wants to answer technical questions comprehensively. On the other hand, comprehensive answers better reveal what the candidate doesn't know. These two opposing goals work to keep the candidate honest.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Real Beginners Guide to Podcasting

Podcast Free America » The Real Beginners Guide to Podcasting
This is a real guide for real beginners and it will guide you through the basics of podcasting. The Real Beginners Guide to Podcasting only teaches you how to podcast using online podcasting tools. Everything takes place inside of the web browser, so there’s no software to download or complicated audio lingo to understand.

At the end of guide, I’ve put together some video tutorials that will walk you through podcasting with each individual online podcasting tool. The goal is to have you successfully podcasting using one of the online tools and sharing those podcasts with the world!

Make Your Windows Fast As Never Before!

Make Your Windows Fast As Never Before!
The page at this link has several tweaks that can make Windows more responsive. My favorite is this:

Because Windows XP has to be all things to all people it has many services running that take up system resources that you will never need. Below is a list of services that can be disabled on most machines:

Computer Browser
Distributed Link Tracking Client
Fast User Switching
Help and Support - (If you use Windows Help and Support leave this enabled)
Human Interface Access Devices
Indexing Service
IPSEC Services
Messenger (this is not MSN Messenger, it's okay to disable)
Netmeeting Remote Desktop Sharing (disabled for extra security)
Portable Media Serial Number
Remote Desktop Help Session Manager (disabled for extra security)
Remote Procedure Call Locator
Remote Registry (disabled for extra security)
Remote Registry Service
Routing & Remote Access (disabled for extra security)
Secondary Logon
Server (Do not disable if you want to share folders with another PC)
SSDP Discovery Service - (Unplug n' Pray will disable this)
Upload Manager
Universal Plug and Play Device Host
Windows Time
Wireless Zero Configuration (Do not disable if you use a wireless network)
Workstation (Do not disable if you want to attach to shared folders on another PC)

To disable these services:

Go to Start and then Run and type 'services.msc'
Doubleclick on the service you want to change
Change the startup type to 'Disable'

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

TrueCrypt: Encrypted thumb drive and autoplay howto

Glosoli: Encrypted thumb drive and autoplay howto
Great little article on setting up an encrypted partition on a USB drive using TrueCrypt.

Monday, February 06, 2006

XP On Your Thumb Drive

XP On Your Thumb Drive
Fred Langa offers a step-by-step and illustrated guide on how to boot XP from an ordinary USB drive.

By Fred Langa, InformationWeek
Jan. 23, 2006

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bona Fide Reviews - Not just another tech site

Bona Fide Reviews - Not just another tech site
Just a note to myself to check out this site and see if the reviews are "Bona Fide"...

Friday, February 03, 2006 Best Places: Union County, South Dakota Best Places: #2 - Union County, South Dakota

When God made Union County, he must have had the artistic one-third/two-thirds rule in mind. About a third of the county is bottomland, formed by the Missouri and the Big Sioux rivers that border it. The fertile land is ideal for corn and soybeans, and that's what you see as you drive through it: flat fields with river bluffs on the far horizon. That, and grain elevators and farm towns that wait patiently for the crop's bounty to flow in.

The other two-thirds of Union County is hilly. Row crops cling to the gentler slopes and lie in the valleys while cattle graze the steeper hillsides. This is the rock-solid Midwest. It's where Norwegian-American author Ole Edvart Rolvaag was inspired to write 'Giants in the Earth,' a book about hard times on the frontier. Those times have gone, but the hard work and patience the pioneers inspired have made Union County prosperous. Its schools are good, its towns neat and its people friendly.

Interstate 29 is the major artery that brings people and commerce to the county. It runs between Sioux Falls to the north and Sioux City, Iowa, to the south. In that southern tip of the county, computer manufacturing and other light industry have brought white-collar income. These industries helped create the planned community of Dakota Dunes with its golf course, medical center and shops.

The rest of the county is rural: small towns, farmsteads and wide-open spaces. It's the kind of place where rural churches sit placidly by the road, their white steeples peeking over the windbreak trees that shelter them. It's where an old-fashioned soda fountain--Edgar's in Elk Point--is one of the county's major tourist attractions.

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