Tuesday, April 29, 2014

We're hiring! We're hiring engineers in the US and in our development center in Granada, Spain. This means we are reviewing lots of resumes and doing initial phone screens. One of the simple phone screen questions I love to ask is related to debugging a DNS problem (except folks don't know yet there is a problem with DNS). There is really no single correct answer. There is one really poor answer: giving up. In the process of debugging the problem, candidates often come to "ping a public IP address somewhere". I ask them to give me specifically which IP address they know is up and running.  I've been amazed by how many folks in Spain know of Google's public DNS service and know it's IP address by heart:

The most recent XKCD comic illustrated the point about the importance of the DNS server. Phone screen question busted.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fresno, a city stuck in the early nineties

I fully expected to see a newspaper with Reagan or Gorbachev on the cover as I wandered around downtown Fresno. Fresno feels like it got stuck in the early nineties. This weekend was my second time in Fresno and the first time in down town.

My first time in Fresno was over 10 years ago when an electronic music dance festival was moved in extremis from San Francisco to Fresno as it ran amuck with some Kafkaesk San Franciscan laws. Thousands of ravers hopped in their cars and made the trip three hours into the central valley to listen to Oakenfold, Sasha and Digweed. I remember we arrived at night at some large halls used typically for
agricultural purposes. After dancing the night away we drove back in the early morning. We did not see anything of the city of Fresno.

This weekend was different. While Fresno is normally a city on our road to the Sierras, it was our destination this time as we headed to the California State Taekwondo Championships. The poomsae and scrimmage competition among over 1600 competitors from both Northern and Southern California was held at the Fresno convention center.

I was told that many sport competitions meet in Fresno as neutral ground between the hippies and the barbies. A quick look at the convention center calendar of events shows this complex must be a major source of income for the city as lots of different type of events meet up here.

A taekwondo competition requires lots of patience. You typically spend an entire day in an arena until your favorite taekwondo athlete performs a 1-minute poomsae and fights one up to three competitors in a 3-minute sparring match. It is a great opportunity to read a book, surf the internet (connection permitting), read snail mail or fill in summer camp registration forms.

At lunch time I headed into downtown for what I was hoping would be fantastic Mexican tacos. This is the central valley after all, I figured. Anything must be better than the hot dogs and quesadillas served in the Selland sport arena. Unfortunately after walking quite a few blocks I had to settle for Subway. Not because it was the only thing I liked, but because it was the only thing around.

I walked from the convention center on M street a few blocks East and headed then to the train station. There is a Basque bakery plant (with no store) and a bar for those waiting for the train. I was offered nearby a cheap deal on San Francisco Giants gear out of a large bag, as well as 14 karat golden neckless. I thanked them, and explained I was merely looking for tacos.

This city feels like its last refurbish was ordered by Ronald Reagan and then never touched again. The city center is dead. There are no shops, no restaurants, only one Starbucks and sadly no juicy tacos al

Downtown on a Saturday noon also feels straight out of a Dirty Harry movie. It is hot and pavement looks washed out. There is nobody around. Nobody! All the laborers of the hard working Central Valley must be resting. This is after all as the Fresno brochure calls out, the agricultural capital of the world.