Dan J.

Full-stack VC and Big Picture Thinker. Certified MUMPS Guru. Better than Lyle.

Jul 2014

A Little of Everything

by in Tales from the Interview on

Chinese buffet2.jpg
"Chinese buffet2". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Assembler. C. C++. C#. PHP. Javascript. Bash. Perl. Ruby. Java. These were just some of the technologies featured on the resume of a candidate Christian recently interviewed for a senior Linux sysadmin position. The impressive list of programming languages (and related data-interchange acronyms like XSLT and JSON) made the candidate, let's call him Rob, seem more qualified for a developer position, but he went on to list common web server databases like MySQL and Postgres (plus a couple flavours of NoSQL), and, finally, the qualifications Christian was actually interested in: Tomcat, JBOSS, the Hotspot JVM, and every major Linux distro. While the resume reeked of keyword-baiting, Christian didn't want to risk missing out on an excellent sysadmin who just happened to spend a lot of time hacking, and brought Rob in.

Christian kicked off the interview by describing their infrastructure. Working for a major enterprise, his division was responsible for fifteen hundred Java application servers, clustered into groups of three or four. He explained to Rob how they managed the large number of identical deployments using Puppet, with SVN to track changes to their enormous catalog of scripts. He got through most of their rollout and monitoring processes before Rob cut in with a question.

Sound and Fury, Implementing Nothing

by in CodeSOD on

Mark was upset. You didn't have to sit next to him to know it, either. Even though his cubicle was at the far end of the farm, his frequent tirades were always audible to the rest of the office. Mark wasn't the most skilled or the most careful developer on the team, but what he lacked in ability he made up for in volume: a lot of his poorer decisions stood simply because his colleagues wanted to avoid a barrage.

The installer for their main product was Mark's pride and joy, so Jonathan tried to stay as far from the code as possible. Mark had long ago added a timeout to the code that checked for a stuck installation, but it consistently went off too early, complaining about failure when the installation would eventually succeed. When Mark tired of the QA team complaining, Jonathan overheard him bellowing at the team lead.