Category Archives: jobs

FOSDEM, and new PGP key

I’ve booked my travel and hotel for FOSDEM.  Arriving Friday early evening, leaving Monday after lunch, so I have a few hours beyond the core event.  Hope to meet some of my readers in person next weekend in Brussels!

In preparation for FOSDEM, I uploaded my PGP key to FOSDEM’s server for the keysigning – assuming I make it this year!  And in doing so, I found a spare round tuit to generate a new 4096-bit key in anticipation of a time when Moore’s law overtakes my existing 1024-bit key.  My new key has number B87F79A9 and fingerprint
3CE3 BAC2 EB7B BC62 4D1D  22D8 F3B9 D88C B87F 79A9
and should by now be propagating its way around the keyservers, along with my signature with the old key.

This year I’ll be actively looking at the jobs desk, for anyone whose needs might fit my expertise and aspirations.

Unequal Opportunities.

’twas in 1992 I went for this job interview. I know because that’s the year my (fixed-term) research job at Sheffield ended, and I was some months “between jobs”. It was a tough time in academia: a report in the torygraph the following year said that the number of academic research jobs in UK universities declined by 11% that year. So for a geek who liked academia, a sysop job at another UK university looked like an attractive prospect.

It was a long journey, so I traveled up the day before my interview and stayed overnight in university accommodation. There I met another candidate. Only for a couple of minutes, but it was enough to tell me I couldn’t be offered the job.

No, of course I couldn’t possibly say in that time who was the better candidate for the job. But the other candidate was female and black. So the only way they could offer it to a white male was if she was a total no-hoper. Which she wasn’t: a couple of minutes was ample to tell me that. Our respective technical merits – our abilities to do the job – was going to be moot.

Sixteen years on from that clear memory, they’re now apparently going to make it law. It’s just fine to discriminate, provided victims are white and male. Maybe that’s no bad thing: it just formalises the de-facto insidious pressure that’s always[1] been there, in the form of practices like “ethnic monitoring”, and being deemed evil if you fail to meet unofficial quotas of bums-on-seats. At least we officially know where we stand (and more to the point, so do those ‘disadvantaged’ people at the core of Old Labour or the BNP).

I’m glad my current employer was so genuinely non-discriminatory they didn’t even ask my ethnicity until after offering me the job.

[1] for values of ‘always’ in my working life, at least.

Sun is hiring!

Sun’s webstack team is hiring!

The web stack is strongly focussed on open source solutions, centred on the LAMP[1] stack and variants on those technologies. We’re now looking for recent grads eager to work on open source technologies and help build next generation OpenSolaris web platform.

If interested, see

and please mention niq’s soapbox in your application!

As regular readers are no doubt aware, I joined Sun Microsystems back in February as Apache guru. The MySQL acquisition bought in key developers from a broader range of opensource web-technology projects. I’m happy to say that on current experience, they’re the best company I’ve worked for by a clear margin. This is a company that doesn’t just treat its engineering staff as junior bods on the way to ‘real’ jobs in management or marketing, and expect you to be ‘above’ engineering (or on the scrapheap) by age 30. I’m happy to recommend them as an employer.

[1] Yeah, right, maybe I should say S(olaris)AMP, but both platforms are important to us, as indeed are alternatives to the A, M and P!

Servant to a new master

I travelled up to Camberley on Tuesday evening, to spend yesterday at the UK head office of my new Lord and Master[1]. As a result of that, I now have a card, a VPN client for remote access to Sun networks, and a cryptographic security device to generate challenge-responses to access it is on order. I’ve also met some great folks, though not my own team, who are in California (including my manager) and in India.

Coincidentally, yesterday was also the day of a UK solaris meeting. I only heard about that when Chris Gerhard emailed me on Tuesday (I guess he’d just heard about my joining), but I was able to attend some of that event and meet the real geeks. I guess that by the time of the next such meeting, I should be sufficiently acquainted with the current state of Solaris to participate properly.

Anyway, I’m now employed to work on the OpenSolaris Web Stack, with particular emphasis on Apache. Or to continue hacking Apache but with an emphasis on the OpenSolaris platform. Or … you get the picture, more to come on the subject as and when. As soon as I have the new workstation with Solaris up and running, I’ll be scouring it for capabilities that can usefully be harnessed for Apache, and of course APR.

[1] aka employer

Cause and effect and jobs

I got another request to join someone’s linkedin network.  I seem to be registered there: some time in the past, in a moment of weakness, I went and signed up on receiving an invite from someone I know to be genuine.

At the bottom of the invite is a one-line carrot: “Fact: Adding 5 connections makes you 3.7x more likely to receive a job offer“.  I guess they have some stats to support the assertion.

Of course they can’t know every job offer anyone receives.  Maybe they can come somewhere near to knowing every offer that goes through some process they facilitate.  Perhaps the “fact” taken with appropriate qualifiers is reasonably well supported.

So that’ll be “people who are more active on linkedin are more likely to find a job through linkedin”.  Sounds reasonable.

But now they’re using “find a job” as a carrot.  So that’ll be self-fulfilling: people in the jobs market are more likely to take the carrot and become more active there, while others are more likely to ignore it.  How is that better than (or even as good as) signing up at a jobs site?  Ah, right, it’s somewhere you can look without admitting (maybe even to yourself) you’re on that game?

But maybe there’s a real advantage: ‘normal’ jobs boards are overwhelmingly dominated by recruiters who lack techie knowledge of their market, and work on buzzwords of random relevance.  That kind of thing is a complete waste of time if you’ve rejected the ratrace career in the Dilbertian office.