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November 11, 2011

No! I do not know Coldfusion or ASP.Net!

(UPDATE 2/16/2012: This post was meant to vent my frustrations with a lot of the offers I recieved at the time. I still want this post to stay online as it is the honest opinion for anyone looking for a job at this time who are contacted by recruiters who do not know PHP from ASP. It is not intendex to discourage rec4uiters, just the irrelevant job offers. My appologies if this page is not to your liking.)

I know I let this blog be in limbo for a while, but I assure you this is not an abandoned venture.

Today's subject is aimed at recruiters and employers who have the notion that when you write a resume and list everything that you know, that some how you are leaving out content in the skills section of your resume. While I certainly do not mean to be insulting toward any recruiter or employer who reads this post or my resume, I do wonder whether or not when a recruiter or employer reads a my resume that is two pages long, whether or not they read it completely or if whenever the pull up resumes they just type in "Adobe", "Microsoft", and "Oracle". It feels so impersonal when someone looks up to see if the software brands that your company uses matches their list of brands that they use instead of looking for someone who knows a software language or has experience with using specific software. (Notice, I did not say the word "products"!)

Just because I have experience using Microsoft Word and Excel, it doesn't mean I know Microsoft ASP.Net. Just because I have experience using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, it doesn't mean I know Adobe Coldfusion. I wish I had learned how to use Flash. It's not to late to do it. But I really can't run Flash on a 10.4" netbook. I was shocked to actually see the previous owner of this device actually was able to install Microsoft XP, which ran so very slowly and motivated me to swap out the hard drive and install Linux on it last year. But this is beside the point of today's post.

The point is, when someone writes a resume, they are supposed to be honest about what they write in it. If someone who writes in the resume "I played for the Chicago Bears and threw 1000 yards" as part of their work history but has never once listed any of their NCAA Achievements or stated that they played football in high school or college to back up that they actually played for an NFL team, then it doesn't sound very truthful, does it?

So, why is it that when I write on my resume that ever since 1998, I've been writing HTML, majored in Computer Science, and listed the various computer related accomplishments that someone asks me "Do you know Coldfusion?" or "Do you know ASP.Net?" I find myself in a strange predicament. As an accomplished minimalistic computer programmer, who if you don't know I am writing this page using the Vim editor and it is checking my spelling (:set spell) while doing it, and has features like autocomplete and ctags and code-completion and file recovery but is not encased in a obfuscated GUI like many of the mainstream and proprietary development softwares are, feel as though because of my choices in software which is not made by some big corporation except the one that made the operating system, am I being marginalized?

If it is not that, is it because I've been unemployed for more than six months? I mean, why would anyone get the impression that anyone who has been unemployed for so long is not interested in find a job? Of course, I'm interested! But to hear that tone of "you sound like an interesting prospect" change to "oh, you've been out of work for so long therefore we don't like your kind" feels quite discriminating.

If my crime has been being out of work for so long, due to an economic recession in an industry that likes to set up shop in Kansas City, Chicago, and Memphis but not St. Louis, then I'm guilty!

I don't understand why businesses are not attracted to the Gateway City? Well, what would you expect? Sprint, like Verizon, is open to telecommunications innovations. AT&T has a reputation of keeping things like that to themselves unless you pony up an arm and a leg especially if it is for educational or military applications. I can't blame Google for wanting to give free high-speed Internet to a city where a corporation is anti-competitive. I can't even use my Motorola Droid on AT&T's U-verse WiFi, because after about a minute or so, the AT&T-ness kicks in and shuts off access to the device because my service provider is Verizon. (UPDATE 2/15/12: FIXED! It took a long unpleasant phone call where all the other phones using AT&T were down and needed to be put back online ASAP it's finally working again for once.)

This isn't just a problem with a cellphone and Internet Service Provider. History does indicate that AT∧T had, in the past, had been anti-competitive with companies like MCI (which is now part of Verizon). In fact, I was watching a documentary on PBS about a couple of months ago which described one of the reasons for the 1984 divestiture was where MCI's microwave communication system was useful in the state of Colorado, Mountain Bell (an AT&T Bell company) shut off the phone service at MCI so that customers wouldn't leave AT&T for a less expensive long-distance telephone provider. MCI took AT&T to court, then the Department of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court got involved, and AT&T was divided into smaller "baby bells". However, over the years, AT&T started to merge all the baby bells back into a single entity again. Here in St. Louis, it became clear when Southwestern Bell became SBC then became AT&T again. The phone bills I got from Cingular Wireless were eventually replaced with more expensive bills from AT&T Wireless then eventually AT&T. So I moved on to another provider about a couple of years ago.

So what does all of this have to do with software development? Well, for starters, companies like Microsoft and IBM sell their software to companies the same way AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint sell phone service. However, it is much easier to change telephone or internet service than it is to break out of contract with a software company. Do people use Microsoft because the have to or because everyone is familiar with the brand name?

I've got no problem using Microsoft software. In fact, the best word processing and spreadsheet programs are without question made by those guys in Redmond, Washington. It's the other software that they make that is the problem. Internet Explorer may be part of the Windows Operating System, but it has plenty of security flaws, and unlike Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Opera, it hasn't joined 2011 yet where HTML5 is now a standard. (Not to mention, it doesn't even render this site's appearance properly!) The same way AT&T was last to catch on to Android (primarily because they didn't want to and they were happily shaking folks down with the iPhone while claiming their system couldn't handle the capacity), Microsoft was last when it came to the catching on to the whole "cloud computing" trend. They were too busy ripping off SuSE Linux's K Destop Environment from Novell. (Look how well that worked out for them with Windows Vista. Biggest flop since Windows ME!)

Yet, just like AT&T, they have plenty of empty office space in a tall office building in the St. Louis area to stroke their egos, but no one to share it.

I would bet that if they weren't tied up in these never-ending software contracts, the companies that are stuck with the software vulnerablities of IIS server and ASP.Net/Visual Basic applications written with Coldfusion would be able to spread their wings a bit and write something in Eclipse or Netbeans or even some real in-house software that they developed with some open source programming lanugage, they would save themselves a ton of money, hire a few more employees, and actually get some work done.

However, there is that majority of people who still claim that open source is for hobbyists or hackers. I say that is not true. And most people really don't like to program as a hobby or are too tired to do it after working at a desk all day. Why should open source be used "outside the office" or "on your own time"?

And why should anyone be turned down for a job because they can use software that can get things done instead the software that they are under contract to use? Software changes all the time. Imagine all the new innovations that are being left untouched because of vendor lock. Google and Apple aren't just making technologies for consumers, but for producers too. No company that is in the business of web development or computer programming should be trapped in a contract with their software provider if the software provider's greatest achievement is Solitaire!

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