If Facebook is a Bad Way To Rate People, What Do You Do About It?

Standing out at 6AM walking the dog, some days you just end up having a conversation that stops you and makes you think.  I was talking with one of my Dog Friends about various issues and he asked me how do I handle Facebook.  He knows that I do social media for a number of small organizations and what did he think about it for hiring.   I told him that it’s not the best thing to rely on, but it can be one tool, even if it is imperfect.

If you are looking through job boards, you see some pretty strange requests.

Applicant must friend (specific name of C Suite Employee).
or worse
Applicant must present Facebook sign-on credentials upon interview.

First thing first… skip that ad.  It’s a sign that that particular organization may not be too aware of the current trends.

Second, if a company demands that you give them your sign on information, it’s a sure sign that they don’t realize the importance of computer security. 

Since most people have layers of sign-ons where they repeat passwords, or worse, use the same place everywhere, that’s a bad idea.   If person goes in, gives HR their sign-on for Facebook, then their Amazon account gets hacked and they end up paying for all sorts of identity theft and fraudulent purchases, the company is liable for all expenses – especially if the thief is connected to the company no matter how tenuous that connection is.

But since “we all” have a Facebook account, is it a valid indicator of how well someone would work out in a company?  Studies say that it is a “weak indicator”. 

Most people will blindly click “like” on a picture that flies by if they are amused by it or it touches them in some way.  The assumption is that you have a preference toward the product when you’re really just being supportive of the poster.

It will be an accurate indicator if someone is somewhat out of control.  Posting lewd pictures, violent videos, or drug use most likely will show that someone might need some counseling.   Get back to me after you work out your issues with those things and we’ll talk.   You will be skipped over, I know I’d do that myself.

For someone in a technical field, poor writing skills are a definite problem.  I’ve been given what was intended to be programming specifications for a major upgrade to a program that I have had to throw away because the systems analyst was using circular references, sentence fragments, and missing bullet points. 

Much easier to go directly to the internal client and ask what they really want.  Besides, it got me away from the desk and a really cool person to work with…

But the mastery of technical writing is beyond some people and that shows up quickly in a text medium like Facebook.  It may not be germane to the position, but it will easily show if someone is writing long missives that get lost somewhere in the wilderness. 

Ok, I’ll admit that I tend to write prose and Hemingway is not my own writing style.  I’m Not Terse.

The bottom line is that these same HR people are being asked about their hires after they get in.  Six months after you start a job, you’re on your way.  That is if you make it past that sixth month review.  HR is being asked how did your opinions fit with their performance.  What they’re finding is that “Facebook Profiles were no better at prognostication than more traditional predictors”.

No better or worse than the old school “Lets Talk”.

So what do you take away from this if you’re out there looking for work and busting your hump?

If you have questionable material, look in the mirror.  Why is it really there?  Do you really need a picture of yourself standing in front of a Confederate Battle Flag with a rifle?  What does that say about your future anyway, you’re planning on running a plantation in South Carolina?  Not very likely.

Got a love for the herb?  Pot leaves everywhere?  You’re not a good candidate for the C Suite either.  You probably should move to Colorado and set up that legal dispensary if you can stay sober long enough.

Most people simply aren’t that “out there”.  They don’t proclaim their love of the edge so much simply because it’s way too much effort.  Society prefers the middle of the road and those people from the edge get nudged back into being more “normal” anyway, in many ways. 

I’d personally wager it simply doesn’t belong let alone having that sort of thing on Facebook.

But if it is you, remember you’re being watched.   Whether you can do the job or not won’t matter if you get a skittish HR person minding the gate.  Whether or not it really is a good predictor it won’t matter because you won’t get in the door.

Why it is a problem is that wonderful thing we call a “Herd Mentality”.  You’ve excluded what you consider the “nuts” but you end up looking at people who are just like you.  Since people who write more put themselves out more, those people who tend to will be more likely to be excluded.  In the US, the study found, those people tend to be Women, Black, and Hispanic.  So therefore the assumption is that diversity will be lowered and you’ll end up with a white male in the position.

Great if you’re a white male, but not so great if you are a latina or black woman who happens to be better at whatever the position is for.

So the solution is to self-audit what you post, and periodically go into your Facebook preferences and delete old posting’s audiences.  You can limit the posting’s visibility by going into the Facebook Settings, Privacy tab, and under “Who can see my stuff?” select “Limit Old Postings”.

What that does is to go through all your “old stuff” and limit the view to only your friends.   It doesn’t delete the material, it simply makes it so their friends can’t see them.

Or simply delete your Facebook profile.  If you don’t do social media professionally like I do, it may be your best bet.

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A Field of Yellow Flowers

I have a secret.  Some days, I just walk out the door with the camera in hand thinking I may need this to jar my memory to write.

One of those mornings where I wake up way too early or way to late, and the mind just is clear.  Too clear.  A morning where clarity of thought is so strong that you can hear the winds whistle through the ears.

A mental dial tone of a day.

Stand up to make coffee and breakfast’s first course, and realize that the sun is just now coming up.  Looking out at the pool it’s beginning to rain for the first time in a week.

The dog wants a fish oil tablet as a treat, then the yogurt and cranberry that hasn’t yet been pulled from the refrigerator.  Tea Kettle is whistling to make iced tea for later and coffee for now.

One ounce of grounds weighed, 18 ounces of water, two packets of sweetener, two level teaspoons of creamer yields one perfect mug of coffee.   Remember that kiddies!

By now, anyone who takes pictures regularly has a large library of memories.  A catalog of photography that serves to jar your memory of things that sometimes should be shared, and others that should not.  The trip to the beach where you climbed into the giant conch shell and couldn’t get out easily but got a picture of it as you bent over to retrieve your right shoe comes to mind…

But there’s this picture of little yellow flowers.  What to do with them?  They’re really quite nice, but look like the white ones in the yard that you’re always trying to pull since the seeds get caught in the dog’s fur.  A nice innocuous native species that should be propagated because they do so well with so little care.

Still getting settled into the New-To-Me computer it’s time to fire up Photoshop.  Oh great, the fonts got confused again.  No, using the official font for the road signs in Poland would not quite work with a “softer” picture like this one.  Instead of Drogowskaz, try MV Boli again, it is scripty but not Comic Sans.

Comic Sans.  Shudder.  Let’s make the world look like 1996 again!

Ok, find my color for the stroke, and add the titling.   Hide the URL inside the photo just in case someone got slick and tried to borrow the thing commercially…

There we go, all nice and pretty.   Nice new shiny object for the blog.

They will never suspect that each of those beautiful yellow flowers are smaller than the size of their little pinky and that you managed to feed some more mosquitoes when you went out to take the photo.

Wet nose on the right arm and a wiggle says Pay Attention to Me!  After all, it is all about the dogs, right?

As Rack jolts my head out of the stream of consciousness, my mind jerks back to the present.  That, and the UPS guy just drove past.

Waiting on him… he’s got the fan for my backup computer.  I’ll have to take apart the laptop and do a photo shoot of that.   Most people never even considered that they can do repairs to a desktop, let alone a laptop computer.  That will have to wait for next week when the little box gets here with the smile on the side.  For now, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.  After all, that iced tea is calling and the dial tone just turned into a growler. 

The mind has been off the hook long enough, the stream of consciousness has broken.

Making 4AM Work

4:14 glowers at me from across the room.

Grumble.  Darkness.

4:26

This isn’t working.

4:34

Not going to fall back to sleep am I?

4:36

Feet hit the floor, grab the socks.

Even Rack doesn’t believe I’m up at Insane O’Clock.  He barely looks up at me through the predawn glow. 

I pad to the bathroom with my way lit by dozens of little Power On LEDs on various clocks and power conditioners.

Take care of business.  It’s now 4:45.  May as well get started. 

I walk out of the bedroom and say “Hello Oscar”.  Rack is still laying in his dog bed.  Oscar thinks I’m insane and tells me so.

“Plbtbtbtbtbtbt”.
Just what I need, social commentary from a bird.  “Ok, Oscar, Good morning.”
“Hello!  Plbtbtbtbtbtbt”.

I think Raspberries, I haven’t had them in ages…

I get Rack’s food and water set up for him and try to get him to eat.  He finally sticks a black nose around the corner.  Slowly moves over to the bowl, gives it a single sniff and walks to the front door.

“Hey, I’m over here.”

I get Rack dressed and we walk outside.  Chilly morning.  Should be, I’m up and walking the dog a solid hour earlier than normal.  It isn’t yet 5AM.  I bet the people I see won’t be all that … normal.   Even the gym is closed.

We stop and sniff.  And Sniff.  And Sniff.   Every.  Single. Step.  It seems we’re in a sniffy mood but nothing really happens.  

The nice thing is that it’s quiet.  I mean quiet in a way that it rarely is in South Florida.   I’m just about in the middle of the sprawl of the city and there’s nothing going on.   I hear a van approaching.   It is approaching for so long that I realize I was hearing it before it was even in town. 

The van passes, we get out to The Drive.   The parking lot was unproductive.

The pavement is wet from misdirected irrigation systems.   The sprinkler heads are pointed in strange angles.  I’m That Guy who walks past a sprinkler that is pointing strangely and re-aims it to do some good.  Besides, watering concrete won’t help anyone.

We make it to the middle of the walk before Rack finally wakes up enough to do what he needs to. 

Still silent, the closing of the trash can actually echos off the big apartment building towards our rear.

It is our city.  Mine and the dog’s.   Walking down the middle of the street with nothing to worry us.  Even that strange barky rottweiler in the house on the corner is sleeping when we walk past.

Really, hair trigger dogs need training.  Shaddap dog!

I spot an approaching car far enough off that we manage to get to the side of the street well before we need to and wave.   It’s an unknown officer from our PD – you can’t see who it is in this darkness and I suspect that is how they like it.  It wouldn’t be the first day I see a cop at well before 6 AM in town, I expect them.

The one thing I realize is that all this is going much faster than usual.  The next walk in a bit more than 12 hours will be the 5PM walk.  Same distance could take as long as an hour.  Every dog in the neighborhood is out watering the park at 5:25 PM.  At 5:25AM you have the city to yourself.

I’m so early that I realize I am back home sitting in my chair having had breakfast, sitting coffee, chair dancing to a Brit-pop RnB song played on BFBS that fades into their presenter giving weather forecasts for the British Forces around the world.

18C in Kandahar, 5C in Kabul, and 18C and sunny in Gib.

That’s Gibraltar to us outsiders.  Gib’s chilly tonight, going down to 9C.

Dance Contest in Germany and a pick-up aerobics get together workout in the Falklands.

By the time the sun is up, I’m already getting restless.  The dog has decided that he’ll just finish his sleep.  I’m deciding on a second cup of coffee.

Checking on email, my part for the computer is on its way, two different websites need attention, the newsletter for the month gets started, and I get a part for a project that will let me sell a computer in a couple weeks.

May as well just be productive if you’re up at 4, you never know who you won’t stumble into.

Installing a Backer Rod

Every Home Has Problems.

If you are shopping for a new house, or a new-to-you house, there will be something not quite right.  New homes settle, have nails that will pop out, and doors that could have been sanded a bit better before painting.  

Old homes have problems like mine.

My home’s Achilles heel is the bathtub.   It settled wrong.  Toward the room side of the tub it is flush against the tiles.  Toward the back side of the tub there is a gap of as much as a half of an inch.  More than a Centimeter for the Imperial Measurement Impaired.

I did this exact repair a little more than a year ago.  I was improvising and had a case of Right Church, Wrong Pew.  When I did that, I believe that I used the wrong materiel.  In other words, the vinyl tubing that I used as a Backer Rod did not stick well to the silicon tub caulk.  Over the year it pulled away, water got in, and it “popped” loose.

My own job worked well but not knowing that someone else thought it through before me created this little time bomb.

The Backer Rod is a long cylinder of foam rubber or plastic material.  It is designed to compress and regain its original shape.  It gets packed into a crack or crevasse in the wall and is intended to be caulked over to help create a watertight seal.  Tub Caulk will bond with it because the surface is not smooth.

The way you install it is fairly simple. 

Clean the crevasse of dirt, grime, mold, old caulk, and whatever water may have gotten in there.  It must be absolutely dry.  Caulk will not stick (well) to old caulk.

Begin by pinching the Backer Rod down between your fingers and slide it into the crack that you need to fill.  Push the Backer Rod in the crack using a tool.  While they do have special tools for this, I found myself using my fingers to do most of the work, then a screwdriver to make sure the rod was firmly in place.  The Backer Rod must be snug against the wall and the tub so you will need to select a Backer Rod that is thicker than the largest gap in your repair job.

The surface of the Backer Rod must be behind the surface of the wall facing you.   You do not want the Backer Rod to protrude past the surface of the tiles that are being worked with.

Continue packing the Backer Rod into the crevasse until you have filled the crack down to what you consider a normal gap for caulking.  I used two different thicknesses of Backer Rod to make sure that I filled the entire gap, firmly.  I didn’t want to repeat this in Spring of 2015.

Consider that your caulking job will be “neater” if you use masking tape to cover the area of the tiles that are near where you caulk.  This way you won’t have to use a utility blade or knife to score your “overcaulked” area so that you may have a “nice sharp line” of caulk on the tub.

Once you have installed the Backer Rod, then caulk the area as usual.  Make sure that there are no gaps left after the caulking has completed.  The Backer Rod should grip the wet caulk but it does have a different surface and therefore will hold the caulk differently.

Of course with any home improvement task, your mileage may vary.  Just take your time.  Measure twice and cut once. 

…and most importantly:

You can do it yourself.  If I could do this you certainly could!

The Dog, The Hedge, and My Shoulder

I spend most of my time out following Rack around town.  When someone sees me outside of the house, it’s one of three mile-plus walks.

When you walk around in circles three times a day, you end up seeing things.  Neighbors at the same time and place.  Other dogs.  Stranded snowbirds.  Leftover partiers from last night the bars. 

It’s all a part of living in a resort town within a resort town.  While Fort Lauderdale’s Spring Break heydays are long gone, there’s a definite chilled out atmosphere here. 

We do have a number of routes.  People, and their dogs, are creatures of habit.   Same time tomorrow is a good rule of thumb.  I expect to see the same people.  There’s one person who has a habit or walking past my house with a chihuahua.   He’s notable because his bald head has caught the rising sun of the morning more than once.  Instead of walking his dog, he’s carrying the dog in his left arm.   It is always his left arm, the dog is always upside down, and the dog’s head is usually draped over the crook of that arm lolling around.

Needless to say it’s “That bald guy with the dead dog again!” comes to mind when I see the top of his head bouncing over the top of the laptop screen.

The first walk of the morning starts in the same way most days.

Check the weather conditions to know how to dress.  69F in mid February with not a cloud in the skies, light breezes off the ocean?  T-Shirt and Jeans.  At a quarter to six in the morning, I expect a quiet walk.

Try to coax Rack to eat.  He’s more interested in getting outside.  Parked at the door after he sniffed the bowl, I know it’s going to be a bit of a rush.  I’ll have to call him over about three times before he calms down enough to lasso him with collar and harness.  Silly puppy!

We walk out the door, down the couple of streets and end up in the parking lot.   I wander through the place randomly from tree to tree, in a rough approximation of Brownian Motion.  My being a very large molecule bounced around by a smaller more reactive one in my dog.

Silly mutt, Go Poop.  Go poop… NOW!

Well, that didn’t work!

We make it through the large parking lot disinterested in the open spaces.   Of course.  It’s not private enough.

I’m getting accelerated as he pulls me along.  Luckily I wake up fairly quickly in the predawn hours.   Looking to the skies, Venus is bright and the moon glow casts it’s light on me making shadows on the ground. 

But Rack just still hasn’t found The Place.

I’m getting concerned.  Will he do “it” again?

Yes.

He’s out on The Drive, snuffling around the bases of the hedges.  Doing The Dance, he begins to spiral inward as he spins seeking The Spot.  Pirouetting on a point he drifts behind the shrubs.

Crap!  Literally and figuratively, I think, how on Earth did he do that AGAIN?  Fair enough, I never did like those public restrooms either, but a bashful dog?

Rack has a habit.  Find the smallest spot you can, then go in there.  If you need to do anything do it.

Dog Logic.

The problem is that I don’t fit.  I am an athletic 6’4″ who drives a now “classic” Jeep Wrangler because I don’t fit in a Honda Civic.  Too small a space and I’ll get stuck.

I bend down.  Noticing how perfectly shaped the little hedge is I’m getting pulled out from the hedge by the other arm.  Rack!  SIT!  Dog, you’re insane, we just won’t do it this way again.  Nope!

I wedge myself between the cement of the light pole and the hedge hearing crackling of the limbs and leaves as my arm reaches to clean up after the dog.  Some small bits of plant snapped, I’m now wearing those same leaves and who knows what else on my formerly clean T-Shirt.  There’s a dent in the hedge that is a passable impression of my right shoulder that I hope will “buff out”.

Pulling free, I vow to not allow him to put me in the spot like that again.  On the other hand, he did the dance and found Magnetic North which was entertaining and a bit of a surprise.  Spinning around before moving their bowels, a dog will generally try to align themselves North and South.  How he managed to find himself enough room to spin around in that confined space I have no idea.  McNab Dogs are a talented lot, I just didn’t think orienteering in enclosed areas would be one of those oddball traits.

Now we have a new habit.  Walk on the far side of the sidewalk away from the buildings.  That avoids all the hedges.  My arm is stretched taught toward the building with the dog who really REALLY wants to go, there.

However, that open lot with the tall grass?   Yeah, get back here… awww not again!

Let me get the bag and flashlight out you silly mutt…

So A Blind Man Walks Into A Bar

Talk about a bad joke for bad joke Sunday.  A Short Groaner.

So A Blind Man Walks Into a Bar

The blind man sits down, thinking he’d break the ice with the bartender by asking “Wanna hear a blond joke?”

In a hushed voice, a man beside him says “Before you tell that joke, you should know our bartender IS blonde, or bouncer is blond, I’m a 6’4″ black belt, the man sitting on the other side of me is 6’2, 250lbs, and a rugby player. The guy sitting next to you is pushing 300, 6’6, and he’s a wrestler. We’re ALL blond. So you think about it mister, do you really wanna tell that joke?”

The blind man sat for a second, thinking over the odds and then replied “No, not if I have to explain it five times.”

Terror Alerts – By John Cleese

Talk about a “Guest Post”!  I have been watching the series Fawlty Towers and coincidentally found this bit from John Cleese.  If it’s not for you, I guess you have to like British Humour.

Terror Alerts – By John Cleese

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.”

The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” They only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!”, “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend”, and “The barbie is cancelled.”