Perhaps they learned a few things along the way. I’m pointing out that Tesla focuses on cars, Uber focuses on transportation, and Google focuses on technology, while Apple focuses on experiences. But I doubt Apple ever viewed Nokia that way, because they never saw Nokia as pdf reader for symbian s60v5 in the personal computing business.

What if they hired carpenters they way they hire programmers? It’s a complaint without a solution. I’ve never met anyone in the software industry who is happy with the hiring process, and that includes everyone who’s designed the process. There’s always a terrific slight of hand going on when software developers try to draw analogies to other fields. Blue-collar credentials and being treated like a unique, creative, and highly-paid professional just aren’t compatible. Of course, there are carpenters who are creative craftsmen of the first order. Those aren’t the guys you’re going to bend over backwards to hire to frame your walls.

The interviewee is worse than the interviewer. So, you’re a carpenter, are you? How long have you been doing it? What kind of work have you been doing? Tell me about some of your favorite projects. First of all, we’re working in a subdivision building a lot of brown houses.

Have you built a lot of brown houses before? I don’t see a lot of brown paint in the world. There is, however, a lot of brown stain, and brown shingling, and brown brick. And all those kinds of brown would seem to be of major interest to a carpenter: if something is being stained instead of painted then I’d think that would affect the choice of wood.

Questions like this are exactly how a good interviewer separates a blinkered newbie from an expert with perspective. If you’re building a software library that will be called by a UI, then responsiveness matters. If you’re writing an order processing system open to the public, then you need to consider denial-of-service issues. If the overall software system will be distributed, then the architecture needs to take rollout into consideration.

Have you worked much with walnut? In this hypothetical, we’re talking about a job building houses. Houses are most commonly built using platform framing of stud walls made from spruce, pine, or fir. Walnut is an expensive hard wood. If a programmer walked into an interview and gave answers this evasive about how many projects he’d done in Java, he’d be an obvious no-hire. We can argue about the extent to which an employer should balance hiring for existing skills and hiring for potential to learn, but you can’t claim the latter unless you can point to prior success at learning new skills.

The punchline is not a joke. The punchline is that the interviewer hires a car salesman who’d sold brown cars with walnut interiors. I’m with the interviewer on this one. Our hypothetical carpenter was effectively arguing that even if he’d only ever hammered together pine stud walls he could easily learn to do finish carpentry with walnut for a client very particular about his browns. The whole anecdote smacks of entitlement.

Posted Friday, 23 January 2015 The costumes may change, but my 2011 commentary remains remarkably relevant. Best national theme winner: Germany A wall! Loser: France Throwing on a beret does not a national theme make. Loser: Gabon This is what I expected a tree theme to look like. Honorable mention: Slovenia Lost the award with those shredded arms. Lucia Disqualified for actually turning me on. And for hedging her bets by qualifying for the hat-hobbling category.

Serbia Could we be witnessing the start of a generation-long leadup to contention in the hat-hobbling category? No national character winner: still Belgium Any country on earth could have gone with this. And lack of arms doesn’t count as character. Actually kind of nice winner: Haiti Overall hotness trumps the cheesy leaves. Runner-up: India More nudity going on here than you notice at first glance. A little more skin next year and you’ve got a chance, Kazakhstan. I don’t think we’re wired very well to reason about outcomes that result from many different inputs.

My experience is that most people have a natural intuition that every event can be traced back to a prior event that caused it. What is notable is that we are biased to think in terms of a single prior event as a cause. When there is a scandal or disaster we immediately try to find a villain. Inevitably the media seizes upon a single person, or a cohesive group all of whom are described as conspiring together to cause the event. In addition to this, we seem to naturally want to mark people as either responsible or not responsible for some outcome, with little space for gradations of responsibility.

It should go without saying that such an intuitive model is fundamentally wrong—every event has many causes, and responsibility for an outcome is shared by many people whose choices led to that outcome—but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Religion, our legal system, and Freudian analysis all seem to be built upon the assumption of single causes. I can’t pretend I don’t have my own expectations on the matter. My main problem with creationism is not religious, but intellectual. Saying that complex intelligent creatures were created by another complex intelligent creature is no more interesting than explaining that people give birth to other people. I’m explicitly addressing personal income here. Given that employee salaries are not taxed as profit, any connection between tax on profits and hiring by businesses is much less direct.