Time for a move

On a personal note, I’d like to announce that I’ll be moving back to Toronto at the end of the week.  I’ve been living and working in Cork Ireland for the past year to get a little european culture, but my wife and I feel that it is the right time cut our adventure a little short.  We’ve met a lot a great people here, and we’ll miss them all dearly.

I’ll be working from home when I come back for a while, so hopefully I’ll have more time to update my blog with more random thoughts.

Thanks to everyone in Cork who made our brief stay fantastic!

SOLR AND/OR Boolean Operators & DisMax

I had a problem with our search service.  SOLR was doing a great job with retrieving search results, but with over 300,000 it was hard to really narrow down specific results.  With most search engines they’ve solved this by using operators like AND/OR/NOT, and while SOLR support these, it seems to disappear when you enable dismax.  

Unfortunately, this made the Drupal apachesolr installation incompatible with the AND/OR operators.  But, almost always with SOLR, I found a solution.  Setting the “minimum should match” (mm) parameter to 1 enabled AND/OR operators seemed to do the trick.  (NOTE: Please test your results before setting this live- there might be some unwanted side-effects)

When testing AND/OR I found it confusing until I read a great article explaining how the AND/OR system works.  By using AND/OR you are actually just identify text as being REQUIRED or OPTIONAL.  I was first confusing by the results with this search query:

java AND  (cork OR dublin)

What I’m asking for here is to find all results that must contain java in cork or dublin.  This won’t work.  Use:

java AND ( OR cork OR dublin)

This will properly identify cork and dublin as being optional.

Will Recruitment Fees Change the Economy?

Would you like to save $20,000? Try Googling my name.

People try to put their best foot forward when trying to get a job. They spend hours preparing a resume, they practice interviewing in the mirror, and they always try to give a good handshake. What happens though when the most important place you need to impress an employer is your presence online?

I’ve tried to create a good online presence and build a personal brand. If someone wants search for me I want to make sure that they find what I want them to find. A friend pointed me to a post on slashdot about a guy who has the same name as a pedophile, who happens to live in the same city. He is obviously worried it was affecting his job search.  He could have fixed this if he was more on top of his personal PR. (What was really funny was that some people didn’t think HR did background checks using the internet… they do folks!)

I also want to make sure an employer knows that I’m dedicated to my work, and that there is more depth to me than work experience or certificates. Does this give me an advantage? I like to think so, but I’ve have people disagree with me.

Let’s assume that I’m right. When I apply for a job I immediately stand out and get the job. Since this works it catches on, and companies start looking for online profiles for applicants. It becomes a standard, like the paper resume before it.

Not convinced? What if I tell you that having online resumes cuts out the need for recruiters.

Recruiters do the grunt work of interviewing candidates and usually are great at finding the highest quality employees to fill positions. Companies can do this themselves, but it just takes too long and they don’t have the resources. Now lets Google me again. I bet you can find more information about me from Google in 10 minutes than you could giving me an all day interview. The middleman, and $20,000 dollars, is cut out. Do you still think companies won’t look for this type of content?

That’s great but how does this effect the economy other than saving a few million? Well what would be the knock-on effect of companies demanding compelling and professional online profiles? I’m not talking about a 100% complete LinkedIn profile, but a living, breathing record of you day-to-day professional activities.

In the future, even if I’m not looking for a job, I will be recording and sharing my professional career. I will be involved in online discussions about the future of Facebook, I will be sharing that interesting article in the Times about cloud computing, and I will try and be active in that Drupal group. Why? Because its great for networking, its the best way to learn about my profession, and I know I’ll have to be looking for a job one day.

I can easily say that I am 100% more knowledgeable about my industry than I was a year ago because of this. That makes me probably that much more efficient at my job. What if everyone started doing this! The increase in productivity would be incredible.

I know what your thinking, but this isn’t restricted to just the technology industry, it just starts there.

Some would say working more is a bad thing, but they are the people who don’t love their jobs. What do you think?

Can Facebook achieve one-sized-fits-all?

I don’t use Facebook very often because my wife takes care of most of my social going-ons.  A trend she has noticed lately is that a lot of her friends are masking their real names, like using their middle names instead of their last names.  Why? Because they are afraid that the wrong type of people will find them.

When companies use Facebook to vet candidates, and parents make friends with their teenage children, does Facebook permissioning need a re-think?

More and more people are seriously taking a look at what they are putting out on the internet.  Those drunken photos of your last party could come back to bit you.  If you think about it though, this was Facebook’s bread and butter since they started, and like I’ve said before, Facebook is a gossip site.  What happens when all the juicy stuff goes somewhere else?

Why Use Twitter?

I’ve read a few things on Twitter/Friendfeed being the next big thing in search.  I haven’t been the best Friendfeed user, mostly because I have no Friendfeed friends, but the more I look at it the more I want to use it.  (I’m actively trying to persuade my friends to start using the service, but to no avail.)

However, I’ve never, ever, used Twitter.  I just can’t get into it.  I have to either go to the twitter site or download a program to post, and honestly I have to many sites already to visit and too many applications already running on my PC.  Call me a “out of touch”, but I just can’t seem to “get it”.

I was poking around and just set up my Friendfeed with gTalk.  It seems to do exactly what Twitter does, but I can just use my gmail like I always do!  It also doesn’t broadcast my status to everyone and keeps it in my friend circle (relatively).

This is a good alternative for people who are a little uncomfortable with having their micro-blogs broadcasted to the world for applications to use, but  you could also say it is in complete contrast with the Twitterology of open communication.

I think I’ll warm up with this feature and maybe dip my toes into Twitter later on.