29 November 2008

Sleep In Late

It is quite nice to just sleep in late in the middle of a long holiday weekend. It has been a while since I have been able to do so.

I also think being able to wake up slowly, meaning lay in bed half awake for a while, adds to the experience.  I remember waking up slowly often when I was much younger.

Wal-Mart Stampede Kills One in New York

It's happened again and this time it happened in the U.S.  A rowdy, ugly mob of early morning shoppers literally burst through locked glass doors at a Wal-Mart near Queens, New York, on Black Friday. A 34 year old temporary maintenance worker was savagely trampled to death, just hours after enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with family.

Just 15 miles away at another Wal-Mart, another worker was trampled, but not fatally.

21 November 2008

Obama Campaign Logo

Two different newspaper articles here and here involve interviews with the original graphic designer of the Obama 2008 campaign. Sadly, the designer himself has yet to meet the President-elect.

I always felt the Obama 2008 campaign logo was strong and highly symbolic, but the precise colors seemed a bit off to me, as if the blue and red hues chosen were not dark or rich enough for my taste. It seemed that the animated version of the logo (which can be seen at the end of every official campaign video) used darker colors, but the static logo seemed lighter. 

No matter, the highly recognizable logo played its part in the victory of Obama's historic campaign.

20 November 2008

Jobvite Customer Summit

Earlier today, I attended the First Annual Jobvite Customer Summit. The folks from Jobvite did a great job organizing and hosting the event.  We got to meet many of the people from Jobvite, including our account manager, who I'd only spoken with by phone for so many months, but had never met in person before.  We also got to meet many of the other customers of Jobvite.  It was great to see my former colleague there from my former employer, where I had also implemented Jobvite just before I left.

We learned about features in the most recent and upcoming releases, and also was presented the high level product roadmap for 2009. It all looked like good stuff. Jobvite clearly is tracking the market, following tech and social media trends, and listening to its customers.

18 November 2008

Angry Investors Dogpile on Taleo

Taleo Corporation, a major provider of applicant tracking systems and a publicly traded company (NASDAQ:TLEO), is experiencing a figurative dogpiling by investor lawsuits. It has only been a few days since auditors reported questionable practices over the firm's revenue recognition in relation to the completion of professional services as the measure for the delivery of Taleo's software. This matter resulted in the delay of Taleo reporting its quarterly financial results. Since then, law firm after law firm began investigations, with one filing a shareholder class action lawsuit. Taleo is now struggling to stay listed on NASDAQ.

I am no fan of Taleo. When I joined my current employer, I inherited the Taleo Business Edition system already in place. After many weeks of bona fide effort to reconfigure it, adopt its processes, and partner with the vendor, I concluded that Taleo's system was ugly, clunky and buggy, designed for the lowest common denominator customers, and the vendor was lousy to respond to customer problems in a timely or knowledgeable manner, and the pricing structure discouraged company-wide usage. Besides, the hiring managers and my team of recruiters hated Taleo. I was happy to dump Taleo as a vendor.

17 November 2008

Star Trek XI new trailer in HD

The new movie trailer for Star Trek XI is looking pretty good.  Check it out in HD here.  Or watch the low res YouTube version below.

Jobvite Garnering Press Attention

Applicant tracking system vendor, Jobvite, with whom I am a customer of at my workplace, has been garnering some public relations attention recently.

The September 2008 issue of Workforce Management Online included this article by Michelle Rafter, in which the new executives hired from Yahoo! HotJobs and the many competitors faced by Jobvite are mentioned.

Minority Report 3D virtual reality user interface was real

This is both cool and geeky. Check it out. As reported on CrunchGear.

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

16 November 2008

Monster.com Rebuilding

Cheezhead reports: Monster.com hoping to ‘reinvent’ industry

Monster’s user interface has been so bad for so long, and their usage stats relative to other job boards have lagged, and now they are run by folks who come from outside the HR recruiting space… I am not holding my breath for any new site release.

It's possible there will be a pleasant surprise on 10 January 2009 with their rebuilt user interface, but I really doubt it will be good enough to stop their slide down in the fast changing job posting - career site market. If they are spending all their effort on just the applicant experience, then they are ignoring who pays the bills, the subscribing employers, who have suffered for a decade with an awful user interface.

Orowheat Breads Stops Using HFCS

I just noticed that Orowheat brand bread, which is widely available in supermarkets in the San Francisco Bay Area, has recently stopped using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a key ingredient.  For years, I ate Orowheat bread, but then I stopped when I realized HFCS was a commonly used ingredient in its various bread varieties, except for its organic specialty breads. I am glad to see Orowheat has responded to market pressures to stop using the nasty stuff.

The product labeling highlights both the omission of HFCS as well as the now popular claim of "0 grams trans fat".  I actually don't recall if partially hydrogenated oil was in the ingredients list in the past.  I'll guess it was and now it too is gone due to market pressures.

I would suspect there are still other questionable ingredients involved, given the likely need for a major brand to keep production costs down, but for now, we'll count this as a big win for the elimination of HFCS and trans fats from store shelves.

14 November 2008

Morford: Detroit must die. AGREED.

Mark Morford of SF Gate, in his Notes & Errata column today, wrote "Detroit must die: American cars are still uniformly god-awful. Why save them?"  There is no reason to save them.

The Big 3 American auto makers AND the entire supply chain that supported all the ugly gas guzzlers for decades are hardly economic victims any more than any other industry. 

There is no justifiable reason for the government to throw good money after bad in a bailout. There is no realistic chance that a bailout now will do anything but merely delay an inevitable deserved demise of these environmentally irresponsible institutions. 

Detroit has been in steep decline for decades with no chance for a forseeable turnaround by the traditional auto industry. The government should use the money to fund R&D for startups to innovate, thrive, and hire the best talent, without the Big 3 in the way.

Civil Rights Groups Petition California Supreme Court to Stop Enactment of Proposition 8

Keith Kamisugi of the Equal Justice Society has published a press release describing how multiple civil rights groups are petitioning the California Supreme Court to stop the enactment of Proposition 8.

Put simply, the constitutional law of equal protection strongly trumps any simple majority vote which intends to strip away rights from a minority group.

The idea of civil unions with all the same rights but without the governmental recognition of the word "marriage" for same-sex couples smacks of the "separate but equal" racial divisiveness from decades past. 

Protecting equality is of far greater concern than any rhetorically weak notion of "protecting" marriage.

Home Videos of CNN Obama Win Moment

CNN's AC360 blog entry briefly recounts their election night experience and, more importantly, links to an independent blog that is compiling home videos from around the world with crowds cheering the moment CNN announces Obama as the President-elect.

Very nice.


11 November 2008

Obama Made A Promise to President Carter

Multiple Junk Mail From Farmers Insurance

We are getting deluged with multiple pieces of junk mail, the paper snail mail kind, from Farmers Insurance agents. Each piece of junk mail looks a bit different: some are post cards with varying designs, some are letters in envelopes, and each has a different agent's name (each claiming to be our neighborhood's agent), and each destination address is slightly different, with either different spellings of our names, or the address is expressed slightly different, including the 9 digit zip code showing some variations.

The disappointing thing is that we have been on do-not-mail lists for nearly a year and the junk mail in general has greatly subsided, until now. Obviously, Farmers Insurance has purchased some rather dubious marketing mailing lists and gone ahead and spammed at least the city of Belmont with repetitive and nearly duplicate junk mail. It's not cool. If we continue to get more of this junk mail, I may file a complaint.

Insurance agents are pretty slimy, eh? I buy my few, necessary policies online.

10 November 2008

50 HR Blogs

Alisa Miller of BSchool.com just published a nice current roundup of 50 HR blogs, including a handful of recruitment related blogs. A great way to catch up on the very latest thoughts in the HR space.

Finally! Something to take up all my excessive free time.


09 November 2008

Why Obama's Victory Speech Remain Subdued

Bob Schieffer of CBS Face The Nation helps explain why Obama's election night victory speech was not one of his usual soaring and intense oratories, but an intended measure of restraint, as was exercised throughout the campaign.

08 November 2008

Mistaken Email Address Or First Stage of Identity Theft?

Yesterday, somebody using my first name and last name, and an email address extremely similar to one of my personal email addresses, registered onto a web based food delivery service. Whoever it was then proceeded to order two dishes from a Thai restaurant.

I know all this because for some reason, I received the email confirmations for the delivery service registration and the Thai food order (which I presume was delivered to and paid for by the original registrant).  Strangely, while the email address registered was not exactly my email address, I have since learned and repeatedly confirmed that my email provider resolves that particular address to mine.  All this was apparently possible because the delivery service registration process does not include an email address confirmation step.

Brightkite or Loopt?

I am just starting to decide whether I want to use either Brightkite or Loopt as my primary GPS iPhone 3G powered location specific social network.

Brightkite seems to have the most buzz right now with its integration with mobile Twitter. It is designed to be compatible with most cellphones, even older ones. But in order to do that, it somehow relies on built in text messaging, which for me means it could impact my iPhone's AT&T account allowance limit on SMS messages.

06 November 2008

Significance of Obama's Election

The news media has been focused for the past 36 hours on how Barack Obama is now the first elected African American president-elect. There have been lots of quotes from African Americans who exclaim how they never expected to see this in their lifetimes. I am pleased to witness this momentous occasion. However, I think the news media is missing the mark slightly.

For at least a week before the election, it was quite clear based on all reputable polls that Obama was significantly ahead. The news media was forced to portray the McCain campaign as still competitive for sake of keeping up ratings, along with covering the last ditch effort by the GOP.

Fantastic, Pivotal Victory Speech

Awe-inspiring, utterly historic, election victory speech by President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago.

This embedded video is the entire speech, from one fixed camera.

I watched with great pride as an American. I held my wife's hand while experiencing this great moment. We have restored HOPE.


05 November 2008

We Dodged a Bullet

The election is completely over and the vice presidential candidacy of Sarah Palin is now completely nonviable.

What's interesting is that the news media is diving head first into previously embargoed information from campaign sources about how badly Palin got along with the McCain campaign, and how much of a dummy she really was.  Those early weeks when Palin was held back from the media was clearly the best decision, because she would have caused immense damage to the McCain campaign.

Word is leaking out now that Palin did not know what countries are covered by NAFTA (that would be Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), and she didn't know that Africa was a continent as opposed to a single country.  

Other reports indicate her fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment's rights to free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association, wrongly assuming the First Amendment is degraded when a public official, such as herself, is criticized by the media, when they attacked her for questioning Obama's associations with questionable individuals.

It has now leaked that Palin was prepped for her first media interview with Charlie Gibson, but refused to be prepped for the interview with Katie Couric.  Her lack of preparation totally showed. Palin's non-answer to Couric's question about what newspapers and magazines she reads to shape her world view now makes a lot of sense.  She obviously didn't read any.

Also leaking now is Palin going on shopping sprees for herself and her husband using funds from a major donor, as well as credit cards from campaign underlings, who now want to be reimbursed.  All this spending was far beyond the already reported $150,000 spent by the RNC.

McCain made a huge  gamble in picking Palin without properly vetting her, and he simply lost. Most Americans sensed this already, but the truth is coming out now.

We certainly dodged a bullet, that of a Sarah Palin vice presidency.

She is being treated as a scapegoat now.  And, in my opinion, she has little chance of re-emerging as a national candidate in future.

LinkedIn Layoffs

TechCrunch has just reported that LinkedIn "will be cutting 36 of 370 employees, or around 10% of the company." These days, it's not a surprise. As a customer of LinkedIn, I have a slightly concern about LinkedIn's financial health, but I don't feel that they are about to go out of business. Obviously, it's a tough world for VC backed startups right now.

My speculation is that since the bulk of their revenue is from companies which are recruiting, the number of such employers willing to renew their job postings and search subscriptions are probably starting to drop. LinkedIn would presumably start cutting back on customer service people, perhaps on some sales and marketing folks, and any dead weight. Every company has at least 5% dead weight amongst the staff.

In HR, we have a saying, "there is such a thing as good attrition."

04 November 2008

Holding Breath for Prop 8 Results

Initial results from just 30% of California precincts show Prop 8 winning by 53.1% of the vote. CNN exit polls predict Prop 8 will lose with just 48%. Let's wait and see.

The big hope is that the more rural precincts have tabulated their votes first, while the bigger, more urban precincts will report later in the night.

Hopefully, that means Prop 8 will eventually be defeated. We'll see.

The TV is turned off.

Thank You John McCain

I have great respect for John McCain's service to the United States. He is an honorable man, a brave soldier and POW, and an accomplished senator.

His campaign clearly was not honorable in many ways, but given he faced such a gigantic tidal wave of a political opponent from Obama's campaign, McCain's campaign was forced to take chances. Unfortunately for McCain, his campaign came across as erratic, rather than risk taking.

McCain will still serve as Arizona's senator and one of the most powerful members of the Senate for another two years.  He will continue to serve this great country.  The United States is certainly better off with McCain as senator and even as a presidential candidate.

I just wanted to mention here a side note.  CNN is doing a pretty good job.  We are watching CNN exclusively tonight.  The hologram gimmick is pretty worthless, and I'm convinced CNN is more committed to being an entertainment channel over being a news channel.


I am absolutely thrilled that Obama has been elected President of the United States!!!  CNN has just called the election for Obama the moment the polls officially closed for California, Oregon, and Washington.

This is a momentous occasion.  It's great to be alive to witness these events, to experience it with my wife.  Clearly, an historic event.

I don't have anything deep to express, just to document my joy, my hope, my feelings.

McCain is giving his concession speech right now and I'll pay attention.

Next big moment will be Obama's acceptance speech.

My New Favorite Breakfast

I discovered my new favorite breakfast. 

It doesn't sound so good in words, but it was delicious. 

It's the "meatless soyrizo scramble" with eggs, corn, green onions, a soy substitute version of chorizo (normally a greasy, spicy Mexican sausage meat often served as a crumbled meat), melted pepperjack cheese, with spicy black beans on the side (instead of hash browns as specified in the menu), and my choice of light rye toast, plus a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Emeryville.

02 November 2008

Even Racists Voting for Obama

James Hannaham of salon.com writes how racism not only continues in America, but is revealed to be complex and flexible, when people are faced with the prospect of voting for or against Obama with a multitude of interests in mind.

I find the article interesting, enlightening, and fairly agreeable to my views of how racism seems to operate in America.

One bit of semantics which could help with understanding all this is a definition which I learned while attending a special multiculturalism workshop as an undergrad at UC Berkeley.  An African American friend of mine at the time, also of mixed heritage, succinctly pointed out, "Racism is prejudice plus power."  

Perhaps the two most important inferences from that definition is that prejudice and racism are not exactly the same, and that racism is far more than thoughts and biases, but when actions are taken based on those thoughts and biases which negatively impact another. This could happen consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or inadvertently.

And, perhaps further, it is then easy enough to say that even highly prejudiced people can and do still choose to vote for Obama by applying the power of their vote based on far more than a singular bias.  Racists in other areas of their lives, but for a brief moment in the polling booth.

The Growing Irrelevance of the Culture Wars

Peter Beinart of the Washington Post focuses on how Sarah Palin is "Last of the Culture Warriors" as a beacon of how the culture wars are growing in irrelevance.  A really good read and a striking perspective of how times really are changing.  The brief history lesson of the parallels to the 1920s and 1960s are fascinating.

Eating Thanksgiving

I've had the privilege to cook the family Thanksgiving dinner for at least the last 15 years. I always target the serving time for 6:00 P.M. because I was raised with the idea that Thanksgiving dinner is served at dinner time.

Over the years, I've learned that many other people serve and eat their traditional Thanksgiving dinner much earlier in the day, as early as 2:00 P.M., some even earlier at 1:00 P.M. or even 12:00 Noon. Others at 3:00 P.M. or 4:00 P.M.

I've wondered for a long time why such a discrepancy in the tradition among families.  There was one year, 1999, when I asked as many people as I could why some people ate earlier in the day. Most could only state that it was the way it was.  That's their family tradition and that's it. A few would mention something about taking the full afternoon to eat the large meal.

I had my own private theory that since senior citizens tend to eat dinner earlier than others, and Thanksgiving often included celebrating with seniors, that the roast turkey was served early for their sake.  But that would only explain a serving time as early as 4:00 P.M., not 1:00 P.M.

I've heard some people actually take advantage of this discrepancy, allowing them to attend two or more Thanksgiving celebrations, in which one party's meal was served early, while subsequent parties' meals were served later.

A quick search on Yahoo! Answers reveals similar questions posed by people, asking others when they serve and eat.  Interestingly, most people seem to answer 2:00 P.M. or earlier, and a few people point to the advantage of completing the meal early, so they could either watch nationally televised football games (Army vs Navy, or Detroit Lions), or go toss their own football, or enjoy a walk with the remaining daylight.  Some mentioned the practice of serving the turkey early in the afternoon and then serving the dessert, typically pie, in the evening.

Having been the Thanksgiving cook for so long, I usually experience the day as an opportunity to flex my cooking skills and also a cathartic break from my hectic career oriented life. An evening serving time allowed for most of the daytime to anticipated and enjoyed food preparation.

Switching to a high temperature roasting method some 7 years ago did reduce the turkey cooking time significantly, as did the shrinking of the number of relatives attending a few years ago, but the annual tradition of cooking has always been something I've looked forward to.

So, what time do you usually serve/eat Thanksgiving Dinner, and why?