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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mama Said...

My mom always said to evaluate a person based on important criteria and not just their “bells and whistles.” And like most girls, I hardly ever listen to anything my mom says.

Recently, I was going through one of my journals and I found an entry I wrote about an ex boyfriend right when we began our fleeting, ill-thought-out romance. I almost always find myself funny to begin with, but this entry was particularly amusing to me, because like any smitten girl, I itemized every great thing about said ex and didn’t really pay attention to the qualities that actually mattered, like stability, dependability, character, good heart, etc. Instead, I focused on this boy’s love of Scrabble (yes, I’m serious) and love of History. Clearly, to any objective person, this is absolutely ridiculous, but when you are caught up in the moment, it is easy(easier?) to focus on the wrong and less important qualities. Because I have the most self deprecating sense of humor that I know, I’ve decided to include every lame quality that made its way into my, “Wow, this guy hung the moon!” entry. Laugh away...or just feel bad for me. That works, too.

1) Sense of humor (ok, so this is actually important)
2) He can cook! (But if he is a dbag, who really cares?)
3)Country music (Really, Megan?? Just, really.)
4) Well read and we read the same things
5) History nerd
6) Loves dogs (This is actually a must, as I’m pretty much obsessed with my Lab.)
7) Outgoing
8) Goofy (I’d like to retract this one, actually.)
9) Good chemistry (When the kid would actually make an effort.)
10) Comes from a good family.
11) Likes the outdoors. (Though he never really left my couch...)
12) Has friends. (I don’t like em’ anti-social.)
13) Thoughtful. (Um, yeah. Not so much.)
14) Common interests. (We both realllly liked him.)
15) Wants a family one day.
16) Can trust my feelings with him. (That went out the window almost as quickly as it got added to the list.)
17) Loves Scrabble. (What can I say? The English language makes me hot.)

So, as you can see, I pretty much paid no attention to the fact that when it got down to basics, I didn’t take the time to evaluate whether or not this guy was actually a good person. I’m not saying that he isn’t of course, (except maybe I kind of am??), I was just more focused on his love of Salinger than I was on his ability to be honest, have integrity, and just be respectful. Granted, I was head over heels, so I just assumed he possessed the more important traits, too, and didn’t really take the time to listen to my gut. Big mistake.

Now, I bet you are wondering why I am writing this? Am I really that bitter? (Well maybe a little, but mainly I’m just inspired.) When I was reading this list, I couldn’t help but think, “Damn, Megan, you are freakin’ retarded!”...and, “Damn, Megan, this is actually pretty applicable to job seekers, too.”

I put out a few Tweets yesterday asking people, “Candidates, I'm curious:What is the most important factor for you when switching #jobs? Money,culture,opportunity,title?” While I got a few responses back that were well thought out and objective, I also got some that surprised me that focused on the actual amenities of a company. One person sent me a DM and told me they would never work at a company again that didn’t have a ping pong table. Another person was very passionate about working for a company that kept a fridge stocked with beer (though, I kind of agree that would be pretty awesome.) Next on the list was money. Barely anyone chose culture, opportunity, or team as their first pick.

Now, like most people, I can totally see the appeal of working for a company that lets you goof off, smack ping pong balls around, drink yourself silly, and just generally act like you are 21 again. I’d say I pray to go back to my early 20’s almost daily so I get it. What I don’t get is why nobody said anything about working with nice people. Most people spend more time with their coworkers than they do their actual family so I’d imagine that should fall pretty high on the list. After all, what good is the beer, ping pong, water cooler that pours your water and gets you off at the same time, and figurative work-circus, if you work with a bunch of jackasses?

So, you see, just like dating, you have to set your priorities and focus on the big picture. If you have nonnegotiables, don’t just brush them aside because you are mesmerized by the temporary glimmer of something (or someone) “cool”...because, like clockwork, that ping pong table is going to break, those home-cooked meals are going to get old, and you are going to wake up and realize that you wasted time on something that wasn’t at all the right fit...and then, if you are anything like me, you’ll get the, “Told ya so!” call from your mom.

By the way, even though the aforementioned relationship didn't work out and I have since revamped my list, a love of Labradors and Scrabble is still mandatory for me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Faking It: You Are Only Hurting Yourself

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Whoever coined the expression, "Fake it til' you make it." should be punched in the face. While I understand the basic idea is to encourage a person to be confident and go after what they want (...I guess???), faking it, in general, is about the dumbest thing a person can do. While it might get you ahead for about a nanosecond, more often that not, you end up worse off than you started. (Ashley Simpson, Jake Pavelka,are your ears burning?)

Whenever I think about the topic of "faking it", one of the first things that comes to mind is one of my early college relationships. Because I'm not completely cruel, I'll refrain from listing this dude's name, but let me just tell you, I thought he was awesome (so awesome, I had my dad wire me money to buy him at a fraternity auction, but that's an entirely different blog entry). In any event, I had admired Mr. College Dream Lover for a good semester (and for a spastic, awkward college girl, that is a LONG time) and he finally gave me the time of day when we just happened to take the same elevator (Thank you, stars, for aligning!). I pushed a few buttons to floors where I was not getting off (enter awkwardness) so he had to talk to me for a few minutes. In the two minutes or so we rode the elevator together I managed to learn that he was a diehard Tupac fan, Jewish (pretty much a requirement for me), and a vegetarian. While I was already very well versed in everything Jewish (thank you, South Florida upbringing!), I freaking hated rap and, being a former fat kid, loved to eat, meat especially. Needless to say, I was instantly smitten after our special ride...and was surprised to find out that he actually kind of liked me, too. Within a week, he asked me out on a sweet little college date and we went to Fleming's, one of the best steakhouses around (ever).

Now, ask me what I ordered. (Blog audience: "What did you order, Megan?")

I ordered a freakin' salad. And, while it was the best salad that Fleming's could prepare, it was still lettuce...overpriced, stupid,lettuce. As I sat there and ate my lettuce (and pretended it was the best romaine I've ever had), I was secretly having intimate relations with every rib eye and filet around me. But, alas, this boy was hot so I muscled through it.

And then I started talking about my love for hip hop. And I might have made up some BS about being on a hip hop dance team in highschool. (For the record, the only "team" I was on in high school, other than soccer, was the Scrabble team.)

But, for a while, my faking it TOTALLY worked. This kid was all about me. We turned into a hot little item and would spend lazy Sundays feasting on tofu and lettuce, all while reading CD jackets and analyzing deep rap lyrics. Anyway, this went on for about four months or so until one day when I cracked. I'm not sure what made me crack, but I couldn't listen to another "beat" and all I wanted was a damn steak. So, because I have a natural flair for drama, I stormed over to his dorm room, told him I hated rap and that I hated lettuce and that I couldn't possible see how we'd work.

And then I drove to Texas De Brasil and ate all the meat I could consume. I was there for three hours-just me and my little red light/green light "keep feeding my fat ass" meat card and I left fat, happy, pants unbuttoned, and single.

Ever since, I've turned my back on faking it, because, while it did score me the coveted hot guy for about a season, I had to sacrifice things I really liked in the process and after it was all said and done, I wasted time on something that was not a fit for me.

Job searches are the same way. (Oh come on, you knew I was somehow heading in this direction, right??)

As a recruiter, I can completely understand a person's desperation to get a job, particularly if you are unemployed or stuck in a really crappy environment (I've been there!). I see it all the time, and while it is frustrating for me to sift through the BS, I get it. I can understand how it is reasonable to think that by inflating one area of expertise (or completely lying about it à la me and my flirtation with Tupac) seems like a good idea, because, well, you can always learn to do it...right? I can understand how a candidate can think that it isn't a big deal to list that they have five years of ad hoc reports experience versus the real one year that they do have. But, in the four years I've been in technical recruiting, I've never see it pay off for a candidate.

More often than not, inflating your background WILL get you submitted (after all, recruiters can only spot check so much), maybe an interview (maybe)...and then nothing else (other than laughed at and then yelled at by your recruiter). In all seriousness, if your recruiter doesn't catch you whoever ends up interviewing you will. This is why I tell all of my candidates to not put something on their résumé they do not want to get GRILLED about in an interview.
(Managers love nothing more than to ask you about that two-week contract you held sixteen years ago; unless you want to be put on the spot about something you have no recollection of, don't list it.)

Now, if you are the candidate that does manage to score the job based on BS, well, kudos to you. But don't count on it lasting. I think I've only seen one candidate manage to get this far...and he got canned within one month. He interviewed beautifully, literally got an offer off of a phone screen in less than 24 hours...and then completely tanked. Talking the talk is only half of the equation. If you can't actually do the work you might as well pack your desk now because your chances of actually succeeding are about as likely as me shaking it in the next Chingy video...not going to happen.

Inflating your skill set is only one way to fake it. Not being honest about the type of environment you prefer, your desired rate, work life balance, etc. all fall into the same category. "Yes'ing" someone just to get a job never pans out. I always ask my candidates when I first meet them to be completely honest with me; if you don't want to work for a startup just say so. If I'm offering a rate of $50.00 an hour and you really want $55.00...just tell me. As a recruiter, at the end of the day, all I want to do is help job seekers. When a candidate withholds information from me, intentional or not, I am not able to do my job and it results in a big freakin' epic fail.

...and this girl does NOT like to fail.

So, kids, the moral of today's post is pretty clear (or at least, I hope so). Faking it is lame. While it might pay off in the short-term and you might score a couple of hot dates with the vegetarian, Jewish thug in your dorm, it won't work. Eventually everything surfaces and you just want to abandon the rap, listen to a chill jam band, and eat a steak...or get a job that is actually a match for your background and preferences. So, quit while you are ahead. As boring as it can be to be honest, it really is the better way to go. So, when you hear some jackass say, "Fake it til' you make it!", just know, that they are, in fact, faking it, too.

And then feel free to punch them in the head for giving crappy advice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Hot Chick Named Evo

So, I’ve been meaning to update the blog for a good while now with no success. Besides being beyond swamped, I’ve really been toying with what to write about. I feel like I have a backlog of freakish candidate stories that I need to write, plenty of more stuff to make fun of my mom for (as she is a cornucopia of technology-related stupidity)…and then I have this little gadget called the Evo (I’m sure maybe a few of you have heard of it…) that I wanted to write about, too. I’ve been dying to write a review (from a “normal” person’s point of view) on the Evo but I was completely stumped with the approach I wanted to take. For those that know me, know I hate doing anything “by the books” and if there isn’t an opportunity for me to make fun of something/someone, I’m typically not too jazzed to do it. So, for a few weeks, I’ve been completely S.O.L.

The fact that I even got an Evo is hard to believe. Not because I doubt the Droid platform, mind you, butbecause I am friggin’ lazy and for the past three years, I have been walking around with the old school phone from Saved By The Bell (ok, so it wasn’t that bad…but it was a Treo 700p so….). It became the running joke in my little technology circle that I couldn’t call myself a true geek because my phone was so incredibly lame. Not only was it old, it was heavy, it was slow, the browsing capabilities SUCKED, the camera (1.3 megapixel) was almost as bad as a disposable, and honestly, it was just embarrassing to be seen with. There were several times where I almost upgraded (and joined the 21st century) but being the impatient person that I am, I always got ticked off at Sprint and hung up on them, leaving me with the brick once again. I finally had my mobile epiphany when I was sitting on BART. I was tinkering around on my ridiculously large phone and I just looked down….and realized that my phone could seriously double for the handset for a remote control car. At that moment, I had a breakdown. I quickly crammed that damn phone in my purse, mentally broke up with it, and placed my order for the new Droid, my sweet little Evo, the next day. Now, I still had to wait a month to get it, but words cannot describe the feeling of freedom that washed over me (similar to my divorce, but WAY better) when I knew my days with the Treo were numbered.

Life after Treo has been interesting and for the most part, pretty decent. There are a few times it gets a little mouthy and wants to do its own thing (AKA freeze), the battery life isn’t the hottest thing around, and the front-facing camera is a little awkward (especially when you love to take pictures of yourself like me), but other than that, I have been pretty happy with our sexy mobile love affair.

That is, until, I took the Evo on its very first vacation to Crater Lake and it started to act like a complete jerk. I knew ahead of time I wasn’t going to have cell reception but I brought the Evo anyway because I was dying to really test out the camera (8 megapixels) and take pictures. Our trip started out good enough and for the first 12 hours of so; the Evo seemed to be enjoying its time in the wilderness. It was gracious enough to let me take picture after picture, take a quick little video, and really get to know its media capabilities (which are great). We explored the area for the first day and settled into our campsite at night and sat down in front of the fire to review our pictures from the first day…and that is when crap hit the fan. Maybe the Evo was cranky, maybe it was tired, hungry, or just didn’t like all of the mosquitoes, but it threw a mobile tantrum. Not only would the Evo not let me view my pictures, when I finally did get it to work (after restarting seven freakin’ times), it had completely rearranged my pictures so I had no earthly idea what we were looking at and when they were taken. This craptastic behavior lasted the entire evening…and really set the tone for the entire trip.

We went for a hike the following day to the highest peak in all of Crater Lake and the views were amazing; unfortunately the Evo didn’t really want to capture them consistently. In order to take a picture, I had to take the picture (sometimes I got lucky and was able to take five in a row), reboot the phone, snap another picture, reboot….you get the idea. If the phone wasn’t so damn pretty I would have thrown it off the side of the mountain, but alas, its good looks came to the rescue. In any event, this really got me thinking about my Treo and comparing it to the Evo, and then because I think like a dude, comparing both of the phones to women-the Treo was just an average girl and the Evo is the hot chick that everyone covets.

With the Treo, you know exactly what you are getting. The woman version of the Treo is probably a little over five feet tall, maybe a buck thirty or so, mousy brown hair, decent features, straight (enough) teeth, average cup size…nothing remarkable, but you know exactly what you are walking into. She probably wears no makeup and buys her clothes at Costco. Now, the Evo, on the other hand, is freaking hot. She is so hot that all of your buddies try to hit on her as soon as you get up to go to the bathroom. She is so hot that she watches sports, can kick your ass in Fantasy Football, has a biting wit, graduated from Harvard (but doesn’t rub it in), is outdoorsy, can burp the alphabet, all while maintaining her female sex appeal. And her boobs are huge. (Or she has a nice butt, if that is your poison.) She keeps you on your toes and you don’t know what to expect, but you have an idea, and you want it. Now, any guy is going to chose the hottie (Evo) over the frump (Treo). So, that is what you do…and then you get the Evo home and realizes that she stuffs her bra. And is actually a dude.

That’s how I feel right now. I can’t honestly say that I’d go back to the Treo but I do miss the consistency. At least with the Treo, I knew what I was getting. I knew that I’d barely be able to call my mom, I knew that the pictures would suck, and I knew it wasn’t the hottest thing to look at, and depending on where I was, I didn’t necessarily want to bring it around for others to see. I was hot for the Evo. I carried that thing EVERYWHERE, for EVERYONE to see, just so they’d know I got the hot item. (Modesty is not one of my finer qualities.) I talked to people about it. I freaking interrupted strangers conversations in bars and elevators just so I could talk to them about the Evo and show off a little. And then, when I pulled down the covers (…took off the bra for all of you dudes out there), I was not impressed. When it does want to work, the picture quality is great, but the Evo is so moody I never know what I’m getting. Maybe I just got a bad egg, which I’m sure is quite possible, but after Evo’s first vacation, I’m kind of over it and think a breakup might be on the horizon.

Maybe. That kickstand IS sexy.

Friday, May 21, 2010


It has been about three weeks since I made fun of my mom so I figured everyone was probably much in need of an update. After all, F*ckbook is only so funny. For a moment I was worried that my mother would follow Vanilla Ice into the darkness of "one hit wonderdom" but good ole' Maggie proved me wrong. My dear friends, get ready: My mom had her first run in with...(cue the Jaws soundtrack)...THE CLOUD.

Before I launch into my "Can you believe this sh*t??" tale-o-mommy, I must give you the back-story. For 57 years, my mom has managed to go about her day-to-day tasks without having to concern herself with computers, "the Internets", and technology in general. She uses AOL (AOL4lyfe), has an old-school printer, and until very recently, was on dial-up. Needless to say, she certainly had no idea what "the cloud" was. And she probably would have been perfectly fine for another 30 years or so had I not opened my damn mouth in front of her while talking to Kevin...but alas, I did, and she was ever-so-curious.

We were sitting around the table about two months ago when my mom first heard of THE CLOUD. Kevin and I were talking to her new "companion" about geeky stuff (her beau is in IT) and THE CLOUD came up. I think I said something like, "Oh, well just put it up in the cloud..."....and my mom looked at me like I just told her I was quitting my job to sell used needles to five year olds. "What do you mean when you say "Put it in THE CLOUD"? What is THE CLOUD?" She went on and on....and on for what seemed like forever (though, it was only about two minutes) and when she was done, I let Kevin break it down for her. Patience is not his strongest quality so I was slightly amused to see him explain the concept of THE CLOUD to my mom like she was the latest voyager on the short bus. She needed it though...when it comes to technology any concept explained at a fourth grade level or higher completely blows her mind. (She is smart, though, I promise. If you get sued or are in need of emergency medical care, she is your go-to-lady. She is pretty much a certified bad-ass.) Anyway, after he described THE CLOUD in a paint-by-numbers inspired description we moved on to a topic that was far more entertaining. (In case you are curious, that topic was whether or not our youngest poodle, Griffin, is gay. Yes. Seriously, that's what we talked great length.)

Anyway, not too long ago I got the weekly "check-in" call from my mom. This call is pretty typical (hence the "weekly") and it usually covers the same topics (1) my brothers 2) said brothers smoking pot 3) my mom only smoking pot 11 times in her entire life 4) her boyfriend thinks it is funny 5) earthquakes in San Francisco and my inevitable death by natural disaster (so says mother), 6) my ex-husband and what a gigantic d-bag he is and how much better Kevin is 7) the 411 on my brother, Ryan, in NYC 8) the poodles 9) the poodles, 10) the poodles, 568) the poodles...), with a few variations from time to time. This time, however, the call started out with pure hysteria...and that hysteria was caused by THE CLOUD!!! Judging by her freak-out level, I'm pretty sure my mom has a mental image of THE CLOUD that resembles the black smoke monster from LOST...but anyway...she was TERRIFIED.

To give you an idea, it went (almost exactly) like this.

Mom: Megan!!!!!!!!!!! Ah, F**K! MEGAN!!!!!!!!!!! (and a few noises that I can't really figure out how to type)

Me: Mom, what is going on?

Mom: (Silence, just papers shuffling and a lot of banging.)

Me: Mom? (This disorganization/chaos is usually how most of our calls begin, by the way.)

Mom: (Direct Quote) THE CLOUD ate my pictures!!!!!! How do I get them back??

Me: What do you mean, "THE CLOUD ate your pictures?" It doesn't eat anything, mom.

Mom: I had pictures on my desktop and they aren't there now. I think THE CLOUD took them.

Me: Mom, THE CLOUD didn't take anything. I'm pretty sure you don't have that set-up going on.

Mom: Megan, listen to me! They were here. Now they aren't. Somehow THE CLOUD got them. They went up into THE CLOUD. I got to go. I have to get them back.

****Click.**** The crazy freakin' lady hung up on me to go battle THE CLOUD. (The images of my mother suiting up in armor had me in stitches for a long time. In fact, I was still hysterically laughing when Kevin got home.

About an hour later I got a voicemail from my mother. "Megan. I found them. They were in a folder. Could that be THE CLOUD?"

Sweet, sweet mother. **Patting her on the head from 3,000 miles away.**

Since the showdown with THE CLOUD, her boyfriend has given her a tutorial on THE CLOUD and building folders and has explained to her a folder on her desktop named "Pics" is not THE CLOUD in disguise. Things have been (relatively) quiet and the frantic calls have subsided. Our conversations have circled back to my brothers and their love affair with Mary Jane, the poodles, and whether or not Griffin prefers poodles of the same sex or not. (Oh yes, and how I'm going to be buried by rubble in an earthquake. Can't forget that one.) Though it is nice to return to the usual with my mother, I know, it is only a matter of time until there is another technology related catastrophe. Until then, my friends, enjoy the latest "you've got to be kidding me" story and stay tuned...because as sure as the sun rises and falls, my mom will come calling, and I will write it ALL down.

***PS. About a week after the F*ckbook debacle, my mom's account got hacked. Though this was a huge pain in the butt for her, for me, nothing amused me more. (Yes, I know. Once I get buried in the aforementioned earthquake, I'm going to the special section of Hell reserved for smart-ass daughters. That's cool; I can deal.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

F*ckbook: That's What's NOT Going Down at Orlando Hackathon

Since my dad died, my mother (pictured above) has been coming into her own...slowly. Not only is she dating, but she is finally discovering the joys of technology and social networking sites. While she has not ventured in the Twitter world (yet), she has managed to create a Facebook profile and learned (kind of) to navigate the wonderful world of friend requests, photo tagging, and Farmville. (Just kidding about Farmville. The day my mom sends me a request to water her crops is the day Jesus rides through my front door on a tricycle.) Periodically, I check out my mom's profile page to see what she is up to, what pictures she is posting, and to laugh at her (out of love, of course). Usually, Facebook stalking my mom is pretty uneventful, but every now and again, I am pleasantly surprised with pure hilariousness. Last week was one of those weeks. I was fortunate enough to get one of the most entertaining phone calls from my mom...ever...and it was about Facebook. It went something like this.

Mom: Megan, I had a friend find me on Facebook that I don't remember but she says we are friends.

Me: Oh, cool. (Wondering where this conversation is going...)

Mom: Yeah, her name is Lydia. I don't remember ever knowing a Lydia, ever, but she says she lives near me and wants to meet up.

Me: Oh, cool. (Still wondering where this conversation is going...)

Mom: She sent me some link to see her pictures. Maybe that will jog my memory. It is called "F*ckbook. Do you think that is a typo and she meant Facebook?

Me: Mom. No. I don't think that is a typo. I'm pretty sure you don't know Lydia.

Mom: Why would she lie? I probably know her from a long time ago. What is F*ckbook? Is it like Facebook 2.0? (Yes, that is a direct quote, people.)

Me: Mom. Are you kidding me right now? (I knew she wasn't though. My mom just learned how to use last week.)

Mom: Are you on F*ckbook? Do you think you can look Lydia up for me and friend request her?

Me: MOM! No, I'm not on F*ckbook. I'm not looking at Lydia's pictures for you. I don't know her. You don't know her. It is some porn site. You are being spammed or something. Don't click the link because you don't want to have your account hacked. Trust me, mom. F*ckbook is not Facebook 2.0 and you do not know Lydia.

Mom: Spam??? (I could hear the wheels turning on this one.) Hack??? (...this pretty much made her hamster wheel derail) Well, Shit. I was really looking forward to having a new friend around here.

Me: (No words were spoken...just radio silence and the swift sound of me fastening my own noose.)

Ok, in all seriousness, though this conversation did (sadly) actually happen, I do not have rain-man for a mother (I guess, technically, she would be a "rain-woman"...). My mom is actually a brilliant medical professional, attorney, and writer...that just happens to be utterly clueless about all things related to technology. This phone call lasted for about another 20 minutes or so as I explained all things spam and hacker related to her. I could hear her brain furiously processing this information and I suspected the only thing she took away from the conversation was the negative association of "F*ckbook" and "hack, hacker, hacking..." (you get the idea).

My suspicions were confirmed on Friday night when I called my mom to let her know I was going to be in Orlando for a few days the following week to attend Hackathon. After about 15 seconds of silence on her end, she finally speaks. And it went a little something like this:

Mom: Hackathon????

Me: Yep, it should be a lot of fun. A bunch of my friends from the User Groups are going.

Mom: Hackathon????

Me: Mom, are you in the garage? Are you getting shitty reception? Yes, Hackaton.

Mom: Hackathon??? (Yes, people. She really did repeat herself three times.)

Me: Yeeessssss. HACKATHON.

Mom: .....(silence)....(more silence)............................................(still silence)....You mean like F*ckbook?

Me: (Hysterical laughing...for several minutes) Oh my God, Mom! No, not like F*ckbook!!! Jesus Christ, mom. Seriously? Oy Effen Vey. You are kidding right? (More hysterical laughing.)

Mom: I'm confused. (You think??) You said hackers could be sending the F*kbook emails and Hackathon sounds dirty.

Me: (Laughing so hard I'm gasping for air. No joke.)

This went on for another ten minutes or so and I FINALLY was able to assure my mother I wasn't flying back to Orlando to work on some porn site and steal peoples' Facebook account information with naughty emails and friend requests. (Seriously, sometimes I wonder about her...) After I explained to her (painfully) what Hackathon was we got off the phone and I proceeded to laugh so hard I nearly peed myself for a good hour or so.

So, I know most of you (I hope) are more savvy than my mother but you still might be wondering what exactly Hackaton is and how exactly you can join in on the action...and I'd love nothing more than to drop a bit of Hackaton knowledge on your curious little minds. Simply put, Hackaton is going to be one of the greatest tech events to hit Orlando and the User Group circuit, in my humble opinion.

The Orlando Hackathon focuses on learning how to build modules for DotNetNuke and is THIS TUESDAY (May 4th, people!). The Orlando DotNetNuke User Group (ODUG) and Orlando .Net User Group (ONETUG) are joining forces to make this a spectacular event for all Central Florida geeks. (With that said, EVERYONE-regardless of geographic location-is invited. Hell, I'm flying in from San Francisco, so you really have no excuses in my book!).

Will Strhol and Co. have done one heck of a job securing a wicked speaker, to boot. Nik Kalyani is Founder and CEO of HyperCrunch. He is also Co-founder and Strategic Advisor for DotNetNuke Corp., the company that manages the DotNetNuke Open Source project. He is a technology entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience in the software industry. He is irrationally exuberant about technology, especially if it has anything to do with the Internet. HyperCrunch is his latest startup business that builds on his knowledge and experience from prior startups, two of them venture-funded....and he is from my neck of the woods!!!! (Gotta love a Silicon Valley guy coming to Orlando!!That's no joke, people!) He blogs at and is @techbubble on Twitter. Be sure to follow him! (On Twitter, you stalkers! Now get out of his bushes...)

So what is this Hackaton all about exactly? Good question. Here is the quick (or not...) breakdown. This Hackathon focuses on introducing attendees to the Model-View-Presenter pattern, support for which was recently introduced in the DotNetNuke Core. Nik will kick it off with a high level look at the pattern, compare it to MVC, and then get down and dirty...with some hot...code. We will start with the basics and then spice it up a bit with a full-featured module using this pattern. In order to really do this right and give the pattern the credit it deserves, Nik will use (super sexy) ASP.NET WebForms controls minimally and implement most of the UI using jQuery plug-ins. Got it? Good!

Now, like everything in life, this is actually a competition. You aren't doing it for fun. You are doing it to win! (Pound on your chest and assert your masculinity now!) The Orlando Hackathon is more than just the combination of two of the coolest User Groups around (seriously, it is). You can actually win some stuff here, guys! (Good stuff, too!) The grand prise is a saaaaweeet Dell Vostro 3500 laptop and you can also win one of two netbooks. (See! I told you the prizes don't suck!). Now, here is the important part. In order to participate (and be eligible to win a prize) you have to create a DotNetNuke module in 24 hours using the MVP design pattern (which is the focus of this Hackathon). Don't worry, there will be ample opportunity for you to get familiar with the pattern...and if all else fails, maybe you can make something cool like F*ckbook...(Kidding! Will, please don't kill me. I couldn't resist. Really. I couldn't. I'm five.)

If this badass event sounds like something you want to attend (and why wouldn't it??), click here to register. I promise, it will be one of the best nights of your life. Rumor has it Signature Consultants will be providing the sustenance you need to create the best DNN module EVER and there might be a few more raffle items (books, gift cards...women...) for you to score, too!

All of the fun will take place promptly at 6:30pm at City Hall ON THE 9TH FLOOR in Downtown Orlando (400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801) but if you want to EAT you might want to get there a few minutes early. (This girl has an appetite...I'm just sayin'...)

Though I'm not sure Hackathon will be able provide quite as much entertainment as my mother's ridiculous cluelessness (I mean, come on, that crap was FUNNY), it will be a freakin' great time! My company is flying me back to Orlando for it (Thank you, Signature!!!) and the rest of the Orlando Signature crew will be there, too. I can't wait to see everyone again...and you guys better recognize me this time! (I might have dyed my hair...again.)

See everyone there and if you have any questions, feel free to send a courier pigeon my way.

Email will work, too. I guess.

I can be reached at Naughty friend requests will NOT be accepted. Even if you do live close to me.

***Mom, you are way too cute for me to not use your picture on this one. Maybe this will be good for your Facebook popularity? Love, Your Overly Obnoxious Daughter. I, at least, think I am hysterical.***

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey, Don't Be a Bad Boyfriend!

***Sorry, folks. This is not dedicated to Kevin; we're still blissfully in love. Maybe next time?***

I don't care who you are. Every girl, at some point, has the distinct privilege of dating a tool; that is, a man-friend that isn't nearly as into you as you'd like to think. This disinterest (that everyone can usually see except for you) can manifest itself a variety of ways. Whether Mr. BF is not returning your calls, texts, emails, and smoke signals, not paying you any attention (or only paying you attention when he feels like it), rationing out his affections like they are some scarce resource you might never get again, or never saying those three little words (oh come on, you know the ones...) that you dropped months ago, chasing after someone that isn't into you It doesn't matter if you put in years trying to make a relationship something that it isn't and never (ever) will be or if you only invested a few months, weeks, days (you get the idea); when it finally comes to an end, it hurts. You rack your brain trying to understand where things went wrong, how you missed the signals that were so blatantly obvious to everyone else, and it finally occurs to you that it all boils down to you not being pretty enough...(just kidding) all boils down to managed (or not) expectations. Clearly at some point, both you and your man-friend, did a really crappy job of sharing your expectations and things went south. How was he supposed to know you wanted to run off into the sunset together if you didn't tell him? How was he supposed to know you are a really big fan of bubble gum pop music (and wanted him to like it, too) if you didn't share that helpful little nugget? And how were you supposed to know that he really preferred large chested ladies if he didn't tell you? And that clingy behavior is so not his thing? And that he really didn't want a girl that longed to be a stay at home mom?

No wonder it didn't work out!

While I am mostly referencing the wonderful world that is dating, working with candidates that aren't as into you sucks just as much. You see, dating is really a heck of a lot like staffing and setting expectations is just as important. We might not be getting the physical satisfaction out of the relationship (my boyfriend was the exception...though, meeting him at a User Group doesn't make him a "candidate"...does it?) but we still get very involved with our candidates and really do care about their livelihoods (ok, some care about cashing in, too). Like any romantic relationship, inevitably, our egos also get thrown into the mix which makes rejection (and we get it pretty frequently) not a pretty thing to deal with. After a while you start to understand that this is part of the industry; try as you might, you will not be able to help everyone, and sometimes, even the ones you do end up helping, might not want your help. Until you learn this, and really learn how to manage your expectations (and those of the candidates), you will be met with disappointment after disappointment. In most interactions, it isn't "normal" to lay everything out there immediately so it is a little counter-intuitive, but once you get in the hang of it, it makes your life a lot easier.

So, what do I mean by setting expectations you ask? (I know I ramble and can be hard to follow...)

As a recruiter, it is important to let your candidates know your process. If you prefer to meet them in person before chasing opportunities, let them know that. If you'd like to have a conversation every day, let them know that, too. If you would like them to name their first female child after you, say so. Make sure you clue them in to the submittal and interviewing process. Educate them on double submittals. If you want them to call you after their interviews, let them know. If if you want them to have open and honest communication with you about everything (from availability, to rate, to other opportunities), let them know that, too. Recruiters are often surprised at the offer stage with candidates fess up at last minutes about other interviews they have, offers they've been extended, and last minute rate adjustments (ex: I want a lot more money $10 more an hour); sometimes this is unavoidable but often times, this is due to expectations not being set on the front end. As a result, the relationship deteriorates and the end result is not what you desired.

As a candidate, it is equally as important to let your recruiter know what you want and how you'd like to work. In addition to setting the expectation of how frequently you'd like to communicate, it is imperative to clearly define what you are looking for in terms of rate (and be honest about it!), duration of opportunity, commute, and the kind of opportunity itself. If you are targeting one type of technology or title, say so. If you plan to interview at a handful of places before you commit to one opportunity, let us know. If we send you on an interview and there is something that rubbed you the wrong way, clue is in to that, too. Rate is a big one. We like to get you as much money as we can (within reason, of course). If you were making $60.00 an hour W2 at your last position and would like to make at least that, fess up. We get it. Everyone wants to make money. The thing is, we can't help you get the rate you really want if you don't tell us upfront. Last minute surprises are never any fun, particularly when it entails us going back to the client to get more money when we could have addressed it in the beginning. Also, if you really prefer permanent positions, let us know that, too. It makes no sense for us to submit you to a three month contract assignment when you really want something long term. I know it is normal to want to please others, sometimes so badly to the point you overlook what is best for you, but recruiters are here to help. If there is something in particular you need or want or don't feel comfortable with, tell us. We appreciate that you want to make us happy but we want to make you happy, too. Honest communication is always the best way to go, even if it is momentarily uncomfortable. Makes sense, right? Thought so.

Regardless of the type of relationship, as long as expectations are set upfront, you have a higher chance of getting a favorable result (like not wasting your time with a "bad boyfriend"). Whether you are trying to lock that man down and get him to drop the "I love you" or lock down those candidates and get them to drop the "I will accept", it all boils down to detailing what you expect before you really begin your romance. If you do that and it still doesn't look like it is going to pan out, don't beat yourself up. Instead, cut them loose and move on, as daunting as that might seem at first. Because you know what? There is someone out that that will appreciate you for of cheesy pop music, clingy behavior, stalking tendencies, stay at mom ambitions and all. After all, just like MamaOrlandoTechNuts used to tell me, as soon as you ditch that bad boyfriend, you are one step closer to finding the keeper.

***For the record, I'd rather shoot myself in the face than be a stay at home mom (though no offense to those that are one) and while I do favor AC/DC, Zeppelin, and CCR, I will fess up to listening to Lady Gaga. And liking her. Thank you, Kevin, for not only being OK with that, but for loading up your Zune with endless Lady Gaga ditties for me. If that isn't love, I don't know what is <3***

Monday, April 5, 2010

Playing Hard to Get...Will Get You Nowhere

It has been a little while since I wrote a blog post dedicated to the stupid stuff candidates sweet, clueless candidates, this one is for you. ***raises tall Red-Eye from Starbucks in mock salute***

As girls, we are taught to play hard to get to get what you want (or at least men). I've never really paid attention to this rule...namely, because I'm naturally so awkward it wouldn't really matter what I did. The (less than favorable) end result was always the same. I was a late bloomer in the dating department and when most girls were out dating and playing the field, I was getting married (and subsequently divorced...I've always been an overachiever). I had no sisters to show me the ropes and the only thing my brothers managed to show me was their newest wrestling move, fart noise, and the occasional genital (they were under the impression that this was very cool and oh-so-funny). I didn't get much assistance in the friend department, either. I went to a performing arts school so all of the friends I did manage to make were just as weird as I was and try as I might, I was unable to emulate the cool girls and their coy way with the man folk. I was, in every sense of the word, completely and utterly clueless, and as a result, "playing hard to get" never registered with me. I didn't play. At all.

As I got older, got divorced, and got more comfortable with myself, I stopped really caring about my dating life. To me, my indifference was merely that: indifference. It wasn't a trick, it wasn't smoke and mirrors. I just didn't give a crap about meeting a guy and dating. I figured I had enough life experience with the opposite sex with my super successful marriage that it was probably good if I cooled my jets for a bit. To others, however, this "indifference" was somehow translated into "hard to get" and all of a sudden awkward, geeky, Megan was in demand (sort of..."in demand" is fairly relative. My phone rang. Once. Or twice. And then maybe a few wrong numbers...) So there was something to this entire "hard to get" thing....maybe?

Only in dating, people! Only in dating...and certainly not when it pertains to your job search! When it comes to your job search, my advice to you is to put it all out there and make yourself as accessible as possible. Sit and wait by your phone, give any potential suitor all of your sexy details, and do not give up...even if that means you have to wait in the bushes and employ some stalking techniques. (After all, a little stalking never hurt anyone...)

One thing I've been seeing a lot lately that has been driving me absolutely crazy is candidates that are actively on the market, often unemployed (for months, years...) and act like they do not give a damn. Now, I know a person's pride will make them do funny things, including act overly nonchalant so they do not appear overly eager (I get it, people), but when you don't have a job, it is time to push the pride aside a bit and focus on getting a new job...and in order to do that, you have to put yourself out there a bit.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Let's take this one step at a time.

Let's start with putting your freaking phone number on your resume.

Out of all of the bizarre, no-rhyme-or-reason, things candidates do, the one that confuses me the most is when they don't put a phone number on their resume. (This is closely followed by candidates not putting their name on their resume but I can understand this a bit more. Confidential resumes are sometimes necessary, especially if you are still employed.) People, listen to me: If you do not have your phone number on your resume, you are already starting out with one strike. This doesn't mean that I won't email you (please see paragraph about employing stalking techniques) but it immediately puts a bad taste in my mouth and makes me think that you are high maintenance. My job is stressful as it is...and when it comes to high maintenance, well, I wrote the book. The last thing I want to do is chase after someone I saw on Monster or Dice and spin my wheels. Simply put, if you do not list your phone number on your resume it gives the impression that you aren't all that serious about your job search and given the choice between working with a candidate that is serious and one that is on the fence, well, who do you think is going to get most of my attention?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Next on my "Are you freaking serious right now?" list are the resumes that do have phone numbers on them...just not working phone numbers. For the people that happened to move recently and changed their number, I'll let it slide (for now), though, seriously...get on it. Laziness is not sexy and it usually doesn't score people jobs...unless you want to work at the DMV. I hear they love the lazy. What really irks the crap out of me are the people (I imagine they think they are being cute) that list 123-456-7890 as their phone number. Really??? Seriously??? Seeing a great candidate's resume, picking up the phone to immediately call them, only to then realize you have a phony number sucks. It is almost as disappointing as scoring the number of some hot guy at a bar and then realizing it is the local rejection number later when you call to plan your future with him. (Not that this has happened to me but...) In all seriousness, at this point, nobody is going to email you. Once a recruiter realizes you are some smart-ass that lists a fake or nonworking phone number, more often than not, your resume is flagged and you are almost immediately put on some sort of "Do Not Use" list. So for the love of God, put your freaking phone number on your resume and let us do our jobs.

Now, in defense of the many job seekers I'm screaming at via my blog, I know what you are thinking. "God, OrlandoTechNuts is so sexy with her bluntness. Is she single?" (No, for the record, I'm not. And if you don't stop thinking that, Kevin will fight you.)

No, really, I bet you are thinking, "You make good points, Megan, but let's play devil's advocate. Recruiters are a huge pain in the ass. I get so many calls every single day, most of them do not know what they are talking about, a lot of them aren't even local...they might even be sitting in their basements in their underwear (hot??), and they suck at listening. Yes, I want to get a new job. I desperately want to get off the dole. But I desperately want to go five minutes without talking to some ditz recruiter so what is the harm it making it a little difficult for them to contact me?"

I know recruiters are annoying. I get it. Hell, I even annoy myself half of the time, but truth be told, when it comes to job searches, we are a necessary evil, and more often than not, we are just trying to help. (Really.) So please, I know your mama (and Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura...Patti Stanger) preach the powers of playing hard to get...and when it comes to attracting a mate, they are probably on to something. Desperate isn't sexy. But you know what, when it comes to your job search, being desperate is SO hot right now and playing hard to get...Will get you NOWHERE.

So, kindly, put your phone number (the right one, you sly fox) back on your resume so we can all go back to work. Thankyouverymuch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Hopkins Family Circle of Trust and Orlando Code Camp: A Brief (or not) Recap

For everyone that was holding their breath in anticipation of this post, well, I have good news! You can breathe easy! Kevin made it out of the Hopkins' house unscathed and holding the heart of MamaTechNuts in his little coder hands. From our visit at my mom's to our trip to Orlando for Code Camp, this weekend was a huge success and we had an awesome time...though we were dead tired!

Our weekend adventure began around 7:30pm on Thursday night when we boarded our plane at SFO to Ft. Lauderdale (by way of Land O' Douchebag...or LAX). Because Kevin has a little "thing" for Richard Branson, we ended up taking Virgin instead of an airline that would fly us direct to PBI (closer to where my mom and the poodles live). If it was any other airline, I probably would have been annoyed by this (I mean, come on...taking a red-eye sucks enough, but then driving an hour or so after at 6:30am sucks worse), but Virgin is a beyond awesome airline and if it made the mister happy, I was happy. Besides, this gave me plenty of material to tease Kevin about his mini-man crush so there was a little something for both of us to make it worth it.

We took off a few minutes late but once we were in the air, I remembered why I liked flying Virgin so much, too. Everyone (seriously, EVERYONE) that works for them is super nice, so helpful, and their safety videos crack me up. I can appreciate a company with a sense of humor and that incorporates a little bit of sarcasm into their customer information. They also have the sweet touch system (I think it is called RED) on the planes where you can order pretty much anything you want (well, not everything...I would have loved a massage but they were fresh out). Because of RED, I filled up on my share of Coke (it kept coming and coming) and watched a lot of junk on MTV. (I can probably list every teenage mom they featured on their show about teenagers getting knocked up. Don't even get me started on that...) It was a very enjoyable flight. It was about halfway to LAX (where we had a connection) that Kevin remarked that he couldn't hear anything. (Poor Kevin is sick with a nasty sinus infection, courtesy of MIX.) Your typical girlfriend would probably dote on him and baby him a little bit. I am not your typical girlfriend. Instead, I tried to convince him that he actually went deaf by moving my lips as if I was talking to him. This freaked him out (though he won't admit it) for a bit but then he caught on. Needless to say, I was thoroughly entertained.

We landed in LAX and had about a 20 minute lay over before we left for Ft. Lauderdale. This leg of the flight was pretty uneventful for me. I drank a few more Cokes (much like the five year olds in elevators that insist on "pressing the button" over and over again, I was still quite fascinated with RED), I tried to sleep (with little success) and Kevin worked on his MEF presentation for Code Camp. (Another reason to fly Virgin: wi-fi and electrical outlets at every single seat!). After five hours we finally landed. From there we went to pick up our bag and rental car, from E-Z Rentals (which I found pretty ironic, considering E-Z is fully staffed with a bunch of asses and was anything but E-Z to work with.) After our dance with E-Z, we were finally on the a little after 6:30am.

By this time, we were sleepy, hungry, and dirty and wanted to get to my mom's house as quickly as our little rental could get us there. We made pretty good time and within an hour, Kevin was standing face to face with three poodles...and the Mama poodle, MamaOrlandoTechNuts, otherwise known as Maggie. Kevin went right in for the hug, my mom did some little awkward thing with her arms to be funny (now he knows where I get my wackiness from), and they were off to the races, so to speak. Shortly after their first encounter, my mom (who, by the way, was looking pretty hot. Age has been nothing but kind to my mom. Bitch.) left for work, and Kevin and I went to grab some breakfast at a local diner. My food was awesome. Kevin found a hair in his...and then after my prodding, finished eating it (minus the hair, of course). After his first experience with a South Florida Jewish diner, we came home and slept.

And slept.

And slept some more. 5:00 in the afternoon, finally woke up, feeling mildly refreshed.

At 5:17pm we met a gentleman by the name of Glenn. Glenn is my mom's new beau and the first man she has dated since my dad passed away two years ago. No wonder my mom had a little spring in her step...Glenn was a pretty cute, really nice....wait for it....IT guy! (Heck yes! Score one more for Team Geek!)

My mom made us all a really yummy dinner (she hasn't cooked in ages, by the way. My dad was the cook in the family.) and we all got to know each other. Kevin hit it off with everyone and my mom really took to him. The poodles really took to him, too. So much so, in fact, that Griffin, insisted on sleeping with us, and Little Ed gave Kevin a nice little tongue bath as he woke up. It was borderline creepy...but oh-so-funny at the same time.

After dinner, the family videos came out...and the fun began. Kevin got to see the complete awkwardness that is my family and my sweet dance moves in one tape from 1990. Initially, I was pretty embarrassed but pretty quickly came to realize the pure hilariousness that we were viewing. I had about three or four "signature moves", including a revised version of the Running Man (I say "revised" because I was doing some weird thing with my arms...kind of like spinning an imaginary jump rope, if you can picture that), some Vogue poses, some arm-spinning down-to-the-ground action, finished up by a move where I pretty much felt myself up. My "jam" was Step By Step by New Kids On The Block. My outfit of choice was a t-shirt I made with puffy pant flowers all over it, a huge hair-bow...and my big bunny teeth. (My front teeth were out of control.) I believe Megan, circa 1990, falls into the "hot mess" category.

But, it was funny. Reallllly funny. So funny, in fact, that I think Kevin and I are going to get the taped transferred from VHS to DVD and then put it on You-Tube...and the blog for your viewing pleasure. (I figure I have no shame so why not let my readers experience the awkwardness, too...) We might even make t-shirts and if Ellen DeGeneres asked me to appear on her show, I'd probably do it. (Just putting that out there. You know, in case Ellen reads my blog...)

Anyway, I'm rambling (huge shocker). After Hopkins' Family Video Hour, we all retired to bed. Kevin and I were up again on Saturday morning at 4something to get ready for Code Camp. (Well, I had to "get ready". Kevin had to throw on a shirt and jeans. Bastard.) I deposited Griffin, the poodle, in my mom's discover Glenn in there, too. Super awkward and I might have thrown up in my mouth for a brief second...but I'm glad "Stella is Getting Her Groove Back". Maybe they'll reproduce and give me another brother. Kidding.

After I saw my mom in the quasi-buff, Kevin and I hightailed it to Orlando for some glorious Code Camp action. We got their a little late (fashionably, of course) and got to see some of our old buddies. I met the new Orlando Kforcers (Robin, Megan, and Brandon) and got to reunite with @devfish and Co. From there we went straight to the room Kevin was using for his presentation (MEF U...which was awesome AND really funny). We watching VS crash a few times (which contributed to the funniness) and got the entire room to complete our "Name That App" survey. Kevin (@sundriedcoder) got some really good Twitter traffic from his presentation, so it was a huge success. I got to see Danny (my little Coder baby that I met at last Code Camp and got him his first development job) and some of my Twitter buddies (@codermarc). Following the MEF presentation, I went to the cafeteria where I got my lunch-lady on...and got to serve all of the Code Campers sandwiches and collect their lunch tickets. I was kind of like a glorified hall monitor and I loved it. I loved having the power to deprive someone of their soda and Jason's Deli lunchbox. (Just kidding. I actually let a few people without a ticket collect a lunch. I'm a softy, what can I say?) One thing I found particularly amusing about the day was a lot of people didn't recognize me because I colored my hair brown. I felt like I was in disguise and I loved the surprise look on peoples' faces when they realized it was me. (Kind of like little babies when they play Peak-A-Boo...)

From lunch, we went to @NikitaP's presentation on Windows Phone and then hung out with Ryan and Carl for a bit at the Kforce booth before we went to Kevin's last presentation on Silverlight Streaming Media. He was in speaking in a huge auditorium and had a little too much fun messing around with the microphone. I think he was secretly envisioning what it would feel like to give the keynote at MIX or PDC but he never confirmed this... He gave another great presentation (and I'm not just saying this because I'm the girlfriend) and @BillReiss was also there to pipe up. (Batman and Robin comes to mind right now...)

We hit the after party after Code Camp (hence the entire "after party" thing...) and had a chance to grab a few beers with the old crew! Everyone was there: @willstrohl, @estebanfgarcia, @adamhill, @billreiss, get the idea. (For the record, @tampacoder, @josebueno, @mitchlabrador, @scottdensmore, @davidjustice: You all were missed!). After a few beers, some delicious food, and sweet tech talk, we hit the road (again) to go back down to my mom's house. We arrived very giddy (high off of Orlando Code Camp fumes). I think my mom and Glenn were caught off-guard because Kevin and I were really loopy (no sleep, colds, and constant traveling will do that to you) and even asked "what do they serve you exactly at Code Camp?" We hung out for a bit with my mom and Glenn before saying our goodbyes (we had to be up at 4:00am the next morning to catch our flight).

I've never seen my mom give anyone a bigger hug...ever. She completely enveloped Kevin in her mother arms and even kissed him (on the cheek, people). She told him how much she liked him and went on and on...and on...and told me she knows he is "the one" (no kidding, Mom, that's why I brought him home!). Since everyone was in the hugging mood, I went in for the kill with Glenn, too. (Why not, right?) After the big love fest, Kevin and I...and Griffin, went upstairs for a few hours of sleep. (It was at least midnight at this point. Kevin and my mom hugged for hours. Kidding.)

We woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and did the entire travel thing all over again. The only highlight was getting to be in the presence of Richard Branson again (more so for Kevin) and getting some sleep on the plane. We had a gross lay-over in LA again where we ate overpriced clam chowder and watched countless jackasses in over-sized sunglasses walk by. I'm definitely not cool enough to live in LA. Hell, I wasn't even cool enough to hang out in the airport.

By time we landed in San Francisco, we were both beyond exhausted. We were both sick. (Thank you, MIX.) We both smelled like airport and LA loser. In spite of it all, though, we'd do it all again. We had such an awesome time and it was really great to see everyone again. I knew I missed everyone but I definitely didn't realize how much until we were at Code Camp. To say that community is outstanding is a gigantic understatement. They have their crap together and put together an tremendous event (over 600 people!). Beyond being able to organize a successful event though, that group is chalk full of good people. I definitely felt like I was at home and I am so appreciative of the warm welcome Kevin and I received. It is good to know that even though we are 3,000 miles away, we'll always have a home with the Orlando development community. Seriously, to all of my .Net UG buddies, you guys are the greatest and I love you (like brothers...the "special" love is reserved for Kevin.)

Seeing my mom was surprisingly a lot of fun, too. I'm so happy she and Kevin hit it off because he is definitely going to be the last guy I bring home. We're doing the "official" move-in in three weeks and we couldn't be more excited. I'm elated to know my mom thinks I finally got it right and finds him as wonderful as I do. All in all, the weekend was a huge success and I can't wait until we get back to Florida again!

...and yes, Kevin, next time we go, we can fly Virgin. I know better than to keep you away from Richard.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hello, World!

I'm finally registering the thoughts of OrlandoTechNuts on I'm hoping that this is going to drive a heck of a lot more traffic and my wonderful sense of humor and sarcastic, candidate knocking ways (my intentions are good...I swear!!) will be available for the rest of the world to see. Let the games begin!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's Time to Play...NAME THAT APP!

That's right boys and girls, I have a little game for you! There is an awesome new app in the works and we're looking for a name! This is your chance to be apart of the awesomeness. Sadly, because I do not have the bank account of Pat Sajak, I can't reward you with a sizable check, luxurious vacation, or new car, but I can give you a Microsoft Arc Mouse and a $50.00 gift card to the establishment of your choice (within reason, of course. I love my readers but you aren't going to catch me in some shady store purchasing gift cards because you find it amusing. Sorry.)

Please visit this link to go to the survey. A few different name choices are presented and every suggestion will be considered! At the end of the week, a random survey-completer will be selected to win the Arc Mouse. For the record, I got my boyfriend one of these bad boys for Christmas and it is pretty freaking sweet. Besides being nice to look at, it is very portable (just fold it and go!) and would make a lovely addition to any good geeks' household. And for those would prefer to embrace their inner entrepreneur, chuck it up on eBay or something. Bottom line, for 3 seconds of your time (and nobody is so busy where they don't have 3 stinkin' seconds!), you could win a sweet geekerific toy! Oh, and it gets better, folks...wait for it....wait for it....For the 20th person to list on the survey that they were referred by this blog, you'll get a $50.00 gift card. Not too shabby, right? I didn't think so.

So, what are you waiting for? Get off your butt and get creative! It's time to play...NAME THAT APP!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mama, I'm Coming Home!

This weekend marks a very important moment for me...well, technically, two very important moments. Not only am I returning home to sunny South Florida with the mister (you might know him as Kevin, or @sundriedcoder, or the boy that I'm always tweeting about which causes you to throw up in your mouth, get the idea) and introducing him to MamaOrlandoTechNuts, we're also making the trek to Orlando for...wait for it....freaking Orlando .Net Code Camp, 2010! Heck yes! Both are very big deals to me and I couldn't be more excited!

This is actually the first time (ever, ever) I've been really excited to bring a guy home to meet my mom. Before Mr. Kevin came into my life I looked at the "Meet the Parents" fiasco as a necessary evil...and dreaded it every single time. I brought my ex-husband home kind of on accident. I needed someone to help me transport my poodles, Willard and Griffin, home to Jupiter from Orlando because I couldn't bare to do the drive with them alone again. (Inevitably, one of them always ends up on your lap, very shortly followed by the other one...and then you end up careening off the side of I-95 because you can't see over the massive pile of poodle fluff in your face. Game freakin' over.) In any event, my brother decided he had something better to do than help his sister, so I had to resort to asking the guy (Mr. Ex) that I was quasi dating. I was on the fence about him so I wasn't jazzed about him meeting my crazy family, but alas, in the spirit of getting Willard and Griff home to their poodle brothers (yes, there are two more: Patrick, and Little Ed. We like poodles. Shut up.) I ended up asking the man formerly known as Mr. Megan Hopkins for his assistance.

On the car ride there, I silently planned how "the drop" would go down. I figured I'd call my mom when I was about 5 minutes away from the house, have her come outside, grab her two fluffy children, wave to the newly acquired almost-though not so sure what he is-boyfriend, give her a hug and kiss, maybe extend my palm looking for some cash, and then get back up to Orlando STAT. That way, I figured, she saw the guy, but didn't have a chance to talk to him...AKA embarrass the living crap out of me.

Sadly, it didn't happen quite like that....or ANYTHING like that, for that matter.

Instead, Willard managed to launch his fat poodle butt out of the door as soon as we parked in the driveway, causing Mr. Ex to get out of the car in hot pursuit of fat, black, spoiled poodle.

And then he met my mother.

And then she invited him inside.

And she was wearing her ratty scrubs.

And then she put on her lawyer cap and interrogated the living hell out of him.

And then my brother, Casey, came running downstairs with "family videos" and naked pictures of me (when I was little).

And then my other brother, Kevin, told the story about me eating the last piece of his birthday cake (many, many moons ago) when I was chubby.

And the humiliation continued.

And then I tied a cement block around my feet and threw myself in the Intracoastal Waterway.

Seriously, though. It was awful. (Maybe I should have taken it as a sign of things to come, but clairvoyance was never my strength).

I am, however, quite excited for Kevin to meet my mom. I have waited a bit to bring him home, (mostly because we moved clear across the country together shortly after we met), and I vowed to myself to not bring a guy home again that I didn't think was the real deal. I've never been more certain about anyone or anything in my entire life so I'm very ready for whatever naked pictures, fat pictures, humiliating stories (you get the idea), that gets thrown our way this weekend, by way of the Mother. (He has already met my brothers...and they approved :) It is a nice feeling knowing I'm bringing him home by choice and not because a couple of poodles need an escort. I guess that's what love is?

After we see my mom on Friday evening, we are waking up bright and early and heading to Orlando for Orlando .Net Code Camp and to reunite with the old crew. To say I'm excited about this is a massive understatement. One of the things I miss most about Florida (other than my mom, brothers, and girlfriends) is the development community. I made a great group of friends and leaving all of those guys was one of the hardest parts about moving to California. Since I've landed here in Cali, I've started to rebuild my "network" in the development community, but truth be told, nobody can replace my buddies in Orlando.

I tell candidates a lot to focus on finding their tribe and really taking the time to get to know those people. Usually, your "tribe" consists of people that share the same passions as you do. For me, that was the group in Orlando. Some (*ahem* Fabio...ScottyD...David...) have moved, too, but most of my tribe is still in Orlando. It is going to be wonderful to see everyone again and see what they have put together for Code Camp this year. Last I checked, they have over 500 people registered, with more registering each day, and a good group of awesome and well known speakers. From Silverlight to MEF, to Windows Mobile/Phone, to SharePoint to SQL to DotNetNuke, to Technical Interview Prep to Social Media pointers, Orlando Code Camp is chalk full of great topics and a track for anyone with an interest in emerging Microsoft technologies. I've seen a preview of the Silverlight Streaming presentation by Kevin Rohling (my boyfriend...assuming he survives his encounter with MamaOrlandoTechNuts) and it is freakin' sweet. I'm really interested to see the different presentations on Windows Phone (finally, MS is getting is right! Suck it, Apple!), and will be checking out MEF U, and as many of the others ones as I can squeeze into. Code Camp is free to all that register and if you register, lunch is included, too! (Make sure you check off that you will be eating, though, and if you want a vegetarian lunch, make sure you say so!) I have the honors of being lunch lady extraordinaire, so look out for my smiling face (hair net and all) as I serve up yummy sammies to accompany all of the technical yumminess you'll be getting! As always, there will be some great sponsors there (Carl Dunn and Ryan Bell from The Force!) and some even greater raffle items! The fun doesn't end at 5:00pm either...for all that are interested, there is a pretty sweet After Party, too! For more information on Orlando Code Camp, please check out their website! You can register there so be sure to do it! For those that are tweeting on Twitter, make sure to follow @OrlandoCC (hash tag OrlandoCC#) for additional information!

This weekend is going to be a flippin' party! I can't wait to get back to Florida for a little sun, warmth, "Meet the Parents" humiliation, and technical goodness! For those of you that aren't planning on hitting Orlando Code Camp as of yet, get with the picture and put it on your calendar! After all, folks, if I am flying clear across the country, you can get in your car and drive a few miles...and if you need an escort, I heard my ex might be available. (Poodles optional.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crank Yankers: Staffing Special

Part of growing up with three brothers is learning to take a joke and the art of playing practical jokes. Growing up, my brothers and I were constantly at it and constantly pissing one another off with things we thought were downright hysterical. Whether we were locking Casey in my mom's trunk and "forgetting" about him, putting peroxide in Ryan's shampoo, tainting the Hawaiian Punch with soap and laxatives, or pretending like we ran away, Ryan, Kevin, Casey, and I were ALWAYS up to no good.

Part of our reign of terror also included making inappropriate phone calls. Lots of them. Some of our favorite people to call included the 911 operator, adult phone operators (we LOVED trying to convince them we were 18), and Ryan's second grade teacher. Occasionally we'd just get the White Pages out and start dialing. We passed many a summer (and winter, spring, and fall) day messing with other people and it was wonderful. As we got older, we began to see that calling 911 was not acceptable, nor was it OK to call "Destiny" to talk about going on a hot date. Instead, we resorted to physical forms of entertainment and would just beat each other up. When we tired of that (Who am I kidding? We never grew that tired of punching each other in the face.) we decided to act like normal humans. Kind of.

When I went away to college, I lived with all girls for the first time in my life. As "non girly" as they were, I still had no idea what to do with myself. I was used to my brothers walking around with their hands in their pants, farting, and making insanely inappropriate jokes. As hard as I tried to fit in with the girls, I could not shake my natural inclination to joke around and tease others. Fortunately, I got to know two of the girls on my floor pretty well and discovered that they weren't nearly as girly as they seemed. In fact, personality wise, they were pretty "manly", in that they loved a good practical joke. We quickly hit it off and began to terrorize each other and the rest of Flagler Hall on a regular basis. Still, though, aside from them, I really didn't have too many girlfriends.

One of the reasons I loved the Kforce team in Orlando is because in many ways it was like a locker room. For a long time, my team was all guys...and me, and I was pretty much considered one of the guys. Alysia soon joined us, too, and fit right in. Jokes of all form were made on a daily basis and there was a lot of "ball busting" to be had. One of our favorite jokes to play on one another was the classic crank call. Angel, the ultimate joker, would typically be the caller while I died laughing in the background. He would call our fellow recruiters, managers, my now name it, and keep them going for as long as possible. For us, it was the funniest thing in the entire world. Typically, for the person on the other end who was trying to figure out who was really calling them, it was annoying, frustrating, and a huge waste of their time.

Since I've joined Signature Consultants, I have been working at rebuilding my candidate network. Part of this, obviously, is speaking to a lot of people on the phone. The other part is meeting these people and trying to develop a lasting relationship. The practice of meeting my candidates is not new to me. It was part of my job at Kforce, and frankly, I assumed other staffing firms required this, too. Apparently, I assumed incorrectly.

Last week I was having coffee with a woman I located on one of the job boards. We were having a great conversation and she happened to mention that she was shocked I actually wanted to meet her. As it turned out, in the six months she had been searching for a position, NOT A SINGLE recruiter that called her actually expressed an interest in meeting her and getting to know anything about her other than what was written on her resume. Instead, they'd call and tell her they'd call if they got a bite on her resume. Nothing more. Half of the time she didn't even know who was calling her, where they were located, and why exactly they were contacting her, as nothing about her resume matched their position. For all she knew, it was some weirdo (...or bored 12 year old kid) calling her to waste her time. As weird as I found this, I thought that this couldn't be the norm. It made absolutely no sense to me.

After my coffee with her, I began to ask candidates I met with how many other recruiters had asked to meet them in person. Alarmingly, my inquiry was met with the same response every time. The majority of the candidates in San Francisco (both active and passive) were not meeting their recruiters in person, and not by their choice. To them the interactions were all very transactional and left them feeling very uneasy about their job search. They had no earthly idea who they were giving their information to and who they were trusting with their livelihoods. A lot of the companies that called them weren't local, many had zero web presence, and almost all were impossible to track down for a followup conversation. Clearly, this does not inspire a lot of confidence for the job seeker.

This really disturbed me because if you can't feel comfortable with your recruiter you aren't off to a good start. A candidate shouldn't wonder in the back of their mind if they are getting a crank call (and yes, that was a concern of some), and if some wacko sitting in their basement was just calling them to make a quick buck. Back in the day, this industry was based solely on relationships. With the good recruiting firms, it still is. There is no reason a candidate shouldn't be able to put a face to the name of the firm they are working with. People work with people they trust and are less inclined to work with a person they've never met and never hear from. To me, that is pretty freakin' obvious.

One thing I like to urge candidates to do is keep track of the recruiters you are working with...and don't work with everyone and their mother. Typically working with about three recruiters you trust is a good number. Make them earn your trust and business, because even though they are a free service to you, if they do manage to find you a position, they do profit. If you can help it, only work with people you can meet. Go to their office. See their shop. Know about their clients. Interview them as much as they are interviewing you. Ask questions. A recruiter should be honest and forthcoming with follow-up. You shouldn't have to pry it out of them. Set your expectations with your recruiter upfront. Ask how frequently you are going to be speaking. If a recruiter tells you they'll call you once they have feedback and that's it, that's a pretty crappy answer. A good recruiter should make it a point to connect with the people they speak with and meet about once a week. They don't have to be calling about a job; touching base is always good because it is nice to know what is going on in each other's world. I'm pretty involved with the majority of my candidates and call many of them friends. This doesn't come from calling them solely when a position is released.

Just like dating, if the relationship is a priority, it tends to be positive. That recruiter might not end up finding you a position, but at the very least, you will have the peace of mind knowing you aren't talking to a complete stranger. At the end of the day, you are putting your career in the hands of the recruiter so whatever you do, educate that way, when a pack of brats crank call you, you'll know what's up and have the last laugh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm Rich, B....

Having money to spend on things you care about is always a great feeling. Spending someone else's money on things you care about is an even greater feeling. I have only been a member of the Signature Consultants family for a little under a month now and I am quickly learning what it feels like to have a very healthy (very, very healthy) discretionary spend budget. To sum it up, it feels AWESOME!

From my very first interview, Signature made a point to emphasize that one thing they believe in is investing in their candidates, clients, and the community. They love to entertain and heavily encourage their employees to spend money in the form of lunches, coffees, dinners, happy hours, user group meetings,, purses, Ann Taylor blouses (kidding, obviously). One thing I loved about my former role in Orlando was my involvement with user groups and the development community so this was music to my ears. I have always believed that in order to stand out, you have to get to know those involved in the community and demonstrate that you are invested. Pizza, beer, and raffle items aren't everything, but they certainly help, particularly in an economy where so many other firms are cutting corners and not interacting with those they are supposed to be helping on a daily basis. I am very good at spending money (Visa can back this up) so joining a company that gave me an open wallet to invest in the user groups that I love so much felt like a gift (seriously), and a gift that I was getting paid to enjoy, too. There are many things that suck a lot more than waking up and doing what you love everyday.

One of the first things I did when I moved to San Francisco was getting involved with the Bay Area .Net User Group. I made a lot of wonderful friendships in the Central Florida .Net User Groups and I wanted to get to know the San Francisco community just as well. And because my position with the Kforce office in San Francisco was on the health care team, I didn't get to interact with developers during the day, and that really bothered me. I knew I wasn't going to be given a budget for User Groups (.Net, at least) in San Francisco, but I still went to the meetings anyway to get involved in anyway I could. I quickly joined the volunteer ranks and helped with the meetings in anyway I could. I got to serve food, be the sign-in sheet monitor, room cleaner-upper, help brainstorm ideas to drive attendance, and assist with marketing. The third Wednesday of the month quickly became the day I looked forward to the most.

Signature was very aware of my involvement in the community in Florida and was happy to hear I was doing the same thing (or trying to) in San Francisco. When they hired me, they gave me an open budget for sponsorships, raffle items, lunches, happy hours, etc. At first, I thought they were kidding because it is a relatively expensive undertaking and I wasn't used to money being handed to me that easily (unless, of course, I was standing in front of my dad). They weren't. They were 120% serious. I was beyond elated. I immediately sent my buddy in the .Net group a message on Twitter and told him we were game to sponsor pizza until the end of time. He responded and was on board.

Fast forward to a week later.

I was having lunch with my manager, Scott, and we started to talk about the user groups and the developer community in San Francisco. I told him about sponsoring the .Net group and he asked what I was doing for a giveaway item.

Giveaway item? They were actually serious about that?

Long story short, he told me to feel free to spend $150 or so a month on a raffle item in addition to the pizza and drinks. Apparently Christmas was coming a few months late this year.

I immediately took my rich "Uncle Scott" up on his offer and started to do a Twitter poll on raffle items. Some of the responses I got were gift cards (Best Buy, Amazon, etc.), tech books, and a Zune, all of which I'm going to do. I'm also going to purchase some ReSharper 5 licenses, too, and get those into the mix (starting next month) assuming they have been released. I'm also toying with the idea of raffling off a signed picture of Ballmer. (I might "fix" that raffle, though, and keep it for myself. Ballmer would look hot framed next to my bed.)

I'm very excited about Signature's openness to the community because I really feel there are some great friendships to be made and those that know me, know I'm very relationship focused. In addition to the great friendships, there are some pretty cool and interesting speakers. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many a brilliant technologist so some of the topics that get presented blow my mind. Earlier this month, some guy gave a presentation on Silverlight Media Framework and it was awesome. (Oh yeah, this "guy" was my boyfriend, Kevin Rohling.) Boyfriend or not, the presentation was great, interesting, easy to understand (even for me...thank you, small miracles), and he highlighted some of the goodness his company (Vertigo) was working on. (I'm still struggling with my Cat Cam, though...) Next month's presentation promises to be just as good. Check out the Bay .Net site to learn more!

To those that are interested in learning more about Signature, some of the great events we are participating in, want us to sponsor your User Group in the Bay Area, or have a raffle item suggestions, please feel free to contact me via email or Twitter. I'm equally addicted to both and would love to spend my newly acquired riches on you, too!

(Homeless people and those looking for a "sugar mamma" need not apply.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

For the sake of this post, let's consider today opposite day, because unlike in The Wizard of Oz, I don't think I want to go back to Kansas.

I am now entering my fourth week with my new company, Signature Consultants, and I am absolutely loving it. I love that there is a company out there for me that really appreciates my knack for marketing, branding, and all things creative, and is giving me the opportunity to combine the things I love-social media, networking, technology, recruiting, and geeks. I liken my experience with my former employer to that with my ex-husband. It wasn't overwhelmingly crappy, but it also wasn't particularly exciting, either, and overtime, it became impossible to ignore the huge elephant in the room. I just wasn't happy and it was time to move on. (For the record, I did make one hell of a trophy wife. Barbie had nothing on me.)

The past three weeks with Signature really feel like I am coming out of a fog. I'm very relieved to see that there are other firms(*cough* Signature) that care about what they are doing on a day to day basis. Maybe it is because they are a smaller company, but it is beyond refreshing to wake up excited and to believe in my abilities again. I am often accused of being a "bleeder" in that I always want to do the right thing, even if it isn't the most popular or profitable thing. Signature operates the same way and focuses on the long term and serving their candidates and clients the right way. My dear readers, I think I found "The One". There is something completely genuine and honest about Signature. Above being a business, Signature is a family, and the incredible culture is infectious.

My first week with Signature consisted of hopping on a plane with my partner Susan and flying to Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Charlotte, NC. Because everything happened so quickly with my job change, I first met Susan at the airport about an hour before our flight left. We hit it off immediately. She had IT staffing experience, too, and we both shared many of the same experiences with our previous firms. Like me, Susan was attracted to the culture and core values that Signature had to offer. Staffing can be a "shark tank" so a company that places so much emphasis on integrity definitely stands out.

We had training in Ft. Lauderdale Monday and Tuesday and flew to Charlotte at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning. I was still on California time so I was beyond exhausted. I think in those three days, I logged about 14 hours of sleep collectively. Immediately upon landing in Charlotte at 8:30am, we reported to the office and were greeted by a swarm (seriously, a freakin' swarm) of smiling country folk...otherwise known as our Charlotte office. (And, I use the term "country" loosely and jokingly. They had accents, BUT also had all of their teeth, sported pearls and looked like they popped right out of the Brooks Brother's catalogue, and were all absolutely gorgeous. God Bless the South.) They actually reminded me of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz because they were all so damn friendly. Coming from the fiery pits of staffing hell, this was so completely foreign to me...but I loved it! I got a few hugs, shook a ton of hands, and was immediately welcomed into the Signature family.

After the most exciting meet and greet ever, we got right down to training. Because I was about three seconds away from having a narcoleptic episode, this was pretty painful. Fortunately, our trainer extraordinaire, Princess Meggan of Charlotte (she is no joke, people), looked into our sleep deprived eyes and decided to take it easy on us. We had a nice lunch out with some of the office, and later, an even nicer dinner. One thing Signature knows how to do is entertain. I think I ate the equivalent of a small country in the week I was traveling. Thursday consisted of more training (thanks to Greg Detwiler for letting me shadow him a bit), and lots of eating and drinking (again, Greg, thanks for the drinks. My liver is still in detox.). I also got to spend some good quality time with my buddy, Paul, that introduced me to the position with Signature. Though I was ridiculously tired, I had an absolute blast.

Friday rolled around, along with my hangover from Thursday night's "team building", and we had a meeting at the office before we were set to fly back out to San Francisco. Though I was tired and not feeling particularly hot, I was over-the-top excited to see that Friday at Signature meant Chicken Mini goodness from Chick-Fil-A. I was not as excited to find out that in order to get my Chicken Mini fix, I had to share with the class (of about 50) five embarrassing stories about me. Technically this was not that hard to do (umm, have you met me?), but I was hoping I could go to the airport known as "that cool girl from San Francisco" and not "Megan from San Francisco that 1) wanted to be a deer when she was little and would graze in the backyard, 2) was Santa's elf at the mall for several years...when she was chubby, 3) passed out drunk in the Wendy's drive-thru line 4) dressed like Hulk Hogan (handlebar mustache and all) when she was little and 5) countless public transportation incidents involving homeless people and tears". But, alas, like any addict, I did what I needed to do to get my former chubby-kid hands on the Chicken Mini crack rock.

Since I returned from the Signature "world tour", we have had quite a few Signature faces visit us in San Francisco. We had Meggan (Princess Meggan, that is), come out for half a week, Scott (one of our managers), "Cherry" and his wife, and this week we have Kira, and Dr. Jay...the owner. I love that Signature is such an inclusive company and that it is important to the owner that we are all friends at the end of the day.

I remember my blog post I wrote about a month into the Kforce San Francisco transition and I can't help but laugh at how different I feel writing this post. My Kforce post was filled with so much apprehension and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I tried to reassure myself in the post but I knew deep down I was lying to myself and things weren't going to be ok just because I blogged they would. Now, a month into my new job at Signature, I feel zero apprehension and doubt. All I feel is excitement, an intense desire to work hard and serve my candidates the best way I can, and gratitude for the opportunity I have before me. I finally feel like I am doing what I love again and that is a huge relief. I made some great friendships at Kforce and was fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the industry. All in all my experience was positive, but after over three years, it was time to move on, and leave Kansas, so to speak. I'm very excited about my new "adventure" and can't wait to see what my staffing travels have in store for me!