<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples



Posted by Charles Chen

There are few technologies that I truly hate and InfoPath is right up there.  The problem isn't necessarily InfoPath itself (okay, yes, I do hate it and it sucks hard), but the misconceptions from many former and current customers and business users about the utility and suitability of InfoPath cause it to be deployed in a variety of situations where it has no business being in a web-based enterprise architecture.

It's a technology that has been oversold and over-promised but always under-delivers and "enterprise architects" love the stuffin's out of it for some reason without a real grasp on why it's such a lame, terrible technology.

Now it seems that it's reached the end of the line:

In an effort to streamline our investments and deliver a more integrated Office forms user experience, we’re retiring InfoPath and investing in new forms technology across SharePoint, Access, and Word. This means that InfoPath 2013 is the last release of the desktop client, and InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Server 2013 is the last release of InfoPath Forms Services.

Microsoft makes many great things like .NET and Visual Studio and some total duds like InfoPath (a solution looking for a problem).

This is my favorite part of the blog post:

Industry trends and feedback from our customers and partners make it clear that today’s businesses demand an intelligent, integrated forms experience that spans devices. We are looking to make investments that allow you to easily design, deploy, and use intelligent, integrated forms across Office clients, servers, and services—forms that everyone can use on their PC, tablet, or phone.

Hey Microsoft, here's a tip for you: HTML!  What took you so long?  I mean, holy smokes, why did you even waste the money to conceive of InfoPath Forms Services to convert InfoPath forms into HTML in the first place? Why did you even bother with forcing developers to build forms in some terrible designer with a terrible programming experience only to convert those forms right back into HTML so that people could fill it out?

Any idiot could have seen the utter uselessness and un-ceremonial end of InfoPath years ago.

Filed under: Awesome, Office No Comments

Office Lighting and Decision Making

Posted by Charles Chen

The results of an interesting study flashed across my news feed yesterday:

Another finding was that the perception of heat could affect the participants’ emotions. The research team said that this is because emotions are more intense under bright light; thus, leading to the perception that light is heat, which can trigger more intense emotions.

The team also found that bright light affects the kinds of decisions people make. Since the majority of people work during the day under bright lighting conditions, the researchers noted that most daily decisions are made under bright light, which intensifies emotions.

Accordingly, they suggest that turning the light lower may help people make more rational decisions, not to mention negotiate better settlements in a calmer manner.

Taking emotion out of decision making is one of the most important skills one can develop and maybe it can be as simple as installing more ambient lighting and turning off those (ugly) fluorescent lamps overhead!


Leadership and Innovation

Posted by Charles Chen

From Peopleware, 3rd Edition:

The propensity to lead without being given the authority to do so is what, in organizations, distinguishes people that can innovate and break free of the constraints that limit their competitors.  Innovation is all about leadership, and leadership is all about innovation.  The rarity of one is the direct result of the rarity of the other.  (p. 101)


Why I Always Brace Everything

Posted by Charles Chen



Filed under: Dev No Comments

How to Rock That Interview

Posted by Charles Chen

My sister-in-law pinged me for some tips to prepare for a long, multi-session interview coming up.

I've been on both ends as interviewer and interviewee (mostly interviewer) and I seem to have been pretty successful as far as interviews go, so here are my tips (your mileage may vary):

  1. There is no preparation. It's like an exam. Either you know your stuff or you don't. Zen out and accept that you may not be able to answer/know everything and that no amount of last minute cramming new material will help. The more you worry about the material the bigger of a problem you are creating for yourself because you'll just be more anxious.
  2. Have faith in what you do know. Whatever it is that you do know, you need to be able to communicate it effectively. You need to communicate your knowledge, your skills, and your character effectively.  You are in an interview because someone likes your resume and the experience that you have so you have to be able to communicate that experience effectively.
  3. Say "I don't know" if you don't know. I interview a lot of people and one of my pet peeves is when I give a tough question and the interviewee won't just say "I don't know". Sometimes, the questions are designed to be hard so if you don't know, don't dance around it and be frank so you don't waste anyone's time.
    1. If you really think it's an interesting question, you can say "Hmm, I don't know, but I've never thought about it like that..."
    2. Or "I don't have a background in that topic, but it's interesting, how would you approach it?"
    3. Or "Oh, that's an interesting question; I've honestly never thought about that before". That leads me to my next tip...

    This is, in fact, a trait that I am looking for in an interview because it lets me know that if an individual gets stuck, he will quickly raise his or her voice and let me know so I can help them get unstuck and that this individual is willing to ask for help.

  4. Make it conversational. The more you treat it like a grilling, the more it will feel like you're over a fire. I treat every interview like a conversation and treat every question like a conversational discussion. The interviewer is a conversation partner and not a superior or an interviewer. This also leaves a lasting impression on them because they feel like you are someone they can easily talk to and people like to work with people they can talk to.  Also, you are always free to turn the tables and interview your interviewer; remember, an interview is a two way street: they want to know if they should hire you and you want to know if you really want to work with these people.
  5. Dress sharp, watch your posture, and give a strong first impression. Harvard studies have shown that posture has a strong influence not only on how others perceive you but also how you perform. Stand up straight. Sit straight. Shoulders back. Project confidence but also look relaxed. Use hand gestures to help communicate. Make eye contact -- don't lock it, though -- that's freaky. Using full body communication is important but remember not to fidget. Basic stuff.
  6. Remember names and call people by names. When you meet someone and greet them, they will present themselves and always call them by their name immediately. Interviewer: "Hi, I'm James"; you: "Hi, James, I'm Lindsay, pleased to meet you". It's subliminal, but people like to hear their names and it helps you make an impression in your brain so you know who he was. At the end, repeat the interviewer's name: "James, I really appreciate your time".
  7. Don't forget to drink water. When you talk a lot, your mouth and throat will get dry and if you don't hydrate, it will impact your ability to speak. Hit the restroom when you get a chance, even if you don't "need' to go because if you get the urge during a discussion, it will distract you.
  8. And final tip is to create mental checkpoints. One thing that happens with me is that because I treat an interview as a conversation, it is easy to lose the original question or topic in a long discussion. So you have to make a mental checkpoint and be able to bring the discussion back to the original topic to answer the question. You don't want to be in a position where you have to ask "Sorry, what was the question?"