Problem 5: As unpredictable as the weather

Whether or not you intend to be an SQL programmer (ever, or for the rest of your life), you will spend a large amount of your time in IT modeling data. For now, throw the MVC meaning of model out the window, or if you happen to be on the 17th floor, just put it on the sill, and restrict yourself to the abstract problem of transforming real world data into a something you can read, search, and display. Continue reading

Problem 4: Ewe no what Eye mean?

English is the most orthographically difficult language written with the Roman alphabet, meaning, there are not always clues to a word’s pronunciation from its spelling, and the reverse. Only speakers of English can enjoy the perverse event of the grammar school Spelling Bee. I was so bad at spelling in school that I assumed it was a “Spelling Be.” Continue reading

Asking what you need to know

Bungled interviews go back a long way, and a mythological example comes to us from The Ring of the Niebelungen. Wotan, the God who had Valhalla built, and Mime, a dwarf, have a mutual interview that goes awry. At the start, they agree to bet their heads on their abilities to answer each other’s questions. Things do not go well. Continue reading

Problem 3: Checking the no-fly list

There always seems to be an interviewer who is out to make his mark by asking the big-O question. Not that big-O question, but the one where a data structure is presented with little of the real world information that might accompany its use, and then the question is asked “What’s the big-O notation for the performance of ….” To me it is always clear that the interviewer did not hear a word I said up to that point, and that my pass/fail grade is simply whether or not I recall that it is proportional to x*ln(x) or some such, or whether I can clumsily work it out with a pencil and paper instead of looking it up in Volume 3 of Knuth which is what I would do on the job. Continue reading