Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Survive JavaScript - Now Powered by GitBook!

If you have been following this blog, you might remember I wrote a small book about JavaScript a year ago. Admittedly the site never looked that great. The situation has changed now. I ported Survive JavaScript site to use GitBook.

GitBook is an amazing little tool that allows you author your book using Markdown and then compile it into a nice looking static site. It even makes it possible to write JavaScript exercises. This is something I still have to try out. Apart from some minor glitches it is looking great and no doubt it will continue to develop further.

Now that the book looks good perhaps it is time to start updating the content. I have a couple of ideas of my own. If you have specific topics in mind that you feel should be covered, let me know.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Linkdump 20 - Business, Personal Development, Art...

Time for a new linkdump given the previous one was at February. This time around I wrote it in a semi-automated manner. For this purpose I wrote various blog utilities that allow me to fetch data from Twitter and then format it a little bit.

Business

Personal Development

Software Development


Web Development


UX


Finland


Gaming


Art

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thoughts on Agent Themed Instanssi 2014

To continue the tradition I participated in this year's Instanssi. It is a local demoscene event held at Jyväskylä. It lasts for three days and packs plenty of action. This year it was agent themed.

You can check out some of the results. Not all is suitable for work unless you like strange stares so take care.

Personally I participated in a little agent themed competition where you were supposed to crack series of codes. I even wrote a tiny decoder to avoid using clunky, paper based one. Overall it was a nice challenge and I would not mind taking part again. I also learned to pick simple locks at a workshop. Maybe that skill comes in handy some day.

effectserver-client - Controlling Lights Using Node.js

As Instanssi provides programmable lighting through a simple UDP interface I decided to play around with them a little. As a result of my experiments I ended up releasing a small Node based library. effectserver-client abstracts UDP and provides simple means to animate the lights. The library comes with a couple of sample effects.

Of course it's an useless library unless there is suitable hardware around. It would be a good exercise to write an UDP server that works with the client and then provide a visualization for that. Perhaps that is something I will do next year. Or sooner even if there's sufficient motivation and reason to do that.

Conclusion

I hope we see Instanssi again next year. It's not a very big event but that in part makes the atmosphere nice and cozy. This is one of those things I value in Finland very much. It is excellent to have a local community that keeps these kind of events alive. You don't have that everywhere.

EDIT: Photos of the event by Rakeinen.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

jsDelivr API - From a Casual Experiment to Success

During the past few months I've been pushing forward a little API for JavaScript CDNs. It's a project that started casually and just keeps chugging on. It's a valuable especially for tool authors but who knows how people will use it. I authored a blog post on the API at gun.io blog. Check it out for some juicy details.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Test for Cultural Fit?

As I have discussed earlier, culture is an inseparable part of a company. This is something important to take in count when recruiting. Just looking at numbers and hoping it will work out is not enough. You will have to make sure the prospect fits the organization. But how do you test for this cultural fit?

Valve has made its culture partly visible in a form of an employee handbook. By making these things explicit you will make it easier for people to evaluate whether they would like to work in the sort of environment you have in place. This is only part of the story, though.

Rather than hiring through a proxy, let it be a hiring manager or a HR agency, ask the people the person would be working with. In case you feel good about the person and want to play it safe, you can consider implementing a trial period. This is something Buffer has done with great success.

By actually working for a period of time together both parties will have a good idea if it's something to keep on continuing. Alternatively you could employ the person through a freelance contract and work towards something more permanent as trust is gained. Sometimes retaining the situation as is might actually be preferable to employment. Flexibility can be a good thing.

I feel this is one of those things you should tackle early on. If there's no fit, things can get awkward over longer term. It also restricts the potential of the arrangement. Good environment can bring the best out of people while inverse is true as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Culture over Talent over Skills

In my previous post I posited that measuring experience in years doesn't make any sense. It is a very difficult measure to define and it is missing the point. The way I see it both talent, ability to grow, and cultural fit matter more in recruiting. Skills can be learned.

That said I'm not saying skills are entirely worthless. You can make an entire career out of skill. Consider professional level athletes for instance. I think the situation is somewhat different in knowledge intense domains, however. It is more about adapting to the current realities and keeping current. Skills valuable yesterday might not be that tomorrow.

Culture - The Ultimate Force Multiplier

In the right context talent can flourish and skills developed. In the wrong context talent and excellent skills may go to waste. Culture is the ultimate force multiplier. That is something that cannot be separated from the business.

From this perspective the core questions are how to develop the right kind of culture that attracts the people you want. Recruiting the traditional way, ie. job ads and boards, is more of a hit or miss kind of thing. What if the people you want to recruit would find their way to you? What sort of things could you do to achieve this?

Develop Culture, Earn Talent

If you develop the right kind of culture, talent and skills will follow. If you dismiss the importance of culture and just focus on skills, results might be somewhat suboptimal. The business can work of course but you would be missing out on a lot of potential benefits. When the direction of business and individuals are aligned, results are made.

This is the reason why I see work ads focusing on skills misguided. There are smarter ways to attract the people you want and need. Forget years of experience and focus on fit. The skills will follow if you let the people to grow. Do not expect the people to be absolutely "ready" and you will have a much better chance of finding the talent that fits your organization.