Monday, February 12, 2007

Google Reader Hacks

Are you being swamped with RSS content? Me too, and while waiting for mainstream feed readers to include built-in filtering support I am going to tell you how I deal with it. I am using 2 approaches for streamlining my Google Reader experience: one for removing the irrelevant posts from a feed, and another for prioritizing my subscriptions.

Removing uninteresting posts

When subscribing to a feed, your best option will be to find one that only contains the posts you are interested in. This blog, for example, provides individual feeds for each tag or label. If you are only interested to read new posts about .NET you should subscribe to http://jonasmartinsson.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/.NET.

You are not always lucky enough to have your favorite web sites return a relevantly filtered feed for you. But don't despair, the solution is just a click away: FeedRinse provides a free RSS filtering service where you can set up rules based on titles and content. I have been using their service for many months and it has been working flawlessly.

Prioritizing your feeds

One of the many great features in Google Reader is the option to tag feeds (or folders, as Google calls them). This allows you assign a feed to more than one folder, which a traditional RSS aggregator doesn't let you do. I am using this to tag my favorite feeds with "-a-list", "-b-list", and "-c-list" along with their normal categories. I put feeds which I don't want to miss in the "-a-list", while less critical feeds will get the b or c rating. Feeds which I only read occasionally will not get any of these tags.

By prefixing the folders with a dash, I am making sure that they are showing up at the top of my Google Reader subscription list, which is sorted alphabetically. By reading my subscribed feeds in top to bottom order I can feel confident in having read the most relevant posts, in case I won't have the time to browse all new posts - a luxury I seldom have.

Friday, February 2, 2007

My Job Hunting Is Over

After months of stressful job hunting I am happy to say that I have found a new professional home at Mainsoft. Beside being the main contributor of the Mono project, their product family enable .NET code to run on any Java-enabled platform. In the end I chose Mainsoft for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I believe in their products; second, I enjoyed the interview process with a lot of people who are sharp, but still humble; third, they are working with wikis, blogs and are responsive to their end-users.

My search for a new job was a long process and it took me to a lot of different places, mostly because I wasn't in any hurry to leave my previous job as integration manager at ECI Telecom, where I was a part of a great team. I had the time to wait until I found something I felt was just right. The problem with job hunting in Israel is that most hiring is done via recruitment agencies. That means that you can't really browse from a wide selection of employers, but you are rather at the mercy of the agencies. Having been on the recruitment side of the process as well, I don't see the benefit for the employers either. Sure, you'll get a lot of CVs, but these are candidates who aren't enthusiastic in working for your particular company. Also, many of the agencies' attempts at rewriting the candidates' CVs make it look much worse - you could at least expect them to use a spell checker.

One peculiar detail is that in all my interviews I am invariably asked the same question: "Are you Jewish?" I guess it is my exotic looks that raises their curiosity, but I've stopped to be surprised by the question. I am sure it is illegal to ask this during a job interview.

During my job search, Mainsoft was the only company where I actually sat down at the keyboard to write and debug source code. To let the candidate program on a white board or a piece of paper doesn't give enough information about a developer's capabilities. The interview process with Mainsoft was an extended one, and I wasn't until after one phone interview, 4 technical interviews and another one with human resources that I was offered a job. You might think that 6 interviews seem like overkill, but I appreciate their quality assurance measures, and this is definitely the kind of team I want to be a part of. And I am not kidding you when I say that I went through more difficult interviews during this time - but that will be the subject of a blog post sometime in the future...