03/28/2001

Mailbag:

CS Article; Programs; DOS Utilities; Ads

Ugh. I caught up on mail, had a long conversation with Steve DeLassus (a longtime friend and tech reviewer for Optimizing Windows), and otherwise didn’t get much done last night.

Resumes 101. The one thing I did do last night was look at two different people’s resumes. I’m not sure when the last time was someone asked me for resume advice. But I do see a resume every once in a while as part of my job. Sometimes my boss will flip a resume my direction and ask what I think. The really scary thing is, spelling everything correctly and using proper punctuation impresses me. I don’t see that very often. I was taught that kind of thing was expected. I guess not anymore.

Fonts 101. I guess the other thing that comes to mind is that if you want to make a resume stand out, don’t run it in Arial or Times New Roman. If you’ve got a reasonably conservative-looking font that isn’t bundled with Windows, that’d be an excellent choice. Bookman and Garamond are classy and easy to read, and they’ve been used for centuries. Book Antiqua, which comes with MS Office, is a good-looking font whose origins I’m not familiar with. One of my former editors got me hooked on News Gothic as a substitute for Arial, but that’s not a terribly common font. Century Gothic and Futura are good-looking sans-serif fonts, and even though they were intended by their designers to be ultra-modern fonts, there are ancient Roman engravings that look very much like Futura.

The general rule is that a font with serifs, like Times, gives you a traditional look while a sans-serif font, like Arial, gives you a more modern look. The problem is that Times and Arial (or Helvetica–Arial is just a Helvetica knock-off), while excellent designs, are so commonly used that they’re cliche. You can make yourself stand out subtly by using a different font. And the older the font, the better. People have been designing fonts for centuries; what worked then will still work now.

Display fonts like Comic Sans (and most people’s computers have plenty of wild fonts that make Comic Sans look conservative) have no place in resumes. They’re best reserved for greeting cards or other informal projects.

Usage of cutting-edge fonts and display fonts is hard to teach. Either you’ve got an eye for their use or you don’t. A good teacher can help you develop your eye a bit, but since design wasn’t my specialty, I can’t really explain proper usage of them other than to say experiment. And read lots of British magazines because they’re generally bolder than most American magazines, surprisingly.

I once had a font called Bloody that was exactly what it sounds like. When I was editing a student paper at Mizzou, one week we were all feeling a bit feisty in the editorial office, so we did a cover story of a blood drive, ran a big magazine-style picture of someone giving blood on the cover, and, taking a swipe at our rival paper, we overlaid the text “If it bleeds, it leads,” in Bloody of course. The main designer and I had a running joke that I wouldn’t let her use that font. So when one of the other editors had the idea, I of course jumped at it and told her. And I also let her think it was my idea.

Needless to say, that cover didn’t end up going in any of our portfolios. But it was fun, and let us get a laugh at our rivals’ expense, which is always a good thing.

Mailbag:

CS Article; Programs; DOS Utilities; Ads

02/01/2001

I don’t like to do “this is what I did yesterday” messages but that’s all I’ve got. Mostly I re-imaged some Macs. I did get to put an HP optical drive in a Compaq Proliant server we bought used for pennies on the dollar from a failed dot-com. But no one had any drive rails. Luckily, I had a Compaq 386 sitting under my desk. I opened it up, pulled the 5.25″ drive, walked over to the Proliant, and it slid right in. Perfect. I unbolted the drive, bolted the rails to the optical drive (I had to find different screws), and put the drive right in. And the guy who normally handles the servers asked how I did it so fast. Hey, I did tech review on a book about PC hardware. I know how to work on these things… And I worked on far too many Compaqs my first two years of college. (And far too many IBMs my last two years of college.)

Hot tip: Compaq drive rails cost something like $30 from Compaq. Compaq 386s are free, when you can find them. Or they’re cheap. Or someone pays you 15 bucks to haul them away. Or, there’s eBay. I just found 12 people selling them there, with zero bids on them. Asking price: $4.99-$9.99.

I also parted out a Pentium-75 that no longer works. This is the only dead Micron PC I’ve seen, honestly. And I suspect the problem is the third-party memory in it (the memory there isn’t Micron, which tells me the original stuff was pilfered at some point). Since it’s useless, it’s either part it out and discard the stuff that can’t be used, or pay someone to haul it off. Well, I’m having a hard time getting my Soyo SY-7SBB motherboards running. Outside the case, they’re fine. Put them in one of my AT cases, and they don’t work. I suspect not enough grounding, or grounding in places it doesn’t want it. This Micron case is much more configurable than any of the AT cases I have, so it’ll help me solve the mystery. (I won’t go modifying my IBM PC/AT case until I figure out, with the Micron case’s help, where I need ground points. Then I’ll Dremel out the existing caseworks and put in spacers where I need them to be. Ah, the troubles I’ll go to for a chance to see someone’s face when they see something unexpected…

Last night after church, one of our seminary students was cleaning off his car. (We got some ice last night.) He had this dinky little plastic ice scraper that would probably fit in your shirt pocket. I was waiting for my car to warm up, noticed him struggling with that thing, so I pulled out my heavy-duty scraper, with its long metal handle and big brush, and walked over to his car. “I can tell you’re from Texas,” I said. Boom, boom, boom, and in 30 seconds I had all the remaining ice off his windshield. He watched me with huge eyes. I just laughed as I brushed off his windshield.

Heavy-duty ice scrapers are your friend. One day last week I had a half-inch layer of solid ice on my car. With this scraper, it still took me 10 minutes to clean it off. With a hand-size scraper, my only choice would have been to let the car run for 30 minutes with the defroster going full force.

And what’s this? I had 317 page reads at 3 p.m. yesterday. On a so-so DAY I get 317 reads. (I can get 600 on a good day; about 260 on a bad day.) That can’t be one person, because one person reading, if they spend two minutes per post, will get 30 in an hour. Maybe it was someone looking for something. I hope they found it. Or maybe a speed reader really really really likes my stuff.

And this from Gatermann. I got mail from a reader asking about getting a modem running under Linux. I noticed he used Southwestern Bell and suggested that was probably the problem, not his modem or Linux. I suggested he contact tech support and ask if Linux works. Gatermann piped in. They won’t even know what Linux is, he said. Remember, these are the people who couldn’t understand why they couldn’t ping me when I couldn’t get an IP address. (Yeah, I rolled my eyes too the first time Tom told me that story.)

But I suspect everyone there has heard of Linux. Heck, my ex-girlfriends know about Linux. The one I talked about taking me to the state capital and eating doughnuts on the steps (hey, if there are any Mizzou alumni out there and you know anything about this tradition, would you please e-mail me about it? Thanks in advance), one night we were sitting out there, and she brought up Linux. SHE did. At the time, I hated Linux because all I’d seen was Slackware. Another girl I dated briefly brought up Linux as much as she could because she knew I was writing a book about Linux at the time. Heck, people walk up to me at church and ask me if I know anything about Linux!

So Southwestern Bell employees have probably heard of Linux. But Tom’s right, they probably can’t say anything meaningful about it.