Archive for 7th March 2007

Five Things New First Time Employees Should Know

Just out of college? New to the work force? Here’s five tip that you should keep in mind.

  1. Assume the world is tiny. Perhaps the biggest eye opener is just how small the working world is. People in the same industry routinely work together at different companies over their career. But this also means your reputation at one company will likely follow you to the next, and the likelihood of this increases as you work at more places. It doesn’t just stop there. Managers and executives at companies often know each other through their careers. This means one bad piece of history might haunt you at several potential jobs in the future. As such, don’t burn bridges, ever. Even if you are the guy firing somebody, be nice. You never know if next time they’ll be your boss (no, seriously, this is more common than you think).
  2. Respect seniority of everybody, especially those below you. This sounds obvious, but sometimes you work with people that seem less intelligent, less capable, or less motivated than you. First of all, that’s based on your limited understanding of the business, and second, you haven’t figured out the political state of the office. As such, don’t step on the toes of co-workers, regardless of their position. Some times, the people below you have the ears of the people above you. Besides, being nice is a Good Thing (and, see #1).
  3. Make your suggestions count by limiting them to a few good ones, rather than many poorly thought out ones. As in, don’t give suggestions early at a new job. I know some people might disagree, but let me explain. You might see it as a cost reduction measure, but others might see it as quality reduction or removal of an important sanity check. Anybody can walk into a bank’s mainframe and give a million reasons to upgrade the 20 year old UNIX build to something more modern, but this only makes you look naive and misguided. Before you suggest using Ruby on Rails instead of ASP, it’s better that you yield the decision until you have a fuller understanding of everything happening beneath the business hood. Business decisions are often limited by constraints that result in less than ideal solutions – but this is reality. The key is to understand which constraints can be manipulated. This can’t possibly be done effectively by somebody who just started.
  4. Assume your Internet activities are being watched. If you work for bigger companies, it is highly likely that the computer you are using has key logging or other “big brother” software on it. How likely? According to PC World, 60% of companies monitor where you visit, 50% monitor your email, and 20% monitor IM chats!
  5. Don’t engage in side projects. When you’re still learning the ropes, it is expected that you are committing 100% of your professional time to the new job. So save yourself the headache and preemptively decline all side jobs for the first six months of your employment. If you have time to be doing side jobs when you are just starting out, you are probably not focusing enough on your career. And this is exactly how your boss will feel if they catch wind (see #1) of this activity.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Google Desktop 5 – Up the Visuals, Missing the Point

First it was Apple. Then Microsoft does Vista. And now Google with Google Desktop.

What am I talking about? A focus on visual appeal. I’m sure there are tons of cool new tweaks to Google Desktop 5, but the thing Google is hyping the most is the new “blending” feature of the application. It’s not quite transparency — think of it like a chameleon. Aside from the cosmetics, not much else changed.

Google Desktop is a great application, yet Google still fail to utilize its full potential. There are four things still holding it back:

  1. Direct integration with Gmail so that I can read and write emails without ever leaving my desktop. They would send as soon as my Internet connection is up and ready, of course. This means off line composing would be possible. Currently, I have to open Gmail in a browser (lame).
  2. Direct integration with Google Calendar. I mean an actual client-side interface: not that hokey short-cut-to-a-web-page crap. I would create and edit the task on my machine, and it would sync it as soon as an Internet connection is available. Again, offline managing is possible. Currently, I have to open Google Calendar in a browser (lame).
  3. Direct integration with Google Reader and Personalized Homepage. I happen to have quite a few RSS feeds I watch on the Personalized Homepage that don’t get imported into Desktop by default. It should. There is a huge disconnect between Google Reader, Personalized Homepage, and Google Desktop Web Clips – yet they all serve the same purpose.
  4. The ability to have floating gadgets without having the sidebar enabled. When I like one or two of those widgets, I don’t want to have an entire edge of my screen taken up by a bar full of tools I don’t use. Google should learn a thing or two about widgets from Yahoo and Apple (think of the widget hide key).

In short, Google needs to think of this as a stand alone application rather than a short-cut key to its online tools. I know they do it because easier since they already have working web interfaces, but the reality is that there are advantages to a client-side installed application that are being overlooked. This includes slicker effects, not needing to load up another program (IE/Firefox), and not having to load an entire website to do a minor task. Oh, and not having to wait for stuff to load.

I do happen to use Google Desktop at work, where I have three 1600×1200 screens (so I can afford the screen real estate). And I do admit that once you start using it, it is actually quite useful. I use the to do list the most, but the scratch pad and web feeds are very useful as well. If either of these tools involved opening up a web browser, I would have never even bothered.

Perhaps the single most under-appreciated feature of Google Desktop is its ability to port your gadget settings from one machine to the next. So when I edit my to do list, make notes on my scratch pad, set my preferences in the weather widget, and then I go to my home computer: it’s all synced.

Nevertheless, such features don’t mean Google has to resort to web interfaces to do desktop functions. Google leverages the web well, but it utilizes the power of the desktop poorly.