Friday Funnies: Tenacious D Returns!

The Tenacious D rock band with Jack Black and Kyle Gass are back with a new album, “Rize of The Fenix,” coming out on May 15, 2012. (Yes, folks, that’s a penis with wings on the cover art.) This “mock rock” band is not for the faint of heart as their music puts the vulgar into vulgarity. If you’re a writer, you can appreciate the colorful usage of language sung to hilarious melody. Jack Black is far more funnier in Tenacious D than he was in his last movie, “Your Highness.”


Vote For The Shaun Of The Dead Lego Set!

If you weren’t watching the Conan O’Brien show with guest Simon Pegg last night, you missed the announcement about the petition to turn the Shaun of The Dead pub into a Lego set. Our favorite romantic zombie fest may become a Lego set if there are 10,000+ votes to prompt a review by Lego as they have a corporate policy not to use R-rated properties for their toy sets.

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I can’t think of a cooler Lego toy to have at a Silicon Valley cube farm. Much cooler than those massive Star Wars Star Destroyers hanging from the ceiling and collecting dust above the cubes. Get the vote out!

NOTE: Voting Page –

UPDATE 04/02/2012 – The project had received the 10,000+ votes needed for Lego to do a review. Keep your fingers crossed that this will be turned into an official Lego set.

Are Silicon Valley Employers Asking for Social Media Passwords?

Another job search issue came up this week with employers asking for social media passwords to view and asses a job applicant’s private behavior outside of work. I haven’t ran into this issue while looking for my next work assignment in Silicon Valley, which may be a non-issue for most tech workers. My biggest annoyance—besides spending three hours filling out the HR paperwork for each job—is peeing in a cup for a drug test. I did see on my last background check authorization form that a social media search will be conducted. If I asked to reveal my social media passwords, I would say no for two obvious reasons.

Most Silicon Valley companies have a policy that employees should never volunteer and/or ask for passwords, which can be grounds for immediate termination. As PC technician I had the root password if I needed to access the computer. I often had to stop users from giving me their passwords and remind them what the policy was. If a company demands that I reveal my passwords before I get the job, how can they reasonably expect me to uphold their password policy?

I have the opposite problem when it comes to social media passwords: my anonymous alter ego has only an email address and a LinkedIn account. That’s it. A Google search turns up nothing but emails sent to various technical Usenet group in the 1990’s. Facebook, nada. Twitter, nada. Blogs, nada. NOTHING! My anonymous alter ego is so boring that Clark Kent looks sexy and exciting in comparison.

None of my employers or coworkers know that I’m a programmer and a writer working under a variation of my legal name for my own content producing business with a family of websites. A background research company will have to dig deep into the Google search results to establish an a tenuous connection between my anonymous alter ego and my public business persona. (When LinkedIn suggested that my business account should “link” my personal account, I deleted the business account.) As far as everyone is concern in the big blue room, I’m just a boring guy who likes to read books and watch movies.

Someday I expect not to get  a job because my Internet presence fell into the bit bucket in the 1990’s. When that day does happen, I’ll be ready to move full time into my content producing business.

Friday Funnies: Americans Are STUPID!

I was driving back from the gym the other day when KGO-Radio interviewed this old geezer for posting this video on the current state of affairs in America — and putting the blame where it belongs. He told the interviewer that he didn’t know anything about computers until co-workers gave him a MacBook as a gag gift. He took it home, got a book, built a website, and now doing videos. Plus he doesn’t think that 22,000+ hits — at the time of the radio interview — was that impressive for his “viral” video.



Drug Testing Silicon Valley Workers A Future Trend?

When I first started working in Silicon Valley as a PC technician 15 years ago, you often got the job with a firm handshake after filling out the application and H.R. forms. The paperwork got longer and longer over years, especially the non-disclosure agreements and employee manuals. Then I noticed a new wrinkle in this process: drug testing. Now you get the job with a firm shake off after peeing into a plastic cup.

Was drug testing Silicon Valley tech workers becoming a future trend?

The first time I ever took a drug test was for a new assignment at a Fortune 500 company from a contracting agency that I was already working for. I wasn’t worried about not passing a drug test since I never used drugs. (If I was being tested 15 years ago when I had a roommate with a medical marijuana prescription, where the second hand smoke caused me to have sinus headaches and infections, I would have something to worry about.) Taking a drug test after spending three hours to fill out  the forms was more of a nuisance than anything else.

I drove down to the testing center near Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, drunk four bottles of water, and waited in the car until I was ready to pee. After entering the testing center, presenting the form and my driver’s license, and waiting a short while, I was escorted into a room to empty out my pockets, wash my hands and take the plastic cup into the restroom. A black-and-white sign across the back of the toilet said “DO NOT FLUSH” and the flush handle was locked in place. Despite my strenuous effort to move things along, I only peed enough to fill up to the minimum line on the plastic cup. The nurse took my offering at the ivory throne away. I filled up my pockets and sat down in the waiting area.

The report came back 15 minutes later that I was clean as a whistle.

The assignment at the Fortune 500 company went on hiatus with no prospects for more work. The two contracting agencies that usually alternated to provide me with work had nothing. After updating my resume on the job search websites, I was contacted the next day by a contracting agency I worked for seven years ago for identical work at the same pay rate. The recruiter forwarded my resume to the account manager, who decided to hire me on the spot without interviewing me. Three hours after I finished filling out all the forms, an email popped in saying that I needed to take a drug test.

After turning in my badge and equipment, my former coworker told me that drug testing was a fact of life in Silicon Valley. Not sure how that could be with all the pothead programmers running loose in the valley. I went over to the testing center to give another offering at the ivory throne with a firm shake off.

The Black MacBook is Dead, Long Live the Black MacBook!

While talking to an employee at the Apple Store in Valley Fair Mall a month ago, I mentioned that my first-generation black MacBook had a bad fan that either didn’t work to prevent system from overheating or whine so loudly that I couldn’t use it. The employee told me I should bring my MacBook in to the Genius Bar to have the fan replaced for under $50 USD. That surprised me since this was a six-year-old laptop that should have been too old to repair. I set up a Genius Bar appointment to bring in my MacBook.

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I showed up for my appointment a few days later and waited five minutes before I sat down at the Genius Bar in the back of the store. The employee hooked up power and network to my MacBook, which booted off a network server to run diagnostics. The fan was flagged as not working. The battery, which stopped holding a decent charge years ago and started bulging out from the case, was also flagged. The repair bill was quoted at $150.00 to replace the fan and the battery. That was surprisingly inexpensive in comparison to the third-party repair centers that wanted $500 USD to replace the entire logic board to fix the fan. Since my black MacBook was a “vintage” system, I was warned that it might take a week or longer to get the replacement parts.

I got a phone call four days later that my MacBook was ready to pick up. During my dinner break at work (I worked from 3:00PM to 12:00AM at the time), I went over to the store and waited a few minutes before I was seated at the Genius Bar. An employee brought out my Macbook, encouraged me to boot up the system, and finalized the transaction. The MacBook booted up normally and was whispered quiet, but it became unresponsive to the keyboard and trackpad. The employee confirmed that there was a problem and took it into the backroom for a technician to look at.

I spent the next two hours waiting for my MacBook to be diagnosed and repaired again. The employee, technician and store manager all repeatedly apologized for my inconvenience. Finally, with another round of apologies from everyone, I got my MacBook back with a brand new keyboard and trackpad top for free since the technician pinched the brittle cable when putting it back together that it broke. The difference between the worn down top and the pristine new top was amazing. I felt like I was getting a brand new MacBook and grateful that Apple could repair my “vintage” system.

With the new fan working twice as fast as the old fan without sounding like a banshee in heat, I decided to get back into web programming by updating and relaunching all my websites. I stopped doing any serious programming since the fan started acting up over a year ago. Now I can program again in relative silence. If nothing else fizzles out, I could do web development on this system for another six years.