Job Search on a Kindle Fire? Surprisingly easy.

Are job seekers really keen on using mobile devices to search for jobs?  My initial assumption was the desire is there, but the market is not quite optimized to support them.  Desktops PCs and laptops are dinosaurs, the cloud is enveloping everything, and everyone is going mobile right?  Pardon brief 70’s diversion. Of course our market of job seekers being technically-savvy early adopters should be ahead of the curve.   

Many career sites offer a mobile version of their websites, though there is some debate about adoption.   One survey I read optimistically stated “77% of Job Seekers Use Mobile Job Search Apps.”  More realistically,  an online recruiting research lab PotentialPark study found that “a healthy 19% of job seekers use their mobile devices for career-related purposes (and more than 50% of could imagine doing so), yet only 7% of employers have a mobile version of their career website and only 3% have a mobile job app.”

Job Search using Kindle FireAT MATRIX, we are at a crucial juncture of deciding when and how to design our job opportunity site for this eventuality.  What is the urgency and what mobile devices should be foremost in our plans? For the last month or so I have been interviewing job seekers about their search habits and the results have been surprising. Most have smartphones, fewer have tablets, and the vast majority prefer to use their laptops to both search for and apply for jobs online. 

The sample is a fairly representative range of IT candidates - business analysts, project managers, network administrators, even some hard core developers. Their reasons mostly have to do with convenience.  Users want a full screen and keyboard to navigate around a career site or a staffing agency website.   The ubiquity of a smartphone does not outweigh the inconvenience of searching around on a 3.5” screen and then risking an error using a tiny keypad.  Google Analytics results of the visitors to our website reaffirm this fact.  Less than 4% of the visitors who come to our site do so on a mobile device.  (A much larger percentage use them for emailing or calling recruiters, maybe that accounts for the higher percentage of “career related” activity mentioned in the studies earlier.)

For Christmas I received a Kindle Fire, to go along with the other three Kindles in the household. (you can never have too many). We are heavy media consumers, and I welcomed the chance to have a portable device to bridge the gap between my old fashioned Blackberry Curve phone and my Dell Laptop.  Having read Phillip Chen’s excellent review of the Fire, I was enticed by the vast content offerings of Amazon Prime. Reading is a pleasure on the Fire and I have been consumed over the holiday with reading, books, articles, essays, even magazines (not Facebook posts.)  

But enough about pleasure reading.  What about actually doing real work on a Kindle Fire?  Like searching for and applying to jobs.   I was quite surprised at how easy it is.   First step is to get your resume resident on the Kindle Fire device.  You do not want to create a resume from scratch on the Fire as the Quickoffice word processer is quite basic (though it would be easy to customize an existing resume for a specific job.  Create your resume on your laptop and email it, either as a .doc or pdf.  (Kindle offers a free Acrobat Reader app) to yourself, then save it onto the internal storage of your Kindle device.  Or connect it up to your laptop using the mini USB connection and upload.   From there I went to Monster, found a MATRIX job, submitted my resume, answered a few skill set questions and was done.  Searching and applying took about ten minutes, and I never felt inhibited by my 7“screen or Wi-Fi connection.  Everything worked fine.

Conclusion.  As the tablet market begins to erode away some of the functionality of the laptop and/or smartphone, job seekers may be pleasantly surprised to find that in between book marks of The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo, they might be able to find a great job using  a non-work related device like the Kindle Fire.

About the Author: 

Rick Sanders is Digital Content Strategist/Writer. He has broad experience in technology-related marketing, and writing for the tech-savvy crowd. Rick sees the explosion of social media as a great reason for revisiting the basics of effective communication.  He can be reached at rsand@bellsouth.net or on Linked In at www.linkedin.com/in/ricksand

Posted in: 
Fun

Using PHP to HTML-ize Plain Text

I used to write my web site purely as HTML. Whenever I needed to post something as plain text (for instance, a resume on a job site), I would just cut and paste the text from my web browser into the plain text field. But that way, the links get lost. Enough people asked me for my links, that I started doing things the other direction: write the plain text, then convert it to HTML. I'm using the PHP scripting language for this.

I based my converter on functions from snippets.dzone.com. Their main function is, of course, "txt2html". I tweaked that heavily.

The main problem inside "txt2html" was to convert my links to HTML. I wanted to treat different file types differently:

To recognize HTML links, I used regular expression pattern-matching. Getting the right pattern was the challenge. www.ietf.org gave me the official spec, but I had to tune it for PHP. I wound up with:

/* Links in sophisticated manner which won't break for, say,
 * http://www,eilertech.com/stories/powernaut/1941.htm#1. 
 * Otherwise, why bother.  Pattern rules from
 * http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3986.txt. Straight from the spec:
	  ^(([^:/?#]+):)?(//([^/?#]*))?([^?#]*)(\?([^#]*))?(#(.*))?
	   12            3  4          5       6  7        8 9 */
/* I found original patterns 2 and 4 find nothing, and 5 and 7 expand 
 * until they find question marks.  So I tweaked them. */
//$originalpattern =
//  "|(([^:/\?#]+):)(//([^/\?#]*))([^?#]*)(\?([^#]*))?(#(.*))?|i";

/* General rules for replacing images */ 
$imgReplacement = 
	"<" . "a href=../..$5$6$7$8> <" 
	. "img align=right width=180 src=../..$5$6$7$8 alt= 'Image for $filename'>";

/* Rules per supported file type */ 
$extArray = array (
	".htm" => "<" . "a href=../..$5$6$7$8>$4$5$6$7$8",
	".php" => "<" . "a href=../..$5$6$7$8>$4$5$6$7$8",
	".txt" => "<" . "a href=../..$5" . "page.php?fn=$6$7$8&tl=Link>$4$5$6$7$8",
	".jpg" => $imgReplacement,
	".gif" => $imgReplacement,
	".aspx" => "<" . "a href=http://$4$5$6$7$8>$4$5$6$7$8",
	"" => "<" . "a href=http://$4$5$6$7$8>$4$5$6$7$8");
/* $1 = http:
 * $2 = http
 * $3 = //www.eilertech.com
 * $4 = www.eilertech.com
 * $5 = /stories/powernaut/ 
 * $6 = 1941
 * $7 = .htm
 * $8 = #1
 * $9 = 1
 * Excluded:  ?fn=britannia_beach.txt */ 
 
// For each supported file type, up to and including Blank 
foreach ($extArray as $ext => $replacement) {

  // Define the search pattern here 
  $pattern = 
  "|((http):)(//([^/?# ]*))([^?# ,\.\)]*/)([^\.]*)?(" . $ext
  //12       3  4          5               6        7  
  . "[^# ,\)]*)(#([^ ,\.]*))?|i";
  //           8 9  
  
  /* We have the pattern, the replacement, and the HTML being built;
   * do the replacement. */ 
  $html = preg_replace ($pattern, $replacement, $html);
}
About the Author: 

Scott Eiler has for decades worked in all aspects of software engineering, in public and private sectors, in many different industries, on projects most people know by name, as employee, vendor, and now consultant. He also maintains his own diverse web site, including much commentary. Scott knows, engineering is more than just hacking out code.

Posted in: 
Development

SQL: Calculated Fields

When working with SQL you will inevitably be asked to return data from your database in a way it's not stored. You'll be asked to return city, state and zip as a single string, yet they are stored separately. You'll be asked to return grand totals, but you only have line item totals. You'll be asked to provide counts, totals, or averages, and none of that is in the database. The answer to all these scenarios is to calculate those values for the user.

Concatenating Fields

Let's say we have an address table, and the columns city, state, and zip are each stored in there as VARCHAR. It's important that all three are varchar, otherwise you'll get errors when you try to combine them all into one string. Given this table, you want to present a list of "cityName, state zipcode". Note the spacing and the comma in the string. How would we do this?

SELECT
city + ', ' + state + ' ' + zip AS [output]
FROM address

output
--------
Charlotte, NC 28222
Kannapolis, NC 28081
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Concatenating VARCHAR values is simple. Just remember all the fields have to be VARCHARs before concatenation. If one or more fields aren't, then you can CONVERT them to VARCHAR first.  

Mathematics

Let's say you have a table of sales, and in that table it lists, productName, quantitySold, and price. How could you query this table to add a subtotal column that shows the price paid for that quantity sold?

SELECT
productName
, quantitySold
, price
, quantitySold * price AS subTotal
FROM sales

productName quantitySold price subtotal
----------------- ---------------- -------- -----------
pen 1 .99 .99
paper 25 1.00 25.00

 

 

 

 

You can use any mathematical operator in the place of *. Basically any time you compute a column, the query will look like a formula, keep that in mind, and this will be a breeze!

Conclusion

This is only the beginning of creating calculated fields in SQL. In letter posts I'l show you extra functions that can do far more than simple math. After that I'll show you aggregate functions that can sum several rows of information into one row. If you have any questions, please send them in, I'm working hard to help explain the fundamentals of SQL so you can become better equipped to work through the many questions you'll be asked one day. I can only help you, if you "help me, help you."

Other Recommended Articles:

SQL - The Advanced LIKE Clauses

SQL 101 - The WHERE clause

About the Author: 

Look no further for expertise in: Business Analysis to gather the business requirements for the database; Database Architecting to design the logical design of the database; Database Development to actually build the objects needed by the business logic; finally, Database Administration to keep the database running in top form, and making sure there is a disaster recovery plan. Connect with Shannon Lowder.

Posted in: 
Development

Is the Kindle Fire the "must-have" Christmas gift of 2011?

If you're a gadget lover like me, you've no doubt heard about the Amazon Kindle Fire already. You've probably read a bunch of reviews from sites like Engadget, Gizmodo, GigaOM etc. And you're probably debating whether spending $199 on a 7" tablet is even a worthwhile purchase for your household.

I'll try to help answer that question for you in this review of the Kindle Fire -- I got my hands on a unit when it first came out and tested it for a week to answer this question for myself. The result of this experience actually surprised me, but more on that later. Before I go any further though, I did want to get this out of the way: this isn't meant to be an extensive technical review of the Kindle Fire. You can read much more in-depth reviews (which cover hardware dimensions, software specifics, benchmark test results, etc) from the fine folks from the notable blogs mentioned above. What follows below are my own personal impressions after using the Kindle Fire for a week straight.

Unboxing and the Hardware

I'll say this much -- Amazon takes Apple's minimalist approach in packaging and goes further in the extreme. Perhaps not in a good way either for those who like aesthetics in their gadgets. When I got my Kindle Fire, my eyes were met with plain brown cardboard packaging. Furthermore, the cardboard box the Kindle Fire came in was humorously large relative to the size of the device. I have no idea if Amazon made these boxes so large to protect the units during shipment, but it's just funny to see such a small device come in such a large box.

While we're talking about the box, I did want to point out one thing real quickly. One of my good friends bought the Fire for his father-in-law, and upon receiving the package, Kindle Fire Brown Boxunwittingly opened the box thinking that the "real" Kindle box was contained within the rather large, plain brown cardboard box it ships in. To his dismay, he found out that the cardboard box he opened was indeed the Kindle box itself. Long story short, if you're purchasing the Kindle Fire as a gift this holiday season for a loved one or friend...just be aware that the plain boxes the Kindles ship in are in fact the box for the Kindle itself.  (Note: Amazon was gracious enough to send my friend a brand new, unopened Kindle once he realized the error of his ways and complained. They even threw in a $20 discount!)

Once you open the box, you're greeted by the Kindle Fire nestled in the middle, with a small instruction card and wall charger...and that's it. No extra cords, manuals, or earphones. And honestly, the instruction card borders on useless as it contains hardly any information that you couldn't figure out on your own.

Much like the packaging, the hardware doesn't really scream "wow" in the looks department. The Fire hardware is a relatively thin slab of black plastic, with a screen on one side and rubbery coating on the other. The design of the device is pretty nondescript. Honestly, if you've seen the Blackberry Playbook, you've seen the Fire. They're essentially the same exact design. I won't go into great specifics here on the dimensions of this product because...well again, you can just read about them in the other myriad of reviews already published on the web.

Overall, the Fire is a device that feels nice in your hands. It's small and lightweight, yet sturdy in your hands -- the perfect device for consuming things like e-books or various websites on the go. Because it's lighter than the iPad 2 I have at home, I found myself often reaching for the Fire instead when I wanted to read for long periods of time. Honestly, I've never been a fan of tablets that sported the 7" form factor...I was in the same boat that Steve Jobs was in when he declared that there was "no market" for tablets of this size (the iPad is a 10" device). But after a week using the Fire, I found myself preferring the size of the Fire over my iPad for reading purposes. This makes sense, since most books are roughly the same size as the Fire...but nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised that I'd get hooked onto the Fire's form factor so fast. To be clear though, I still prefer the larger screen real estate if I'm surfing the web -- the 7" screen on the Fire felt cramped at times when checking out different websites (but more on that later).

One aspect of the hardware that I was curious about was battery life -- namely because I usually find devices to fall short of their claims all the time. After about a week of use, I found the Fire's battery life to be average, but not great. My iPad 2 at home usually fetches around 10 hours of life consistently; with the Fire, expect around 7-8 hours at best. Still, it's good enough that I didn't find myself fretting about toting it around for a day without a power cord readily available.

Finally, I've got to comment on the lack of a physical volume rocker. It's one thing to have no cameras, gyroscope, or GPS -- this is a $199 device, after all. But not having a dedicated volume button to raise or lower the volume on different applications was just a pain. With the Fire, you have to access a menu via the touchscreen to change the volume. Sorry, but that's 2-3 steps too many for such a simple function that's nearly always built in as a physical component on these types of devices.

Using the Fire

So now we get to the crux of the experience: using the software and interacting with Amazon's ecosystem. Let me just get this out of the way -- for those who expect the Fire to deliver an iOS-like experience, you shouldn't. Namely because it was never intended to be an iPad, and you'll be sorely disappointed trying to compare it to one. No...think of the Fire as a media consumption device. No more, no less. This thing isn't going to let you update that spreadsheet from work, or print a Groupon to your wireless printer at home. Get the iPad if that's the type of functionality you want from a tablet.

The Kindle FireFor $199, you'll get a tablet that does a few things well -- watching streaming movies, reading ebooks, and checking email occasionally -- and a few things not so well. When you first fire up (didn't intend on that pun, but hey...it works) the device, you'll spend about two minutes getting it set up. Maybe even less than two minutes, since it's extremely easy to get up and running on the Fire. That's my kind of user experience for a gadget.

The Fire's homescreen features a carousel type of navigation of apps, books, sites, etc that you've used recently. If you're an Apple user, this carousel view is almost identical to Cover Flow. It's (mostly) an easy way to navigate your way around things, but I did find myself wishing I had widgets instead that could be accessed on a home screen (I regularly use Android and iOS). One thing I noticed almost immediately was the carousel's annoying ability to flip past stuff that I actually wanted to access -- for whatever reason, the touchscreen was a bit too sensitive to my fingers trying to flip through the various icons in my carousel. This isn't a hardware issue, and my hope is that Amazon fixes this through a software patch somewhere down the line.

Speaking of the software, the Fire is based on a highly customized version of Android (sadly, it's only Android 2.3...not 3.0+). If you're an Android user though, don't expect to be greeted by anything familiar with the Fire. Yes, Amazon really customized this sucker -- so much so that most people may not even realize they're using an Android platform on the device. Furthermore, the device only has access to Amazon's Android market -- unless jailbroken, the device will not access Google's Android market. Overall this wasn't too big of a deal for me, but may be for some of you who prefer to have open access to any Android app out there.

And since we're on the topic of the Android ecosystem, I'll mention one thing. You can't access some of the better Google developed apps, such as Gmail. The Fire has an ok email client where you can sync with various accounts you own, but it's nothing spectacular. And if you're a Gmail power user (using labels, Priority inbox, etc), you'll sorely miss any whiff of the Gmail app being available on the device. As a result, I regularly found myself just accessing Gmail through the web browser as opposed to the email client.

While you may not have unfettered access to the Android ecosystem through the Fire...you do have the Amazon ecosystem. Watching movies and reading e-books on the Fire plays nicely along Amazon's intentions of creating their own walled garden (ala Apple's strategy)...mainly because they want you to rely on their Amazon Prime service for this. I've been a Prime subscriber for a few years, and it's been a godsend in my household because of our shopping habits. Aside from the shipping benefits though, Amazon Prime now allows you to access an ever-growing library of movies and TV shows to stream -- and it's this streaming services that shines on the Fire. I streamed a few movies and TV shows during my time with the device, and I was pleasantly surprised at how seamless everything was from start to finish. Video playback ran without a hitch, and the screen produced good contrast and color. Audio was another matter though -- don't expect anything great from the external speakers on the Fire. One other note too -- during my times of heavy usage (mostly streaming video content), I noticed that the Fire became a little warm on the backside. It wasn't an uncomfortable warm...but still, I was a little thrown off at this. I've read on other reviews that this was an issue, so I don't know that this gets resolved any time soon.

It's not only movies you have access to through Prime, however. You now have access to Amazon's Lending Library program, giving you the ability to "borrow" any number of books (many of which are notable NY Times Best Sellers) on the Fire. I found this service fantastic, as I've been meaning to get back into reading more -- having free access to books through this new program was a welcomed benefit for me owning a Kindle device.

Last but not least, I wanted to talk about one feature that I used heavily on the device: surfing the web. Amazon bragged about its new web browser known as Silk, saying that it would allow users to access pages faster than other mobile-based browsers. But after a week of use, I'll have to say that Silk is not a speedy browsing experience. As a matter of fact, I routinely found that my Android phone (along with my iPad) brought up sites significantly faster. Another annoying trend I noticed on my Fire was that it kept accessing the mobile version of sites -- and despite changing the settings to access the non-mobile version of sites only, I found that it STILL brought the mobile versions up in certain cases. Aside from its speed, I found the Silk browser to be a little laggy on things like scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. Oh, and I had issues with my wi-fi connectivity being slow to start back up from sleep (or simply dropping in and out during use), which I've heard is an issue that many Kindle Fire users are experiencing. These things are definitely not complete deal breakers (since a lot of this can be resolved via a software update), but I still found myself a little impatient after sitting and waiting 30 seconds for ESPN to load up time and time again. (Sorry, between my LTE phone, iPad 2, and high speed broadband connection at home...I've been spoiled rotten and can't go back to the dial-up speed days)

Summary

So what's my verdict after a week of use? The Fire is a great tablet if you:

  • Don't already have a tablet at home
  • Want something small and portable to consume content such as video, e-books, websites, and checking email
  • Don't want to shell out a hefty $500 for an iPad 2, but still want access to 70% of its functionality

All in all, I think the Kindle Fire is the second best tablet in the market today. Honestly, if you're going to spend $500 on a tablet, just get the iPad. None of the Android tablets in my experience match what Apple has to offer. But if $500 is too much for you to stomach on what amounts to a non-essential gadget (let's admit this...these tablets are still a luxury item in most households), Amazon's $199 price tag is extremely hard to beat. I'd take the Fire over any Android tablet in a heartbeat, primarily for two reasons: 1) Amazon's ecosystem, and 2) Price.

For me, I ultimately decided to return the Fire. Why? At the end of the day, I couldn't justify spending even the low $199 price tag for a device that essentially replicated what I had in my iPad 2 sitting at home. And because I found that I used the Fire for reading more often than not (since I eventually began preferring my iPad for things like browsing the web and watching video), I actually made a surprising decision after returning my Fire. I purchased a regular e-ink Kindle. And I love it.

So Amazon may not have enticed me in keeping the Fire, but they still got me to buy one of their Kindle devices. For this reason, I think they're onto something...and I think Apple may finally have a competitor when it comes to the "sticky ecosystem" that they've created through iOS.

About the Author: 

Phillip Chen comes from a background that includes management consulting, recruiting, and marketing. Phillip’s primary area of expertise lies within the recruiting/HR realm, where he has helped lead initiatives aimed at solving talent management problems for organizations such as Sapient, Deloitte Consulting, and Hewitt Associates. In his spare time, Phillip enjoys reading all about technology and business -- in fact, he's a confessed technophile. He's recently come to terms with his addiction, but still has no plans of letting go anytime soon. On Twitter @pitchen.

Posted in: 
Fun

All About the Money?

When’s the last time you got a raise or a bonus? When’s the last time your employees’ got either of those things? And why should it matter since it’s well-documented that money isn’t the most important thing people want out of a job?

last time you got a raise or a bonus?If that last question gave you pause, you probably aren’t the only one. I’m always curious when the latest, greatest study comes out that promises us that people don’t work just for the sake of money. That may be somewhat true, but I don’t know of many folks who would be willing to give it up. My job is so challenging and fulfilling and just plain fun that I’d keep doing it even if they stopped giving me a paycheck every two weeks!

I don’t think so.

As long as people have financial commitments (bills, debt, goals, mortgages, college loans, living expenses, mouths to feed, etc.) they will need to work for money. Certainly there are some individuals who don’t have those kinds of commitments or have some other method of getting the funds to pay for them. You know, people who are financially independent (think Bill Gates and his type), those who have a spouse or parent who supports them, those who’ve won the lottery. I personally know a handful of people who work paying jobs even though they don’t need the money, but they are definitely the exception, not the norm.

So back to the rest of us. My experience is that while money is without a doubt one reason people work, for the vast majority it’s not the only reason. I’ve observed that most individuals have around 3-4 things they’re looking to get out of a job in addition to a paycheck. Things like:

  • Challenge
  • Learning opportunities
  • Relationships
  • Appreciation
  • Accomplishment
  • Helping others
  • Power
  • Risk
  • Creative outlet
  • Autonomy
  • Fun
  • Sense of belonging
  • Stability
  • Security
  • Fame
  • Excitement
  • Advancement opportunities

And while money is almost always somewhere on the list, it may or may not be #1. More importantly, the other items usually paint a full picture of what an individual needs to stay satisfied, engaged, and motivated. It also points out what the company needs to provide to retain them.

There’s a reason why this topic is particularly relevant today. Over the past 3-4 years compensation increases have been minimal to non-existent for lots of employees. Companies struggling to stay afloat or looking at bare bones profits haven’t been able to hand out raises or bonuses; in fact, salary freezes and pay cuts have been pretty standard in plenty of industries. At the same time, the financial commitments of these employees are still there and have probably even increased. When that’s the case, we need to realize that we may no longer be providing one of top 3-5 things our people are working for.

Will they leave us because of this? Probably not, at least not while their options are still limited by slow job growth in most industries. But I really don’t think you want to settle for hanging onto dissatisfied people just because they can’t find anything better. So here’s the question every manager needs to be asking about his or her direct reports: What else is this person working for? What other things are on the list? And what am I doing to make sure we provide for those things?

Because the only thing worse than having a great employee leave is having an unhappy one stick around.

How does this fit with your own experiences? What’s on your list of things you want to get out of a job? And where does money fit in that equation

About the Author: 

Janna is Vice President of Client Services for The Berke Group, where she leads their education initiatives and serves as their key client advocate.  Berke provides powerful assessment software that measures personality, talent, and intelligence and helps companies hire the best people.  Janna develops Berke’s  learning programs and provides both on-site and web-based management training for companies and individuals. She also writes about people management strategies, trends and best practices.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager