Words – A poem for people who can’t think of any

How could you ever have thought of a thing,
if there wasn’t a word to describe it?
It’s on the tip of your tongue, but the word never comes.
You can try, but you’ll never find it!

Maybe the word just hasn’t been made,
or perhaps it was lost and forgotten.
It could even be stuck with the wrong kind of thing,
feeling useless and bored and just rotten!

Well what can be done if you think of a thing,
but you struggle to find a good word?
Just think! Think of a word with no thing,
and shout it! It needs to be heard!

All of the best words are made up, you know,
like ‘bicycle’, ‘spoon’ and ‘tomato’.
Shakespeare himself invented the ‘bump’,
‘excitement’ and ‘moonbeam’ and ‘elbow’ (as a verb)

So if you think of a thing that hasn’t been thought,
And it hasn’t a name, don’t be scared!
Just think of the silliest, stupidest sound,
and hey! You’ve just invented a word!

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HTML5 Audio Player with Playlist

Have you ever wanted to add a simple HTML5 audio player with playlist to a website? If so, then you’ve no doubt scoured the internet for the right plugin – something which will just let your users play a few tracks, with simple functionality. Unfortunately, many media players on offer seem too complicated for my needs, tie you into a framework which just doesn’t really lend itself well to flexibility, or just don’t really do the job. For this reason, I decided to create my own player. The main idea was to implement a simple player which could support a playlist of tracks easily, and which could be added to a page with minimum fuss.

Using jQuery and the HTML5 audio element, I implemented a (very) simple audio player which supports multiple queued tracks and basic controls. Eventually I want to extend the functionality of this plugin, but I’m more concerned with ensuring ease of use than adding bells and whistles. Have a little play with the demo below and let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see.

Note that for now, the default audio element will be displayed. The appearance of this will vary across browsers, and since I primarily use Chrome, the default UI for the plugin will match up with Chrome’s audio player better than it does other browsers. The plan is to ultimately allow for customisation of the audio player itself rather than just the playlist area, but for now you can tweak the included CSS however you see fit. Click a track-name within the playlist to start playing!

The first version of this player is now available, so go and grab it from GitHub. The GitHub page contains instructions for getting this plugin up and running, and details the options currently available. I’ll be extending this plugin over time, so if you have a GitHub account and are interested in its development, then watch the repo for updates!

Posted in Music, Programming, Projects, Technology, Web Development | Leave a comment

Aggressive Recruiters

I haven’t written anything for a while for many reasons (i.e laziness), but I’m writing this as something of an experiment.

First, some background:

  1. I changed jobs early this year.
  2. I love my new job.
  3. I barely ever answer my phone if I don’t know the number.

Anybody who’s been doing this job long enough has probably had hundreds of cold calls from recruiters. Personally, I don’t like what seems to be the standard recruitment process for software companies, but that’s besides the point. In any case, since virtually every conversation I’ve had with a recruiter tends to be both a waste of their and my time, I prefer to be contacted via e-mail so that I can reply when I can devote some time to thinking about an opportunity. Occasionally I do pick up, and 99% of the time it’s clear that you have no real idea about what my skills are, what my experience is like, or even what skills might actually be relevant for the job you want to talk about. In addition, I rarely give my personal telephone number to people, except those I’ve met face to face. In short: if I don’t know you, and I’m not expecting your call, then calling me is a waste of time – and that’s when I’m actually looking for work.

My point here is not to sound bitter – it’s actually kind of a relief knowing that there’s so much work out there for somebody who does what I do – but lately I’ve been seeing some aggressive behaviour from recruiters, and so I’m writing this so that I don’t need to explain this on the phone every time somebody manages to get hold of me:

  1. If I don’t answer my own phone, then leave a voice-mail. If for some reason this is impossible, then you can contact me via any of the dozens of channels that are available, including (but not limited to) SMS, e-mail, the contact form on this very website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. etc.
  2. Whatever you decide to do, do not do the following: call my current employer.
  3. I understand that you have no control over your fingers, and that picking up that phone is a matter of when, not if, but at least you must surely agree that lying to my colleagues about who you are is right out of the question.
  4. If rule 3 is broken, and unless you’ve engaged in a staggering amount of research (in which case, maybe you’ll have noticed that I’m currently fully employed and also not looking for work), then it is highly likely that you’ve simply invented a name on the spot, and I have no idea who your fictitious character might be. In this case, I will simply ask whoever answered the phone to make an excuse and take a message. There are people who might actually need to call me at work, and you are not one of them, so free up the line. This is your cue to politely leave a name and a phone number, and hang up.
  5. If rule 4 is absolutely impossible to follow because your ego simply cannot allow you to not get what you want, then I suppose, after all is said and done, you might as well accuse my colleagues of lying and demand that I be put on the line immediately because you ‘Can hear me right there’. You might also want to throw in a vaguely threatening line or two. This will definitely get me to accept your phone call and you can then talk at me for half an hour about an irrelevant role for a lower salary in the middle of nowhere.

The worst thing about this is that today is not even the first time this has happened. There seems to have been a sharp rise in aggressive tactics used by recruiters over the last year or so, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who’s sick of it.

To summarise – if I am not expecting your phone call, then it is my prerogative to take or ignore your call. You do not get to demand that I talk to you, even if you do believe I’m ‘sitting right there’. I have things to do – and talking to you for half an hour about a job that I almost certainly have no interest in is not one of them.

Obviously, not every recruiter is as arrogant and rude as those described above, but this has gotten to a point where the next time somebody does this, I’ll be filing a formal complaint. Irritating me is one thing, but getting aggressive with my colleagues is a whole different kettle of fish.

Recruiters, here’s the experiment: if you honestly think I’m a good fit for a role, then e-mail me about it and mention this post. I’m not picking up the phone to you any more, and if you catch me off-guard, then I’ll be demanding that you remove me from your records and stop calling me. I’m not suggesting that you have the time to read everything every single potential lead has ever written, but then again I don’t know you and I never asked you to get in touch. I’m prepared to give time to people who’ve actually taken the time to do their research, because this shows that you might actually be considering who would be a good fit for a role rather than simply calling any number you can find.


Posted in Career, Programming, Technology | Tagged | Leave a comment