HiddenNetwork: a cool idea in job searching

Of the four tech jobs I’ve had, three came along when I wasn’t actively looking. They came through people I knew, who happened to say, “By the way…”

That’s why HiddenNetwork is such a cool idea. And that’s why I’ve started putting their job ads on my blog. I’m now one of over 50 blogs in the HiddenNetwork.

Widen the field: people who aren’t actively looking

Suppose your department is looking to hire a programmer. You could post a job on a job-search site, detailing the position and the requirements. Who will see it? People who are actively looking for jobs. Meaning, most of the time, not people like me.

But suppose you post your job opening on HiddenNetwork. Now who will see it? People who aren’t actively looking. The kind of people who stop to chat with an old friend who says, “By the way, we’re looking for a great programmer. Are you interested?” You’ve just opened up your audience.

Narrow the field: passionate people

And there’s another perk. Let’s say you post a job in the newsgroups, or on a job board. What happens? You’ll get a few good applicants (maybe) and a load of bad ones. These are people who are motivated to find a job, but some of them are a little too motivated. You’ll get people who obviously didn’t read the job description and have none of the qualifications.

But by posting jobs on tech blogs, you’re not only widening the field in one direction, you’re also narrowing it in another. Now you’re only showing your jobs to the kind of people who read tech blogs… the kind of people who keep up on trends and keep their skills current. The kind of people you want to hire.

Commutability

When HiddenNetwork decides which job ads to show to any given visitor, they give preference to jobs within “commuting distance” of the visitor’s location, which they define as 60 miles. They also don’t bother showing jobs from other countries (although you can search for them by looking at the job board — see the “browse more jobs” link, in the yellow box in the sidebar).

That’s kind of a “so what?” if you live in Omaha, because HiddenNetwork doesn’t have any jobs for Omaha (last I looked, anyway), so you just see a random sampling of all the postings. But if you live in a major-enough metro area, you’d see local jobs more often than non-local.

Special offer for employers outside the U.S. and Canada

They’re running a January promotion. If you’re outside the U.S. and Canada, you can post jobs for FREE. Just use discount code INTLFREE7.

Go check out their site

The HiddenNetwork site has some good information, including a full list of member blogs and several testimonials. Whether you’re looking to hire, looking for a job, or not exactly looking right now, go check them out — or just keep half an eye on my sidebar to see if there’s anything good.

Why design-time components shouldn’t have install EXEs

Lots of Delphi components and .NET controls ship as EXEs that “install” the design-time component for you. I hate that, and here’s why.

  1. Revision-control unfriendly. I don’t want you sticking code under C:\Program Files. It’s code. It needs to be in source control with all my other code. That’s kind of the point of revision control. I want a ZIP that I can extract into my source tree and check in, so that later I can go back to that same point in time and rebuild my code as it was then.

    Xceed is the worst offender here. Good WinForms controls, but you can’t put them in Subversion — they have to be “installed” if you’re even going to be able to compile. You have to actually run their stupid installer on every development computer, including the automated build machines. I cannot express how deeply this offends me.

  2. Delphi-version unfriendly. If Delphi 2007 comes out and there’s no installer for FooComponentLibrary for Delphi 2007, what do you do? Sure, you can make a new package, compile it, and install. But you could do the same thing if you had a source ZIP, and you wouldn’t have to sit through an installer that might or might not work correctly if its intended version of Delphi isn’t installed.

    Of course, if it’s a Delphi component that ships without source code, then you’re screwed anyway, since DCUs aren’t compatible across Delphi versions. But no sane person would ever use a Delphi component that shipped without source code, mainly for this very reason. (Not an issue for WinForms controls, as compiled DLLs are much more version-agnostic than Delphi DCUs.)

  3. What about Turbo? The last Delphi version that I personally own is either 3 or 5, I don’t remember which. There’s no way I’ll use it anymore. I’ve been spoiled by strict private and records with methods. When I’m tinkering at home, I use Turbo Delphi Explorer, ’cause it’s free, and sort of recent. But it doesn’t support third-party design-time components. And it doesn’t have a command-line compiler. So what’s going to happen when the installer gets to the “compile and install the package” step? It wouldn’t surprise me if the installer failed and rolled back, leaving me back at square one. I try not to find out.

Component installers are probably meant to make life easier for hobbyists and beginning Delphi developers, but they make life harder for experienced developers — sometimes much harder. So component authors, please, provide a ZIP file. (And please, make it an actual, industry-standard ZIP, not a fringe format like RAR.) For Delphi components, the ZIP should contain the source code. For WinForms components, it could have either the source code, or the compiled DLLs. And in either case, of course you’re including sample code, right?

You can provide an installer too, if you must. But it should be a separate download.

(This rant was provoked by (un)DelphiX, which does provide both an installer and a source RAR (grr), but states fairly prominently that the source archive will be discontinued at some point in the future.)

Installing Subversion 1.4 as a Windows service

I just upgraded the command-line Subversion on my home laptop. The way you install Subversion as a service has changed since I wrote the Mere-Moments Guide to installing a Subversion server on Windows, so it’s time for me to blog the details (so I can find them if I need them again).

If you had an older SVN service

First, if you used to have Subversion pre-1.4 running as a service (either via the SVN 1-Click Setup installer, or by following the steps in the Mere-Moments Guide), you’ll need to uninstall it:

  • Open a command prompt.
  • Change into your Subversion bin directory (probably C:\Program Files\Subversion\bin).
  • Type svnservice -remove
  • It should report that it’s stopping (may take a while) and uninstalling the service.
  • Delete svnservice.exe.
  • Uninstall your old version of Subversion (may not be necessary, but I did).

Installing the new Subversion service

Starting with Subversion 1.4, there’s built-in support for running as a Windows service — but not for actually creating a Windows service.

I recommend downloading the Subversion installer directly from the Subversion downloads page on tigris.

Then, go read Configuring svnserve to Run as a Windows Service.

If you have Windows 2000

The above instructions should work on Windows XP and later. But if you have Windows 2000, you need to download sc.exe from Microsoft’s Resource Kit.

I did the research so you don’t have to. Here’s Microsoft’s download for sc.exe for Windows 2000.